Wednesday, 30 December 2009

ID card tender

Kable writes that the Identity and Passport Service has put out an advert regarding front office services for the issuing of ID cards and biometric passports.

The job involves such activities as: recording customers' biometrics – facial image and fingerprints – supporting online applications, collecting documents, the secure transfer of data and collecting payments. Sigh

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Haven't we been here before?

The government's consultation document regarding its postponed Intercept Modernisation Programme (IMP) has been likened to East Germany's surveillance system under the Stasi, see here, and here. This comment was made by a spokesman from T-Mobile:

"It would be extremely ironic if we at T-Mobile (UK) Ltd had to acquire the surveillance functionality envisaged by the Consultation Document at the same time that our parent company, headquartered in Germany, was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the demise of the equivalent systems established by the Stasi in the federal states of the former East Germany."

Every UK mobile network has serious objections to plans to intercept and store details of every communication via the internet, variously attacking IMP's technical feasibility, its legality, its impact on customer privacy and its opaque £2bn cost estimate.

Since October 2007, telecoms companies have been obliged to keep records for a year under the EU Data Retention Directive. Under the new legislation, they will also be required to organise it better – for example, by grouping calls made by the same person. They will also be compelled to intercept details of when and where each of their customers use services such as Facebook and Skype, as well as whom they contact. Hundreds of public bodies and quangos may also be able to obtain information from the system.

In addition to this one legal expert has stated that-

The Digital Economy Bill could give the Government the power to control the internet access of UK citizens by ministerial order, bypassing Parliament and without an adequate right of appeal.

The Home Office tells us that all this is to protect us from crime and terrorism! I'm sure the Stasi said the same.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Remember - an ID card is not just for Christmas.

Happy Christmas from Birmingham NO2ID

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Young Londoners targeted for ID

According to the Home Office 1,500 identity cards have been issued since October 2009.Now ZDNet reports that the Home Office has confirmed that it will make identity cards available to those aged between 16-24 in London early next year.

The Home Office says that:"One of the many benefits of ID cards is being able to verify your age as 16 or over."

However, Philippe Martin, a senior Kable analyst comments:

"It is unclear what would be the benefit for young people to spend £30 if bars, shops and other premises do not have biometric scanners to verify their age. The advantage of the identity card over a student card, a driving licence or most passports is the biometric element. Until scanners are widely distributed to establishments needing this level of identification, the card is worthless.

This is one time we can be thankful for an inefficient government!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Protecting society from people like YOU

Since 2005 if you have had your DNA taken you will also have a record on the Police National Computer.

The European Court of Human Rights said last year that DNA data should not be indefinitely retained from those who have not been charged or convicted. The government plans to delete some such profiles, hoping to bring the UK into line with the law. However, they are not going to delete the accompanying identity data on the Police National Computer.

The Information Commissioner's Office raised concerns that police retention of data from innocent people could damage their prospects via employment background checks.

"The commissioner is concerned that the very existence of a police identity record created as a result of a DNA sample being taken on arrest could prejudice the interests of the individual to whom it relates by creating inaccurate assumptions about his or her criminal past." See here.

Furthermore, the National Policing Improvement Agency (a quango costing you a mere £600 million annually) cheerily informs us that:
Via the Police National Computer (PNC), law enforcement officers will be able to share and use certain information with other police organisations from all Schengen countries .... increasing our opportunities to deal with cross-border crime and extending their reach across Europe. See here.

So there goes that job in Brussels!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

23rd January a date for your diary?

There will be a "mass gathering in defence of street photography" in Trafalgar Square on Saturday, 23rd January 2010. More details here and here.

Perhaps artists would also like to join the demo? Watercolourist Liam O'Farrell (hat tip The Badger) was twice confronted by England's finest whilst painting the Tate & Lyle sugar factory. A Met officer confidently declared that: "no one does watercolours of factories". Mr O'Farrell told them about Lowry. See here.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

All shall have prizes?

The black-tie e-Government National Awards dinner takes place 6.45pm - 11.15pm on 20th January 2010 at the Guildhall in the City of London. A seat is a snip at £197.

Amateur comedian Christopher Histed, founder of the e-Government National Awards says: "In this tough economic climate, the Awards are a yardstick proving the UK's excellence in innovative technology-driven services. Good public sector IT has a crucial role to play in delivering increasingly efficient & effective public sector services both at a Local and National level."

One of the finalists for the award is the egregious £1.2 billion e-Borders scheme which involves retaining all travel data for everyone entering and leaving the country in a massive centralised database.

This advanced passenger information is checked against watchlists and enables the authorities to count everyone in and out of the country. All the information passengers give to travel agents, including home addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, passport details and the names of family members, is shared with an unknown number of Government agencies for 'analysis' and stored for up to ten years.

Anything deemed suspicious is flagged and this evidently includes vegetarians!!

E-borders may now be deemed illegal or at least not compulsory. See here and here.

The fact that there might be a problem emerged in a letter from the European Commission to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) after the Home Office, somewhat belatedly, sought assurances that its requirement for passenger information would not breach EU rules. As a result the UKBA will now have to check anyone who has not provided the data once they arrive in the country and officials will not be able to refuse entry to any EU citizen, or even their family members, regardless of nationality, solely on the grounds that they refused to provide the information.

This hugely elaborate, intrusive database is a disgrace yet I very much doubt that the EU Commission has made this decision in order to preserve a few British civil liberties. The EU would like us to be part of their own e-borders, join Schengen and fully harmonise with massive EU databases such as: VIS, EURODAC, SIS and SIS 11.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Dixon would be shocked - PCSO is chewing gum!

Another example of the ongoing saga of photographers being harassed by the police despite damage limitation being attempted by their superiors. See here and here.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Well done Liverpool council

Meg Hillier forgot her brand new ID card on a visit to Liverpool to promote - yes, ID cards.

Liverpool Council has passed a motion declaring that it: will refuse to cooperate with any plans to promote the National Identity Scheme including refusal to allow any council premises to be used for promotional events or meetings. The council's communication channels will also not be made available.

Finally the council said it will work with organisations campaigning against the scheme to "raise awareness among Liverpool citizens of the dangers of the ID card and database scheme".

Phil Booth, NO2ID's national coordinator, said: "Neither the people of Liverpool nor their elected representatives have been conned. We particularly congratulate Labour councillors for taking their constituents' sides against the Home Office's favourite surveillance scheme, even if a Labour Home Secretary complacently lets the bureaucrats steam on, spending uncounted millions in the biggest ID theft of all."

Meg Hillier's response was: "I think Liverpool Council are cutting off their nose to spite their face." At least, she said she was Meg Hillier but couldn't prove it!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Reclaim your DNA on facebook

Marcus Lasance has informed us that Reclaim your DNA is now on facebook. Thanks Marcus.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Another fine mess?

It is being reported that the government has seen some reason regarding the ISA Vetting and Barring Scheme. Namely, that it has tinkered with eligibility rules in response to protests from: schools, parents, voluntary bodies and even the politicians who failed to envisage problems when they debated the Act in 2006. Two examples of changes are-

- Changing the frequency criteria from three days in three months (monthly) to once a week, and the intensive test to four days a month or overnight.
- Giving overseas visitors bringing groups of children into Britain a three month exemption before they are required to register.

However, as the Register points out, there are some people who do not need to be vetted such as the partners of parents hosting exchange students, making the system illogical. The Register also thinks that the DCSF has simply 'guessed' that the numbers requiring vetting will be reduced by 2 million to make a total of 9 million.

However, as we have pointed out previously, there are all those contractors working in schools who will probably insist on their employees being vetted and many schools that will find the process of working out who needs to be vetted so tortuous, that many people will be vetted 'just in case'.

The Prüm Convention begins.

The "Issues and Risks" report, obtained by The Register using Freedom of Information laws, raises concerns that the DVLA database will be accessed directly by foreign officials for minor motoring offences and parking infringements, and that data will be sold to commercial interests such as marketing firms and private investigators.See here.

The report was commissioned by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) which admits that access to the DVLA will be uncontrolled.

"The UK is aware that this is open to abuse, and that some EU member states are likely to use the Prüm capability for inquiries beyond the defined scope of cross-border crime and counter-terrorism," it says.

Hence, mission creep involving our personal data is not just restricted to the UK but increasingly has an EU dimension. For example we have the following -

Detecter reports that - after a long process the Italian Parliament has passed law 85 ratifying the Prum Convention and creating the legal basis for an Italian National DNA Database.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Tuck off beam?

Kevin Tuck, hard man and Durham police Inspector is reported as saying:

"In Durham police have taken a stance and anyone found with *it will be arrested on suspicion of possession of a banned substance. They will be taken to a police cell, their DNA and fingerprints taken and that arrest, depending upon enquiries, could have serious implications, for example on future job applications." Gosh!

Yet, a Home Office spokesman said:

"Employment checks are not linked to the DNA database and employers cannot check if a potential employee is on the DNA database." Who is right?

*It, being mephedrone, which is legal to possess – but illegal to sell for medicinal purposes.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

We're all under suspicion now.

The Manor Community College in Cambridge is to ban any visitor who has not been checked by the Criminal Records Bureau. evidently this is deemed necessary to prevent strangers walking around the premises. But the college admits that volunteers, visitors and contractors will be hit with the ban.

Also, more than 125,000 teenagers are now having their backgrounds checked each year, even if they just help younger pupils at school or volunteer as sports coaches...See here.

Now, school visitors and volunteers can simply refuse to have the check but contractors would lose work so could not. Scary.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The shape of things to come?

We have e-borders, ID cards for British citizens are being rolled out, we are creating more and more central databases and mobile scanners are being regularly used.

Well,you have often heard people say that they have nothing to hide, but what if you had?

Because names are associated with religious identity, many Iraqis change their names or carry fake IDs to avoid being murdered by rival sects.

Identification cards in Rwanda that included photos and listed tribal affiliation were used by rival Tutsis and Hutus to identify their foes.

The U.S. biometric database in Iraq, now contains information on more than 2.5 million Iraqis. This has undoubtedly been helpful in preventing some acts of terror but, when the U.S. forces leave Iraq, this same database may be used for monitoring critics of the regime and for political repression.

There is no comparison between Iraq and Great Britain yet, what if you wished to hide from: a minor crime, a violent spouse, an unsubstantiated accusation, presence at demonstrations? Well, at the rate things are going this will soon become impossible. This information will be on file for life. Though there's always the false ID card!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Data Retention dangers loom

Following the official entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, we have to prepare ourselves for the rollout of the Stockholm Programme. This will give legal powers for further surveillance at national, international and EU level.

The European Digital Rights EDRi have called for the European Union to repeal the 2006 directive on the data retention of electronic communications. In the event that the directive is not repealed, they demand that it is amended to introduce an opt-out right allowing Member States to decide whether or not to require the retention of communications data. Perhaps Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg could be asked to slip this into their manifestos? Legal complaints against this directive are pending in several EU states. Meryem Marzouki of EDRi clearly sums it up the dangers inherent in the Data Retention directive which is encapsulated in the UK's Intercept Modernisation Programme (IMP).

"With the growing use of massive national databases, and the current plans towards their interoperability at EU-level and full access for police purposes, the data retention directive paves the way to further extensions of purposes, where data once collected strictly for the requirements of a given service delivery become used for citizens surveillance and social control, when not for intelligence purposes. This is not acceptable in a democratic society, and should be ended now."

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Post Office staff taking fingerprints

In September the Home Secretary announced that 17 Post Offices would be taking part in a trial of fingerprint biometric enrolment for foreign nationals. Eleven branches have gone live. These include Kingstanding and Reddich.

Manchester NO2ID hard at work

James Elsdon-Baker, North of England NO2ID co-ordinator has reported on the inauguration of ID cards in Manchester:

We have had a good day over in Manchester. Interviews were given to GMTV and City Talk radio breakfast show that goes out across the NW.

Arrived in Manchester and saw outside the print works the dreaded smiley fingerprint campaign is in action. They had them on mobile cycle signs,that had a habit of moving when our stall got placed in front of them. I walked through the printworks and Meg (Hillier) was closed off inside one bar which had been transformed into a propaganda hub with stickers saying they accept ID cards, posters in the window etc.

All the screens in the place were showing this pro-ID card video. From what I could see it looked like they were taking pictures of people scanning their fingerprints with a reader by the entrance.

I gave out a few cards to journalists before being asked to leave by security. Ms Hillier did a Q&A session apparently to the assembled media which will go out at some point. Anyway we handed out leaflets outside, got hassled again by security trying to get us to move a stall off a public highway to the other side of the road.

They then tried to say we needed a licence to hand out flyers! I overheard some people talking and I think the printworks is going to be a location for ongoing activity, possibly their information stall. Basically because they can exclude anyone from getting near it.

I got chatting to one of the security guards later and he apologised, said he was totally against ID cards, but had been told to move us. Channel M who I spoke to at the printworks came along to our protest and we did an interview with them. Dave did an interview with local BBC radio, and the PM program got some quotes from us too. We had some students filming as well for their own news video they were making.

We did our protest for a bit, got very cold and headed off to warm up.Walking back through town there were quite a few mobile signs promoting ID cards which must be costing a bit.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Today - ID cards are go

Here are some bits and pieces:

The Identity and Passport Service Framework Agreement is published giving information about the NIR and telling you that accredited organisations will have access to it. See here.

The database that backs up the national ID cards has officially been unveiled, and so far it holds just 538 names. Of those, all are British citizens and just one is a foreign national, despite people such as overseas students being given the cards since last November. The one foreigner is from the EU. See here

(The Home Office press department has not yet replied to a query as to whether there are two separate databases for foreigners and British citizens, and where data on foreigners was currently being held.)

1,107 eligible volunteers/guinea pigs, from the Greater Manchester area, London and the two airports, have made an appointment to enrol for an identity card out of a population of 1.7 million. See here.

Fingerprint checks on foreigners at border controls is operational see here.

Parental CRB checks.

In the last post, I mentioned that people would soon need to have a police check in order to become parents. I was joking but this is becoming nearer reality with the report by the Daily Mail that home-schooling parents could be required to undergo a CRB check in order to teach their own children! The estimated 40,000 parents who choose not to send their children to school should be vetted, says Ofsted.

If, as a result, they are deemed unsuitable to teach their children then, ominously, it is said that social workers could become involved. It is alleged that we already have some cases whereby single mothers experiencing post-natal depression have not gone to see their GP, fearing social workers will remove their baby. So the next logical step really could mean CRB checks for ALL parents.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Prove your innocence!

Slowly we are all becoming suspects, all having to prove our innocence.

The ContactPoint database will, rightly, highlight children who are at risk but it will also categorise those who may possibly be at risk and also note the details of every other child just in case. It is intended that details will be removed when the child is 18, so, once all 11 million plus children are on the database, that will mean that over 600,000 records will be destroyed annually. Who will do this and do you not think there will be the temptation to keep them, just in case? Especially if the child has had contact with the legal system.

Then we have the DNA database which, rightly, contains the DNA of convicted criminals and those implicated in recent serious crimes. Then it also contains those whom the police consider 'dodgy', those who have committed minor misdemeanour's and those who just happened to be at the scene of a crime. These details are ostensibly only to be kept for 6 years, who is to delete the information and who will check that this is done?

Then there is the ISA vetting and barring register of 11 million plus adults who work with children or vulnerable adults. This contains, rightly, those convicted of abuse but also any false accusations or suspicions and all the rest, just in case. Agencies and employers that employ a range of people who just might come into contact with children or vulnerable adults will check their prospective employees, just in case. Do you think that anyone with a suspicion on their record will get a job?

We now have the proposal by ACPO Limited and the Home Office for yet another new law and order database – this one including individuals who are unconvicted, but against whom there exist unsubstantiated allegations of domestic violence. See here. And so it goes.

The logical conclusion is that there should be parental screening and only those deemed suitable should be allowed to bear and rear children.

Also, there should be a database of politicians and civil servants. But then who would compile it and what would be the criteria for being deemed unsuitable for the job?

Friday, 27 November 2009

Don't be coerced.

Big Brother Watch writes:

As a result of a very successful PledgeBank campaign, our friends at No2ID have a legal fund devoted to assisting people who don't want to "apply" for an ID card.

While frank compulsion has been dropped for now, the strategy of implementation the Government is mounting is plainly still inherently coercive.

There is notionally "voluntary" application from this Autumn but some people - those working for IPS, its contractors, and the originally designated airports - Manchester and City Airports* - may find themselves under real "indirect" pressure to apply...

That is prima facie unlawful under s16 of the Act as well as potentially a violation of all sorts of employment rights. That is not to say that it won't happen, though - the Home Office, with a desperate need for the scheme to be said to have succeeded, claimed to have opened for business with an application 'opportunity' for its own staff at the end of last month.

If any civil servant or member of contractor staff or airport worker is being pressed, or deceptively "invited", to apply, then get in touch with No2ID - they can help you.

By Alex Deane

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Principle - a route to prison.

In a recent article about the IMP Intercept Modernisation Programme, this writer, tongue in cheek, encouraged you to consider encryption.

However, government has got there first and we now have the first case of imprisonment for refusal to give keys to decrypt computer files to the police. The Register tells the story of a schizophrenic science hobbyist with no previous criminal record.

The 33-year-old man is currently held at a secure mental health unit after being sectioned while serving his sentence at Winchester Prison. He was sentenced to nine months imprisonment under Part III of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). The powers came into force in October 2007.

In his final police interview it was suggested that the refusal to decrypt the files or give them his keys would lead to suspicion he was a terrorist or paedophile.

"There could be child pornography, there could be bomb-making recipes," said one detective. "Unless you tell us we're never gonna know... What is anybody gonna think?"

JFL says he maintained his silence because of: "the principle - as simple as that".

What would you do?

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Second city - second DNA listing

The Guardian has found the DNA database figures by region and the West Midlands comes second after Northumbria. We have 118 samples on the database per thousand population yet this does not appear to correspond to our position in the crime statistics. The Human Genetics Commission (HGC), an independent Government advisory body, has called for new rules for officers on when it is right to take a sample and add it to the database - now the largest of its kind in the world with five million samples.

In its report Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?, the authors said current policies have a "disproportionate effect" on different age and ethnic groups and worries about some being stigmatised. Young black men are "very highly over-represented" the report says, with more than three quarters of those aged 18-35 on the database.

Alan Johnson says there is the need to protect the public, but in a way that's proportionate to the threat. He says: I believe that the government's proposals do precisely that but I also welcome the debate as a necessary part of implementing such sensitive measures.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Nation at war?

This blog has already posted on the ID card scheme of World War 2, 1939-1945 and the undesirable outcomes that stemmed from it, see HERE.
One of the features of any war is the natural desire of the government to protect valuable items. So, during WW2 many of the London museums dispersed their treasures around the country to places unlikely to be enemy targets. The National Gallery even put some works of art in a disused Welsh slate quarry, considered at the time to be an ideal safeguard. While the picture above shows a barrage balloon, a WW2 defensive measure against low flying enemy aircraft.

So what to do about Cyber warfare? Well it would seem our government is determined to gather all our data into one place with the ID card scheme and the linking of the databases that support it. Here it will be an easy target for any enemy. A great deal of the detail in this link HERE deals with the US response to a future Cyber war in respect of terrorism. But please read it through. You will see that any data source is open to attack and according to the competence and aggression of the attacker the outcomes will vary. The idea that the UK is safe from attack if ridiculous, quite the contrary.

Because of government policy we are a tempting target. An attack could mean anything from cash machine failure to total civic disintegration leading to violence and death. So who is going to protect us from this and how? Well it won't be the Home Secretary Alan Johnson who, on behalf of the government, is hell-bent on making it easier for any enemy to locate the single source of data and attack. By contrast the barrage balloon was a great success!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


Halesowen is yet another school that has introduced a fingerprinting system ostensibly to encourage healthy eating. The new system cost £23,000 to install and, as usual, the school received a Government grant to help with costs. The angry comments by parents at the end of the article would seem to outweigh the complacent ones. The headteacher stated:

This is a Government-backed initiative and will help the school with our healthy eating policy. Parents will be able to know that their children are eating healthy and they are not spending their dinner money at the local shops on chocolate or chips.”

If this is a problem then could not the children be kept in school?

Whenever there is an article like this the headteacher invariably claims that parents' fears are groundless, that the system merely converts pupils' fingerprints to a number and that no images of fingerprints are kept. They always repeat this 'information.' Well, this 'technical' nonsense comes courtesy of the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency Becta which is a quango advising schools on technology. Quote:

A numerical value is derived from the child’s fingerprint when it is first placed on the reading device .... Schools do not keep an image of the fingerprint.

The spin is that this is all totally innocuous and bears no relationship to how the police and others store fingerprint templates or even how computers work! There are numerous security and privacy issues which could be very serious but the major offence is the principle that fingerprinting of children is becoming widespread in educational settings so that children find this 'normal', that the teachers do not seem to mind, that this does not contravene data protection rules, that it is not mandatory to ask for parental consent and does not even merit parliamentary discussion.

Perhaps if the teachers' fingerprints were also on the database there might be some protest?

Leave Them Kids Alone LTKA gives the pros and cons.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

£200 to prove your innocence.

The Scottish police routinely delete the DNA of people arrested but not convicted of any other offences. In England and Wales we are informed that it can take up to 10 months, involves five administrative stages and up to nine staff to get records removed. Tomorrow our poor Queen will have to announce that innocent people will have to pay £200 for the privilege of having their DNA removed from the database, under the terms of yet another policing bill.

Now could it be that ACPO Britain's most powerful police body, run as a private business with an annual income of around £18million, could possibly profit from this?
Company No. 03344583

Company No. 03816000

School Entry Wellbeing Review

If you have a 5 year old then watch out. Lincolnshire Community Health Services (CHS) have a pilot consisting of a 4-page, tick box survey containing 100 questions.

The Review asks parents to indicate whether their child "often lies or cheats": whether they steal or bully; and how often they eat red meat, takeaway meals or fizzy drinks. In addition questions are asked about their health and their partner’s health, whether they or their partner are in paid employment.

Completing the review is evidently voluntary but, as this initial communication will be followed up with a reminder, then a third letter and a potential home visit from the School Nursing team, parents don't see it this way.

It is a sad indictment of the relationship between citizen and state that one mother said she felt that merely objecting to this questionnaire might lead to her and her child being placed on some sort of risk register. As DoH guidance states that local areas should aim for 100 per cent coverage of children in the locality, then her suspicions do not sound unreasonable.

Sections 12 and 29 of the Children's Act 2004 include provisions whereby the Secretary of State may order the setting up of databases. In theory, they allow for government to demand whatever information it sees fit to demand in respect of children, and to pass it on to any third party. Nonetheless, the regulations do not appear to include any powers to demand information on parents.

If successful, all parents in England and Wales will be (very firmly ) advised to fill in the review.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Liberty going down

The rightly respected Henry Porter has set out his thoughts on why, in terms of civil liberties, we've never had it so bad, see HERE. It was Harold Macmillan who used the phrase “you've never had it so good” in 1957. At that time the UK was still recovering from the effects of WW2. Many people had suffered in the depression of the pre-war years and by the mid-1950s were desperate for a better life. Now, 50 years later, it is formally recognised that the good years, fought for and worked towards by so many ordinary people, have been replaced with a sustained period of decline of liberty. Porter is specific in his condemnation, Home Secretaries: Jack Straw, David Blunkett, Charles Clarke, and John Reid are blamed. Clarke is given special treatment by Porter due to an article the former wrote recently and reached through the link above.

Porter knows his subject well and gives defined examples with plenty of detail to reinforce his point. Put simply the situation we are in is not due to some accident, misunderstanding or even incompetence, it is wholly due to malevolence on the part of these men.

The fury of Porter, like his position as the foremost reporter in the UK on this subject, is impressive. It is an inconvenient truth for some people such as recent Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, current incumbent Alan Johnson and others, to admit this state of affairs has come about. This is akin to pretending that the most memorable feature of the maiden voyage of the Titanic was a strong smell of fresh paint. It is pathetic, a criticism also levelled by Porter at Clarke!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Fill in the face?

According to a press release by the Liberal Democrats, over 15,000 people have disputed their criminal records check since the inception of the CRB in 2002 and last year over 2,500 were in dispute.

Disclosures can be disputed if your name is the same as a criminal, if inaccurate information is held by the police or if you are the victim of identity fraud.

Chris Huhne said:“These disputes do not fill you with confidence that the Government can run the new Vetting and Barring Scheme and check millions more people without making the same mistakes.”

It is estimated that at least 11 million people are to be on the ISA database.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Sticker hate.

Alan Johnson announces that the DNA of young offenders, involved but not charged with violent offences are to be retained for 6 years on the precautionary principle; councils are recruiting Stasi-style “neighbourhood champions” or 'snoopers' to report on their neighbours' misdemeanours or thought crimes; hundreds of organisations are able to enter your home and everywhere you are being watched.

Feeling paranoid? Apart from campaigning for NO2ID you could vent your anger by placing a sticker on some intrusive sign or camera.Big Brother Watch, an offshoot of the Taxpayers' Alliance, has some stickers that you can obtain for free. Not exactly NO2ID's remit but it might make you feel better.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Time for encryption?

The European Union's Data Retention Directive orders countries to pass laws requiring telecoms companies to retain phone and Internet usage records for between six and 24 months so that they can be used to help solve crime. This was initiated by Tony Blair during his rotating presidency. The citizens of many EU states have protested against this chilling project.

In the UK this is called the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) and is to cost £2billion. Initially the government wanted to store all this data on one huge, central database but they decided against this and decreed that Internet service providers (ISPs) should do this job. There have been protests from ISPs, phone providers and civil liberties' groups on technical, financial and moral grounds.

This programme also included the GCHQ project called Mastering the Internet (MTI) which involves fitting thousands of deep packet inspection probes to monitor the use of VoIP, chat rooms etc

Now there has been a delay and this proposal will not be part of the Queen's speech. See here.

The Tories say they would immediately subject the IMP to a Privacy Impact Assessment (sigh) and it is not mentioned in the Lib-Dems' Freedom Bill.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Biometrics 100% accurate - David Blunkett

The NO2ID forum has a report on the Biometrics 2009 conference. Some interesting facts emerged:

The fingerprint database for the Visa Information System (VIS) for Schengen countries is expected to stabilise at about 100 million entries.

YET the false match rate using fingerprints with VIS is something like 25%.

Phil Booth of NO2ID pointed out that the UK Passport Service biometrics enrolment trial demonstrated that 31% of the able-bodied population, and 52% of the disabled, can't have their identity verified by face recognition technology at all.

The FBI representative concurred: "face recognition just can't deliver the highly reliable verification required to be of any use." This is even though the FBI has been evaluating facial recognition technology since 1963!

Alex Lahood of the UK Border Agency calmly repeated the government's pledge to check the identity of everyone entering and leaving the UK by 2013. When asked how, he said: "probably face recognition and fingerprints".

David Blunkett: biometrics "will make identity theft and multiple identity impossible. Not nearly impossible. Impossible."

Tony Blair: "biometrics give us the chance to have secure identity".

Gordon Brown: biometrics “will make it possible to securely link an individual to a unique identity”.

Jacqui Smith: "As the [ID] cards become more widely available the whole country will see real benefits for citizens, businesses and the country by giving a convenient and secure proof of identity that locks people to one identity".

Alan Johnson: "when the man in front of you has an ID card you just know he is who he says he is".

Shame on ABTA

ABTA has been accused of acting as a propagandist for the government by promoting ID cards, see here. Its senior spokesman claimed that the card would encourage people to book cross-channel ferries because it would provide an easier and cheaper form of ID than a passport.

Guy Herbert, general secretary of NO2ID gave an excoriating reply:

Anyone registering for an ID card will be fingerprinted (at their own additional expense) and placed on an official database for life. They will acquire onerous duties to inform the authorities of changes in their personal circumstances, will face severe financial penalties for failures to comply with the associated bureaucracy, and be signing a blank check for future charges... What will your members’ customers think of a travel agent who urges them to do something like that in order to get on a ferry?

I hope that ABTA is aware that, as part of ‘voluntary’ enrolment, from 2011 the IPS plans to require passport applicants to join the ID database (or they won’t get a passport). You ought to be, since the impact of that on the travel industry can only be entirely negative.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Absent fathers hiding in wheelie - bins?

Formerly 1,600 officials could authorise access to communications records and order surveillance operations under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). Only director-level bureaucrats will now be able to do so. As this may mean that fewer people may be charged for putting out their bins on the wrong day I was going to give some grudging praise to Alan Johnson but have now changed my mind.

We now find that investigators from the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC), which has taken over the Child Support Agency, are to have access to phone and e-mail records. This will evidently allow it to find some 5,000 missing parents who are refusing to pay towards their children's upkeep. See here.

"The use of intercept in evidence characterises a central dilemma we face as a free society - that of preserving our liberties and the rule of law, while at the same time keeping our nation safe and secure....
.....It should be possible to find a way to use some intercept material as evidence, provided - and only provided - that certain key conditions can be met. These conditions relate to the most vital imperative of all - that of safeguarding our national security."

Prime Minister, Gordon Brown

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

More thought crime

Behavioural vetting is being considered by the ISA to determine those fit to work with children or vulnerable adults. The ISA has confirmed its intention to use behavioural vetting and has decided to put in place a scoring system.

Items will be assessed on the basis of "whether relevant conduct or a risk of harm 'on the face of it' seems to have occurred". Also...

"the case worker will examine... 'predisposing factors', such as 'those factors relating to an individual’s interests or drives'; 'cognitive factors', such as 'strong anti-social beliefs'; and 'behavioural factors', including 'using substances or sex to cope with stress or impulsive, chaotic or unstable lifestyle. Drug use, sex life, favourite films'."

The guidelines were leaked two months ago, but have subsequently disappeared from public view. Do you think that job applicants with sociopathic or paedophile tendencies might just be tempted to be somewhat untruthful?

Monday, 2 November 2009

Quango adopts chaos theory?

The new ISA database, which intends to hold the details of at least 11 million adults, is evidently in chaos. See here. Employers have a legal duty to report concerns about anyone they think could be a danger to those children or vulnerable adults and face up to five years in jail if they fail to do so. Unsurprisingly, there have already been so many 'referrals' from employers they are expected to take six months to process.

Also, people who were on either the Vetting or Barring lists were contacted telling them that, unless they appealed they would automatically be added to the other list. The ISA received so many appeals that, to consider each one would have meant failure to meet the October 12 deadline, so apparently they approved them all!

At present 250 staff work for the ISA, so expect a huge expanse of this quango, the sidelining of thousands of innocent people forever, as well as the accreditation of some genuinely dangerous paedophiles.

Saturday, 31 October 2009


Big Brother Watch brings our attention to advances in EU ID projects. The BioP@ss project is to make chip card technology even more secure and easier to use so that, for instance, EU citizens can draw on the services of governments and public authorities by using their ID card on the Internet. Potential services include registering a change of address, registering a vehicle, filing a tax return (eGovernment), casting a vote in elections (eVoting)!

The Conservatives say they will scrap ID cards and we have certain opt outs but e-government is well advanced in the UK and there will be a lot to unravel. As Big Brother Watch says:

From one nightmare scenario - the DNA, fingerprints, vital statistics and personal details of the entire British population available at the click of a button to the government, police, local and other authorities - we now see on the horizon a far more scary prospect: that very same data available at the click of a button to any state official across the entirety of Europe.

Guilty even when proven innocent

We are living in a time when it will soon be almost impossible to live down a false or unproven allegation and totally impossible to 'turn over a new leaf.'

Our very expensive new Supreme Court is legally sitting on the fence regarding the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) database, responsible for purging those it deems unsuitable to work with children and vulnerable adults, and which will build on the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) system. In a recent case, it ruled that the police had been right to disclose, via an enhanced CRB check, that a dinner lady at a nursery had been accused of neglecting her teenage child who was truanting, shoplifting etc., because it was directly relevant to her work; as a result she was promptly sacked. The court added that, in future: "the police must give due weight to the applicant's right to respect for her private life" and chief constables should allow individuals to make representations before making an enhanced CRB disclosure.

With eventually a minimum of 11 million people on the ISA database, do their Lordships really think that Chief Constables will be discussing the finer points of morality in such cases? This work is outsourced to a quango - the Criminal Records Bureau, staffed by civilians. The ISA is another quango staffed by civilians.

Confusingly, the Independent Safeguarding Authority is the new name for the Vetting and Barring Scheme and the Independent Barring Board.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

More on Manchester

The reason for the day of action at Manchester was that this city and region have been chosen by the government for the introduction of the ID card scheme. The format was very simple, in Birmingham we have a table in the city to collect signatures for the petition and hand out leaflets. In Manchester there would be many tables all around the city then a public meeting. Finally in Albert Square, the main square of Manchester, a fake ID card with Gordon Brown's image would be burnt and this would be filmed by a TV crew.

The people from Birmingham were allotted a table site close by Albert Square and the Arndale Shopping Centre. The NO2ID day of action came in the middle of two other events, a book fair and a comedy festival. Our table site was in a pedestrian only area and we shared it with a high class comedy act. It is fair to say the man juggling while balanced on the top of a ladder drew the bigger crowd, but they had to walk past us to get to him! If you have helped on the campaign work in Birmingham then the comments and questions in Manchester would not have surprised you.

The accents were different but the concerns and the anger were the same. Despite a multitude of tables across the city our site did well. At the allotted hour we packed up and trooped back to the Quaker Friends Meeting Hall to hear the speeches from Christina Zaba and Phil Booth. The distillation of their comments is that this is a foolish scheme technically and a gross intrusion of our liberties. Nobody with a knowledge of IT or government can think of a single problem this scheme solves. In fact it creates problems that will, in time, demand resolution. What sort of madness is that?

There is, however, some progress being made. Only a few years ago 80% of the population were broadly supportive of an ID card scheme, now it's 60% against. It would be wrong of NO2ID to claim all of the credit here. There is a saying generally attributed to Abraham Lincoln -

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

Lincoln believed in democracy, the only way to get ID cards and the attendant database into UK law is to take an anti-democratic route and risk social upheaval as a result. The UK population are no longer fooled by this crazy idea.

By the time the Birmingham people got home it had been a 14 hour day, but worth it.

So there you have it, the anatomy of a day of action. If any students at a Midlands' college would like to start their own NO2ID group then please contact the Birmingham University group, Students against Surveillance (SAS). They can be reached through their facebook, or contact the Birmingham NO2ID group, we can help you. It's a vital and worthwhile cause, there is also an element of fun!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


The vast surveillance powers of the EU which are to increase exponentially under the Lisbon Treaty are beginning to hit the mainstream media. See here.

The Stockholm Programme, the EU's 5 year plan in the area of Justice and Home Affairs has received little discussion; could this be the result of the eponymous syndrome? The left wing European Civil Liberties Network (ECLN) and even Gareth Peirce, strongly criticise the Stockholm Programme stating: the policies outlined in Stockholm 'constitute an attack on civil liberties and human rights,' and warn against 'dangerous authoritarian tendencies within the EU.'

If you thought you had defeated clause 52 and the mass sharing of your data in the UK then you may be surprised to know that under the Stockholm programme, the mass collection and sharing of personal data including DNA records into an EU-wide database is to be enacted.

An example is the VIS database which will store the personal and biometric data of approximately 20 million Schengen visa applicants annually. With a five-year retention period, this will mean around 70 million sets of fingerprints being stored on the system at any one time, the largest biometric system in the world so far.

Open Europe has an exhaustive report here.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Are you, or have you ever been a domestic extremist?

The Guardian is running a series of articles on the policing of protests. Police are gathering the personal details of thousands of activists who attend political meetings and protests, and storing their data on a network of nationwide intelligence databases. They are run by the "terrorism and allied matters" committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers Ltd (Acpo) with a budget of £9 million a year.

The National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), runs a central database and contains detailed files on individual protesters who are searchable by name.

Their vehicles are being tracked via automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras and may be tagged with a "protest" marker. ANPR "interceptor teams" are being deployed on roads leading to protests to monitor attendance.

Police Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) record footage and take photographs of campaigners as they enter and leave openly advertised public meetings. These images are entered on force-wide databases. The information is added to the central NPOIU.

Anton Setchell, who is in overall command of Acpo's domestic extremism remit, said people who find themselves on the databases "should not worry at all". But he refused to disclose how many names were on the NPOIU's national database, claiming it was "not easy" to count.

However, you should worry, so why not make a nuisance of yourself, make a data protection request for the surveillance data the FIT – and their equivalents in other forces – hold on you? Matt Salisbury has done this and it makes interesting reading. Did you know that Jack Straw was once, long ago, enraged to learn that MI5 had a dossier on him!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

What Human Rights?

During a debate between Dominic Grieve QC, the Shadow Justice Secretary, v Lord Falconer on the Human Rights Act. Dominic Grieve said that-

What the Act had not done was to protect society from “one of the most authoritarian periods of government” that had seen proposals for 42-day detention before trial, ID cards, databases and the growth of the surveillance state. “On all this the Human Rights Act was mostly silent.”

Keir Starmer, QC,Director of Public Prosecutions, in a much criticised political statement, has said that:

“It would be to this country’s shame if we lost the clear and basic statement of our citizens’ human rights provided by the Human Rights Act..."

Has Mr Starmer been living in a parallel universe?

Has he heard of: the Intercept Modernisation Programme, ContactPoint, the Vetting & Barring Register, Automatic Numberplate Recognition, CCTV, people forbidden from photographing train stations, 'kettling' of demonstrators, the DNA database, fingerprinting our children and on it goes .....

Friday, 23 October 2009

A quiet revolution?

Whilst the mainstream media and excitable young people are opining that the dawn of National Socialism is nigh, our authoritarian state apparatus is being built quietly behind the scenes.

The government has outsourced parts of the contract relating to the mass surveillance project blandly named the Intercept Modernisation Programme (IMP) to Hewlett Packard (HP) formerly known as EDS, see here.

If, like me, you responded to the consultation, quaintly called: Protecting the public in a changing communications environment, then I'm sure you knew that doing so was simply an ironic criticism of the PR exercise. The government has not published the response to the consultation yet HP contractors are busily helping GCHQ build systems to allow data mining of every communication online.

Evidently the relationship with GCHQ is considered so sensitive within HP - that it is referred to as: "a client in the West Country." The work in Cheltenham to crunch the data is being carried out under a secret project called Mastering the Internet.

EDS has been involved in such IT disasters as - The Child Support Agency. So, if I were you I'd avoid e-mailing comments such as: 'the party bombed ' from now on.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Database blues for Labour?

The government's aim to roll out ID cards in the North West from 20th October seems to be becoming something of a damp squib as there have been just 2,000 applications so far in Manchester and 10,000 throughout the country.

Also, the government have removed the proposal to keep innocent people on the DNA database for 6-12 years in yet another, Policing and Crime Bill; evidently this is because the House of Lords would have rejected this clause. Labour haven't said what they will do with it! See here.

All the more reason to keep up the pressure. If you are interested Manchester Students against ID has a Liberty Campaigning Training Day coming up this Saturday on the 24th October, 11-4pm. You do not have to be a student to attend! See here.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Manchester day of action report

Members of Coventry NO2ID, Birmingham NO2ID and Birmingham Students against Surveillance (SAS) went to Manchester on Saturday to help man stalls and attend a giant ID card burning, as part of the - Don't be a guinea pig campaign. Here is a video of the demo and an excellent interview with Phil Booth - thanks to
ps the leader of the SAS is wearing a bio-hazard suit and mask!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Hope to see you in Manchester this Saturday

Applications for ID cards can begin on Tuesday 20 October 2009, at a fee of £30. The lucky residents of Manchester were to be the first people to be offered this opportunity to have their private details held by the government. However, we now find that there is to be a special 'early bird offer' for staff at the Home Office, the Identity and Passport Service and elsewhere who are engaged on work relating to the issue of identity cards.

It will be interesting to know how many take up this offer but any FOI request would probably take some time.

This means that residents of Manchester and workers at Manchester and City airport will be denied the honour of being the first UK citizens to get ID cards.

The lucky Mancunians will get their chance "later in 2009", while "other locations in the North West" will be able to apply for the cards next year.

Why not go to Manchester tomorrow,17th October, to help publicise the guinea pig campaign and tell the people of Manchester why it is not a good idea to be on the National Identity Register, the ID database which will involve: numbering and tracking you, indexing your relationships (your tax, your NHS number, your passport…) and passing your information around Whitehall. Once on the database, you can never get off.

Stop the ID Card Con – inform yourself, and tell others:

Monday, 12 October 2009

Who's a nosy- parker?

The Government has begun a pilot census prior to a national online census of school workers next year, see here

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) says it is introducing the scheme because it will assist it ‘in its overall monitoring of and planning for the costs and supply of teachers and support staff.'

There are 83 questions per person, including, bizarrely, the colour and make of car, confusingly the DCSF deny that it included these questions, though Southwark Council say the opposite.

The government will be asking school staff to carry ID cards next!

Unintended consequences?

Scout jamborees could be under threat because checking the backgrounds of thousands of foreign Scout leaders for criminal and other charges would be impossible.

The Conservatives say they would cancel the Vetting and Barring register if they got into power and a recent poll by NO2ID finds that public support for ID cards and the NIR has collapsed, see here.

Political pressure must be maintained; next Saturday, 17th October is another day of action in Manchester where you can help burn a giant ID card. I'm sure Sir Baden-Powell would approve.