By introducing smartcard technology from the outset we are ... opening up the possibility of using the same pass to access a range of other local services such as libraries and leisure facilities.
Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly, Government News Network, 18 September 2007
What could be more innocuous than a free bus pass?
When David Blunkett first floated the idea of ID cards back in 2003, he did so under cover of the name 'entitlement cards'. People saw through the spin, and the government was forced to call them what they really are.
Four years on, we're seeing a re-emergence of the 'entitlement' concept as the Department for Transport expands its 'National Concessionary Travel Scheme'. Already running in Scotland and parts of Wales, this RFID smartcard-based scheme has several characteristics that are of concern:
- the unique numbering of older and disabled people, and some children
- significantly expanded collection and collation of personal information
- a clear intention to share data across local and central government
When applying for one of these new 'bus passes', one has not only to submit to having your personal details shared for as-yet-undefined purposes but also to having every one of your journeys logged. And yet again the focus is on the card not the database behind it - or the amount of information that will be stored and shared, or indeed who will have access to it.
Of course, a local authority-issued entitlement card could in time be made a 'designated document' - which means compulsory entry onto the national ID database.
It's not too late to kick up a fuss. Write to your councillor and local authority - use http://www.writetothem.com - demanding that free and reduced-fare travel should not be used as a Trojan Horse for central government's data-sharing and ID agenda. Point out that there's no need for your local authority to withdraw entirely from the scheme, but that it should contractually commit to using the cards for the single purpose of concessionary travel - as advertised.
A government-issued database-linked smartcard of undefined purpose, tracking you and providing personal information to agencies and persons unknown is an ID card in all but name.
CAMPAIGN NEWS!! - read the latest (17 August) here -->>
Campaign leaflet: The Trojan Horse ID Card (2 pages): trojanhorse.pdf (356Kb)
Report: The Scottish national entitlement card: an exercise in wholesale systematic deception by Dr John Welford (12 pages): report.pdf (180Kb)
The Scottish ID cards scandal website: www.jwelford.demon.co.uk/snec.html
London Councils' 'Freedom Pass' application form (2 pages, 78Kb):
Useful Links -->>
To be supplied in due course.
20 January 2015