Thursday, September 07, 2006

Schools may fingerprint kids without parental consent

The Register reports that "Parents cannot prevent schools from taking their children's fingerprints, according to the Department for Education and Skills and the Information Commissioner...

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is drawing up guidance on the use of fingerprints for purposes other than law-enforcement. The guidance will say once and for all whether parents can prevent their children's fingerprints being taken.

David Smith, deputy Information Commissioner, said it was a complex issue that was still being worked out, but it was likely that parents did not have an automatic right to decide whether their children's biometrics could be taken by a school."

Kim Cameron's iTunes drm problems

Kim Cameron is not pleased that a Bob Dylan album he has bought from iTunes doesn't work as he expected because of Apple's drm. He is very annoyed.

I see Martin's been having a few problems with his iPods too. Now if folks like Kim Cameron and Martin Weller, who are pretty good with technical gadgets of all kinds, are tripping over drm to this extent, then the chances of the rest of us ordinary mortals navigating these waters without mishap are slim to negligible. Market fundamentalists would suggest that such a situation would mean that drm won't be long for this world. I suspect it may hang on in there for some time inflicting just the kind of woes experienced by Kim and Martin before it finally gets put to rest.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships

Garrick Alder has been developing nauseous feelings about Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships.
VERY soon now, crime and disorder will be mapped out on a house-to-house level and displayed on the internet. The maps will be searchable by anyone, including insurance companies, and will also incorporate aerial photography. Backstage, vast amounts of highly sensitive data - including your medical notes - will be sloshed around on local government and emergency services intranet - and across the internet too. Members of the public will be encouraged to submit complaints of anti-social behaviour via email. The resulting crime maps will be used to provide information for, among other things, decisions about architecture in afflicted areas.

And the best thing about the new Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) is that no one knows about them.

The CDRPs are hybrids composed of elements from (and data-sharing between) local councils, police forces, ambulance trusts, social services, trading standards, fire brigades, youth teams... you name it. These bodies have swapped notes (occasionally and informally) for years but what is happening now is something totally new in the British experience. What was previously a grapevine between the different bodies is becoming a hotline instead, as a new system is bolted laboriously into place.

How did this happen? And why haven't you noticed before now? Let's take the two questions in order.

The first is very simple: The "Labour" party's Crime and Disorder Act 1998 placed "a duty on local authorities to consider the crime and disorder implications of all their policies and practices." Which was all very well as far as it went, since Britain's local councils were constitutionally committed to just that anyway and always had been. But the "Labour" party's Police Reform Act 2002 then extended the same duty to police forces .. and fire authorities... and NHS Primary Care Trusts.

And it didn't place anyone in charge.
Thanks to ARCH for the link.