e-Borders? More like a surveillance charter

Re-posted from archive of infinite ideas machine 2004: [LINKS UNCHECKED]

John Lettice’s comprehensive overview of the government’s newly-announced e-Borders initiative, Blair’s Britain vies with US in ID snoop wars, is in turns both terrifying and depressing. Blair, Blunkett et al. are steaming ahead with a scheme that far exceeds even US-VISIT (read Privacy International’s analysis of that here) in its scope for surveillance of the general population.

And they’re not even trying to walk before they run.

Project Semaphore, also announced yesterday, intends to track SIX MILLION people – beginning by the end of this year! I know the US is applying pressure on every other country to issue their citizens with biometric passports by the end of 2005 (we got a year’s grace when the chips weren’t ready in time), but emulating and then exceeding the worst aspects of Homeland Security has got to be the daftest response ever.

How much is this all going to cost? If just smartcards for UK citizens and one database will cost £3.1 billion (and the rest!) then the cost of e-Borders must be truly enormous. Where’s the cost/benefit analysis? What *are* the benefits? And if it’s intended to link in with ID cards (which it is) then just how much MORE of our personal data will be transferred to other countries for them to do with as they see fit, every time we travel?

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