UK Liberty

DVLA sells 5.3m driver records

Posted in database state, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on January 18, 2008

and what do we get out of it?  Harassment from cowboy clampers?  Yeah, great.

The Register:

The DVLA’s sale of driver details to anyone with £2.50 to spare must stop, says the Scottish National Party, having uncovered just how many peoples’ records have been sold by the department.

Christine Grahame, an SNP Member of the Scottish Parliament, accused the agency of recklessly handing out driver and vehicle requests to private companies. …

Last year the DVLA sold 1.3m records to private companies – a 54 per cent increase in five years. Grahame made the FOI request because several of her constituents were wrongly sent fines from private parking companies demanding payment. She said letters were written in a way which left people frightened and intimidated. …


Councils, unions and the nations against ID scheme

Posted in ID Cards by ukliberty on January 18, 2008

Not sure why I haven’t seen this before:


A growing number of Councils and other major bodies, such as the Scottish Parliament, and the Welsh and London Assemblies have passed strongly worded motions against ID cards. Many of these will refuse to cooperate with the ID scheme; some have even affiliated to NO2ID.

Lay things on the line — the millions that each Local Authority is going to have to pay to make its systems compliant with the ID Register and people’s ID number usually wakes people up. This money has to come from somewhere — either cuts in local services, or rises in Council Tax.

It is also worth pointing out that the Home Office’s stated position is currently that every Government Department, Local Authority and public sector body will have to do a “business case” and decide whether or not to ‘buy in’ to the ID scheme, i.e. all the costs will come out of their existing budgets, but there are NO PENALTIES (yet) for those that decide not to join up. …

It is welcome news that a number of organisations within the public sector are refusing to sign up.

It is worth emphasising the point about the budgets.  The (under)estimate that the scheme will cost £5.6 bn is just the estimated cost of setting up and running the scheme at the IPS.  The cost to the rest of the public sector in getting involved is not included.

Illegal working, national insurance numbers, foreign nationals

Posted in database state, ID Cards, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on January 18, 2008

This week I wrote about ID cards, biometric immigration documents, and foreign nationals.  The Government is pushing ID cards / biometric immigration documents as a means of preventing illegal immigration and working (see also).

But how complicit in illegal immigration and working has the Government been?  (I’m not suggesting it is a malign conspiracy, rather a matter of incompetence).

This week we heard that there is some confusion (also Telegraph) over whether or not national insurance numbers have been issued to those who shouldn’t have received them.  Apparently over 6000 were issued to illegal immigrants.  Before June 2006, NINO issuers didn’t check the immigration status of applicants (also see the Times).

Don’t worry:

Photo of Peter Hain Peter Hain (Secretary of State, Wales Office) | Hansard source

… Under Labour today, a national insurance number can never be proof of anyone’s right to work, … I repeat that, under Labour today, the national insurance number on its own cannot be an automatic passport to a job. It is an administrative mechanism whereby we can track people’s contributions to the national insurance system and record their entitlement to pensions and other benefits.

But the number can form part of a defence (756Kb PDF) to a charge of employing an illegal worker.  They also have other uses – as Danny Alexander MP pointed out, they are also necessary for the benefits claims.  And as he said,

If, however, there is still a loophole, a problem, a mistake or incompetence in the system for the allocation of national insurance numbers, there are potential implications for the benefits system that need to be examined.

The same goes for any system that relies upon the proper issuing of the numbers.

My point is that the £5.6+ bn identity cards and National Register scheme is in part a proposal to ‘fix’ problems (eg: illegal immigration and working; benefit fraud) that have occurred as a result of incompetence.

(Bizarrely, according to Mr Alexander, the benefits system prior to 1994 didn’t involve even verifying  NINOs even though it relied on them)

Now, hat-tip to Doctor Wibble for the heads up on the debate this week in the Commons on the issuing of NINOs.

David Davies (Monmouth, Conservative) | Hansard source

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for giving way. If the Security Industry Authority and the Home Office, which has been found to be employing illegal cleaners, cannot determine who can and cannot legitimately work in this country, how on earth does he expect a small shopkeeper, a restaurant keeper or a small businessman to do so?

Peter Hain (Secretary of State, Wales Office) | Hansard source

That is exactly why we need compulsory identity cards for foreign nationals, but the hon. Gentleman is opposed to that policy. As I will explain in a moment—clearly he does not understand the situation either—compulsory identity cards will be a crucial weapon in stamping out the illegal working that, in supporting his party’s motion, he professes to be concerned about.

Again, not all foreign nationals (arguably relatively few) would be issued with identity cards under Government proposals.  Furthermore (and once again), if there is a group of people who aren’t obliged to have identity cards (eg UK citizens before new legislation), Johnny Foreigner can just say he’s one of them.  How can the employer establish the facts?

Let’s also address the Ministers who keep pushing the idea that ID cards / biometric immigration documents are a great way of counting people entering and leaving the country (eg).

Why on earth do you need a system that has been proposed (the 50+ pieces of information etc, held on a central database) to count people in and out?  Of course you don’t, you just need a system at the borders that can count and distinguish between individuals.  It doesn’t even need to know or record anything else about the individual – all it needs to record is that on this date a person with this characteristic (a fingerprint, or iris scan for example) entered the country, and on this date a person with the same characteristic left the country.