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.

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