Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

How stupid does the Home Secretary think we are?

I thought my ears or brain had failed last week, but when I seemed to suffer the same failure of my facilities this week I came to the conclusion that they were ok, and the problem lay elsewhere.

Last week I was fairly gobsmacked to hear Gordon Brown (they say he’s the prime minister, and the boss) on the news last week, when he said something along the lines of “When you have a lot of data, then it’s inevitable that there will be lapses”. That’s not an exact quote, but I reckon it’s sufficiently close to what was said that no-one will be able to claim I have massaged it to suit. This is a fairly shocking statement from the boss of an organisation that has assured us that out details as held on the National Identity Database that comes along with the ID Card will be completely secure, and that the Government can be trusted to ensure it is secure.

On November 2, Gordon Brown was on the news again, giving his reaction to (more) lost data.

This “rare occurrence” seems to be rather common, as Gordon Brown gives more apologies for data loss, and diverts attention from the losses to claims that no-one suffered as a result – ignoring the distress caused by his departments’ lack of care.

Let’s not forget Extent of data losses revealed.

And here’s a starter for Previous cases of missing data.

One of the worrying trends that is developing here is a “slopey shoulder” attitude on the part of those in power, with a readiness to point the finger at contractors as the cause of the problems.

This may be true, if so, then we have a strong case for ensuring that contractors are kept out of the loop, and ensuring that sensitive data is kept within Government control.

Unfortunately, it seems that the following news from November 6 suggests that far from making things more secure, the Government is going to hand things over to retailers and Post Offices, with booths to collect biometric data.

Now, that does sound really secure, doesn’t it?

I seem to recall we have already have high-tech criminals stealing bank details by intercepting our card details as we use them in cash machines they have doctored. is it too much of a stretch of the imagination that the lucrative business of identity theft will not see similar tactics employed on supposedly secure high street biometric data collection booths in supermarkets. Does no-one in Governemnt watch the BBC, and The Real Hustle?

This week, even though no other political party seems to be willing to endorse them, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, says public demand means people will be able to pre-register for an ID card within the next few months. The cards will be available for all from 2012 but she said: “I regularly have people coming up to me and saying they don’t want to wait that long.”


The home secretary made the claim as she unveiled revised ID scheme plans.

Opposition parties say they would scrap the ID card scheme. The Tories call it a “complete waste of money”. The Lib Dems call it a “laminated poll tax”.

Sorry, just who are these people that can’t wait, and what are they demanding these cards for?

The only reason to be fighting your way to the front of the queue for an ID Card at the moment is presumably because your arm is being twisted up your back and you need something that the Government or an associated office will deny you if you don’t have one.

People applying for cards and passports from 2012 will have to provide fingerprints, photographs and a signature, which Ms Smith believes will create a market worth about £200m a year.

And in changes to earlier plans the Home Office is talking to retailers and the Post Office about setting up booths to gather biometric data. The government believes it would be “more convenient” for people and cheaper than setting up its previously planned enrolment centres in large population centres.

In her speech Ms Smith rejected claims handing enrolment over to private firms would compromise security.

“Provided that it is conducted in a secure and trusted environment, by service providers accredited and verified by the IPS and to high and rigorously enforced standards, enrolment should be able to happen at the convenience of the customer – on the high street, at the nearest post office, or at the local shopping centre.”

The price of the scheme continues to rise as well.  The overall cost of the ID card scheme over the next 10 years has risen by another £50 million to £5.1 billion in the past six months, according to the Government’s latest cost report.

See also the NO2ID web site, while you still can.

In the run up to Remembrance Sunday, it’s a shame to reflect on the sort of country that Britain is becoming.

I’m not even going to try and start on the current and planned surveillance legislation that is in the pipeline, and that most non-tech folks will even be aware of, but they make the Stasi discoveries made in East Germany at the end of the Cold War pale into insignificance thanks to CCTV, mobile phones, and the internet.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

“First they came…” is a poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.


November 7, 2008 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment


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