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ID Cards still very much on this Government’s agenda

By Angela Harbutt
March 19th, 2010 at 11:34 am | 2 Comments | Posted in Personal Freedom, UK Politics

no2id_badge_new_600dpiSome of us, myself included, have a tendency to think that we, and NO2ID, have won the ID card battle. We should all be under no such illusion. The fight is still very much on.

Earlier this week there was a little-reported matter of  Meg Hillier, the Home Office Minister, suggesting that Gordon Brown’s government may ask U.K. banks – specifically Govt “owned ones” – Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Lloyds Banking Group Plc – to subsidize its national identity-card program, paying for documents for poorer customers to attract business… “attract business” yeah right. And rather curious given that I was sure that the Government was leaving the banks to run their own business’. Apparently not.

Prior to that there was the little matter of Ms Hillier writing in Progress online (a New Labour Pressure Group) that ID cards are a “service” that will empower the country’s citizens – and specifically help fight social exclusion. Hmm – the Labour use of the word “service” is about as twisted as its concept of  term “choice” – don’t these people own a dictionary? Or are they just writing their own?

Now we hear that Pensioners could be forced to carry identity cards to qualify for free bus travel.

Well, we learned a long time ago not to believe a single word (or indeed number) this Government comes out with. But its a timely reminder to us – not to let the ID cards issue fall off our agenda – its certainly not fallen off the Government’s.

UPDATE: I am reminded that you can keep abreast of Government sneaky action on id cards at NO2ID’s newsblog.

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ID CARDS launch in Manchester – four terrorists already arrested

By Angela Harbutt
November 16th, 2009 at 9:36 am | 3 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

The Government launches its “voluntary” ID card scheme in Manchester today – meaning that people are “able” to apply for an ID card at the cost of £30 (hmmm… bet the queues will nearly be as big as those outside H&M for Jimmy Choo shoes).

Interestingly earlier this morning – on the very same day as the launch of the voluntary ID card scheme, four men have arrested under the Terrorism Act in Manchester (and Bolton).

What a result ! The scheme has only just started – and voluntary at that – and already they have arrested four terrorists. Marvelous!

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Herding cats… in today’s Britain

By Angela Harbutt
October 6th, 2009 at 4:03 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in Uncategorized

siamese_cat_picA good friend of mine was out late last night and had asked me to feed the cats for him. This I duly did and texted him once they were in and fed to say all was well. He emailed me this morning to thank me but confessed that they persuaded him they had not been fed…so he gave them some extra cat munchies when he got home. Here is my reply…..

Hmm that’s how it starts……guilty parents over indulging their latch-key cats….next thing you know your cats will be hanging out on street corners on Friday nights eating catnip and causing a nuisance. Roll forward a few months and we will hear calls for increased tax on all catnip to stop the Friday night binge-eating culture amongst the younger cats …followed by a total ban on eating catnip in public. Of course you wont think it’s YOUR boys causing the trouble – always someone else’s – so you will continue to indulge them.

They become emboldened – (cats are like that) and think its cool to eat catnip in front of their mates. There will be organised cat-nip runs to France to avoid the tax hike and some will make a nice profit on the side in dealing. They will become the cool gang to hang out with, and goad each other on to be naughtier. Cat fights late at night, howls in the backyard. A dead squirrel is found and the cats are blamed. The council will respond – putting up CCTV all over the streets … well they have to be seen to be doing something – which wont of course work and in any event some bright spark in the council offices soon realises that if they train the cameras on the car parking spaces rather than the street corners they can easily rake in a lot of money in parking fines to cover the cost of the cameras and then some – and the public won’t be any the wiser.

 You will notice that the cats have taken to walking in a “slinky way”. Some say it’s just how cats walk – but the stronger cry is that cats are walking that way to avoid the cameras. People become agitated if they walk past a cat “looking at them in a funny way”. This sort of anti-social behavior is just not acceptable. 

 Of course running parallel to this there are already concerns about the number of cats in the country – various lobby groups have blamed the rising cat population for the demise of the house sparrow and starling (we never really liked either of those particular birds – but they were OUR birds don’t you know). Never mind that they have been keeping down the rat population that no one else wants to do. And there has been a growing cry from certain sections of society that there are too many foreign cats (the Siamese with their funny-coloured eyes, the Persians with their excess hair). Something must be done.

 The government sees the opportunity to act. It suggests a cat id card scheme – where every cat should be registered, chipped and have its own biometric passport. People being harrassed by the cats will think this is a good thing and support it. The lobby groups will think they have a victory – birds will be safe, the foreign cats have been chipped – all peachy. Cat owners will feel guilty about the problem and say nothing.
 And that’s my friend how we end up in the society in which we live today – because you feel guilty about coming home late to your cats.”
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Nine sacked for breaching core ID card database

By Angela Harbutt
August 13th, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Comments Off on Nine sacked for breaching core ID card database | Posted in UK Politics

no2idThe government has always poo-pooed the idea that holding our personal information in a single database will make it vulnerable to abuse by those (hundreds of thousands) who have access to the system.

Henry Porter’s blog points to why we should be VERY concerned about this issue (regardless of where we are, or not, on implementation of the ID card scheme).  Its already happening ! Council employees are illegally accessing personal information on celebrities, their friends, their girlfriends and themselves.

Henry’s source – Computer Weekly – has reported that nine people have been sacked for accessing personal information  from the core ID card database. The nine were “among 34 council workers who illegally accessed the Customer Information System (CIS) database, which holds the biographical data of the population that will underpin the government’s multi-billion-pound ID-card programme.”

The others were either reprimanded or resigned though note than none (including the sacked nine) were prosecuted.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg as many of the breaches were discovered after “sample checks”. Samples are just that – samples.  There may be many more breaches that have gone undetected as the CIS is a database accessed by over 200,000 government employees.

The Government reaction was typically complacent. A DWP spokesman said “the small number of incidents shows that the CIS security system is working…” As Henry points out, they did not, of course, acknowledge that these cases came from sample checks generated by the system. They clearly have NO idea how many government employees are accessing our data illegally. And they clearly dont think that theft of our personal information merits prosecution.

Herein lies the problem. The government has yet to acknowledge that information about me is mine. If someone helped themselves to money out of my bank I would expect to see them prosecuted. If someone helps themselves to my personal information i expect the same. I also expect it to be protected adequately by those holding it by the way.

If ever anyone thought that we had “won” the battle on ID cards they should think again. We still have a very long way to go on this one. Good work Computer Weekly. Excellent post Henry Porter.

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