Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Birmingham NO2ID meeting

Birmingham NO2ID will meet at 7.30pm this Wednesday, 21st October, at Bennett's Bar, 8, Bennett's Hill, Birmingham B2 5RS. All are welcome.

ID card creep

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling was shocked to be asked for identification under anti-terror laws at Prestwick airport. He has demanded an explanation from Scotland’s police chief and said he was worried that people travelling on domestic flights now face what are virtually border controls. He said that there were posters displaying the 2000 Terrorism Act and a police officer asking everyone for ID, as well as their passports. Creating border controls for people travelling throughout the UK was certainly not what was intended when the Act was introduced.’

Under 'terrorism legislation' passengers will be required to show photo ID when booking tickets for domestic air and sea journeys, this includes ferries to the Scottish islands and private jet passengers. Personal data, including name, date of birth and home address, will be typed into a computer record for the police by the booking clerk or travel agent.

In order to encourage you to obtain an ID card so you can travel with ease within your own country and enthuse you about having your fingerprints on a database the Home Office have a jolly campaign, one advert for which features a cartoon fingerprint unveiling the identity card to an admiring audience of other fingerprints. This propaganda is expected to cost £544,000 between September and December.

Manchester NO2ID is organising protests regarding the roll out of ID cards in the North West on the 10th and 17th October.You can help warn the public of the consequences of obtaining an ID card and being on the NIR for life.

Cartoon by Matt Buck.

Monday, 28 September 2009

First your oil, then your thoughts

The government is lax with our supposedly personal data. DVLA is launching an inquiry into how Castrol, after photographing your registration number, has managed to use its database to give an oil recommendation for your car on huge digital billboards. See here.

It might worry you that Castrol can access your car details as you drive along a road but there is far worse to come. Your very thoughts, movements and attitudes could be profiled to assess any criminal or anti-social proclivities. This is being researched by the EU's INDECT programme. There is also further EU research called ADABTS – Automatic Detection of Abnormal Behaviour and Threats in crowded Spaces which "aims to develop models for abnormal and threat behaviours and algorithms for automatic detection of such behaviours as well as deviations from normal behaviour in surveillance data." See also the Register.

Orwellian stuff! No debate, no accountability, massive data collection and promiscuous sharing of such.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

First class fingerprint service?

The UK Border Agency is to trial technology at 17 Crown Post Offices which are to offer fingerprint and photograph-taking facilities for foreign nationals who need to enrol for an ID card. Tests start next week.

Alan Johnson said: Identity cards have been issued to 90,000 foreign nationals, exceeding our target by 15,000, a month ahead of schedule.

Skilled migrants renewing their visas to stay in the UK will be issued with an ID card from the New Year, three months ahead of schedule.

We hope nothing gets lost in the post.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Lib Dem promises

David Howarth the Lib-Dems' shadow Home Secretary, has reiterated party policy that: ID cards, the NIR, ContactPoint, the retention of the DNA of innocent people and certain powers under RIPA would be abolished under a Liberal Democrat government. We warmly welcome this.

However, the Lib-Dems voted against giving the people a referendum on the lisbon Treaty and article 62 of the treaty states that:

the Council, acting in accordance with a special legislative procedure, may adopt provisions concerning passports, identity cards, residence permits or any other such document...

As with the Conservatives, there is omerta regarding the EU dimension.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Impartiality - subject to restrictions

Sir Joseph Pilling has been appointed as the first identity commissioner, responsible for overseeing the ID card scheme. See here.

Alan Johnson said that the role was totally independent and entailed representing the public:

"The identity commissioner will champion their interests, providing a strong and independent voice, holding the Identity and Passport Service to account and ensuring information collected under the Service is kept securely."

Confusingly Sir Joseph will not be concerned with ID cards for foreign nationals – this is under the jurisdiction of the information commissioner and the chief inspector for the UK Border Agency. So there will be one commissioner for us and another one for them.

"He will also deliver independent scrutiny of the uses to which identity cards are put by public authorities and private organisations."

Phil Booth of NO2ID commented:

"The role is designed to be toothless and irrelevant. And to appoint a time-served securocrat to the post virtually guarantees that the one power he has - to comment on the scheme - will never embarrass his former masters."

"How can a man who has spent his entire career being the soul of discretion in various departments of state be expected to act as a whistleblower?"

Friday, 18 September 2009

Leak likelihood upheld

The Register reports that the Advertising Standards Authority has rejected a complaint about a NO2ID advertisement. A reader of the New Statesman magazine complained that the ad misleadingly exaggerated the information held on the National Identity Register database and how staff could access it; and secondly that it was offensive to people who worked on the database and suggested they were corrupt.

NO2ID told the ASA that since the database did not exist, it was hard to accuse them of exaggerating and showed evidence from Schedule 1 of the Identity Cards Act of 2006 to show what information was likely to be held and how it could be cross-referenced.

In response to the second accusation NO2ID said that "I work on the Identity Card system" suggested a development role rather than just a user, and that the text was meant to be read as an online boast. The advert has run since 2005 without a previous complaint.

The ASA said today that neither part of the complaint had been upheld.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Conservative promises

Conservative promises to scrap ID cards, the National Identity Register and ContactPoint, to remove many innocent people from the DNA database and to strengthen privacy and data protection are to be warmly welcomed and praised.

However, we would like a little more detail, such as whether our fingerprints are to be on future passports and what information is to be held on the passport database. Also there is no mention of the EU dimension and the proposed European Citizen Card and European e-ID. See here.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Guilty until proven innocent.

The Times tells us that adults banned from working with children under the Government’s vetting and barring database will have limited right of appeal and must wait 10 years to have their cases reconsidered.

Case workers can take into account newspaper stories and tip-offs from the public, raising the prospect that careers could be ruined on the basis of malicious allegations. If ISA staff think someone may be a danger in the future, they are allowed to take into account their personal beliefs and private life when deciding whether or not to bar them. Having “anti-social views” or an “impulsive, chaotic, unstable lifestyle” will count against applicants.

According to the ISA, “Assessing whether something happened on the ‘balance of probabilities’ means, simply, whether it is ‘more likely than not’ that something happened.” Applicants will then have three months in which to launch an independent appeal to a body called the Upper Chamber, which will comprise a judge and two “non-legal members”.

Now who checks the case workers? Also, as with terrorists/freedom fighters, without clear definition 'anti-social views' are totally subjective.

Yet another bureaucratic scenario is being created whereby a person's life and career will be dependent on all the correct boxes being ticked and not having incorrect thoughts.

Logically, if this sort of vetting is required even for volunteers then surely there should be a database for parents and those that fail should not be allowed to have children, for the family is where most abuse occurs.

Friday, 11 September 2009

The database of un-British activities.

Just a month before the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) starts to compile the Vetting and barring scheme (VBS), the mainstream media suddenly take it up and the papers and airwaves are full of the subject. It's as if it has come as a huge surprise. By the way has the chap on the right been checked?
The Guardian has a good summary.

The government mentions the figure of 11.3 million people who will be on the database but The register estimated that this figure would likely exceed 14 million. CRB checks have suffered 'mission creep' that has resulted in employment agencies insisting on CRB checking because that covers them with their clients and local government because this covers their backs. Bizarrely plumbers and handymen now regularly boast of their CRB check status and some single mothers are able to check out the past sexual history of new partners. And so it goes.

See here. The VBS will contain enhanced check information. This can include unsubstantiated allegations about an individual.The idea behind the vetting database was that instead of checking individuals each time they applied for a new job, the state would check everyone who ever applied for a "regulated" role and decide whether they were fit to work in one – or whether they should be barred.

However, many jobs working with children and vulnerable adults involve say driving and dealing with money. Hence the assumption is that most job applicants will still need a CRB check as well, just in case.

The conclusion can only be that vast sums (£170million?) will be spent, hundreds of millions of government income earned (£64 per check), many bureaucrats will be employed, tens of thousands will be blacklisted for life, some will have lives and careers ruined by false accusations/information; yet the government will have a quarter of the adult population on a database and that will be a nice start for a National Identity Register and then we can all be vetted forever.

People and organisations and unions should simply refuse to register.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Biometrics destabilise Somaliland

If you think we've got it bad, then consider Somaliland. Private Eye printed a letter from Hargeisa (the capital):

Somaliland is the only place in the Horn of Africa that is democratic, stable and tolerant ... our record of closely contested polls compares pretty well with our neighbours. Our friends faraway nevertheless thought that what we really needed was a state of the art biometric finger printing and facial recognition system to compile a voter's roll ...

Alas, this model of donor co-operation has somewhat underperformed. Presidential elections have been postponed four times now and are 18 months late, and now we have the prospect of civil war as our politicians cannot agree on a way forward.

If you then link to the Somaliland Globe you find an article telling the whole sorry tale:

Procedures were not carefully planned and implemented and as a result the data of hundreds of thousands of people i.e. finger prints, photos and other personal details were either missing or accidentally or deliberately deleted; the server that was meant to process the images and fingerprints to detect double votes still lacks properly trained and knowledgeable people to operate it.....

Surely it couldn't happen here?

Monday, 7 September 2009

Coventry NO2ID

The Birmingham NO2ID group ventured out of its home territory again recently. Normally on street campaigning is done in Birmingham city centre, but we have also been to the city suburbs and to Redditch, this event was reported on this blog on November 5th 2008.

Our first visit to Coventry was reported here on November 29th 2008 and last month we paid our second visit to Coventry. We linked up with Claire Boylan, coordinator of the Coventry group, and her team and spent all of a Saturday at a site chosen by Claire in a shopping precinct.

Street campaigns have a number of basic elements; leafleting, collecting signatures and answering enquiries from the public. There was a shift system to deal with all this and as usual it was, once people came out to shop, quite busy. The weather was kind and it all went well.

As usual the public were keen to show their anger and mistrust of this scheme and offer their support. However, all groups could do with more practical help, so if you are a Coventry resident, or live close by and visit the city for shopping and would like to help please contact this blog and we will pass you onto Claire who will be pleased to see you.

Remember Coventry as the city of Lady Godiva has a history of protest, now it's your turn! Contact Claire at coventry@no2id.net

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Door wide open?

It's all a matter of trust. When an individual offers personal information to one of the many departments of the state it should be secure. When the same individual is required by law to give information then the level of responsibility from the state to the individual increases. The fact is the state and numerous parts of the bureaucracy have failed totally to protect our data. This we can see based on evidence from the inquiry called Operation Motorman, (see link below).

So who has let us down, who can no longer be trusted? The police, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), Her Majesty's Prison Service (HMP), the National Health Service (NHS), many Local Authorities, banks and British Telecom.

It is clear that no data held by any authority, company or organisation is safe. And yet still the government fails to understand the problem; also the Information Commissioner's Office seems to have neither the resources nor the will to do something about this despite being responsible. Perhaps also the ICO is mindful of the fact that the government wants a huge database at any cost or risk and lacks what it takes to challenge this.

So who has been doing the phishing, who is after this data and is prepared to pay anyone to get it? Well the list reads like a roll of honour (?) of UK journalism: the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, the Daily and Sunday Express, the Daily and Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, and The Times, Sunday Times, Sun and News of the World, plus numerous other periodicals, magazines and broadcasters. But the funny thing is we find the Observer is also involved.

The Observer is part of the Guardian Newspaper group, is not doing very well and may be closed. However, its position on the list of the guilty prevents any large circulation title, including the Guardian, doing the holier-than-thou act. The illegal gathering of data is a fact of UK journalism, but then so is the illegal leaking of data by government and its agents.

And what of the future? Little will change, the government is determined to press ahead with the ID card scheme and amalgamation of as many databases as possible. Operation Motorman has shown it is both cheap and easy to get data. Never has it been such a good time for crooks and terrorists who wish to profit from stupidity; the door to our personal data is wide open.

See also here.