Saturday, 13 March 2010

What is the definition of optional?

A report from the US internet security company Cryptohippie puts the UK at number six in the list of the world's most repressive regimes in terms of the electronic surveillance of its citizens, see here. The following are two further examples of how the authorities are keeping an eye on us all.

Firstly, Birmingham Airport has introduced new face recognition gates (optional for the time being) which can be used by adults with a biometric passport from the UK or EU. To enter the gate the passenger places their passport on a reader which reads the passport data and checks them against national and international watch lists, the passenger's face is then matched against the digital image stored on the passport. This will feed into the eBorders and ‘Advanced Passenger Information’ (API) systems that already spread tens of millions of travellers’ personal details around the world.

Secondly we have Clubscan, an ID card scanning system produced by IDScan Biometrics Limited. It takes scanned images of clubbers' ID documents and stores their personal details, for the purpose of age verification, identifying barred members and identifying individuals to the authorities in the case of criminal incidents.

UK licensing authorities are increasingly requiring nightclubs to scan and retain clubbers' ID details.

The aptly named Soviet Union bar in Consett, County Durham is proposing such a No ID No Entry scheme, see here. This is the bright idea of a local police inspector.

He says: "Consett is not particularly rough, but this is all about creating a safer environment for people who want to go out on the town." Naturally the local population haven't been consulted.

The manufacturer claims that "Clubscan is voluntary: You are not obliged to permit a venue to scan your identification through clubscan. Though it is unclear how this might interact with a club's right to refuse entry.

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