Egyptian MP wants to remove religion from national IDs

Jun 7, 2016

By Noha Medhat

An Egyptian MP is proposing a new civil rights law that will abolish the necessity of stating an Egyptian citizen’s religion on her or his national ID card, as well as all official identity documents.

On Wednesday, Alaa Abd El-Moneim, who is the spokesperson for the Egyptian parliamentary coalition “Support Egypt,” presented the proposal that aims to use legislative authority to prevent all forms of discrimination in Egyptian society, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Moneim argued that there is no practical reason for stating an Egyptian citizen’s religion in the public sphere. He said that religious affiliation should only be disclosed when legal consequences are involved, such as in the cases of making arrangements for marriage and inheritance.

He added that equality and non-discrimination are two of the main foundations of the rule of law, and that all organizations, whether public or private, should be held accountable for any breaches of those principles. He considers mandating the disclosure of religion in official identity documents to be such a breach.


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43 comments on “Egyptian MP wants to remove religion from national IDs

  • This is a hopeful move toward secularism if it works out. According to Wiki, Lebanon has made a similar move:

    Removal of Religion[edit]
    Even though non-religion is not recognized by the Republic of Lebanon, on May 8, 2009, Minister of Interior, Ziad Baroud on behalf of the Lebanese Ministry of Interior announced that the mandatory inclusion of religion on identity cards was contrary to law for the protection of personal data. The State Council of the Republic of Lebanon decided that the mandatory indication of religious affiliation on identity cards is not legal, and also opposed to the optional reference to religion following the signature of the bearer at the buttom left corner of the Lebanese Identity Card.



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  • I have often wondered at the motivations behind the issuing of State Identity documents.

    The former Soviet Union used to have ID booklets (confusingly called passports – but not valid for international travel), and present-day Russia does too.

    In Soviet times Jews had their religion marked on their internal passport. When I learned this (living and working in Russia), I looked into the matter.

    Essentially, State Identity docs (SIs) are instruments of segregation. They are, by design, ways to separate society into ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ (usually related to where you can live and work) and into classes – to clearly identify privileged and/or actively-state-promoted suppressed groups.

    Although it is rare for them to be expressly promoted as such, they are a gift to bigots, ultra-nationalists, racists, hate groups (and what other motivation might there be but religious hate, when religion is included) and most of the other usual suspects.

    If your country has a SI system – whether it notes your religion or not – I urge you to resist it.

    As a part-time member of the (ultimately successful) NO2ID group in Britain I also worry that SI is increasingly being introduced by the back door.

    Drivers Licenses and International Passports are frequently being used in many countries as SIs. Please, please, resist any move by your government to mandate non-essential information on Government-issued documents.

    The Drivers License is a document that tells people you’re entitled to drive a vehicle, it should have no other use – adding your religion, ethnicity, or place of birth to it should be, at worst, entirely voluntary.

    Your Passport is for international travel, it should not include any details that are not directly relevant to international travel and, again, adding your religion should be 100% voluntary.

    If we do not continuously press for these conditions we give up personal freedoms, enable bigotry and repression and promote the agendas of de facto fascists, religio-fascists and communists.

    Peace.



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  • Stephen of Wimbledon #5
    Jun 8, 2016 at 3:28 am

    I have often wondered at the motivations behind the issuing of State Identity documents.

    While such information can be used for discrimination against certain groups, it can be useful in identifying areas of discrimination and corruption in favour of members of cliques.

    I can recall geographical areas in the UK where almost all senior public appointments were people belonging to particular religious denominations (eg. Methodism), connections to particular political parties, golf clubs, Free Masonry etc. or combinations of these.

    The US system of new governors, presidents etc. appointing their own staff (rather than inheriting permanent professional civil servants), illustrates this leaning towards shared cognitive biases and yes-men!



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  • where almost all senior public appointments were people belonging to particular religious denominations (eg. Methodism), connections to particular political parties, golf clubs, Free Masonry etc. or combinations of these.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/05/texas-tv-host-to-school-board-candidate-are-you-christian-enough-to-represent-this-district/

    This link shows the kind of discriminatory questions sometimes considered in making appointments! Sometimes questions are not even asked, but insider knowledge is used for discriminatory purposes!

    Wars have been fought in places like Ireland, over discriminatory appointments of “good Catholics” or “good Protestants”, rather than judging the capability of candidates to do particular jobs!



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  • Hi Alan [#6],

    While such information can be used for discrimination against certain groups, it can be useful in identifying areas of discrimination and corruption in favour of members of cliques

    I have no doubt that SI systems have potential up-sides – the NO2ID campaign had to consider them all.

    If we put our minds to it, we can probably think of many reasons why universal gun ownership might be a good idea. But the experience of countries that have this proviso suffer social ills that are not experienced by countries with gun controls.

    This is how you sound to me Alan. When you say: “SI is not an instrument of repression – politicians are an instrument of repression” it sounds politically identical to me to someone saying: “Guns don’t kill people – people kill people”

    State Identity (SI) – in which we ought to include databases that hold personal information – is a political instrument. It practically begs to be abused and misused – and the World’s experiences provide ample evidence that this is exactly what happens.

    The cases of misuse of SI systems far outweigh the cases of positive use. I may be guilty of seeking confirmation bias, but I’m not aware of any use for an SI that isn’t immediately countered by a misuse, and usually an intended misuse at that.

    The US system of new governors, presidents etc. appointing their own staff (rather than inheriting permanent professional civil servants), illustrates this leaning towards shared cognitive biases and yes-men!

    This is not a red flag on the existence of a power instrument, SI, with a track record of misuse by oppressors?

    Yes, a ’good’ government may introduce a SI and a ’bad’ government can then be elected and immediately misuse the SI – and the only defense citizens will have is direct action.

    By your own admission then, SI is anti-democratic.

    Peace.



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  • Hi Alan [#7],

    That’s all true.

    What has it to do with ID?

    No SI systems was in place so, your hypothesis goes, SI would have solved these problems.

    How?

    Your hypothesis is based purely on conjecture. Prove to me that an ID Card would have helped.

    Peace.



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  • Stephen of Wimbledon #9
    Jun 8, 2016 at 4:25 am

    Hi Alan [#7],

    That’s all true.

    What has it to do with ID?

    No SI systems was in place so, your hypothesis goes, SI would have solved these problems.

    How?

    Transparency showing biases in appointments as with race and gender.
    While I am not in favour of the false “balance” derived from quotas, nepotism and social biases need to be identifiable.

    Your hypothesis is based purely on conjecture.
    Prove to me that an ID Card would have helped.

    You could be right, that putting the info. on ID cards might not be appropriate, but it does need to be accessible if bias and corruption are to be exposed and discouraged in the interests of the wider public.

    Having all the headteachers and doctors in an area secretly appointed on the basis of their membership of a particular church, is a really bad idea!



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  • 11
    Pinball1970 says:

    @8 If we put our minds to it, we can probably think of many reasons why universal gun ownership might be a good idea. But the experience of countries that have this proviso suffer social ills that are not experienced by countries with gun controls.

    Not a great analogy.

    There are obvious reasons why ID cards would be very useful in the UK and the only drawback for me would be the cost.

    Also I am guessing the UK is not like Russia in terms of security ,ethnic diversity, immigration, politics, crime and general social fabric?

    You have lived in both countries so you could expand on this.



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  • Pinball1970 #11
    Jun 8, 2016 at 8:50 am

    There are obvious reasons why ID cards would be very useful in the UK and the only drawback for me would be the cost.

    I already have several:-

    A European Heath Insurance Card,
    Bank cards,
    a photo ID swipe card bus pass,
    and a passport.

    There are also staff ID swipe-cards which give access to restricted areas at work.



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  • Stephen of Wimbledon #8
    Jun 8, 2016 at 4:22 am

    Yes, a ’good’ government may introduce a SI and a ’bad’ government can then be elected and immediately misuse the SI – and the only defense citizens will have is direct action.

    That is the key issue! Does the overall authority have equality and fairness at heart, or is the centre of power corrupted and promoting bias and corruption?

    The second point you make is also valid. Does a “good government” exist in a system which has the stability and resilience, to resist the machinations of a subsequent “bad government”!



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  • Hi Alalan [#10],

    SoW: No SI systems was in place so, your hypothesis goes, SI would have solved these problems.
    .
    SoW: How?
    .
    A4D: Transparency showing biases in appointments as with race and gender

    You lost me Alan: If social-group-bias was discovered it was made transparent. That it was made transparent after the fact suggests that someone who was not a member of the clique pointed to the data and said: “Hey, take a look at these people feathering their nests at the expense of others” (or words to that effect).

    Where did your ID Card come into that story?

    There was no ID yet the data were available.

    There was no ID yet transparency was achieved by someone being brave enough to point to existing data and which, as I understand your take, led to other people coming forward to reveal the skewed interview process.

    If there had been ID, how would this picture have been better?

    I have an alternative scenario for you – one which, like yours, is conjecture so to me it is equal in validity:

    ID Cards, had they existed at the time each of those people were hired, had ethnic, place of birth, religion and other data identifying them as not being members, or potential members, of the Clique. No interview questions required.

    A member of the Clique notices that application forms request ethnic monitoring data. The application process is revised as: “We can cut staff acquisition costs by not collecting the same data twice. Interviewers will report data from applicants’ ID cards, submitted at interview.”

    When questioned later about the lack of source monitoring data a member of the Clique says to the press: ID data was deemed too sensitive to keep on record and so our policy is to destroy as part of each new employee’s probation process. The right wing press, as some did for Hillsborough, will of course peddle this as the official and therefore correct line even when evidence begins to emerge that a cover-up is in process.

    Where would your data and reports of skewed interviews have come from then?

    In précis: IDs would have made the bigots’ lives far easier, and it would have taken courageous people with lots of time on their hands, access to data (some of which, if the Clique are alerted, will be false) and access to people (which, given the Clique’s influence, would be very uphill work at best) to reveal the fraud.

    This is a classic misuse of ID cards, assumptions are made which can be wholly inaccurate.

    This is a classic fraud using ID cards – and this is a documented fact: State ID increases fraud. The WW2 ID card fraud levels was one of the most telling arguments against Britain reintroducing ID cards.

    A4D: You could be right, that putting the info. on ID cards might not be appropriate …

    ID docs, in and of themselves, are an inappropriate instrument for the yoking of citizens to the plough of State-sponsored, politicized, bigotry and for the promotion of an unequal relationship where the State can and does demand a piece of you for nothing in return – no, not even greater security. State IDs have no known security advantage. They have no other function than to promote the State over you.

    A4D: … but it [info.] does need to be accessible if bias and corruption are to be exposed and discouraged in the interests of the wider public

    Why?

    You have yourself, as above, clearly demonstrated that is not true. ID docs (cards, passports, whatever) are ideal ways of giving a false sense of security where little or no security exists.

    Data for the tracking and identification of corruption, as any good investigative journalist or lawyer will tell you, is circumstantial at best. Like any crime, you still have to prove means, motive and opportunity. ID data will not only not give you that, it will often send you in the wrong direction. Context is everything, and ID data may in some cases help with context – but this is a very minor check that stands against an artillery barrage of Xs.

    A4D: Having all the headteachers and doctors in an area secretly appointed on the basis of their membership of a particular church, is a really bad idea!

    I have no argument with you Alan. IDs will not fix that.

    Peace.



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  • Hi Alan [#13],

    That is the key issue! Does the overall authority have equality and fairness at heart, or is the centre of power corrupted and promoting bias and corruption?

    I had to give that some thought in order to come up with an answer that is as polite and constructive as I could make it.

    Basically Alan, it appears you are more trusting of government’s than I am. My personal experience, I admit, colors my perception. People can be vile. Anyone can be in government, and unsavory characters frequently stand for election.

    The second point you make is also valid. Does a “good government” exist in a system which has the stability and resilience, to resist the machinations of a subsequent “bad government”!

    No.

    By definition the next government – whether democratically elected or not – has a new remit and that has to include undoing things the previous governments did, otherwise wrongs could never be righted.

    Peace.



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  • Not directly related, but an example of how this SI can be abused, was during the Nazi era: prior to invading a next country, they would sway the government of that country to hold a census (By bullying, bribe or threats against individual govt. members), in which religion was also stated. So, after the blitzkrieg was complete and another country cowed, the SS could move in and round up the jews. Read Edwin Black: IBM and the holocaust.
    So, kudos to mr El-Moneim. Certainly, in a predominant islamic country this existing SI is a handy tool for religious attacks.



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  • Hi Pinball [#11],

    [gun control as an analogy for ID control] Not a great analogy

    I won’t argue. I came up with it on the fly. Suggestions welcome.

    There are obvious reasons why ID cards would be very useful in the UK …

    I’m sure that a shorthand way of identifying yourself to the Doctor, Dentist, Bank, Shopkeeper, Hotel, Airline, etc. etc. is useful. I never said it isn’t. Notice, however, that the preponderence of these are private agreements – not State-mandated. Notice also, please, that I have included databases in my points of view. When data was kept on paper or card it was difficult to copy and secure – but it was kept secure in most instances. Contrast that with the, often State sponsored, sharing of data between database owners by and large without reference to the citizens to whom it belongs – indeed of whom, I argue, it is an integral and inseperable part.

    … the only drawback for me would be the cost

    I can only urge you, Pinball, to investigate the creeping advances of the State on your privacy. You’re way behind the curve. If you’re British try looking at the IP Bill currently making its way through Parliament – an Act designed to turn us into a surveilance state the like of which has not been seen since the GDR. Seriously, look at its provisions – it is as draconian and anti-human as anything done by any country in the Cold War. And they say we’ve advanced – PAH!

    Also I am guessing the UK is not like Russia in terms of security, ethnic diversity, immigration, politics, crime and general social fabric?

    You’ve never heard of Turkmen, Uzbeks, Chechens, Georgians … ?

    Russia is battling a wave of illegal immigration set off by the disintigration of the Soviet Union and the subsequent collapse of some businesses in neighboring countries, followed by a petro-dollar-fuelled expansion in Russia. It’s one reason that far-right politics has been lifted in Russia in recent years. The trend has increased in recent years as trade sanctions have motivated the Russian government to look at self-sufficiency. Little known fact: Russia has the biggest influx of illegal immigrants after the US.

    Russia is, by geographic area and by a wide margin, the World’s biggest country. Although I doubt anyone enters the country illegally by crossing the Arctic – but which is, nevertheless, home to some defense posts – that still leaves Russia with the World’s longest land border. If Americans think their border with Mexico is a problem, they have no idea what a real border problem is.

    Russia under Putin, as we know from the revelations that followed Snowden’s whistle-blowing, is viewed by most of the diplomatic community as a Bandit State. In short: The ruling elite are a bunch of crooks, ruling over a country that is run by other groups of crooks. The law is a tactic that is employed, occassionally, to bring some individual or faction to heel – and to subdue the populace. One result of this, to borrow an accurate phrase from The Economist, and a view which every Russian – even those in the highest office – happily subscribes to is: Levels of corruption in public life of heroic proportions.

    Russia has a history, stretching back to Czarist times, of feeling an unloved cousin of the European family. Isolated as much by their own policies as by any effort on the parts of Europeans, they feel they must justify themselves as special. This status has manifested, since Yeltsin, as a virulent form of nationalism – aided and abetted by state-control of the media which feeds a maudlin longing for Soviet and Czarist greatness, a feeling of being cheated out of rightful posessions by the disolution of the Soviet Union and a faith in the personality cult of Putin which is so strong its starting to look a little, dare I say, Korean? Little is forthcoming on the Russians actually just working for a better World and rising above the common herd of countries which, to my mind, they are perfectly capable of.

    The most telling thing I know about the Russians is that, in all the time I’ve really got to know them, they have never stopped continuously comparing themselves to Americans. After a while you understand their problem: They have a massive, collective, inferiority complex. Losing the Cold War has something to do with this, but it isn’t the whole story.

    The above feeds Putin’s policy of sabre-rattling on the international stage – which he does to look big. He’s international policies are no more sophisticated than your standard School Bully. He makes sure everyone sees – it keeps all but the strongest in line, and that includes at home.

    The above – with the usual government response to terrorism which they carbon copied from the US [FEAR, HORROR, UNKNOWN etc.] – and other factors feed an overall vibe of insecurity. On this basis it’s easy for the Government to continue the old, familiar, Soviet policy for IDs.

    You have lived in both countries so you could expand on this

    No way. That’s all you get – and even that took way too long.

    If you know a publisher with an advance in her hand I’ll happily write the book – but not before.

    Peace.



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  • Hi Paul [#16],

    Not directly related …

    No need to be shy. All confirmed histories of the misuse of IDs are relevant.

    Godwins Law came early today.

    Read Edwin Black: IBM and the holocaust

    I’ll put it on my list – which is currently growing at least twice as fast as I read … this, trying to lead your life by being true and factual is tiring.

    … kudos to Mr. El-Moneim. Certainly, in a predominant islamic country this existing SI is a handy tool for religious attacks

    Thank you for that. It’s a small victory, but it is still a victory and we shouldn’t lose sight of that.

    Well done Alaa Abd El-Moneim!

    Peace.



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  • Stephen of Wimbledon #8
    Jun 8, 2016 at 4:22 am

    em> A4D: Transparency showing biases in appointments as with race and gender

    You lost me Alan: If social-group-bias was discovered it was made transparent. That it was made transparent after the fact suggests that someone who was not a member of the clique pointed to the data and said: “Hey, take a look at these people feathering their nests at the expense of others” (or words to that effect).

    In local government job application forms there is often a confidential section asking details of race, colour ethnic origin sex etc.

    The overall numbers are analysed and compared to levels in the local population to check for discrimination. It is a crude system, but provides some sort of check.

    Where did your ID Card come into that story?

    ID checks come into avoiding impersonations and checking for fake qualifications.

    There was no ID yet the data were available.

    In the modern world, vast amounts of ID data are available on line. The card is needed to check that it is the correct person’s data which is being looked at.

    There was no ID yet transparency was achieved by someone being brave enough to point to existing data and which, as I understand your take, led to other people coming forward to reveal the skewed interview process.

    My information comes from private conversations with people who had insider knowledge, combined with scandals which broke at later dates.

    If there had been ID, how would this picture have been better?

    ID and records of attendance at meetings of those taking decisions, along with financial traceability do help fight corruption and fraud – as laundering establishments such as tax-havens, have data leaked.

    By definition the next government – whether democratically elected or not – has a new remit and that has to include undoing things the previous governments did, otherwise wrongs could never be righted.

    Various types of corruption are rife in politics, but generally speaking enforcement by central government on local government can be effective, as can be an independent judiciary, a constitution, legal precedents, a permanent civil service, employment protection legislation, and a second chamber to throw back bad legislation.
    International agreements, while weaker, can have restraining influences. (European court rulings?)

    Nothing is foolproof, but there are mechanisms in the more civilised parts of the world to attempt to tackle these issues.

    In any case, vast amounts of personal data are electronically available, while global tracking of business transactions is becoming more precise all the time.
    Public access to data on effects of bad government is also readily available where there is a free press. Whistle-blowers are getting harder to muzzle!



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  • Clearly in Egypt there is a problem with accountability of government!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-36469408

    Egypt’s former top auditor, who was sacked after highlighting government corruption, has gone on trial accused of spreading “false news“.

    Hisham Geneina was fired in March, soon after estimating corruption cost Egypt $67.6bn (£46.3bn) over four years.

    Mr Geneina said the figure was based on an exhaustive study, but a presidential commission concluded that he had misled the public with “foreign” help.

    The former judge denies the charges and says they are politically motivated.

    Critics say the prosecution raises questions about President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s avowed commitment to fighting corruption.

    Mr Geneina earlier told the New York Times that the prosecution was politically motivated and driven by powerful enemies inside the government.

    “I was expected not to touch certain corruption cases,” he said.

    The case is based on comments Mr Geneina made to two Egyptian newspapers last December, when he was still head of the Accountability State Authority (ASA).

    The daily Al-Youm Al-Sabea quoted Mr Geneina as saying in an interview that endemic corruption had cost Egypt some 600bn Egyptian pounds ($67.6bn) in 2015 alone, mostly in corrupt land deals.

    Mr Geneina later said that he had been misquoted and that the figure covered four years – a claim supported by a separate interview with another newspaper.

    He also noted that it was based on a study commissioned by the Egyptian planning ministry and carried out with the UN Development Programme.



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  • Hi Alan [#19],

    In local government job application forms there is often a confidential section asking details of race, colour ethnic origin sex etc.

    Yes, that’s exactly my point. Data of the kind your requesting is made possible by statutory requirements that don’t have to go as far as a State ID.

    It occurs to me that we may be talking at cross-purposes. When I say no to ID I mean State-mandated ID.

    Example:

    ID checks come into avoiding impersonations and checking for fake qualifications

    The BMA issues each Doctor with a unique identification code upon receiving confirmation from an accredited University Hospital that the Doctor has satisfactorily completed their training. In order to apply for a job the Doctor needs to ensure the BMA is kept up to date with any relevant changes to their personal circumstances.

    In this instance no card is issued (I understand they receive a letter, though it may now be an e-mail) – but a specific identity is created and maintained. It is a private arrangement between the professional body and its members. The State may gain, it may even approve and applaud, but the identity does not belong to the Government – nor should it.

    In the modern world, vast amounts of ID data are available on line

    Perhaps I’m being dense, Alan, but I fail to see what that has to do with SIs?

    The card is needed to check that it is the correct person’s data which is being looked at

    No it isn’t, it really isn’t. Private arrangements, like those of the BMA, are in use everywhere. Your Bank Card (I assume you have a bank account?) is another example.

    My information comes from private conversations with people who had insider knowledge, combined with scandals which broke at later dates
    .
    ID and records of attendance at meetings of those taking decisions, along with financial traceability do help fight corruption and fraud – as laundering establishments such as tax-havens, have data leaked

    This is all great stuff Alan, and it all undermines your case for a State ID. You’re saying that the data became available in cases past – without ID – and that’s true, and if we remove you’re ID from the above:

    … records of attendance at meetings … etc.

    The World still works. It still turns.

    Various types of corruption are rife in politics, but generally speaking enforcement by central government on local government can be effective, as can be an independent judiciary, a constitution, legal precedents, a permanent civil service, employment protection legislation, and a second chamber to throw back bad legislation

    I agree that all these things would be great if we had them. I’m not convinced that we actually have any of those things in nearly enough strength, but even if we did would having them be proof against misuse of an SI system. No. Habeous Corpus, TPIMS, Open Justice, the Right to Protest, the withholding of armed forces during a police action, privacy, and now we have the IP Bill from which all the Government’s past illegal activities will be legalised and the mass surveillance of the innocent will run riot. The idea that Britain has safeguards is a complete nonsense and a long series of laws passed since the 1980s stands as stark and unassailable evidence that representative democracy and independent courts are poor safeguards for citizen’s liberty.

    We have to be active participants in democracy, or we’ll lose it.

    International agreements, while weaker, can have restraining influences

    Like TTIP you mean – come on! – that isn’t even close to a sound argument. It’s practically self-refuting.

    European court rulings?

    For as long as we remain EU members … I’m with you Alan I’m voting Stay, but it’ll be a close-run thing.

    Nothing is foolproof …

    We can agree that much.

    … there are mechanisms in the more civilised parts of the world to attempt to tackle these issues

    Good luck to them … wherever they are.

    In any case, vast amounts of personal data are electronically available

    I don’t see how that makes a case for SI? We gave away some of ourselves, and thus gave away our human rights … wait, what?!

    Public access to data on effects of bad government is also readily available where there is a free press

    A. I don’t buy that. The press are not to be trusted as my guardian. Hillsborough was the start, then we had politicians supporting a commercial transaction against the interests of the people with the proposed purchase of Sky, closely followed by Levison. Governments of all stripes have attacked the BBC continuously for the last decade at least. Thames Television was politically hounded into irrelevance. I even have to watch films with a critical eye now.

    B. Just as bad can follow good – so too can bad follow bad. Access to data you say … things that get a bad politician out of bed in the morning?

    Whistle-blowers are getting harder to muzzle!

    Are they?

    Chelsea Manning (imprisoned in solitary confinement last I heard) Julian Assange (in self-imposed lonely exile in an Embassy) and Edward Snowden (exiled to Russia). Yes, of course, how did I miss that they were all lauded as heroes in their countries of birth. At least the Germans understand – but then Germany remembers the Stasi only too well.

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Socialist

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Jew

    Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me

    Peace.



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  • Stephen of Wimbledon #21
    Jun 8, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    In any case, vast amounts of personal data are electronically available

    I don’t see how that makes a case for SI? We gave away some of ourselves, and thus gave away our human rights … wait, what?!

    What I am saying, is that in the real world, there is little point in trying to carry out a rear-guard action, bolting the stable-door when the horses are long gone.
    Most of the data is already out there. The question is “How do we manage it?” not, “Can it be hidden from government?”

    There is also the point of how effectively governments are restrained and accountable to laws, constitutions etc.
    One size does not fit all.

    CCTV, Numberplate recognition software, date, time, and place, of bankcard transactions, mobile phone records of contacts, calls, and locations, are already reality.



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  • 23
    Pinball1970 says:

    I already have several:-

    A European Heath Insurance Card,
    Bank cards,
    a photo ID swipe card bus pass,
    and a passport.

    There are also staff ID swipe-cards which give access to restricted areas at work



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  • EDIT to #21

    I missed out several excellent books in my point A about how untrustworthy the British press (the modern press?) are.

    I realise the poet was not talking about the Stasi, he was referencing the Gestapo. It was supposed to be an example of bad follows bad.

    Peace.



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  • Stephen of Wimbledon #21
    Jun 8, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    ID and records of attendance at meetings of those taking decisions, along with financial traceability do help fight corruption and fraud – as laundering establishments such as tax-havens, have data leaked

    This is all great stuff Alan, and it all undermines your case for a State ID. You’re saying that the data became available in cases past – without ID – and that’s true, and if we remove you’re ID from the above:

    I think ID and personal data is better linked to an electronic access card where the individual can have data protection access to see it and challenge any errors or falsehoods, rather that having it scattered all over the place hidden in various obscure corners. I can also see no problem with having certain parts labelled “confidential” and password protected.

    All these issues hinge of the integrity of the operation of the data management involved.
    In some parts of the world such integrity simply does not exist, but that does not mean that we should not try to set up honest information systems.

    The “cases past” I mentioned, were in the pre-internet age, or based around paper systems which could easily be hidden or shredded.
    The subsequent scandals came out in the news, because the consequences could not be hidden.



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  • Pinball1970 #25
    Jun 8, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    sorry guys messed that up.

    If you click on your username it takes your to a list of your recent posts
    which have a “delete” option underneath them.
    I have not tested this yet, but you may wish to test it yourself.



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  • Hi Alan [#22 & #26],

    What I am saying, is that in the real world, there is little point in trying to carry out a rear-guard action, bolting the stable-door when the horses are long gone

    That’s the media’s (and some ICT co.’s) representation of the political landscape – it has no bearing on the real world.

    In reality we create new data every day and old data becomes increasingly less valuable – except, perhaps, to historians.

    There is no situation where we can’t win back lost privacy – that’s a canard.

    Most of the data is already out there

    No it isn’t, as above.

    Also, the analogy of a horse that left the stable is a false analogy. If you want data where do you go? Back to the database – back to the stable. Why? Because data – good data – has to be maintained. Securing databases secures many, many horses that have not yet left the stable.

    The question is “How do we manage it?” not, “Can it be hidden from government?”

    That’s two questions.

    The management of private lives must surely mean, by definition, empowering us. We lead those lives, that data is a part of who we are.

    I’m not advocating “hiding” from government – nor is anyone that I know of who’s serious about this issue. All we’re asking for is the return of our human right to a private life and due process by properly constituted bodies which are supervised to ensure they remain within their remit – a return to innocent until proven guilty.

    There is also the point of how effectively governments are restrained and accountable to laws, constitutions etc.

    Exactly so, and I worry that in Britain we have lost too much accountability to precedent and principle.

    Numberplate recognition software

    It is important to recognize that some data is properly in the public domain. Number plates are issued by the Government, they are public information. There is a growing realization that the modern world is enabled to create data that didn’t previously exist. Is using number plate recognition and public CCTV to track your movements on public roads an invasion of your human right to a private life? Going about your business without any interference from government is, clearly and unambiguously, a part of your right to a private life.

    On the other hand: I was recently caught out when rules changed in a local street. CCTV images and my car number plate were used to fine me for parking too long. I didn’t complain, indeed I applaud this use of technology – it is merely a more effective use of Traffic Wardens / Parking Attendants.

    People like me, who press for greater understanding of the uses of identities and data, are not fundamentalists. We’re just people who are saying that if we think through the consequences instead of just doing then asking the awkward questions later, if want technology to truly enhance lives, if we want policy based on fact not fiction, we should look at the new grey areas created by technology and consider how to support our humanity and things like, oh I don’t know, how about supporting our time-tested democratic principles.

    I think ID and personal data is better linked to an electronic access card …

    Centralizing information makes it less secure, easier to subvert and more difficult to refute errors. Centralizing access doubly so. Ask anyone who knows about risk management.

    … rather that having it scattered all over the place hidden in various obscure corners

    Having my data in different places is a great idea. It means that I retain an enhanced level of privacy. There is no reason for my Broker to know anything about the garden tools I bought, or for my Bus travel data to be listed alongside my Daughter’s data. If you have obscure corners in your life Alan, why should that bother me? Frankly, that’s your problem. Please stop eulogizing for my loss of human rights just because you don’t have your ducks in a row. Seriously; please reconsider your priorities here.

    I can also see no problem with having certain parts labelled “confidential” and password protected

    Why can’t we simply start with the assumption of privacy?

    Peace.



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  • Stephen of Wimbledon #28
    Jun 9, 2016 at 3:25 am
    There is no situation where we can’t win back lost privacy – that’s a canard.

    Most of the data is already out there

    No it isn’t, as above.

    Also, the analogy of a horse that left the stable is a false analogy. If you want data where do you go? Back to the database – back to the stable. Why? Because data – good data – has to be maintained. Securing databases secures many, many horses that have not yet left the stable.

    As I recall there is a lot of data released by Edward Snowden, about secret tax-haven bank accounts, and embarrassing statements that many people would like to have confined to the original secure data bases, or to have been finally deleted, but once (multiple?) copies are made, the horses do not go back in the stables!

    The management of private lives must surely mean, by definition, empowering us. We lead those lives, that data is a part of who we are.

    I’m not advocating “hiding” from government – nor is anyone that I know of who’s serious about this issue. All we’re asking for is the return of our human right to a private life and due process by properly constituted bodies which are supervised to ensure they remain within their remit – a return to innocent until proven guilty.

    That is the key issue. – A reputable system to govern and restrain government bodies, (or rogue individuals) from abuses and mission-creep. It is dependent on policing corruption in high places, and does not work where those in authority are allowed to cover up abuses – or attack whistle-blowers. (My example of Egyptian prosecution of an auditor appears to illustrate this)

    There is also the point of how effectively governments are restrained and accountable to laws, constitutions etc.

    Exactly so, and I worry that in Britain we have lost too much accountability to precedent and principle.

    Enforced law and regulations, are the key to accountability, but both stealthy bureaucracy and politicians howling for repeal of “red-tape” can undermine this.

    Having my data in different places is a great idea. It means that I retain an enhanced level of privacy.

    It can do, but it can also mean that there is data about you, scattered all over the place that you know nothing about, and have no opportunity to correct.



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  • 30
    Pinball1970 says:

    @12 &17
    Alan
    “A European Heath Insurance Card,
    Bank cards,
    a photo ID swipe card bus pass,
    and a passport.
    There are also staff ID swipe-cards which give access to restricted areas at work.”

    Yes none of those things gives your status as a citizen of the UK or your right to be in the UK.
    You could continually upgrade and build all sorts of accessible data into cards like this.
    We are not Nazi Germany or Communist Russia or an Islamic state so we would not see those sorts of abuses.
    ID cards could be useful at a time when we have unprecedented levels of modern day slavery, human trafficking, illegal immigration and terrorism.
    Also other crimes, organized crime gun smuggling drug trafficking sex exploitation child abuses, things we have always had.
    An ID card would not solve these problems but a card like this would make some of things just a little harder to hide.
    Producing the card on demand is not an issue, storing the data in a safe way would be.
    Anyway it has been scrapped UK so its a moot point
    @stephen
    A good analogy would be a passport, the global community wants to know who you are and what your status is when you are travelling.
    They dont use chip and pin bank cards drivers license work ID or library card, we use a passport.
    This is not just state mandated it is mandated by the global community.



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  • Pinball1970 #30
    Jun 9, 2016 at 8:29 am

    ID cards could be useful at a time when we have unprecedented levels of modern day slavery, human trafficking, illegal immigration and terrorism.

    Indeed so in countries where there is the rule of law at least supposed to apply to everyone.

    Also other crimes, organized crime gun smuggling drug trafficking sex exploitation child abuses, things we have always had.
    An ID card would not solve these problems but a card like this would make some of things just a little harder to hide.

    A card with biometric security and an electronic link, would help the recognition of false documents and impersonation.

    Producing the card on demand is not an issue, storing the data in a safe way would be.

    There are certainly problems in that area.

    Anyway it has been scrapped UK so its a moot point.

    It could be revived in view of illegal immigration, people smuggling, and activities of foreign criminals.
    Linked information such driving licences and disqualifications would tie some loose ends together and clamp down on petty criminals.



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  • 32
    Pinball1970 says:

    @31 so you are not totally against then Alan?
    I think Stephen was hinting at this big brother idea, right to privacy, personal data protection?
    Our data is already out there whether we like it or not and weighing the benefits from the data protection versus catching a terror cell side I always come up in favour.
    If the police can look through my PC, my sites, my phone my e-mails for key words for drug trafficking rape murder and terror plots then I am totally happy about that.
    I could be on the end of an atrocity just because I happened to be on the wrong bus or wrong tube train going to work.
    Look into my life bring it on and start catching the people who have no respect for human life.



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  • Hi Alan [#29],

    As I recall there is a lot of data released by Edward Snowden, about secret tax-haven bank accounts, and embarrassing statements that many people would like to have confined to the original secure data bases, or to have been finally deleted, but once (multiple?) copies are made, the horses do not go back in the stables!

    That completely misses my point. New data, secured, remains in the stable. Outdated data which is securely updated, remains in the stable. False data that was released cannot be put back into the stable either – there is no path to making the false true. Falsehood escapes from non-private databases just as easily as true data.

    The hundreds of millions around the World who crave a private life thank you, Alan, for equating them with tax dodgers.

    Peace.



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  • Hi Alan [#29],

    SoW: “Having my data in different places is a great idea. It means that I retain an enhanced level of privacy.”

    A4D: It can do, but it can also mean that there is data about you, scattered all over the place that you know nothing about, and have no opportunity to correct

    Alan, why do you persist in making your problem my problem?

    Giving me an SI does not fix my problem, and it doesn’t fix your problem either.

    Peace.



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  • Hi Pinball [#30],

    Yes none of those things gives your status as a citizen of the UK or your right to be in the UK

    One of the things on the list was a passport?

    We are not Nazi Germany or Communist Russia or an Islamic state so we would not see those sorts of abuses

    Naïve: Nazi Germany didn’t start as Nazi Germany. Communist Russia didn’t start as Communist Russia. All extreme states started as states that were not extreme. This is a non-argument.

    ID cards could be useful at a time when we have unprecedented levels of modern day slavery, human trafficking, illegal immigration and terrorism

    Really, in what way?

    Also other crimes, organized crime …

    Which was enabled by the British ID system in WW2 – that kind of SI?

    … gun smuggling drug trafficking sex exploitation child abuses, things we have always had

    Oh, I see, an SI is a magic cure-all for crime. How silly of me not to see that before.

    HOW?

    How does an SI help us to address these crimes?

    How will the next SI be better than previous failures?

    Stating it doesn’t make it so Pinball. Explain the details.

    An ID card would not solve these problems …

    Not a good return in investment then. How about spending the humongous amounts of cash forecast for the last attempt to introduce a British SI on more police, customs, etc..

    A good analogy would be a passport, the global community wants to know who you are and what your status is when you are travelling

    Yes, I understand what a passport is. In what way is it it an analogy for an SI?

    They don’t use chip and pin bank cards drivers license work ID or library card, we use a passport

    You lost me. My passport has a chip in it.

    This is not just state mandated it is mandated by the global community

    And that’s important because … ?

    Peace.



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  • Hi Pinball [32],

    I think Stephen was hinting at this big brother idea, right to privacy, personal data protection?

    Hinting?

    Okay what I took away from that comment is I need to be clearer about what I am for and against. Be prepared for more pointed language.

    Our data is already out there whether we like it or not

    No it isn’t, and I’ve already covered this – see my comments #28 & #33.

    … weighing the benefits from the data protection versus catching a terror cell side I always come up in favour

    I assume you mean that you favour a loss of your human rights and an increase in the powers of the Police State whenever confronted with that decision?

    According to the independent survey into terrorism in 2012:

    Five people per year are killed by bee or wasp stings … exactly the same amount, on average, of terrorist actions in the past decade. During the 21st Century, terrorism has been an insignificant cause of mortality in the United Kingdom

    You are TEN TIMES MORE LIKELY to be killed by a bee or wasp than a terrorist.

    Pinball, you really need to think about your sense of proportion. Ask yourself: Why am I so frightened by terrorists, and who’s interests does my fear serve?

    If the police can look through my PC, my sites, my phone my e-mails for key words for drug trafficking rape murder and terror plots then I am totally happy about that

    You talk about Nazi Germany and Communist Russia … and you say that. I simply do not believe you know what your talking about when you mention those regimes in that way. I have relatives who have lived there. I travelled there in the immediate aftermath. You’re plain wrong.

    Your complete trust in state power is so misguided it exposes your ignorance, Pinball. I mean that in the nicest and most compassionate way possible – only someone who has led a blameless life could say that with such conviction. You’re position is so far from the truth of how easily state power is subverted, corrupted and misused that, frankly, I weep for you and all like you.

    I am absolutely not kidding you when I say I have tears in my eyes right now. I cannot believe that you can have been so thoroughly deceived. I am … appalled.

    You are obviously convinced that you will never face wrongful suspicion or misuse of power, and that only the guilty are affected by mass surveillance.

    You have embraced your own innocence when you look in at yourself and that is so touching, so heart-warming.

    But you must Pinball, I absolutely insist, heed the witness of Martin Niemöller [see his poem reproduced in Comment #21] and look at the evidence from history about how other innocent people – as innocent and blameless as you, and who started life, living in States that were not extreme have been mistreated and targeted.

    You have, yourself, here in this thread, told us of how you already live in a climate of fear – yet it is a fear that has no basis in reality as I have demonstrated. The State is already lying to you Pinball. You’ve already fallen for their first trick.

    I understand that being told that nothing to hide means you have nothing to fear is reassuring. We all want that, a life where there is nothing to fear. It is a fantasy Pinball. Worse: It is a dangerous, fallacious and foolish fantasy. The State is just as likely to be your next enemy as any other entity on Earth – and history proves that beyond doubt.

    Consider for a moment that oft-repeated statement: “Nothing to hide means you have nothing to fear”.

    See how our attention is drawn to the vague threat that maybe, just maybe, if you’ve even been just a little bit naughty, you do have something to fear. The Government is the Parent and you are the Child. Is that an equal relationship that the Government is trying to have with you there, Pinball? Is that not something to challenge, or criticise? But no, we are told to fear. Is that a healthy relationship?

    In what way can such an unhealthy relationship be guaranteed, as you appear to believe, to not devolve into a dictatorship?

    You may be happy being kept in your place, Pinball – but I most assuredly, and most emphatically, am not.

    I could be on the end of an atrocity just because I happened to be on the wrong bus or wrong tube train going to work

    Stop running away from things that are less likely to kill or maim you than a bee just because the Government said: BOO!

    Your more likely to harmed in a traffic accident – by a factor of more than 340 – than you are to die of a bee-sting and your more likely to die of a bee sting by a factor of ten than you are to die at the hands of terrorists. In plain English: If you sit on a bus worrying about terrorism, but not about dying in a traffic accident you’re living in a fantasy – you have lost all perspective, you’re simply not in touch with reality.

    Ask yourself this Pinball: What is it that the terrorists want?

    What is it that terrorists say they want, Pinball, might it be true that what they say is what they mean? Do they really want us to change our culture? Are they demanding that we give up something of what we are, something that we know works, something valuable?

    Why are you giving in to the terrorists Pinball?

    Peace.



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  • Hi Alan [#31],

    It [a State Identity in Britain] could be revived …

    You could try.

    You’ll have to come through me, and millions like me.

    You failed before and I’ll be damned if I’ll let you get away with it a second time either.



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  • I place great confidence in the power of the state to mitigate social harms. I argue for a bigger state not smaller for a number of reasons. I am not that state phobic creature often seen in the US.

    Yet my sentiments are entirely with Stephen on this issue. I wish to live open and honestly here, but I am not prepared to cede access to anything about me to the state. Governments change and the chill of a new Xenophobic governement hangs over us all following a brexit.

    I am not yet a political activist, but I have to imagine that an idiocracy is possible. That xenophobes or a newly fascistic youth happy to suppress aging hippies for their dangerous tolerance of difference may come to have control of me and mine.

    Building rules into the fabric of the state from the outset can greatly harrass this capacity of the state to oppress. We are all coming to have first world worries, when there are rather real worries, third world worries. Lets work hard not to lose perspective here. Terrorism is actually nothing in the scheme of things in this country (except as political opportunity for exploiters everywhere…take a bow Bliar, take a bow Murdoch.)



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  • Egyptian MP wants to remove religion from national IDs

    Meanwhile there are those who suggest INCREASING profiling – including race and religion more widely!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-us-2016-36572875

    The presumptive Republican candidate in the US presidential election, Donald Trump, has suggested the country should consider using profiling to combat crime.

    Mr Trump made the remarks when asked if he supported more profiling of Muslims in the US, in the context of last week’s shooting at an Orlando gay club.

    Profiling uses ethnicity, race and religion to determine whether a person has or is likely to commit crimes.

    Critics say it could alienate Muslims.

    In an interview with CBS, Mr Trump said other countries had “successfully” adopted the measure.

    “You look at Israel and you look at others, and they do it and they do it successfully,” he said.

    “I hate the concept of profiling but we have to start using common sense.”

    Many travellers through Israel’s Ben Gurion airport report that people who look Arabic and have non-Jewish names have to wait longer and have their baggage more thoroughly checked than Israeli Jews or people who look Jewish or white.

    In 2015, the High Court of Justice in Jerusalem annulled a petition against discriminatory airport profiling. The court’s decision effectively stalled any legal change on the matter.

    Discriminatory racial profiling is outlawed in the European Union, but activists say it is on the rise in the wake of terror attacks in Paris and Belgium.



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