ID cards: Alchemy, or just bullshit?
I'm catching up on Slashdot, and I stumbled across this story -
Your Right to Travel Anonymously: Not Dead Yet.
In a nutshell it's apparently near impossible to take an
internal flight or long distance bus or rail journey in the US without
having to produce government issued photo ID. Why is this so? Here's
the Slashdot answer:
The requirement to show ID for flying on commercial passenger flights
started in 1996, in response to the crash of
TWA Flight 800.
This crash was very likely caused by a mechanical failure. How showing
ID to board a plane prevents mechanical failures is left as an exercise
to the reader.
Hardly convincing grounds, especially when one considers that all
of the September 11th terrorists had government issued ID.
To make matters even more surreal the US government are currently
refusing to confirm or deny whether a law exists that insists
identification must be shown.
This situation is absolutely nonsensical, and
Tom's allusions to alchemy
ring very true.
[Thu, 26 Aug 2004 14:19
UK govt IT projects a disaster
That's pretty common knowledge in the UK, after all most government
projects work on the reverse Midas principle - if a politician gets
involved everything turns to shit.
However, for an all-party commitee of MPs to condemn government IT
appalling waste" might mean that the scale of the disaster is
slowly sinking in.
Now tell me why they think that the id fiasco can come within even
sniffing distance of the projected £6 billion?
If Big Blunkett and crew can't be persuaded of the lunacy of the
proposed ID fiasco, it'll be a good time to buy EDS shares...
[Mon, 26 Jul 2004 14:28
Left Hand Meet Right Hand
and Phil Wilson,
a classic example of un-joined up Government and a tacit admission of
one of the many blinding flaws of an
Identity Fraud Steering Committee
has a shiny new website about
and how to avoid falling victim to it.
One of their gems of wisdom is
carry documents or plastic cards unnecessarily,
fair enough that makes sense.
Then, on their
Is Being Done
page they try to sell us the advantages of an identity card. Where
your entire identity can be encapsulated and easily carried on
one simple (easily forgeable) piece of plastic. Run that one past me
You just couldn't make this stuff up. I wonder how many interesting facts
will appear on Government websites from soon to be
if we had a real freedom of information act this stuff wouldn't be hidden
[Fri, 16 Jul 2004 13:09
A light at the end of the tunnel?
As it appears that this is a war that can't be fought using reason,
financial justification, ethics, human rights, or just plain old
has to fought with yet another weapon in the armoury of the good, comedy.
are good at this and even have draft
National ID card application forms,
print some out and leave them in the pub. The classic
also chimes into the debate, with an article on
which is also available in a
We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we
shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills,
we shall fight them in the pubs...
[Fri, 28 May 2004 13:21
Dodgy Prints Finger The Wrong Man
Yet more proof that current biometric measures are poor
and hugely fallible:
apology for Madrid bomb fingerprint fiasco
And possibly even more chilling:
Benson versus Identix
a number of real world examples of how reliance on identity systems
based on the use of ID cards and biometrics can go seriously wrong and cause
[Wed, 26 May 2004 23:07
So now the ID and central identity register bandwagon is
and the lucky Scots are the next to get their names
and identities put on the
Of course, there's one rather big fly in the ointment in
that biometrics still haven't been proven to work accurately
over a large sample of people, even the
traditional fingerprint isn't guaranteed to be unique.
The "ID cards and an ID database are fine because I've got
nothing to hide" argument really falls down when there's
a criminal running around leaving fingerprints identical to
[Mon, 24 May 2004 13:00
ID card backlash
there's a surprise!
Despite all the government spin, there remains a significant proportion of
the population that doesn't see any need, advantage or point in having ID
Maybe it's the costs, the govt say £3billion, other less biased
estimates are at least double that, and I wouldn't be surprised if the
eventual cost was actually significantly higher, given the govt's proven
track record of incompetant handling of major IT based projects.
More probable is as Simon Davies, director of
says "The more people hear about the government's proposals,
the less they like them,"...
event this afternoon in London, get along there if you can. It's your
rights, identity and money on the line.
[Wed, 19 May 2004 13:29
What else could we buy for the cost of a national ID card?
Based on the estimates of £6 billion, here are
that could be acheived with this level of state funding.
£6,000,000,000.00 is rather a lot of our money, shouldn't
we be doing something useful with this rather than giving it shareholders
of foreign IT companies?
[Tue, 18 May 2004 21:19
ID Card or 60,000 extra policemen?
Thought for the day. Which would you prefer?
card or 60,000 extra policemen? Which would be the most likely to
reduce crime, and even the semi-mythical threat of terrorism? Not a hard
question, but that's what the ID card is likely to cost you the tax payer.
Put like that the ID card only makes sense if you're a crook, terrorist,
EDS employee or shareholder...
[Sun, 16 May 2004 21:42
Stand Up For Yourself
I had an email from the
folks earlier, they've got some important things to say
about the proposed UK ID cards, this is an significant change to UK laws
and has far reaching implications, and as they say about
the whole debacle:
After all, it's not every year you get to protect fundamental
civil liberties won over a period of many centuries. Or even
the chance to stop the government throwing several billion
down the drain labelled 'Yet Another IT Debacle'.
For starters there's a big meeting on Weds May 19th, details
below and more details available from
Wednesday May 19, 2004; 13:30-17:00 hrs
The Old Theatre, London School of Economics
Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE
Organised by Privacy International, in association with Liberty,
Statewatch, Stand.org.uk, The Register, The 1990 Trust and the
Foundation for Information Policy Research. Hosted by the Department
of Information Systems of the London School of Economics
The government has introduced draft legislation for a national
identity card. The card system will cost at least £3 billion and is
likely to become an essential part of life for everyone residing in
If the draft legislation is accepted by Parliament, everyone will be
required to register for a card. Biometric scans of the face, fingers
and eye will be taken. Personal details will be stored in a central
database. A unique number will be issued that will become the basis
for the matching of computer systems.
The proposed card may be required to access vital public services and
to receive benefits. The government proposes to enforce the programme
through numerous new criminal and civil offenses, including provision
for unlimited financial penalty and up to ten years' imprisonment.
The implications for everyone in the UK are far-reaching.
Join us at this important meeting to hear from key figures in the
fields of law, politics, security, technology and human rights.
Decide for yourself whether this is a plan that should be supported.
The meeting is free of charge.
Draft programme (subject to change):
13.30 Welcome: Simon Davies, London School of Economics
13.35 Rt Hon David Blunkett, MP, Home Secretary (invited)
13.50 Rt Hon David Davies, MP, Shadow Home Secretary
14.00 Mark Oaten, MP, Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman;
David Winnick, MP, Labour;
Simon Thomas, MP, Plaid Cymru;
Lord Phillips of Sudbury
14.40 Q&A with audience
14.50 Dr Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary General, Muslim Council of
15.00 Karen Chouhan, Executive Director, The 1990 Trust
15.10 Shami Chakrabarti, Director, Liberty
15.20 Q&A with audience
15.35 Roger Smith, Director, JUSTICE
15.45 Paul Whitehouse, former Chief Constable, Sussex Police
15.55 Q&A with audience
16.10 Peter Williamson, President, Law Society
16.20 Prof Ross Anderson, Cambridge University
16.30 Jonathan Bamford, Asst Information Commissioner
16.40 Q&A with audience
16.55 Next steps
More details will appear here:
In the meantime please let us know if you would like to attend by emailing
Media enquiries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
[Sat, 15 May 2004 09:43
UK ID cards
I've got so much ranting steam building up about this subject
that I've decided to give it its own sub-category, previous
posts on this subject have appeared in my
For the next few months I'll be posting one or two pertinant
links a day to other discussions on this subject.
[Sat, 15 May 2004 09:28