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counting the hairs on your head

A woman on a train was ordering goods in a loud voice, much to the annoyance of fellow travellers, one of whom jotted down her credit card and phone numbers and then text-messaged them back to her with the instruction: SHUT UP! She was highly indignant and tried to discover the culprit. He was pleased to report that no one in the carriage gave him away.

It seems that people are prepared to speak their most intimate thoughts into the palm of the hand in public places. Presumably they imagine that no one can hear them. If otherwise, then obviously they don’t care.

They do seem to care when the government suggests putting a little black box into their car so that satellites can track them and they can be charged for road miles. Don’t they realise that while their mobiles are on they already give away their position? Don’t they realise that their supermarket loyalty card gathers every detail of their spending habits and files them on computer?

These are presumably the same people who oppose the introduction of British identity cards on the grounds that they will contain too much personal information. They have it entirely wrong. My criticism of them is that they won’t contain enough.

I have to admit that I am not much concerned about privacy, and I don’t really understand why others are, unless they are up to no good. In this I differ from my father. No one except his employer and the tax man knew how much my father earned, not even my mother, but that was presumably so that she wouldn’t do an Oliver Twist and ask for more. I, if it were required, would be happy to post my accounts on the internet.

It would be a blessed assurance to know that window double-glazers, purveyors of fine wines, insurance brokers and car salesmen could access details of my income. Then they would stop pestering me with leaflets and phone calls.

Let us run for a couple of paragraphs with the possibilities opened up by a Smart Identity Card (SIC). It could, for instance, hold details of your food preferences.

‘How would you like your egg, sir?’

Say nothing. Hand over your card. The waitress inserts it into a little machine like the one she uses for credit cards. The message is immediately transmitted to the kitchen and the chef has the answer to all his questions: chicken, duck or quail; brown or white; free-range or battery; hard, soft or just slightly runny? He might even discover whether you are going to top it or smash it.

Think how useful it would be in a clothes shop. No longer the pretence of being a 38” when you are really a 44”. The card contains your true measurements. It has these because every time you go for a medical check up or through passport control a scanner obtains the details and updates the card. So you enter the clothes store, insert your identity card into the machine by the door and lights flash over all the items that will fit you. No longer the need to rifle through racks of suits tailored for midgets. And no longer a need for fitting rooms.

As the identity cards will contain eye and hair colour, and could contain skin colour, as well as your age, you can be directed to those things that will look good on you. If, however, you dye your hair – though it is hard to imagine this of Resurgence readers, who, as we know, are committed to truth, beauty etc. – if you dye your hair this could pose a problem. You could be prevented from leaving or entering the country because the scanner wouldn’t recognize you.

So we can expect opposition to my proposal from beauty firms such as L’Oreal, and it will no longer be possible for women to be perfect, even assuming they are worth a huge expenditure on cleansers, colourizers, shampoos and anti-wrinkle cream. They will have to look their age. Don’t laugh, men. Toupees will be out, too.

If you are with me so far then we need to move on to the Really Smart Identity Card (Really SIC). This is the one that collects information as you go.

‘Have you been drinking?’

‘No!’ The card flashes.

‘Well, just a quick one.’ The card flashes again, and so on until the truth is out when the card gives a little ping.

Having nothing to hide is real freedom.

Jesus told us not to be concerned about what we wear or what we eat, and the Really Smart Identity Card takes away that concern:

‘I didn’t ask for the most expensive meal on the menu. The card did.’

Jesus also said that every hair on our head is counted. Nothing is hidden from God. Why should it be hidden from our fellow men and women? So I shall call the Really Smart Identity Card ‘Theos’ (Θεòς).

June 2005

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