Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday 25 April 2008

Latest from NO2ID

Last Tuesday the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas addressed the Information Security Conference at Olympia on the poor record of data security in recent months, among which was the loss of 600,000 records from a Ministry of Defence laptop. The crucial question which was not addressed, of course, is the reason why there were details of 600,000 people, who had only been making casual enquiries about joining the forces, being held on the laptop in the first place, even though the data was 10 years old? It seems to be given as red that in the data collection community that records of as many people as possible should be garnered. These employees who mindlessly do what they’re told, and don’t question the why’s and wherefore’s of why they are doing it, only perpetuate the problem.

The trade in selling data is becoming a great worry. It is known that private investigators and others that have a market for such information including financial institutions, law firms, local authorities and the press, have been routinely involved in the theft of data. This has prompted the Information Commissioner’s Office to call on government to increase the penalties for such underhand activities, making the theft of data a prisonable offence. Unfortunately, with backlash from the media, who thrive on obtaining private information, the proposed measures are being watered down. The Daily Mail alone has been identified with being involved in 952 such transactions of sensitive information, information that could be used indiscriminately.

The Home Office says that it is determined to drive down the cost of ID Cards. Yes, abolish them altogether would be my solution!

The Border Agency is producing an Olympic ID card for the 2012 games in London. The announcement was made on Wednesday at the Secure Document World Conference by Lin Homer who wishes to see it being developed as a beta test for other such initiatives. Under a former programme called Project Semaphore, extensive data on all international passenger movements has led to 1,700 arrests according to Homer. Of course, we are never told how legitimate those arrests were, people like Homer just like to cite statistics to make it all sound worthwhile and justifiable. Although the use of biometric data is not being actively considered in the 2012 scheme, she hopes to expand the use of ‘voluntary’ biometrics with the use of Iris scanners, allowing people to be fast-tracked through passport control. Seeing this as ‘a fantastic opportunity’, Homer is making the violation of people's rights all sound like a brownie-points game. It probably is for her career!

The compulsory interviews for new passport applicants which are being conducted from interrogation centres being set up all around the country look like being another gross waste of public money. Of the 88,000 interviews so far, not one interviewee has been rejected. The scheme which has cost £50 million to set up with a further annual running budget of £30 million just seems to be more money down the drain in this ludricrous anti-terrorist confabulation.

More than 5,000 children a month are being added to the DNA database. According to a report in the Daily Telegraph “Between October and January, 25 per cent of those added were 18 or younger, compared with less than 11 per cent of those already listed on it. In total, 152,066 people were put on the database between October and January - 37,818 of whom were 18 or under”. It is expected that by next year 1 in every 10 children will be included on the database. Liberal Democrat Justice spokesman Jenny Willott said: “There is something horribly Big Brotherish about a society that is adding over 5,000 kids a month to a DNA database when they're not even old enough to get a National Insurance Number. These shocking figures demonstrate just how many children are being dragged into the criminal justice system by the Government." Over 1 million children in the UK now have their DNA permanently included on the database.

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