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New Plan In UK For "Big Brother" Database

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the for-our-own-good dept.

Privacy 178

POPE Mad Mitch writes "The BBC is reporting that Tony Blair is going to unveil plans on Monday to build a single database to pull together and share every piece of personal data from all government departments. The claimed justification is to improve public services. The opposition party and the Information Commission have both condemned the plan as another step towards a 'Big Brother' society. Sharing information in this way is currently prohibited by the 'over-zealous' data protection legislation. An attempt to build a similar database was a key part of the, now severely delayed, ID card scheme."

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178 comments

Good luck... (4, Informative)

ShaunC (203807) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608696)

They've already tried it once, and so has the FBI/DOJ, both of them dropping the ball and wasting millions of taxpayer dollars/pounds. A modest team of pros should be able to complete a project like this for far less money and in a reasonable amount of time, it's getting to where I don't think they actually intend to make these systems function, it's just a money pit. Another pork project for the IT consultancies who happen to know the right people.

Re:Good luck... (4, Interesting)

setirw (854029) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608754)

American intelligence agencies are now looking to Wiki [nytimes.com] solutions for sharing intelligence, and it's far superior to any previous databases. Although it hasn't existed long enough to draw final conclusions, many say it works well. Perhaps UK intelligence agencies will follow America's lead and do the same?

European Digital Privacy Directive? (3, Informative)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608914)

http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/pri/en/oj/dat/2002/l_ 201/l_20120020731en00370047.pdf [eu.int]

http://www.law.duke.edu/journals/dltr/articles/200 2dltr0014.html [duke.edu]

Does GB intend to withdraw from the EU?

If so, the "Big Brother" talk is more than idle literary reference. We can move forward with renaming Britannia to "Airstrip One."

Re:European Digital Privacy Directive? (3, Interesting)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609500)

What in particular in the European Digital Privacy Directive do you imagine prevents sharing data between government departments?

Re:European Digital Privacy Directive? (4, Informative)

mrogers (85392) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611156)

Information can only be gathered and used for a specified purpose - you can't "reuse" information for purposes other than those for which it was gathered.

With a new database the government could get round this by specifying a very broad range of purposes for the data (as Transport For London did with the Oyster card [spy.org.uk] ), but that tactic can't be applied to an existing database.

Re:European Digital Privacy Directive? (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611266)

Does GB intend to withdraw from the EU?"

None of the major political parties do. I'm sure the majority of the population (oblivious to the benefits) would like to though.

We can move forward with renaming Britannia to "Blairstrip One."

Fixed.

Civil Rights: USA or Europe? (0, Troll)

reporter (666905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608884)

Numerous writers on SlashDot have stated that they will move out of the USA because Washington has increasingly trampled on civil rights: e.g., the right to privacy. Recently, Washington has announced that law enforcement can, at its discretion, open your mail to read it.

The same writers who justifiably criticize Washington praise the Europeans and Canada. Yet, the British government seems to be just as indifferent to civil rights as Washington.

So, here is an interesting question: Which is the best protector of civil rights? USA or Europe?

Re:Civil Rights: USA or Europe? (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608970)

So, here is an interesting question: Which is the best protector of civil rights? USA or Europe?
Neither, the best place is Canada :P

Re:Civil Rights: USA or Europe? (2, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609070)

The UK is half "Europe" and half "America Jr." They track the US much more closely than the rest of Europe (if you hadn't noticed through the whole Iraq issue).

Re:Civil Rights: USA or Europe? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609362)

The UK is half "Europe" and half "America Jr."

No. The US is the Original European Union. What they are doing in the old country is emulation.

Re:Civil Rights: USA or Europe? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17609094)

They both protect them differently. The USA protects the rights of the individual (like free speech and no gun control) while Europe protects the rights of the group (like restricting hate speech against groups and having gun control). This is mainly because they have implemented their systems differently. In the US rights that aren't delegated to the government are reserved by the people, while in Europe rights that aren't delegated to the people are reserved by the government.

They both have their good points and bad points. The US system will return to equilibrium in a couple of years and beat the European system in protections (even though we have a temporary crackdown today). You just have to rough it out for a couple of years.

Re:Civil Rights: USA or Europe? (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609244)

Here's another interesting question:

IF you took it as established that there were going to be these systematic invasions of privacy and compilations of databases and whatnot...

As is currently being done by organizations within both government and corporate sectors...

Would you rather have this information legally protected and made obscure so only those with government authority or enough money and resources to assemble it themselves have access to this information?

Or commercialized so the rich and powerful get more access to it?

Or made public and available to everyone with universal access?

And why?

Re:Civil Rights: USA or Europe? (1, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609302)

britain is nothing like the rest of europe, in fact most countries within europe are nothing like each other. you use britain and europe as interchangable regions when they are not, british laws don't effect european countries. this fact obivously escapes you since your american and have no concept of the world past your own city block.

Re:Civil Rights: USA or Europe? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17609676)

The U.S.A. is nothing like the rest of America. In fact most countries within America are nothing like each other. you use the U.S.A. and America as interchangeable regions when they are in fact not. The laws of the U.S.A. don't necessarily affect other American countries. This fact obviously escapes you since you are European and your grip of the world past your own city block is about as strong as the one you have on spelling and grammar.

Re:Civil Rights: USA or Europe? (1)

moatra (1019690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610110)

Numerous writers on SlashDot have stated that they will move out of the USA because Bush has increasingly trampled on civil rights: e.g., the right to privacy. Recently, Bush has announced that law enforcement can, at its discretion, open your mail to read it.
There... fixed it for ya. Not all the politicians and people in DC agree with everything that Bush does, so don't label the group as a whole because one (or several, granted) of its members is being stupid.

Tracks Brits, USians, PEOPLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17609354)

They've already tried it once, and so has the FBI/DOJ, both of them dropping the ball and wasting millions of taxpayer dollars/pounds.

<tinfoilhat> "This time will be different... we know went wrong with the last one." So, the USA or some black-ops group (e.g. within NSA, CIA, FBI, or some other TLA) pays some money to help out in building this. This new database tracks PEOPLE: brits, and non-brits, too. So George Dubya calls up Tony and provides and/or requests information at will. Echelon. Warrantless eavesdropping. First class mail interception. I wish it were otherwise, but given the past efforts of the current USA administration, it would (sadly) not surprise me in the least.</tinfoilhat>

Re:Good luck... (1)

ms1234 (211056) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610278)

The key here I guess is the contract and the opportunity for someone to make big $$$ (or £££ in this case). Do they have to deliver? Not necessarily, just present something half-assed after x years and it will be written off as a loss.

oblig. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17608724)

I, for one, welcome our new public servant overlords.

Let me be the first to ask... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17609524)

Postgres or MySQL?

FORREST PISS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17608756)

Oy bloke! Wot say you fawk off?

Does this ring a bell? (2, Interesting)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608794)

OK, so they'll organise it just like in 'Brazil', then charge you for collecting your data?

Re:Does this ring a bell? (1)

kungfujesus (969971) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610312)

I've heard this book Brazil mentioned a few times on Slashdot, and i would like to read it. Who is it by? a google search has brought up a bunch of crap that is irrelevant.

FRIST PIST (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17608826)

FIRST POST

suck my shit taco

Scale & Risk (5, Interesting)

Henry 2.0 (1017212) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608860)

It seems perverse that anyone would consider this a remotely reasonable plan.

The article doesn't look at the technical side of doing this at all, but its pretty obvious that todo what they are talking about doing here, it means restructuring the data for hundreds if not thousands of applications that are in use now.

Why is the UK government so gung-ho on these 'MegaIT Projects'?

Lets hope this dosen't get traction, but as with most things 'New Labour', I can only imagine this is signed and sealed now that the public are being made aware

Re:Scale & Risk (2, Funny)

alshithead (981606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609004)

"Lets hope this dosen't get traction, but as with most things 'New Labour', I can only imagine this is signed and sealed now that the public are being made aware"

Is "dosen't" a UK spelling I'm not familiar with? :)

Re:Scale & Risk (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17609652)

It's the correct term for an unskilled labourer (or apprentice) who works with a museum curator.

Re:Scale & Risk (1)

alshithead (981606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609156)

Point of curiosity. What makes you think there are "hundreds if not thousands" of applications? Are you speaking to each and every database or the number of diverse applications accessing the individual databases? Data is data and most major database apps have tools for importing data or you write scripts to import it.

Re:Scale & Risk (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609466)

Data is data and most major database apps have tools for importing data or you write scripts to import it.
Do you have any idea how time consuming it is to replicate the functionality of one database in another? I can easily make some tables and add any structured data to any database, but if you want people to still be able to interact with it in the same way they used to (or a better way), it's typically a project that takes roughly as long as it took to get the original database to the state it's already at.

Two or three years ago I was doing innovative, new database development, now I'm stuck re-writing existing reports to cope with every new structural change, or fussing with the UI because someone who's never programmed anything in their life (nor ever built a decent procedure on or off a PC) thinks that tool X isn't intuitive enough.

Re:Scale & Risk (1)

Spikeles (972972) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609638)

It seems perverse that anyone would consider this a remotely reasonable plan.
I dunno, you seem to kind of biased. At the moment if i move i have to update all the different agencies. Banks, Telcoms, Electricity, Tax offices, Immigration(if needed), Government support ( pensions etc ), voting enrolment.

Now imagine they are all linked and i phone a single number and POOF. All changed at once. I no longer need to remember this. That's just one example. Sure there are disadvantages, like if the database is hacked they would have all my info in one go, but i'm unsure if the cons outweigh the pros. I certainly don't think you should automatically dismiss it just because of flaws you think you see.

It reminds me of the debate about having a national identity card. All your info in one place makes it easier to use, but harder to secure. Pros vs Cons.. The continous debate.

As for privacy. All the government agencies know this info anyway(or can get it). you.

Re:Scale & Risk (1)

Henry 2.0 (1017212) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609864)

Now imagine they are all linked and i phone a single number and POOF. All changed at once.

I can't see any reason we couldn't have an aggregate service where you can do that, and have that data sent downstream to the specific places.

The point is

  1. Don't try change everything at once
  2. Don't put all Our eggs in one basket

Re:Scale & Risk (2, Funny)

mrogers (85392) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611228)

At the moment if i move i have to update all the different agencies. Banks, Telcoms, Electricity, Tax offices, Immigration(if needed), Government support ( pensions etc ), voting enrolment. Now imagine they are all linked and i phone a single number and POOF. All changed at once.

No problem - just send me your bank account details, social security number, name, address, phone number and date of birth and I'll take care of everything. I won't even charge you for the service.

See, it's true - privatising government services saves money!

Re:Scale & Risk (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611298)

I definitely don't want Government departments knowing anything about my banks, telecoms, or utilities etc and absolutely definitely don't want them to have direct access to any data associated with my private life.

Luckily they aren't suggesting this right now, just that all Government departments should access any data that one of them has stored on me.

Personally I think in theory it's a good idea but in practice its a horrible idea since each department will find and increasing number of reasons to interfere with data traditionally belonging to someone else and general incompetence will cause all my medical records ( for example ) to be changed by someone checking my tax returns.

Re:Scale & Risk (4, Interesting)

Alioth (221270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611440)

No. Blair's government uses a 'dutch auction' style of legislation to pass odious stuff.

What they do is propose something outrageously distateful, which gets parliament in uproar - while all the time they only planned something merely somewhat distateful. Parliament gets uppity, votes on it, and gets the legislation watered down to the 'somewhat distasteful' level, thinking they've won a victory. Basically, the government proposes the most draconian legislation possible and lets parliament scale it back to something they will accept, which is probably much more draconian than if they had just tried to pass what they wanted to pass in the first place.

organise! (3, Informative)

anadem (143644) | more than 7 years ago | (#17608882)

This is where the UK needs a "Move On" to organise citizen opposition. Britons should stop thinking of themselves as "subjects".

Re:organise! (3, Informative)

l-ascorbic (200822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611062)

There is No2ID [no2id.net] which organises resistance to such things, including defence funds for people who refuse to register for ID cards and the National Identity Database. They have been quite successful. The public opposition to the ID Database has increased massively over the past year, which is probably why the govt is doing this. By integrating existing databases, they needn't rely on anyone registering.

Re:organise! (1)

mrogers (85392) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611302)

By integrating existing databases, they needn't rely on anyone registering.
And as a bonus, both my existing identities will get ID cards.

Re:organise! (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611264)

>Britons should stop thinking of themselves as "subjects".
Clue for Americans here, we don't revere the Queen as much as you think we do and we def. don't think of ourselves as subjects. We also do not live in quaint country cottages, say 'What ho!' a lot, have 'pea-souper' fog in London anymore or doff our caps every time a horse & carriage goes (rarely) by.

Memory Hole (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17609020)

The good thing is, the entire system will fulfill all the requirements of Orwell's "memory hole."
The bad thing is, the entire system will fulfill all the requirements of Orwell's "memory hole."

Are all these IT Projects and police cameras actually a secret plot to harness George Orwell's spinning body as the primary power source for the U.K?

I lived in the U.K as a teen and always wanted return later. Now, the thought of returning gives me the creeps.

Winston would be so proud.

Vive la George!

Re:Memory Hole (1)

AGMW (594303) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611216)

Are all these IT Projects and police cameras ...

Don't forget the whole road pricing fiasco, coming to roads near you real soon! The Gov. and legislated to allow Transport for London to charge tolls on major trunk routes around London, but only if they use technologies compatible with the envisaged UK-wide road pricing system - this is a heads up people, it is coming.

Know what this means? GPS transponders, or the like, in your car so the system can tell where you are, and when, and charge you accordingly. A suspicious by-product of which is being able to track you driving around!

I'm not happy about this for a number of tin-foil hat related reasons. Do I really want people to be able to track my movements? An old school friend of mine had an unpleasant experience a couple of years back where someone called him and asked for several thousand pounds or they'd come round to his house and kill his family. This obviously doesn't happen a lot, but it does happen (the Police caught them as it happens - must've had a day off from catching speeding motorists!), and the idea that it is possible to track where his wife and kids are at any time is something he is not so keen on. If the Gov can do it, you can bet the better connected miscreants will be able to get access.

Perfect for burglars - OK, both cars are away from home and heading away. Please call me when they start to head home, I'm off to work!

Just Say No!

25 years early: Britrockers Judas Priest (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17609064)

Up here in space, I'm looking down on you,
My lasers trace, everything you do,
You think you've private lives, think nothing of the kind
There is no true escape, I'm watching all the time!

CHORUS:
I'm made of metal, my circuits gleam
I am perpetual, I keep the country clean.
I'm elected, electric spy,
I'm protected, electric eye.

Always in focus, you can't feel my stare,
I zoom into you, you dont know I'm there.
I take a pride in probing, all your secret moves,
My tearless retina takes, pictures that can prove.

Electric eye (in the sky)
Feel my stare (always there)
There's nothing you can do about it, develop and expose,
I feed upon your every thought, and so my power grows!

I'm made of metal, my circuits gleam
I am perpetual, I keep the country clean.
I'm elected, electric spy,
I'm protected, electric eye.
I'm Elected - Protected - Detective - Electric - Eye.

- Judas Priest, Electric Eye, 1982.

25 years ago, this was cheesy hair-metal dystopic science fiction.

Sucks to be us.

Re:25 years early: Britrockers Judas Priest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17610236)

25 years ago, this was cheesy hair-metal dystopic science fiction


That's funny, I always thought that song was about spying on my Girlfriend. At least that was until I married her...

Re:25 years early: Britrockers Judas Priest (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17610254)

Judas Priest. Visionaries.

Rock on dude.

Re:25 years early: Britrockers Judas Priest (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611120)

Yeah but on the plus side, we could have judas priest do our new national anthem.
Oh yes...

Mega IT projects suck (3, Interesting)

RichPowers (998637) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609076)

The UK already has a history of over budget information-sharing projects. In related news, the FBI also wasted $100 million on the fiasco that is the Virtual Case File database. If intel agencies are really interested in sharing data, maybe they should follow the CIA's example of using secure Wikis?

In any event, I agree with the other commentators that this is a pork project more than anything.

Re:Mega IT projects suck (1)

jaymzru (1005177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609176)

$100 million is a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of American government money-wasting.

UK, US, doesn't matter really (5, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609118)

FTFA: "Sharing information in this way is currently prohibited by the 'over-zealous' data protection legislation."

The use of the phrase over-zealous .. legislation is interesting. I think that many if not most of the citizens or subjects would consider any legislation that permits such information sharing to be over-zealous.

My doctor doesn't need to know what my taxes were, nor does the tax man need to know what speeding tickets I've had. The only probable useful use of this information sharing by the government is to track people of covertly wrong reasons.

I'm pretty certain that the MI5 doesn't need to know how many people reported to the doctor for STD treatments, so what they are tracking is information that they shouldn't be collecting anyway. In spite of the surprisingly vast amount of information about private citizens that is available on the Internet, collating all government owned information about citizens will provide nothing useful in the war on terror or the war against drugs.

In case nobody was paying attention, the attacks in NYC and London were perpetuated by people that either already should have set off security bells, or by people who would not set off security alerts anyway. Creating this type of spying system will not deter terrorists, criminals, or any other group they might claim to be fighting.

Like gun control, if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have them, and if you outlaw privacy, only outlaws will have it.

Its time that governments, especially elected ones, start learning that you don't force peace, but encourage it, protect it and these can only be done WITH the cooperation of citizens, not in spite of their rights or through sacrificing their rights for them.

Sure, they can read and record this and it still won't help them find any subversives. In fact, they will have only wasted money tracking my statements instead of focusing on using currently implemented laws and methods of upholding those laws.

I'm not against sharing data, but when it can be tracked back to individuals it necessarily becomes a kind of evil. Knowing the eating habits of all 37 year old men who have had minor heart attacks can be a very useful set of data, But also knowing their names and addresses, voting records, tax numbers, and what type of car they drive is not necessary to the usefulness of the information.

If this has been announced, rest assured that the implementation phase is already underway.

As has been said, now is the time to make this an election issue. I'm pretty sure that those present at the signing of the Magna Carta would not approve of this. Hmmmmmm

Re:UK, US, doesn't matter really (2, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609602)

My doctor doesn't need to know what my taxes were, nor does the tax man need to know what speeding tickets I've had. The only probable useful use of this information sharing by the government is to track people of covertly wrong reasons.

No, but all the government departments do need to know your address, and whether you are still alive or not. That seems like a use. Tell one government department about a move or a death, and they all know.

Just because there is a common database doesn't mean that the doctor can access you tax information or the tax man you speeding tickets. Any conceivable implementation would only give access to relevant information for each type of user.

There are plenty of negatives that could be said about such a system, but making obviously silly objections doesn't help the case.

Re:UK, US, doesn't matter really (3, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611098)

It's not an obviously silly objection.

We already have an equivalent of the US social security number - the National Insurance number. Your doctor has it, the taxman has it, the benefits office have it. Why can't they just tie that up with an address? That way everyone knows about a change of address, but the taxman still doesn't have to know about that nasty rash you had last year.

Re:UK, US, doesn't matter really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17611146)

No, but all the government departments do need to know your address, and whether you are still alive or not. That seems like a use. Tell one government department about a move or a death, and they all know.


And a few extra minutes of paperwork or taking a few extra phone calls on the rare occasion a loved one dies is enough to justify this massive level database? I'm sorry their death was such an inconvenience to you, wasting precious minutes on all that boring paperwork.

Re:UK, US, doesn't matter really (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17611370)

Tell one government department about a move or a death, and they all know.
That's already true. Several years ago in an attempt to reduce the junk mail I was getting, I wrote "Deceased" on one of the pieces of junk mail and put it back into my mailbox. I stopped getting any mail at all shortly thereafter, until I cleared it up with the post office. Even so, a few weeks later a letter from Social Security (IIRC) appeared in my mailbox with information on death benefits or some such thing. It turned out to be a major hassle to convince everyone that rumours of my death were highly exaggerated. ;-)

Re:UK, US, doesn't matter really (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609908)

"I'm pretty sure that those present at the signing of the Magna Carta would not approve of this."

Good grief man, the first parliment was composed of money lenders that collectively were more powerfull than the royalty of the day, if they could understand this system they would love it!

"Like gun control, if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have them"

I live in Australia, when I was a kid in the 60's there were plenty idiots/outlaws with guns posing as ordinary people, nowadays they are virtually extinct and most Ausssies like it that way.

Re:UK, US, doesn't matter really (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610200)


I live in Australia, when I was a kid in the 60's there were plenty idiots/outlaws with guns posing as ordinary people, nowadays they are virtually extinct and most Ausssies like it that way.


When I was a kid there was no online kiddie porn, no Nigerian scammers and no loss of privacy due to the damned Internet and most people would like it that way again. They'll probably have their wish granted.

If you accept your government taking away your guns, prepare to have your computers taken too. Suck it up.

Re:UK, US, doesn't matter really (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610832)

I see your living up to your username, good for you. Doesn't change the fact that hand guns are marketed as "self defense tools" to a demographic who are scared of their own shadow, and btw, it's an urban myth that guns make your dick look bigger.

"Suck it up"

Huh? Suck what up? Your hyperbole?

Re:UK, US, doesn't matter really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17610888)

In case nobody was paying attention, the attacks in NYC and London were perpetuated by people that either already should have set off security bells, or by people who would not set off security alerts anyway. Creating this type of spying system will not deter terrorists, criminals, or any other group they might claim to be fighting.
It is exactly this `security` which will lead to the feeling of distrust between the populous and those in power and as such insighting further `terrorism` against the state.

This forum just hates freedom! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17609132)

Can't you realize that by opposing the government protecting us that you are supporting terrorism?

Think of the children!

Why do you hate our country so much!

Don't you all realize that the only way for us to all be safe is to surrender all our freedoms to the government.

We can appoint some really great man to control everything, so that nothing will be abused.

Sort of like some kind of Big Brother!

Bush is America's Big Brother! Sure he tortures people, but it's more like when your big brother gave you noogies... until you died. Yeah, like that.

Re:This forum just hates freedom! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17609228)

Don't forget the part about mutilating peoples genitals and raping children in front of their parents for fun.

Re:This forum just hates freedom! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17609518)

Here here. Circumcision is a cruel practice, and should be outlawed posthaste!

"democracy"? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17609134)

You can only wonder if Tony Blair's decision is also the democratic decision of the People of the UK who vehemently oppose such controversial schemes. It boils down to the question: Can the UK at present still be considered a democracy when the PM repeatedly abuses his power that was initially entrusted in him by its citizens and now keep betraying his own country? I do not think so.

Re:"democracy"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17610510)

The current British Government is obsessed with total control from the centre. It is more stalinist than ever Russia under communism ever was.
Blair (B. Liar) is on the way out. His replacement is most likely to be Gordon (Fiddle the books) Brown.
He is an old style Labour control freak so things will get worse.

I look at this as being much like the pictures of Rome Burning while Nero partied.
This government is putting forward ever more stupid proposal as they run out of sensible ones.
However, there is a disticnt pattern to this type of announcement.
The proposal gets 'leaked' to the press on a Friday after Parliament has ended for the week.
Then the media with nothing better to report than Celeb Big Brother plays it for all its worth and pundits from all sides shoot it down.
Then on Monday, it gets quietly buried by other more important events (today, the release of French Documents showing that in 1956 the French wanted to MERGE with the UK) Sacre Bleu! C'est Impossible

The above is a clear example of the Government Spin Doctors justifying their continued existance.
I predict that if this ever came close to being implemented without a referendum, there would be at the very least, a General Strike and most likely, the Government would fall.
I was a student when a prominent member of the Labour Party was president of the National Union of Students (Jack Straw). He campainged hard for freedom. This sort of this is directly opposite to his views then. ~He has so far remained silent on this matter. He seems more concerned with people wearing the Veil.

If this goes ahead, then I along with a lot of the wealth generating population will leave this country. I currently employ 20 people. I will just shut up shop and leave. I already own 20Ha in a non European Country. I shall just move the date when I retire forward a few years
Many of my small business colleagues will do the same.
The database will become a list of the unemployed.
This move would be economic suicide for this country.

"towards" a big brother society? (2, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609174)

I like how that implies that they're not yet already there. Denial is aparrently the Thames now, not a river in Egypt.

Big Brother? (1, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609252)

If they care so much about that TV show, why don't they just Google it rather than making their own trivia database?

Government Data (0, Redundant)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609290)

Is accessible by all agencies anyway, so having it in one place isnt really that big of a deal.

Now, once you start including private data ( such as ATM transactions, bookstore purchases, gas purchases, or private secuirty cameras ) and linking that data to governmental data, then we have some issues..

Re:Government Data (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611104)

Is accessible by all agencies anyway

Which means you can buy it in Alaba market, Lagos for Naira 1,000 or a similar value in Roubles in Moscow, but slightly less in Latvia, Lithuania, and slightly more almost anywhere else.

The UK's IT infrastructure leaks data like a sieve, and the more you put in to a sieve, the faster it leaks out.

Re:Government Data (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611122)

Maybe in the US it is, but in the UK we have data protection legislation so the only agencies that have access to everything are law enforcement (and even the police need to jump through hoops for some bits of that).

Y'know, if you add every government department up, the public sector is one of the biggest single employers in almost any first-world country. Much bigger than any one company. Given the typical government approach to security (one password and you're in to everything), do you really want your neighbour who works as a receptionist in the doctor's surgery to be able - even in theory - to view your tax records?

This could be a good thing (2, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609298)

One nice, big, fat, juicy target. It'll be nice not to have to break into all these different, incompatable databases all the time. Yep, should save a lot of work for the crooks when they're stealing laptops. Now they'll need only one. Very convenient indeed.

I blame George Bush (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17609448)

Well actually Rove and Cheney.. Bush/Hitler is too stupid to take away any remaining civil liberties in the UK.
If Condi had children she would understand how important this is.

The machinery of state (1)

Drasil (580067) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609512)

I'm a UK citizen and resident. In my experience government departments don't talk to each other and it does lead to problems for everyday people, this would be a valid way of working towards solving that problem. I'm sure our glorious leaders are aware of the benefits it will give them in controlling the population, and I expect they think it's a good idea. IMHO the bureaucracy has become so complex and unwieldy that even it's professional administrators can't keep up.

Of course this is a UK government IT project, so it is doomed to failure.

Biggest copycat of the year award (1)

QueePWNzor (1044224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609656)

Blair loves to copy Bush in everything. This is just another. The NSA had this a long time ago I'm guessing, and I'm guessing this whole operation will be run through sym links:) I'd bet he already has it, too. I'd be good if the EU had, um, a government to keep all this tracking together. I'm not afraid of just another database (I'm sure they're already everywhere) but with such clear disorganization the countries are showing in gereral, they might lose track of the operation. 1984 is the best distopia book, but I've heard of many that are just plainly that the world has too much knowledge, and society is just spinning off hopelessly.

Tony Blair is a real scumbag (0, Flamebait)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609662)

Some of his past foibles [codemonkeyramblings.com] for those that may not have followed his illustrious career as the Prime Minister who has turned Britain into a nanny state with a big, middle class-friendly smile. Well, I should be careful by qualifying that by saying it depends on how you look at it. Europeans may be wont to think that America is full of gun violence, that it's all like the Old West, but I go "HOLY SHIT!" when I read some of the stories that come out of Britain under Blair with yobs and how the police deal with them. I've lived my entire life in the South, in small towns and even the worst I have seen of police here pales in comparison to how much the British police seem to side with criminals against law-abiding citizens. I gotta be honest, I'd feel safer walking through any working class town in the South than the equivalent in Britain. Between violent criminals and politically correct, criminal-loving, politicized police, Tony Blair has done a lot from what I've seen in the media to totally fuck up Britain.

Re:Tony Blair is a real scumbag (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610086)

"I gotta be honest, I'd feel safer walking through any working class town in the South than the equivalent in Britain."

Hmmmm, I recently went on a fly/drive holiday to Britain and Ireland during world cup season. My partner and I drove 3500 miles in 5 weeks and stayed in pubs and B&B's. The only "problem" I saw was a couple of kids trying to rip the door of a phone box late at night, I stuck my head out of the window of our room and told them to fuck off, they didn't even answer back, they just ran.

Re:Tony Blair is a real scumbag (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611346)

My partner and I drove 3500 miles in 5 weeks and stayed in pubs and B&B's
Can I just thank you for not going down the usual route of visiting a few select London locations, Edinburgh and maybe Stratford upon Avon and declaring you've 'done England'. Good work and hope you enjoyed it!

Making data easier to access... (1)

tubapro12 (896596) | more than 7 years ago | (#17609876)

...is a double bladed sword. This means it will also be easier for the bad guys to steal all your personal information. (Assuming you don't think your government is one of the bad guys; and a bigger assumption being that a government entity can accomplish this.)

Commas (0, Offtopic)

Valacosa (863657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610012)

An attempt to build a similar database was a key part of the, now severely delayed, ID card scheme."
I think, unnecessary commas are, an integral, part of any, slashdot summary.

Re:Commas (1)

EonBlueTooL (974478) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610142)

I was looking for the correct option to mod you, but the "wrong" option just wasn't there.

From the Online Writing Lab [purdue.edu] at purdue:
"Use a pair of commas in the middle of a sentence to set off clauses, phrases, and words that are not essential to the meaning of the sentence. Use one comma before to indicate the beginning of the pause and one at the end to indicate the end of the pause.

Here are some clues to help you decide whether the sentence element is essential:

* If you leave out the clause, phrase, or word, does the sentence still make sense?
* Does the clause, phrase, or word interrupt the flow of words in the original sentence?
* If you move the element to a different position in the sentence, does the sentence still make sense?

If you answer "yes" to one or more of these questions, then the element in question is nonessential and should be set off with commas. Here are some example sentences with nonessential elements:

Clause: That Tuesday, which happens to be my birthday, is the only day when I am available to meet.
Phrase: This restaurant has an exciting atmosphere. The food, on the other hand, is rather bland.
Word: I appreciate your hard work. In this case, however, you seem to have over-exerted yourself."

Re:Commas (1)

benicillin (990784) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610802)

another good test to see if your two commas are appropriate is to read the sentence without including the phrase between those two commas. if your sentence makes sense this way then your commas are probably appropriate since the section between the commas is either slightly off-topic or is some sort of modifier.

Funny (1)

Kentokae (1023461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610286)

We cant share simple media yet the governments and big bussiness can share all form of personal and private information on us. Why the double standards whats next well all are going to have to have a chip embeded in our hands?

Terrorism (1)

Tinned_Tuna (911835) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610388)

The terrorists of the future aren't in Iraq, Afghanistan, or any Mosque like our govt. would like us to belive. They're lurking in Downing Street, and Westminster.

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown may lay the foundations for it, but sooner or later, our greatest fears will be of the government themselves.

A Scandinavian view (1)

silentStatic (964990) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610642)

Could someone please explain to me how this scheme is different than the Danish CPR-Register [wikipedia.org] ? We Danes have had it since 1968, and as far as I am concerned, I do not think Denmark has turned into a totalitarian state.

In fact, the CPR scheme allows data to be easily accessed between different departments of the government and organisations. Also our CPR-number works as a global key to many services, making access that much easier. It's true that your dentist should not see your crime record, but I don't think that any agency in the UK will be granted any information that is not relevant to their role.

Then again, since I am Social Democrat, I guess I have a hard time agreeing with the fears that naturally plague Libertarians (who seem to make out a vocal part of this discussion) about such measures.

Let's keep things civil :)

Re:A Scandinavian view (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610930)

Unfortunately the majority of the Slashdot crowd are obsessed with slippery slope arguments and fallacious interpretations of '1984'.

They don't seem to realise that this information already exists, merely spread amongst a number of different governmental departments. This is merely an attempt to consolidate that data and make access more efficient.

We already have it in Norway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17610904)

Norway recently started something called "min side" (minside.no), which collects information from various sources and presents them in a uniform interface. While, in theory, no information is stored in the system itself, it is easy to see how the system could be abused by various agencies to query information from all the backends.

The dangers of IT-illiterate politicians (5, Insightful)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 7 years ago | (#17610942)

What seems constantly to be missed is that in many ways Blair is the most technologically illiterate Prime Minister we have had in a long time. From Churchill (who is said to have minuted after a visit to Bletchley Park "Give them everything they want and report that this has been done" because of his immediate grasp of the strategic implications of codebreaking) it's a sad story of decline. We now have a Prime Minister whose wife has to write emails for him, who endlessly talks about science and technbology, but shows not the slightest sign of understanding any of it. He is surrounded by unelected journalists with a similar grasp. He is so ignorant of science that he sees no problem in allowing Creationists to buy State schools. He is the despair of military strategists because of his total lack of understanding of the limitations of men and materiel and his assumption that the British Army can just be moved around like chess pieces. And his utter control freakery means that anybody with better knowledge or ideas is held back or ignored, hence the Cabinet resignations, while incompentents who share his religious view of the world - like Ruth Kelly - get promoted.

In all the arguments about Bush, there have been repreated suggestions that Blair is more intelligent than Bush. I do not think this is so at all. He has superior verbal fluency (he is a barrister, i.e. a talking lawyer.) But all the signs are that in understanding of the modern world, strategic grasp and understanding of the structure of, and problems of, society, he is every bit as blinkered and limited as Bush.

I'm sorry about this rant, but thank you for reading it. Meanwhile, if you _do_ share the misfortune of being English, please do something. Write to your MP. He will probably be a technical illiterate too, so try and spell it out very plainly without using jargon. Gathering all information about citizens into a big central repository accessed by many different groups - police, NHS, Civil Servants - is a recipe for disaster in a country where newspapers buy and sell informants every day. A country that cannot prevent newspapers from illegally tapping telephones, cannot prevent criminals, Ruper Murdoch and Lord Rothermere from gaining illegal access to such a huge centralised database. Until the Government can somehow fix the abuses of the Press and the opportunities for blackmail, they should never consider such a database.

Re:The dangers of IT-illiterate politicians (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611060)

I'm sorry about this rant, but thank you for reading it.

Yes, well you know Tony would probably consider your 'rant' to be antisocial behavior and arrange for an ASBO to be placed on you to the effect that should you raise your right hand above your waist in a public area you will go to jail without further trial.

Remember, criticising the government is antisocial behavior. I mean you can't get much more antisocial than attacking the government, now can you?

Re:The dangers of IT-illiterate politicians (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611078)

Oh and your sig:

Why are graphics cards so designed that the heatsink is on the underside when installed in tower cases?

I've thought about that too, the only thing I can come up with is that it prevents dust from settling on them.

Yeah this is offtopic and is a mere meta-comment. :)

Re:The dangers of IT-illiterate politicians (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611130)

Mod parent "double-plus good" (or is it written ++good?).

Orwell failed to mention the bit about off-shoring the data to the cheapest call centre in Bangalore.

Re:The dangers of IT-illiterate politicians (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611142)

Only because computers and telephony as we know them now didn't exist at the time, so instead he pictured a whole army of people employed by the government to go through the information.

Re:The dangers of IT-illiterate politicians (1)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611328)

For what it's worth, I did write to my MP explaining my opposition to ID cards. I've since moved, so maybe I'll get more traction this time round (pretty much the same objections as last time) with my new MP. The tabloid newspaper angle is an interesting one which I'll use to support the 'who do you trust to access so much data?' argument, thanks.

As far as the heaksink sig goes, it's historical. The ATX design means there's not guaranteed clearance on the 'back' side for any kind of heatsink; my motherboard has the end of the RAM slots and the northbridge cooler very close that side for example. ATX was designed back in 1995, before the advent of big graphics cards or thermal issues at all really. This is one flaw addressed by the BTX design, so that the heatsinks are the right way up. You can get BTX-style cases to fit ATX boards if it bothers you a lot. Just a shame intel effectively made BTX intel-cpu only with the bus layout, or it'd be a lot more popular.

Re:The dangers of IT-illiterate politicians (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611376)

Write to your MP. He will probably be a technical illiterate too, so try and spell it out very plainly without using jargon.
I'm lucky - my local MP replies to every letter/fax/email, sends out monthly email 'blogs' of what he's been doing/involved with, has sensible ideas about most things and manages a good grasp of the real issues. He's very active with local issues, actually turns up at meetings, voices his views, goes away, reports back and all that good stuff. He's even able to say 'I was wrong, here's my new opinion based on the latest information' which for any politician is almost unheard of. Quite how someone competant got voted in is a mystery as we tend to vote in idiots. James Duddridge is the man in question.

Cost of Information (4, Interesting)

herwin (169154) | more than 7 years ago | (#17611260)

When I was working on similar systems in America, we estimated (in our internal risk analyses) that information in a local police database accessible to the average user could be acquired by unauthorised outside users for about $1000. The corresponding figure for a national police agency database was about $10,000. If the information was more valuable than that, additional safeguards were needed. The UK Government proposal is basically flying in the face of that.
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