Not the ID-al way to do it

DESK drawers, when you come to empty them, can be real mines of nostalgia.I've just found an old wallet in mine. It's made of soft, red, tooled Moroccan leather, and I remember buying it in a market in Marrakesh.

DESK drawers, when you come to empty them, can be real mines of nostalgia.

I've just found an old wallet in mine. It's made of soft, red, tooled Moroccan leather, and I remember buying it in a market in Marrakesh. For years it went everywhere with me.

It's a very nice wallet and still in good condition. But never again can it enjoy daily use. It simply doesn't have enough places to put cards.

My current wallet contains: two credit cards, one debit card, one cashpoint card, two store loyalty cards, two employee identity cards, one library card, one mobile phone card, one breakdown cover card and one driving


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licence. And that's just the "smart" cards - the ones with various data invisibly stored in them.

Still in the drawer with the old wallet, are my passport and my NHS card. My tax details fill a fat A4 folder, and then there's the file with all my financial transactions, another with various legal documents, and so on.

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So would I be happy to have one ID card with all this information embedded in it? You bet. Except...

I have a nagging feeling that if carrying my identity in one neat package is convenient for me, it would be ultra-handy for any would-be identity thief.

And there's another thing ringing my alarm bell.

The country which currently enjoys, or suffers, the most rigorous identity card system in Europe is Spain. That's right - the very country which was rocked a few weeks ago by a massive co-ordinated bombing attack. The country whose Basque separatists are a more constant threat to the peace than the IRA and UVF combined.

Clearly, ID cards are no defence against terrorists. Unless the system - not just the cards themselves - is incredibly secure, they could actually be an assistance to a criminal organisation.

So why exactly does the government want to spend at least £3billion of taxpayers' dosh on this hi-tech white elephant?

A popular response to ID cards seems to be: "If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear." But is this true?

For one thing, who decides exactly what is "wrong"?

OK, I'm happy to try to avoid killing, stealing, driving through red lights or spitting on the bus.

But what if some future government decides to make it illegal to criticise them? That would instantly turn me into a criminal - and then I might have something to fear from an ID card parade.

Far-fetched, you might think. The BBC and its former director general might think otherwise.

But one needn't imagine conspiracies to see how your ID card could lead you into a nightmare. One bureaucratic cock-up would be enough.

A Brit living in Japan remarked this week on how "alien registration cards" there can be used as tools of police harassment.

He added, reasonably: "An ID card can be a useful tool if employed for the people, not against them."

The question is, how big an "if" is that?

HOW on earth did the world's greatest game - football - come to have a raving lunatic as its ultimate boss?

Sepp Blatter is president of soccer's world governing body, Fifa. And he wants to do away with draws.

He says: "In football we should have the courage to ensure there is a result in every match. The penalty shoot-out is always the best solution."

Clearly, he thinks April Fool's Day lasts all month.

Except in very exceptional circumstances, like when Germany plays Austria in a World Cup group game, draws are great. They add a lot more to the spice

of life than the lottery of pot-shots from the spot.

On the other hand, if you really want a lot of shoot-outs, Sepp, I have an alternative suggestion. One that would lead to more draws, not fewer.

At the end of 90 minutes, if one side is losing, let them have three free shots from the spot.

Just think of the advantages. There would always be hope for a losing team, unless they were losing really heavily. And there would be lots more

goals, because the incentive to get three or more ahead would outweigh the incentive to defend a narrow lead.

Revolutionary? Yup. Barmy? Probably. Barmier than Blatter? Nope.

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