I have just signed up to the petition to stop the Government from introducing a vehicle-tracking and road-pricing scheme. You can too by filling in the form here (the petition remains open only until 20th February 2007, so get a move on!)
I can see there may be a need to try and reduce traffic congestion and the consequent pollution and squandering of the planet's scarce energy resources. However I think that better mechanisms could be found to achieve this end than by coupling it to vehicle-tracking which I regard as a further sinister move by this government to tabulate citizens and their movements for its own political ends. I regret to write this, but I simply do not trust this government (or possibly a future government, of whatever political party) not to abuse the huge amount of personal data they are trying to accumulate on us, of which vehicle-tracking is just one more piece. That is even supposing that it would be able to get the thing to work even with the huge amounts of 'investment' required for all the software and equipment to run it - which I doubt, given the government's abysmal record with implementing technology.
UPDATE: (Sunday 18FEB07 10.33 RST) In the emollient words, aka 'Blair-speak', of our beloved Prime Minister we see, perhaps, the first signs of a [partial] climbdown in the government's plans to introduce road pricing; and as one of the signatories to the petition I'm promised an e-mail in the next few days from him. Golly, I do feel honoured and am positively tingling in anticipation (Steady now - Ed.). Observing (get the sly pun?) that he 'welcomed' the petition [and I just bet he does!]:
"... not because I share the petitioners' views - I don't - but because I know the country needs to have a full debate on how we tackle road congestion and this petition has helped spark it.
"Over the next few days I will be sending out a response to everyone who has signed the petition against road charging explaining the problems the country faces and why I believe road pricing is surely part of the answer here as it is in many other countries.
"I'm not kidding myself that this will change people's views overnight.
"I am convinced, however, that the focus on this issue that the e-petition has brought about will help improve our understanding of the problems and the realisation that there are no cost-free answers.
"And that surely has got to be good news for the health of our democracy and for the chances of our country coming up with the right and sustainable solutions to the long-term challenges we face."
More on this in due course.