Campaign group NO2ID [1] says a provision tacked on to the Digital Economy Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech hides “a revolution in government”, “a Whitehall coup”. Little notice has so far been taken of the bland-sounding “use of data to deliver government services” [2], but the underlying proposals [3] would create new rules for information about individuals and companies held by government. Information given in confidence for one purpose, could be later taken by officials and used for another, without any specific political or legal authority.[5] This is to be embedded in a Bill mainly concerned with broadband provision and internet regulation. Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID said: The idea that information we give to government stops being ours and starts being official property won’t go away. In 2009 the last Labour administration sneaked something similar into the Coroners and Justice Bill – and had to withdraw it […]

“Whitehall coup” hidden in Queen’s Speech – Press Release

The Investigatory Powers Bill has been introduced to parliament in an attempt by the Home Office to rush it through the Commons before the European referendum. Contained within the Bill are new and broadly drafted powers that would enable police and intelligence to have general warrants to demand data from any organisation that stores it, and match, mine, share, and cross-reference it. Guy Hebert General Secretary of NO2ID says “These sweeping powers are in addition to the existing self-authorised powers over communications data for specific investigations already granted to a wide range of public bodies. General warrants could specify broad types of information and purposes, leaving the security forces free to demand any information from anyone about anyone as suits their mass surveillance brief. That’s so vague as to cover anything, from the computer network at your child’s school, to shopping records, details of phone downloads, messaging, or CCTV records” […]

Database state: authorities could demand your data from any organisation …

  NO2ID Press Release – IMMEDIATE 4th November 2015 The new draft surveillance bill is like an iceberg, with a vast bulk of technical change obscured beneath the surface, according to civil liberties organisation NO2ID[1]. Theresa May presented the Investigatory Powers Bill [2] to parliament today as a measure “consolidating and updating our investigatory powers, strengthening the safeguards”. But it amounts to a dramatic alteration in the powers already available not just to the intelligence services, but to police, tax inspectors, and officials and regulators in almost every department of state [3]. It replaces several pieces of complex and technical legislation. Guy Herbert General Secretary for NO2ID, said: “I would have more sympathy for the Home Secretary if she did not resort to glib hypotheticals about kidnapped children. This is not a proposed bill that is easy to understand or straightforward in effect.” “The much trumpeted change in oversight focuses […]

NO2ID on IP Bill: Government expects parliament to swallow an …

The creepy extent to which folk at GCHQ have been monitoring and spying on all web users has been revealed in leaked documents on operation ‘Karma Police’. The documents published by The Intercept demonstrate that the UK government’s listening service GCHQ was building a “web browsing profile for every visible user on the internet”. James Baker NO2ID Campaigns Manager said: “Sensitive meta data can be used to build up a profile of the websites you visit. If you’ve ever sought marriage guidance, googled medical conditions or viewed pornography then chances are this programme will have used that information to build up a profile about you. “This is out of control surveillance which demonstrates that ,more than ever, we need independent judicial oversight of government surveillance powers.” These surveillance powers are a typical example of a database state, which is the term we use to describe the tendency of governments to […]

GCHQ surveillance powers – less ‘Karma Police’ and more ’Creep’

Last month we learnt that government officials were planning a digital ‘vault’. Entirely unlike the National Identity Register the ‘vault’ would store people’s addresses, phone numbers, tax details, where they are registered to vote, driving records and benefit claims, as well as information about their mortgages, pensions and bank accounts. The scheme would be voluntary, although probably in about the same way as agreeing to a credit check is voluntary e.g. not if you ever want a financial service again. An on-line poll hosted by the Telegraph says that 82% of people wouldn’t sign up to such a service. Of course we all know on-line polls are not really that representative of public opinion, but it isn’t surprising that people might have some issue with all their financial details being stored in a single place. Even those in the ‘nothing to hide’ camp who don’t grasp the dangers of surveillance will have […]

Telegraph poll – 82% of people wouldn’t sign up …

“The current proposals which are being consulted on represent a bigger threat to Scottish privacy than the UK wide Identity Card system proposed by the last government in Westminster.” – Guy Herbert, General Secretary, NO2ID What’s the issue? Currently the Scottish Government and National Records of Scotland (NRS) are consulting on proposals to change regulations that govern what personal information is stored on the National Health Service Central Register (“the NHSCR”), and who that information can be shared with. This consultation is entitled “Consultation on proposed amendments to the National Health Service Central Register (Scotland) Regulations 2006” . What’s the Problem with this? The consultation proposes increasing the information held on the NHSCR to include more detailed postcode and address information. It also proposes to allow a whole host of Scottish public bodies (around 120) access to this information. Examples of the bodies who would have access to this information include […]

Parliamentary briefing – Creation of a Scottish National Identity Register

The government of Dubai (prop. the Al Nahyan family) has some excuses for its ID scheme that are eerily familiar, if even more extravagant than we are used to. This from DubaiCityGuide.com: EIDA [Emirates Identity Authority] has been given responsibility for introducing a modern Population Register and ID Card system, which will further the country’s efforts towards the provision of a secure environment for citizens and expatriate residents of the UAE. It is designed to keep personal identities secured from fraudulent or unauthorized use, support government planning services, enhance economic growth and place the UAE in the front ranks of the information technology age.

UAE Identity Authority launches 2nd phase of ID Card & …

Also from the Standing Committee debate. The Minister encapsulates the Bill. Alastair Carmichael MP had pointed out that fixing names in the register is difficult when names are so variable, his own being Alexander on his birth certificate: Regarding the legal issues raised by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland—something-or-other Carmichael, but that is his business—there are other legal elements in Scottish and English law that need to prevail. The hon. Gentleman should not worry; we will tell him in the end what his name is. Joking? Not very funny, is it?

Mr McNulty on the Bill

The neatest characterisation of the lackadaisical approach being promoted by the Government, in its attempt to draw the powers conferred by the Idntity Card Bill as widely as possible, comes from Edmund Garnier in the Standing Committee debate: The Bill is designed to print across our foreheads a human barcode. Those who do not wish to understand the seriousness of what the Bill represents in terms of the change in the culture and society in which we live are failing in their duties as representatives of the public.

Edmund Garnier QC MP on the Bill

NEWS.com.au reports that the Australian Attorney-General has ruled out a national ID card because it would increase the dangers of identity theft: Mr Ruddock told a security technology conference in Sydney today a national ID card could actually compromise Australians’ security. “We haven’t supported an approach where all personal information is centralised on one database and a single form of identification is used,” Mr Ruddock told the gathering of government, security and business leaders. “Such an approach could actually increase the risk of identity fraud because only one document would need to be counterfeited to establish an identity.” Can someone explain this to Mr Clarke?

Australia rules out national ID database

Columnist Henry Porter, writing in the print edition of the Evening Standard relates the scheme to the research he did for his new novel on the Stasi surveillance systems in the “democratic” (according to the official ideology) part of late 20th century Germany. He writes: So, what is the point of a scheme that is likely to cost £18 billion over 10 years? Well, it means the government will know who you are, where you live and what you’re doing-exactly like the East Germans.

“You will be a number, not a free man”

This article in the New Statesman carries a deadly quote. The Government usually likes to quote unnamed officials from the security forces, as a means of getting second-hand, unchallengeable authority. “Public opinion likes the idea of ID cards because it seems like the ultimate solution to all known problems,” says Brian Gladman, retired director of strategic electronic communications at the Ministry of Defence. “But actually, the way this bill is designed enables a police state. You’re not going to be allowed to opt out of having an ID card, the linked databases make detailed tracking feasible, and a system with this combination of complexity and scale is way beyond the state of the art. It won’t be reliable or safe. Anybody with access to the database will be able to target anybody. It’s horrendous what you’ll be able to do.”

From the horse’s mouth

Heise Online reports Data protection officer calls for a moratorium on biometric passports Yesterday, Germany’s Data Protection Officer Peter Schaar took the occasion of the presentation of the first progress report since he took office in December of 2003 to criticize the German government’s plans to include biometric features in passports this autumn as “premature”. Biometrics, he warned, would often not be able to fulfill expectations. Scientific studies and application tests have shown, he explained, that biometrics often does not work as reliably as required for blanket use.

Germany – Biometric passports premature

For those of who have wondered how under-cover policing will work, when “anyone entering a false identity on the database would be stuck with it”, Bruce Schneier picks up an interesting story from US law enforcement. Ohio Agents Use Woman’s Identity in Strip-Bar Sting The original Associated Press story is here. Supporters of Ohio’s identity theft law are livid that state liquor control agents gave a college student the driver’s license and Social Security number of another woman so she could pose as a stripper for a sting. One supposes a Home Secretary might authorise such things under the powers he would have under the failed Bill to alter any individual record by order. But that still leaves other legitimate under-cover activities with problems. For example. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

State-Sponsored Identity Theft

The BBC reports Trial ID card scheme is withdrawn. This isn’t the Passport Service’s famous vanishing biometric trial, but a Cornish experiment using smart cards for access to local services. Cornish Key is operated by a partnership of local district and county councils. North Cornwall District Council is one of the partners and spokesman Paul Masters believes the card was far from practical. He says the failure of the smart technology in Cornwall needs to be addressed if a future government were to use it for national identity cards. A recent review of the project concluded that the card used in the pilot was not affordable in the longer term. We hope someone lets erstwhile Battersea MP Martin Linton know. Mr Linton is an enthusiast for “smart” identity cards that would double as library cards.

Not-so-smart cards