This week has been quite a busy one for the guys in Westminster, two major bills have been passed - smoking WILL be banned in all public places as of summer 2007 and ID cards are coming, whether you like it or not.
As I mentioned before, I'm a fan of the smoking ban, so bring on summer 2007. I look forward to going out to the pub and being able to come home without smelling of an old ash tray.
As for the ID cards, having come from South Africa, ID books/cards are a way of life so I'm not too fussed about the ID cards either. Actually, I'm quite keen on these. I don't for one minute believe the government when they say that ID cards will fight terrorism and organised crime. However it will certainly help cut down on the identify theft (not eradicate it) and benefit fraud and if they implement them correctly, they can potentially make life much easier.
The ID cards will have smart cards that will hold some of the 49 types of identifying data which, if a bit of thought is put in, can make life soooo much easier. (Side thought: why have an ID#, drivers license # and NI #? Surely one number will do the job.) Imagine filling in most of an application form automatically by reading the data off the your ID card. Granted, this is a bit "pie in the sky" but it is possible. Especially if they make the common data (name, address, DOB) accessible by most, and the more confidential information only accessible by trusted sources, like the police.
One of the biggest complaints the anti-ID card advocates have is all their data is then potentially available to any Joe-Schmoe who can read the card - well, surprise, surprise, most of it already is without the need for the card. If I know your name, there's a good chance I can get hold of most of the other information without too much effort thanks to the likes of telephone directories, electoral roles, the public records office etc. None of these need me to prove who I am in order to get information.
Oh and stop worrying about the "Big Brother" aspect, the likes of Sainsburys and Tescos can already work out your shopping habits purely from your credit card number and till receipt. You don't even need to use their loyalty cards. So remember, next time you're shopping, Tescos are watching you put that extra bag of doughnuts into your trolley, again.
Oh and think of the brighter side, you could get Nectar points everytime the police stop you. If you're a bit of a dodgy looking fella, you'll have that trip to New York in no time.