Sunday, 30 March 2008

The Met's Counter Terrorism Campaign

Details of the lunacy now endemic in the governing institutions of our society - the Metropolitan Police's five-week 'anti-terrorism' campaign targetting innnocent photographers, etc. Read it on BoingBoing and check out the Met's own site, complete with poster images, radio ad and copy of printed ad.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Complaint Against Fingerprinting At Heathrow

The organisation Privacy International have lodged a complaint against Heathrow who are planning to fingerprint passengers, both international and domestic. Story here.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Govt Minister For 'Education' Gets Rough Ride At Conference

Jim Knight (I had to check his name, since they're all faceless, characterless clones these days), an 'education' minister, got a bit of a rough ride at a teachers' and lecturers' conference this week for suggesting large class sizes could be manageable (with a bit of help from undertrained, underpaid teaching assistants - as opposed to more teachers).

Despite Tony Blair's ancient declaration about education, the word no longer appears in the title of the appropriate government department. These days it's the Department for
Children, Schools and Families.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Thousands Of Military ID Cards Lost

The government wants us each of us to have an ID card yet its own Ministry of Defence can't even keep hold of its own cards: here.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

The Real Identity Theft

Id cards are the real theft of identity, plus the pixie dust of computers (which always go wrong); in The Times. As amply demonstrated when I tried to post this entry from my bed.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Press Release From Home Office About ID Scheme

Here's the text of the press release put out by the Home Office concerning their plans for a British police State:


al Identity Scheme Delivery Plan Published

6 March 2008

The scheme will begin in November this year with introduction of identity cards for non-EEA foreign nationals; initially starting with categories most at risk of abuse, which include foreign nationals seeking to enter or remain in the UK as a student or on a marriage visa.

Fingerprints will be collected from foreign nationals before they are issued with a card, which will show the details of the holder’s immigration status and entitlements - whether they are allowed to work or access benefits, and how long they can stay in the UK.

Within three years all foreign national applying for leave to enter or remain in the UK will be required to have a card, with around 90 per cent of foreign nationals in Britain covered by the scheme by 2014/15.

From 2009, the scheme will be extended to UK citizens. The first ID cards will be issued to people working in specific sensitive roles or locations where verification of identity will enhance the protection of the public. This will start in the second half of 2009, with the issuing of identity cards to those working airside in the country's airports.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly will jointly chair a meeting of industry representatives to ensure the smooth introduction of these new measures.

From 2010 young people will be able, on a voluntary basis, to get an identity card, which will assist them in proving their identity as they open their first bank account, take out a student loan or start employment. Later that year the scheme will be opened to voluntary applicants of any age.

From 2011/12, all passport applicants will also be registered on the scheme as they apply for the new biometric passports containing fingerprints.

British citizens enrolled on the National Identity Register will be able to choose whether to have a passport or an ID card or both. This will enable an accelerated roll-out of the scheme and, alongside steps to work with the private sector in delivery, could result in savings worth around £1bn.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:

“The Government’s National Identity Scheme means that for the first time UK residents will have a single way to secure and verify their identity. We will be able to better protect ourselves and our families against identity fraud, as well as protecting our communities against crime, illegal immigration and terrorism. And it will help us to prove our identity in the course of our daily lives - when travelling, for example, or opening a bank account, applying for a new job, or accessing government services.

“I want as many people as possible to enjoy the two key benefits of the National Identity Scheme – improved protection and greater convenience. And I want them to be able to choose how they participate in the Scheme as well – whether to have a passport or an ID card or both - so that they can enjoy its benefits as quickly as possible.”

The National Identity Register will hold a small amount of personal biographic details separately from biometric fingerprints and photographs, making it incredibly difficult for anyone to steal or exploit another’s identity.

The Government has already proved its ability to deliver a sound basis for the National Identity Scheme. Fingerprinting is already required for visa applicants to the UK and over ten million British e-passports have been issued since the end of 2006, containing an encrypted digital version of the holder’s personal details and a photograph on a secure chip.

Notes to Editors

1. The National Identity Scheme Delivery Plan 2008 can be found at:

2. Most recent public polling of attitudes to the National Identity Scheme can be found at:

3. Introducing Compulsory Identity Cards for Foreign Nationals is available on the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) website at:

4. Identity cards for foreign nationals subject to immigration control are known in legislation as biometric immigration documents. Powers obtained to issue the documents were part of the UK Borders Act 2007. Under these plans those foreign nationals here on short term visas are excluded.

5. A consultation on the code of practice for the introduction of civil penalties, issued last month, sets out the sanctions those foreign nationals who fail to comply with the scheme will face. These could range from a hefty fine to removal from the UK. The consultation can be found at:

6. After a pilot project in the spring, ten per cent of foreign nationals will be issued with identity cards by 2009/10. 50 per cent will receive identity cards by 2011/12 with 90 per cent coverage by 2014/15.

Mrs Pudding Face Doesn't Know A Dick From A Dongle

Here at Charters & Caldecott we often amuse ourselves with scurrilous and irreverent (ie schoolboy) humour, hence the soubriquet for Mrs Smith, our ineffable Home Secretary. Mrs Pudding Face.

We thought Mrs Pudding Face's comments yesterday about government databases being safe because they were 'not online' were very revealing. Is that term 'not online' applicable to the 25 million records of electronic data relating to Child Benefit which were lost in the post recently?

Mr David Hughes points this out quite succinctly in The Telegraph (ignore some of the more idiotic bloggers' comments that follow). Truly, she knoweth not a dick from a dongle (as we suspect is the case with most MPs).

The truth is Mrs Smith is just rubber-stamping whatever dross is dumped on her desk and is then being briefed by her department's PR trolls as to what weasel words to repeat to the supine British media.

Additional items:

* Mrs Pudding Face's speech about her brilliant progress on the ID card scheme to Demos, one of those 'think-tank' doodahs so beloved of modern politicians, was apparently received with a less than torrid interest.

* Doctors and teachers first in line for requiring ID cards.

Time for another cup of Darjeeling.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Australians Chuck Out ID Card Scheme

The incoming Labour government in Australia chucked out a controversial ID card scheme that the previous Howard administration had been trying to foist on the people. God bless the Aussies! (Apart from when they play cricket, of course).

More Lies About UK ID Cards

Jacqui Smith, the government's Apparatchik-In-Chief for Lying to the British Public About Data Collection (ie Home Secretary) let slip something interesting this morning in an interview on BBC TV about the new measures to introduce ID cards.

She talked about 'offering' cards from 2010 to young people (mainly students). The official line so far has been that this will be to 'help' them open a bank account or get a student loan and apparently nothing else. This morning she inadvertently also mentioned 'renting a new flat'.

Members of the British media are not always as well-informed or astute as they should be, so this little slip went unchallenged. What it reveals, however, is that the government intends to make the use of ID cards necessary on far more occasions than they are admitting to. If a young person needs a card in order to 'rent a new flat', then what else will they suddenly find they need one for? Buying booze? A car? A computer? A mobile phone?

The HO also maintains that there will be no compulsion for young people to have an ID card. It's virtually impossible to exist without a bank account these days, especially if you're young, so it would seem that ID cards will be necessary, therefore de facto 'compulsory'.

It's called 'doublespeak'. 'Telling lies' is a more down-to earth description.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

MPs Reject EU Treaty Referendum

MPs reject a call for a referendum on EU 'treaty', breaking an election promise made in 2005.

Cretins, Criminals, Cards and Disks

(This entry was originally posted elsewhere in December 2007, but it's still relevant...)

When one government or leader is replaced by another the most you can hope for is that new one will be better than the last simply by not being as bad. Unfortunately this is rare.

Gordon Brown for a brief moment had the benefit of not being Tony Blair, but that glory has now vanished as a result of various events, the most recent being the embarrassment of HM Revenue and Customs losing two disks containing private details of millions of people 'in the post'. The postal service is run by the government, as well, and is suffering from the same cretinous attempts to be 'improved'. Improvements usually mean job losses and reductions in services, hence the gradual decrease in things you can do at a Post Office and the inevitable reduction in the number of POs throughout the country. This used to be called 'rationalisation'. No doubt there is another fashionable word for it.

Mr Brown thought it would be a good idea to merge two government departments when he was Chancellor - the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise. Presumably he thought the major benefit would be that of saving money by sacking thousands of civil servants and making the remaining ones do twice as much work for the same pay. This, after all, is the way the private sector works and, unfortunately, since Thatcher injected the poisonous ethos of the marketplace into the public services over two decades ago, the whole of British govenment and society seems to have suffered a sea-change in its moral DNA. In keeping with this attitude ordinary people just become mechanicals whose only reason for existence is on the one hand, simply to work as much as they are told (in the private sector for the profit of a small number of beneficiaries) and on the other to spend as much as they can. In the marketplace your only value is monetary; in the public sector your only value is obedience.

The government will no doubt keep trying to lay the blame for the lost disks (and there are now other cases) on 'junior' officials - as if they would have the ability to say to the superiors "Is it really a good idea to send sensitive information by post?" and not be told to fuck off, that's the way we always do it. With regard to the child benefit case, it also appears that HMRC wouldn't supply the non-sensitive data that were being requested by the Audit Office because of the cost of extrapolating them from existing records, and so sent the whole lot.

Lest you should think this is just a matter of incompetent politicians and their civil servants, however, just remember that in June the Bank of Scotland lost data concerning over 60,000 customers in a similar way. Banks are a bunch of thieves and con-merchants, as the current fiasco over Northern Rock clearly reveals. Tax-payers are now covering the losses incurred by ambitious and greedy directors, who will walk away into new well-paid jobs, with their wallets and pension funds bulging.

Plus ca change... However, I have one last point, one that flows from the above. More than any previous government, this one has proved most zealous in its desire to snoop on and gather information about its citizens. The most high-profile example is its persistence in pushing ahead with ID cards (though they don't call them that any more - be prepared to hear about the 'National Identity Register' instead - that is, if you hear anything at all). I don't have the will power to go through the whole thing here, so check out the following website (No2ID) for full details, etc. The government say they want everyone to have an ID card because this will prevent fraud, help stop terrorism, etc, etc (Blunkett when he was Home Secretary blathered on about it being an 'entitlement card', which is about as double-speak Stalinist as you can get. Good riddance, you cretin).

All of which is blatant nonsense, as a moment's thought will show. It certainly won't have any effect on anyone who wants to commit terrorist acts. It will, however, actually increase crime and fraud - the criminals are smarter than the politicans, for one thing, and the technology for forging identities is easy to access for another.

Here are some other plain, old-fashioned reasons for opposing the introduction of ID cards and associated data collection and ID schemes:

* it will cost far more than the politicians say it will - and we will end up paying for the privilege of being snooped on;
* the technology won't work: the politicos will pepper their statements with references to 'secure systems' and 'biometrics' (that's a favourite one) but the fact is that most politicians don't know their mouse from a dongle (in the same way they don't know anything about television, since they never watch it except to see themselves); as the current fiascos show, it's easier now to 'lose' data than it ever was in the days of paper; 'biometrics' is by no means reliable; and the technology simply won't be up to scratch. Neither will the software. Neither will the staff training;
* the system won't work: people will vanish from the register unaccountably, others will be declared dead while still alive and the dead will suddenly return to the world of the living; people will find themselves older, or younger, or with someone else's name, address or identity - and they will be held responsible for the error, without being able to correct it;
* the system will be open to abuse and error: too many non-governmental agencies will have access to YOUR private data, including your medical records: data will be lost, mis-typed, stolen, altered, sold.

Etc, etc.

The legislation for all these measures is being slipped through bit by bit. These bastards can't be trusted. If you live in the UK this will be your problem. If you're young enough, you always could emigrate somewhere more civilised (not the States, since they have problems with the Patriot Act and similar anti-civil-liberties legislation already operating) - just make sure you do it while can afford it - and the government lets you.

Pour me another whisky, nurse...