Archive for the ‘U.K. identity’ Category

BTC – Pennsylvania state activist Aaron Bollenger reports that an amended version of an anti-Real ID bill cleared committee and is moving toward the House. While this is good news for privacy and identity advocates, those most concerned cannot sigh relief for such a long way to go.

“Session is short – make some calls! If you know others in PA, please pass the word and contact me if anyone needs help with telephone speeches to key members,” said Bollenger, who is urging those involved in Pennsylvania State government to move this by next week before opportunity is lost.

Other concerns lie in wait. According to PA ACLU Legislative Director, Andy Hoover, the bill may face a veto if it reaches his desk. If so, activists like Jim Compton won’t be giving up the search for the 2/3rd’s vote necessary to override the bill.

Related News: PA Senate Package intended to protect privacy

Illinois Petitions against funding Real ID:

According to C4L Organizer, Heather Danielowski

“Legislative support of Real ID comes from representatives of both political parties currently holding office at our state capitol. The party in power in Springfield will do anything to please the establishment in D.C., and the minority party is torn on the issue, as it was the Republicans in D.C. who originally passed the bill to begin with. As is the norm in Illinois, we cannot take for granted that either party will stand up for our rights! This battle can be won – but only if citizens all over the state actively participate.”

READ: Illinois Petition here.

UK Legislation to stop ID cards passes Commons

“And so ID cards finish their passage in the Commons. It was an historic day – and full credit to Liberty and the NO2ID card campaigns who along with Liberal Democrats and Conservatives stood up for civil liberty and freedom.” 

Related News:  NO2ID “ID cards may be gone – but ‘ID checks’ are out of control”

DNA report and pre-crime

The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee has published a report into The National DNA Database. In it they point out that the detection rate of DNA is not all that the government claim it is and go on to suggest that the database is actually used for pre-crime. The report states: “It is currently impossible to say with certainty how
many crimes are detected, let alone how many result in convictions, due at least in part to the matching of crime scene DNA to a personal profile already on the database, but it appears that it may be as little as 0.3%—and we note that the reason for retaining personal profiles on a database is so that the person can be linked to crimes he/she commits later”.


ID propaganda sent to guinea pig regions

The government continues to roll out the ID card con to selected guinea pigs, trying to drum up trade by sending propaganda leaflets to households in selected regions. The leaflet features a smiley fingerprint character with the slogan: “idsmart, ID at your fingertips”. What follows is a letter presenting a list of half truths, signed by the
‘Head of Product Marketing’. The leaflet sweeps aside the thorny issue of how voluntary ID cards will be, stating: “Applying for an identity card is entirely voluntary. However, once you do so, you’ll discover that it’s a safer, more convenient way to prove who you are – as well as to help protect yourself against identity fraud.” In fact there are many other things that guinea pigs would discover, such as the database behind the card or the fines that will be imposed for not keeping their information up to date.

See the leaflet at

Scaremongering over ID card jobs

A number of politicians have recently turned to scaremongering about job losses they claim would result from scrapping the ID scheme. However, Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to both Blackburn and Durham
Identity and Passport (IPS) offices have shown that no new job roles have been created from the scheme. Workers within IPS could simply be deployed back into issuing passports.

James Elsdon-Baker, NO2ID’s North of England co-ordinator said, “The claim that we need the £230,000 a day ID scheme for jobs is madness when the government is readily announcing cuts in front-line services. When the scheme is scrapped I’m sure the civil servants that have been made to work on ID cards would be happy to go back to working on useful things that people want.”

c/o No2Id

The 2nd Annual Report of the National DNA Database Ethics Group has been released. The report criticizes the government’s response to the European Court of Human Rights ruling that keeping the DNA of people arrested but not charged was unlawful.



Nearly 2,000 people have had personal information about themselves lost by the Ministry of Justice over the past year, in a series of incidents listed in the department’s accounts, published last week.

c/0 Notes from a Ubiquitous Surveillance Society

Ironically, my last post in the UK, a couple of weeks ago was about Canada, and my first here in Canada will be about the UK…)

The Guardian newspaper’s headline today seems to indicate that the UK government is considering scrapping the controversial National Identity Register and card program, along with the Trident nuclear submarine upgrade. This is based on a speech that the increasingly influential Chancellor of the Exchequer, Peter Mandelson, gave to the centrist Progress think-tank. However, reading the whole article, it is much less clear that any such radical move will take place. Mandelson hedges his bets and says when asked about cost savings from the mooted cancellations:

“I have seen some rather different figures relating to the savings that would arise from cancelling those projects which don’t make the contributions that some people imagine.”

But at the same time, he said “it would be foolish to rule out anything.”

He’s right in many ways. Contracts have been signed. Money has been committed and legal costs could be very high if the government tries to wiggle out of those contracts now. As David Lyon’s new book on ID makes it very clear, ID cards schemes are a global industry with powerful corporate forces involved.

In any case, the real reason the scheme should be scrapped or significantly reduced in ambition, is because it is based on flawed premises and is massively intrusive and controlling. The fact that it also costs a ridiculous amount of money (and will of course, escalate in costs still further, as every state computer project inevitably does), is simply a contingent factor.

BTC – A relative sent me these two news items from Wired Magazine out of concern for my personal safety. Since we are on a WIRED kick this morning, we included alot we’ve missed.

Digitized Stalking Is the New World Order

The EFF writes that threats to “locational privacy” include:
* Monthly transit swipe-cards.
* Electronic tolling devices (FastTrak, EZpass, congestion pricing)
* Cellphones.
* Services telling you when your friends are nearby.
* Searches on your PDA for services and businesses near your current location.
* Free Wi-Fi with ads for businesses near the network access point you’re using
* Electronic swipe cards for doors.
* Parking meters you can call to add money to, and which send you a text message when your time is running out.

“In the world of today and tomorrow, this information is quietly collected by ubiquitous devices and applications, and available for analysis to many parties who can query, buy or subpoena it or pay a hacker to steal a copy of everyone’s location history,” the report said. “It is this transformation to a regime in which information about your location is collected pervasively, silently, and cheaply that we’re worried about.”

Read the report here.

c/o Charlie Sorrel for WIRED – GADGET LAB

As an ex-Brit, I’m well aware of the authorities’ love of surveillance and snooping, but even I, a pessimistic cynic, am amazed by the governments latest plan: to install Orwell’s telescreens in 20,000 homes.

£400 million ($668 million) will be spent on installing and monitoring CCTV cameras in the homes of private citizens. Why? To make sure the kids are doing their homework, going to bed early and eating their vegetables. The scheme has, astonishingly, already been running in 2,000 family homes. The government’s “children’s secretary” Ed Balls is behind the plan, which is aimed at problem, antisocial families. The idea is that, if a child has a more stable home life, he or she will be less likely to stray into crime and drugs.

It gets worse. The government is also maintaining a private army, incredibly not called “Thought Police”, which will “be sent round to carry out home checks,” according to the Sunday Express. And in a scheme which firmly cements the nation’s reputation as a “nanny state”, the kids and their families will be forced to sign “behavior contracts” which will “set out parents’ duties to ensure children behave and do their homework.”

And remember, this is the left-wing government. The Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling, batting for the conservatives, thinks these plans are “too little, and too late,” implying that even more obtrusive work needs to be done. Rumors that a new detention center, named Room 101, is being constructed inside the Ministry of Love are unconfirmed.

UPDATE: Further research shows that the Express didn’t quite have all its facts straight. This scheme is active, and the numbers are fairly accurate (if estimated), but the mentions of actual cameras in people’s homes are exaggerated. The truth is that the scheme can take the most troublesome families out of their homes and move them, temporarily, to a neutral, government-run compound. Here they will be under 24-hour supervision. CCTV cameras are not specifically mentioned, not are they denied, but 24-hour “supervision” certainly doesn’t rule this out from the camera-loving Brits.

It remains, though, that this is still excessively intrusive into the private lives of citizens, cameras or not. I have added links to the source and also more reliable reports.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in.

>>SIN BINS FOR WORST FAMILIES :THOUSANDS of the worst families in England are to be put in “sin bins” in a bid to change their bad behaviour, Ed Balls announced yesterday.

BTC Exclusive

National-to-global identity ambitions took the stage last week as India, world leaders in overachievement, have sought to surpass both the U.S. & U.K. to get identity to their population of 1.2 billion people. 

Another “reevaluation hearing”, strikingly similar to Wednesday’s Real ID hearing in Washington, took place the previous week [7/8].  U.K. national identity resisters, No2id, report from across the pond.

All In An Opposition Day’s Debate 
[Adapted from No2id reports]
Statutory instruments passed for United Kingdom identity 
UNITED KINGDOM – A House of Commons [comparable to the U.S. Senate] debate took place July 8th on ID card regulations and legislation.  The House of Lords [comparable to House of Representatives] greenlighted draft legislation for The Identity Cards Act of 2006, passing regulations. They simltaneously kicked the can down the road Monday for regard of public input, leaving it up to a change of the guard. 

They released this statement, “That this House regrets the Government’s decision to proceed with the draft Identity Cards Act 2006 […] Regulations 2009 before the case for continued investment in the identity cards project has been put to the British people at a general election”. 
NO2 ID, reported earlier dialogue, July 6th, prior to the decision making.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling MP said, “We might be in a position in which, in order to allow people to travel to the United States, we need to process biometric data and to pursue the introduction of biometric passports. We have not backed away from the biometric passport option […] However, it is not our intention to proceed with a compulsory national identity register”.   

Grayling seemed to suggest that the Tory party would store biometric data in a central passport database but Christopher Huhne MP challenged this.

“I am not sure that I would accept that it is necessary to store biometric data.  After all, the document would have the biometric data and it is anadditional guarantee of veracity. Why is it necessary to go one step  further and store it centrally?”

>>WATCH COMMONS DEBATE HERE::: [Windows Download for Mac/PC]

Cost claims stir ID cards debate

The House of Commons last week debated identity cards for the first time in two-and-a-half years after the Conservatives proposed a motion for the government to abandon the scheme.

As expected, the motion was defeated, but the debate proved instructive in outlining both the government’s and the opposition’s attitude to what has proved a controversial scheme in two key areas –  what will it cost and what the alternatives are.

The Tories and Liberal Democrats have argued that in times of fiscal constraint, the £4.9bn scheme must be abandoned  – although they are ideologically opposed to the plan as well.

But scrapping ID cards will not simply save £4.9bn. According to the latest cost estimates confirmed to Computing by the Home Office this week, £3.6bn of spending on the scheme supports the issue of passports ­ – a measure that none of the political parties opposes. So ending the scheme will save £1.3bn at most.

But the issue is complicated further by home secretary Alan Johnson’s claims that this £1.3bn would be recovered by the charges levied for cards. ::MORE HERE::