By the time you read this, if all goes according to plan I'll be somewhere over the Atlantic, off to Bologna for what promises to be an unusually interesting workshop organized by Ian Kerr and the the other wonderful people at “On the Identity Trail”.
A short description of the event is at On the Identity Trail in Bologna, Italy for International Workshop on Anonymity.
I've done something a bit scary for this conference: I've written a paper that showcases my ignorance about something that I care about in the hopes that the high-powered (and geographically diverse) participants will educate me.
The key question which motivates the paper is this: why are people in common law countries like the US and the UK so much more bothered about ID cards than the people in Western Europe? It's a puzzle — we fear them, they domesticated them. They had abuses (Nazi Germany and occupied Europe), we had far fewer. Why the difference? Attitudes to authority? Different conceptions of liberty, or citizenship? Counter-balancing aspects of the legal system? None of the above?
[Incidentally, one of the many flaws of the current draft paper is that it pretends Eastern Europe doesn't exist — mostly because I don't know enough about contemporary attitudes to ID cards in post-communist Europe.]