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Government Privacy

Russia Moves To Universal ID Card 200

prostoalex writes "On January 1st 2012, the Russian government will start issuing universal ID cards (Russian original) that will replace current national identification system (Russia has a system of internal passports), medical insurance cards, student IDs, public transport passes, and debit cards. The smart card contains unique personal identifiers and allows for multiple levels of authentication. The Russian government is pushing for local government agencies, transportation providers, banks and retail operators to adopt the government-issued ID to streamline their operations."
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Russia Moves To Universal ID Card

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  • by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Friday January 14, 2011 @09:17PM (#34886016)

    First, this is NOT an ID card (at least at first), it's just a government-mandated standard card. Second, Russia _already_ has a universal ID system - internal passports, which have nice unique ID numbers and every citizen by law must get a passport. A lot of things (bank accounts, phone numbers) are already linked to passport serial numbers, so it's not like it's hard to correlate these data.

    Interestingly enough, it's not used for oppression of political opposition. Mostly because it's not of much use to know where your political opponent is.

    In my opinion, ID cards are better than paper passports - they are physically smaller and easier to carry and do not fray around the edges as easily as paper documents. A major boon of ID cards should be the ease of cancellation. A stolen paper passport is a disaster, a stolen ID card should just be a nuisance.

    However, though internal passports are a legacy of the USSR, they have some advantages too - they can contain more "naked-eye visible" information than a credit-card-sized ID card, like marital status, information about children, blood type, etc.

  • by melted ( 227442 ) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @12:06AM (#34886846) Homepage

    Suvorov is a notorious defector who has a massive axe to grind. I would not take his words at their face value without a boulder-sized grain of salt.

    I've talked to a few ex-USSR folks at work. They say for most people life was better back then. Social safety net was stronger, there was certainty in the future, there was industry (yes, including the massive military-industrial complex), people were generally paid well, science and engineering were strong, and there was no shortage of work. In fact by law you could end up in jail for _not_ working, but the law in question was rarely applied. You basically could say, with high probability, how your life would play out. I.e. finish high school, go to the university, become engineer or a scientist, get employment, get paid 150 rubles a month as a start (+yearly bonus), get in line for government subsidized housing, eventually get an apartment, buy a crappy Soviet car, work until you're 60 years old, retire.

    Sure, the opportunity to get rich wasn't there, and sure you couldn't buy much in the way of western stuff (except for perhaps jeans), but realistically, only a small percentage of people become really rich, and they weren't into "stuff" back then anyway. Many compare USSR to North Korea, but really, there's no basis for such comparison. There was no "dear leader", no cult of personality and no famine (not since the 30's anyway, but then again the US was pretty shitty in the 30's as well).

    Compare it to now: Moscow is really prosperous, and the rest of the country can barely make the ends meet. Those in power steal astronomical sums of taxpayer money (remember the old apparatchiks didn't need to steal, they were set for life by the government) with impunity. Corruption is horrifying, everything is bought and sold, and in some cases you don't even need to pay - just get the right guy to make a phone call. Government pensions to the retirees are laughable and impossible to live on. Oligarchs illegally privatized people's property (through rigged auctions etc) for pennies on the dollar, and now exploit those same people, paying them barely enough to buy food. Infrastructure is crumbling. And so on and so forth.

    In other words, it's pretty bad there right now. But on the other hand, the folks at least have an opportunity to leave, which wasn't the case before.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato