Saturday, May 01, 2004
The NYT are reporting that the FBI were given millions of passenger records by airlines in the says after the September 11th tragedies. Seems like a pretty sensible course of action for the FBI to request such records given the circumstances. They used subpoenas, so it was all above board. The only question, I guess, is regarding the boundaries of the request and the quantity of information handed over. Apparently at least one airline provided a year's worth of records.
Monday, April 26, 2004
The ID card draft bill is proposing to create quite a few new offenses, like disobeying an order from the Secretary of State. I hope one of the draftsmen have put that in as a joke to test how well this thing is going to get scrutinised? Think of it - in a democracy there could actually be an offense of refusing to follow the orders of a public servant. It also includes little incentives like a £2500 fine every time someone fails to turn up for an appointment for a biometrics scan (Section 6(4)). Jailtime for having someone else's card in your possession (don't offer to look after a friend's belongings whilst they respond to the call of nature then). All this draconian stuff is just an initial extreme pitch, so that Mr Blunkett can be seen to be making "reasonable concessions" when the actual law gets passed. Simon Davies of Privacy International is right - this whole shambles is a "disgrace to democracy."
A draft bill for a national ID card is online. There are lots of stories round about the ID card in the UK press today. Ministers are peddling the usual propaganda in favour and by and large journalists are lapping it up unquestioningly. Regarding the test progamme with ten thousand volunteers I have mixed feelings. I'm irritated with it because it's a waste of money and primarily a PR exercise. But at the same time I think it's a good idea because proponents and ordinary people, to whom the idea is intuitively and superficially attractive, will finally get to see how bad this 'state of the art', 'impossible to fool' biometric technology is in reality. The Australians did an ID card trial in the 90s and quietly abandoned the notion, having discovered how many problems it caused. Let's hope the UK version goes the same way
On the day that the UK government launch their controversial pilot national ID card scheme with ten thousand volunteers, Privacy International have released an interim report on a study of the connection between ID cards and preventing terrorism. Not surprisingly, "Mistaken Identity; Exploring the Relationship Between National Identity Cards & the Prevention of Terrorism" concludes that ID cards do not help to prevent terrorism.