The Genetic Predisposition of Henry Porter

July 11th, 2006

Beware of card tricks

The government claims that national identity cards will help to counter terrorism, illegal immigration and ID fraud. That’s rubbish, says Henry Porter, and in fact there is something much more sinister about them – they will fundamentally alter the relationship between citizen and state, and make slaves of us all

Tuesday July 11, 2006
The Guardian

The other day I went to see my publishers in central London and prepared for the usual performance at the entrance, which involves me writing my name, the name of my editor and the time in a book. On this occasion the man asked me to type the details into a keyboard then angled a camera on a stalk into my face. I typed away but held one hand in front of the lens before moving swiftly out of the camera’s field to make for the lift. “Hold on, sir,” shouted the security guard after me. “You can’t go in unless you’ve had your picture taken.”

“I can,” I said, “because you have no right to take my photograph without my consent. And you most certainly don’t have it.”

A week later I was confronted with the same piece of equipment at my gym in west London. Again I placed my hand over the camera lens and to the baffled receptionists quoted the Image Retention Act 2002. There was, of course, no Image Retention Act in 2002, or any other year. That time, they let me in. By my next visit they were waiting for me. The receptionist stood back out of range of my hand and snapped my picture before I had time to react.

To many, my behaviour would seem unreasonable. After all, my picture is taken hundreds – maybe thousands – of times every day in London. But that is not my objection. What bothers me is when someone puts my image, my name, the place and time together. That is information of a personal nature, and is an invasion of my privacy.

I have exactly the same response to the ID card and the much more sinister National Identity Register (NIR), which one day will track each one of us through almost every important transaction of our lives. Emails leaked to the Sunday Times at the weekend suggest that senior civil servants in charge of key aspects of the scheme, Peter Smith and David Foord, have grave doubts about the practicalities of introducing the card. This may be reassuring to some but the argument against this folly must take place on every level. I am instinctively against them, politically against the card and the NIR – and, if it doesn’t sound pretentious, philosophically against them too.

At a stretch, I would carry a voluntary little plastic ID card, because I have no objection to identifying myself when it is my choice. I don’t mind taking my passport along to the bank or showing my driving licence to collect a parcel from the post office – but I am preternaturally against the state forcing me to supply biometric measurements and 49 separate pieces of information about myself to a database which will be accessed by God knows who without my permission or knowledge. I am genetically incapable of submitting to such a process. I cannot do it. I will not do it, and I pray that when the public understands how this scheme will profoundly alter the relationship between the individual and the state thousands more will recoil and say the same. […]

First things first; well done Henry, you have your brain switched to ‘on’.

Now. What on earth would a gym need to take your photograph on entry for? If they issue you with a photo ID, you show it when you enter and thats it. They are doing this because they can. The correct response is not to do a ‘crazy dance’ and make up false laws etc etc. What you do is, you call the manager over there and then, and then say to her, “I will not allow you to photograph me as I enter the club. If you do not stop this, I will cancel my membership right now, and write an article in The Guardian explaining why I have cancelled my membership. You are a private organization, and you have the right to do whatever you want inside your own club. I on the other hand, will not pay you to violate my privacy.”

That is how you lay your cards out. This is about money at the end of the day, and if you were to do as I said, not only would the practice be stopped at your gym, but everywhere that is doing this would be stopped.

Like I have said on BLOGDIAL again and again; do not do anything that does not directly contribute to giving you the result you desire. Crazy man act achieves nothing. Covering the camera at your publisher does nothing. You need to make sure that everyone knows what you think and why, and that you WILL NOT tolerate it, and will withdraw your money, and spread the message to everyone else using the same service should the business in question refuse to comply.

As I said, I am instinctively – genetically, as I put it – opposed to ID cards and the Identity Register. I am also politically opposed because as the government database grows, I believe there will be a commensurate lessening in the state’s respect for each one of us. We will be reduced to the great mass of classified specimens, pinned down and itemised like dead butterflies in a showcase. Because of the power it possesses over us, I believe the government will gradually become less accountable and less responsive to the needs and wishes of the people. Whereas once politicians were our servants, they will become our masters and we their slaves.

I have philosophical objections, too. In a free country I believe that every human being has the right to define him or herself independently and without reference to the government of the time. This, I believe, is particularly important in a multicultural society such as ours. The ID card and NIR require and will bring about a kind of psychological conformity, which is utterly at odds with a culture that has thrived on individualism, defiance and the freedom to go your own way.

And it will remove the right of those who for whatever reason wish to withdraw from the cares of the world and the influence of society, to resort to the consolations of solitude and privacy without inspection from a centralised authority. Privacy, anonymity and solitude are rights, and we are about to lose them for ever.

People say that everything about you is known already. Someone has calculated that each of us appears on up to 700 databases. But the real point is that everything that is known about you will become linked up on the NIR. The register will take on a life of its own, for once you set up a system like this it becomes ineluctably compelled to find out more and more about you. That will be its hardwired purpose.

Imagine handing over the keys to your home when you are out at work to allow some faceless bureaucrat to rifle through your desk and drawers, your photograph albums and children’s school reports, your bills and love letters. That is the kind of access they are going to have, and it is going to grow as time goes by and we become accustomed to this unseen presence in our lives.

Well, it’s not for me. I cannot do it. I will not do it, and I hope you won’t either. […]

The Guardian

I am sad to say that alot of what is happening today, the bad stuff, has everything to do with genetics…genetic deficiency. But I digress.

What we (you, I and everyone else) needs to do is to now execute a plan to remove control over our identity documents from administration by the state. The noble No2ID, in the wake of the leaked memos are now calling for everyone to write letters to their MPs and the newspapers. This is totally pointless. The MPs are the ones that have created this insanity. The newspapers are staffed almost without exception by idiots from top to bottom. We need to take an action that will give us what we want, and remove from the government what they should not have; the ability to administer identity.

If we do not do this, and take the postmen, the Eloi, the morons the uneducated along with us, nothing is going to change, and, as you remark in your article, the next generation will suffer the consequences. Indeed, if the ID card scheme is shelved for now and done in 2026 as some have predicted, that is precisely what will happen. We now have a golden opportunity to re-engineer our releationship with government. Identity is a key element of how man relates to government; if we take permanent control of our identities and remove that control from the state, we immediately take a step towards making government into a service that serves the constituent.

Every totalitarian state uses ID cards to control populations in a fine grained way. We need to prevent this from happening in the UK, and we can do it, with a scheme that is British in nature, highly efficient, very private and ‘secure’ iin that the documents are unforgable.

What’s that you say? “How can it be done?”

The document is coming.

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