UK Liberty

Bon voyage

Posted in ID Cards, nothing to hide nothing to fear, relates to ordinary people, stupid by ukliberty on December 24, 2009

(hat-tip Andrew Watson)

Some organisations aren’t accepting the new UK ID card and thereby ruining Christmas.

The Mirror: P&O blocks new ID card

A couple’s Christmas break was ruined after the husband was told he could not use his ID card to catch a ferry.

Norman Eastwood, 64, had been assured the new Government document was valid for travel within Europe.

That is in fact what the IPS website says: “this card can be used for travel within the EU/EEA and Switzerland”.

But when he arrived at Hull for a trip to Rotterdam, P&O told him they had no knowledge of the cards, only available in the North West. …

Manchester Evening News: ID card confusion at travel terminals

One man had to cancel a Christmas cross-Channel break when P&O told him he could not use his ID card. And another said he was ‘treated like an illegal immigrant’ by airport staff who had no idea what his ID card was.

Bricklayer Norman Eastwood, who was one of the first people to get a card, said he was fuming when P&O staff at Hull refused to let him on the ferry to Rotterdam without a passport.

Meanwhile student Cyrus Nayeri, from Denton, said he was treated like a criminal by staff at airline German Wings when he showed them his ID card.

Cyrus, 18, who was travelling from Stansted to Bonn on an educational trip, was taken into a side room and told he could not fly.

He said: “It was like they thought I was trying to use a fake document.

“I was one of the biggest supporters of the scheme but now I definitely wouldn’t recommend them to anyone.”

When Mr Nayeri complained, airline staff eventually phoned British government officials – and let him on the plane at the last minute.

But a German Wings spokesman later confirmed the company would NOT be accepting the ID cards in future, until they are recognised by the German Federal Police.

Manchester Evening News: ID card chaos as travel firms blunder

Some 1,736 people in Greater Manchester have bought the £30 cards after the Home Office promised they could be used to travel in Europe.

But customer service staff at nine major travel companies – including British Airways, Eurostar and BMI baby – told M.E.N reporters posing as customers that the cards could NOT be used instead of passports.

Eight of the nine companies later issued statements saying staff had given the wrong advice – and that the cards COULD be used after all. But Eurostar remained unsure. A spokesman said: “We are unable to confirm whether the ID cards are valid on Eurostar at this time.”

Meanwhile two major German airlines said they would not accept the cards until they had been officially recognised by the German federal authorities.

A P&O spokesman said: “We weren’t aware of the trial of these ID cards. The Home Office did not communicate this scheme to us. UK Borders Agency at Hull told us they weren’t aware of the trial either.”

I’m not sure there is a ‘trial’, as such – ID cards “can be used for travel within the EU/EEA and Switzerland”.

The Register: Multiple travel firms refuse ID cards as passport alternative:

In a statement, the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) said it remained confident that the majority of travellers will have no problems using ID cards as an alternative to passports.

The National Identity Card is a valid document for travel and is as good as a passport in Europe.

We expect all carriers in the UK to accept National Identity Cards for travel as a legal duty and we are confident that the vast majority of travellers will have no problems using their Identity Card as a travel document.

The majority?  Best take your passport instead…

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Same old tripe from the Government

Minister of State Michael Wills in the Guardian:

A new dialogue on data

We need a rational, respectful discourse if we are to properly consider the benefits and flaws of using databases. …

… the increasing sophistication of data management has sparked concern about data protection and civil liberties, most acutely over the measures government takes to protect its citizens. This tension is serious, complex and inescapable. In modern democracies it will always be hard to strike the right balance between protecting the public from the threat posed by crime and terrorism and the need to protect civil liberties.

Reconciling the goods of liberty and security and opportunity, which all speak different languages, is never easy. The only way that it can be done is through rational and mutually respectful discourse, wary of anyone, on any side of the debate, who claims a monopoly of wisdom.

But that’s what the Government does, isn’t it? Claims a monopoly of wisdom, I mean.

Unless people agree with the Government, in which case those people are wise too…

The basic principles for using personal data are that it should be proportionate and necessary. That goes for debate about it too.

Sadly, such a rational, respectful discourse, so essential to the creation of public policy on this crucial issue, has been largely absent in recent years.

Government must take its share of the blame. Too often, we have been overly defensive and dismissive of criticism.

Rather understating it, seeing as Government Ministers have smeared and traduced their critics and called them “intellectual pygmies“, among other things.

But equally, opponents have been too quick to assume the worst of government, without any evidence to support their assumptions, replacing argument with rhetoric.

The Rowntree report, Database State, exemplifies this flawed discourse. Riddled with factual errors and misunderstandings, it reached conclusions without setting out the evidential base for doing so. The government has now published its response.

Which itself is riddled with factual errors and misunderstandings and reaches conclusions without setting out the evidential basis for doing so.

… 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.

Government Ministers aren’t interested in dialogue, nor are they interested in supporting their assertions with evidence.

They continue to waste our time and our money on half-baked, unsupported, proposals, and post hoc insincere apologies and justifications.

This is not “rational and mutually respectful discourse”, this is treating the world as a write-only medium and our money as their largesse.

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?

Posted in ID Cards, rhetorical questions, state-citizen relationship by ukliberty on December 9, 2009

This Sun journalist applied for (and eventually received) an ID card.

Why has the Sun censored his date of birth and place of birth?

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).

Quite

(hat-tip Andrew Watson)

The Yorkshire Post:

ANYONE tuning into the Radio 4 the other day may well have frozen half way through a mouthful of cereal or choked on their coffee. They were listening to Meg Hillier, the “Minister for Identity”, being asked why the people of Manchester should spend £30 on an Identity Card, ahead of this week’s launch of the Government’s voluntary pilot scheme. Ms Hillier’s response was astonishing.

“Really for a lot of people it’s a convenience thing… For a lot of young people… often take their passport to prove their identity in nightclubs and bars… I’ve got one and it’s very useful… the way I’m using mine at the moment is to prove who I am at the post office when I pick up a parcel.”

So let’s get this clear. The Government thinks you should pay £30 and give them 49 separate pieces of personal information, so you can go for a beer and collect some mail. They can think of nothing better for the ID Cards to be used for. As former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: “This is a far from robust defence of one of their most expensive follies.”