Beverly Hughes on ID Cards

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More public relations on ID cards from Home Office Minister Beverly Hughes, which needs to be argued against:,11026,1090930,00.html

ID route to beating fraud

Saturday November 22, 2003
The Guardian

I would like to clarify a couple of points raised by your article on European identity cards (ID cards may cut queues, but learn lesson of history, warn Europeans, November 15).

First, I should stress that, while we will continue to work closely with our European partners, most of whom already have existing ID card schemes,
we will not be replicating wartime ID papers. Instead, we will be developing a new, highly secure biometric identity cards scheme. This will help us to ensure that the scheme brings real benefits in tackling illegal employment, immigration abuse, identity fraud and terrorism.

Which European ID Card schemes have actually been shown to cost effectively reduce illegal employment, immigration abuse, identity fraud and terrorism ?

The Home Office has still not provided a detailed account of how exactly
ID Cards are going to be used
to tackle these illegal activities. Where are the published cost/benefit assumptions which balance how much of a reduction there is expected to be in these illegal activities against the massive cost, disruption to the economy and the loss of indivdual privacy ?

Biometric identity cards will provide the most secure form of identification ever. The personal information held encrypted in the card will be only that required to verify identity.

It is interesting to see that this Beverly Hughes is being a bit more cautious than her fellow Home Office Ministers David Blunkett or Fiona Mactaggart (c.f. with respect to claiming that Biometrics are "unique" or "unforgeable".

Is this a firm promise from the Minister that there will be nothing on the ID Card or on the central database except for the Biometric Identifier, a right of residence flag, a right to work flag, a card serial number, and a card date of date of issue only ?

It is neither technically necessary nor desirable, for any other details to be stored on the ID card i.e. no name, no address, no gender, no race etc. and nothing else should held on the central database in secret over and above what is on the card. Nothing should be printed on the face of the card over and above what is stored securely in the chip.

These details could, of course, be presented as part of the primary documentation used to authenticate the enrollment and registration process, but they must not be stored on the ID Card system.

Or is the Home Office actually planning something much more Orwellian and intrusive ?

Ongoing parliamentary scrutiny of the government's proposals will ensure that individual rights continue to be protected.

To say that we are not impressed with the Parliamentary scrutiny of anything to do with technology would be an understatement. The lack of informed debate and consultation on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act brings shame on both the Government and Parliament - is it any wonder that they seem increasingly out of touch with the public ?

Furthermore, the police will not have the authority to demand production of identity cards on the spot, and in implementing the identity cards scheme

Is the Minister hereby ruling out the suggestion from David Blunkett that there might soon be mobile technology available to the police that would allow the checking of Biometric Identifiers against the central database, without even requiring an actual ID Card to be available ?

the government remains committed to tackling any sort of discrimination.

Does that meane no discrimination or second class public services aimed at those people who choose not to register for the ID Card or who choose not to use one ?

Beverley Hughes MP
Home Office Minister

The public motto of the Home Office is "Building a Safe, Just and Tolerant Society" but what they seem to be building is a massive technological surveillance infrastructure. We do not think that they intend to abuse this at the moment, but the loss of individual privacy that it entails can never be reveresed and this system could so easily become "a rod for our own backs" in the hands of corrupt individuals or extremist politicians in the future. The only procedural and technological safeguard to our privacy and liberty, is not to collect and collate the intrusive surveillance data in the first place.


ID cards are useless against terrorism. That has been proved many times; anti-Nazi resistance during WWII, Oklahoma City bomb, World Trade Centre (twice), numerous IRA atrocities.
ID cards are useless against serious crime; Belgian paedophiles in Charleroi, the Soham girls. ID cards would not have assisted police in their enquiries.
I defy anyone to name one example of criminal activity where an ID card would have prevented it or would have lead to the perpetrator being brought to justice sooner.

The problem with large databases is that they require constant monitoring and nobody really wants to do it. Often the information becomes worthless in a very short space of time. The value of a particular scrap of information is often only realised after the event.
As for abuse, I doubt it. I personally don?t believe in selective efficiency. For example, I don?t believe that the UK would fail to have an efficient health service, education system, transport network, tax collection system and yet would be efficient at issuing ID cards.

Financial crimes such as bank fraud, benefit fraud and tax fraud are often assisted by the use of phoney IDs.

The Allied occupation force in Germany interviewed over twelve million Germans in an attempt to identify Nazis. Most of the interviewees had ID cards. Only a handful of Nazis were found despite a large proportion of the country being party members.

When areas of Germany and France were regularly disputed there was a need for those states to have ID cards so that if challenged by the authorities it was obvious which side of the line you ought to be standing. What they actually achieved is open to speculation.

ID cards are just another example of the EU standardisation of everything even when there is no longer a need for it.
UK law is now secondary to EU regulations. If our EU comrades have ID cards then obtuse EU logic would suggest that we have to have them also.

The UK did have ID cards during WWII but they were withdrawn following a court case in which the Judge decided that ID cards were no longer required because the reason for their existence had expired. Our European comrades maintained their ID system because no one bothered to challenge it and so the machine rolled onwards. Now it?s heading towards us.

If I travel to another EU member state for a holiday or business, it shouldn?t matter where I have my home. If I require emergency medical treatment while I?m there the E111 will suffice. If I don?t have the means to prove reciprocity then quite rightly I should pay the going rate.
An ID card wouldn?t necessarily prove entitlement to benefits; I may not be fully paid up. I can see that the ID card could act as a kind of benefits charge card but then private health and travel insurance tends to do that anyway

While at home it is apparent to all that engage in conversation with me that I am an Englishman. It?s obvious by my self-opinionated bigotry and I am proud to be associated with many likeminded comrades.
Dr Doolittle reckoned he could tell more from a person?s speech than by any other manner of assessment. Some of our EU comrades may lack the skills to identify someone by their speech. That is not sufficient reason to compel in excess of fifty-eight million people to carry ID cards.
I?m guessing that the set-up cost of the system would be around ?100 per person so that equates to ?5,800,000,000. Then there?s the maintenance costs, shall we say ?10 per person per year. That?s another ?580M every year ? for ever!
There are enough directors of commercial organisations ripping-off the system without adding another tier.

Unless the ID system can guarantee saving in excess of ?12000Ms in ten years then it is unjustifiable. Recent experience with congestion charging has shown how grand schemes often disappoint.

Benefit fraud is a problem for the benefit system and is easily prevented by not paying out to the wrong people.
Tax fraud is easily prevented by changing various tax laws but so far no one has grasped those particular nettles.
Credit card fraud is a bank problem.
Insurance fraud is ? well, you know what I?m about to say.

I also do not support the ID card system because I have personally witnessed the abuse for criminal purposes of ID cards from a number of countries ? mostly EU.

Consider this scenario:

Imagine the ID card system is up and running, obviously this is in some distant utopia where everything works perfectly, but bear with me.
I advertise my car for sale. Someone gives me the asking price in cash and takes it away. Some time later, the police question me about the purchaser because the vehicle was used in a suicide-bomb attack in a UK city.
I describe the purchaser to the best of my recollection.
It may or may not have been the bomber but from forensics it would appear that it was the owner-driver who detonated the bomb.
The bomber was known to the authorities as a medium-risk threat. The police are not permitted to disclose to me how that was determined
The police ask me what checks I did before I sold the vehicle. I tell them none, I wasn?t aware that I had to do any.
The police inform me that under the amended anti-terrorist laws, it is my duty as a citizen to take reasonable steps to prevent terrorism and that failure to do so may render me liable to prosecution.
I wasn?t aware that I had such a responsibility. I thought such things were dealt with by the State. ?You are the State?, says one of the officers.
On this occasion they think that prosecution is unlikely. But they tell me that if I sell any more cars I should do the mandatory checks.
Apparently there?s a free-phone number on the ID card that gives me access to some of the information. Obviously, I am not privy to all the information because if I was then naturally even the terrorists would be able to ring up and find out if they were on the database.
I was surprised that known terrorists weren?t barred from obtaining such information. Apparently it was felt that if someone was unable to access certain information then it would be a bit of a giveaway. Also, sometimes the information is keyed in wrong and some people have been wrongly flagged-up as terrorists because they share common characteristics with known threats.
I was told that if I had done the ID check then a bell would have rung somewhere and alerted the authorities to a medium-threat suspect movement.
I was curious as to how that would have helped in the fight against terrorism. Apparently it would have resulted in a higher risk-rating for the suspect. I expressed surprise that buying a car increased risk-ratings for people. One officer told me that was the case only for those with an existing threat assessment.
I was curious about my threat assessment but they couldn?t tell me any details. They couldn?t even tell me if they had checked whether I had one.
I wondered if they had threat assessments on themselves. They couldn?t tell me that either.
I thought it was rather odd that all this information was linked to an ID system and yet no one was allowed to check if the information held about them was correct. Apparently that?s the law.
The same law requires me to check a persons ID in the following circumstances: Buying and selling a car. Buying and selling any domestic or commercial property. Buying or selling any electrical products capable of being used in the construction or detonation of an explosive device. Letting any property. Encountering new neighbours within five house numbers either side of my own address. Any other suspicious activities.
I was concerned that my duty to the State may overwhelm my domestic responsibilities. The police weren?t permitted to comment on that.

Have I made my point?

Too stupid for words really, isn?t it?

We could use them for bus passes and train passes, assuming there is a public transport system!
We could also dispense with the Census ? a lot of that is made up!

The problem with information is that the answer to the question is only as good as the information available to formulate the answer. As one of Isaac Asimov?s robots once said, ?Insufficient data to formulate a meaningful answer?.

I noticed earlier that the Directory Enquiries service gives 40% wrong numbers. Directory Enquiries depends on customers for its income so we might expect greater accuracy. Sadly this is not the case. Check out this link ?

Do you remember how the postcode system was supposed to improve the postal service?
Some time later we find that our personal details have been sold to the highest bidder to enable truck loads of junk mail to get to the wrong people! I rarely get any proper mail now via the Post Office.

Returning to the subject of information and its effective use, let us suppose that you are an official investigating a criminal act. Let us suppose that you have a witness?s report that gives you a partial registration number of a car.
Enquiries reveal 2000 possible matches for the vehicle. After extensive searches of various databases you narrow down the number of vehicles that warrant further attention to twenty. After a lot of hard work you come up with nothing concrete, which is reassuring really because the witness got the partial ID of vehicle index characters wrong and your search was way off target before it even began. Imagine what the outcome may have been if you had successfully identified the wrong person as the villain.

Returning to ID cards, and I don?t give a toss about human rights ? it?s a red-herring, if the information is keyed in wrong or something is omitted, any extrapolation merely exaggerates the errors. Does that make sense?

With this in mind and knowing that there is such a large opportunity for error, we are best just avoiding ID cards because any decisions based on the product of their analysis must be flawed.
Also, they will cost too much!


Albert - It would be interesting to see more detailed comments from you about the Government's proposed Compulsory Biometric Smart ID Card proposals.

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About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog attempts to draw public attention to, and comments on, some of the current trends in ever cheaper and more widespread surveillance technology being deployed to satisfy the rapacious demand by state and corporate bureaucracies and criminals for your private details, and the technological ignorance of our politicians and civil servants who frame our legal systems.

The hope is that you the readers, will help to insist that strong safeguards for the privacy of the individual are implemented, especially in these times of increased alert over possible terrorist or criminal activity. If the systems which should help to protect us can be easily abused to supress our freedoms, then the terrorists will have won.

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UK Legislation

The United Kingdom suffers from tens of thousands of pages of complicated criminal laws, and thousands of new, often unenforceable criminal offences, which have been created as a "Pretend to be Seen to Be Doing Something" response to tabloid media hype and hysteria, and political social engineering dogmas. These overbroad, catch-all laws, which remove the scope for any judicial appeals process, have been rubber stamped, often without being read, let alone properly understood, by Members of Parliament.

The text of many of these Acts of Parliament are now online, but it is still too difficult for most people, including the police and criminal justice system, to work out the cumulative effect of all the amendments, even for the most serious offences involving national security or terrorism or serious crime.

Many MPs do not seem to bother to even to actually read the details of the legislation which they vote to inflict on us.

UK Legislation Links

UK Statute Law Database - is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online, but it is not yet up to date.

UK Commissioners

UK Commissioners some of whom are meant to protect your privacy and investigate abuses by the bureaucrats.

UK Intelligence Agencies

intelligence_gov_uk_150.gif - Cabinet Office hosted portal website to various UK Intelligence Agencies and UK Government intelligence committees and Commissioners etc.

Anti-terrorism hotline - links removed in protestClimate of Fear propaganda posters

MI5 Security Service
MI5 Security Service - links to encrypted reporting form removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

syf_logo_120.gif Secure Your Ferliliser logo
Secure Your Fertiliser - advice on ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser security

cpni_logo_150.gif Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure
Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure - "CPNI provides expert advice to the critical national infrastructure on physical, personnel and information security, to protect against terrorism and other threats."

SIS MI6 careers_logo_sis.gif
Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

Serious Organised Crime Agency - have cut themselves off from direct contact with the public and businesses - no phone - no email

Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system - voluntary self censorship by the established UK press and broadcast media regarding defence and intelligence topics via the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee.

netcu_logo_150.gif National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit
National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit - keeps a watch on animal extremists, genetically modified crop protesters, peace protesters etc.
(some people think that the word salad of acronyms means that NETCU is a spoof website)

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

FreeFarid_150.jpg - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond
Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution - Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

Amnesty International's campaign

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV


I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !


Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign


Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."


Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme