Archive for April 30th, 2012


Civil liberties, twitter debates and dissemintation of misinformation

April 30, 2012

As observers of this blog will know, Odessablog tweets.  A twitter feed is to the right of this page.  It doesn’t tweet much, it doesn’t follow that many people or organisations and not that many people follow @Odessablogger.  That said, those who do follow are academics, think-tanks, Ukrainian politicians, Ukrainian civil liberties groups, journalists from Ukraine, the UK, Germany and USA as well as diplomats past and present both UK, Ukrainian and from the EU.

None too shabby a list of followers.  Small, influential, educated and interesting.

Amongst the Ukrainian MPs who tweet are Andrey Shevchenko and Vadim Utkin.

A tweet appeared with me from @vadimutkin stating this:

Россия, Украина, Израиль и Сев. Корея выдают внутренний паспорт. Во остальных странах паспорт существует только для выезда за границу

It then arrives with me again via @ashevch (Andrey Shenvchenko) via a re-tweet seconds later.

To save you dear readers the effort, in a nutshell, the tweet relates to the on-going debate over passports in Ukraine and Mr Mutkin is stating that the only nations in the world who have an internal passport system are Russia, Ukraine, Israel and South Korea.

This is of course absolute rubbish.  It may be they are the only nations that have an internal passport that takes the form of a little book that looks like the standard international passport we all recognise, but that it because many nations now use a national identity card rather than an internal passport.  The principle though is exactly the same.  A national ID system.

Now the debate is a civil liberties debate over internal ID as well as a debate over the changes to international passports and biometric data, data storage etc as mentioned in yesterday’s post (required in the EU road map for Visa-free).

However, Messers Mutkin and Shevchenko are being more than a little misleading.  If they care to look West and to the EU, a large number of EU nations have national identity card schemes.  In fact there are only a few that do not, my home nation of the UK being one.

Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and soon to join Croatia, all require the ownership of national ID cards (some simply to posses and other to always carry).

That leaves the Brits, Danes and Swedish pretty much.

Now these national ID cards do not look like a standard passport because, well, it is less hassle to carry a credit card sized ID, but they serve exactly the same purpose as the Ukrainian Internal Passport which our two Deputies are trying to highlight as an unusual encroachment on civil liberties that Ukraine should get rid off or seen to be oppressive and backwards.

This is absolute misinformation they are spreading.  The only difference is the size and style of the internal identification document between Ukraine and all the other nations within the EU I have listed.  If Ukraine swapped the passport book for the ID card, it would be no different from the majority of Europe, however that little snippet of apparently irrelevant information is not being passed along.

Is it any wonder the Ukrainian public have so little faith in their political classes (of any party, and they are all old hands at telling half-truths, outright falsifications and fabricated nonsense) when they won’t even tell the truth about the nations surrounding Ukraine and the systems they employ that can be easily corroborated by anybody with access to the Internet?  Considering you need the Internet to read their twitter, surely they must know such nonsense will be exposed as nonsense within a few clicks of a mouse!

Alas, the truth must be perverted for other motives by some, and thus several thousand Ukrainians who follow these two MPs on twitter are now under the impression that it is only former Communist nations trapped in a bureaucratic time-warp, or nations with large external threats against them, that have such civil liberty invading practices.

Utter cobblers!   (And yes I did send a reply tweet about spreading BS.  The thing about twitter is it a platform for a “quick hit” or for sending out information via attachments, but a blog is a platform of more permanent and more permanently findable content.   Hence I use both and use both in the manner I think more fitting for each medium.)

When it comes to solutions to the current debate, if some form of State generated ID is (still) required, you would think that an international passport would be as good as an internal passport (or ID card) for the purposes of identification within Ukraine and that in fact, an either/or situation would be good enough.

Reinventing the wheel over issues other neighbouring nations have accomplished so many times seems a quite pointless exercise.  The decision is whether to continue to require the possession of State generated ID (as most EU nations do, despite the inferences that they don’t) or not.  Thereafter it is a matter of what form it will take only.

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