Web www.williambowles.info
Thursday, July 20, 2006 3:30 PM
NO2ID Supporters' Newsletter No. 50 - 20th July 2006

Contacting us: Call or email the office - 020-7793-4005 or (office@no2id.net).


You may well have seen reports suggesting that the Home Office ID programme is in trouble. A series of e-mails leaked to the Sunday Times [1] from OGC (the Office of Government Commerce, part of the Treasury) and UKIPS (the new Identity & Passport Service) revealed that senior civil servants believe the project to be yet another fiasco in the making.

Government spin has been predictable, first claiming that the ID scheme was 'under review', then "broadly on track", and now proceeding "at the same pace" [2].

So what is fact and what is fantasy?

FACT: the ID scheme that the government has been selling for the last two years or more is a lie. With no clearly-expressed goal or justification, 'feature creep' almost every time ministers opened their mouths, and a complete unwillingness to listen to real experts in the field, the Home Office has lumbered itself with something impossibly complex, horrendously expensive, and utterly unworkable.

FACT: they passed the Act anyway, spending tens of millions in the process. The biggest threat to everyone's civil liberties is leaving a law on the statute books which permits compulsory registration, lifelong surveillance and population control by ID. But we also risk seeing billions of pounds of taxpayers' money (which could be far better spent elsewhere) being thrown away in pursuit of this authoritarian delusion. Even worse, a botched attempt could expose all our most personal information - leaving some with no control over their private lives or identities for the rest of their lives.

FACT: the government will proceed regardless. This programme has been politically driven from the outset and will remain so. Blair can't afford a U-turn, and the ID programme (or more accurately, the National Identity Register) is at the heart of government strategy [3]. The bureaucrats would love for us to all be neatly numbered, so our data can be shared ever more 'efficiently' - and the suppliers still stand to make billions, whether they deliver or fail.

The danger from the ID scheme is greater than ever.

Now the government is looking at issuing cut-down 'early variant' ID cards that would 'protect' your identity with nothing more than a four-digit PIN. A gift to fraudsters. The government will still fingerprint, iris scan, background check and interrogate you for a passport - but then simply store all your data in their database. No 'benefits' or services for the public. Just all the costs, risks and intrusion.

We have to redouble our efforts. It is more important than ever that we get the message out to a public that may think 'ID cards' are off the agenda. Street stalls, leafleting - even going door-to-door. Now is the time to wake people up to the real and present danger of the ID scheme.

If you can't spare the time to get involved with a local group, or even set one up (send a mail to local.groups@no2id.net for more info) then please help support those who are fighting hard on your behalf. Join the campaign at http://www.no2id.net/getInvolved/join.php - it's just £15 per year - or send a donation.

The battle continues...


[1] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2262437_1,00.html
[2] http://www.guardian.co.uk/uklatest/story/0,,-5954404,00.html
[3] http://www.cio.gov.uk/transformational_government/strategy/

What's next?

Waltham Forest Council to vote on anti-ID motion

The LibDem group on Waltham Forest council has proposed an anti-ID card motion to be voted on at tonight's (20th July) full council meeting. The motion includes a proposal to affiliate to NO2ID. The agenda for the meeting, including the proposal can be found at: http://www1.walthamforest.gov.uk/moderngov/ieListDocuments.asp?CId=335&MId=1515&Ver=4&J=5

25th July - Glasgow NO2ID meeting

Tuesday, 25th July at 7:30pm in Mono, the next meeting of Glasgow NO2ID. If Mono is unsuitable on the night, we will instead go to Laurie's across the road. All are welcome! For more details see www.glasgow-no2id.org.uk/meeting.html

27th July - Lewisham NO2ID leafleting

Thursday 27th July, leafleting in Catford, setting off from the Goose on the Green. For more details see http://lists.warhead.org.uk/pipermail/no2id-announce/2006-July/date.html

1st August - NO2ID Aberystwyth Monthly meeting

Tuesday, August 1, 2006 (8:00 PM - 9:00 PM) at Fresh Ground café, 14 Cambrian St, Aberystwyth, Wales SY23 1NX. The first Tuesday of each month, we meet to discuss ways of campaigning against the introduction of ID cards and a National Identity Register. Event Website: http://aberno2id.blogspot.com

14th August - "Scrambling for Safety 8" meeting about internet surveillance

Monday 14 August 2006, at the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, South Wing, UCL, Gower St, London WC1. The UK Home Office is currently consulting over plans to give the police powers to require the production of decryption keys and of plain text. They have also produced a draft code of practice on government access to "communications data" - phone numbers and e-mail addresses contacted, web sites visited, locations of mobile phones, etc. 'Scrambling for Safety 8' will bring together representatives from government, industry and human rights organisations to discuss these consultations with interested members of the public. This is the only such meeting during the consultation period, it is free to attend but space is limited. For more details go to (http://tinyurl.co.uk/2utt). Come along and make sure your voice is heard!

July & August - Inverness NO2ID Campaign stall

NO2ID Inverness will have a campaign stall at various locations in and around Inverness throughout July and August. See http://www.no2id-scotland.net/local/inverness.html

Saturdays 1pm - 3pm - NO2ID Edinburgh Campaign stall

A campaigning stall is held three weeks in each month to raise public awareness of the Identity Cards scheme, collect donations and entries for our petition, and also to increase membership of our group. The usual location is the east end of Princes Street, opposite the Balmoral Hotel See http://www.no2id-scotland.net/edinburgh/.

1st October - NO2ID Comedy fund raiser gig at the Hackney Empire

Tickets will be available soon for NO2ID's comedy event. Acts include: Stewart Lee, Richard Herring, Andrew O'Neil and Lucy Porter.

What just happened?

NO2ID's first 'Activ8' video blog posted on web

NO2ID's first video blog was launched on the Community Channel website this week. The video, shot around Westminster and the nearby NO2ID head office, explodes the myth that the government is going to drop its ID scheme and explains some of the issues behind our campaign. Over next year NO2ID will produce 12 pieces for Activ8. Our thanks to Charles and Fred for their sterling work in putting this film together during the recent heatwave.

Many thanks also to all who have volunteered to help out with filming and editing for Activ8. We had a fantastic response to our request, and we are looking forward to working with as many of you as possible. N.B. If you are holding an event and have a video camera that shoots on miniDV tape*, then why not record it? We're going to need plenty of footage from around the UK for future films. If you are arranging a photo-opportunity or public meeting with well-known speakers, please let NO2ID HQ know well in advance by sending an e-mail to events@no2id.net - we may now be able to come and film it.

*Technical point: these films are (eventually) intended for TV broadcast, as well as webcasting, so we have to work on uncompressed DV format not, e.g. VHS.
See the first video blog at: http://www.communitychannel.org/content/view/908/101/

Rise Festival - Highbury NO2ID stall

On 8th July Highbury NO2ID ran a stall at the Mayor of London's RISE festival in Finsbury Park. RISE is a free music event which celebrates London's ethnic communities. Group co-ordinator, Caroline Day said: "It was very easy to set up a stall, Kevin from our group contacted the organisers and they allocated one. At the last minute our stall was upgraded from an outside stall to an inside one. We ended up bang slap next to the main stage!" The group handed out around 5,000 leaflets and collected around 400 petition signatures.

London Volunteers meeting hears about ID cards & health

Last Thursday (13th July) the NO2ID volunteers meeting in London heard about health, ID cards and the database state. Lyn Whitfield, a freelance journalist, who has written for IT and public sector journals, spoke about the NHS plans to build a huge database of patient care records. Lyn said that later this year there will be publicity about it and "that will probably be your only chance to opt out". She warned people to look out for local NHS trust leaflets that may be distributed at this time. Carla Rosa from the Alzheimers (speaking in a personal capacity) spoke about the difficulties that the National Identity Register and ID cards will cause for 250,000 people in the UK with dementia. The face to face interviews and fines for incorrect or out of date information will be particularly onerous for this group of society.

IT firms to cash in on increased ID checks

BBC News on-line this week reported that    research has shown that "by 2010 Britons will be asked to produce ID an average of 17 times a year". They went on to explain that the research was commissioned by technology firm GB Group who they say said:  "UK firms and government agencies were making up to half a billion identity checks on customers each year". It sounds like GB group are as concerned as we are about the plethora of ID checks. However, a June 7 press release from GB group puts the story rather differently when it states: "In a recent piece of research conducted on behalf of GB by Manchester Business School, it was estimated that the market for electronic identity checks in the UK will grow to over 300 million electronic checks per annum by 2010 and be worth over £200 million. It is GB's aim to secure a significant share of this market together with BT." The GB Group happens to have developed the URU on-line identity checking system alongside BT. They also own the UK’s most extensive set of population data — eerily named "The National Register". Odd that the BBC failed to mention GB groups thirst for more ID checks.
See BBC story: http://tinyurl.co.uk/t6v0 and GB Group press release: http://tinyurl.co.uk/38io

Germany to launch ePassport fingerprinting

Fingerprints will be added to German ePassports in 2007. The European Commission's adoption this June of Extended Access Control (EAC) specifications has launched "intensive preparations for the second phase of ePassport introduction," Secretary of State Altmeier declared. EU ePassports are "highly secure documents that are reliably protected against forgery and misuse," he said.

That view is disputed by the Chaos Computer Club, a German group opposed to undue electronic surveillance. "If the aim is to improve checks on whether an ID and its bearer belong together, then registering the fingerprints of all German citizens is a disproportionate measure," the Club insists. Back in 2004, it demonstrated that fingerprints taken with coloured powder or with cyanoacrylate, the main ingredient of superglue, are detailed enough for use in identity theft. Clear fingerprints can be obtained from doorknobs, glossy paper or, for instance, a glass left in a pub. The prints can then be digitalised and used for electronic fraud. But they can also be transferred in relief on to thin sheaths that can be glued over the fingertips.         

"Networked identities" - cross-border talks

" Networked identities" were the main topic when government IT specialists from Austria, Germany and Switzerland met this June. After the symposium, the Swiss federal IT strategy unit noted that a central register covering the entire population already exists in Austria, while in Switzerland "an unambiguous personal identification number is planned, but has not yet been introduced". But the Swiss government unit sees problems ahead: "Of course, there is a lot of technology behind digital identity. But what it requires most of all is the population's trust in the State which is processing the data. As long as that trust is in scarce or insufficient supply, it will be difficult to use eGovernment applications." Austria and Germany are "wrestling with similar problems," the Swiss report adds. "However, the Austrians have a slight lead, as they have already introduced the eCard as a substitute for health insurance certificates for the entire population. Since its introduction in 2005, the card has been used about 70 million times." Clearly, somebody has been counting.

The European e-Identity Conference

A report of the European e-Identity Conference that took place in Barcelona last month has been released by eema ('European Electronic Messaging Association'). David Goodman, eema Chairman, predicted that "by 2020 digital identities will have a significant impact on the lives of everyone" and that "businesses will be predicated by a plethora of ID-based trust relationships supporting billions of transactions, day and night, worldwide". During a panel discussion the conference heard that: "It may have been easier to implement national identity schemes in Asia and Eastern Europe because the push from government in those areas is probably stronger than in Western Europe."

A report of the Swedish NIDEL(National ID card with electronic identification) scheme revealed what lengths governments will go to to bribe citizens to sign up for electronic ID cards - in Sweden apparently "the killer application last year was in the form of a tax rebate for citizens: those with the card received it three months earlier than usual". The conference also heard about the EC-funded FIDIS(Future Of Identity in the Information Society) initiative. Last week we reported that FIDIS were conducting a survey into EU citizens opinions on ID cards. However the supplied link to the survey merely displayed a page stating that the survey was closed. FIDIS told us that: "unfortunately the scheduled ending date set for the survey was June 30th. We do realise that the survey was picked up by one or more websites after this deadline and are sorry for any inconvenience that this may have caused". FIDIS updated their website to inform visitors on the 10th July.
See http://www.eema.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=focus.content&cmid=317

GeneWatch release updated DNA database information

This week GeneWatch have published an updated parliamentary briefing on the UK Police DNA Database. The briefing points out that: "In May 2006, the Scottish Parliament rejected proposals to bring its legislation into line with England and Wales, after concerns about the implications for human rights were raised by all political parties. This decision leaves England and Wales isolated internationally as the only countries where DNA from thousands of innocent people, including children, can be kept permanently by the police." Also contrary to the spin put out in the mainstream media GeneWatch point out that "only 0.35% of crimes were detected using DNA in 2004/05 and this percentage has stayed constant for the last three years". This despite the ever growing number of DNA samples contained in the database.

"ID" in the news

Thelma, Louise ... and Joan - The Guardian 18/7/06

ID cards are going to make every other botched new system look like the merest blip, a minor accident, the equivalent of getting an email asking if your penis is too large and needs to be reduced.

Round up the youthful suspects! Govt to target crime at birth - The Register 18/7/06

Children's Minister Hilary Armstrong was due today to outline what could become one of Project Blair's most ambitious, misguided and hubristic projects yet. According to the Independent, midwives, doctors and nurses are to be "asked to identify 'chaotic' families whose babies are in danger of growing up to be delinquents, drug addicts and violent criminals."

ID cards 'could increase identity theft' - ePolitix.com 17/7/06

Shadow home secretary David Davis told MPs on Monday that ministers had exaggerated the justifications for introducing the biometric cards and reported that the database holding the information could be open to abuse. Speaking at home affairs questions in the Commons, he argued that the government's claim that the cards are needed to tackle identity fraud is dubious.

Police DNA database 'is spiralling out of control' - The Observer 16/7/06

The security of the police National DNA Database is in question following the disclosure of confidential emails which reveal that a private firm has secretly been keeping the genetic samples and personal details of hundreds of thousands of arrested people.

School in data row over plan to fingerprint pupils - The Guardian 15/7/06

Pupils at a Berkshire secondary school are to be fingerprinted and have their details kept on a database in a controversial scheme to be launched this autumn. The plan to scan pupils' prints every time they enter or leave the school has been criticised by sixth-formers who claim their human rights are being infringed. They believe the storage of their biometric data on computer systems will breach their right to privacy. Several pupils said using the scanners would make them feel like criminals.

Review delays start of ID card procurement - Computing 13/7/06

Procurement for the multibillion-pound national biometric identity card scheme will start only once the current Home Office review is completed. And an increasing emphasis on the concept of ID management, rather than just the cards themselves, suggests any final scheme could be quite different from the original security-focused plan.

Online passport applications halted - The Times 11/7/06

A backlog of 5,000 passport applications has built up after serious problems developed with a computer system only weeks after the inception of a new online service. The Home Office agency in charge of issuing the travel documents has now withdrawn the online application service because of mounting difficulties in issuing passports.

Beware of card tricks - The Guardian 11/7/06

The real point is that everything that is known about you will become linked up on the NIR[National Identity Register]. The register will take on a life of its own, for once you set up a system like this it becomes ineluctably compelled to find out more and more about you. That will be its hardwired purpose.

Iraqis turn to fake IDs for safety - Associated Press 10/7/06

Baghdad, Iraq - A bookstore in eastern Baghdad is getting more customers these days, but they aren't looking for something to read. The owner sells fake IDs, a booming business as Iraqis try to hide their identities in hopes of staying alive.

Finland: Cost of Biometrics Spurs Run on Old-Style Passports - YLE 10/7/06

The demand for the older style of Finnish passports is increasing. The new biometric passports will be available beginning just over a month from now, on August 21. However many Finns want to get the old type of passport before then because it is cheaper than the high-tech new documents.

Blair's Big Brother Legacy - Vanity Fair 19/6/06

By introducing ID cards, the government is creating new paradigms of state power. Being required to produce your papers to show who you are is a public manifestation of who is in control. What we seem to have forgotten is that the state is there courtesy of us and we are not here courtesy the state.

(Please send me any items of interest you encounter - Editor(newsletter@no2id.net) )

What you can do

You can help us by:

1. Joining NO2ID / donating

Please become a NO2ID member, if you have not already done so. Our thanks go to those that have.
(There's a membership form at http://www.no2id.net/downloads/membForm.pdf)
Donate some money towards campaign expenses.
NO2ID, Box 412, 78 Marylebone High Street, LONDON W1U 5AP

2. Writing to your local paper

Personal letters to your local press can be effective persuaders. Point out that ID cards and the National Identity Register will not go away until the Identity Cards Act is repealed.

* We also maintain a list of things you can do on our website at http://www.no2id.net/getInvolved/other.php
Publication details: © NO2ID 2006 - 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
Back to Main Index | Spies R Us