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ID hi

When he's not busy engendering an Orwellian climate of paranoia or appearing on episodes of The Simpsons, Tony Blair likes to force draconian measures through the Houses of Parliament.

Take the Identity Card Bill. As I write, this Bill faces futile opposition from members of the House of Lords, who have demanded among other things a more thorough accounting of the costs that will accrue from the national ID card project.

Various Home Office yes-men have claimed that this element of secrecy is vital to keeping the costs down. They worry that IT vendors who intend to pitch for the contract will inflate their estimates to fill whatever budget is publicly stated. Which ignores the influence of free-market competition, if you ask me. But what do I know?

In any case, Mr Blair has never been one to succumb to peer pressure – do you see what I did there? – and it seems likely that his pet project will be crowbarred into the statute books regardless of financial disclosures and libertarian concerns.

So what do we stand to gain from this intrusion into our private lives? Are we really to suppose that Tony's fundamentalist bogeymen will be thwarted because their ID cards have 'terrorist' in the occupation box? Does anyone imagine that the cards will prove uncounterfeitable, or that identity theft will vanish overnight?

Given the government's less-than-perfect track record on technology projects – from air traffic control to automated parking ticket allocation – and the proven ability of the criminal element to consistently outwit The Man when computers get involved, some might counsel caution. Perhaps we should pause before chucking billions into a system that will benefit no one but hackers and make everyone's life that little bit more annoying.

If you want to give the tech sector a boost, Tony, just buy everyone a PS3 when they come out…

This article appeared in the April issue of PC Advisor.

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