If ever you have wanted to play an online game that put your whole future at risk, now’s your chance. If you are an EU citizen living in the UK, just download the government’s “settled status” app, as soon as it becomes available, and start playing. The fact that the government insists that the application will be easy to use and, more importantly, will work, just emphasizes their complete lack of knowledge about the effects of Brexit on individual citizens, and their underestimation of the complexity of digital technology. How many apps do you have that actually work all the time? Not many, I suspect. This is people’s lives we are talking about, not a virtual game where your main aim is to amass as many ludicrously dressed characters as possible, and to destroy everything that you see on your touchscreen.
The fact that the app has been contracted to the French firm Sopra Steria, for a bargain price of £90m, is ironic, to say the least. It is in line, of course, with the revamped UK passport that has shed its burgundy red for an imperial blue – fabriqué en France.
From 21st January, many EU citizens currently living in th UK, and working for partnering organisations, will be able to download the Home Office app, and start their “settled status” application. This is part of a live trial, in which the Home Office is testing the workability of the app that has, up to now, not been free of bugs. In particular, the app has not been able to function on Apple’s iPhones and iPads, with the American firm not supporting passport scanning, a crucial step in confirming applicants’ identities. Whereas many participants had no problems in processing their applications, others found that the application didn’t work on their androids. And what about those who have little or no experience with computers and cell phones?
It is highly probable that most, if not all, EU citizens are already registered by their local councils, making the process of verification and confirming settled status possible at a local level. But why make things easy when they can be complicated, especially for your 85-year-old widow, living in Clacton On Sea, and who doesn’t know what a cell-phone or computer look like.
EU citizens are now standing out from the crowd and being counted.
The mere notion that an app exists, whether it works or not, to classify human beings, according to their origins, is a somber reflection of the murky depths of what Brexit really means to people, and why they voted for it. Irrespective of what sort of deal – if any – the UK will accept, EU citizens are now standing out from the crowd and being counted. Sam Knight, writing in the New Yorker, is absolutely right when he says that, “there are elements of Brexit that are visceral and cold to the touch. And a gigantic bureaucratic effort to process European migrants, who make up around six per cent of the population and who have never been systematically counted before, is the largest and grimmest of these.”
If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means. – Theresa May, 2016
I really get the feeling that such a statement puts me in my place. How dare I be a British/French national, living in the Netherlands. I suppose that I should be living somewhere in the middle of the North Sea, somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
Although campaigning in 2016 for the UK to remain in the EU, Theresa May has always kept conspicuously silent concerning immigration. Now, with the endorsement of those who voted Brexit, immigration is at the forefront of her agreement with the EU. She promises to put a stop to uncontrolled migration that is synonymous with the EU’s freedom of movement. She describes the migrants as “citizens of nowhere,” people “jumping the queue,” and taking the jobs and benefits away from indigenous Brits or, worse still, indigenous Australians, Pakistanis, and Indians.
She is supporting the use of a digital application to control, identify, and index more than 3 million individuals, with the swipe of a touchscreen. She is ready to accept the constant threat of hackers, viruses, and loss of personal information due to the interception of messages.
We must not forget that many people will not apply on time and will be dependent on the system functioning right up to the cut-off date. Despite the warnings, despite the flyers, there will always be those who manage to fall through the system.
Digital technology evolves on a weekly basis, and applications must be capable of functioning properly with the very latest operating systems. Upgrading applications often causes problems, especially for users with older cell phone models.
Despite its inherent problems, Theresa May and the Home Office are determined to use a potentially fragile application that will affect EU citizens living in the UK. Upgrading digital software, downgrading EU citizen status – the future’s bright…the future’s Brexit.