ID Cards

This motion extending opposition to the implemenation of mandatory ID cards and also the routine fingerprinting of children and pub customers was put to Council 13th January 2009 by Cllr Mark Wright and was PASSED.

The Motion

Council notes:

  1. The ID cards motion of 22nd November 2005 that committed the Council to opposing ID cards where possible
  2. That since that time, the Government has on numerous occasions lost sensitive personal information relating to several million citizens, clearly demonstrating the dangers of hoarding vast amounts of personal data centrally
  3. The growing pernicious trend of routinely fingerprinting schoolchildren in schools for trivial activities such as taking out library books
  4. The growing pressure from authorities in some towns and cities for bars and pubs to fingerprint customers upon entry

Council therefore resolves to:

Reaffirm its opposition to the mandatory national ID cards scheme

Council demands that any future decision by Cabinet, Officers or Committee must give the gravest weight to the following Full Council expectations to:

  1. Take no part in any pilot scheme or feasibility work in relation to the introduction of the national identity cards
  2. Ensure that national identity cards would not be required to access Council services or benefits unless specifically required by law
  3. Only co-operate with the national identity card scheme where to do otherwise would be unlawful
  4. State clearly that it does not approve of schools fingerprinting children
  5. Ensure that fingerprinting of customers of bars and pubs will not become part of the Council's licensing policy

Speech to the Motion

Thank you Lord Mayor; may I saw how relieved I am to be finally introducing this motion, which has been on the agenda for 6 months now! I thank the loyal group of public supporters who have come to every meeting where it has been on the agenda and are here again today.

Members with long memories may remember my first motion on this subject, way back in 2005. Some may wonder why the subject is back, when the Council is already opposed by a Motion to the introduction of ID cards. Well, the situation has moved on considerably since 2005, and there are two particular issues that must now be addressed.

The first issue is that the Govt has demonstrated clearly and repeatedly that confidential data will be lost regularly. Here is just a selection of the confidential data that the Government lost last year: 25 million family income-support bank records, all our learner driver records, some secret reports on Iraq and a secret report on Al Qaeda. Yet the Government continues to pretend it will never lose our ID card details!

And actually, these security breaches are not even really an indication of the incapability of the current government, because the reality is EVERY government will lose data – even a Lib Dem one. (When that wonderful day comes...which it will!)

There is a reason why we have the saying about not putting all your eggs in one basket – and this scheme would be putting all our information eggs in one basket – and that is that the moment your data is lost, criminals will have every detail they need to literally become you. If people think identity theft is bad now, you ain't seen nothin' yet!

The second issue that has changed since 2005 is that two new tentacles of big-brother society have emerged since then:

One tentacle is the fingerprinting children in schools. This is actually happening in Bristol right now in several schools. The schools themselves claim that fingerprinting is used to get lunches and library books. Now, I don't doubt that the people who are pushing this in schools themselves think that they are doing this for good reasons. They may well think that they are speeding up lunch-time and cutting queue lengths, but there's a serious point here.

Adults wouldn't submit 'en mass to being fingerprinted to take out a library book, or to pick up food at lunch…so why is this acceptable for our children? Fingerprinting is what we do to criminals – people who need to be tracked for our own safety - it's not for children who don't understand the implications of being tagged in this manner. I think this is really a case of getting them while they're young, while there is no opposition. I'm very pleased to say that opposing fingerprinting in schools became LD policy at autumn conference.

The other tentacle is fingerprinting punters in bars and clubs. This isn't currently happening in Bristol, and I want to make sure it doesn't. This is marketed as a method of cutting trouble from binge drinking – presumably the Government like this idea it because it doesn't upset the brewing industry – because it doesn't actually affect alcohol sales. It does dehumanise customers though.

Left unchallenged, these two uses of fingerprinting will have the effect of normalising fingerprinting and tracking in society. That's not a good thing.

I've got to admit that I'm amazed Gordon Brown hasn't dropped ID cards yet. When the economy is desperate for infrastructure investment in this recession, Gordon is still insisting on spending £10 billion on a scheme that sees most of that cash go to consultants and foreign tech companies. No wonder the economy's up the creek!