Wednesday 18 September 2019

Ian O'Doherty: 'Nothing to hide, nothing to fear? I have lots to hide - but I fear the Government'

Regina Doherty (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)
Regina Doherty (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

Regina Doherty has gone to ground this week following a righteous belt of the crozier from the State Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon, over the disastrous Public Services Card fiasco.

Sixty million quid later, the whole project is now in turmoil because - quelle surprise! - it has been found to be in breach of private data laws.

Doherty should have been relieved of her duties when she claimed, two years ago, that having the card was "mandatory but not compulsory"; a piece of sophistry she probably thought was clever, but really, really wasn't.

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But apart from the political spoofing, and the admittedly enjoyable sight of a minister being roasted on the griddle, there's a much broader issue when it comes to these cards which are, let's be honest, a national ID card by any other name.

People who support such an idea tend to make the same argument - if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

Well, I have plenty to hide but that's not the point.

What I fear is Government encroachment and increased surveillance on private citizens.

Using the PSC as a dole card is fair enough, but do we really want to live in a society where you can be stopped by the cops and asked for your papers?

That's the way it is going.

Only a fool would trust the politicians not to make a hames of such a scheme and a massively centralised database is a hacker's delight.

As for the likes of Doherty saying that it's all for our own good?

Well, that just reminds me of Ronald Reagan's best line: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the Government and I'm here to help."

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