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.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Manchester NO2ID

If you have the time, why not go to Manchester this Saturday, 10th October, and help spread the word about NuLabour's ID card plans. Don't be a guinea pig is the slogan. The stalls will run from 1 0'clock until 5 0'clock.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Gay news

BBC news reports that shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling, told a conference fringe meeting that a Tory government would:

# Scrap the NIR and use the modernised passport database - containing just six pieces of data about each person.

# Scrap the Contactpoint children's database.

# Allow the deletion of DNA samples of those not convicted of offences and return to the principle that people were "innocent until proved guilty".

# Scrap the vetting and barring scheme.


Wednesday, 7 October 2009

ContactPoint consultation

The department for Children, Schools and Families is assuring us that the general introduction of ContactPoint is on time, will be wonderful and keep all 11 million children in England and Wales much safer. It has reported a few minor changes. The press release tells us that 5 million hours of professionals' time will be saved. This does not tell us how much time this means per professional nor how much time has already been spent by professionals uploading detailed information onto ContactPoint and its dependent databases. Anyway, there is a consultation on these minor changes.

Public and independent schools are required to comply with the regulations and it is proposed that children in boarding schools, whose parents do not live in England, should be included. You can give your view but I wonder whether the parents of these children have been asked? I doubt it as few parents in England and Wales seem to be aware of ContactPoint and certainly weren't consulted.

Whilst our civil servants are beavering away at this, at the back of their minds is the fact that, if elected, an incoming Tory government would scrap the system.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Security a problem? Well I never.

The Customer Information System (CIS) database run by the DWP, holds records for everyone who has a National Insurance number in the UK. 140,000 people officials can obtain information from the database but the DWP has not been able to ensure that it is secure. Council workers have been found looking up the records of VIPs and acquaintances. Nine have even been sacked!

The Home Office was planning to use the CIS to store data for the ID card scheme in order to save money, it would have allowed the government to avoid building an entirely new system and security architecture. However, it is now reconsidering this idea until the system has 'full security accreditation. 'See here.

The Home Office will now store the biometric information for ID cards on a database run by French defence provider Thales, one of the main contractors for the ID card scheme. Thereby spending more millions of your taxes. Sacré bleu.

On Saturday, 10th October 2009 NO2ID groups from Manchester and across the UK will be holding street stalls in locations around Greater Manchester and spreading the word about the Manchester ID Card Con. It would be great if you could help.Don't be a guinea pig

Saturday, 3 October 2009

VIPs assured privacy

The Mail writes that there will be about 50,000 families whose information on the ContactPoint database will be shielded. These will include: victims of domestic violence, those on witness protection schemes, celebrities, politicians, and other high-profile members of the public.

Shielded families will have only the names, sex, date of birth and an identification number for their children listed, rather than the exhaustive amount of information held on the rest of us.

Nearly 400,000 council and health workers, police officers and charity staff will be able to look at the records.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Stop the ID card con

Don't believe the Prime Minister and don't be a guinea pig, continue to fight against ID cards, see here.

Brown misled Conference on ID cards by saying that:

‘We will reduce the information British citizens have to give for the new biometric passport to no more than that required for today’s passport. And so conference, I can say to you today, in the next Parliament there will be no compulsory ID cards for British citizens.’

NO2ID points out that ministers have repeatedly denied the ID scheme is compulsory throughout the last five years. Instead it has been designed to force people to volunteer for a system they cannot leave.

Brown is also contradicting the plans published by the Identity and Passport Service to build a biographical database that will be shared between the passport and identity schemes, and integrated with the DWP’s systems.

His statement also contradicts the raft of regulations defining the information to be held and the masses more information involved in the application process, set out in regulations passed earlier this summer.

‘Mr Brown is a Lewis Carroll character: he imagines ‘What I tell you three times is true.' But even if it repetition makes it easier for ministers to delude themselves, this is the same misleading line as before. Whatever he says about a card, the plan remains the same: to treat the entire population like dangerous sex offenders and keep us all on a Home Office database for life.’

Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID