UK Liberty

leaked document: National Identity Scheme Options Analysis Outcome

Posted in ID Cards by ukliberty on January 30, 2008

hat-tip Ideal Government and NO2ID.

Read it.

Counter-terrorism Bill was published last week.

Posted in detention without charge, law and order by ukliberty on January 30, 2008

And yes they are still going for 42 day detention without charge, even though everyone now admits there is no evidence for needing it.

The Independent has a good summary:

  • The Home Secretary will be able to immediately extend the limit to 42 days if a joint report by a chief constable and the Director of Public Prosecutions backs the move;
  • The Commons and the Lords will have to approve the extension within 30 days;
  • The new limit will only be available to police for two months unless it is renewed;
  • Parliament could be recalled from summer recess if a vote was required on an extension;
  • Individual detentions over 28 days would need to be approved by a judge at least every seven days.

However, the way the proposed system is set up could mean suspects being held for 42 days even if Parliament eventually refused permission.

Such a scenario could arise if the Home Secretary only decided to extend the limit towards the end of the existing 28 day slot, because Parliament is only required to vote within 30 days.

In that time, a suspect could already have been charged or released without charge.

Note that the bill explicitly says Parliament will not be given “any material that might prejudice the prosecution of any person”, as you would hope – but then how can Parliament claim to be informed on whether or not the decision to detain someone was the right one?

Politicians cannot be said to be neutral, independent decision-makers.  An informed and neutral decision-maker is a prerequisite of fair proceedings.

In addition I have been reminded that it is a constitutional obscenity to erase the line between Parliament and the courts – it is for Parliament to make the law, not rule on it.  That is a job for the courts.  We do not have a full realisation of the separation of powers in this nation, but let’s not make it worse.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith vomited some wordsalad:

It won’t be hypothetical if and when it occurs. We are not legislating now on the basis that we are bringing it in now for something that might happen in the future; we are bringing it in now for something that might happen in the future; we are bringing in a position for if it becomes unhypothetical. If, unfortunately I and many other experts are right and we do need it in the future it is in place.

And added a false dichotomy:

We face a choice here. We can either sit on our hands, failing to recognise where there is a broad consensus that this is a risk that is growing that we might well face in the future, we can risk that happening, we can risk having to legislate in an emergency in the future, we can risk, as some people believe we should do, having to declare a national emergency in order to be able to do it, or we can, as we are proposing, legislate now – with the discussion that will be put in Parliament on the safeguards and on the circumstances in which it would be used – and have that available in the future.  That seems to me to be a very sensible way forward.

And one of her minions, Tony McNutty, dressed it with this:

As an extreme example, imagine two or three 9/11s. Imagine two 7/7s. Given the evidence we’ve got and the nature of plots so far disrupted, such scenarios aren’t fanciful.  We hope never to utilise this power. But given all we know, we need to take it for extreme circumstances.

Well, gee – imagine the UK public grabbed their hempen and went looking for McNutty and co.  As there is precedent for this, such a scenario isn’t fanciful.  We should therefore outlaw the carrying of ropes near lampposts.

Of course that is not the only power in the Bill, have a read.

Then again we might

Posted in ID Cards by ukliberty on January 29, 2008


The Identity and Passport Service has denied that fingerprints could be dropped from the National Identity Register.

It has dismissed a report in The Observer, based on a leaked document, that claimed plans to asess the costs for different groups of people point to the plan for a fingerprint register being dropped.

“It’s a nonsense to suggest we are going to drop fingerprints,” an IPS spokesperson told GC News. “International travel documents have fingerprints and we are going to move in that direction. It’s very obviously the direction for travel documents around the world.”

Mixing a lot of things up here – perhaps intentionally – as per usual.

Firstly, I don’t think the claim was that fingerprints would be dropped entirely – the leaked document suggests fingerprints might not be used in some circumstances depending on the cost.  In other words, they might not be used in some circumstances. Have they even developed “an affordable and convenient solution for enrolment“?

Secondly, UK identity cards are not international travel documents (you might be able to use them within Europe).

Thirdly, not all international travel documents have fingerprints – indeed they aren’t required by the ICAO.

Fourthly, the ICAO doesn’t say a nation that uses fingerprints on its ‘international travel documents’ should have something like our National Identity Register.

He said the IPS would not comment on the contents of the leaked document, but that the IPS was still committed to using fingprints as part of the National Identity Scheme.”By linking fingerprints to a secure database

Is this secure like the second-class tax system or secure like the first-class tax system?

with strict rules outlining its use, the National Identity Scheme will allow individuals, business, and the state to prove identity more securely, conveniently and efficiently while protecting personal information from abuse,” he said.

“This builds on what we are doing anyway putting finger prints in passports and immigration documents in line with international moves to strengthen document security. The ID card will need to meet international standards for travel documents as it will act as a passport for travel within the EU.”

The spokesperson said more detailed plans would be announced when discussions internally and with suppliers are complete.

That is, the suppliers that haven’t dropped out of the scheme.

He also described as “entirely wrong” reports of plans to prevent young people who do not have an identity card from obtaining a student loan in the future.

That is, there is a rough idea to do so, all part of the Coercion Not Compulsion strategy.

In other news, reports John Lettice at the Register,

favoured initial target markets are “Trusted Relationships and Inclusion.” These can be “focused on [i.e. victimise] specific groups – suggesting that you could start here“. Nailing trusted relationship groups will essentially mean targeting people who, because their work places them in positions of trust, are required to undergo CRB checks. So teachers, carers, anybody working with children and/or vulnerable groups will be forced to get an ID card, commencing in the second half of 2009. The “level of assurance”, i.e. whether or not they will be fingerprinted, will “be driven by the services that individuals will access. Individuals within these groups may enrol at a lower level of assurance, but then be asked to provide fingerprints later, if they need access to products or services that require a higher level of assurance.”

The document does not explain why its authors appear to believe that fingerprinting someone, ipso facto, results in a higher level of security.

But Mr Lettice, ‘assurance’ is not synonymous with ‘security’.  To me, the extract seems to be suggestive of security theatre. In other words, an uninformed person will be ‘assured’ that a would-be carer or teacher has provided his fingerprints.

Might not use fingerprints after all

Posted in ID Cards by ukliberty on January 28, 2008

The Observer:

The future of the UK’s identity card scheme was thrown into further confusion last night after it emerged that the Home Office is looking to scrap one of its key components – a national register of fingerprints.

Successive Home Office ministers have said fingerprinting will be a vital weapon in combating identity fraud and terrorism. But a confidential document produced by the Home Office Identity and Passport Service which has been obtained by The Observer states: ‘We should test for each group we enrol whether the cost of fingerprints is justified by the use to which they will be put.’

The implication that the scheme may prove too costly was immediately seized upon as proof of the government’s waning enthusiasm. The use of iris scans has already been quietly dropped.

Two points to make.

First, and possibly most important, is that the whole point of the scheme is to distinguish between us – it is after all an Identity scheme – and biometrics are pushed as the only way to do that.  See for example someone like Home Office Minister Liam Byrne:

Biometric ID cards carry a single important advantage, which is that they lock the individual down to a single identity, so that such fraud becomes harder, if not impossible, in the future.

There were to be other ‘benefits’ from the fingerprint records too, such as having a database of fingerprints the police could trawl through.  So it would be very interesting to see what uses they think might not be justified by the cost.

Second, why haven’t they made their minds up yet?

Interesting discussion about public sector IT

Posted in Uncategorized by ukliberty on January 28, 2008