My letter to the Economist on ID cards

by Stephen Tall on July 1, 2005

This week’s Economist rather oddly adopts a surprisingly neutral stance on ID cards. Here’s my letter in response:

Dear Sir,

So, the Economist has no philosophical problem with identity cards because the British people “traded their privacy for convenience long ago”? (Mistaken identity, 30th June.)

Owning a mobile phone and credit cards is my personal choice. I am not required to carry them with me at all times, nor to produce them for inspection by the authorities on demand. It is a purely commercial transaction which I can cancel at any time.

A compulsory ID card scheme, however, obliges me to hand over intimate details which will be controlled by the government forever. I must waive my individual rights, and trust to continuing State benevolence. Fortunately, I’m white and middle-class.

I do not need a piece of plastic to justify my existence. I’m surprised such an avowedly liberal newspaper thinks I do.

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Tall