I decided to take a consolidation approach in view of the upcoming opportunities for ID Cards coverage and replied to Mr McCullough on Friday, 24th June:
Dear Mr McCullough,
I think I can safely say we’ve seen a marginal improvement in the BBC’s coverage of ID Cards since you circulated my first complaint. I refer to the 2 “Any Questions” programmes, and a series of interviews with different expects one day early June on News24 and an interview with Baronness Ludlow on the 12th.
I hope to explain why this is insufficient by the BBC’s own standards. In the BBC Consultation this year I was asked about the BBC’s role in educating the public on political (as opposed to party political) issues. This is not a party political issue and therefore it is wrong to only consult opposing views from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
It seems apparent that you are not convinced that the public needs educating about ID Cards to the extent that I believe. I can assure you that if you spoke to me for 20 minutes then you would change your mind. It is for this reason I include my telephone number at the top of this letter.
Opposition to the scheme has risen to 43% according to the latest ICM poll and if Australia’s example is to be followed, will rise to 70+% before they are introduced. Naturally, people will be going to prison rather than subject themselves to this.
I also realise that it is not your job to determine the extent of ID Cards coverage and would appreciate it if you would put me in contact with someone who does have influence in that regard.
In particular, the Second Reading of the Bill is this Tuesday, 28th June. Coverage of the Commons debate will make excellent TV for months to come.
You mention that No2ID are linked to on the ICan website. I propose that most members of No2ID demonstrably know more about the Bill than even any Government Minister and consequently should be consulted for opinion every time ID Cards are covered.
Lastly, your letter implied that my last letter had been read by Michael Grade himself. Can you confirm that that is the case?
I also wrote the following letter the same day to the Director General of the BBC (head of strategy & programming):
Dear Mr Thompson,
The all-party Lord's Committee for the Constitution said the Government's ID Card scheme was misleadingly named.
So when the Bill was re-introduced in this Parliament, one might wonder why they ignored that advice and kept the same name.
What are the Government hiding in the fine print of this Bill?
The biggest lump under the carpet is the creation of the most ambitious government database ever, containing 51 items of personal information for each citizen.
No major Government IT project has ever been completed within budget. Just one example is the NHS database which, at £30+ Billion, is at least 500% over budget.
The London School of Economics report has already costed the ID Card scheme at £200 - 300 per person, a figure backed up by Private Eye.
But what really scares people into joining the No2ID campaign are the Unique Identity Numbers we'll be issued with.
Since I wrote a dissertation on the Data Protection Act 10 years ago, it's been clear that whilst we need to be careful about intrusive data collected on us, our main protection is that the data is held on unconnected databases. So whilst our GPs have access to our medical records, and the Inland Revenue can review our tax records, no-one can easily access both.
Yet breaking this protection is the real purpose of the ID Cards Bill: After the Nazis used one of the first ever databases to round up Jews, the German constitution prevented any schemes of numbering its citizens. But the Government have blocked any attempt to stop our Identity Numbers from being used to connect up all the data held on computers about us.
Only last Saturday, the European Parliament voted against ISPs being forced to retain details of our internet access - but many countries are ignoring their ruling. It would only take a law forcing ISPs to share that data with the Government (as recently requested by George Bush) and the Government and their officials would have a complete account of our social and political affiliations.
This is far worse than the scenario outlined by George Orwell in 1984.
There are other steps towards a surveillance society we should fear. The cards themselves will probably contain RFID chips. These can be interrogated by nearby scanners, thus enabling our movements to be tracked in detail.
And the recent initiative for Pay As You Drive will mean our car movements will inevitably be tracked.
One might assume the Government were merely technologically naive if it wasn't for their consistently misleading comments on the supposed benefits of the cards... despite being repeatedly told why the Bill would make no difference to terrorism, immigration or identity theft, and insignificant difference to benefit fraud. If you want those explanations, please ask. Otherwise, for sake of brevity, I'll just point out that none of those things have been helped by ID Cards in other countries.
I am the Bristol co-ordinator for No2ID and am recommending that there is compelling TV to be created out of this situation.
In particular, the Second Reading of the Bill is this Tuesday, 28th June. Coverage of the Commons debate would make an ideal start for the BBC’s coverage of the real purpose of the Government’s ID Card scheme.
If you want any further information or help, please feel free to phone me on 0117 9xx xxxx or contact the central No2ID campaign via www.no2id.net