Are students really this naive?

‘Does an ID card restrict your right to live your life as you choose? No. Does it restrict your right to freedom of speech and association? No. Does it restrict your right to work or to enjoy your spare time in the way you want to? No. Nor does it restrict your right to go to school, seek hospital treatment, claim a pension or access public services.’
Labour Students’ Mike Joslin

Reading Mike Joslin’s, chair of Manchester Labour Students, defence of ID Cards it is very hard to not to suppress a sigh: the ‘if-you’ve-done-nothing-wrong…’ line has always been ultra-naive.

ID cards will restrict freedom of speech and association. Many people will be dissuaded from engaging in peaceful protest because ID cards will make it easier for police to store their personal details on criminal databases.

That the Metropolitan Police already keeps private information and photos of protesters for seven years, (people who have not been convicted or accused of any crime), comes of no surprise to those of us in the habit of refusing to share our names and addresses with police officers. The police routinely abuse the powers they already have; I’ve been in a minibus pulled over for a ‘random roadworthiness test’, photographed and asked for a name and address.

The police defence that those who engage in lawful protest may go on to break the law is contemptible. It assumes those who dissent have a tendency towards criminality.

ID cards not only threaten liberty, they are a risk to the person, as they will require a monumental and exceptionally valuable database to which a large number of people will have access.

Criminals may already buy our data; car number plate checks, telephone number reverse look-ups and the like. The husbands of battered wives have bought the addresses associated with their victims.

Access to criminal databases kept by the police has been bought and that may include a list of demonstrations attended.

Major players in the construction industry have bought personal data – including political affiliation – on prospective employers, effectively blacklisting some workers.

Mike Joslin’s argument that ID cards will help track down bail absconders, reduce identity fraud and help fight terrorism is unproven and there is no evidence that ID cards have helped fight these evils in countries that have them already.

Meanwhile, Joslin argues that ID cards will make student life easier as the kids will find it so much simpler to prove their age, but there are already a number of proof of age schemes around.

Should the use of ID cards prove widespread, many people will feel that not having one will restrict their right to live their lives as they choose, to work and to spend their spare time in the way they want to. They may find that not having an ID card makes accessing public services a hassle.

People may feel compelled to take an ID card – to surrender a little of their liberty and expose themselves to risk – for an easier life.

5 thoughts on “Are students really this naive?

  1. Foolish chap. Mustn’t forget though that this guy is probably plotting a rise up the Labour ranks. I was going to hold up the likes of Jack Straw as an example to students everywhere, someone who marched the streets as a student leader against all kinds of rotten establishment-type stuff. But then, i think the irony is clear. I wonder what the previous student and union rabble rousing incarnations of present day govt ministers would make of themselves today.

  2. As a fellow manchester student of this guy. I would just like to point out that we aren’t all this ignorant.

  3. I didn’t argue that ID cards would make it easier to prove your age at all, I argued that anti-ID card campaigners do not object to be asked to carry a form of ID (which you even admit yourself) to gain entry to licensed establishments. If they don’t object to this on principle why do they object to an ID card on principle? You’ve shaped my argument to make it more suitable to you.

    You call me naive but fail to name a single reason why ID cards restrict your liberty. Sure there may be problems with the database but you fail to make mention a logical substantive ideological flaw with my opinion simply a load of unsubstantiated argument with no logic to back it up.

    I’m afraid I’m not the one being naive.

  4. It’s not about ensuring that people obey the law, it’s about control. The govt will use ID cards as yet another way of controlling us, restricting our assembly, our freedoms and where we are able to protest or dissent, it will be because they have ‘allowed’ us to do so. The government, of whatever colour trying to control us is nothing new, and the ID card is yet another method of control that we should resist.

    The terrorist threat exists, but then it always has. Identity fraud exists, but then it always has. Since 2001, the powers-that-be have used terrorism and ID theft a little too regularly to justify ebbing away at basic human freedoms.

    It’s about trust. Whether it’s our trust in the govt to hold and look after our data securely or to uphold our human rights, I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them.

  5. Mike

    You said on Facebook that you’d happily give your name and address to the police while protesting against tuition fees and let them take your photo too. Presumably, you have no objection to that information being kept on a database and linked to other databases. And you trust the police to keep that information secure, despite a great many incidents of public (and private) institutions suffering data theft and loss and the ease with which criminals currently gain access to public databases. (You obviously have no plans to apply for a job in the construction industry.)

    However, you should recognise that many people find these tactics intimidatory and that many people prefer to keep quiet in the face of such intimidation. Those people have suffered a loss of liberty.

    ID cards will make it much easier for the police to intimidate people.

    You refer to other ID schemes — particularly proof of age schemes — as evidence that ID cards are no big deal. This is a rather silly, naive comparison. No other ID scheme is on the same scale or has the same ability to intimidate.

    There are occasions when we have to prove our identity and on these occasions it is a generally hassle free process. Proof of age schemes are great because they do a simple job well without unnecessarily intruding on people’s lives.

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