Monthly Archives: September 2011

Public Servant magazine reports shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper’s speech to the Labour Party conference, in which she said: Conference, the police need strong powers to cut crime – alongside strong checks and balances to guard against abuse. But behind the rhetoric the Tories are making it harder for the police to do their job. Making it harder for the councils to use CCTV. Abolishing ASBOs, replacing them with weak injunctions the police can’t enforce. Voting to water down counter-terror powers so we can’t ban terror suspects from London in Olympic year. And Conference, this is the Tory government that wants to slash the DNA database despite the fact that it helped catch rioters, and it helps solve thousands of crimes each year. In ten days time they plan to vote to take 17,000 suspected rapists off the database, despite the evidence from the police and Rape Crisis that this […]

Work with the police, don’t undermine them

Dick Vinegar writes in his “Pateient from Hell” blog at the Guardian: I sometimes feel I am on my own in arguing that the Summary Care Record, handled properly, would increase my own safety and that of most other patients. I see myself as a gallant little fighter against the serried ranks of clinical SCR-naysayers, security obsessives and 19th century-style doctor/patient confidentiality ostriches.

A charitable interpretation of electronic health records

Andrew Hough writes in the Daily Telegraph: A multi-billion pound IT project started by Labour to link all parts of the NHS is to be abandoned, it will be announced on Thursday. Ministers will say the ill-fated £11.4 billion National Programme for IT, set up by Labour in 2002, is to be “urgently dismantled” following criticism that it is not value for taxpayers’ money. Following an official review, the “one size fits all” project will be replaced by cheaper regional schemes allowing local health trusts and GPs to develop or buy individual computer systems to suit their needs.

Disastrous £11.4bn NHS IT programme to be abandoned

Wendy Grossman writes in her net.wars blog about the long-term impact of the West’s response to the events of 11th September 2011: The UK in particular has spent much of the last ten years building the database state, creating dozens of large databases aimed at tracking various portions of society through various parts of their lives. Some of this has been dismantled by the coalition, but not all. The most visible part of the ID card is gone – but the key element was always the database of the nation’s residents, and as data-sharing between government departments becomes ever easier, the equivalent may be built in practice rather than by explicit plan. In every Western country CCTV cameras are proliferating, as are surveillance-by-design policies such as data retention, built-in wiretapping, and widespread filtering. Every time a new system is built – the London congestion charge, for example, or the mooted […]

The world at ten

Kathleen Hall writes in Computer Weekly: The success of the government’s “digital by default” agenda, a central drive in its ICT strategy, will depend to a large extent on how comfortable the public feels in transmitting personal data online. Identity assurance (IDA) will play a central role for the government in delivering digital public services – seen as an important way to cut the cost of the public sector. IDA is the process citizens will need to go through to verify who they are to access public services online. Part of the government’s remit under the IDA project is to create a market of private sector identity assurance services to enable access. Individuals will be given the option to choose a certified private sector company to assure their identity, which will be used to confirm their personal data, in a manner analogous to how an e-commerce provider turns to credit […]

Identity assurance – how it will affect public services and ...

Investigative reporter Duncan Campbell writes in The Register, reflecting how 9/11 has torpedoed resistance to intrusion and undermined privacy rights born of earlier struggles. He includes a section on ANPR: Twenty-five years ago, Independent science correspondent Steve Connor and I wrote a tome about Britain’s Databanks and the effect of growing data processing on civil society. Steve had located Britain’s first ever vehicle Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) device, a washing-machine-sized contraption planted on a motorway bridge near St Albans. It heralded the potentially tyrannical ultimate development of a nationwide movement surveillance. We both reached for and proclaimed words from early reviews of data protection laws that had warned that new sensors and new software such as free text retrieval (FTR) raised “new dimensions of unease”. A quarter-century on, these words are all but unsayable. The thoughts no longer fit the world. Every sort of record is analysed in every […]

9/11: The day we lost our privacy and power

According to Car Finance: Only 7% of drivers have checked whether their car is correctly listed as insured on the Motor Insurance Database website AskMID, a survey by the AA suggests. Some 93% haven’t bothered to check the site which is used to compare insurance details with DVLA data. Since June, you have had to either continuously insure a car or declare that it’s not on the road with a SORN – statutory off road notice. A survey of AA members found only 20% knew AskMID existed. This is even though the Motor Insurers’ Bureau has advertised it and leaflets are sent out with tax disc renewals. The danger, says the AA, is that unless drivers check the information, mistakes can occur which could result in them being stopped by the police.

Drivers have no idea about insurance database

Kathleen Hall writes in Computer Weekly: The government will not be using Facebook as part of its Digital Identity Assurance project – a key platform in the Cabinet Office drive to get more citizens accessing public sector services online – because Whitehall does not trust the way the social network uses customer data. Digital Identity Assurance (DIA) will be the means through which citizens electronically provide their personal details to access government services, as more transactions move to a “digital by default” model. The project is to be provided by a range of private sector organisations to enable users to choose which company they wish to transmit their details through. But despite previous speculation, Facebook will not be involved. “Facebook is one organisation that we haven’t spoken to, because we are concerned about what they may do with people’s data,” Bill McCluggage, deputy government CIO, told Computer Weekly. “We are […]

Facebook is not trusted to provide government ID system

Linda Geddes writes in New Scientist: Peter Hamkin was pulling pints in a bar in Merseyside, UK, in 2003, when he was arrested on suspicion of murdering a woman in Italy a year earlier. Italian police had requested a search of the UK DNA database and claimed he was a perfect match, and that he fitted witness descriptions of the murderer. After a 20-day ordeal, a second DNA test ruled Hamkin out and he was released without charge. Human rights groups and scientists are concerned that mix-ups like this may happen more often once the Prüm Treaty to create a super-network of European DNA databases is implemented. Interpol already facilitates limited exchange of forensic data between European countries. The new treaty is intended to simplify and speed up this process by making the exchange of information on DNA profiles, fingerprints and vehicle licences more routine. A number of countries, including […]

DNA super-network increases risk of mix-ups