I just posted Identity Cards and Identity Romanticism to SSRN. A slightly modified version will appear as a chapter in Ian Kerr's edited collection “Lessons from the Identity Trail: Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society” (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).
Here's the abstract:
This book chapter for “Lessons from the Identity Trail: Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society” (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) — a forthcoming comparative examination of approaches to the regulation of anonymity edited by Ian Kerr — discusses the sources of hostility to National ID Cards in common law countries. It traces that hostility in the United States to a romantic vision of free movement and in England to an equally romantic vision of the 'rights of Englishmen'.
Governments in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, and other countries are responding to perceived security threats by introducing various forms of mandatory or nearly mandatory domestic civilian national identity documents. This chapter argues that these ID cards pose threats to privacy and freedom, especially in countries without strong data protection rules. The threats created by weak data protection in these new identification schemes differ significantly from previous threats, making the romantic vision a poor basis from which to critique (highly flawed) contemporary proposals.
Although the length limits for the book made me cut the paper in half from its original size, I enjoyed working on the project; there are some real issues here and I don't think I've gotten to the bottom of them yet.
ID cards remain one of my main scholarly interests at present, and I expect to write much more about them. I would blog more about it, but I haven't figured out how to blog about my works in progress without the blog time cutting into work time. I find if I blog about non-work stuff it feels like a break; it's my hobby, it's a conversation (or howling into the wind, as the case may be). If I blog about work stuff, I feel a greater need to be scholarly and precise, it takes a long time, and it ends up sucking energy from what I see as my main job.