Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Newsflash: Satire Resurrected - Then Killed

"NO2ID is a campaigning organisation. We are a single-issue group focussed on the threat to liberty and privacy posed by the rapid growth of the database state, of which "ID cards" are the most visible part." - NO2ID statement of purpose

So there I am, on the NO2ID website, getting myself all in a lather about the database state and the CCTV-monitored open-prison we call Britain when I decide to sign up for the email newsletter, so as to keep myself abreast of local and national developments.

I fill in my email address on the "stay informed" section of their homepage, but as I just want the email letter I don't want (or need) to give them my firstname, lastname, number, road, town or postcode.

Like them, I have a natural aversion to giving too much information out and believe sincerely in the rights and privacies of the individual.

So i just fill in my email address, copy the "magic word" and submit my request. This is what I got:

- "Input error

This form is designed for you to give contact details to enable NO2ID to get in touch with you. We will not pass your details to any third party. We will not send you irrelevant material.

But we do need to be able to ask for your active support when it matters. If you just want to read our newsletter and not hear from us otherwise, then we suggest that you read it as it is published on the website.

Supplying us with incomplete or misleading details will damage the campaign, since it costs us postage or takes up the time of volunteer workers

Please enter your forename in the 'forename' field" -

Ok, i think to myself, if they really want my first name i have no problem giving it to them. So I fill it in and repeat the process.

- "Please enter your surname in the 'surname' field" -

Now i'm beginning to get a little bit suss. Can it be? Surely not? Not them of all people? I try again.

- "Please enter your postal address in the 'address' field" -

It was at this point that I suffered from irony-overload. As I involuntarily sprayed my tea across the screen, the wall and the cat it dawned on me that, basically, the very people campaigning against the "database state" demand mandatory completion of personal information... for their DATABASE!

What. The. Fuck.

I appreciate it says that if I just want the newsletter I should check back to the site but what kind of stupid, wrong-headed, counterproductive methodology is that? What if I forget? What if I miss something important? Surely it is in their interest to maximise participation and surely it is one of their basic principles that people should give out only as much detail as they wish?!

Truly, I was staggered, and I emailed them, as "Mr X", to let them know exactly what I thought of their hypocrisy.

In response, I got a one-sentence email saying they would be most happy to put me on the list, as Mr-sodding-X, WITHOUT further details, which is even worse because it means they COULD do it for everyone but choose not to.

If you stop everything you're doing - just for a moment - and listen very carefully, you can hear our beloved Mr Orwell turning in his grave.

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