Yes, OK, the CCTV was a failure – but you still owe thousands of pounds.
By Alex Deane
Holding an identity card should be a personal choice for British citizens — just as it is now to obtain a passport. Accordingly, I want the introduction of identity cards for all British citizens to be voluntary
Alan Johnson, Home Secretary – 1st July 2009
We will reduce the information British citizens have to give for the new biometric passport to no more than that required for today's passport. And so conference, I can say to you today, in the next parliament there will be no compulsory ID cards for British citizens
Gordon Brown, Prime Minister – 29th September 2009
Following Alex's very well-received blogpost summing up our opposition to body scanners – and a number of new stories from this week – I thought it would be useful to provide a list of the numerous ways in which a government supposedly committed to 'personal choice' on identity has pushed, cajoled and coerced the nation into applying for an ID card.
If you are over 60 and want a bus pass – Pensioners could be forced to carry identity cards to qualify for free bus travel
If you are poor and bank at RBS and Lloyds – Meg Hillier said companies might offer to buy the £30 cards
for people who wouldn’t pay for them otherwise
If you are aged 18-24 and live in London (and want to buy alcohol) – Meg Hillier said People aged 18 to 24 will be able to spend £30 on a biometric photocard that can be used to prove their age when buying alcohol or age-restricted goods or to gain entry to a nightclub
If you are a Premiership footballer or 'skilled migrant' – The Home Office said that from January 6 skilled migrants would have to apply for identity cards when their visas expired. This further roll-out of the plans was brought forward from April
When applying for a CRB check – Millions could be asked to provide ID card and fingerprint data to get a job under new systems being developed by the Home Office following a collapse in the accuracy of background checks
And finally…to prevent identity fraud and terrorism – Alan Johnson: We need identity cards, and soon
And the areas this 'non-compulsory' scheme has been 'rolled out'…
Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Berwick and Northumberland – Identity cards could be introduced across the North-East by the end of the year, it has been revealed
Birmingham and Warwick – Identity cards are to be issued in Birmingham, the Home Office has announced
Cheshire – ID card scheme rolled out in Cheshire
And…our friendly, neighbourhood Post Office – Post Office co-opted to hasten ID card rollout
This list is probably not comprehensive, BUT don't let anyone – Minister, politician, Joe Public – ever tell you the ID card scheme has gone away. The Government is trying every trick in the political playbook to press identity cards into the hands of a deeply skeptical general public.
We must not let them. Go to www.no2id.net to read more.
By Dylan Sharpe
Our position on body scanners has been made clear on this site several times. They're an intrusive and unnecessary over-reaction to a threat (the Christmas Bomber) which could and should have been picked up using the intelligence available at the time – competent use of existing resources, not throwing money at new ones to be run by the same people whose incompetence led to the problem in the first place.
Still, I thought the following bullet points might be of interest:
“They are uniquely intrusive as they allow the government to photograph air travelers stripped naked regardless of suspicion” Marc Rotenberg, EPIC Executive Director
By Alex Deane
Note that I've used the American spelling for Centre as, well, that's
how EPIC spell it. It's not a typo
Related posts elsewhere: The Lift ("legal issues in the fight against terrorism"), an extended, good Washington Post piece and a brilliant article in The Age by the IPA's Chris Berg: New airport security measures are overkill, since the risk of terrorism is already so tiny.
We at Big Brother Watch have an eclectic taste in music, and when not at the grindstone we listen to our fair share of the latest poptastic hits.
So, with our intuitive ear to the ground, we were alarmed to hear the case of Tom Shaw – a 25-year old band member aboard a South West Trains service.
Being a busy chap, Tom used the journey time to pen some ideas for future tracks his band could cover. As the train pulled in to Fareham station, Tom was approached by staff members and forced to leave the train.
Nonplussed, Tom asked for an explanation. Unbelievably, he was told that train security had become aware of him writing 'The Killers' on his list and had taken offence.
Throw away the key I hear you cry! If you plan to use a locomotive any time soon, make sure you delete Miss Dynamite, Guns N Roses, Slayer, Bombay Bicycle Club, Public Enemy and Massive Attack from your iPad; or face the wrath of our overbearing state.
South West Trains, you are a disgrace.
James 'headbanging' Stannard
Identity card junkie Meg Hillier MP has once again been caught pushing the abhorrent pink plastic.
This time she has written a piece for Progress (the New Labour think tank) where she suggests ID cards could be the miracle cure for social exclusion.
The bulk of her argument focuses on the flimsy claim that:
Currently 80 per cent of the population have passports. That means 20 per cent are without access to the highest standard of identity verification.
Firstly, the majority of that 20% are not without access to the highest standard of identity verification, they simply do not have a passport. Secondly, we at Big Brother Watch do not think that the offer of a £30 ID card that has so far cost the taxpayer around £4.5 billion, and levies punitive fines at people who don't keep their details up-to-date, is the silver bullet to social exclusion.
It should be noted that many individuals may not want or need a passport. Hillier may enjoy playing the social exclusion card to her home crowd, but most will see it as another shallow smokescreen in the Government's quest for total surveillance of the general public.
On several occasions Meg suggests the importance of building an identity footprint. She presumably has a size 13 and leaves a trail of bank statements wherever she treads.
But, as always, Meg is on hand to provide us with some unintentional hilarity, writing:
My vision is of an identity service where government's role is limited to ensuring safety and security in providing the infrastructure…the technological possibilities are exciting.
On the same day that Kable reported:
Alan Johnson said in the last year five people had been disciplined or dismissed for falsifying records or manipulating Home Office systems…. Six people have been disciplined for unauthorised access to a database or letting someone else use their log-in.
Hmmm, safety and security. For all you technological thrill seekers, you must agree that is quite exhilarating.
By James Stannard
Earlier this week I was quoted condemning government plans to introduce annual fitness tests for school children. On top of the fact the proposal creates yet more tests and government interference for young students, it also represents the latest in a long line of 'health-fascism' legislation that threatens our traditional way of life.
Today, the Daily Mail is reporting that Hillingdon Council has taken this corrosive trend one step further:
The jingle of the ice cream van tells schoolchildren summer is on the way.
But the traditional treat has been banned by one council, which claims they encourage unhealthy eating.
Bureaucrats at Hillingdon council have declared that vans which park outside schools will be impounded under new rules.
They claim they were forced to act because there is 'a need to encourage healthier eating habits in children'.
Firstly a congratulations to Hillingdon for identifying the raison d'etre of ice cream vans. But minus marks for the sort of boneheaded nanny-statism that is all too common today.
Kids like ice cream and should be allowed to eat it. It's up to parents to encourage them to eat more healthily – not local councils.
Then there's the idea of impounding the vehicles of small business owners for the crime of trying to sell to their target market.
All in all, this is a complete stinker of a policy. Hillingdon: you are named and shamed.
By Dylan Sharpe
'Here we go again' is a phrase that we find ourselves using all too often on this blog; and despairingly we must begin today’s business with those four rotten words. As you remember, back in December we wrote about the shameful case involving Munir Hussain.
Now, the Saturday edition of the Telegraph has reported an equally bewildering and almost identical incident.
Sal Miah, 35, who owns a restaurant in East Sussex, heard a noise in his cellar and on closer inspection discovered two teenagers who had broken in to his property. They subsequently fled but he trailed them to a park and dragged them back to the restaurant.
He was pursued by a gang who were in cahoots with the two hoodlums and when they became aggressive and began intimidating diners, he pushed them away and locked the door. Needless to say, when the police arrived, the gang accused Mr Miah of attacking them and he was duly bundled into the back of a squad car. He was released after five hours in a cell and had his DNA, fingerprints and police photograph taken.
Cases such as this are appearing more and more frequent and such injustice only bolsters the idea of Britain having a ‘broken society’.
Academics, MPs and political commentators often cite a society void of individual social responsibility. Such claims are unsurprising given the fact that now not only do we live in fear of mindless yobs, but also those appointed to protect us from such malevolence.
Only last month Grandfather Gurmail Singh was beaten to death with a hammer as he tried to defend his shop from four teenagers stealing cigarettes and chocolate.
If we cannot defend ourselves where the state fails, then it will be harder to deny that our society is well and truly 'broke’.
By James Stannard