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Beliefnet News

Russian, Greek Orthodox Leery of ID Cards

c. 2011 Religion News Service

MOSCOW (RNS/ENInews) Russian and Greek Orthodox leaders are objecting to plans in both countries to introduce electronic identity cards intended to streamline bureaucracy.

Church officials are demanding close study of the cards, and asking that authorities make them optional. The personal and financial information embedded in the cards could be manipulated to discriminate against believers, they fear.

In a recent interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta, an official government newspaper, Metropolitan Hilarion, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations, said: “Credit cards … are one thing, but a personal card in which all the information about a person’s life and activities will be entered … is a different matter.”


Conservative and nationalist wings within the two churches have held demonstrations in Athens and Moscow, and fear the cards will compromise national and religious identity., an online publication that often covers religious and nationalist issues, said the cards could help build “an unheard of, super-totalitarian electronic dictatorship, in which each individual person becomes … a robot with a bar code on his body or a microchip implanted under his skin.”

Following massive rallies in Athens in March, the Synod of Bishops of the Church of Greece met with government officials in April. Metropolitan Prokopios said the church was assured that the numerals 666 — the nefarious “mark of the beast” from the Book of Revelation — would not appear in the cards in any form.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    Gee, Republicans want us all to carry them in order to vote.

    I wonder who didn’t get whose memo.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment MH

    ID cards are fine, as long they are only ID cards. When they have the ability to store information and track movements is when they get scary. For example:

    I carry a driver license. It identifies who I am, but little else about me. It certainly can’t tell the police where I’ve been, how fast I was driving, or who I was with.

    I occasionally carry a passport. The stamps on the passport provide personal information about where I’ve been and how long I was there.

    So an electronic ID card could either be a tamper proof drivers license (using digtal certificates), or it could be a passport on steroids storing information about my movements in detail.

    The distopian nightmare would be a RFID which identifies you, but can also identify tags near you. It stores an audit trail of tags encounted and times. When used to identify yourself to an authority the card uploads this audit trail. Couple it with a large database and computer, and you can reconstruct social networks and movements.

    Sort of like a mandatory four square and facebook.

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