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The Forum > Article Comments > Trouble on the cards > Comments

Trouble on the cards : Comments

By Chris Puplick, published 19/7/2005

Chris Puplick argues the case against an ID card is as strong today as it was twenty years ago.

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A national ID card would not have stopped the latest bombings in London, as the bombers were easily identifiable (eg. Stood as a group in front of cameras, carried personal ID with them, left documents in their hire car etc). If someone is a suicide bomber, then it is not much use knowing who they were when they are dead.

But there could be a lot said about governments that have established centralised power and control over the public (eg. Governments run by Suharto, Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung, Mussolini, Kim Jong, Marcos, Magabe, Selassie, Franco, Hussein, Stalin, Hitler, Idi Amin, Peron, Pinochet, or the rest of them as listed at http://www.giles.34sp.com/biographies/index.htm etc.)Many of these governments required the public to carry ID papers, which was supposed to be for the publicís protection and safety, but eventually this was used to control the public, and anyone who opposed this system was persecuted, incarcerated, tortured and often killed.

In fact, for 100ís of millions of people, their greatest danger has come from their own government, if that government assumed too much power and control, and of course, having centralised information systems such as national ID cards, is a major step towards achieving centralising power and control.

The ID number can start as a simple number, and then grow in time. China has had an ID cards since 1985, and is currently introducing ID cards with embedded memory chips http://cryptome.org/cn-1bn-ids.htm, and is also investigating cards that will carry the personís genetic information as a bar code. http://english1.people.com.cn/200209/25/eng20020925_103874.shtml

Latter down the track there can be positioning devices built into the card, such that a personís location can be determined at any one time. (technology already available. So information regards someoneís genetic make-up, academic history, purchase history, financial accounts, family history, group or association history, medical history and their present location can all be kept on a data-base to improve freedom, liberty, and democracy.

I wonder if the card will come with a choice of colours, or maybe have different colours depending on someoneís grading.
Posted by Timkins, Tuesday, 19 July 2005 11:17:10 AM
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Dear readers
Me thinks it is a great idea to reintroduce the Australia Card. On one condition that it is administered by the current officers in DIMA (Dept of Imigration and multicultural affairs)Officers in the 'compliance Branch' could be stationed at street corners such as Bourke and Swanson Steets to check people if they are carrying there ID'cards; Buses could be parked nearby to take non card holders out to Baxter or Marybnong for "processing". To keep Australia really safe we could hold them there for years, this would provide valuable employment opportunities in regional Australia such as Baxter and Port Hedland. Why before we spoke to anyone or even phoned someone by mobile we could key in our Aussie ID card numbers just to make sure we were who we say we were. That way DIMA officers ever mindfull of there moral and legal obligations could ensure that Australia's population was clean and safe by swifly tracking down non cards holders and putting them into safe and humane compounds(such as Baxter) to live happily until there identity is verified.
Posted by aramis1, Tuesday, 19 July 2005 11:45:00 AM
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absolute power may corupt absolutely, but i would suggest that the reason the governments listed by timkins are or were able to maintain their control over the population is not so much the absolute power of the dictator but rather the cumulative effect of the tiny amounts of power and privelage given to party officials, police and beurocrats, just enough to raise them above the general polpulace and encourage them to keep the status quo.

i would consider DIMA (as aramis1 points out) to be a case in point.
the fact that a department can make such critical decisions in reguards to the lives of people with minimal or even nonexistant accountablity or supervison (i am saying nothing on the merits of mandatory detention, just the proper treatment and processing of people in detention) does not bode well for a situation in which such a department will have access to the information and therefore potentialy the control of the freedom movement and asociation of the australian puplic.

on the issue of terrorism, i fail to see how id cards would have prevented the london bombings as from all outside appearences the bombers were unexceptional unitl their acts (their trips to pakistan beign the exception. if a number of young men from the same suburb traveling to pakistan at around the same time didnt prompt some kind of cursory check i dont know what good an id card would do).

i for one will not carry such a card, and in fact would take great pleasure in refusing to produce it on demand from some official with an overinflated opinion of their own importance.

hell, i even resent being asked for id at the pub.
Posted by its not easy being, Tuesday, 19 July 2005 1:45:43 PM
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There is another aspect that is readily overlooked in these debates, and that is the "positive" identification issue.

If the card scheme goes ahead, and our law-enforcement operatives comes to rely upon them.... "Got your ID Card, yep, that checks out, you can go"... the danger will then pass to the criminal/terrorist/assassin being able to falsify the card itself. The knock on the door to be dreaded would then be the one that announces that you were present at the scene of a crime.... positively identified. The onus would then presumably be upon you to prove that you weren't there - guilty unless you can prove yourself innocent.

I like the scheme proposed by a correspondent to the letter pages of a UK magazine recently. If challenged to produce his card, he would refuse. In court, his argument would go as follows: if you can identify me without reasonable doubt, then I don't need a card. If you cannot identify me without reasonable doubt, then whom exactly will you be finding guilty?
Posted by Pericles, Tuesday, 19 July 2005 2:31:47 PM
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I would agree Its Not Easy Being, that the innumerable dictatorships and despot regimes that have occurred in recent decades have mostly operated as pyramid type structures, with those higher up the pyramid forever trying to suppress or keep back those below them. The higher up the pyramid, the more the privileges and power, and the more that person has to lose, so the more they will resort to and use to suppress those below them .

They can use a baton or a gun, (somewhat primitive), but much easier and cleaner to use information to suppress someone. For example :- muck raking, which is already prolific in the press and in politics.

Our government could not give a damn about most people already. They will only respond to small number of Public Inquiries, and the average MP or Senator will only reply to about 20% of letters sent to them by the public. Their general behaviour during parliament is also a wonderful role model for the public.

So will our government misuse an ID card system?

Absolutely not. Impossible. Preposterous. No misuse at all. Guaranteed.
Posted by Timkins, Tuesday, 19 July 2005 2:39:09 PM
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was that an 'iron clad guarentee' timkins?
Posted by its not easy being, Tuesday, 19 July 2005 4:31:34 PM
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