UK Liberty

ID card briefing document

Posted in ID Cards by ukliberty on April 13, 2007

James Hammerton over at MagnaCartaPlus has published a briefing document that,

provides an overview of the scheme, covering issues such as what information will be stored, who will have access to it, whether the card will be compulsory, and who will be requiring you to present your card.

Note that, over time, it is intended that this document will be updated to cover issues such as how the ID card will threaten personal privacy and whether the scheme is likely to achieve the government’s stated aims.

Talking CCTV to apologise

Posted in surveillance society by ukliberty on April 13, 2007

[hat-tip: SpyBlog]

The Guardian:

Britain’s talking CCTV cameras are to issue their first apology for embarrassing a blameless passerby on the day the government announces plans to extend the anti-vandalism scheme to 20 town centres.

Marie Brewster, 26, a young mother, appeared on TV news reports after a camera operator mistakenly thought she had dropped litter and boomed out a reprimand from the control centre in Middlesbrough.

So not only can you be mistakenly reprimanded, but it could also be broadcast on TV.

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear.

Violent crime reduction

Posted in law and order by ukliberty on April 13, 2007

If “Offering or agreeing to re-programme a mobile telephone” was made illegal, would it reduce violent crime?

What about the “Sale and disposal of [football] tickets by unauthorised persons”?

Sarah’s Law

Posted in law and order by ukliberty on April 13, 2007

The Sarah’s Law campaign was setup by the News of the World newspaper in response to the tragic abduction and murder of an eight year old girl by a man convicted five years prior of abducting and molesting a girl of the same age.

The proposals are comparable to Megan’s Law – this representing a number of similar state laws in the USA.

The campaign is for

The legal right of every parent to know the identity of serious child sex offenders living in their community.

However, with severe penalties in place for anybody who misuses this information.

The News of the World claimed on Sunday that it had won the battle (reproduced here because there doesn’t seem to be a permalink):

MAJOR test-runs of Sarah’s Law are being set up in a historic victory for the News of the World campaign to protect Britain’s kids from paedophiles.

For the first time parents will have the RIGHT to know if predatory perverts live in their neighbourhood.

Seven years after the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne sparked our crusade, ministers are poised to change the law and make it happen.

This year the Home Office will run THREE pilot schemes around the UK before launching nationwide.

The first area chosen is Wansdyke in north-east Somerset with 50 schools and a population of 100,000, picked because it includes rural villages, towns and a slice of the city of Bristol.

The test-run means:

PARENTS can demand to know if serial paedophiles live on their street, their children’s route to school and around their nursery or playground.

SINGLE MUMS can find out if a new partner has a record and is a risk.

SCHOOL heads can be told of sexual predators nearby.

The pilots are expected to run for three to six months before a nationwide roll-out. Home Office officials want to assess how many use the new powers and the impact on local communities.

Single mums will be the first to benefit. It is thought the scheme will then extend to ALL parents and headteachers.

They will not be given exact names and addresses but will be told how many paedophiles are in the area and the degree of risk.

It is a difficult issue and not one to be treated lightly.

And that is why the people in charge of this at the Home Office should be ashamed.

As Alice Miles of the Times wrote on Tuesday,

As I write, all that the Home Office will confirm is that a story that appeared in Sunday’s News of the World — from which the details above are taken — is accurate, but that it does not know any more than that. This seems a strange way to make policy, given the amount of critical detail that is absent from the News of the World story. You cannot say Sarah’s law is happening unless you know exactly how it is happening. But this, remember, is John Reid’s Home Office, so we shouldn’t be too surprised; government by headline is what he does.

And even as I write, the policy is disappearing. The Home Office rings with some “additional guidance”: they are still “in discussion with stakeholders about piloting this model of disclosure”. We are not, parrots the poor mouthpiece forced to spew out Mr Reid’s rubbish, at a “formalised announcement” stage: “We are very much encouraging people not to say that this is what’s going to happen.”

There. Despite having spent two days telling people that it was going to happen — and allowing Sarah’s poor mother, who has been campaigning for Sarah’s law for seven years, to believe it was on its way and publicly to welcome it — there, in the puff of a headline, it is gone. Shame, shame, shame on them.

Regardless of the merits or otherwise of such a law – and there are differences of opinion, as can be established by a glance at article and the public’s comments on it – this seems a shabby way to treat such a serious issue.

Home Office statement.

The Guardian has some history.

voice analysers

Posted in Uncategorized by ukliberty on April 13, 2007

The BBC:

Lie detectors will be used to help root out benefit cheats, Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton has said.

So-called “voice-risk analysis software” will be used by council staff to help identify suspect claims.

It can detect minute changes in a caller’s voice which give clues as to when they may be lying.

Matthew Parris in the Times:

There are those, of course, who say the technology is unproven. At Prime Minister’s Questions it will face the ultimate challenge. The most consummate confidence trickster on the planet v the most accurate fib-sensor American research can devise. If at noon on Wednesday the buzzer does not sound when Tony Blair speaks, then the whole technology can be scrapped as useless.

But seriously, my only real objection to the use of such systems – so long as they are effective – is that they may discourage legitimate claimants.

In an older BBC article discussing the use of these systems by the insurance industry, the managing director of one supplier said,

We use the technology in a live environment, and we also use operators that have been trained in identifying behaviours associated with truth and deception.

We’re then able to be fairly certain, not 100%, but fairly certain, that there are risk problems within a claim that need further validation.

The psychology of that persuades many claimants to withdraw from the process altogether.

Stammerers, for example, could be among such people.