Off to Bologna

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.]

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3 Responses to Off to Bologna

  1. Matt says:

    I don’t know about the rest of Eastern Europe at all but in Russia _everyone_ must, by law, have their internal passport with them at all times. (That’s everyone above, I think, 14. Before that you’re on your parents’ passports.) You can be stopped by the police and asked for it. You can be fined (or more likely shaken down for money) if you don’t have it with you. It lists your ‘place of registration’, a very important fact in Russia. Foreigners must carry their passports at all times as well. You need your passport to do all sorts of normal things like ride inter-city trains, go to the bank, etc. It’s obviously a national card. It’s so common that no one thinks of it at all and it’s seen as quite odd that a country like the US would not have a national ID system.

  2. Randy Paul says:

    If you get to the train station, be sure to visit the memorial for those killed in the Bologna station bombing that took place on 8/2/80, that killed 86. It’s a powerful reminder that italy suffered terrorism from both left and right.

  3. Clemente Vivanco says:

    Professor Froomkin:

    Is the paper you wrote for the Bologna workshop available for your blog’s readers?. I look forward to reading it.

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