Big Brother Technology

Russia plans ‘universal ID-payment card’ to cut bureaucracy

RIA Novosti reports: “Russia plans to introduce a universal ‘identity-payment card’ for all of its citizens, Kremlin aide and chief presidential economics advisor Arkady Dvorkovich said on Monday.

According to the proposal, a universal card implanted with an electronic chip will be used not only as an identification card complete with the holder’s picture and fingerprint replacing internal passports for Russians, but would also be used to pay for household utilities, public transportation, prescriptions, or any other social or municipal needs. The card is similar to a regular bank card.

‘The new modernization project will cost somewhere between 150 and 200 billion rubles ($5.2-$6.9 bln) over the next five years, though Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina will give a more exact figure in her report to the committee later,’ Dvorkovich said during a press conference at RIA Novosti.

Dvorkovich said that all of the normative documents should be prepared by the end of the first six months of this year and laws on a national payment system are currently in their last stages of being accepted by parliament.

One of the key issues in introducing the universal card is the technical demands, which should be adopted ‘within about two months’ by the committee overseeing the project, he added.

One of the main advantages of a universal card is that bureaucracy will be minimized because all of the information about a user will be centralized and any of the appropriate administrative organs can access the information immediately, Dvorkovich claimed.

This will cut down on the time most Russians spend standing in lines to process documents, some of which go through at least four stages, including receiving the appropriate forms, processing them, payment for services, and receiving a finalized document, according to Dvorkovich.

The universal card could also be used to register for weddings and in the health care system, he said…” (Shades of Big Brother and the Mark of the Antichrist – Revelation 13:11-18. See the next report.)

Kevin Libin: Alberta’s dangerous database

The National Post reports: “When the RCMP were caught many years ago burning down a barn belonging to a family of Quebec separatists — after a judge refused to grant the force permission to wiretap their meeting — Pierre Trudeau shrugged off the incident.

If Mounties burning down barns was illegal, the prime minister said dismissively, perhaps he should make it legal for them to burn down barns. Mr. Trudeau had a sharp legal mind and so he surely understood the difference between something being illegal and something being wrong. Even if he was being deliberately provocative in public, privately Mr. Trudeau knew full well torching people’s property isn’t wrong strictly because it’s illegal. It is, of course, illegal because it is wrong.

That is a difference apparently lost on the Alberta government. The province is quietly putting together a database for police that is every bit as dangerous to citizens’ liberties as giving police the unwarranted right to destroy private property. The project is called, rather ominously, TALON — as in The Alberta Law Officers’ Network — and it will, according to the solicitor general’s department, allow police quick access to information about ‘persons of interest.’ The trouble is, TALON is designed to keep track not just of Albertans’ criminal records, but also, according to the Calgary Herald, any ‘speculations, unproven allegations, investigation theories, details of 911 calls — virtually any record of a citizen’s contacts with the police’ anywhere in the province. Any officer will be able to dial it up without a supervisor’s permission, warrant, or cause. It is, in other words, a record of any old thing that authorities consider worthwhile keeping track of that can be accessed at any time for any reason by any officer. That kind of police-state-style record keeping might be otherwise ruled unlawful because it is so plainly an unjust violation of citizens’ privacy. To get around that, the province appears to be prepared to simply make gross intrusions perfectly legitimate.

Canadians already tolerate a certain amount of monitoring of personal information by police in the name of fighting the bad guys. The Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) keeps track of criminal records, pending charges, and lists any acquittals and discharges. Questions for the firearms registry go much deeper, including not only what guns a person owns, but also his or her financial circumstances, personal romantic relationships and any history with mental illness.

But databasing unproven allegations, 911 calls and ‘theories’ appears to be new territory. The average citizen stopped by an officer can be compelled to volunteer a lot of information (notice that officers at drunk-driving checkpoints routinely ask you what you’ve been up to that evening) that could, quite conceivably, find its way into the database. And at least CPIC requires officers to furnish a valid reason for running someone’s name through a check. Not TALON…”