Ford's Focus: No such thing as privacy
REMEMBER how hundreds of millions of pounds of our money was wasted on identity cards?
When the last Labour Government enshrined them in law – since repealed by the coalition – they were about as welcome as a dose of flu.
This flagship policy – promoted as a security initiative but exposed as an expensive and unnecessary spying on the population exercise – was scrapped after a public outcry.
It was going to cost you £60 to buy something you didn't want.
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It was all in the name of the state keeping track of you. They could even stop you in the street, just like the Stasi or the KGB, and make you produce your papers.
But when the cards were scrapped we were maybe foolish to think it was the end of the State's intrusion-creep. How naive we were. They just came in by the back door. They're getting even more info, and you're still paying, just by different methods.
Take my experience this week. I got a 'reminder' from the DVLA. They said I had to renew the photo on my driving licence. It has to be done every ten years.
Now I was quite happy with the old one I don't look much different. But change it I had to do. If not they'd fine me £1,000.
But for the privilege of updating my picture, they'd charge me £20, plus, if I applied at a Post Office, another £4.50.
However, if I'd renewed my passport recently, for which I'd already coughed up £72.50, I could do it online.
And that's where the fun, and the probing for more personal info, starts.
To process online you have to have a Government Gateway ID.
To get that and the new photo on your licence, they need all of the following:
name, gender, title, DOB, country of birth, address and how long you have lived there.
Home number and daytime number, driver number and licence number.
National insurance number, passport number. Birth surname, marital status.
Mother's maiden name, place of birth.
And did I want to donate my organs? Tick here please. (And the choice is only there because Gordon Brown was talked out of presumed consent).
They then take your credit card number and security code. And they already have your photo.
So it's quite obvious there was never any need for an identity card. It was just an expensive exercise in bureaucracy.
There is virtually nothing the State's agencies – and the companies (such as private parking enforcers) that pay for some of this information – don't know about you.
If you've filled in a census form they'll have your race, religion and much more. Sexual orientation is sure to come in the future.
Should the police arrest you they can take your fingerprints and DNA, even if you're innocent. And what about ANPR? Cameras can now pick up your car registration and check it against databases.
Your intimate health records are all on computers. Other agencies, such as the taxman and local authorities, have their own files.
CCTV follows you everywhere. Computer use, mobile phone and credit card activity can be tracked.
And one look at Google Streetview will tell any snoopers all they need to know about your house and garden.
So who needs identity cards? The blighters already know everything about you – and you're paying for the privilege!
Unless you're an illegal immigrant or a foreign criminal, of course.
Then they haven't a clue. George Orwell would be flabbergasted.