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Privacy

10 August, 2010

Get p*ssed

Reporting that thirty- and fortysomethings are occasionally asked for photo ID featuring proof of age when purchasing alcohol, the BBC quotes (paraphrases?) a bar manager (not 'barmaid'!) as saying that:


18 May, 2010

Oh, it's you

For a few months, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been conducting more slightly alarming research into the private information revealed by web browsers, even when obvious tracking by cookies is disabled.


14 May, 2010

Brave new world

Wahey!

This is the sole reason I'd have considered voting Tory (I didn't), and why I didn't even seriously consider voting Labour.


29 April, 2010

Remarkable

I don't want to comment on the specific event (beyond saying that I'd have come to the same conclusion as the PM about the the questioner's seemingly bigoted subtext), but it is mildly amusing that the leader of the Party Of Mass Surveillance was caught-out by an unnoticed microphone.

3 March, 2010

How considerate

Apparently, a certain UK high-street-but-catalogue-based retailer excludes digital cameras and mp3 players from its 30-day replacement/refund policy, "to protect your personal safety".


12 October, 2009

Why watch Big Brother when you can be him?

One tiny compensation from the overwhelming CCTV coverage of urban Britain is that it's not necessarily surveillance – there are far more cameras than operators and a minority of the footage is ever likely to be seen before being overwritten.


13 July, 2009

Number not available

Heh.  According to the BBC, a directory of mobile phone numbers – populated without the express consent of phone owners – has been temporarily withdrawn because the provider can't handle the volume of people demanding 'ex-directory' status.

8 April, 2009

Uncomfortable thought

We were in London this past weekend, under the gaze of the notoriously ridiculous number of CCTV cameras* .  And felt safe.


27 March, 2009

Fear everything. Then tell us about it.

Earlier in the week, the Police released more of their fear-mongering posters, this time encouraging Londoners to examine their neighbours' rubbish and to report anyone looking at CCTV cameras.


19 March, 2009

Cleared - maybe

Whatever one might feel about comedian/activist Mark Thomas (personally, I commend his ingenuity and most tactics, but not his causes), he's to be credited with a significant achievement: having had his DNA data, collected after he was arrested and subsequently acquitted, deleted* from police databases.


11 March, 2009

Google dePhormed

Google has announced that it is to introduce behavioural-targeted advertising, adopting the same tactic as Phorm.


19 January, 2009

Study the small print

How much is your privacy worth?
If you're an undergraduate student, would £1,000 p.a. be enough?


15 January, 2009

Empty words

For a moment, I was encouraged by the Foreign Secretary's belated public acknowledgement, in the Guardian, that the War On Nouns was a mistake: terrorism is a tactic rather than itself a cause, and military action isn't 'the answer'.  For a moment, I wondered whether Miliband had defected from his Party.


9 January, 2009

Yay! Spam!

As the BBC reports, 'rules forcing internet companies to keep details of every e-mail sent in the UK are a waste of money and an attack on civil liberties'.  The article goes on to mention something I hadn't appreciated, which hopefully could defeat the whole scheme.


3 January, 2009

Don't let the 'hellhouse' open

NØ2IDIf one was seeking a good day to release contentious news without people noticing, 31 December would have to be an obvious choice.  And the UK Government had a really good one saved up:


4 December, 2008

Anonymous until proven guilty

Yay!  In a ruling described by the Director of Liberty as "one of the most strongly worded judgements that Liberty has ever seen from the Court of Human Rights", the UK* government and police forces have been told that that they cannot retain DNA or fingerprints from anyone who has not been charged with a crime.


3 November, 2008

Inevitable

NØ2IDThe Prime Minister has said, quite correctly, that no government could ever guarantee the security of personal information, as it's impossible to totally eliminate human error.


5 October, 2008

Say 'no' to Phorm: update

As Phorm's traffic-analysis-for-targetted-advertising software returns to BT, allegedly legally this time, the issue of consent has also returned.


3 October, 2008

Wrong attitude

In a meta-article about the Daily Hate's discovery that Google Street View "WILL PHOTOGRAPH EVERY DOOR IN BRITAIN", the Guardian's Bobbie Johnson makes a very dangerous statement:


25 September, 2008

Phorm win this round

The City of London Police have decided not to proceed in prosecuting BT for their covert trial of the privacy-invading Phorm traffic-tracking software.
Fair enough; the relevant authorities carefully studied the evidence then concluded that there was no case to answer.
Well, no; their reasoning is appalling.


17 September, 2008

Healthy integration

I hadn't realised that the official position of the BMA (the professional body governing UK doctors (but not surgeons)) is that a national 'integrated centralised health record system' should be strictly opt-in: that "patients should give explicit consent before any healthcare data is uploaded onto the spine".  Not compulsory, and not defaulting to 'in unless specifically opted-out'.


30 July, 2008

New genetics code?

I'll believe it when it happens, but a 'citizen's inquiry' into the UK's National DNA Database, overseen by the Human Genetics Commission and reported by the Guardian has proposed my ideal amendments.


14 July, 2008

Scene needn't be heard

Brilliant comment on the BBC's 'expose' of BDSM in the UK, by Zax:


11 July, 2008

Chink of light?

Ostensibly for voter registration but primarily for taxation, all (adult) residents of the UK are obliged to submit personal details to the Council-administered Electoral Roll.


2 July, 2008

Excess baggage

NØ2IDAccording to the Guardian, the chief executives of leading UK-based airlines have publicly made the, frankly rather obvious, observation that the compulsory introduction of national ID cards for 'airside' airport staff is the result of a programme desperately looking for an application rather than meeting a genuine need.


27 June, 2008

Bags switched

As BoingBoing observed, yesterday's Guardian (website) included a report entitled "Airport-style security for UK rail stations blocked".


21 June, 2008

Turn off

My Freeview set-top box died on Thursday night, so I've bought a replacement.
Argos offered the best price, but since I was buying TV receiving equipment, the cashier demanded my name and address on behalf of the TVLA.


20 May, 2008

Phone bill a bit steep

If every person in the UK was required to occupy a hermetically-sealed cubicle at all times, solely interacting with the world via fully-monitored phone and internet connections, the task of "protecting national security and preventing crime" would be vastly simplified.


17 May, 2008

Chaff

I don't want the Phorm spyware to become a recurring topic here, but this technique for defeating traffic-analysing trackers is too good to avoid mentioning.


29 April, 2008

The other boot has a 6" heel

First 'authorities' obtain the technical ability and right to identify and track individuals.

For our own good, of course.


25 April, 2008

Give it some welly

BoingBoing summarises a HOWTO article from Instructables, which concludes that precision techniques for (permanently) disabling a RFID chip in, for example, a passport are still less effective obtrusive than the simplest: just hit it with a hammer.

5 April, 2008

Guardian now Phorm-free

A major resource for the exchange of information to combat Phorm web traffic tracking and analysis has been the Guardian's comments pages, so it's somewhat... odd that the newspaper itself used Phorm's services.  No longer.  As The Register reports, the Grauniad has become the first 'commercial partner' to dump Phorm.


25 March, 2008

It's mine, you can't have it

I forgot this was coming out: the Guardian has published an article on online privacy/anonymity by Zoe Margolis (aka Abby Lee), someone who's had a specific interest in the issue.


19 March, 2008

The eternal value of privacy

This 2006 opinion piece by Bruce Schneier for Wired makes an important point: privacy isn't about hiding 'wrongdoing' (irrespective of whose definition of 'wrong' is used).

Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.


10 March, 2008

Not accountable

Damn.  The last place I could readily exchange pounds for Euros anonymously has been dragged into line.  Now I'm obliged to show a driving licence or passport whenever I want to swap my money for a slightly different format of my money.


6 March, 2008

Red herring

NØ2IDSo the Government is changing its plans for the introduction of ID cards (details here), and it's possible that EU citizens will never need to obtain cards (apart from those in jobs with security implications), instead being able to use biometric passports as proof of identity.
Big deal.


22 February, 2008

Not normal, children

The really scary aspect of invasion of individuals' privacy/anonymity by the state isn't so much that it's invasive but that it's becoming routine, and routinely accepted.


25 January, 2008

What's that got to do with it?

I see from the local paper that Morecambe is to host this year's UKIP party conference, the UK Independence Party being an anti-European, 'England-first' ¹ offshoot of the Conservative Party.  It's traditional for political parties to meet at the seaside², so if the major parties have conferences in Blackpool or Bournemouth, it's unsurprising that a minority-interest party would choose a second-rate resort.


18 January, 2008

Strictly need to know

Characteristically, Cory Doctorow has produced a concise, easily-digested illustration of the the problems inherent in organisations' compulsive acquisition of personal data.


27 December, 2007

Final push (please)

Wahey!  One of the first acts of the new Australian government has been to finally scrap the de facto 'national ID card' programme.


20 December, 2007

Terrorists use computers

If you're reading this on a monitor, just wait quietly whilst the officers come to collect you.  That could take a couple of moments, so you might like to read the Metropolitan Police's poster.


18 December, 2007

Why was it there anyway?

I have to admit to mixed feelings about the latest huge loss of personal data by a company operating under contract to the UK Government, as each breach reduces the chance of ID cards or a National Identity Register being successfully forced through the legislative procedure.


24 November, 2007

Bringing out the big guns

After last week's massive loss of personal data, ministers were repeatedly asked whether they agreed this was the end of the ID cards scheme.
"Oh, no, that's totally different.  That uses biometrics."
As if they're foolproof, and impossible to corrupt.  The biometric details, I mean, not the ministers.  Ahem.


21 November, 2007

Not all bad

Mainstream coverage of the HMRC data loss scandal has been widespread, so I'll simply make one observation.


12 November, 2007

Redefining intrusion

Allegedly, modern society has reached a turning point.  The Guardian quotes Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of US national intelligence as saying that our concept of 'privacy' needs to be explicitly revised.


6 November, 2007

Cracks forming?

NØ2IDObviously, I didn't post about the Sunday Mirror's 'report' that the Prime Minister is planning to scrap ID cards outright (because it's the Mirror), but the Guardian may have discovered a shred of truth in the tabloid's fantasy.  It seems that the PM is at least implementing a review of the system's flawed implementation, which could cause a major delay or possibly a move towards full abandonment.


5 October, 2007

Pressing too hard

A misaddressed copy of today's Press Gazette ("for all journalists") arrived on my desk this morning.  Before passing it on to the Press Office, I read the front cover through the cellophane, with mounting annoyance.


5 September, 2007

Well, he can't have it

Judge wants everyone in UK on DNA database.
I know narrative imperative demands that judges are out-of-touch with the modern world, but the complacent assertion that 'putting everybody's DNA on file should be "for the absolutely rigorously restricted purpose of crime detection and prevention"' betrays startling trust in state benevolence, even naïvity.


21 June, 2007

Credit incredulity

Just as one person's 'terrorist' or 'insurrectionist' is another's 'freedom fighter', part of what the UK government chooses to call 'identity theft' might be called 'credit card fraud' by those with less of an ideological agenda¹ .


19 June, 2007

Should be institutionalised

NØ2IDAs the BBC reports:

The identity card scheme will become a 'great British institution' on a par with the railways in the 19th Century, Home Office minister Liam Byrne says.


11 May, 2007

Price still wrong

NØ2IDIn the finest traditions of the Blair (mal)administration, one branch of government tried to mask an embarrassing admission by issuing it on the same day as a prominent announcement by another branch.

I don't think so.  Spread the word: UK ID card costs climb £600m in six months.

18 April, 2007

Proscribing prescriptions

Here's an interesting little detail in a background article about the Virginia Tech student who killed 32 people and himself on Monday:


8 March, 2007

Infection spreads

NØ2IDIt seems the US Department of Xenophobic Paranoia Homeland Security, feeling left out by their British equivalent, the Identity and Passport Service (I love the fact it's called a 'service' – that's a nice touch of humour), wishes to impose ID cards on US citizens too.


9 February, 2007

Break free expensive

Last month, I reported Wired's advice about disabling the RFID chips in new US passports.  It seems a similar situation applies to new UK 'ePassports' which contain biometric data stored on a smartcard chip.  Though I obviously wouldn't recommend deliberately breaking one, the National Audit Office has confirmed that a passport containing a non-functioning chip is still entirely valid as a travel document.


20 January, 2007

Open your eyes

I suppose I shouldn't accept it without some scepticism, but this is purported to be genuine, rather than merely an unused prop from 'Brazil'.

How can people look at a 1940s-style poster depicting disembodied eyes over London icons, under the slogan 'Secure Beneath The Watchful Eyes', and not rage against excessive state/corporate invasion of privacy?


7 January, 2007

Hit back

Since 1 January, all new US passports have incorporated RFID chips which could reveal personal information to criminals and, worse, government officials.  However, a passport with a broken chip is still perfectly valid as a passport, so Wired offers excellent advice: take a hammer to it.  Really.

7 November, 2006

Sleepwalking

NØ2IDBlair's half-truths and warped logic are bad enough, but I sometimes suspect the real threat is the complacency of the self-righteous.


7 November, 2006

Don't patronise me, Blair

NØ2IDTony Blair insisted yesterday that the national identity card scheme should go ahead as a question of "modernity", not civil liberties.

20 September, 2006

Make do with what you have

Terrorism and organised crime should not be used as excuses for passing laws which undermine people's privacy and data protection rights, according to the European Data Protection Supervisor.

Yes!


3 August, 2006

It's a good idea, okay?

Tony Blair has insisted that ID cards will be a core element of the Labour Party's manifesto for the next General Election – even though he'll no longer be Prime Minister by then, and in no position to dictate manifesto pledges for his successor's campaign.  That typifies his attitude, really.

We'll see....

12 July, 2006

Take the opportunity

The Guardian reports that the plan to merge UK regional police forces from 43 to about 28 has been 'definitively' scrapped.


8 June, 2006

Those holes again

Last month, the Government's own Information Commissioner's Office reported that individuals' private, personal data held by state agencies are routinely leaked to private investigators and hence such groups as insurers, creditors, journalists and criminals seeking to influence jurors, witnesses or legal personnel.  I mentioned it when the report was first released, but the Guardian, a little belatedly, provides more information.


19 May, 2006

Not cricket

With rather more eloquence than I could achieve, AC Grayling explains my objections to the entire governmental attitude behind the introduction of ID cards and the National Identity Register, which fundamentally changes the relationship between individual citizens and the state.

So many sections are quotable that I'll just let you read the article yourself.

12 May, 2006

What holes?

On one side, the Government is forcing through legislation on the National Identity Register, demanding private information from individuals and making it freely available to government – and other – agencies.  They insist that it's all confidential and that data will only be available to those with legitimate access requirements (as defined by the state, not the individual...).  Trust the government, sheep.  They know best.


1 May, 2006

Pro choice

Visiting the Cancer Research UK website a few minutes ago to unsubscribe from an unsolicited e-mail newsletter (I'm a supporter, so they had my details, but I definitely opted-out of being contacted by e-mail.  Cheeky ****ers.), I discovered a startling press release they made available last Friday.
I'll let you read it yourself, but they claim the British people are happy to surrender privacy if it might help research into cancer.  The accompanying evidence fails to prove that interpretation, and I oppose the assertion.


21 April, 2006

'Renew for freedom'

NØ2IDBrits who feel especially strongly about avoiding the National Identity Register (aka ID cards, though the cards themselves are secondary) as long as possible are recommended to renew their passports before October, when new regulations are due to take effect, preferably beforehand, as it's possible the Government may attempt to prevent large numbers of people avoiding 'the draft'.


30 March, 2006

Failure is not an option

NØ2IDIn related news: the government has already spent £32m on preparing for the ID card scheme before it has been approved by Parliament.
That gives some idea of the government's willingness to negotiate, and indeed their respect for the democratic process.  They're committing the nation to having a National ID Register, irrespective of whether anyone actually votes for it.


30 March, 2006

Not so big a deal

NØ2IDAfter the latest version of the ID cards legislation had been rejected by the House of Lords five times, the government has had a 'compromise' accepted.


14 March, 2006

Prisoners of conscience

NØ2IDHaving failed to win the argument by persuasion in straightforward debate, proponents of ID cards are calling for the House of Lords to stop rejecting/amending government bills on the topic.


1 March, 2006

Spying swamped

I don't like p2p.  I've never used BitTorrent or similar, and don't download music.
That said, BBC Newsnight have identified an unexpected benefit (though they suggest it's a disadvantage):


21 February, 2006

Foreshadowing the cards

Almost two years ago, I mentioned that Transport for London's 'Oyster' travelcard (aka 'ID card lite') scheme keeps a record of where each bearer has been, when, alongside personal identity and financial data.  The Register now reports that the information is being used, both by the police and illicitly (not that I think the police should have access either).


17 February, 2006

The other ID database?

NØ2IDWe already knew that the cards themselves aren't the real issue, but it seems the high-profile ID cards database is only part of the problem, too.  The Guardian reports on another, less well-known attempt by the government to collate information on individuals for its own administrative convenience, which could, in theory, be used against individuals – "For the good of society", of course (sorry to sound paranoid, but I feel the possibility of abuse should be prevented).


2 February, 2006

A+B=Fatuous

NØ2IDI've been expecting the following non sequitur, though I was starting to hope that no-one would bother to pursue it.


22 December, 2005

This is WRONG

The Independent reports a story so bad I found it literally nauseating.  However, it's a little odd that neither the BBC nor the Guardian, news sources I tend to trust (in as much as I trust any mass-medium), mention it at all.

The article claims that from next year every single journey by every single car in the UK will be monitored by the state.


22 November, 2005

Different data sharing - to stop

A second posting about privacy today.  Don't worry, it's not something I do regularly!

For once, it's good news.  Since last year, the air passenger data agreement has involved EU nations providing the US Department of Homeland Security with details of all passengers flying between the EU and the US.


22 November, 2005

Data sharing? Maybe

From the BBC:

Sharing government-held personal information could bring huge medical and social benefits, a government group has said.
First reaction:  no, no, NO!


18 October, 2005

Reverse function creep

NØ2IDPerhaps surprisingly, the Home Secretary seems to have responded favourably to many of the concerns associated with national ID cards.  I suppose it can be seen as compromise to get the troubled Bill though it's third (and final) reading in Parliament, but still, it's to his credit.


5 October, 2005

Where can I buy a hoodie?

In an otherwise unremarkable article for the Guardian about 'hoodies' (stereotypically violent teenagers who habitually wear hooded jackets to evade identification), Piers Morgan quotes the startling statistic that Britain has 20 per cent of the world's CCTV cameras.  Think about that for a moment.  One in five of all CCTV cameras on the entire planet is in use in the UK.


22 September, 2005

Just in case

On 28 July, the London Underground station at Southwark was closed by a security alert, during which a man with a rucksack was arrested.  In an article for the Guardian (an edited version of the one at his own site), that man, David Mery, explains why he was considered a suspect, and the events of that night (detained at 19:25, he was released on bail at 04:30).
I'm not saying that the police acted inappropriately; mistakes happen, and as traumatic as it must have been, at least Mr. Mery wasn't shot....  The point of this entry is to highlight the long-term effect of this incident: for no justifiable reason, the police now have a permanent file on an innocent man.


15 September, 2005

Won't work anyway

NØ2IDThe Guardian reports an admission by the director of the UK ID cards programme and the government's chief information officer that biometric matching using the parameters stored on the cards won't be infallible.  That's beside any logistical considerations of staff training, hardware implementation and database management; the data on the card just won't be able to identify an individual with the necessary level of certainty.  Utterly pointless – for the stated purpose.


8 July, 2005

Credit where it's due

NØ2IDI have to confess that I'd expected the government to use yesterday's bombs in London as a justification for ID cards (and I suppose they might yet, in some way).  However, it's to the Home Secretary's credit that he has admitted that ID cards wouldn't have prevented these attacks.


7 July, 2005

PIN to burst government bubble

NØ2IDAnother odd, contrived government proposal mentioned in the same, rather wide-ranging El Reg article is to 'enable' people to access their medical records online, using their ID cards.  Biometrics via a domestic PC and web connection would be clever, or perhaps it just involves a PIN, the very level of security the biometric card was supposed to supercede.


7 July, 2005

Cost laundering

NØ2IDOhhh... so that's how the government plans to hide the true cost of ID cards: by making people pay via other, seemingly separate services.


30 June, 2005

V-e-r-y interesting...

NØ2IDThe Department of Social Scrutiny has announced that the national Id card scheme is to be abolished and replaced by Ego cards.

Dr C Jung, the Minister for the Collective Unconscious, attempted to reassure crowds trying to brainstorm his house, by explaining how the Id and the Ego were completely different concepts and anyone who thought otherwise was merely accepting the consensual hallucination that the individual is a construct of the mind.

28 June, 2005

Exactly!

NØ2IDCoinciding with the return of the ID Cards Bill to Parliament, and condemnation from LSE researchers that the scheme is likely to cost three times the amount estimated by the government, the Guardian's lead story (online) is that:

The information commissioner, Richard Thomas, yesterday issued his most detailed and hard-hitting attack so far on the government's plans for identity cards.
Mr Thomas was appointed by the government to examine privacy issues for Parliament, so this isn't partisan sniping – the Government would struggle to dismiss his words.


6 June, 2005

Why change?

The government proposal to replace road tax (i.e. licence for a vehicle to be used on a public highway, even just parked – a 'per vehicle, per year' tax) and fuel tax ('per litre/gallon') with a pay-as-you-go tax on actual usage is an interesting one, but there are a few points which concern me.


31 May, 2005

Don't even consider it

NØ2IDFrom The Register:

The UK government plans to issue its ID card as a passport with biometric identifiers stored in a chip – and the US wants those chips to be compatible with its own scanners, raising the possibility that US agencies could have access to the ID Card database.
I seriously hope this is a baseless scare-story, but it's all too credible.


30 May, 2005

A symbol of individual rights

The alert may have noticed an amendment to the main page of the blog: there's a new button on the right of the page.


26 May, 2005

Do you know what you're accepting?

NØ2IDSorry to be ranting on about ID cards, but since the Bill is currently in the process of going through Parliament, there's more than usual to comment upon.


25 May, 2005

ID fraud doesn't cost that much

NØ2IDEach time you read/hear a government representative repeat the claim that "identity fraud costs the UK an estimated £1.3 billion each year", you might like to remember that the figure is based on mere guesses made in a 2002 Cabinet Office report (three years old, and not updated to include other measures already implemented) which itself did not recommend that ID Cards were a solution to fraud.

Spy Blog offers more arguments about why the figure is invalid.


24 May, 2005

By the back door, or: we've been ****ed

NØ2IDI'm not sure how I missed this last month, but it seems one of my major objections to the ID Cards bill has already been sneaked through without Parliamentary authority having even been sought.


16 May, 2005

The illusion of democracy

NØ2IDIf the Government are so convinced that Identity Cards are 'a good thing', why are they resorting to sneaky tactics of rushing the legislation through Parliament before a meaningful opposition can be mustered?


28 March, 2005

Just park it

Petitions: why?

A couple of hundred years ago, they might have been an appropriate means by which a populace could convey public opinion to their slightly remote lords & masters, but nowadays, with saturation media coverage of even local issues and public policy influenced by polls and focus groups, I don't see the point.  I've always thought them an anachronism, but a specific example has arisen.


15 March, 2005

Wonderful news - maybe

NØ2IDIf the Guardian is to be believed, the fact that there's limited Parliamentary time remaining before a General Election could mean that the Government will dump the 'widely-loathed' ID cards bill, in favour of other outstanding business.

Wa-****ing-hey!

11 March, 2005

'Nothing to hide, nothing to fear'

NØ2IDThis MSNBC report provides examples of the nature and standard of information collated about private individuals by a major US database agency and sold to companies and government agencies.  Supporters of identity cards should read the article and consider it carefully.


5 March, 2005

Wedge expands

Remember this entry, reporting that Oyster cards, prepaid tickets for travel in the London area, stored a complete record of where the owner had been, when?

It seems it'll soon be possible to use the Oyster card for small-scale purchases, such as a pint of milk.

Purchasing history, anyone?

4 January, 2005

Wrong then, wrong now

NØ2IDIn the UK, confidential government documents have always been kept out of the public archive for a period of thirty years (the 'Thirty Year Rule'), or 50, even 100 years for particularly sensitive papers.  This was changed on Saturday, when the Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into force.  Now, government documents still aren't actively put into the public archive for thirty years, but they must be made available on request (some categories are exempt).


27 December, 2004

Speculate to accumulate

NØ2IDAnother titbit about UK identity cards:

Supporters of the cards, including the new Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, frequently allege that:

Some £50 million a year is claimed illegally from the benefits systems using false identities.
Yet Peter Lilly MP, quoted in El Reg has calculated that in order to defeat £50 million of fraud, the Department of Work and Pensions would need to install terminals costing at least £1 billion i.e. they'd break even in a mere twenty years.

21 December, 2004

It's not about the cards

NØ2IDThe UK Identity Cards Bill passed another stage of Parliament last night.
Damn.
Still, several MPs, both from the Government (pro-cards) and from the Opposition (er, pro-cards), voted against their party instructions or abstained, so the Government isn't automatically getting its way.

There's a common fallacy about the ID cards, which was repeated in a TV news report: the cards will contain much less information, in a less accessible form, than existing loyalty cards, with which millions of people seem perfectly happy.  That may be true, but is deceptive, confusing data on the physical card itself with those stored in the national database.


30 November, 2004

ID cards coming - why?

NØ2IDThe BBC reports on the launch of the Identity Cards Bill by the Home Secretary.  Read the article for an... interesting representation of the pros and cons, but there are a few aspects I'd like to highlight.


30 September, 2004

'Security revolution'

Today's Guardian:

UK tourists to be photographed and fingerprinted as American authorities extend new airport arrivals procedures to all foreigners.
Needless to say, I'm totally opposed to this.  When I read it this morning, my gut desire was to cancel my trip to New York next month, but a) that's an overreaction, owing more to petulance than principle, and b) it's already paid for.
I'd object to the government of my own country recording my image and fingerprints - indeed, I do object to ID Cards - so I find it doubly galling to submit to the whims of some foreign regime to which I owe absolutely no allegiance.


29 August, 2004

National ID cards again

NØ2IDI'm not going to rant about my opposition to these things (this time...), as this article in the Guardian includes a more positive proposition.

Dave Birch's central point is that national ID cards will really be national ID computers; the physical form will be less relevant than the information it stores, since the instances of it being used to confirm 'real', physical identity (e.g. a police officer visually matching a photo on a card to the face of the bearer) will be insignificant compared to the number of times it will be used electronically to confirm 'virtual' identity i.e. provide non-physical information such as account numbers.


13 May, 2004

Call me Mr. Mouse

NØ2IDThe Guardian describes a hypothetical situation:

Two police officers arrive to arrest a man involved in a fight. He identifies himself as Mickey Mouse.

Once, Mr Mouse would have spent a night in a police cell until his identity was established. But once the compulsory phase of Home Secretary David Blunkett's biometric identity card scheme is underway, the scenario could be quite different.

If the arrested man is not carrying his ID card - there will be no legal requirement to do so - the magic of biometrics will take over.  A policeman could point a mobile scanner at the man's iris and, within seconds, the government's National Identity Register (NIR) would provide his name and address.


11 May, 2004

Reminder for UK readers

NØ2IDTime is running out for you to complete your ID Card application form.  Whilst Part 1 has been downloadable from the Department of Social Scrutiny's official website for a couple of weeks, Part 2 has now been made available.

Don't delay!

[Update 14/5/04:  Part 3 is now out.]

7 April, 2004

We know where you've been

Transport for London operates the Oyster card, a prepayment system for travel on the London Underground ('tube'), buses, trams and 'surface' rail within London.  Not a bad idea, but....

In recharging his Oyster card, Tintil discovered that the card contains a complete record of every bus and tube trip he's made, including the time and date of the journey.  Oyster cards are registered to the individual, so this travel log can be readily linked to his name, address, even his bank details.

So if it's on the card, where else might it be recorded?  Who has access to this information?  Why?

Needless to say, if I was in London, I'd still be buying individual tickets, anonymously, with cash.

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