Identity Cards and Identity Romanticism
LESSONS FROM THE IDENTITY TRAIL: ANONYMITY, PRIVACY AND IDENTITY IN A NETWORKED SOCIETY, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009
29 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2008 Last revised: 4 Dec 2008
Date Written: November 30, 2008
This book chapter for "Lessons from the Identity Trail: Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society" (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) - a forthcoming comparative examination of approaches to the regulation of anonymity edited by Ian Kerr - discusses the sources of hostility to National ID Cards in common law countries. It traces that hostility in the United States to a romantic vision of free movement and in England to an equally romantic vision of the 'rights of Englishmen'.
Governments in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, and other countries are responding to perceived security threats by introducing various forms of mandatory or nearly mandatory domestic civilian national identity documents. This chapter argues that these ID cards pose threats to privacy and freedom, especially in countries without strong data protection rules. The threats created by weak data protection in these new identification schemes differ significantly from previous threats, making the romantic vision a poor basis from which to critique (highly flawed) contemporary proposals.
Keywords: Anonymity, Privacy, Identity, Free Speech
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