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Atu XVIII
UK Civil Liberties
This blog has moved to http://trevor-mendham.com/atuxviii/wp/




Friday, May 23, 2008  

Change of Address

After a period of hiatus I've just relaunched this blog in a new WordPress powered form. You can find it at:

http://trevor-mendham.com/atuxviii/wp/

This version will remain for archive purposes.


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Wednesday, December 19, 2007  

Scotland Opposes ID Cards

I almost missed this in the Christmas build up:

Last week the Scottish Parliament passed motion S3M-1017 which restated the country's opposition to Identity Cards and other Westminster government attacks on civil liberties. The motion as passed reads:

That the Parliament believes that the fundamental liberties enjoyed by generations of our citizens must not be eroded; welcomes the commitment by the previous Scottish Executive that ID cards would not be needed to access devolved services and its proportionate position on DNA retention; is concerned at the threat to civil liberties from the UK Government's expensive and unworkable proposal to introduce compulsory ID cards; believes that the Scottish Government should not put citizens' privacy at risk by allowing the UK ID database to access personal information held by the Scottish Government, local authorities or other devolved public agencies; therefore calls on the Scottish Government to ensure that all data protection procedures comply with the principles of data protection, namely that personal information must be fairly and lawfully processed, processed for limited purposes, adequate, relevant and not excessive, accurate and up to date, not kept for longer than necessary, processed in line with individuals' rights, secure and not transmitted to other countries without adequate protection, and that audit of data under its jurisdiction is independent of government and accountable to the Parliament; further calls on the Scottish Government to review plans for Scottish Citizens Accounts on the basis of these principles, and takes the view that there should be no blanket retention of DNA samples and that the Assistant Information Commissioner for Scotland should have specific powers to carry out spot checks on the compliance by Scottish government agencies and bodies with the Data Protection Act 1998.



You can read the debate here.

The passing of this motion by our democratically elected parliament is very welcome. Unfortunately at the end of the day it's little more than a token thorn in the side of the Westminster government's plans. Even if the Scottish government chooses not to cooperate, we in Scotland will still be numbered, filed and monitored in the same way as the rest of the UK.

You might like to connect with NO2ID Scotland on Myspace.

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Monday, December 17, 2007  

Another Three Million Records Lost by UK Government

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has had to announce another massive data loss by the UK government: personal details of three million driving test applicants have gone missing.


Kelly has noted that no bank details were in the missing data. That's not the point. This was confidential information and the government had a duty of care to protect it.

Kelly has noted that compared to the amount of data the government handle the scale of this loss is small. That's not the point. To an individual whose privacy has been breached such statistics are irrelevant.

Kelly has noted improved procedures for the future. That's not the point. Even with the best procedures, accidents will happen.


The real point of this latest revelation is that no government, no matter how well meaning, can be trusted to protect individual privacy. We should be tightening rules on internal government data sharing rather than relaxing them. The government should be collecting less data on us, not more.

And, of course, the government must permanently abandon all plans for compulsory national identity cards and a huge, intrusive National Identity Register.

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Monday, December 03, 2007  

Poll: ID Card Opponents Outnumber Supporters

When the government first proposed compulsory Identity Cards they claimed 80% public support. This support has fallen away as people have learned more about the huge, intrusive National Identity Register (NIR) behind the scheme.

The recent mass loss of personal information seems to have been the final straw for many people. The Telegraph reports 48% of people now opposed vs only 43% in favour.

With Brown's government under so much pressure in so many areas this is the time to convince them to drop this unpopular scheme.

What can you do? Write to your representatives, write to the newspapers, join NO2ID and sign the plegde.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007  

Another UK Data Debacle

Following the recent loss of sensitive information on child benefit claimants news has emerged of another government breach of privacy. This time it seems that the information wasn't lost but simply forgotten about.

Reports say that a contractor working for the Department of Work and Pensions had personal data on thousands of benefits claimants stored on computer discs. That was completely legitimate, she needed them for her job. But when she stopped working for the DWP she forgot to give the - unencrypted - discs back. And nobody at the DWP seems to have realised she still had them. Nobody ever asked her to return this sensitive personal information - and that was over a year ago.

Some people will attempt to downplay this incident on the grounds that the compromised information didn't contain bank details. That's not the point. This was personal information and the DWP had a duty to protect it. Their failure in that duty shows that this government cannot be trusted to safeguard our private data.

It is the nature of all governments to try and protect their own privacy whilst invading that of the people. This doesn't have to be sinister, it can be due to incompetence, neglect or in the name of improving efficiency.

Which is one reason why no government can be trusted with a huge, intrusive National Identity Register

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Friday, November 30, 2007  

Scare Tactics to Bolster ID Cards

Sky News is running an interview with Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. In it she warns that the number of UK terror plots is rising. She talks of the chilling possibility of a dirty bomb being exploded in a city centre.

The threat from terrorism is indeed serious. People need to be careful. But that's been true for ages. So why this warning just now?

Would it be overly cynical to suggest that the timing has something to do with the recent data loss fiasco? And the growing public pressure to scrap compulsory National Identity Cards?

Well... The same package from Sky goes on to show footage of government research labs where scientists are working on ways to protect us: facial recognition, fingerprinting and other privacy invading biometrics. This, we are told, is not stock footage but a rare glimpse of secret premises - so why did Smith feel the need to authorise such filming just now?

Just in case anyone missed the point, Smith later goes on to explicitly try to defend the ID Card scheme and the huge, intrusive National Identity Register (NIR) on which it will be based.

Yes, the threat from terrorism is real and serious. ID Cards won't prevent terrorism.

To respond to the threat by playing the fear card and turning Britain into a surveillance state is to hand victory to the terrorists.

Tell your MP.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007  

Labour Donor Wanted Privacy

The Brown government is under massive pressure over a party funding scandal. The man at the centre of the row, David Abrahams, has explained that his actions were intended to protect his privacy.

What planet is he living on?

Worrying about privacy whilst supporting Labour is like worrying about the environment whilst dumping chemical waste into a river.

The Labour party is one of the biggest threats to personal privacy that we've seen for generations. Over the last ten years we've seen massive expansion of the national DNA database, a snoopers' charter for civil servants and even fingerprinting of kids at school. This government also wants to impose compulsory National Identity Cards and a huge, intrusive National Identity register.

The government doesn't even properly protect the information it collects: HMRC lost discs containing the personal information on almost every family in Britain. The discs still haven't been found and the information is still out there. Somewhere.

Abrahams is backing the wrong horse.

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All material copyright © 2006-2007 Trevor Mendham. Thanks to Judes for the original Atu XVIII card artwork.


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