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In May 2000, a court order was issued to the Guardian and the Observer demanding they hand over any notes and emails exchanged with Shayler ‘in the public interest’. The judiciary was exercising its wide discretionary powers to satisfy the demands of the police, and intelligence agencies. Two months later, the Guardian and Observer won the right not to release the information. Information gleaned by interception is inadmissible as court evidence, but useful for covert investigations. From now on the police would have to demonstrate ‘compelling evidence’ for information to be thus obtained.

But that was before 9/11. At the moment data sharing is still protected by law and subject to the common law duty of confidentiality and consent. However, our government is preparing to overturn the fundamental principle of data protection, giving government bodies the freedom to share a citizens’ personal data with other arms of the state without legal justification, provided it is in the public interest. The functional separation that exists between government departments is an important aspect of justice and accountability, and this is about to be lost. “We are not a democracy, and certainly not a representative democracy”, Shayler says. “We have no written constitution, no Bill of Rights. We live with the illusion of democracy.”

It’s not the carrying of an ID card that Shayler objects to, but the power of the database that is chipped within it. Like Shayler, I have also entertained the ID card idea through to its science-fiction conclusions – to a nation state where humans are compulsorily chipped subcutaneously, where refuseniks are forcibly chipped.

Identity, is a crisis can’t you see?