The Sunday Times suggests Alan Johnson may be paving the way for a U turn on ID cards, surely the cleverest single move he could make as Home Seretary. It would be a victory for civil liberties and common sense, save the country billions and improve Johnson's own prospects and those of his party. And best of all, it's free and easy.
From the ST:
ALAN JOHNSON, the home secretary, has launched an urgent review of the £6 billion identity card (ID) scheme, paving the way for a possible U-turn on one of Labour’s flagship policies. Johnson, who was promoted in Gordon Brown’s latest cabinet reshuffle, is understood to be “sympathetic” to critics who claim identity cards will undermine civil liberties. The home secretary told officials that he wanted a “first principles” rethink of the plan, which was launched by Tony Blair following the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and has since been championed by Brown as a way of fighting terrorism. “Alan is more sympathetic to the civil liberties arguments than previous home secretaries,” said an insider.
David Nikel (Barcode Nation): On 29 January the EEMA (European Association for e-identity and Security) and the Digital Identity Forum are holding a seminar entitled "The Business Use and Applications of the UK National Identity Card"
Have a read of this from their website:
Over a period of time, public opinion, as measured by opinion polls, appears to have shifted away from support for the scheme towards opposition. This appears to have become more of a concern since the disclosure of the loss of 15 million records by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.
However, this could change if a commercial and business value of this card could be established, what opportunities are there for this unique and accredited form of identity to be exploited?
It is rumoured that there are 250 commercial applications spawned from the introduction of the Belgian Identity Card from car insurance to Access and Identity Management (AIM), learn how some of these were introduced and of their success.
HOLD ON A MINUTE! Let me check the official Home Office website on ID cards:
The data will only be used to accurately determine your identity.
The information we would take about you, and what we would do with it, is strictly limited by laws designed to protect you.
Information will only be held for the purposes of proving identity. Sensitive information like medical records will not be held.
So what exactly is going on here? Is this businesses getting together on the off-chance the Government might change their minds at some point in the future? Or are there plans afoot to sell our private data once the ID card system is up and running?
We need answers.
Guy Aitchison (London, CML): NO2ID launch a new video campaign this week aimed at highlighting a disturbing aspect of the national identity register (the database at the heart of the preposterous "ID cards" scheme) that is frequently overlooked. "Take Jane" is a short video monologue by a mother fleeing an abusive husband out of fear for her safety and that of their daughter, Jane. She knows that easy access to her details via the thousands of officials that operate the database means it's only a matter of time before he finds them. As NO2ID say on their site:
It is nearly certain the National Identity Register will be used, as many existing databases have already been, to harrass and to stalk individuals and to commit crimes against them.
Because it is intended to be universal, because it will contain or connect to so much information, and because it will feed other official databases, the National Identity Register has much more potential for harm than the often patchy official records that already exist.
The campaign will hopefully show the "nothing to hide" argument used by pro-ID advocates for the rubbish it is.
Tom Griffin (London, OK): No one has kept a closer eye on the rise of the database state than Henry Porter. On his Guardian blog today he sees signs in stories from Westminster, Scotland, Northern Ireland and France that suggest the tide may just be turning.
In the United Kingdom the primary struggle against government intrusion centres on the ID card and the plans for a huge government silo to store information on every phone call, email and internet connection. There is good news on both these but the campaign against the theft of our democratic rights will not be won unless public opinion builds against these two schemes.
It is in our hands.
if we face a situation as a government where both
technology and our use of technology means that some of the most important capability that law enforcement uses at the moment is likely to be eroded, then we have to consider what is the most appropriate way to deal with that technologically (number one) and what are the appropriate legal safeguards to put around the way in which we deal with that in the future to safeguard that capability
Clearer now? Good. Now stop worrying. We are safe in their hands.(via the No2ID email).
Update: No2ID have the Home Secretary's fingerprints.
Guy Aitchison (London, OK): Over at the Fabian Society blog, General Secretary Sunder Katwala, posts a short personal reflection on the career of David Evans - the Tory MP for Welwyn and Hatfield who died earlier this week - and reveals himself to have been an early opponent of ID cards and the fledgling database state. Evans - who described himself as a "very right-wing disciplinarian" - had strenuously recommended ID cards to Margaret Thatcher as a way to stamp out football hooliganism. All matches would be 100% members only, with membership serving as a self-contained identity card - a "crude piece of unConservative central control", which, the Guardian obituary notes, "was a serious runner at the time."
Sunder's first taste of direct political action was collecting signatures against the football ID card scheme at Southend United. In the end it was the glaring holes in the scheme (nicely summed up by Ed Pearce in the Guardian), rather than the work of protestors, which led to it being dropped. But as we gear up for the issue of the first ID cards on 25 November - this time by a Labour government - it's interesting to note that the head of the Fabians has a strong pedigree when it comes to opposing this intrusive and unwanted measure.
NO2ID have teamed up with the Open Rights Group to show Parliament the 'Big Picture' by constructing a giant image made out of thousands of pictures taken by UK citizens of surveillance state ephemera. YOU can join this protest from anywhere in the UK by simply sending us a photo. We would like you to send us a picture of 'the database state' in YOUR life. We want images of the signs of mass surveillance, and any form of intrusive ID or state control - cameras, cards, scanners, forms, whatever you like.Photos should be sent to FreedomNotFear@no2id.net. Some of those already submitted can be seen on this Flickr page.
Guy Aitchison (London, OK): That's the great put-down coined today by Chris Huhne to describe Labour's revolting ID card scheme which is being rolled out on a compulsory basis in November for non-EU students and marriage visa holders. I have a feeling it may prove prophetic.
The first cards were unveiled by Jacqui Smith today. You can take a look at them on the BBC website. They are pink and blue and credit card-sized and feature, amongst other things, a photo, a "biometric chip" and remarks on work restrictions and benefit entitlements. In time these details, and a whole mountain of other personal data, will be stored on a huge central database accessible by several hundred thousand officials.
The initial introduction of the cards for foreign nationals is part of, what Phil Booth from the excellent No2ID calls, a "softening up exercise". Having been forced on the most vulerable members in society, from next year the cards will be compulsory for people in the airline industry and, after that, they will be offered to young people under 16 followed by the entire population.
Guy Aitchison (London, OK): Lib Dem blogger Steph Ashley has news of a generous offer from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust in support of No2ID. Any new donations received by No2ID will be doubled by Rowntree. Steph has the details:
From 1st September 2008, the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd has generously agreed to match, pound for pound, any *new* income that NO2ID receives. Which means that for every pound you give from 1st September NO2ID will receive TWO pounds to spend campaigning against the ID scheme and database state.Hat-tip Lib Con.
Please send your donation by cheque to our office (please mark your envelope 'JRRT'):
The NO2ID Campaign
19-21 Crawford Street
London W1H 1PJ
Or you can donate by credit card or via PayPal using the 'Donate' button on our website, http://www.no2id.net (left hand column)
Double your money offers like this don't come along very often so please, dig deep - encourage your friends, family and colleagues to make a donation. With your help we can stop this.
While you're at it, why not join the campaign, join a local group and take the NO2ID Pledge?
This is a direct repost (with permission) from the journal of superactivist "diffrentcolours"
Guy Herbert (NO2ID): NO2ID will be making the most of the opportunity provided by David Davis MP's dramatic resignation to encourage discussion of the surveillance society and ID cards. Mr Davis has repeatedly used the phrase "the database state", and we are sure that this is something he will want to talk about too.
Whilst NO2ID cannot endorse any candidate nor any particular party, and has no position on questions such as police powers, we welcome Mr Davis' stance wholeheartedly. Yorkshire NO2ID groups will be organising public information stands in Haltemprice and Howden on the two weekends preceeding the poll on 10th July (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details of how you can help). Other groups across the county and country as a whole will be doing the same in their areas.
Guy Aitchison (London, OK): There was something of a stir in the blogosphere this weekend over Labour’s campaign material in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election and in particular the fourth question on a leaflet purporting to be a Tory Candidate Application Form:
“Do you oppose making foreign nationals carry an ID card?”
Anthony emailed me this story with the Subject line “gross and outrageous”. I agree.
This propaganda only serves to confirm two things: the willingness of Labour to adopt inflammatory, possibly xenophobic, language to win votes and the intellectual bankruptcy of the Government’s position on ID cards.
Lib Dem Voice, Guido and Conservative Home were united in their condemnation of the ad – as good a sign as any that they'd strayed beyond the pale. To be fair Labour supporters themselves have now started voicing their displeasure, with one poster on LabourHome saying “Central should be putting their foot down on this; I would rather the seat be lost - than win on the back of a campaign based on fear.”
Time to withdraw the ad perhaps?
Henry Porter reports for us from last night's No2ID mayoral hustings.
Henry Porter (London, journalist): Under Ken Livingstone, London has become the most watched city in the free world; but he did not take the opportunity presented by these mayoral hustings to explain why he supports the surveillance by ANPR cameras outside congestion charging hours, the enormous increase in camera systems, or the retention of Oyster card data, which connect personal details with credit cards and travel information. Perhaps this is unsurprising since Livingstone is strongly in favour of ID cards and the National Identity Register, and he is on record as saying he wants thousands more cameras installed in the run up to the London Olympics in 2012.
Jon Bright (London, OK): The Telegraph reports today that 5,000 children are being added to the UK's DNA database a month, around 25% of the total number of new additions. A Home Office spokesman explained that, as under 18s made up roughly 25% of arrests, it was unsurprising they made up 25% of new additions.
Let's hope there's an innocent explanation for his absence. From our friends at NO2ID:
Tue, 8th Apr 2008 — NO2ID London Mayoral Hustings on
THE DATABASE STATE
As well as housing Whitehall, London has many information and identity management systems of its own. How do candidates feel about the civil liberties and privacy implications of the Oyster Card, congestion charging, telephone parking? Would they support or oppose national ID schemes as mayor? What is their attitude to the database state?