chapter  2
17 Pages

Identification practices: state formation, crime control, colonialism and war


Some ID-card systems, such as those in Hong Kong and Malaysia, have been up and running for a few years, others, for example in Italy and Japan (Murakami Wood et al 2007), were more recently established and yet others are being trialled (India, China) or under development (UK, USA). Such systems have strong supporters, who argue for greater administrative efficiency and potential solutions to intractable problems such as illegal immigration, fraud, or terrorism. They also have detractors such as Genocide Watch, Privacy International and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which warn about risks to privacy and civil liberties. A good way of considering these new technologies, associated with quests for greater security, is to see them as forms of surveillance. As with other kinds of surveillance, they focus attention on personal details for purposes of entitlement, access and policing (Lyon 2007: 13-16). And they are automated, draw data from the

body, are local-and-everyday, and universal (Staples 2000: 4-7). They qualify as ideal candidates for Surveillance Studies.