Surveillance and Identity. Discourse, Subjectivity and the State (Introduction) - David Barnard-Wills (Ashgate, Uk, January 2012)

"In many ways this book is the story of three iconic technological artefacts. Or more accurately, the story of a story told about these artefacts.
The first artefact is no longer in existence. On 10 February 2011 the hard drives containing the uK’s national identity register were physically destroyed, putting an end to a scheme which had its roots at the start of the previous decade. it was brought to an end by a change in government, with the May 2010 elections bringing to power a coalition of conservative and liberal democrat parties with shared opposition to the scheme. the national identity card might have been the artefact of concern for many but the database and the political infrastructure that supported it are in many ways more important. this scheme was an attempt to provide an authoritative statement of individual identity in response to a range of social problems that were seen as undermining identity.
the second artefact is the personal document shredder. this device, formerly limited to the office and associated with the disposal of incriminating documents in many a political thriller, is now a common sight in UK homes. It is used to make the paperwork that surrounds modern life unreadable and as such is a tool for physically destroying information. The shredder is put to work to help dispose of the flood of junk mail that has been turning up at the house ever since you signed up to that website. it is also a protection against the identity thieves imagined to be raiding your paper recycling every alternate week. It is relatively inexpensive, you can get one for a little over £20, and they are not difficult to use, but they do represent a change in our information handling behavior.

The third artefact is the credit file. Unlike the other two, this one isn’t really physical. you can have a copy of it printed out and sent to you (and this is your right). But this is just a representation, a snapshot of a moving thing at a moment in time. It is a digital record of selected elements of an individual’s financial history, used to make judgements about their suitability for financial services and to enter into relationship with financial organisations. It is also something monitored by the individual, and an increasingly important part of our identity that we are told we need to protect. The credit file, acting as our representative or an image of us, can have great impacts upon our life experiences and chances.
these three items are in many ways paradigmatic; they represent a particular paradigm, a way of thinking about information, identity and forms of political, economic and social life in the UK in the first decade of the 21st century. They are different types of information technology, each with different patterns of ownership, different uses and different ways that they can be controlled and manipulated.
To a particular way of thinking they were all necessary (even the now destroyed identity register). They are also linked. The shredder is supposed to protect from threats to the credit file. The identity card registration process was to draw upon the electronic verification methods developed in the private sector, of which credit histories were a part. the identity card was also pitched by government as a protection from identity theft. they are all ‘humble and mundane’ mechanisms of government through which political rationalities and programmes of government become deployed (Miller and rose 2008:32).
This book is not just about these technologies however. It is much more about the things that link them together. These three technologies are all examples of a nexus of surveillance, identity and language. this is nexus also draws in technology, risk, authority and the contested role of the state."  (...)  
Read the whole introduction