Monthly Archives: June 2011

Mark Ballard writes on the Computer Weekly web site: The £3bn trade in tip-offs about people caught in car accidents has exposed the seedy side of the personal data market. Seedier still are draft government plans to cash in on this bonanza when it ought to be sticking to the Tory manifesto promise to give people a right to call the shots over their own personal data. Plans to replace Labour’s ID scheme with a private sector system of identity assurance, which Computer Weekly revealed Cabinet Office had floated to industry in April, have led inevitably to a proposal for the private sector to become more active as custodians of people’s personal data as well. This is already happening to a large extent but, much to people’s dismay, the private sector seems less interested in being custodian than exploiter. He concludes: The government needs to act quickly to carry its […]

How Gov aimed to exploit personal data trade

Computing magazine reports: The Home Office has refused to back down in the face of a concerted campaign from Labour MPs to retain the DNA profiles of suspects, who are not subsequently convicted, on the DNA database. Junior Home Office minister James Brokenshire accused Labour MPs demanding continued retention of the records of being “very casual with people’s liberties”. He added: “They seem to assume that simply because someone is arrested for a crime, they are guilty. We take a different view.” He said it would remain possible for the police, in cases where an individual is arrested for a sexual offence such as rape, but not subsequently charged, to apply to a new biometrics commissioner for the retention of the DNA profile for three years. Brokenshire insisted: “The government’s approach is based on putting on the national DNA database more people who are guilty of crimes, rather than those […]

Home Office will not back down on DNA database

The Daily Mail reports: Patient records are to be stored on the internet for the first time prompting concern confidential data could be vulnerable to attacks by hackers. The NHS is trialing a new way of storing patient’s medical records which could spell the end of paper records kept at individual GP surgeries. From next month Chelsea and Westminster Hospital will pilot the scheme for two years – storing data in an online ‘computing cloud’ in cyberspace. It is hoped the scheme will one day allow doctors to access a patient’s notes from anywhere in the world. However, it has prompted fears over data security and the whether the information could be targeted by internet hackers.

Fears patient records are vulnerable to hacker attack as NHS ...

Helen Gibson writes in Progress magazine: One of the first coalition policies to be announced in 2010 was a plan to grant anonymity to men accused of committing rape. This had not been a policy in either the Tory of Liberal Democrat manifesto, and yet appeared to be cooked up by the cabal of eight white men who drew up the coalition agreement. Mercifully, with a lot of lobbying from women MPs and women’s organisations the plans were dropped. Women do not seem to be safe however, as, month after month, new proposals are introduced which threaten to turn back the clock on women’s rights, and even our safety, with alarming consequences. The latest announcement is that the government will force police to stop holding the DNA of those arrested for rape, but not charged. The naive presumption, one assumes, is that the government believes if you are not charged […]

U-turn again

Jerry Fishenden writes in Computer Weekly: The government’s new identity assurance strategy is a significant and welcome change of direction. Until last year, the Identity Cards Act sought to provide government with monopoly ownership of our identity. But now the Act has been repealed and proposals brought forward to let us choose our own identity provider in an open marketplace of trusted providers. In the future we could find ourselves authenticating to government services using our own choice of ID, such as a bank card or mobile phone – or perhaps even an ID issued by a “Big Society” mutual or social enterprise. This “new” approach is not in fact entirely new. The UK government tried something similar during the late 1990s, working closely with third-party ID providers such as Royal Mail, Barclays, NatWest and the British Chamber of Commerce. Citizens and businesses could use such third-party IDs to authenticate […]

Back to the future with government ID plans

Alex Massie writes in the Spectator: For all the talk of Cameron and his grasp of detail the fact remains that Miliband may, as Swot of the Lower Fourth, have the nuts and bolts but he’s wrong – hopelessly, utterly wrong – on policy. To recap, today he asked the Prime Minister: “Around 5,000 people each year are arrested on suspicion of rape and not charged … in certain cases these individuals have gone on to commit further offences and be convicted as a result of the DNA being held on the national database, but his proposal is that for those arrested and not charged the DNA would be disposed of straight away. “I ask him again, why is it right to discard the DNA of those arrested but not charged with rape? Because, my dear boy, it is wrong for the state to treat the innocent as though they […]

Miliband May Know the Detail But His Policies Are Wrong

Alan Travis writes in The Guardian: The European commission’s own lawyers have warned that a joint US-European agreement to store the personal data, including credit card details, of millions of transatlantic air passengers for 15 years is unlawful. The confidential legal opinion, passed to the Guardian, says the agreement to allow the US department of homeland security to store airline check-in data is “not compatible with fundamental rights”. The note by the commission’s legal service, dated 16 May, says it has “grave doubts” that the passenger name record (PNR) deal, now being finalised, complies with the fundamental right to data protection. The official legal opinion could prove crucial as the agreement, which has been negotiated by the commission with the US, needs the approval of the European parliament as well as ministers. Leaked details of an EU ambassadors’ meeting last week showed the French, Germans, Italians, Dutch and others are […]

Air passenger data plans in US-EU agreement are illegal, say ...

Mark Hughes writes in the Daily Telegraph: The personal details of 15 million people, a quarter of the population of Britain, will be held on a new police database which will include information about victims of crime, it has emerged. The Police National Database, which will be launched by ministers next week, will hold the records up to six million apparently innocent people, including every victim of sexual assault and domestic violence. All 43 police forces in England and Wales and other law enforcement agencies will be able to access the database, which is intended to help detectives track criminals and their associates. Civil liberties groups and senior MPs yesterday expressed concern at the scale of the database and the number of people who will be able to access it. Apparently: The PND was set up following recommendations from a report into the Soham murders in 2002, when Ian Huntley […]

Quarter of UK population will be on new police database

Mark Ballard writes in Computer Weekly: The government is preparing to create a marketplace for citizens’ personal data to be used for accessing online public services, according to documents that were issued to industry in preparation for the coalition’s next-generation identity scheme. The plan, obtained by Computer Weekly, may prove highly controversial, as it offers only limited assurances over how much control people would have over how their data is used. The coalition intends to “create the commercial, legislative and regulatory environment” in which a private sector ID industry may thrive, it said in briefing papers sent to industry in April. The proposals would create a personal data marketplace populated by banks, phone companies, the Post Office and others that may involve government departments selling access to their own citizen databases. The government has proposed that it may join the market by selling data services to private ID companies and […]

Government to create market for personal identity data

According to Out-law news: A single agency will be in charge of three EU population-tracking databases under plans approved by EU ministers. The Council of Ministers have backed the creation of a centralised European agency that will manage the Schengen Information System (SIS), the Visa Information System (VIS) and the European Dactyloscopy (EURODAC), the Council said. The SIS allows countries to share information about people, such as whether there is a request for extradition out against them, or whether they are suspected of committing serious crimes. The database also contains information on lost or stolen goods, such as vehicles, firearms or identity papers. An upgraded version of the database is expected in 2013 which will contain new types of data and will be managed by the new agency if it is given final approval. The VIS database aims to help countries prevent criminals from fraudulently using visas belonging to others. […]

EU ministers back centralisation of population databases

SA Mathieson writes on the Guardian Professional web site: Three civil liberties groups have complained to the information commissioner about police plans to install ANPR cameras around Royston in Hertfordshire, claiming they are unlawful. No CCTV, Privacy International and Big Brother Watch say that they fear the project might foreshadow similar work across the country. “The use of ANPR by the police in the UK has not been as the result of any Parliamentary debate, Act of Parliament or even a Statutory Instrument,” they say in their complaint. The government is proposing a code of conduct on the use of ANPR, but the complaint says this would not be legally enforceable. Among other points, the groups argue that ANPR data is kept for too long, noting that police in Toronto only retain such information for 72 hours. It quotes a document from Hertfordshire police saying that images of vehicles are […]

Privacy groups take Royston’s ANPR plans to ICO

Kelly Fiveash writes in The Register: Facebook and other social networks could be used by British citizens to sign into public services online, The Register has learned. A Cabinet Office spokeswoman confirmed to us this morning that the department was speaking to “a range of industry” about its ID assurance scheme, a prototype for which is expected in October this year. Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said in the House of Commons last month that “people will be able to use the service of their choice to prove identity when accessing any public services [via the internet].” Companies such as banks that already hold personal customer information in their databases will be among private sector organisations involved in the new system. But social networks are also in the mix, too. The Cabinet Office spokeswoman didn’t want to offer specific details about individual companies such as Facebook and Google, instead preferring […]

Cabinet Office talks to Facebook & co about new ID ...

Patrick Hayes writes in Spiked: What is evident is that, despite the government’s claim that it is prioritising the freedom of the citizen, it does not actually take privacy seriously. In a draft of the government’s Identity Assurance Service Description seen by spiked, it says that privacy concerns will only be taken into consideration as one small part of this scheme – they will be ‘structured around an agreed set of principles’ at a later stage, the document says. Far from being at the heart of new data-sharing initiatives, as [Guy] Herbert puts it, privacy issues remain a ‘bolt on’. There is a degree of consultation with privacy groups such as NO2ID, but mainly to ‘discover what upsets us’ so that systems can be designed in a way that doesn’t ‘frighten the horses’. Notably one of the central reasons given for the Identity Assurance Service by the Cabinet Office is […]

Is this just ‘ID cards without the cards’?

David Owen writes in the Leicester Mercury: De Montfort University is looking to monitor students’ attendance using its wireless internet network. University bosses are considering putting electronic chips in students’ ID cards, which will be picked up by the network to check who is present at lectures and seminars. However, students have criticised the proposal, saying it is “Orwellian” and the equivalent of an “electronic tag” used for criminals. English language and media student Manisha Hellan, 19, said: “You come to university to be treated like an adult, not a child. As long as you get your work done, whether you go to lectures or not should be your choice. I understand the reasoning behind it but my concern is what else it could be used for – it’s a bit Big Brother.” Criminology student Pavin Sohal, 21, said: “It sounds a bit like having an electronic tag without having […]

Students’ concern over ‘Big Brother-style’ surveillance

Adam Leach writes on the Supply Management web site: The UK Border Agency still does not have a coherent plan on how to complete its e-borders project, even though new suppliers have been contracted to it. A report by the Home Affairs Committee said it remained deeply concerned over a “lack of clarity about the final shape of the scheme”. The project is designed to strengthen immigration controls by collecting and analysing information on people entering and leaving the UK. He says: The report added that requirements transport operators must adhere to are not practical, and this has still not been addressed by either the Border Agency or its suppliers satisfactorily. The Committee’s report, available here, also notes that UKBA still doesn’t know what to do about eBorders’ data-gathering being illegal in many EU countries where passengers begin their journeys to the UK: Moreover, as our predecessors reported, there have […]

Clarity needed to complete UK e-borders project