Stop Pretending, please

I know the idea of introducing a identity card in the UK is very controversial but pretending that Hong Kong only has recently been issuing ID card to the residents is re-writing history!

The Smart ID card referred in the BBC article is a new card with digital certificate, and that enable it to be used with post office and other commercial outlets. However, the permanent ID card has been issued by the British Government in Hong Kong since 1950s(?) and every Hong Kong residents are required to carry it at all time. I had (still have?) one since I was around 8 and had lost and replaced it twice. In fact, a number ‘2’ is appended to the end of my ID card number to indicate that. I have used this permanent ID card for immigration point at the Hong Kong airport many times in the last decade so this is not new either!

So the British Government please stop pretending that you have no prior experience in the subject of ID card, or how to efficiently issue and maintain 6+ million ID cards. Just ask your colleagues at the Foreign Office.

Of course the British Government won’t have any experience in the privacy issue in Hong Kong since that was hardly a consideration when ID card was introduced there all those years ago!

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4 comments

  1. Kevin

    I think you have mis-read the article (either that or you are referring to something other that what you have linked to). The BBC is referring to the Hong Kong smart card because it is relevant to the scheme they would like to introduce into Britain, in that it is beneficial to both issuer and holder, and can be used for a wide variety of things other than simply identification purposes. The Government is looking to other successful ID schemes already in place in the rest of the world and has singled out Hong Kong. The article even quotes: “We need to look at how ID is working in other parts of the world, in Hong Kong for instance.”
    This isn’t rewriting history – the old Hong Kong ID card isn’t mentioned because it is not relevant in the context.

  2. Alex

    I haven’t mis-read at all. My gripe is that the article does not mention that HK has a ID card scheme for many decades and that the one they referred to is the new scheme.

    I would say the old scheme is very relevant because of what I said at the end of my post. The old ID card scheme, in included in the article, will give it an entirely different spin. Namely, British Government has prior experience in handling ID cards in large number. This has been largely ignore by the British press and not discussed in most UK ID card reports make it easier for us to see how hyprocritic the Government is.

    Why is the old card scheme not mentioned in the article? Is this to give the readers impression that the idea of ID card is pretty new even from the technologically more advanced/gadget loving area of the world such as HK? Or is it because they don’t want the readers to realize there is a ID card ‘test case’ in a British Colony that the opponents and proponents alike can used for the ID card debate? Or is it simply the report runs out of column inches?

  3. Kev

    I can’t see anything in that article that suggests that the British Government are denying having run any kind of ID scheme before. The British Government does has experience of running a large ID scheme in it’s own country – we had ID cards in Britain from WWII up until 1953! The new Hong Kong SmartID, with its biometric data and integration with other Government services, is a good working (current) model of what we may expect of a new ‘smartcard’ system in Britain if the Government has its way. The issue that needs to be debated (both by the Government and Britons) is whether we need these cards at all and what personal information will be held on them, and in the proposed database. Oh, and most importantly, how much they will cost us!

  4. Alex

    What I want is the report to give credit where credit is due. To imply that HK only recently implement ID card system is doing a diservice of those who created and managed the project in HK. All it requires in the article is to make a reference to the fact that the Smart ID card in HK is replacing the old ‘dumb’ ones.

    And the UK ID card in the 50s is not modern one. It didn’t use electronic database to store data, nor it uses modern electronic devices such as smart chip, biometrics, etc. Whereas the old HK ID card system is up-to-date and should be a model that the debate refers to as to calculate cost, privacy issue, etc.

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