Monday, June 29, 2009

Latest from NO2ID

Comments made in connection with each news item are personal observations and not necessarily those of NO2ID.

Rumours that the new Home Secretary, Alan Johnson is to ‘review the ID scheme’ have been siezed upon as an opportunity to halt the monster, although Johnson himself denies such rumours. The Identity Cards Act 2006 was never comprehensive and left out a lot of the mechanics of how the scheme would work in its entirety. Now those details are to be furnished in a list of regulations which are longer than the original bill itself. Debate on the first batch of regulations are due to take place next month. It is an opportunity in which MPs could and should object in order to stall the juggernaut and this is the time to get in touch with your MP and point this out to them. It is these regulations that put flesh and bones on the scheme and give a close insight into the real horrors which lurk within: the sheer amount of private data that you will have to disclose to the Home Office about yourself; the detail showing how many people will find themselves forced into the ID Card scheme in order to ‘apply’ for some other government document or service; draconian penalties for those who do not wish to comply; the numbers of government departments, law enforcement and other agencies that will have access to your information, with no record kept after 12 months of to whom that information was disseminated.

Sheffield City Council has reaffirmed its existing motion against ID cards. It criticises the Manchester pilot scheme, saying that Sheffield would not participate in any similar one. It also slams the trend of fingerprinting people visiting nightclubs and certain pubs, fingerprinting in schools and Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems. Let’s hope they don’t cop out of continued opposition, or get bought off by government!

The House of Lords Constitution Committee has criticised government in their failure to adopt important recommendations embodied in their 'Surveillance: Citizens and the State' report that would have put in place safeguards to ensure proper use of data processing and surveillance.

According to Statewatch the body that monitors civil liberties in Europe, the Stockholm Programme, which will establish the creation of a unified EU-wide information grid, will be adopted this autumn. It says that this will unleash a digital tsunami with in-depth data on every EU citizen that can be shared across member-country borders.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has warned that data collection and storage should be kept to a minimum. The more information held the greater the chances of losing it and the greater chance of contravening the Data Protection Act. The ICO pointed out that in a survey, 85% of people in the UK avoid giving out personal information whenever possible, that number having grown in recent years.

Lord Steyn, a former law lord has lashed out at the ID card scheme saying it should be abandoned as it creates a gross invasion of personal privacy and will do nothing to combat crime, terrorism, illegal immigration and the whole plethora of other problems that the government insists it will. In fact it will lessen our security.

Ian Watmore, former government CIO has said that Government Gateway reports should be published. These currently confidential reports lay out the progress, or otherwise, of highly sensitive government IT projects. Their publication should allow MPs and others to keep track and accountability of these projects.

An Oxford father has refused, point blank, to give permission to have his daughter fingerprinted at school. He rightly fears that this is just one more step towards a Big Brother state!

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