Saturday, August 4, 2007

Equanimity - I wish.....

I recently received a replacement passport, and the notes with it made it clear that it is indeed a "biometric" passport, although quite what its biometric characteristics involve is less clear.

Reading between the lines, I gather that my photograph has been analysed in terms of certain facial measurements and ratios into a computer-readable code. This, I think, is installed in a small chip, and this chip is connected to a rather spooky 'antenna' comprising several turns of very fine copper wire passed round a credit-card-sized oblong. I may be entirely wrong about this, but I think not. The front of the passport is embellished with a small cypher to show that it is 'biometric'. It's a bit like the X-Files. Spoooooooooky.

I needed my new passport to hand because, in my nursing work, I have to be periodically re-checked by the Criminal Records Bureau to determine my fitness to work with vulnerable people, and the passport is recognised as first-rank proof of identity for the checking process. I don't mind this in the least; although it is a bit irksome, I can see the point.

However, I was rather annoyed when I was told that, apart from presenting my passport to be checked by a designated and responsible person, it was going to be photocopied "for the record", and a photocopy kept on my personnel file. I dug my heels in. "No way!" Check it by all means, but the photocopying is not on, I won't allow it. Especially in these days of Identity Theft. Security works both ways, I said.

Well, I was told, "as your employer we have a right to copy your passport to prove you have a right to work in the UK". "Prove it authoritatively with parliamentary references" I snarled! Well, not quite, as I am a good-natured and eminently reasonable type, and a loyal employee.

Eventually, the issue was passed up to the Director of Human Resources for an opinion, and I am waiting for his judgement, but battle lines have been drawn, I reckon. Watch this space...

As for cultivating equanimity, what do you think? Am I over-reacting or what?

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