UK Liberty


Posted in database state, law and order, surveillance society by ukliberty on February 10, 2009

Phil Woolas (Minister of State (also in the Home Office), Home Office; Oldham East & Saddleworth, Labour) Link to this |Hansard source | Video match this

The hon. Gentleman says that we heard about the matter this weekend, but the programme referred to in the weekend press has been known about and debated in this House for four years. It is part of the shake-up of border controls. The introduction of e-Borders allows the Border and Immigration Agency to track movement in and out of the country, which is necessary to control our borders. It is, of course, done proportionately[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman dismisses my answer; I take it that he agrees with the hon. Gentleman for the front page , Chris Grayling, who is clearly more interested in scoring political points than he is in controlling our borders.

I can’t see how the blanket retention of all data relating to all journeys in and out of the UK can possibly be proportionate, particularly as the data they store now only leads to 0.0036% of travellers being arrested (no information on convictions, as per usual).  This is even lower than the proportion of people arrested (for any reason) after being searched under s44 Terrorism Act.

It’s a real shame someone has to be a ‘victim’ before they can challenge this sort of thing in court.  As it is, we have to wait until someone becomes a victim, they will spend several years battling it all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, which will probably find against it, and then the Government will procrastinate for months if not years about compliance with the ruling.

The Government has no mandate for this.  Only one fifth of the electorate voted for the party now in power.  And I don’t recall this being in its manifesto.



Posted in ID Cards, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on February 10, 2009

Meg Hillier (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Identity), Home Office; Hackney South & Shoreditch, Labour)  |Hansard source | Video match this

Both my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I have met trade unions a number of times. Most recently, my right hon. Friend met the trade unions from the airport on 29 January, on her visit to Manchester, and they were very supportive of the scheme. We are working closely with all the partners in the airports to ensure that the scheme delivers real benefits to airport workers, including on such matters as the portability of passes, to prevent very high costs and challenging circumstances for staff who often have to wait a long time for their security clearance before they are paid. Identity cards will speed that up, and we look forward very much to working with airports to ensure that the scheme works and that we learn lessons for the further roll-outs.

Oh Polly, you were doing so well

Posted in freedom of information, ID Cards by ukliberty on February 10, 2009

Polly Toynbee in the Guardian (I wouldn’t bother reading the rest of the article, it’s rubbish) saying something sensible:

Does public money get wasted? Of course it does, from failed IT schemes, to wasteful ID cards to ever-escalating Olympic costs. When £500bn is spent a year, some schemes will fail, and some managers will empire-build. Eternal vigilance is needed. 

And then she goes and ruins it all by saying something stupid like,

But at least the spending is pretty transparent, audited and scrutinised, whereas very little can be gleaned from public companies’ minimal accounts on their wastages.

Firstly, you try getting information the government or local authority minds you having.

Secondly, it’s the customer’s choice* when shopping in the private sector as to who gets his money!  If you are bothered about lack of detail in a company’s accounts (I’ll be honest, it’s probably the last thing on my mind when I buy something), then shop somewhere else – just like you might choose not to buy cosmetics that have been tested on animals, or non-kosher or non-halal food, or a popular brand of soft drink because you’ve heard dodgy stuff about their working practices overseas.

But you don’t have a choice about the money being wasted on ridiculously bloated and unjustified public sector IT schemes (e.g. ID cards, again), particularly if you’re in the unlucky section of society that will be volunteered to have them first (e.g. if you are a Manchester airport worker). I don’t know why so many people ‘on the Left’ (there I go with labels again) don’t seem to comprehend / appreciate this.

(note that four fifths of us did not vote for the party that formed the government)

Thirdly, the private sector has an incentive to keep costs (including waste) to a minimum in order to profit and compete…