National ID card schemes are being debated in several countries around the world – though in Canada the debate was stillborn – and in some places they are already being implemented. Such ID cards, that keep track of citizens mainly inside the borders of the nation state, mark a major step forward in the surveillance capacities of any nation state. From paper-based identification records with limited personal details used for extraordinary purposes (such as policing), the new proposed

ID is ‘smart’ in that it is linked with networked searchable databases (both public and private), uses biometrics, and is likely to be used for a range of activities well beyond any policing or administrative function for which such cards are currently used. From time to time the gradual evolution of socio-technical systems experiences a sudden spurt, and the establishment of a national ID in the UK (or anywhere) is a case in point.