At Rye News we receive dozens of press releases each week, most of which have little or no connection with our area of the country and are dispatched to the virtual bin without delay.
However there was one this week that attracted my attention.
A mercifully short press release on behalf of a web-based comparison site advised that in the event of a car driver being pulled over by the police it is a requirement that the driver carries ID either in the form of a driving licence or something else that would enable a positive identification to be made. On the face of it, this seems sensible and uncontroversial, however the email went on to advise that in the event of not being able to produce any identification, the driver could be liable to an on the spot fine of up to £1,000 and with a potential further penalty of disqualification.
Now, I imagine that feeling the full force of the law to that extent simply for leaving home without some form of identification is a rare event and any over-enthusiastic copper handing out a £1,000 ticket to mum doing a ten minute school run without coming equipped with full ID could certainly be challenged in court, but nevertheless it is, it would appear, the law.
From time to time various governments have considered the possibility of compulsory ID cards, and each time the idea has been abandoned following howls of protest that such a card is distinctly un-British, and indeed it is. Jonny foreigner can carry them if he wishes, but in this country we are free to leave home without the need to prove who we are before we can walk down our local high street – until now.
Not only are we required to carry ID to drive our cars but, in October, it is intended to require all those who wish to visit a nightclub or attend a mass event such as a music festival or football match, to have a Covid passport. Once again, it may not seem at first glance to be much of an imposition, but the problem here is that this “passport” will be capable of being accessed digitally and could not only contain confirmation of vaccinations and tests, but also the whole of the holder’s medical history. It will also, of course, hold their address and probably phone number and if it can contain that, why not details of their credit report, their spending habits and so on.
In fact, the small detail of a driving licence that we are all used to, is now the opening of the door to a much more insidious nose poking into private matters that do not concern them by both future governments and lower level authorities.
Already we have had our freedom curtailed over the last 18 months to an extent that no previous generation would have thought possible. We even have squads of officious government agents who now have the right to visit our homes to ensure that because we have passed within yards of someone who has developed Covid, we are remaining confined to home, despite being healthy, vaccinated and tested negative. How long before they decide to access the cameras on our phones and computers to see exactly what we are up to at any given moment of the day?
To many this may seem a fantasy, but it is all technically possible already, and it starts with a simple driving license and unless we refuse to accept the Covid passport, it will happen. George Orwell was right. It was only the date that made 1984 fiction.
Image Credits: John Minter .