Friday, August 29, 2008
The Latest from NO2ID
The cost of the national census is being used as an excuse to use data-mining and sharing as a substitute it seems. The New Local Government Network’s (NLGN) report ‘Local Counts’ suggests that “£500 million could be wasted on the next census”. Just how many millions are being wasted on the vast data grid that is being created. The traditional census ensured privacy, their suggestion won’t.
Whenever talk of DNA databases arises the standard response from officialdom is that ‘if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to worry about’. Then why are DNA records of some 40,000 innocent children and one million innocent Britons continue to be held by the police, implying that they are criminals?
98% of Britain’s electoral officers have aired their opposition to junk mail companies having the ability to purchase names and addresses from the electoral register. Although provision is given on the annual voter registration form to disallow your name from being sold to direct marketing companies, the option box isn’t obvious and I must admit that I failed to check it before sending back my latest form. Again, like the petty fines being imposed on citizens dropping litter or using the wrong dustbin, this is just another intrusive and seedy way for local government to raise revenue.
With protection being the emotive reason, a flagship database intended to protect every child in the country will be used by police to hunt for evidence. Having used the Victoria Climbié case as a reason to push forward with the ContactPoint scheme, the database will list information on the children’s parents, their GPs, schools and social support workers. But latest information reveals that the police, council staff, head teachers, doctors and care workers will all have access to these records to search for any evidence of criminality or wrongdoing - presumably as trivial as putting your waste in the wrong bin or photographing your child in public and becoming listed as a ‘potential paedophile’!
The company responsible for having recently lost a memory stick containing the records of 84,000 prisoners, is a key contractor in the government’s controversial ID card scheme. The company, PA Consulting, has been paid almost £100 million over three years, that’s £1000 per day. How re-assuring!
The introduction of Youth ID Cards is to be delayed until 2011, a year later than originally envisaged. Although they are supposed to be only voluntary at first, they will be necessary to open a bank account or take out a student loan, so there’s going to be a pretty captive audience!
The tally of lost personal data by Whitehall has risen to 4 million items in just one year.
Government IT projects are usually a shambles. Apart from taking much longer to initiate, they usually end up costing far more than originally budgeted and invariably break down. The new NHS database goes one further in that it could also breach human rights!
Another black mark for the NHS has come in the form of dumping their old computers in Ghana, where hard drives are being mined of our personal information, while the health aspects of melting down the useful parts is being totally ignored, killing young children who are employed in the activity.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Latest from NO2ID
The e-passport is a worldwide standard developed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) following pressure from the US and each passport carries an embedded chip holding data about the holder. Two years ago Adam Laurie, a security expert, worked with NO2ID to demonstrate how easy it was for others, with the right kit, to read the data on the chip without even taking it from its envelope. It has now been revealed that fake chips could easily be implanted onto a legitimate passport. Following the news of the 3,000 blank passports that were stolen from the back of a van last month, e-passports at present offer no security or are no guarantee to preventing illegal immigrants and the scope for abuse is enormous.
Awareness is key to educating the public about the dangers of centralised databases containing all manner of information on citizens. A good way of doing this is though the media of a novel and author Jeffrey Deaver has done just this in his latest book ‘The Broken Window’. The threat of government databases is the basis if his story, revealing through NYPD forensic consultant Lincoln Rhyme and his detective partner how they go after a psychotic mastermind who uses data-mining to hunt down his victims and implicate complete innocents. Their research reveals the enormity of the Big Brother state and how the use of this data-mining can be used by homicidal maniacs. A true allegory of our times.
New wider data retention regulations have been published by the government as a proposal to mandate a law requiring all ISP’s to retain all user's email, text and Internet records. This vastly extends existing legislation that applied to non-Internet data only. If passed these laws could be on the statute books by next March. In parallel with this is the so-called ‘Snooper’s Charter’ (as I reported last Wednesday’s blog) which would allow a whole spectrum of public bodies, including everyone from councils to health authorities, the powers to tap this retained data and, essentially, ‘snoop’ on the public at large.
Meanwhile in Northern Ireland plans to roll out 640,000 free travel passes are being described as an ID card by stealth. John Welford, a Scottish pensioner who is against what these bus passes and their Scottish equivalents could become, has warned of the dangers. In 2005 Scottish MP’s rejected a national ID card. Welford believes that the bus passes issued to the most vulnerable section of society - pensioners - are a way around this non-compliance by the Scottish parliament.
Opposition to the outright introduction of ID cards can be easily got round by introducing them in a gradual, almost covert way. Starting out as benefit cards, they can allow free travel for the elderly. But once the cards are in place and holders get used to carrying them their use can later be extended and modified to include chips which, by use of a reader, can be used to track and trace people’s movements. As time progresses their capabilities can be enhanced, drip by drip, until they eventually become mandatory among all age groups, bear more and more personal information and then come with a requirement that they must be carried at all times. Then you’ve introduced your national ID card through the back door! Might this be an alternative method should opposition to their outright introduction become an insurmountable obstruction to the government?
Also in Scotland a controversial ID scheme involving some 8,000 school children from some eight secondary schools is to be introduced. The children involved in this pilot scheme will be fingerprinted so that they can be tracked by teachers, although the proposed plans have come under fire from parents who fear of misuse of adequate controls of who could have access to the fingerprint data.
A Dutch Security Researcher, Joroen van Beek, from the University of Amsterdam, has recently shown how he could get a ‘cloned and manipulated’ passport chip to be recognised by any reader thus allowing a fraudulant user to gain access into a country. This was all done without changing the passport chip itself! He could take a writable RFID chip, load it with personal data, then hash that data and make a self-signed certificate using the same parameters of a legitimate passport signature so that it would pass muster at immigration control. He even went on to show how he could become his own passport-issuing country!
Van Beek then went on to take the passport of a 16 month-old British boy, put it on a £40 smart card reader, punch a code into his computer and retrieve all the information on that card. Of course, this isn’t supposed to happen because of the powerful encryption used. But thanks to Adam Laurie, a renowned computer expert, he worked out how to crack the encryption code some 18 months ago. This information allowed Mr van Beek to then go on and clone the young British boy’s data chip onto another chip, launch a piece of software called ‘Golden Reader Tool’ (the International Civil Aviation Organisation standard kit for checking biometric passports) and the cloned chip is then flagged up as authentic!
But it only gets better.
On his computer, Mr van Beek alters the cloned chip and removes the image of the child, the Times photographer Michael Crabtree’s son, Thomas, and replaces it with the image of Osama bin Laden. He does the same with the passport of my partner, Suzanne Hallam, installing the image of Hiba Darghmeh, a Palestinian suicide bomber instead. And, if the chips had contained other biometric data, such as fingerprints or iris scans, he could have changed those too.
At first, Golden Reader refuses to authenticate the new, altered chips. A digital key signature, a certificate of authenticity, has been changed, and the reader is concerned. But Mr van Beek falls back on the work of Peter Gutmann, from Auckland University, New Zealand, who found a way to programme another key signature into the chip. The ICAO’s reader software now accepts both chips as genuine. (TimesOnLine 8 August 2008).
Monday, August 04, 2008
Latest from NO2ID
The Human Genetics Commission has suggested that there should be a harmonisation of approach towards the retention of people’s DNA on a central database. Currently, in Scotland, innocent people’s DNA records are removed from the database and the Commission favours that that rule be adopted also in England and Wales.
The annual report from the Information Commissioner’s Office has commented that any moves by government to construct a central database of all telephone and Internet communications should only come after the fullest possible debate with the public. The proposal constitutes excessive surveillance in the Commissioner’s view and is a ‘step too far for the British way of life’.
Singer/songwriter, James Neilson Graham has just released a single lamenting Britain’s loss of liberty and privacy. The song, ‘Oh What a Liberty’ takes a satirical approach to the issues of CCTV and ID cards.
Last Wednesday Britain unveiled stricter visa rules which will require students from India and other non-European countries to provide their fingerprints and proof that they have enough money to support themselves while in Britain.
More ID checks are on the way for residents of Northern Ireland who wish to travel to other parts of the UK.
Air passengers flying from UK airports will face compulsory fingerprinting from next year. This will involve fingerprinting both at the security and departure gates. The Home Office then plans to introduce the same measures at all seaports and Channel Tunnel rail links. The usual excuse is given; to enable the police and security services to compare the fingerprints with those of wanted criminals and terrorists, thus we must all be implicated. The use of fingerprinting is said to allow the mixing of both domestic and foreign passengers in airside departure lounges and shopping malls. As well as being fingerprinted and photographed like criminals, the retail chains in the airside shopping malls will then benefit commercially by enticing domestic as well as international passengers to their stores, including the BAA-owned duty-free shops.
Wi-fi provider blocks out political websites in London
While the mainstream news media crow loudly about censorship in China and about the severe restrictions that Chinese surfers face with many international free-speech websites blocked, it comes with some predictability that similar restrictions are now beginning to appear in Britain.
The unbridled Internet has been a tremendous source of alternative, uncensored news, a means to find out what is really going on in the world without being kept in the dark with the politicised, sanitised and propagandised version of events we get from the proprietory sources where strict editorial control is exercised from above.
Paul Joseph Watson of infowars.com was startled and dismayed to find that while using the wi-fi facilities in St Pancras station in London, he was unable to get onto his own websites or indeed those of almost every non-mainstream news media source. This wasn’t a technical malfunction, this was deliberate censorship aka China!
What is happening in the St Pancras and neighbouring Kings Cross station areas is going to be coming to your home via your Internet provider before very long.
It is the duty of every citizen that believes in an open, fair and just society, where one is entitled to hear political views of every hue in order to obtain a fair and balanced picture of world events, to complain bitterly to the Home Office.
Information posted on the infowars website is based solely on fact, deriving its information from all manner of news sources, both mainstream and independent and from official government documents, FOIA material, reliable insiders, congressmen and women, scientists, historians, economists etc etc - amassing a vast resource of in-depth research material that is vital to any student of geopolitical affairs; information that should be the right of any and every citizen as his or her resource - among others - to help construct in their minds a truer picture of the world in which we live. To deny us this right is utterly despicable. What right have the media moguls and those ‘Illuminati’ in whose hands they operate, to dictate to us what we should or shouldn’t know. As a free spirit, human being and inhabitant of this planet, I have as every much right to know what they know and to have the ability and opportunity to pass on my political opinions based on such information for others to consider or reject as they see fit.
To deny us access to these vital forums, the British, Chinese and those governments of an ever-growing number of other countries around the world are re-enacting a mission in the same evil spirit as Goebbels' burning of the books in Nazi Germany when the works of such luminaries as Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, André Gide, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, Marcel Proust, Emile Zola and HD Wells were deemed unacceptable to the state and the German people and therefore confined to ashes.
Let not history repeat itself!