Thursday, September 21, 2006

A bigger menace than blue-green algae ...

I got out, exhausted and disillusioned, of politics and community activity about eight years ago (although I still teach and write about it), but now something has happened to drag me back in.

The night before last I went to an inaugural meeting for a local group of NO2ID, the non-partisan campaign against the government's plan to introduce identity cards and, far more sinister, a national identity database that will hold at least fifty different pieces of information about each and every one of us, accessible by all government departments, much of the rest of the public sector and probably, ultimately, private businesses too. (And that's just those with legitimate access. It is inevitable that the register will be misused and the information held get into unauthorised hands.) It will be the responsibility of each of us as individuals to ensure that the information held on us is correct - with a £1,000 fine if it isn't - but we won't have the ability to amend it.

What's this got to do with boats? Well, it has already been noted (I think by the Residential Boat Owners' Association) that the requirement to register a permanent address at which you live (i.e. not just for mail) is going to present problems for continuous cruisers. But it goes beyond that - you will be required to inform the government if you are going to be away from your registered address for any period of more than three months, and tell them where they can find you. So there goes that long cruise.

If you care about your privacy; if you believe that your rights aren't just given to you as a favour by the government but are something bigger than that that should protect you from the state; if you don't want to live in a country where you daren't leave home without your pass card, then please go to NO2ID and support the campaign in whatever way you can.

And if you think that ID cards might be a good idea, that they could help fight crime and terrorism, and that 'if you've got nothing to hide then you've got nothing to fear', then please go to NO2ID and find out the real facts.

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