Monday, May 15, 2006

Aussies spinning in ID cards debate

William Heath has just come back form Australia where the top official on their proposed "Access Card" (aka ID card) scheme has resigned. It seems he wanted to raise some of the practical problems at the outset and the government collectively rolled into a foetal position and yelled 'not listening, not listening.'

"The UK Home Office's reputation may be in tatters domestically, but authoritarians around the world seem to take heart and want to emulate its ID card policy. The issues around single-identifier projects are global: risk, cost, business case, phoney pretexts. Above all a lack of engagement between those who understand the technology and those who feel the need to be seen to be decisive. The dominant analogy while I was out there is railway gauges, as in why use different identifiers which dont interoperate - surely we should get together and use the same gauge...

Deep, long-lasting political decisions about technical architectures are being by people who can only talk about it indirectly via metaphor and analogy: are we standardising railway gauges here, or is this a Swiss Army knife? Should we put all our eggs in one basket? The very cards themselves, call them ID cards, Entitlementment Cards, Access Cards, other-euphemism cards, are just a metaphor for the real issue - the panoptical-database state."

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