Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cracks appear in the ID ideal

Well, the news that ID cards will have to share old databases is well out and about. See also BBC and the Guardian, which also notes that foreigners living here will be forced to get ID'd, and has a handy timetable of events. Furthermore...
"Mr Reid said that it would also reduce the overall £5.4bn cost of the ID project but declined to give a new estimate, saying it would be reported to parliament next April."
In economic terms, this probably is about "doing something sensible", to quote Reid. And no, it's not a U-turn. What it is, however, should be considered quite blatant function creep: the scheme "voted for" under manifesto commitments (as ill-defined and vaguely publicised as it was) will have nothing whatsoever to do with the final scheme, as bit by bit each pillar of what defined it is taken away, as is happening here.

Bureaucracy has, perhaps, saved our bacon, at least. It is a sad day when one must choose between wasting a lot of money, and using public money to track an entire population, but given that choice, I'd rather waste the money on something that is useless at tracking, than to live in a state controlled from the very top. If democratic politics is a banner we no longer believe in (from all sides), then it seems that economic cracks (inefficiency) and technical loopholes (security flaws) will be the tool of choice in bringing such a scheme down.

The other great thing about this news is that it highlights the database side of the scheme, above and beyond the card aspect. People don't get this facet enough - nor can they, in a sense. The sheer volume of data and vast quantity of accesses to the database(s) should put the fear of all deities into people, but so far they've been blinded by their fear of terrorists and ghosts. By splitting the database into 3, attention should be drawn to which details, exactly, will be stored on each and (hopefully) just what data that is again.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Deliberately Exaggerated"

How is it that Rashid Raud, described as a "key suspect" in August, is now only facing charges of fraud and carrying explosives (possibly just hydrogen peroxide)? (Everyone's guilty of something.) Despite "indications of an Afghanistan-based Al-Qaeda connection" and "strict surveillance"?

What does this make of John Reid's claims at the time, that the "arrests have significantly disrupted the threat, yet we cannot be sure that the threat has been eliminated." The real question is, just what threat exists in the first place? Doesn't the inflated media coverage motivate the "other groups ... inspired to carry out their own attack"? Follow-up stories like this need to be made as public as the hype over the initial arrests, else we lapse into Reid's fundamentally flawed way of thinking:

"We must never make the mistake of thinking the danger of terrorism has passed."

The new terrorism-alert scale runs from Red (Terrorism very expected) to Black (Terrorism in progress), although the actual colour is permanently stuck somewhere in between, no matter what events occur. Question the reality of Reid, question the motives, question the fear you feel as you walk past that armed policeman. Question the news every time fresh reports of anti-terror arrests come in.

Be suspicious of them that seek suspects.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More on prediction

Clearing some tabs out... Slashdot article on Software Being Used To Predict Who Might Kill. Very reminiscent of the recent similar list-building in London, and I guess this is the way of the future, now that "responsibility" is on the way out.

The individual is dead.

Patient Care?

Chicken Yoghurt picked up on the govt's arrogance over NHS patients' privacy the other day. This is the sad truth fo the present UK:
It looks, once again, that we’ll have to put our faith in governmental incompetence and hope the system never sees the light of day in full ‘working’ order.