Wednesday, 30 June 2010

So far so good

Mission accomplished?

It would seem so. The fightback by the supporters of ID cards has began, yet all they have done so far is make noises and remind us all why they lost the argument. But if you are interested in a broader approach to civil liberties you will already be aware that this is just one important battle won, there are many others.

So what of the future? Well first we say thank you for your support and ask you to remain alert until the bill related to ID cards passes into law. And then still remain alert! There will always be threats from the state to civil liberties but a well organised protest group can achieve results.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

It's not over yet.

Phil Booth writes:

NO2ID is now into its second phase: having won over the political establishment, we need to drive home the advantage and finish the job. You, and everyone who made the NO2ID Pledge, knew that this second phase could have been mass resistance. We can feel rightfully proud (and relieved) that it is not.

So this is good. Campaigning is clearly going to be different in this second phase, in all likelihood less confrontational - but no less important for that. What's really important right now is that folks get in touch with their new MP - see my P.S. for one very good reason to do so.

In coming weeks, we have to make sure that the details of the Freedom Bill are correct, and that they'll have the necessary effect. There's good reason to be optimistic, but we'll need to keep the pressure up to ensure the promised repeals and reforms are swiftly enacted and properly enforced.

We already know that Whitehall has been preparing for this new phase for some time. It's unlikely to give up its various empires and pet projects without a fight. But, working together, we have shown we can win.

Looking forward to a real celebration, to mark the Royal Assent of the
Freedom (Great Repeal) Act 2010...

Thank you again, Phil Booth, National Coordinator.

P.S. A Freedom of Information request published this week shows that Connecting for Health did not just sent out 10 million 'Patient Information Packs' (the letter about Summary Care Records) in the run-up to the election, as previously reported. It sent 30 MILLION!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

NO2ID victory!

The following announcement is on the Home Office site already. Brilliant.


Both Parties that now form the new Government stated in their manifestos that they will cancel Identity Cards and the National Identity Register. We will announce in due course how this will be achieved. Applications can continue to be made for ID cards but we would advise anyone thinking of applying to wait for further announcements.

Until Parliament agrees otherwise, identity cards remain valid and as such can still be used as an identity document and for travel within Europe. We will update you with further information as soon as we have it.

Sounds good - so far.

The Lib-Dem/Tory coalition promises a major reform of civil liberties. According to the BBC:

The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour Government and roll back state intrusion.

This will include:

# A Freedom or Great Repeal Bill.

# The scrapping of ID card scheme, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the Contact Point Database.

# Outlawing the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission.

# The extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency.

# Adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database.

# The protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury.

# The restoration of rights to non-violent protest.

# The review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech.

# Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.

# Further regulation of CCTV.

# Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason.

# A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Photocopier danger

Photocopiers contain hard drives that store all the images that have been copied. It is possible to pay for security methods to deal with this. I doubt the UK government knows about this. Watch the video from CBS News as reported by Big Brother Watch.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Surveillance and feline aggression.

No doubt eventually a caring coalition will emerge and enact a law to protect us all from dangerous cats.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


If you were relieved that the Lib-Dems and Tories have pledged to scrap ContactPoint, then the summary of databases involving children compiled by ARCH (Action On Children's Rights) makes sombre reading. The Privacy Guide for Parents details the state's recording of the minutiae of every child's life. The scary aspect of this is that the aim was probably benign and well-meaning.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Civil liberties mentioned!

At last we have a discussion on civil liberties, at the Scottish Leaders' Debate, see here. It's quite simplistic and repetitive, but does mention ID cards and the DNA database. However, at least the subject has been raised.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Ask your candidates

Two weeks from now Parliament will have changed. Whoever forms the next government, over a quarter of MPs will be new to the job. Many may not know how much the database state matters to their constituents, or how deeply it will affect them.

They need to be informed and you can help. Starting now.

Over the next fortnight make it a point to ask your local candidates one of NO2ID's seven questions for candidates at a hustings meeting or in a personal letter or e-mail. Listen carefully to what they say, and let them know you'll be following up. One of them will be your MP and needs to know you care.

NO2ID is looking for candidates to have their own opinions on these questions. We aren't seeking to punish people for giving 'wrong' answers or to antagonise them. What we are hoping is to get them outside party lines and looking at the issues for themselves. Even if they disagree with us now, a willingness to think about it will make them approachable in the next parliament.

See previous blog for seven questions you might like to choose from and here is an easy way to e-mail your candidate.

Friday, 23 April 2010

NO2ID Questions for Candidates: General Election 2010

1) The National Identity Scheme is not just about ID cards. It is built on a National Identity Register, a set of linked databases behind the cards holding an archive of personal information. The Identity Cards Act 2006 provides for lifelong control of personal identity by the state and data-sharing without the knowledge or consent of the individual. The Act permits any official document to be designated, compelling registration for anyone who needs that document. Though the UK is under no obligation to add fingerprints to the passport, the Home Office intends to make fingerprinting and joining the National Identity Register compulsory for anyone who applies for a passport from 2012.

If elected, would you vote to repeal the Identity Cards Act 2006? Would you also oppose moves to make a database of passport holders and their fingerprints a feature of the British passport?

2) Medical confidentiality is fundamental to public health. If people feel that what they say to their doctor will not remain private, they may fail to disclose vital information or avoid treatment, assisting the spread of disease. By seizing all medical records and making them centrally accessible to hundreds of thousands of people - in the NHS and outside - the electronic Care Records System destroys the assurance of confidentiality. The Department for Health is seeking now to upload from GP’s surgeries sensitive data, including chronic conditions and prescriptions. It is using a fraudulent definition of ‘consent’ in order to do it, with heavy promotion using public money, of claims about benefits that are not supported by evidence. Patients are made to jump through unnecessary hoops in order to exercise their right to opt out.

If elected, would you work to ensure that control of medical records remains with patients and their own doctors, and that they are shared only with properly informed consent?

3) The National DNA Database contains the profiles of almost one million people who have not been convicted of any crime. A few notorious cases are quoted to justify this, but detailed examination usually shows they could have been solved using proper police procedure and a database only of convicted criminals. Treating the innocent as criminal suspects corrodes relations between the police and the public, and undermines confidence in the quite proper use of DNA detection.

How should the DNA database be operated? If elected, would you vote to remove immediately and automatically all profiles of unconvicted people from the DNA database?

4) ContactPoint, an index of every child (and family) in England and Wales is now operating, despite technical and security faults. It identifies the most vulnerable by flagging those using sensitive services and is accessible to hundreds of thousands of people. It is too big ever to be secure. The existence of a "shielding" scheme, denied to most families, suggests that in fact ContactPoint itself is a potential danger to children. Putting record-keeping on a database can’t correct the failures of child protection to act, which is the cause of the most notorious tragedies.

Are the hundreds of millions spent on ContactPoint and related databases not better spent in other ways?

5) The creation of the Independent Safeguarding Authority means a massive expansion of police checking. The Authority can ban you from your career for accusations, or even for its own idea of 'risk factors' in your legal behaviour. Lifelong retention of arrest records by the police means ‘enhanced’ Criminal Records checks may treat you as a convicted criminal simply for being arrested – affecting your potential employment and volunteering, with no right of appeal. Mass checking feeds suspicion and undermines trust, but there is no evidence that it prevents any sort of crime.

If elected, what would you do to reform vetting and barring schemes?

6) Despite denying plans for a central database of communications data, the Home Office set up a new directorate just this January to push forward the £2 billion Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP). The intent is store details of everyone you call, text or e-mail and which websites you visit – providing a record of clues to your religious and political beliefs, your sexual interests and personal relationships, your financial and medical worries – ‘just in case’ they become of interest to the authorities. Phone tapping and opening mail is so sensitive that it is a power exercised only on the approval of the Home Secretary, and cannot even be mentioned in court. But collecting communications data, and building techniques for them to be arbitrarily investigated, makes much more available to be known about every one of us without any form of warrant or independent oversight.

If elected, would you vote to ensure that access to any form of personal communications is only permitted to formal investigations under warrant?

7) Tens of millions of law-abiding citizens are being routinely monitored as they travel, on the roads by Automatic Number Plate Recognition – without any legal basis – and in the air or by sea when detailed passenger records are passed to the Home Office’s e-Borders data centre even as you leave the country. Vast quantities of information, including your financial details from ticketing, and pictures of who you are travelling with, are being kept. For five years in the case of road data, and ten years at least for e-Borders. It is passed around government agencies, and even sent abroad. Such records are used to match records with ‘intelligence’ (which usually means guesses) from other sources – exposing unsuspecting citizens to suspicion, arbitrary penalties, and worse.

What limits would you place on the database surveillance of those travelling abroad and within the UK?

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Ask Nick.

I think most people would agree that, of all the parties, the Liberal-Democrat manifesto promises on civil liberties are the best. However, these are domestic policies and we need to know their views on proposed EU legislation. Liberal Democrat MEPs voted for the fast track European Arrest Warrant, under which Britons have been sent abroad to face trial, sometimes for fairly trivial offences. The Tories voted against this.

The European Union has put forward a proposal, the extended European Evidence Warrant, which would be an EU-wide search warrant that could be issued in any state, and which would be binding on all police forces. Warrants could also be issued which would force police to intercept phone calls, set up CCTV surveillance, monitor bank accounts, and even demand body samples such as fingerprints or DNA. See here.

This European Commission Green Paper proposes going much further than the European Arrest Warrant and is in essence, an expansion of Ripa powers to every state in the EU.

Naturally our old friend, Home Affairs Minister, Meg Hillier says:

We would in principle support a new and comprehensive instrument based on mutual recognition that covers all types of evidence.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow justice minister, said that a Conservative government would ensure that Britain did not opt into the scheme:

Civil liberties campaigners are right to be concerned about this extension of state power across national boundaries.

We need to ask Nick his views on this subject.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Email your parliamentary candidates.

Thanks to Police state we have a list of many of the grassroots campaigns attempting to give some power and influence to us, the voters.

Write To Them is an excellent tool. Send all of the candidates in your area an email to see where they stand on a particular issue.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

An unhealthy approach to data?

Whilst you are, hopefully, busily writing letters to the press and PPCs please note that a local patient record system is under development called the Interim Electronic Patient Record (iEPR), see here. At least it is news to me and I find that you can download an opt out letter. We are told that:

The Heart of Birmingham iEPR is an electronic patient record that contains information extracted from your GP and Hospital records and makes them available to clinical staff wherever they are treating you locally.

We are also told that:

The Heart of Birmingham (iEPR) and the National Care Record Summary (NCRS) share some similarities, such as the ability to share clinical information and robust controls over access to this data. However; the iEPR is not part of the NCRS project and does not provide information to the national system. The HoB iEPR is a local system, only available to patients registered with a Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Practice.

Presumably other trusts have a similar system. If you don't want to participate then fill in the form. Naturally there is logic in such a system BUT we should be told about it, asked whether we wish to participate and not merely given the facility to opt out when we haven't even been told the system exists and find out about it by chance!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

That's it folks.

The Green Party's 50 page manifesto gives detailed policies in a variety of areas but makes little mention of civil liberties: they would:

Oppose ID cards as they will not reduce or prevent crime. We also have grave concerns over the development of a national dataset, including detailed biometric data, which has potential for the infringement of civil liberties.

UKIP make no mention of civil liberties or the database state and the BNP don't even have a manifesto! Update- The BNP rejects ID cards as an undesirable manifestation of the surveillance society.