Neelie Kroes’ digital identities – where are you?
I have been waiting for Neelie Kroes to announce the EU’s new proposals on digital identities. She was expected to announce them before the end of May; but either she hasn’t – or she has done it so quietly that I didn’t notice. The intent, as far as I understand it, is to rationalise digital identities across Europe. This will be contentious. There are those who will see it as a backdoor electronic ID card. So the UK, which has already fought off one attempt at the imposition of national ID cards will be particularly concerned.
Cameron and Clegg won’t be concerned. They will welcome the opportunity to grab more control over both the internet and the voter. They will claim firstly that it isn’t an ID card (don’t believe them; it will inevitably grow into more of a controlling digital ID card than Brown’s plastic physical card could ever do); and secondly they will claim that they have no choice, it is forced upon them by virtue of EU treaties that tie their hands.
But it will still be contentious, and both the EU and the UK governments would love to avoid that. The best way to slip something in is when people are looking the other way. And the UK is going to be doing a lot of looking the other way over the next couple of months. Right now we’ve got the Queen’s Jubilee, then we’ve got the football, and after that we’ve got the London Olympics. I shall be watching very closely to see exactly when the digital identities proposal is announced.
The best and most cynical time would be on this coming Monday or Tuesday when the entire UK will be involved in self-absorbed naval contemplation during the Jubilee celebrations.