Friday, January 14, 2005

FBI to scrap expensive IS

The FBI are according to the Washington Post going to scrap a $170 million information system intended to help them fight terrorism and other serious crimes.

ACLU pizzas

The ACLU have a great audio-visual piece on the downside of single source access to all the electronic information held on us, from ID cards to health data. It's almost amusing.

Ron Avitzur

The story of how Ron Avitzur and Greg Robbins created Apple's graphing calculator is pretty remarkable.

The projects they were working on at Apple got cancelled and they were laid off but since their staff passes still got them into the building they kept coming in and working unpaid.

"Why did Greg and I do something so ludicrous as sneaking into an eight-billion-dollar corporation to do volunteer work? Apple was having financial troubles then, so we joked that we were volunteering for a nonprofit organization. In reality, our motivation was complex. Partly, the PowerPC was an awesome machine, and we wanted to show off what could be done with it; in the Spinal Tap idiom, we said, "OK, this one goes to eleven." Partly, we were thinking of the storytelling value. Partly, it was a macho computer guy thing - we had never shipped a million copies of software before. Mostly, Greg and I felt that creating quality educational software was a public service. We were doing it to help kids learn math. Public schools are too poor to buy software, so the most effective way to deliver it is to install it at the factory.

Beyond this lies another set of questions, both psychological and political. Was I doing this out of bitterness that my project had been canceled? Was I subversively coopting the resources of a multinational corporation for my own ends? Or was I naive, manipulated by the system into working incredibly hard for its benefit? Was I a loose cannon, driven by arrogance and ego, or was I just devoted to furthering the cause of education?

I view the events as an experiment in subverting power structures. I had none of the traditional power over others that is inherent to the structure of corporations and bureaucracies. I had neither budget nor headcount. I answered to no one, and no one had to do anything I asked. Dozens of people collaborated spontaneously, motivated by loyalty, friendship, or the love of craftsmanship. We were hackers, creating something for the sheer joy of making it work."

Thanks to John for the link.

Academic copyright

Elizabeth Townsend has started a sub blog:

"In the next few months, I will be posting stories I find about scholars and copyright. I encourage others to submit their experiences -- good and bad. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

- experiences gaining permissions (tips, struggles, etc)
- experiences with literary executors (good and bad)
- stories about deciding not to research something because of potential copyright roadblocks
- using public domain materials
- using international materials
- getting cease and desist letters regarding web materials
- stories about distance learning experiences
- questions on any copyright-related topics (specific questions welcome, specific scenarios welcome, although this would NOT constitute LEGAL ADVICE).
- rumors about copyright problems; tales you have heard from others about copyright problems."

As an engineer/technologist who has been trying in vain to wake my academic colleagues up to the importance to the education sector of developments in intellectual property , I'll be really pleased to see Elizabeth's stories develop rapidly in richness and reach.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Latest EDRI-gram issued

EDRI-gram - Number 3.1, 12 January 2005 has the latest round of EU digital rights stories, including one about Dutch police making instant use of a new law to fine people who don't produce IDs on demand.

"On 1 January 2005, a new law went into force in the Netherlands obliging everybody above the age of 14 to always show ID when asked. Dutch police has immediately started to use the new power by fining dozens of citizens for not being able to present a valid passport, drivers license or ID card. Most citizens were given double fines, for example for riding on a bicycle without proper illlumination, or hanging out in groups and thus presenting a possible threat to the 'public order'. In the city of Rotterdam alone, 20 fines were issued within the first 24 hours of the new obligation. Two of the first fines that became public have raised serious concerns about the actual intentions of the police with their new power.

A young man attended the new-year's reception of the municipality of Nijmegen, and held up a banner protesting against the policy to evict asylum seekers. He was arrested and asked to show ID. When he refused to do so, the police took him to the local police station and held him for several hours. In the end he was sent home without a fine, but his right to demonstrate was undermined completely.

A second incident was covered in the eight o' clock national TV news on 8 January 2004. A 14-year old girl in the municipality of Wijk en Aalburg was arrested in the very early hours of 1 January 2005 for not being able to show ID, together with 20 other kids. She spent 5 and a half hours in a police cell, without any indication of any possible misdemeanour other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Kazaa partners claim patent pn P2P

Altnet and Brilliant Ditial Entertainment are claiming patent on peer to peer technology and have written to other p2p companies encouraging them to "discuss licensing opportunities."

It was only a matter of time before we saw this. There is likely to be consolodation in the P2P market and the entertainment companies will deal with (or acquire) the winners to offer digital distribution chains.

Spy in the GPs surgery

Alice Miles at the Times thinks that the electronic patient record has far more worrying implications for personal privacy than that dreaded national ID card.

"The what? Quite. The NHS’s electronic patient record is already up and running. It contains basic demographic data — name, address, date of birth — for every person in the country. This year the system will “go live”, area by area, with more and more of a patient’s personal medical record added to it. It will be far more intrusive than an ID card. And hundreds of thousands of NHS employees will have access to it. Wave bye bye to patient confidentiality.

No system with that many users can be secure.

You may not even know it is happening. Local advertising campaigns will alert patients that the system is starting up in their area. If you fail to notice the adverts, your GP is under no obligation to inform you that he is about to post your most private details online."

Ross Anderson has been alerting us to the security issues with this for years.

Sacked blogger

The Guardian has an article on Waterstone's sacked blogger, Joe Gordon. It includes the extracts from the blog that probably got him sacked. I suspect, like many employers, Waterstones will have a policy on directing bad language at fellow employees, which may be how he got into difficulty. This was on his blog, however, on his own and not company time.

If Mr Gordon's appeal goes to a sensitive regional manager he may be ok but if he does get reinstated there may be some tension in the Edinburgh store for a while.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Waterstones sack employee over blog

Waterstones have apparently sacked an employee at their Edinburgh store due to his satirical blog writings. Author Richard Morgan has written to Waterstones to protest:

"I understand that this dismissal has been occasioned by comments on Joe's blog column, which I read on a regular basis and thus am familiar with. While I don't wish to interfere in company business, I have to say I think this bears comparison with taking disciplinary action based on private conversation overheard in a pub, and raises some disturbing issues of freedom of speech. Waterstones is, after all, a bookseller, whose stock in trade is the purveying of opinion, not all of it palatable to those concerned. You sell books which offer serious critique of the corporate environment and government, but do not expect to suffer punitive action from government or corporate quarters as a result. You sell books which criticise and satirise religious and political groups, but you do not expect to be firebombed by extremists as a result. Surely Joe has the right to let off steam in his free time without having to fear for his livelihood as a result."

French security researcher facing jail

According to this ZDNet report, a French security researcher, Guillaume Tena, is facing a jail sentence for finding and publishing flaws in Viguard antivirus software. The software vendor have sued him for intellectual property infringement and want him jailed and financial damages.

"Accoridng to Tena's Web site, his research "showed how the program worked, demonstrated a few security flaws and carried out some tests with real viruses. Unlike the advertising claimed, this software didn't detect and stop ?100 percent of viruses?."

Tena, who is currently a researcher for Harvard University in Massachusetts, said that Tegam responded in a "weird way" by first branding him a terrorist and then filing a formal complaint in Paris. During the resulting tribunal, Tena said the judge decided that because the published exploits included some re-engineered source code from Viguard?s software, he had violated French copyright laws...

On Tena's Web site, he claims that If independent researchers are not allowed to freely publish their findings about security software then users will be only have "marketing press releases" to assess the quality of the software. "Unfortunately, it seems that we are heading this way in France and maybe in Europe," Tena said.

"To use an analogy, it's a little bit as if Ford was selling cars with defective brakes. If I realised that there was a problem, opened the hood and took a few pictures to prove it, and published everything on my Web site. Then Ford could file a complaint against me," added Tena."

Without being privy to all the detailed facts of the case it not possible to assess it in its entirety. However, the notion of jailing someone who points out that someone is selling something that doesn't do want the vendor claims is ridiculous.

Ed Felten's 2005

Amongst Ed Felten's predictions for 2005:

"DRM technology will still fail to prevent widespread infringement. In a related development, pigs will still fail to fly."

Can't argue with that.

Optimistically he also thinks:

"DRM technology, especially on PCs, will be seen increasingly as a security and privacy risk to end users."

Sadly I think the general awakening to this reality will take longer to come to pass.

Online Groups Brag About Movie Piracy

Associated Press business writer ALEX VEIGA has another take on the story of how copyrighted films, games and movies get onto P2P networks. These are people the industry are so concerned about and many of them are probably the same people that the industry will hire to run their eventual online entertainment product distribution businesses.

Government army working on ID card scheme

The Daily Telegraph is not impressed that the government already have over 80 people working on the ID card scheme. Neither are the Lib Dems

Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: "The Government should not have a small army of people working on a scheme which has still not been agreed by Parliament. Bringing in the consultants who worked on the disastrous Criminal Records Bureau project is unlikely to improve this deeply flawed proposal."

Over 80 people. That's more than the total number of police officers in all the computer crimes units in the UK. I can't accept that is a sensible use of government resources.

No to ID cards campaign

The No2ID campaign have released their latest newsletter packed full of useful information and stories on this "extremely expensive and largely ineffective" plan of the UK government.

Well worth a read and reproduced in full below. (for working links use the website)

++ Identity Cards Bill Enters Committee Stage

+ Government Rushing Bill Through

The Identity Cards Bill will now enter the Committee Stage, where a committee will examine the bill clause by clause. However the level of scrutiny that MPs will be able to give the bill is questionable. The government is rushing the bill through parliament following a programme motion (in effect, a guillotine) that means the committee stage must be completed by 27th January. MPs do not return from Christmas recess until Monday, 10th January, so that leaves just two an a half weeks to examine a controversial bill that has enormous costs and major constitutional implications.

The committee will then produce a report, which will be allowed just one hour of debate in the commons. The Third Reading of the bill is limited to a single day. The low turnout for the Second Reading of the bill(173 MPs absent or abstained) suggests that there could be a more sizeable back bench revolt at Third Reading. NO2ID has compiled a list of MPs who publicly support NO2ID (several more do so privately), as well as those that are opposed to ID cards in principle. See has produced an analysis of the Second Reading backbench rebellion. See (PDF file)

After Third Reading the bill will then got to the House of Lords where it is expected to meet stiffer opposition. Many believe this is where the best hopes for stopping it lie.


+ ID Bill Committee Stage - Lobby Your MP

We urgently call on all supporters to contact their MPs, Councillors, AMs and MSPs to make them aware of your concerns and to point out that ID cards are not a popular measure, despite what a number of them believe. If you get a response then please pass on details of their position to our Parliamentary Liaison, Rachael Marsh (
List of MSPs -
List of AMs -
Fax Westminster MPs -


++ What Just Happened?

+ NO2ID Opens Campaign Office

Great news this week, as NO2ID gets a new office on the south bank of the Thames, near Lambeth Palace and a short walk from the Houses of Parliament. We're starting small, but there is plenty of space for expansion in the building as the office grows. The postal address for external communications remains the same.

If you live in London and have a few hours to spare during the week please volunteer to join the staff rota helping to handle the vital clerical work to support the campaign. ( If you can't, please help us with running costs. The rent in the short-term is kindly underwritten by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd, but to make the office work for us means meeting the running costs of constant lobbying by mail and by phone. Please support us with a donation.

You can get a membership/standing order donation form at To donate by PayPal or bank transfer, see

+ Local Groups Forming Across the Country

The following brave people are now acting as local NO2ID contacts in their area, others are in the queue. (So our apologies to local contacts who don't find themselves here, yet.)

BARROW IN FURNESS - Paul Robson - BIRMINGHAM - Nick Drew - BRIGHTON - Rob Whitehead - BRISTOL - Richard McCormack - CAMBRIDGE - Andrew Watson - CARDIFF - Dafydd Elcome - CARLISLE - Douglas Baptie - EDINBURGH - Trevor Mendham - GLASGOW - Vic Arcari - HULL - Rev Alisdair Lairds -
NEWCASTLE - Robin Ashby -
NEWTON ABBOT - Dr Andy Marchant -
OXFORD - Mike Bolton -
PETERBOROUGH - Mark Ringer -
RHYL - Christopher Gould -
SHEFFIELD - Catherine Luker -
WOKING - Paul Campbell -
WORTHING - Trevor Hodgson -

Please get in touch with them if you can help out locally. If you'd like to join them as a local contact for your town, you should be a member and be prepared to be contacted by supporters and local journalists.

+ NO2ID Discussion Forums

The NO2ID website now has discussion forums and bulletin boards for supporters and members to discusss all things related too ID control, and share ideas and suggestions for the campaign. There are forums for posting links to articles, discussing the Identity, Cards Bill and announcing forthcoming events. To get the best value from the system, you will need to register. See

+ E-Petition Still Open

The petition continues to help us reach more supporters and let more people express their views on ID cards. If you would like to collect paper signatures in your area, please let Guy Taylor
( know.

The "official" petition is now listed on the cabinet office website, together with an indication that a response will be posted "in due course". The petition was submitted to the Cabinet Office six weeks ago. The stated policy is that the Government will normally take two weeks to respond.

Please continue to encourage people to sign the petition at

+ Labour Government Rejected ID Cards in 1974

Government papers released under the 30-year rule show that in the wake of the IRA Birmingham pub bombings in 1974, the then Labour government considered ID cards but rejected them because of cost and the impact they would have on civil liberties.

The ID scheme proposed by the current government is far more expensive (even in relative terms) and an even greater threat to civil liberties, with its centralised database, unique National Identity Register Number, and biometric data. Strange, then, that Charles Clarke thinks it "is an enhancement, not an inhibition, of civil liberties." See

+ SpyBlog Requests ID Card "Gateway Review"

SpyBlog has submitted a request, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), for the Office of Government Commerce Gateway Reviews of the Identity Cards Programme. Gateway Reviews are independent financial reviews carried out by a team of experts at certain fixed key decision points over the lifetime of a programme.

The government has been reluctant to release information relating to the proposed ID card scheme, citing "reasons of commercial confidentiality". Lord Falconer has already indicated that FOIA requests for the legal guidance on the introduction of ID cards are likely to be declined. See

SpyBlog has also set up blogs for those wishing to comment on the text of the Identity Cards Bill clause by clause, or on the accompanying Regulatory Impact Assessment.


++ What's Next?

+ Biometric Passports, Contactless Chips And Global ID

The government continues to use the introduction of biometric passports as a justification for ID cards. It claims we have to upgrade our passports, due to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) guidelines, so we may as well have an ID card while we're at it. However biometric passports are now at the centre of much controversy.

The American Civil Liberties Union has produced a white paper that highlights a number of privacy and security issues surrounding the ICAO standard. Insertion of an unencrypted contactless chip into passports means it will be possible to read the passport data from a distance of 20cm or more. The ACLU also warns that the ICAO standard is a move towards a global identity card.

Meanwhile the European Union seems set to rethink its biometric passport proposals after a technical report to the European Council stated that "the solution envisaged by the draft regulation is not technically feasible".

Back in the UK, an EU law specialist at the University of Essex says that the government's proposed biometric passport system could conflict with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) as well as data protection legislation.

Set against this comes news of the costly US-VISIT programme that biometrically scans visitors at seaports, airports and border controls in the United States. The programme has cost 700 million dollars so far. The LA Times reports that last year 16.9 million foreign visitors were checked through the system, 372 of whom were arrested or denied entry. Of the 372 none was linked to terrorism.

ACLU White Paper

Statewatch report on EU passports

UK passports & human rights

LA Times report on US-VISIT

+ 17 January - IPPR/OII Public Meeting
'Identity, Technology and the Public Interest: New Directions for Research and Public Policy' 2pm - 5pm at Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy 3 Robert Street, London WC2N 6RL This joint ippr-OII forum will bring together researchers, practitioners and policy-makers to discuss some of the most recent developments in research and public policy. Speakers will include:
William Dutton, Oxford Internet Institute
Will Davies, IPPR
Andrew Pinder, Consultant and former E-envoy
Matthew Kabatoff, Goldsmiths College
The event is free and open to the public. If you wish to attend, you must register your name and affiliation, if any, with

+ 18 January - 'Identity cards, the state and the individual'

6:15pm at 23 Great Smith Street, London SW1.
The Adam Smith Institute, a libertarian think tank, is holding a roundtable discussion on 'Identity cards, the state and the individual' at the Institute's offices. The event will be followed by a drinks reception and places are limited. Speakers will include:
Rt Hon. Peter Lilley MP (former Minister for Social Security)
Sarah Arnott of Computing (the IT industry's newspaper)
Seamus Heffernan from Civitas
E-mail if you would like to attend.

+ 25th January - NO2ID Public Meeting, Cambridge

7:30pm at Fisher Hall, Guildhall Place, Cambridge.
Speakers are to include:
Peter Lilley, MP PC
Ross Anderson, Professor of Security Engineering, U. of Cambridge
David Howarth, Prospective Liberal Democrat candidate for Cambridge
Tauhid Pasha, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

+ Coming soon - Fundraising Event in London

Find out what an extraordinarily diverse range of ideas NO2ID people have. And raise funds for the battle ahead. Details will depend on how much interest there is. Contact our events manager, Cassandra Rae
( if you would like to know more.


++ "ID" In the News
Labour's Zombie Army clinches ID card vote for Clarke

Plugs to be pulled on EU biometric visa scheme?

Reform think tank says Identity Cards Bill does not stand up to scrutiny

SNP says ID Cards won't catch more criminals

ID Cards bill is given a second reading,11026,1377985,00.html

Labour and Tory MPs absent in protest,,2-1411314,00.html

Clarke burnt as MPs revolt over ID cards

Are ID cards legal under human rights legislation?,39024677,39126646,00.htm

Government withholds ID card legal advice,39020357,39181772,00.htm

ID cards will be used as a stick to beat poor

A face-to-face interview to get your first passport

ID cards may become healthcare 'entitlement' cards

Policing is far more important than ID cards, says Redwood

ID card bonanza for foreign firms

ID Cards: Citizens Advice highlights its concerns & issues

(Please send me any items of interest you encounter - Editor)

++ What You Can Do

Like any campaign we need funds and people. Any help or expertise of any kind you can spare will be most welcome. Most important is to get other people involved and to understand the issues. ID-CARDS sound innocent: what the government wants is ID-CONTROL. When people know that they (and their children) may be fingerprinted like criminals and will be made to register every change of address with the authorities, their attitude changes. So:-

1. Tell your friends about the campaign and that you are supporting it. Most people are scarcely aware of the government's ID database project, and few understand the dangers. Feel free to redistribute this newsletter to acquaintances. (But please do introduce it personally and don't spam.) Your personal witness will help others understand that this is important.

2. Sign the Petition and get your friends and (adult) family to do so.

3. Let us know if you have time or special expertise that you can give to the organisation or facilities you can lend us. The campaign is getting bigger, but needs to grow some more. Fast. We urgently need any assistance you can offer. We can use any amount of professional creative and marketing expertise as we begin to lift public awareness of the issues, but it would be handy to have reliable people to answer the phone. Volunteer at:

4. Get together with others in your area to form a local group. A national campaign needs a national network. Experienced campaigner Guy Taylor ( is available to help local groups build our nationwide presence. Guy can tell you how to hold a public meeting, set out your stall locally (literally as well as metaphorically), and how to get other people involved. If you have experience of local campaigns then by all means just start -- we will offer what help we can. Details of forthcoming meetings, when we have them, are posted on the website.

5. Raise the issue for discussion in any organisations you belong to. Everyone is affected in some way. Encourage any club, union or other group you are in that opposes ID control to become a supporter or affiliate itself.

6. Write to the local and national press, to express your concerns whenever there is relevant news. Phone-in to appropriate radio and TV programs. There is plenty of information on (and linked to) the website to help you do this.

7. Write to your MP and MEP expressing your disquiet and ask for *their
personal* opinion on specific issues. (Big-party MPs in particular
sometimes avoid controversial matter, or may offer a standard statement
of general party policy rather than answering for themselves.) is a free and confidential way to get an answer.

8. Buy a T-shirt, and wear it. This publicises the message--people will ask you what it means--and raises funds. Details on the NO2ID website. Or buy online at:

9. Join. Membership starts at GBP15 a year (higher contributions
encouraged, and a modest standing order means a lot to us). It entitles you to a say in the running of NO2ID. There is a membership form on the website at

10. Give generously. A few weeks back we had no money. Now we have a little money, but we will always need more. The Home Office is planning to spend billions. But we will spend your money better. Funds can be transferred to our HSBC Treasurer Account in the name of NO2ID A/c no: 91339427 Sort Code 40-28-15 You can send a cheque, payable to "NO2ID" to: NO2ID, Box 412, 78 Marylebone High Street, LONDON W1U 5AP. Special donation or sponsorship enquiries should be made to Guy Herbert ( Help in kind is equally welcome.

11. Link to us. Help us gather support on through the web by displaying a button or banner (available on the website) on your own home site or blog and linking to us.

++ NO2ID Who's Who and Resources
First port of call should be the website:

+ If you have specific assistance or information to offer, you can
contact the following NO2ID people:

Chair of the Advisory Board - Simon Davies (

Volunteer Staff:-

National Coordinator - Phil Booth (

General Secretary - Guy Herbert ( Newsletter Editor - Charles Farrier ( Production Manager - Katherine Davies ( Technical Manager - Owen Blacker (

Head of Campaigns - Andy Robson (
Press Officer - Michael Parker (
Public Affairs - Dave Walker ( Parliamentary Liaison - Rachael Marsh ( Events Manager Cassandra Rae (

National Secretary - Adam McGreggor ( Local Group Coordinator - Guy Taylor ( Student Organiser - Nick Pauro (

Head of Research - Ian Brown (

Regional Coordinators
London - Andrew Weston (
Scotland - Trevor Mendham (

+ Please, please remember that everybody on this list is a volunteer,
and all will be getting a huge amount of email, so you should only direct enquiries to the relevant person. We are grateful for all offers of help, but can't guarantee to have time to give detailed answers to individual general queries on the ID scheme. There is a lot of information on the website and there will soon be much, much more.

Publication details: (c) NO2ID 2004 - This document may be freely redistributed in one-to-one communications or physical copies as long as it is reproduced in its entirety including this notice. It may not be mass-mailed without the prior permission of NO2ID. NO2ID, Box No.412, 78 Marylebone High Street, LONDON W1U 5AP

Old Labour dismissed ID cards

Why did the Labour government in the 1970s dismiss ID cards in the wake of the IRA's bombings in Birmingham that killed 21 people? Because then Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, believed:

"It goes almost without saying that we must guard against the danger of being driven to more and more extreme measures involving unwarranted infringement of personal liberty... Nor do I see advantage in a system of identity cards, which apart from creating difficulties for ordinary people would be "extremely expensive and largely ineffective"

A Labour Home secretary who got it right.

20 Year Usenet Timeline

From Google:

"Google has fully integrated the past 20 years of Usenet archives into Google Groups, which now offers access to more than 800 million messages dating back to 1981. This is by far the most complete collection of Usenet articles ever assembled and a fascinating first-hand historical account."

Isn't the Web fantastic.