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.