Today i posted a funny story on my personal blog. It is about how i have changed my name at the inland revenue, with hardly any fuss and no rquirement for documentation whatsoever.
I also mention how my bank is one of several organisations that demands all manner of “proof of identity” before they will allow me to change my name on my personal account – although bizarrely, they will allow me to open a new account on the basis of various proofs, including a current tax document.
So soon, through its own pig-headedness, my bank will be in the position of having me as two separate customers. Bingo!
Behind this, however, lies a serious issue. It is the usual arse-covering by large organisations and bureaucratic middle management who can read their briefings, but not grasp the concepts written down. Banks are hung up on the idea that they need to maintain security – and one way of doing that is through checking identity.
So far, so fair. But a key issue is that they have then gone on to confuse identity with what someone is called. A serious mistake when it comes to english law.
So even when they KNOW who someone is – and we’re not just talking those in transition here, but almost every woman who has ever married or divorced, plus the occasional male who fancies being know by a different name – they demand documents. Deed polls. Marriage certificates. Statutory declarations.
They’re not expensive. They are an imposition. They are also discriminatory, since this requirement bears far more heavily on women – and the transgendered.
But…but…i hear the bankers stutter. Security. Fraud. Money laundering.
So long as they are sure you are the person entitled to whatever service is on offer, then no other checks should be required. The problem, of course, as i wrote in a rather more serious business place recently, is that most IT systems were set up by blokes.
And blokes don’t change their names. Much.
If systems were set up by people who DO tend to change their names, they would not be designed with name as a single one-value-at-a-time field. Systems would be designed with “known-as” and previous names: and they would allow the addition of names throughout an individual’s lifetime.
So long as John Smith meets security requirements when he tells his bank he wishes to be known as John Doe (or even Jane Doe) the system should cope. Sadly, though, a lot of the fuss seems most likely the result of systems designers not being able to get their head out of the rut that says one person, one life, one name.
Well: it is time for that to change. This summer i am putting together a paper to go winging its way into government in late august. If you have any interesting name experiences, particularly relating to organisational policy, please let me know.
If you happen to understand the policy of the various Gender Identity Clinics…nah…just don’t get me started on THEM!
Anyway, stories, anecdotes and inside gen on big organsiations. I’d like it all, please.