UK Liberty

Sorry Henry but this is what shielding is for

Posted in database state, politicians on liberty, privacy, relates to ordinary people by ukliberty on March 30, 2009

Henry Porter in the Guardian:

.. If someone can without much trouble lift this data, does it not follow that databases like the national identity register and the children’s database, ContactPoint, are similarly insecure?

Even if Smith is unlikely to absorb this message now, MPs who worry about their personal information leaking to the press may like to think again about the merits of big, centralised databases. For that reason, we should welcome the Mail on Sunday’s scoop. Smith’s embarrassment is a fringe benefit, which we may think of as repayment to the taxpayer.

But special people will be ‘shielded’ by ContactPoint and we know that special people have “additional protection” from HMRC.  

Also, our representatives don’t want us to know where they live.

All for security purposes of course.

That many of us would like the same security is of no account, unless we can prove we are particularly vulnerable.

Otherwise we remain subject to a greater security risk than our representatives.

It really is a case of one rule for them and another for the rest of us.

Man watches Ocean’s 13… twice

Call for resignation.

Alix Mortimer makes a more sober comment:

… And why, you might ask, am I, um, handwringing over this in quite so prurient a fashion?

Simple. This is just the kind of happy little vignette that it’s apparently just fine for three hundred thousand civil servants and ministers to know about the rest of us. Every internet transaction, every site visit, every email.  So what if outrage, mortification and a publicly damaged relationship results? At least the government have been able to verify to their own satisfaction that you’re not doing anything wrong. …

Guido says they don’t like it up ’em:

Note that the anger MPs are feeling about the expenses revelations is directed not at those MPs who are abusing the system and bringing them all into disrepute, but at those who are exposing them. Labour MPs are convinced there is a “Tory mole”* in the fees office, others think that digitised versions of their soon to be released receipts are being shopped around the papers. …

And what about that ‘court of public opinion’, asks Mark Reckons:

When Harriet Harman was being questioned about Shred’s pension she said that although his contract may be enforceable by law, it is not enforceable in the “court of public opinion” and hence the government would “step in”. I wonder whether she takes a similar view about Jacqui Smith trousering over £100K by claiming that a room in her sister’s house is her main residence whilst she has a huge house in Redditch where her husband and children live. It is clear that is also not enforceable in the “court of public opinion. Is she now going to “step in”?

Shoddy detective work

Posted in database state, DNA database by ukliberty on March 30, 2009

[hat-tip FishNChipPapers]

The Police Professional:

A report that suggests a quarter of public sector databases are illegal under human rights or data protection laws has been criticised for inconsistencies and a lack of evidence.

Database State was published this week by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. The report assesses 46 databases across major government departments and suggests ten – including the national DNA database (NDNAD) – should be “scrapped or substantially redesigned”.

The report was criticised by Peter Neyroud, the chief executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), which manages the main police databases. Mr Neyroud said: “The report contains a number of inaccuracies and contradictions. It fails to mention the Police National Computer at all …

In fact there is a section on the PNC from page 21.

Back to Neyroud:

“The NDNAD detects a disproportionate number of serious crimes”

In fact the report says,

there is serious doubt about its effectiveness: doubling the number of people on the database from about 2m to about 4m has not increased the proportion of crimes solved using DNA, which remains steady at about 1 in 300. Indeed, in 2007 the number actually fell slightly.

Back to Neyroud,

“and to suggest that it should be scrapped is ludicrous.”

In fact the report does not suggest it should be scrapped. It says,

Red means that a database is almost certainly illegal under human rights or data protection law and should be scrapped or substantially redesigned.

For all but the most serious offences (sexual and violent offences), data must be forgotten after an appropriate period.

And given the European Court of Human Rights said it is currently unlawful, it seems implicit the database must be changed to make it lawful.