Friday, July 30, 2004

Blunkett's Response

David Blunkett has issued a response to the report on ID cards.

I'll just pull a few quotes for you. Blunkett in italics. Committee quotes in bold. Important stuff in red.

I am pleased that the Home Affairs Select Committee report confirms that the Government’s plans for a compulsory ID cards scheme will deliver real benefits[...]

Not quite. The report stated that compulsory ID cards may deliver real benefits, but different benefits required different specifications for ID cards, and the gov't had yet to consistently define the specifications; "the changing aims of the scheme do not give total confidence that the Government has arrived at a complete set of clear and settled aims for the card."

The committee isolated some areas where ID cards *could* make the current situation worse. We believe there is a danger that in many day-to-day situations the presentation alone of an identity card will be assumed to prove the identity of the holder without the card itself or the biometrics being checked, thus making possession of a stolen or forged identity card an easier way to carry out identity fraud than is currently the case.

and make sure that our public services are only used by those who are entitled to them.

The committee states "there does not appear to be a consistent set of principles underlining access to government services." So under the current scheme nobody is entitled to gov't provision (I suspected as much). Time to define what public services are available, and to whom. Preferably before we start restricting access with ID cards.

The Government and the public - and the HASC [Home Affairs Select Committee] - believe that the project will deliver real benefits and should go ahead. The remaining questions are, naturally, about the detail of the scheme.

But the Government's proposals are poorly thought out in key respects: in relation to the card itself, to procurement and to the relationship of the proposals to other aspects of government, including the provision of public services. These issues must be addressed if the proposals are to be taken forward. It is important that the Government clarifies the purposes of the scheme and makes them clear through legislation.

So, despite what Blunkett says, the current proposal should not be taken forward in it's current form. And the details he refers to sound pretty major to me.

Essentially the committee has reported that ID cards may be a good idea, but that in regard to the scheme suggeested by Blunkett et al, "The lack of clarity and openness increases the risks of the project substantially"

It is essential that the Government explain its intentions on issues raised in this report before the Bill is published.

We will consider fully the HASC’s many comments and suggestions as we progress with our consultation.

I'd feel happier if he'd said that he'd publish the gov't intentions, as requested by the HASC.

CCW

ID card plans 'badly thought out'

BBC on the Commons home affairs committee report on ID Cards, released today. Here's a HTML version of the report.

The report comes up with many of the same points put forward by critics of the scheme - What is it trying to achieve? Is the planning ready/sufficient? Is the technology sufficient? Who will have control over/access to the data? What data will be contained?

There's also a continuing theme within the report of how open the government is when it comes to this process, and about how much the individual knows about what is being stored on the card, about themself. As the summary states:

"the Government's proposed scheme would represent a significant change in the relationship between state and individual in this country".

Zombie pirate attacks!

Via Politech, I'm pointed to a parody site of the original government site, preparingforemergencies.co.uk, which includes class advice such as...

Children are the worst fire hazards; consider giving them up for adoption.


Unfortunately, the "parody" part has been lost on the government, who have decided to "respond". I, for one, am utterly confused by the information presented, and have already started to report all the beggars asking me for money in case they're all terrorists.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Home Office Terrorism

I've just been looking at a government site entitled "UK Resilience". One of the links is to a site labelled as "Home Office Terrorism". I thought the job of the Home Office was to prevent terrorism, not cause it.

CCW

More dissent amongst the ranks

What's he up to now? Closing local immigration checks before domestic ones are up-to-scratch, that's what. Interesting that it's had to go so far as legal action, eh?

As with much of everything else, the Home Office have had to have their headstrong way about this issue. Between them and the "80 Immigration Service officials" in question, I know whose words I'd take less lightly. As things are, the whole lot of them'll probably get arrested for perverting the course of domestic security...

Big Brother Awards

And the awards go to... None in the bag for Mr Blunkett this year - but he gets the prestigious acclaim of having one named after him. Tasty.

See also the Register coverage of the event, along with NO2ID shirts for sale.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Privacy International 2004 UK Big Brother Awards

A reminder that Privacy International hold their 2004 UK Big Brother Awards at the London School of Economics this evening. Entrance is free and open to the public, but space is limited and people should RSVP as per the page's info.

The Home Office has a joint nomination in the "Worst Public Servant" category (Katherine Courtney and Stephen Harrison) for its involvement in ID Cards, but faces stiff competition from Margaret Hodge,MP. Here's the shortlist.

Terror Booklet

Is anyone else living in terror of the Home Office booklet that is shortly to be pushed through our collective letterboxes (at a cost, I might add, of £8mill)?

In order to cope with the fear and anxiety caused by this pamphlet, I have constructed this mini guide to it's more prominent stupidities:

1) Once the delivery has been completed, interested people may order additional copies in alternative languages OR braille OR spoken word. Multiples are not permitted. There appears to be total blindness (as it were) towards the idea that a blind French person (as an example) might want a French copy in Braille.

2) I do like their slogan: "Go In, Stay In Tune In". So, exactly what most people do of an evening anyway. Although they do make the point that if the building you were about to enter itself is on fire then it might be an idea to find a different building, or at least wait for a bit, just till it stops smoking.

I might just print up a T-Shirt with the slogan on. Just to see the response.

3) Basic First Aid. So basic, it essentially says: Unless you know what you are doing, leave well alone.

4) "To prepare for an emergency, you should take the time to find out: [...] How to tune into your local radio station." In the event of an emergency the government will seize control of all local and national radio stations. I just hope they remember to give them back afterwards. I would hate to meet someone who does not already know how to tune a radio.

5) Among the items recommended to collect in the event of an emergency:

Torch, Radio and spare batteries (presumably in case the power goes off), Mobile Phone. Like, where the hell are you going to plug it in to recharge it if the
power is off?

Other items: Cash and Credit Cards (Of what use is a small piece of plastic in an emergency?).

6) The list of useful contact numbers include the 'Foreign and Commonwealth office'. Presumably in case the emergency is of such a scale that the only bits of the UK administration left standing are various foreign embassies (or are we trying to export our terror on holiday, too).

The only other point to mention is that there are seperate downloads for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Presumably this is due to slightly different phone numbers. But the version for Wales is twice the size. No prizes for guessing why. Yes, if you live in Wales you are required to download *both* the Welsh and the English versions. I hope you're on a free internet connection, guys.

CCW

Friday, July 23, 2004

Are you normal yet?

While not, strictly speaking, directly related to Mr Blunkett per se, the philosophy behind both these stories is in precisely the same barn...

The House of Lords says that DNA is to be indefinitely stored on national database, even for "people who have not been convicted of any crime". The "Lords said they could see no reason why anyone should object to the samples being stored in a database". Right.

Secondly, it looks like a new UK Passport System will gradually fuse with ID Cards (assumedly so that you won't actually notice it happening), and that the focus is on people, rather than passports themselves as currently happens.

So there's definitely going to be no function creep, no sir. A reminder: "...registrable facts are listed in the draft Bill to set limits on the types of information which may be held on the Register and do not include sensitive personal information such as medical records or religious opinions." Although such data may be linked to, a la passports, if of course, the government sees fit to define who gets to be tracked as those of, say, possibly extreme religious viewpoints, or of a potentially dangerous medical disposition, such as...


  • an individual dedicated to criticising the government's defence plans, thus disrupting the ability to fight this week's enemy

  • an individual that suffers from a "mind-altering" illness that prevents the sufferer from acting in a rational manner. Illnesses such as... oh, I don't know... diabetes? Road rage? Alcoholism?

  • an individual that exhibits odd emergent behaviour over time, indicating a potential societal outcast/danger

  • an individual with "defective" genes that show a tendency towards violence/particular sexual behaviour/extreme views

  • an individual with a "causal" history or environment that, statistically, will lead towards violence/particular sexual behaviour/extreme views



That's just off the top of my head.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

PM and Blunkett unite against crime

...although I'm left wondering which one is the dark, moody main crime-fighter, and which one has to wear lurid lycra tights and say irritating sidekick expressions.

"...focus on ... prevention"?

"And children as young as 10 could face on-the-spot fines for unruly behaviour. ... In a keynote speech Tony Blair said Britain was paying the price of the relaxation of values seen in the 1960s."

Remember kids, the only way to rule the country is with IRON STICKS. Society and environment isn't responsible for how people turn out at all - it's in their genes! Quick, burn the genes! Burn the genes! Next up: Only intelligent and polite people can be allowed to breed. Ha.

Monday, July 19, 2004

New Blog...

...just for the purposes of keeping a list of all the things I disagree with David Blunkett on. Usually whenever he makes it into the news with some over-hyped, heavy-handed "idea", I have to run around my room, do some exercises and have several cups of tea in order to calm down and think like a man again.

Take, for instance, his latest plan to track 5,000 criminals by satellite, as well as naming and "targeting" the worst (anti-social) offenders in 50 areas - no, wait, 60. No, 50. Gah, arsing article. Note with extroadinary gasping the sheer, luscious irony in the phrase ...they will be singled out under an expansion of the "Together" scheme.'' Does he really want us all to be "together", or does he just want us to throw the louts into stocks and throw turnips and pigs at them?

So bit by bit, I shall construct my views here on Blunkett, policing methods, and psychological causes of petty crime. Join me, in the adventure of a liiiiife-tiiiiime....