You are driving to the mall with your children and you find yourself going just a touch over the speed limit. It’s okay, you think to yourself, because you’re going with the flow of traffic. Out of the corner of your eye, you see a police squad car in your rear view mirror. No worries – they have every right to be on the road and there’s no reason to think you’re being followed. Only when you see the car start to flash its lights does the worry commence.


When you manage to pull over to the side of the road, the police officer approaches your vehicle and asks for your driver’s license and insurance card. You are not all too concerned because you’ve only been pulled over for speeding once, and that was ages ago. The police officer goes back to his vehicle and scans your card into the squad car computer.

When the police officer comes back his expression is rather grim. He tells you that your card has linked you to a cime you committed when you were a teenager, over twenty years ago. As it turns out, he was personally hurt once because someone committed the same crime and while he tells you that you shouldn’t think you will be treated any differently because of this link, you certainly are as he gets very defensive with you and treats you like a criminal even though it has been so many years since your crime took place.

If this situation sounds like it could never happen, think again. In Great Britain, there are presently plans to link your criminal record to your ID if you work with children or the disabled. That means that for millions of workers in the UK, their ID card would hold a vast wealth of knowledge about them that they most likely would not want to share with just anyone who could use the proper tools to read their cards. According to Guy Herbert, general secretary of the privacy group NO2ID,

If the CRB gets its way, then for millions of people their ID card would be directly linked to a detailed police record and a scoring system designed to evaluate their suitability for various jobs.

When your privacy is shattered by a card in your pocket and your whole life history is a card scan away, where do we have left to hide?

2 Comments

  1. I find this rather terrifying, Gordon!
    As police cars become “smarter” with computer downloads and internet connections, I sometimes think the good sense of the officer on scene is compromised. We give too much power over to technology that can wound and confuse us.

  2. I suppose the contrasting technology are the various web sites and apps for the iPhone that tell you where police are very likely to be waiting for you – perhaps that deserves its own review! 🙂