Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Knighton No2ID event

If you're near Knighton in Powys this weekend, look out for the no2ID stall run by Knighton Action for Peace & Justice and the local MP, Roger Williams. They'll be around from 10-midday and you'll have a chance to find out more about the ID card scheme, and to sign the petition.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

New posters

We've been busy designing new materials to advertise the campaign. Look out for them around town soon.

Big Brother is Coming

Next Meeting

The monthly meeting will be on the 4th July at 8pm in Fresh Ground Cafe. All welcome.

Information Comissioner's Comments -- June 2005

This is a little over a year old but very relevant and makes some of the case against ID cards cogently and compellingly. In a three page statement, the information comissioner sets out his concerns. The full PDF version concludes:

"The measures in the Bill go well beyond establishing a secure, reliable and trustworthy ID card. The measures in relation to the National Identity Register and data trail of identity checks on individuals risk an unnecessary and disproportionate intrusion into individuals’ privacy. They are not easily reconciled with fundamental data protection safeguards such as fair processing and deleting unnecessary personal information... The Commissioner hopes that during the passage of the Bill parliamentarians will not just focus on the desirability of ID cards but look into the acceptability of government recording so many unnecessary details of their own and their constituents’ lives. "

Sadly - too few of the parliamentarians did as the information comissioner hoped. It's up to us now to reopen this debate.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


*Yet Another Government IT Foul Up:

It's worth checking your National Insurance (NI) contributions for 2004/5 if you're planning to retire soon, as it seems that HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) has managed to lose 30 million individual's records. Apparently 98% of those records are now back up to date but that's still 600,000 of us with wonky NI records. Would the NIR be any better? It's hard to imagine that it would be, unless HMRC aren't taking NI records seriously...

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Great Immigration Fraud

Have you ever had your credit card declined in a shop? It's an embarrassing feeling - and particularly frustrating when it turns out to be an error on the part of the bank. Was your last payment applied to the wrong account? Your direct debit mysteriously cancelled? Has some artificially intelligent system decided your recent spending looked a bit suspect, and it would be nice if you rang the bank before you carried on using your card? Now imagine if it wasn't your credit, but your very right to exist in this country that was called into question. This is all too possible, if the National Identity Register (NIR) is used as a population tracking system.

It's come to our attention that David Blunkett is extolling the virtues of the ID card and the NIR as a way of tracking "illegals". And you can only track illegals if you track all the "legals" too. However, the article above outlines some of the reasons why this is a false hope/empty threat (depending on which side of the immigration debate you sit). Here are a few highlights of the reasons given, and a few reasons why we believe the "Catch Immigrants" claim is as empty as the "Stop Terrorists" claim:

  • For this to even have a chance of working, it would first be necessary to make carrying the ID card compulsory for everyone in the UK, and to insist that the ID card was checked on a regular basis. This is inconsistent with the Government's current claims that the ID card won't be made compulsory. It also doesn't bode well for the overall cost of the scheme.

  • Nor does it address the loophole regarding legitimate visitors from the EU who probably can't be compelled to carry ID cards because of freedom of movement laws - this will be tested in the court at great expense. This arguably means we'd need a second, parallel system, something like France's Carte de Sejour - this hasn't been budgeted for, as far as we can tell.

  • The data needed to populate the tracking database are far from the "clean data" of which David Blunkett speaks. As the article nicely puts it - the only clean database is an empty database: as records are added and updated, it is inevitable that some error will creep in. Even if the database itself is perfectly implemented, it is impossible to rule out operator error. Be prepared to have your ID card (and your status as legitimate resident of the UK) called into question. Irritating of you're trying to access your bank account, potentially lethal if trying to access healthcare.

  • The data available from various sources, even within the home office, is stored in many different places and in many different systems - and these don't all necessarily play nice together. The recent debacle concerning the failure to deport of criminals for whom immigration was recommended by the sentencing judge demonstrates this only too well. Collating these into the NIR would be problematic, to put it mildly.

  • To track someone, you need to keep records of where they are and what they are doing. So data is going to be collected on a regular basis and the number and type of places that the card must be shown at expands dramatically. Had an appointment with a specialist? It's in the database. Applied for a new job? It's on the file. Won the lottery and bought a stack of investments? It's all in there my friend. Therefore the potential for abuse of, and the temptation to access the data is very high indeed.

So again, we're being sold a pup - the home office is pandering to the baser racist instincts of the population/making empty promises to hardworking families it can't keep*. Don't believe the hype - either the ID card won't track anyone, or it will track us all - are you prepared for the cost, should that come about?

(*delete as appropriate - depending on which newspaper you read)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Blackheath says no to ID!

News from South London: In a small, but interesting survey, Lewisham Lib Dems discovered that over 60% of Blackheath residents oppose id cards. Perhaps a similar survey residents of Aberystwyth is in order?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tendering process behind schedule

The F.T. reports that the procurement process seems to have stalled, with no date being given for the call for proposals. The ID card project will be the largest and most complex ever undertaken by the government, with around four different "packages" of work and involving up to 20 different suppliers.

It could well be that the multisuplier route is an attempt to avoid the costly mistakes caused by relying on single suppliers in the past. However, problems are most likely to arise where "the idea [for the system] has not been subjected to systematic thinking about the objectives, how it will work, how human beings will interact with it, and so on", according to Philip Virgo, strategic adviser to user group the Institute for the Management of Information Systems, in this article. Given the frequent changes in the avowed purpose and scope of ID cards, it looks like this is one point of failure that is all too likely to be repeated.

Recent notable failures in UK HMG IT procurement:

Friday, June 09, 2006

Information commissioner rules

"Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" - and yet the government has been leery of releasing information about the ID card scheme into the public domain. As reported in the Guardian and the Beeb the government now has 30 days in which to come up with an appeal as to why this information can't be released to the public domain, or to release it. Expect and indigestible set of figures on the morning after England are knocked out of (oh alright then, or win...) the world cup.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Some more fun at the expense of ID cards

[Emma writes] So you're reading a blog, and what's more it's a No2ID blog. That already proves to us that you're a media-savvy, intelligent and discerning human being. Nevertheless, the paranoid lawyer on my shoulder wants me to point out that the site featured is indeed a satire and I am in no way trying to suggest that the eventual forms for ID cards would be exactly like the ones on this site.

Forged passports illegal once more

... or always were illegal, depending on who you listen to. According to the Reg and Criminal Law Week the ID cards act managed to repeal the existing Forgery and Counterfeiting act, but did not reinstate the provisions that make owning a forged passport illegal. The Government denies and such loophole existed, but nevertheless plugged it last night with a statutory instrument. What happens to those charged with having forged passports in the three month period during which the loophole did (or did not) exist remains to be seen.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Just a little satire:

Life isn't all doom and gloom - this, from Youtube, should raise a wry smile:

US DHS concludes that RFID chips are unsuitable for "human tracking"

You may already be familiar with RFID chips as the tags that are sometimes found in books or attached to CDs and DVDs to prevent theft. Increrasingly, these chips are being added to passports as a way of permitting contactless reading of passport data.

However, in a recent report from the US Department of Homeland Security "disfavoured" the use of RFID tags for person ID purposes:

"RFID can reduce the delay when people pass through chokepoints that require identification. However, transmission of information from cards to verifiers is not a significant cause of the delay in such transactions compared to the authorization and verification steps.

"RFID permits the use of encryption, which can control forgery and tampering with
identification documents. This is not a unique characteristic of RFID, however. It is part of many digital technologies, including contact chips, bar codes, magnetic stripes, and watermarked printing.

Against these small incremental benefits of RFID are arrayed a large number of privacy concerns. RFID deployments’ digitally communicated information is easier to collect, save, store, and process, and is, therefore, more easily converted to surveillance than other methods. The silent, unnoticeable operation of radio waves means that individuals will always have difficulty knowing when they are being identified and what information is being communicated, leaving them vulnerable to increased security risks such as skimming and eavesdropping. "