Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday 21 July 2008

Latest from NO2ID

The recently published ‘Data Sharing Review’ by the Information Commissioner and Mark Walport of the Wellcome Trust has seriously neglected to recognise the enormity of the database state. The only acknowledgment it makes is in its annexe which states “A recurring theme among members of the public was the disparity in power between the citizen and the state in relation to data sharing.” "It was said that the citizen has no choice but to use public (or publicly administrated) services, but equally had no choice or say over how their personal information is used once it was in the public sector" The report then goes on to say that the removal or modification of legal barriers to data sharing should be instigated, presumably letting everybody poke their noses into our private lives. They just don’t seem to care about our rights or privacy!

The Italian government’s plan to fingerprint gypsies in a so-called move to combat crime, has been heavily criticised as being ‘racist’. Quite probably expecting this reaction, the government has now suggested that everyone be fingerprinted to eliminate such criticisms. How convenient!

A Home Office initiative to coerce youngsters into accepting ID cards hasn’t quite produced the response the government might have hoped for. The web site invites youths to engage in dialog with the Home Office over ID Cards by asking them what they think of them. Many of the replies have indicated just what they think... "We don't want the ID Card", "Number of The Beast", "What could 4.4Bn of taxpayers money be better spent on?", "Carrying on the Stalinist security state dream", "Creepy".

The German government insists that ID fingerprinting will not be compulsory when the new electronic ID cards are introduced in 2010 after widespread criticism and controversy over the originally planned compulsory need for it. Presently there are quite widely differing schemes in use or in the process of implementation throughout the EU. Spanish plans are to have its ID cards associated with a central database in which full biometric data of all citizens, including fingerprints, are stored. In Britain there are, rightly, grave misgivings over the use of a central database.

Airport operators have written an open letter of complaint to the Home Secretary about plans to issue some 200,000 airport workers with ID cards. They maintain that they will have no tangible advantage. The cost of implementing the scheme is reckoned to be more than £4 billion. The authors make the contention that in proposing this scheme the “UK aviation industry is being used for political purposes on a project which has questionable public support”.

With ministers wanting to relax elements of the Data Protection Act in order to cross match our personal data from different sources, there has come serious concern that the end result could be very misleading and dangerous. Data held by different bodies is collected specifically for an individual purpose and if government were to try and assemble it from lots of disparate sources in an attempt to create a more comprehensive picture of us, that assembled picture could be rather like making up a jigsaw and joining the wrong pieces together. With trust in government’s ability to handle data securely currently at an all time low, any attempt to trust it with data from multiple sources is quite frightening.

ID cards chief, James Hall, has admitted that the ID cards database will not be secure. Following a plethora of secure data breaches over the last year, Hall suggests that we should be concerned about the security of our personal data held by government. His statement that the IPS’ scheme will, however, be robust and secure, holds little credence.

Following Transport for London’s requirement that children using the network must carry Oyster Photocards serious questions have been raised about the amount of information TfL is gathering on its younger customers. Parents and the Information Commissioner have asked TfL why it is doing this. Of course, if you want to ensure your child’s privacy while travelling in London, make sure they pay cash, that way they will be issued with a standard anonymous Oyster card.

No comments: