23rd Feb 2023
Tony Blair and William Hague have called for everyone in the United Kingdom to get Digital identification cards as a part of what has been dubbed a “technological revolution”.
The former Prime Minister and conservative leader, are arguing that government records “are still based in a different era”, and instead want to see digital ID cards.
Tony Blair, whilst in office, tried to introduce ID cards however, this was scrapped by the coalition government as the idea of ID cards has proven controversial.
What are the worries?
Many have concerns over civil liberties and unnecessary data collection.
Now, in their report, both Sir Tony, and Lord Hague, who were once on opposing sides, agree that digital ID cards would be more secure for those to access services, and much easier.
They argue that digital ID would allow the government to understand a person’s needs and what support suits them best.
“In a world in which everything from vaccine status to aeroplane tickets and banking details are available on our personal devices, it is illogical that the same is not true of our individual public records,”
Suggesting a scheme would allow anyone to prove their identity, age, driving license, right to live and work in the United Kingdom, and qualifications.
However, many people disagree with this scheme, Silkie Carlo, the director of Big Brother Watch, has said “sprawling digital identity system would be one of the biggest assaults on privacy ever seen in the UK”
“Sir Tony and Lord Hague are absolutely right about the need for the UK to take leadership in technological innovation, but this means protecting people’s rights and privacy, not reviving failed proposals for an intrusive mass digital identity system and a database state”
Written in The Times, Blair and Hague said “Technology is not some geeky side issue to be got to once the ‘real political debates’ have raged,” “It is the issue.”
Many people argue that adopting technology is the only sensible option as it will continue to advance forever, however, others have chosen to take a much more cautious approach instead.
How integrated is technology already?
The Online Safety Bill has been developed over the last 5 years and is tackling the complex issues of trying to regulate tech and online behaviour.
However, everyone uses technology in their day-to-day lives; using phones to pay for their food, take notes or check their work schedules, using email to run their company, and so on.
With the introduction of ChatGPT, many workers are using this to solve problems quickly on the fly, to answer questions without having to search through articles.
Some even use it to write marketing copy, speeches, code for websites, etc. And taking a big chunk of their work out of their day and getting it done for them in seconds.
With the introduction of digital ID cards, the fear of having your data stolen becomes much worse, as a hacker may be able to gain unauthorised access to this, which would be extremely difficult to get it back.
Hague has also called for the UK to “redesign the state around technology” however big an ask, he warns that other countries are “forging ahead”.
“We’re in the fastest period of innovation in the history of human civilisation the UK has to be one of the leaders in that field”
Blair also said some countries have already introduced digital ID systems and listed Estonia and India, whilst acknowledging that there are “threats and difficulties with this technology revolution”.
“You need a programme for government that is done on a basis that assembles a new national purpose so that it goes across the party lines and so that even through changes of government you’re still in the same direction, with the same ambition,” Blair said.
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