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UK Plans To Link Criminal Records To ID Cards

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the oh-sure-blame-the-children-again dept.

Government 359

Death Metal writes with this excerpt from ComputerWeekly.com about the UK's national ID card scheme: "Privacy advocates have reacted angrily to reports that the government plans to link national identity records to criminal records for background checks on people who work with children and vulnerable people. Up to 11 million such workers could be affected immediately if the plan goes ahead. Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of privacy advocates NO2ID, said the move was consistent with the various forms of coercion strategy to create so-called volunteers for national ID cards. 'Biometrics are part of the search for clean, unique identifiers,' Phil Booth said. He said the idea was patently ridiculous when the Home Office was planning to allow high street shops and the Post Office to take fingerprints for the ID card."

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359 comments

Who gives a fuck (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29282671)

Freaks who read slashdot - get a life. 1984 was fiction. Stop obsessing over whether someone will be able to link you to your porn collection, and do something useful.

Re:Who gives a fuck (0, Offtopic)

mrrudge (1120279) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282739)

Like troll message boards ? Taking own advice fail.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29282675)

Just when I thought I had Job Security...

Well, we all know what to do... (5, Informative)

kazade84 (1078337) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282697)

From the UK and don't like the ID card proposals? Then use your vote next year! [pirateparty.org.uk]

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (-1, Troll)

jhol13 (1087781) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282843)

When I buy something expensive from you, like a car, I definitely want to know you own it.

"Latest gas bill" is, well, not good enough.

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29282899)

How would an ID card show that you own a car?

Given that you would need an expensive biometric reader to test whether the ID card which is being shown to you is actually owned by the person stood in front of you, how would you be able to verify an identity any better than a driver's license or passport, or even a gas bill.

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (4, Insightful)

LKM (227954) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282929)

Is this really an actual problem that needs to be solved? I've never bought or sold a car, but many of my friends have bought or sold used cars, and I've never heard of anyone accidentally buying a car the seller didn't own. What are the statistics on this? Is it really worth going after this problem by giving up privacy? And if it is, does giving up privacy actually solve the problem in any way?

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283001)

I've never heard of anyone accidentally buying a car the seller didn't own

Oh??? Car cloning. http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/news/item.htm?id=6769 [honestjohn.co.uk] http://www.fbi.gov/page2/march07/carcloning032907.htm [fbi.gov]

But regardless, it's moot since a thief could just pass the car to a fence who has no record.

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29282947)

When I buy something expensive from you, like a car, I definitely want to know you own it.

"Latest gas bill" is, well, not good enough.

How about the car's registration documents? Are they good enough?

They always have been thus far, and at present there is no epidemic of people selling cars that don't belong to them.

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283235)

I think it's called a V5.

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (2, Informative)

onion2k (203094) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282949)

People have been happily buying and selling cars here in the UK for the past 100 years, all without ID cards. Why do we need them now?

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29282909)

It seems to be overlooked that the opposition Conservative Party [conservatives.com] has also pledged to ditch ID cards.

They may not be as sexy as the Pirate Party and no doubt fail to appeal to the rebellious outsider image of the typical /.er, but on the other hand have considerably more chance of winning and actually scrapping the scheme.

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (5, Insightful)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282965)

Really? ID cards are unpopular, they want to be elected, and oddly, they oppose it, funny that.

I've seen enough elections to know whilst they oppose it now, they'll love it if they get into power, lest the plebs think they matter.

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (5, Informative)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282979)

The conservative party? Would this be the same party that used soldiers in surplus police uniforms to put down the miners strike? The same party that used the SAS to carry out extrajudicial executions? That abolished the right to remain silent in police custody?

The above post is only 'informative' for young people and those with defective memories. Whatever the Tories say is, as it always has been, a lie. Reflect for a moment that the current Labour party got where it was today by imitating the tories...

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (4, Insightful)

stupid_is (716292) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283043)

Whatever a politician says is, as it always has been, a lie.

FTFY

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283053)

It's great that all you need to get points on /. is to repeat sufficiently mindless and cynical cliches.

No need to consider that political parties as well as people can change, that politicians might just do what they say and occasionally adopt a standpoint out of principle.

No, just stick to the old "they're all liars and swindlers" line. Then nothing's your fault, there's no need even to vote, and you are absolved of all responsibility for anything that happens. Just moan about it for /. points.

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (4, Informative)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283073)

It isn't fair to judge the Tories on their records? Bullshit, it is fair. The Pirate Party are the only ones serious about challenging ID cards; the tories are just making noises about it for political gain.

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (2, Informative)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283095)

The Green Party are also against ID cards.

I don't know if there'll be a Pirate Party candidate for me to vote for next year, but if there is I'll seriously think about voting for them instead of the Greens.

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (2, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283111)

True, but the green party have quite a bit of extra baggage i.e. their opposition to nuclear power in a world facing a potentially lethal energy shortfall.

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (2, Interesting)

FourthAge (1377519) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283193)

As are the Libertarians [lpuk.org] .

Unlike all the other parties, their opposition to ID cards comes not from a specific belief that they are bad, but from the more general "minarchist" belief in small Government and personal liberty. They hold that large Government is harmful in itself, so Government should be constitutionally restricted to the things that no other organisation could do. This means that there would be no ID cards, but also no equivalently bad things, like DNA databases. Also, there would be no income tax: you keep what you earn, and public sector jobs cease to be a route to personal enrichment at the taxpayer's expense. Pretty radical idea, eh?

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (4, Informative)

cowbutt (21077) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283239)

The Pirate Party are the only ones serious about challenging ID cards; the tories are just making noises about it for political gain.

The Lib Dems and Greens are also strongly opposed to 'em, and both are more likely to be in a position to be able to assert power and do something about it. I fear the Pirate Party's obsession with 'free (gratis) stuff' also blinds them to the harm it'll do to Free (libre) software.

OK, so lets look at what the Labour party did (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283221)

Winter of Discontent.

How far back do we go to dig up dirt to assuage your irrational fear that tories will get in?

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (2, Insightful)

kazade84 (1078337) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282981)

That's true. But it's pretty much a given that the Torys will get in next time anyway. A few seats for the Pirate Party will reinforce that policy, (if the Conservatives have a change of heart for example). A party doesn't have to win to have influence on government decisions (look at the Green Party or Lib Dems).

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283185)

A few seats. Hahahaha.

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283031)

It seems to be overlooked that the opposition Conservative Party [conservatives.com] has also pledged to ditch ID cards.

You seem to have overlooked the fact that the last Conservative government repeatedly introduced proposals for national ID cards, and were generally even worse than the current lot on civil liberties. There is no reason anyone would believe their pledge.

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (4, Informative)

FourthAge (1377519) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283071)

Mod parent up.

There are some Conservatives who oppose ID cards and authoritarian policies, such as David Davis and Daniel Hannan, but they spend most of their time being demonised by the media for being "right wing". Consequently they have no political influence within the party, which is simply New Labour with different people.

Re:Well, we all know what to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283049)

err but that would be the equivalent of voting Republican, if your a Democrat. Being old enough to have suffered the last Tory Government Id rather vote Monster Raving Looney Party than Tory.

Hitler Would be Proud!! Hes in ecstacy (0, Troll)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283083)

Dudes, why are you voting for hitler clones?

Hitler would be having orgasms over how the UK is acting.

Are the UK govt following his papers?

What is wrong with all the old grey hair govt people, are they insane or are they puppets controlled by some master?

Is all that extreme pay packets blinding their judgements?

If your in govt, you work for the PEOPLE, not your manager or future career.

yeah lets hope the economy fails, we all loose money, then we can do a revolution and take over.

Frist you need the ID cards... (1)

Shivinski (1053538) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282701)

...and seen as UK government isn't exactly the most efficient thing in the world it will probably be another 5 years before they even try and introduce the cards for everyone..by then these plans for criminal records on ID cards would have been either forgotten or heavily campaigned against.

Re:Frist you need the ID cards... (2, Insightful)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282713)

odds on data being left on the tube first.

They will sell it. (5, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282723)

Just like they sold the DVLA database to car buying/selling services (with fucking annoying adverts) where you can text a registration number to a number and get a car history/valuation from it.

You pay the DVLA for them to process data on your vehicle so you can legally drive it. Then the government sells it to a private corporation, which sells it back to the people who paid for it in the first place for a profit.

As it will be for the ID card database. The government will not be able to resist selling access to it, and every business that can pay will know your criminal history. In a society that is trying to criminalise littering and file sharing, that is not a pleasant prospect.

Re:They will sell it. (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282881)

In a society that is trying to criminalise littering and file sharing, that is not a pleasant prospect.

It's not the society, it's the people you vote for. Why do you keep voting the same two parties over and over again? (Before I get flamed, do you really think there's a difference?)

Re:They will sell it. (3, Interesting)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282897)

See my comments elsewhere. The notion we have an elected government in the UK would be charitably described as an 'exaggeration'.

Our head of state is an unelected Monarch whose power is quite real although understated.

Our head of government was elected by a Scottish constituency during an election held whilst he was not leader of his party. He makes decisions that do not affect his constituency, on issues that are devolved to the Scottish parliament.

We are overdue a republic.

Re:They will sell it. (0)

FourthAge (1377519) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282923)

All I can say is it's lucky that Britain has a resourceful, unbiased, independent and impartial public service broadcaster. It always opposes authoritarian, illiberal ideas like CRB checks and identity cards. It always puts what the people want in front of what the Government wants, and never tries to influence opinion in favour of the Government.

Like we all agreed last week [slashdot.org] .

Oh, wait.

Re:They will sell it. (1)

FourthAge (1377519) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283219)

Ooh, I'm "overrated" this time.

Seriously, mods! You wonder "why does the Government do these things?" and "how does it get away with it?" Then you mod people down for explaining it!

hey, UK (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29282725)

Stop this shit. You're embarrassing yourselves and setting a bad example for other countries.

Re:hey, UK (3, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282773)

Yes, it is a shame on us that we elected to power such people as Queen Elizabeth II, Gordon Brown and Lord Mandelson. Oh, hang on a moment...

Re:hey, UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29282805)

I don't think anyone in the UK has a problem with Mrs Windsor. She does a very good job under difficult circumstances, for the cheapest cost in the developed world.

We can only hope that 'Two-Ears' Charlie will match up to her...

Re:hey, UK (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282815)

I have a problem with her and I am not alone. Don't believe the old 'harmless old lady' rubbish. And don't come over with the tourism crap; the royals are not even the biggest tourist attraction in London.

Re:hey, UK (2, Insightful)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282863)

Well I have no problem with her at all, especially not compared with the sort of craven slime crawling toadies we seem so happy to elect; Mr Brown, Mr Blair, Mr Mandelson, Mrs Jaquie Smith, Mrs Harriet Harman etc etc.

 

Re:hey, UK (3, Informative)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282883)

You know in the last season of the wire, where Marlow Stansfield was willing to throw around cases full of cash and kill people just to get the right to meet with a drug supplier? Well, the Queen, as head of state, has the right to meet with her own PM on demand and with any visiting foreign dignitary. Do not underestimate the amount of unelected power this gives her.

Oh, and we did not elect any of those people. Mandelson is a Lord (as Frankie Boyle put it, appointed by the Sith) and despite being in the cabinet was not elected. The rest are MPs who were elected by the constituency of ~20,000 people each and have taken positions in national government.

Brown was also elected in a Scottish consituency, Scotland having its own devolved parliament, and gets to rule over England as well despite never having been elected here and his party not having contested a UK election with him as leader.

Democracy is a distant dream.

Re:hey, UK (3, Insightful)

FourthAge (1377519) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282943)

Indeed. With New Labour and their friends in the "conservative" party, and all those unelected lawmakers from the European Union, the Queen is really the least of our worries.

Her presence also means that we can criticise the Government without unpatriotically criticising Britain itself. This may not seem important, but there are people in some republics who think it is unpatriotic to criticise the President, and this can cause problems.

Re:hey, UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29282865)

i quite like the idea of randomly picking a family, giving them huge wealth and letting them be the top dog forever. I suspect there's a w churchill quote somewhere, but basically anything is better than a politician as president. royals may be a bit rubbish but imagine if Tony or Mandy got made president....

Re:hey, UK (3, Informative)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282921)

Yes, you're right, no one elected Gordon Brown to power... Oh wait, yes they did:

Labour - Gordon Brown - 24278
SNP - Alan Bath - 6062
Liberal Democrats - Alex Cole-Hamilton - 5450
Conservative - Stuart Randall - 4308
Scottish Socialist - Steve West - 666
UKIP - Peter Adams - 516
Scottish Senior Citizens - James Parker - 425
Independent - Elizabeth Kwantes - 47
Independent - Pat Sargent - 44

(Results for the 2005 Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath parliamentry elections)

Re:hey, UK (5, Informative)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282945)

There you go ladies and gentlemen - the most powerful man in our country, our effective head of state for some issues - voted in by 24278 people in Scotland who, due to the devolved parliament there, will not be affected by many of his decisions anyway.

Furthermore, he wasn't leader of the Labour party in 2005, so those people did not elected him as PM they elected him as Chancellor.

This is about as democratic as Iran. Yes, there is technically a vote - but the context of it and result are so warped you cannot really consider it a democratic election.

Re:hey, UK (4, Funny)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283019)

Flamebait? Seriously? Has a random number generator been given mod points or something?

Re:hey, UK (4, Insightful)

Ma8thew (861741) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283027)

No shit, because we don't elect the Prime Minister. We elect the government.

Re:hey, UK (1, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283035)

Nope, the government is appointed by the PM, who is appointed by the party. In the most recent case, this was done without the involvement of the electorate at all. You fail politics.

Re:hey, UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283121)

You obviously fail harder at politics.

People in the UK elect their local MP who represents them in Parliament.
Members of a political party elect amongst themselves their party leader.
The political party with the most MPs in Parliament become the government.
The leader of the government becomes the Prime Minister.

"No shit, because we don't elect the Prime Minister. We elect the government." Is pretty damn accurate you tool.

Re:hey, UK (1, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283137)

You've basically just admitted we don't elect the government, you ignorant twat. The idea that such an convoluted route represents democratic election of the government is self-evidently horse shit.

Re:hey, UK (2, Informative)

Angostura (703910) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283153)

so those people did not elected him as PM they elected him as Chancellor.

Hmmm, no. They voted for him as their member of parliament. He was chosen as leader by the party members, including the elected MPs.

Re:hey, UK (1)

shabble (90296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283105)

Yes, you're right, no one elected Gordon Brown to power... Oh wait, yes they did:

(Results for the 2005 Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath parliamentry elections)

I do believe those are the results for electing him to his constituency, not voting for him to be Prime Minister (which is what the GP was alluding to.)

Technically, no UK prime minister is elected by the electorate to be prime minister - it's other members of his party who do that, however the closest to the public voting for them tends to be a general election where the whole of the country votes, of which Mr Brown has yet to endure. He had a chance late 2007 when rumours were rife that one would be held but he/his advisors backed out of that one.

If his party retains a majority in the election in May(? latest it can be held is June 3rd), it could (tentatively) be said that he had been elected by the general populace, but not until then.

Another measure of 'popularity' could be certain No. 10 e-petitions.

One calling for him to resign:

 

An opposing one calling for him to stay:

Of course, these tend to be self-selecting, but they're just as valid (i.e. not very) than saying that Mr Brown has been elected by the whole of the UK, when the only reason he's there is because he was elected in his constituancy, and a group of his mates who were likewise elected 3-4 years put him there.

Re:hey, UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283209)

The Queen's got power? Quick, someone tell her! I'm sure she'd kick the current set of oiks out in a moment.

I am not sure where is the privacy problem here is (3, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282767)

Every time you have contact with the governments your name will land in a database to properly assign the bit of info to the correct person. Tax ? You are in the tax database. Crime ? You are in some police DB (print,possibly DNA, photo etc...). Identity ? You are in birth certificate, death certificate at the end. The alternative of not being in those database, is possibly to be mismatched to somebody else. So people get their panties in a knot when the government try to do a proper job to make sure they have identified the correct persons, but when they refuse them the tool to do so, and error happens, they get their panties in a bunch and accuse the government to be unprofessional, doing a bad job, then possibly suggest a private entity which will have possibly worst privacy or less oversight. Sure government should not willy-nilly be able to use or abuse such data, but it is the abuse which should be reprimanded. Not the normal usage. And the linking above, do not sound abusive. We call it here around a background check and it is done by checking your judicial database for sex offense.

Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29282821)

I'm willing to sacrifice a little privacy, in order to download the torrent of the database when it gets leaked.

Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29282875)

then maybe the answer is not to have such tracking at all..

Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (5, Interesting)

bakuun (976228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282877)

I completely agree. How is a government supposed to do everything it needs to do if it cannot accurately keep track of its citizens?

In Sweden, where I originally come from (now working in the UK), data is heavily integratated like this. Special, independent, departments oversee the use of the data in order to prevent abuse. And everything just works! Sure, it means that the government has an easier time detecting tax and benefit fraud, but hey... that's not so bad, is it?

Since I came here to the UK, I've really come to appreciate the way those things are handled in Sweden. My girlfriend was unable to get a cell-phone contract, since a credit background check showed that somebody previously living at our address had had problems with debt. The idea of identifying people by their address is utterly absurd as it changes constantly as we move around - but in a country with no effective ID system, it is necessary. I've lost count of how many times I've been asked to bring a gas bill with my name on it to prove where I live - also completely crazy. Keeping accurate track of such information should be trivial. Actually doing it should be a no-brainer.

Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283013)

Keeping accurate track of such information should be trivial. Actually doing it should be a no-brainer.

That's good, because the government has no brains :-)

You're dead right in that we need a simple, reliable ID system, and that (if done well) it would be less intrusive than the current silly, ad hoc systems currently used when it is necessary to verify ID (one favorite method is to ask for a gas or electricity bill - but all the gas and electricity firms are moving to paperless billing...).

Problem is, the gubment has such a stellar record on delivering IT systems that nobody in their right mind trusts them to do it. It doesn't help that they're loading on lofty and unrealistic ambitions about preventing benefit fraud, catching illegal immigrants and eradicating child abuse. I'd settle for being able to get a mobile phone without them taking a photocopy of my drivers license...

Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283077)

Dunno how long you've been in the UK... (same back story here) after a while you realize how openly evil imperialistic and brutal the govenment is here. It's just no joke.
The Swedish faith in the state will go away after an extended stay in the UK I'll tell you that.
---
Svenne

Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (1)

sharperguy (1065162) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283091)

"I completely agree. How is an extortion racket supposed to do everything it needs to do if it cannot accurately keep track of its subjects?"
Fixed

Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (4, Insightful)

master_p (608214) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283099)

The Id card as proposed by the UK government is not a simple reference document, but it allows connection with any means of electronic media, including computer databases, of course. This opens a huge can of worms: forming a resistance movement against an authoritative power will become very difficult, or even impossible.

Here is an example: suppose that you are interested in the preservation of the environment and the climate change; you don't want to sit on your couch all day, and the next G7 climate change meeting is not far from your country. You take a holiday, and then riding the first plane to the city where the climate change meeting takes place, you participate in the rallies against G7 policies regarding the climate. Sooner or later, you are part of a street battle with the local police that wants you not to rally at all. They arrest you, they get your picture and send it to the London's police department along your ID card data. They open a record for you in the UK criminal database as a possible "environmental terrorist".

You then return home, only to find that you have been fired. Although it hurts your feelings, you try another job. But without luck...employee after employee connect to the UK's criminal database using your Id card only to find out that you are a "terrorist". You are essentially finished...

Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (2, Insightful)

bakuun (976228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283169)

So you're worried that if you get arrested abroad, that information will be available to police authorities in your home country? Why? In my opinion, that's how it should be.

The example you give is hardly something we would want, of course. The problem, however, is not with the data integration - it is with (1) you getting in a "street battle", (2) the police terming you an "environmental terrorist" and (3) your employer firing you on unreasonable grounds (unless you're working in an area where such things actually matter).

Police shouldn't try arresting peaceful demonstrators (because you were peaceful in that battle, weren't you?), said demonstrators shouldn't be termed terrorists and they shouldn't be fired. Those are the real problems in your story.

Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (4, Insightful)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283131)

KÃre vÃn, you are comparing a country where 64% of managers have engineering or technology degrees, where the customary approach to selecting options is to gather measurable facts and do some calculations based on those facts, with a country where 38% of managers have no formal qualifications at all (not even basic school leaver certificate), and almost all options are selected by dogma or whim.

Sweden is not perfect - the same id number has been allocated to a new born baby as is already in use by someone over a hundred years old (that's fun for the old lady when she gets called to the doctor for a post-natal checkup!). But in general it works because (a) most government and commercial business is run mostly on rational processes (b) the freedom of information laws and privacy laws have teeth. Most government naughtiness gets caught out.

Britain is by comparison chaotic and irrational. Most of us like it that way because we can get on with our lives without any central or local government snoop knowing enough about us to interfere (and believe me, they would if they could - just look at the frequency of local councils using terror laws to combat littering!). Our real objection to ID cards is just this - we don't want to be ordered around by petty jumped-up know-it-all officials.

Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (5, Insightful)

mrrudge (1120279) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283151)

Ah Sweden. This is a discussion I ( English ) have with my gf ( Swedish ) often, and I think it's important to realise that Sweden is almost alone in having a paternal socialist government which is largely fair. In my experience a Swedish approach to living in England often results in frustration and genuine shock that people could live like this.

In England, personal information is very likely to be abused or used for profit by people who are effectively above the law, and it's unlikely that this information will have any positive effect on society, so people are naturally cautious as to plans like this, they feel ( correctly in my opinion ) that it's a loss of power for no gain. These laws tend to have clauses which exonerate the ruling classes, a lack of transparency which inspires contempt and a high likelihood that the data will be stored ( and used ) incorrectly.

England does not work. It's run by self-serving and generally unaccountable people who believe they are superior to large sections of the population, an opinion based largely on birthright. The class system I imagine was useful in an empire context where everyone knowing their place resulted in the entirety of the country ( questionably ) achieving greatness, but it is now almost impossible to dissolve, as this would require a reduction in power for a group of people who's entirety is based around not doing so.

You're right to say that in Sweden this would not be a problem, and is a good idea. In England not so.

Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283187)

I used to live in London and I am from Sweden, I have gone through the pain of getting the initial bits and pieces set up and sorting out problems due to the previous tenants unpaid bills, which is a very awkward and unfamiliar process.

I am strongly opposed to the id system in Sweden. Yes, it works very efficiently. So efficiently that you have to provide it in any non-cash transaction and quite a few other situations to boot. So efficiently that the id number was all that was needed to steal my identity, sign up for 5 different mobile contracts, take out loans in my name and buying a whole load of crap using my name and credit history.

Here is the kicker - the credit rating agencies use the number of queries on your name as an indicator of how good your credit is. The more queries, the more likely you are to be in financial difficulties. Only they refuse to remove any references to fraudulent queries. Bad credit == can't rent a flat, get a phone etc. I was effectively banned from moving home for 5 years until this cleared from my record.

Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29282955)

Yeah, but the government has a history of leaving this data on trains [theregister.co.uk] , mailed second class between offices through Royal Mail [wikipedia.org] , or dumped in a stack of boxes on a roundabout in Devon [bbc.co.uk]

Oh, and sent to Ireland by the DVLA [zdnet.co.uk] where again, it is promptly lost.

Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282961)

You are correct that any action put you on dozens of different databases. The problem is combining them into a single giant database. The danger of a database rises non-linearly with the amount of different data sources in it.On the one hand, one bit of data contamination can harm every aspect of your life, rather than a single portion. On the other, there is only one single target for the malicious to attack. Having multiple databases is a great level of security. Would you want to put all your money in a single investment, however allegedly wonderful, or would you rather have it spread across the market so that you are not vulnerable to a single failure? This is the same: everything about you is in one place, and it only takes one malicious or incompetent person to ruin your life. Nothing man-made is as good as this database has to be. Surely on /. we do not need point out that technology fails. British politicians, technological illiterates nearly all, have a touching belief that the technology fairies (us) will do the right thing infallibly. A long list of fiascos has not dented this belief.

Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283007)

It's not so much the data collection, but the data collation.

Right now it it (or at least should be) easy to control who has access to what information about individuals, but if you start collating all of the disparate databases into one, linked off a single identifier and allow tens of thousands of people access to at least parts of it, then your asking for trouble. Especially when the current British government has shown both an amazing disregard for the wishes of the public and a level of incompetence that is frankly embarrassing for all concerned, particularly with regards to the collection, storage and dissemination of personally identifyable data.

As has been said before, the only thing of note that Gordon Brown has achieved during his premiership is to make Tony Blair look like a great Prime Minister.

Goodness how daft you are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283229)

Arguing that someone is already in one database is not an argument in support of their being included in another (bang goes half your argument).

The problem is not that the government need the tools to do a proper job. It is that if a system is put in place which allows the government to spy ever more closely on its citizens, it will do just that. If the rules prevent such close scrutiny now, they will be changed to allow it in the future, when everyone has become accustomed to the notion.

It is the implementation of the system itself which will drive ever closer scrutiny of the population by government, simply because it will be so easily available.

SOP (5, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282793)

The claim that they will be used for "background checks on people who work with children and vulnerable people" as just an extension of the earlier plans to issue the cards to foreigners, i.e. a way to try and make the deployment of the cards acceptable to the public by initially issuing them to disliked groups (Paedophiles, Immigrants & Criminals) so that by the time they get to the rest of society it's too late to do anything about it.

Re:SOP (1)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282927)

Anyone who works with children or the mentally disabled even peripherally (teachers, sports coaches, authors who give school talks) already has to submit themselves to a criminal records check (CRB check) to confirm they're not a pedophile. I work in a school, and it was a huge long form with a substantially amount of additional ID such as my passport and driving licence I had to provide in order to be employed. There's already been a number of high-profile incidents of false positives [telegraph.co.uk] ; people with a similar name getting accused of having a criminal record and losing their job or worse despite being entirely innocent, and vice-versa, people with relevent criminal records not getting flagged.

So this plan to tie CRB checks to the ID cards database as well as the police database, using the biometrics submitted for one system (ID cards) to bolster another (criminal records checks), is entirely why feature creep is such a scary problem with these giant government databases. This likely will be two way, so that having an ID card will also mean your criminal record (or quite possibly someone elses) will end up associated with your details, and queryable by pretty much anybody with access to the national ID database, which is going to be pretty much everybody. How long before they tie in the DNA database too; it's already linked to the criminal records database, so it's no great stretch to tie biometrics, DNA, personal ID, financial records, medical records and criminal records all under one giant database roof, they're already most of the way there.

And what's the odds that once that is done, that an ID card will be made mandatory to do the mandatory CRB check to work in education or healthcare? Something like 10% of the working population have already had to do a CRB check due to the work, so that's a massive amount more of people forced into the 'voluntary' ID biometrics database; assuming of course, they aren't already in it because they wanted to renew their passport.

Criminal record easily available... (2, Insightful)

weber (36246) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282799)

I'm all for privacy so don't get me wrong... But what is the point of having a criminal record system if the information is not easily available? A criminal record is a public thing, and it's relevant that a person can be matched to it.

Re:Criminal record easily available... (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282841)

It's the difference between a potential employer requesting a CRB Check and large swathes of the population potentially having access to your record whenever you use your ID card (such as buying any age-controlled items).

Publically accessible by request is not the same as browsable on demand.

Re:Criminal record easily available... (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282951)

The problem comes when it is available to a clerk checking up on, say, a missing property tax payment, or even an application to build a garden shed. While they need to be accessible to the right people at the right time, they should only be accessed by people who know that they are are handling critical data. They should be treated very carefully, and you simply cannot train up the vast number of people with access to the ID database to treat such records with the right respect. Under current plans, there could be 2 million people with access the the ID database - whereas I would be worried if twenty thousand could access the criminal records database,

I work for the education system (3, Interesting)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282813)

I will not have biometric ID card, and I will resign over it.

I'm currently writing to my MP, my Union representitive, donating to NO2ID, and looking very seriously at becomming a member of the Pirate Party UK.

Re:I work for the education system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29282941)

You don't need to vote for a far-anything one-issue party. Both the conservatives and lib-dems say they will scrap the ID card scheme... why not vote for one of them!?

Re:I work for the education system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283021)

...because they lie?

Re:I work for the education system (3, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283029)

Tories and Lib Dem will still keep the database, just scrap the card.

We have no privacy laws in the UK, but I have a right under of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (now the European Charter of Human Rights ) against "arbitrary interference with his privacy... nor attacks upon his honour and reputation." Criminals have their biometric data recorded so they can be easily identified if they reoffend, making it taking the data a deterrant. I am not a criminal, I have no PNC-held data, and I pass the Enhanced CRB check for working with children and vulnerable adults (working in a Special School, for fuck's sake) every time I am required to take it, which is currently two years where I work. I've also worked in three other schools prior to this current posting, in a different borough.

I object to being treated like a criminal, and I object to having my privacy being invaded. I don't have store discount cards for this very reason; What I buy is my own business. If people want to find that information out, they can pay me for it, not tie me in with store-specific loyalty schemes.

surprise! (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282825)

The slippery slope really does exist!

(That is, while in logic, a slippery slope argument is a kind of fallacy [they aren't logically inevitable], in the real world, many kinds of political change do in practice [ucla.edu] resemble a slippery slope, where each successive change makes it easier to introduce the next one.)

Irrelevant (0, Flamebait)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282831)

Surely this is irrelevant now that it's obvious the whole ID card scheme is going to be canned anyway. There is no way on earth the Labour muppets are going to win the next election.

What's ridiculous is the number of background checks these idiots now force people to go through. A friend of mine is a guitar teacher who occasionally works in schools but in order to do that he has to pay for a background check himself and then wait for ages whilst it is inevitably delayed and screwed up by whichever lazy and incompetent branch of government is responsible for doing it.

Personally I would be much happier to just ditch the background checks altogether and save an awful lot of money and pointless hassle into the bargain.

Fair enough you could argue that this might cause one more child a year to be brutally raped or tortured to death by her guitar teacher but thousands of children die horribly every day so I am quite happy to accept a couple more if it saves me money and the hassle of filling in a few forms.

The fact is almost everyone knows who the weirdos and scum are in the world, without pointless background checks, just by looking at them and talking to them for a while, if the government were to ditch all this idiotic equality legislation employers would be free to choose the right person for the job and not some borderline psychopath just because she ticks the black lesbian box on some form.

Cabn't we just make a law...? (2, Insightful)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282837)

Anyone who "thinks of the children" when writing or promoting legislation will be deported to the moon.

Re:Cabn't we just make a law...? (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282867)

Too bad we can't get that law passed.

Re:Cabn't we just make a law...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283123)

what makes you think the Clangers want them either?

Classic New Labour (1)

dugeen (1224138) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282879)

A measure which is supposedly not compulsory is effectively made compulsory for anyone who works in education. (The whole education background check thing is a mile-high pile of crap anyway. Why should people have to pay the police £60 to say that they're not a child molester?)

Re:Classic New Labour (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283003)

Why should people have to pay the police £60 to say that they're not a child molester?

Generally because people appreciate knowing that their children aren't being looked after by child molesters ;)

Although, if you're talking about paying £60 to get an ID card so that you can get the identity check, I didn't read it that way. IMO it's one of the few useful ideas of ID cards - catch someone committing a crime (or attempting to get a job related to a crime they have committed) and you've got an easy link to their criminal record. No messing around, no mis-identification because names match (which happens on "no fly" lists), just a link of an ID to a crime.

In general, though, I don't trust the government's plans, what they'd do with the data and how safe they'd keep it.

Re:Classic New Labour (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283175)

It is already compulsory if you want to drive a car, leave the country, or open a bank account.

I'm all for it (5, Insightful)

Stachel (718095) | more than 4 years ago | (#29282887)

In fact, why not take it a step further? Why limit the use of this system to the protecting only of children and vulnerable people?

I propose a system where offenders are clearly marked using clean, unique identifiers, worn in a visible place. For example, on their lapels or coats. By marking people this way, it will be easy to pick them out to disallow access to certain areas and to provide for continuous easy monitoring of their ways.

Distinctions could be made between sex offenders, thieves, previously convicted enemies of the state, etcetera, by using a colour-coding system of sorts.

Re:I'm all for it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29282969)

In fact, why not take it a step further? Why limit the use of this system to the protecting only of children and vulnerable people?

I propose a system where offenders are clearly marked using clean, unique identifiers, worn in a visible place. For example, on their lapels or coats. By marking people this way, it will be easy to pick them out to disallow access to certain areas and to provide for continuous easy monitoring of their ways.

Distinctions could be made between sex offenders, thieves, previously convicted enemies of the state, etcetera, by using a colour-coding system of sorts.

Brilliant!

We could mandate that all the bad people wear...I don't know...maybe a six-pointed star on the lapel?

Might have to check on prior art on that though...seems like I remember a system like this existing before, but I can't seem to place when or where...

Ah well, it's not important. Nobody could possibly see anything wrong with such a useful system.

Re:I'm all for it (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283037)

Why have it on the card? We could implement some kind of numerical coding system, and have it tattoed onto the skin to prevent theft of their unique identifier!

I thought this thread would be Godwin'd long before now.

Re:I'm all for it (1)

FourthAge (1377519) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283041)

Why not indeed? Such a system would only be misused if the Government was "fascist".

A nice cuddly left-liberal Government like New Labour (or their "conservative" successors) would only use the system for good.

Re:I'm all for it (1)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283149)

>I propose a system where offenders are clearly marked using clean, unique identifiers, worn in a visible place.
How about a yellow six-pointed star?

Not funny, and not intended to be funny.

My Criminal History (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29282905)

My criminal history tells an long ugly story of human depravity, chemical dependance and pure spite.

I will not have it linked to some small perfect piece of silicon embedded in a high tech ID card!

ID card to be fitted with "magic beans" (4, Insightful)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283005)

The Home Office has announced new security measures for identity cards.

"The biometrics, chip and PIN, RFID transponder, fingerprint-reader, real-time spectroscopic DNA analyser and two-way radio that demands 'papers please!' in a cod-German accent inexplicably failed to completely eliminate crime or identity fraud or stop terrorism," said Home Secretary For Life Jacqui Smith, "so we're getting back to the basics of PFI-funded governmental identity management: magic beans, pixie dust and snake oil [today.com] . EDS Capita Goatse's experience in these areas is unparalleled."

Identification procedures have duly been enhanced. Magic beans are squashed into the paper driving licence, producing a pixie-dust effect when inspected by the police. Day-to-day purchases are made smoother by the snake oil, with the pixie-dust glow authenticating the transaction. Frequenters of brothels will be able to require the prostitute to wave her identity card at them and be reassured by the pixie-dust glitter certifying her bona fides as a legal resident.

The requirements for getting a bank account -- a retinal scan, hair clippings, 250 millilitres of blood and three documents for every address change since twenty years before your birth -- remain unchanged.

The new identity card weighs thirty-five kilograms. All UK residents must carry it everywhere at all times and produce it on demand of council bin inspectors or any higher official.

Are they nuts? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283015)

Is there some kind of horrible joke going on in the goverment, like "Let's see how much we can destory democracy and piss people off before we're kicked out"? The the winner in the next election will have to try to set a new high-score....

Already Happening (3, Interesting)

Ragein (901507) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283087)

I do not really like the idea of mandatory Id cards but on this particular story I have a differing opinion.

Although this is not with ID cards you already need a CRB check to work with children, this uses a photocopy of your passport to check who you are. If Id cards are a safer identifier of a person biometrics and all and if they can be used to instantly give a CRB check (only to appropriate bodys local councils, schools ect)then I have to say it's a great idea.

A person can wait up to six months to get a CRB check at the moment which in most cases means the person cannot start their job if working directly with children or have to be supervised if they work indirectly.

Sources - Personal experiance

Re:Already Happening (2, Informative)

Ragein (901507) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283213)

I Dislike being modded Troll there, the comment was intended as a frank answer to the article using personal experiance.

Working within three schools and one other company also requiring a CRB.

There we go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29283103)

The problem is, of course, that this search for a ``clean, unique identifier'' is patent folly simply because people are involved. There will be noise, wrong records, and so on and so forth. The very pretense such a clean identifier can exist is an insult to our society. The result will be that the government will keep on trying and pretending against all odds it has found such a thing anyway, depriving its citizens of any redress. That is, they are going to say ``it's in the computer, the computer is always right''.

The database will be more important for them than the people in it. For my part the government can have its database, but then it can't have me. If enough people will say so, we'll just start our own government and ignore the one with the big fat database but no people.

The uk gov is and will keep going at it harder better faster stronger. Don't pretend you didn't see this one coming. It makes perfect sense from their point of view.

Detailed recored not available? (1, Interesting)

chetbox (1335617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283113)

It seems as though many have missed the fact that there will be an extra layer of protection in this scheme and have jumped to the conclusion that unauthorised people may gain access to one's criminal (and other?) records. The article states that people's ISA Statuses will be accessible to employers and voluntary organisations, and that

people who work with children and vulnerable people have to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA),

There is no mention of what the "ISA Status" that is visible to the employers actually includes and how detailed it is. It may be some arbitrary measurement of how much trouble you've been in or it could be details of your entire life history. Who knows.
Frankly, I find this quotation (ISA) quite concerning because it seems like this government body decides how much of your personal information is available to others:

Applicants will be assessed using data gathered by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), including relevant criminal convictions, cautions, police intelligence and other appropriate sources.

However, it seems to suggest that based on all of this data the ISA will only give a "thumbs-up"or a "thumbs-down".
(Let's also remember that this is just a "feasibility study" and seemingly not certain.)

what were criminal records linked to before? (1)

Punto (100573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29283191)

I don't get it.. were criminal records anonymous before this? if they can look up your name and get your record, it's already linked to your identity, isn't it?

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