UK Liberty

Integrated Children’s System

Posted in database state by ukliberty on April 9, 2008

What rights and responsibilities are we talking about?

Posted in Bill of Rights (and Responsibilities), politicians on liberty by ukliberty on April 9, 2008

[hat-tip Tim Worstall]

David Selbourne in the Guardian:

In the convergence of these positions, elementary truths have been forgotten. The largest one is that without the fulfilment of the citizen’s duties the free society cannot endure. Take away the sense of duty to community, environment, polity and nation, and collapse awaits.

Yet the notion that there should be some reciprocal relation between rights and duties is held by many to be wrong, an imposition, even described as an “impertinence” in a recent submission to the parliamentary committee on human rights.

Is Selbourne referring to Henry Porter, who wrote to the Committee that:

I want to say something about the phrase “rights and responsibilities” used by Jack Straw and Gordon Brown in respect of a new bill. This springs from the telling belief among ministers that rights are somehow in the gift of the government and that they are entitled to require people to sign up to a list of responsibilities in exchange. This is arrogant nonsense. The citizen’s responsibilities are defined by common, civil and criminal law, and ministers display a constitutional impertinence by suggesting otherwise.

Porter seems spot on.

Back to Selbourne:

To expect the fulfilment by the citizen of his or her duties is no impertinence. It is essential to liberal democracy. Indeed, government ministers today speak hesitantly of a need for “constitutional renewal” or for a more “contractual” relationship between citizen and state. Under it, the performance of civic duties would be made a condition for the gaining of rights, many of the latter now routinely and shamelessly exploited by rich and poor alike.

A major problem is that the Government hasn’t been at all clear about which civic duties we should perform or what responsibilities we have and the rights we’ll ‘gain’ in return for fulfilling those duties and responsibilities.

If for example David and the Government are saying that I should perform some community service or pay my tax on time and I will be ‘granted’ freedom of speech or the right to a fair trial, they can [expletive deleted] off.

If on the other hand my responsibility is to look for work while I’m on Jobseeker’s allowance, well that seems fair and surely that’s something we are already doing and enforcing.

The other problem is that you can get your hands off my rights and freedoms, they are not for you to grant but for me to decide what I am prepared to give up in return for cohabiting this island with the rest of you.

Ministry of Truth again (allegedly) and unanswered questions

Posted in ID Cards, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on April 9, 2008

The Ideal Government:

I dont really get this. An eyewitness made a contempory note of Meg Hillier telling the Home Affairs Select cttee

The National Identity Register, essentially, will be a secure database; …hack-proof, not connected to the Internet…not be accessible online; any links with any other agency will be down encrypted links.

I understand the officials present were passing notes to try to get her back on message. What appears in the official record is is

The National Identity Register, essentially, will be a secure database; it will not be accessible online; any links with any other agency will
be down encrypted links.

In short, probably best not to claim it’s hack-proof, Meg, because there is no such thing.

Also that it has to be online in some form, otherwise no-one outside the highly secure bunker containing the database(s) will be able to access it.

The real puzzle here, though, is how the public and private sector will verify someone’s identity. Meg wasn’t much help to the Committee:

If you are an employer and someone presents to you with their passport, you would make a phone call to—

Q21 Chairman: We do not need to see your passport again. We believe it is you!

Meg Hillier: But they would then check that as verification: “Is this a real passport?”, and you would get that, yes, or, no, answer.

Nor is the IPS’s brief description of the Identity Verification Service:

The identity verification service will provide a way for accredited organisations to check an individual’s identity. This means that you will have a secure and convenient way of proving your identity in a variety of situations …

  • if you are a foreign national applying for a job it could be used to confirm that the status of your visa allows you to work …

To protect your privacy, all organisations that wish to use the identity verification service will need to be accredited, and they will need your consent before they use the service to check your identity.

In common with every document, transcript or debate I have seen on this issue, there is nothing about how it will be made better, or easier, just that it will be.

Nor is there any information on how an employer becomes ‘accredited’ – what is the procedure here, how long will it take, and so on – just that an accredited employer will be able to use the service.

There is some more detail in documents like the Identity Checking Services Presentation and various action plans:

  • Visual Check – Checking whether the card photograph matches the card holder
  • Card Authentication – Checking whether the card is genuine and unaltered through the chip
  • Pin Check – A higher level of proof by entering the PIN
  • Online / Telephone Verification – Checking through temporary codes generated by the chip or shared information
  • Biometric Check – Checking whether the card holder’s fingerprints match those given during enrolment
  • Identification – Confirming identity when the card is not present
  • Information Provision – Making data available from the NIR (only in legally prescribed circumstances)

On-line or 3-way checking (using biometrics for example) should be used only where the situation justifies or requires it.

But again, nothing about how the employer will authenticate a card, or have the cardholder enter a pin, or how ‘temporary codes’ will be generated and how they will be generated and how they will be submitted online, how someone’s fingerprints will be checked, or the system for identification when the card isn’t present – again, what is the procedure, if the public Internet isn’t to be used what will be used, what equipment will the employer need to think about buying, and so on.