UK Liberty

Ignorance or mendacity?

Posted in database state, DNA database, ID Cards, law and order, politicians on liberty, propaganda by ukliberty on December 8, 2009

(hat-tip Andrew Watson)

Today the Government published its response to the report commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust on the Database State.

I’m reading the response and will update this post as I wade through it.

So far it can be summed up as “The Government doesn’t do anything wrong.”

e-Borders

I have that familiar but confusing sensation of being simultaneously amused and slightly frustrated.

Their comments on the effectiveness of the DNA database and eBorders are cases in point: there are no stats relating to convictions but examples of individual cases are, as usual, held up as proof that these are worthwhile, necessary and proportionate systems to have.

Example:

The ‘Database State’ report suggested that there was ‘little evidence of effectiveness’ of UKBA systems. However, the following case studies illustrate some of the benefits of e-Borders and outline some of the different ways the data can be used: [synopsis of three cases]

That’s it! There is nothing else offered to refute the claim that there is “little evidence of effectiveness”. Nothing. Possibly because there is little evidence of effectiveness.

[update]

ID cards

The [Database State] report also noted ‘the growing public opposition to ID cards’ as part of the explanation for a red rating but there was no reference to support this suggestion – the majority of public opinion polls over the past five years have shown that the majority of people support identity cards and recent research has shown a consistent level of support for the National Identity Scheme of around 60%.

OK, it appears to be a bit remiss of the authors of Database State not to substantiate their claim here. But it seems to me any follower of the polls would, if he is honest, suggest there does indeed appear to be growing opposition to and declining support for ID cards.

Plot, for example, the results made available in table form by Polling Report:

What I hope you can see (and I’m sorry if it isn’t clear enough, do let me know) is that I’ve plotted the results of the polls over time for TNS/Home Office polls.  Looking at a particular poll result over time – the result for ‘support ID cards’, for example.  This is the pink line, to which I have added a dotted red line to show the linear trend.  It is clearly in decline over time.  Look too at the cyan (light blue) line, which represents the Home Office poll’s result for ‘oppose ID cards’. The dotted turquoise line represents the linear trend.  Opposition is clearly growing over time. And remember, this is the Home Office’s own poll.

And have a look at the TNS report from June 2009:

Support for the service has decreased this wave, with only 56% agreeing strongly or slightly with the plan. This continues the general downtrend in levels of support over time.

The results for ICM/NO2ID polls tell a similar story: decline in support, growth in opposition.

(Note: the ballpark percentages for and against differ between the polls because of the different methodology – there is a much closer gap in the ICM/NO2ID results.  Also, I haven’t plotted ‘don’t know’ or ‘undecided’)

Incidentally, TNS/Home Office changed the methodology of their poll since (and including) their February poll.  They inserted this new question:

Q.1a How concerned or worried are you about protecting yourself against identity theft?

Before this question:

Q.1 Are you aware of the Government introducing a national identity scheme, which includes the Identity Card?

This could explain the jump in support (regardless, support remains in decline).

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One Response

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  1. […] Which itself is riddled with factual errors and misunderstandings and reaches conclusions without se…. … We can never be complacent about databases – the challenge in getting the balance right between seizing the opportunities they offer and avoiding the risks they pose is evolving as fast as the technologies themselves. Whenever changes need to be made, we will make them. But we can only do this on the basis of a rational dialogue between all concerned. […]


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