Archive for August, 2007

950b bill forces rethink on ID Card Scheme

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

Alan Travis, home affairs editor
Thursday August 9, 2007
The Guardian

The future of the ID Card that is supposed to keep track of the population who are living in the UK working here is in doubt after ministers halted the programme this week. The moratorium follows an admission that the original 234b costing proved to be optimistic.

Unions say the 2004 estimate has now risen to 950b. The rollout to 15% of the population next month and 15 more by the end of the year has been cancelled.

The new computer system is supposed to underpin the introduction of end-to-end management of British Citizens through the National Identity Register (NIR) which oversees the Identity and Passport service. But Harry Fletcher, of Napo, the probation officers union, yesterday claimed the project, which is six months late and supposed to be in full operation by next July, was close to collapse.

The Ministry of Justice last night confirmed that a rapid review of the NIR system is under way. Ministers are to decide in mid-September how much of the project can be salvaged. It is expected that it will be adopted in a scaled-down form for the Civil Servants in England and Wales but is unlikely to be rolled out across the whole population. Cancellation could involve paying the contractors, EDS, a 50m penalty.

The system is supposed to provide a single database of all people in England and Wales and their histories, instantly accessible to the 700,000 staff in the Civil Service system. It is designed to give every person a number for life so that their record of offending, financial transactions, anti social behaviour and medical treatments can be logged.

The justice minister, David Hanson, has asked for a full audit trail on the 155m spent so far on the programme. The system has been tested on the Isle of Wight at a cost of 69m but they are not linked up to any other part of the Civil Service IT infrastructure. A similar trial planned in Northamptonshire did not go ahead.

Roger Hill, director of the Probation Service, told chief officers on Monday that the original costing had proved optimistic: We have advised ministers that we will need to undertake a fundamental review of the work, to return to an affordable programme plan. The director general of the NIR, Phil Wheatley, has told staff: It is obviously disappointing that the ID Card project will not be provided as originally anticipated.

Mr Fletcher said: The whole project appears to have been badly managed since its inception. It is arguably an outrageous waste of public money. As a consequence of the problems, Civil Service staff will now have to use IT systems that are not fit for purpose.

[]

Guardian

Typical of the government to bury bad news in the summer.

One idea could get us out of here

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

Bald

“How are you going to get girls to have no hair?”

The island prison that Britain will become

Monday, August 6th, 2007

Unpaid fines may stop people leaving UK

  • Home Office plan outlined in ‘e-borders’ scheme
  • Huge amounts of data likely to be produced

Alan Travis, home affairs editor

Tens of thousands of people who have failed to pay court fines amounting to more than 487m would be banned from leaving the country under new powers outlined by the Home Office. Ministers are also looking at ways of using the new 1.2bn “e-borders” programme to collect more than 9m owed in health treatment charges by foreign nationals who have left the country without paying.

The programme, to be phased in from October next year, will also allow the creation of a centralised “no-fly” list of air-rage or disruptive passengers which can be circulated to airlines.

The e-borders programme requires airlines and ferry companies to submit up to 50 items of data on each passenger between 24 and 48 hours before departure to and from the UK. With 200 million passenger movements in and out of the UK last year to and from 266 overseas airports on 169 airlines, an enormous amount of data is expected to be generated by the programme.

Passenger numbers are expected to rise to 305 million a year by 2015 and ministers claim the 1.2bn programme is the only way to provide a comprehensive record of all those seeking to enter and leave the UK. The immigration minister, Liam Byrne, claims that the programme will create a kind of border control, with information being passed to police and security services before passengers board a plane, boat or train: “It will create a new, offshore line of defence – helping genuine travellers, but stopping those who pose a risk before they travel.”

However, the long-term nature of the programme means that by 2009 only half the passenger movements in and out of Britain will be logged in the e-borders computers, and even by 2011 coverage will have reached only 95%.

A Home Office assessment of the secondary legislation that is being used to implement the programme gives some early indications of who, other than suspected terrorists and international criminals, will be on the British no-fly list and be banned from travelling to and from the country. It floats the idea that provisions should be introduced to ban travel overseas for the tens of thousands of offenders who have not paid outstanding court fines or failed to discharge confiscation orders made against them. Although no official estimate exists of the number of people who have to pay court fines the amount they owe has now reached a record 487m, with a further 300m in unpaid confiscation orders.

Passengers will be further encouraged in future to book their tickets and check in online. Other suggested benefits of the e-borders programme include easier identification of those who falsely claim non-domicile or non-resident status to avoid UK income tax, thought to be costing as much as 2bn a year, and those who wrongly claim social security benefits despite having left the country.

[…]

Guardian

Like we have said so many times before; none of this is about ‘terrorism’, the original reason they gave for proposing all of this in the first place. It is all being done to totally control everyone in the UK.

The nonsense of unpaid fines is just that, nonsense. If they succeed in putting all of this together, your fines will be withdrawn from your account automatically without your consent.

This piece in the guardian gives you the reader a false impression of what is being created. Once all the tools are in place, they will not only be able to control who can and cannot leave the UK, but they will also control all of your money and movements as you live in the UK. They will be used to control who can and cannot have a bank account, or credit card for example. Who can and cannot travel on the underground or a train. Who can or cannot buy alcohol. They will do all of this with the ID card / NIR / your thumb, which will be the talisman without which you will be able to live.

They will keep registers for everything. By getting yourself on the ‘no underground list’ when you try and tap in to board a train, the gate will not open. When you try and buy a pint of beer your thumb will tell the barmaid not to serve you, because you are on the ‘no alcohol’ register. When you go to withdraw money, you will find your account locked because you are on the ‘no financial transactions’ register. Since you will be compelled to swiped for just about anything you want to do, the government will have total control over the goods and services that you will and will not, by decree, be able to access.

If you do not believe this, then you are a fool.

And as for non-domicile or non-resident claims to avoid income tax, the people who are doing this will simply leave and not come back to the UK, and spend their trillions in less hostile countries.

‘e-borders’ like USVISIT is an affront to decent people, will cost billions of pounds netting only a few petty criminals while making some IT contractors very rich. The population of Britain, and now passengers traveling here, are to be reduced to cattle by this proposal, and it is pure evil, just like USVISIT is.

Use the google to see what we have written on this.

Alan Travis of course, has no idea about what he is writing, failed to connect the dots between the proposed e-borders and USVISIT and how the latter has cost billions and caught only 1500 ‘criminals’.

The Guardian fails again. No surprise there.

Update…

You will remember that in the Soviet era and till today, as is the case today in many undemocratic and unfree countries, you have to get what is called an ‘exit visa’ in your passport before you are allowed to travel. This is completely abhorrent to all decent people. Only in totalitarian states does the government have the power to stop you from traveling outside of your country, and guess what, this is precisely what the proposals above create; an exit visa system for the UK.

By creating a list of people who cannot travel and checking your name against it in realtime, the government is essentially granting you an exit visa at the time you are checked. The permission to leave is the visa. The way things work in a free country, you can come and go as you please; its your private business. Britain is like this now; when you turn up at the airport, you simply show your passport and get on the plane and that is it; this is certainly true for people with nationalities that do not require a visa for entry, and it should NEVER be the case that a BRITISH person should be checked to see if their exit visa is in order.

Read this list of countries and their exit visa requirements:

Afghanistan
“The Constitution provides for these rights; however, certain laws limited citizens’ movement. The passport law requires women to obtain permission from a male family member before having a passport application processed. In some areas of the country, women were forbidden by local custom or tradition to leave the home except in the company of a male relative. The law also prohibits women from traveling alone outside the country without a male relative, and male relatives must accompany women participating in Hajj.” http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41737.htm

Algeria
“The law provides for freedom of domestic and foreign travel, and freedom to emigrate; however, the Government sometimes restricted these rights in practice. The Government does not permit young men who are eligible for the draft and who have not yet completed their military service to leave the country if they do not have special authorization; however, such authorization may be granted to students and to those persons with special family circumstances.” (…) “The Family Code does not permit married females younger than 18 years of age to travel abroad without their guardian’s permission.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41718.htm

Armenia
“The law requires authorities to issue passports to all citizens, expect for convicted felons; however, an exit stamp may be denied to persons who possess state secrets, are subject to military service, are involved in pending court cases, or whose relatives have lodged financial claims against them. An exit stamp is valid for up to 5 years and may be used without limit. Men of military age must overcome substantial bureaucratic obstacles to travel abroad.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41668.htm

Bahrain
“The 1963 Citizenship Law provides that the Government may reject applications to obtain or renew passports for reasonable cause, but the applicant has the right to appeal such decisions before the High Civil Court.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41719.htm

Belarus
“The Constitution provides for freedom of movement in and out of the country; however, this right was restricted at times. Official entry and exit regulations specify that citizens who wish to travel abroad must first obtain an exit stamp valid for 1 to 5 years. Once the traveler has a valid stamp, travel abroad is not restricted by further government requirements and formalities; however, the Government could intervene to invalidate stamps that had been issued.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41671.htm

Benin
“The Government maintained documentary requirements for minors traveling abroad as part of its continuing campaign against trafficking in persons.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41588.htm

Bhutan
Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation “The law does not provide for these rights, and the Government placed some limits on them in practice. Citizens traveling in border regions were required to show their citizenship identity cards at immigration check points, which in some cases were located a considerable distance from what is in effect an open border with India. By treaty, citizens may reside and work in India. In addition, ethnic Nepalese claimed that they were frequently denied security clearances, which is a prerequisite for obtaining a passport form. The ethnic Nepalese said that since the clearances were based on the security clearance of their parents, the clearances frequently excluded children of ethnic Nepalese. All citizens must have a security clearance from the Government.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41739.htm

Brunei
“The Government restricts the movement of former political prisoners during the first year of their release.” (…) “Government employees, both citizens and foreigners working on a contractual basis, must apply for approval to go abroad, which was granted routinely.” http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41636.htm

Burma
“An ordinary citizen needs three documents to travel outside the country: a passport from the Ministry of Home Affairs; revenue clearance from the Ministry of Finance and Revenue; and a departure form from the Ministry of Immigration and Population. In 2002, in response to the trafficking in persons problem, the Government tightened the documentation process in ways that hinder or restrict international travel for the majority of women.” (…0 “The Government carefully scrutinized prospective travel abroad for all passport holders. Rigorous control of passport and exit visa issuance perpetuated rampant corruption, as applicants were forced to pay bribes of roughly $300 (300,000 kyat), the equivalent of a yearly salary, to around $1,000 (1 million kyat) for a single woman under 25 years of age. The board that reviews passport applications denied passports on political grounds. College graduates who obtained a passport (except for certain official employees) were required to pay a fee to reimburse the Government for the cost of their education.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41637.htm

Congo, Democratic Republic of the “Married women were required by law to have their husband’s permission prior to traveling outside the country.” (…) “Local authorities in the Kivus routinely required Congolese citizens to show official travel orders from an employer or government official authorizing travel.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41597.htm

Cuba
“The Government severely restricted freedom of movement…” (…) “The Government imposed some restrictions on both emigration and temporary foreign travel. By year’s end, the Government had refused exit permits to 836 people, but allowed the majority of persons who qualified for immigrant or refugee status in other countries to depart.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41756.htm

Ecuador
“The Government requires all citizens to obtain permission to travel abroad, which was granted routinely. Military and minor applicants must comply with special requirements.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41759.htm

Egypt
“Males who have not completed compulsory military service may not travel abroad or emigrate, although this restriction may be deferred or bypassed under special circumstances. Unmarried women under the age of 21 must have permission from their fathers to obtain passports and travel.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41720.htm

Equatorial Guinea “All citizens were required to obtain permission to travel abroad from the local Police Commissioner, and some members of opposition parties were denied this permission. Those who did travel abroad sometimes were interrogated upon their return.” http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41601.htm

Eritrea
“Citizens and foreign nationals were required to obtain an exit visa to depart the country.” (…) “Citizens of national service age (men 18 to 45 years of age, and women 18 to 27 years of age), Jehovah’s Witnesses (see Section 2.c.), and others who were out of favor with or seen as critical of the Government were routinely denied exit visas. Students who wished to study abroad often were unable to obtain exit visas. In addition, the Government frequently refused to issue exit visas to adolescents and children as young as 5 years of age, either on the grounds that they were approaching the age of eligibility for national service or because their diasporal parents had not paid the 2 percent income tax required of all citizens residing abroad. Some citizens were given exit visas only after posting bonds of approximately $7,400 (100,000 nakfa).”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41602.htm

Gabon
“The Government intermittently enforced an internal regulation requiring married women to obtain their husbands’ permission to travel abroad. During the year, there were numerous reports that authorities refused to issue passports for travel abroad with no explanation. There also were reports of unreasonable delays in obtaining passports, despite a government promise in 2003 to process passports within 3 days.” http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41604.htm

India
“Under the Passports Act of 1967, the Government may deny a passport to any applicant who “may or is likely to engage outside India in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India.” The Government used this provision to prohibit the foreign travel of some government critics, especially those advocating Sikh independence and members of the separatist movement in Jammu and Kashmir.” http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41740.htm

Indonesia
“The Constitution allows the Government to prevent persons from entering or leaving the country, and sometimes the Government restricted freedom of movement.” (…) “The Government prevented at least 412 persons from leaving the country during the year. The AGO and the High Prosecutor’s Office prevented most of these departures. Some of those barred from leaving were delinquent taxpayers, while others were involved in legal disputes.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41643.htm

Iran
“The Government required exit permits (a validation stamp in the passport) for foreign travel for draft-age men and citizens who were politically suspect. Some citizens, particularly those whose skills were in short supply and who were educated at government expense, must post bonds to obtain exit permits.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41721.htm

Israel
“Citizens generally were free to travel abroad and to emigrate, provided they had no outstanding military obligations and were not restricted by administrative order. Pursuant to the 1945 State of Emergency Regulations, the Government may bar citizens from leaving the country based on security considerations.” (…) “In addition, no citizen or passport holder is permitted to travel to countries officially at war with Israel without special permission from the Government.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41723.htm

Jordan
“The law requires that all women obtain written permission from a male guardian to apply for a passport; however, women do not need a male relative’s permission to renew their passports. In the past, there were several cases in which mothers reportedly were prevented from departing with their children because authorities enforced requests from fathers to prevent their children from leaving the country.” http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41724.htm

Kenya
“Civil servants and M.P.s must get government permission for international travel, which generally was granted.” http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41609.htm

Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of “The regime only issues exit visas for foreign travel to officials and trusted businessmen, artists, athletes, academics, and religious figures. Short-term exit papers were also available for residents on the Chinese border to enable visits with relatives in bordering regions of China.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41646.htm

Kuwait
“The Constitution does not provide for the rights of freedom of movement within the country, freedom of foreign travel, or freedom to emigrate. The Government placed some limits on freedom of movement in practice.” (…) “Unmarried women must be 21 years of age or older to obtain a passport and travel abroad without permission of a male relative. Married women must obtain their husbands’ permission to apply for a passport. A married woman with a passport does not need her husband’s permission to travel, but he may prevent her departure from the country by placing a 24-hour travel ban on her through immigration authorities. After this 24-hour period, a court order is required if the husband still wishes to prevent his wife from leaving the country. In practice, however, many travel bans were issued without court order, effectively preventing citizens (and foreigners) from departing. All minor children under 21 years of age require their father’s permission to travel outside the country. There were reports of citizen fathers and husbands confiscating their children’s and wives’ travel documents to prevent them from departing.” (…) “The law permits the Government to place a travel ban on any citizen or foreigner who has a legal case pending before the courts. The law also permits any citizen to petition authorities to place a travel ban against any other person suspected of violating local law. In practice, this has resulted in many citizens and foreigners being prevented from departing the country without investigation or a legal case being brought before a local court.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41725.htm

Laos
“Citizens who sought to travel abroad were required to apply for an exit visa. The Government usually granted such visas; however, officials at the local level have denied permission to apply for passports and exit visas to some persons seeking to emigrate.” http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41648.htm

Lebanon
“All men between 18 and 21 years of age are subject to compulsory military service and are required to register at a recruitment office and obtain a travel authorization document before leaving the country.” (…) “Spouses may obtain passports for their children who are less than 7 years of age after obtaining the approval of the other spouse. To obtain a passport for a minor child between 7 and 18 years, the father or legal guardian needs to sign the request to obtain a passport.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41726.htm

Libya
“The Government requires citizens to obtain exit permits for travel abroad…” (…) “A female citizen must have her husband’s permission and a male escort to travel abroad.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41727.htm

Morocco
“The Ministry of Interior restricted freedom to travel outside the country in certain circumstances. In addition, all civil servants and military personnel must obtain written permission from their ministries to leave the country.” http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41728.htm

Oman
Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, Repatriation, and Exile “The law does not provide for these rights; however, the Government generally respected these rights in practice.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41729.htm

Pakistan
“Government employees and students must obtain “no objection” certificates before traveling abroad, although this requirement rarely was enforced against students. Persons on the publicly available Exit Control List (ECL) are prohibited from foreign travel. There were approximately 2,153 names on the ECL. While the ECL was intended to prevent those with pending criminal cases from traveling abroad, no judicial action is required to add a name to the ECL.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41743.htm

Qatar
“In general, women over 30 years old did not require permission from male guardians to travel; however, men may prevent female relatives and children from leaving the country by providing their names to immigration officers at ports of departure. Technically, women employed by the Government must obtain official permission to travel abroad when requesting leave…”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41730.htm

Saudi Arabia “Citizen men have the freedom to travel within the country and abroad; however, the Government restricted these rights for women based on its interpretation of Islamic Law. All women in the country were prohibited from driving and were dependent upon males for transportation. Likewise, they must obtain written permission from a male relative or guardian before the authorities would allow them to travel abroad. The requirement to obtain permission from a male relative or guardian applied also to foreign women married to citizens or to the minor and single adult daughters of Saudi fathers.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41731.htm

Senegal
“Some public employees, including teachers, are required by law to obtain government approval before departing the country; however, human rights groups noted that this law was only enforced against teachers and not other public servants.” http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41623.htm

Seychelles
“Although it was not used during the year, the law allows the Government to deny passports to any citizen if the Minister of Defense finds that such denial is “in the national interest.””
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41624.htm

Singapore
“The Government may refuse to issue a passport and did so in the case of former ISA detainees. Under the ISA, a person’s movement may be restricted.” (…) “Male citizens with national service reserve obligations are required to advise the Ministry of Defense if they plan to travel abroad. Boys age 11 to 16 years are issued passports that are valid for 2 years and are no longer required to obtain exit permits. From the age of 16 until the age of enlistment, male citizens are granted 1-year passports and are required to apply for exit permits for travel that exceeds 3 months.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41659.htm

Sudan
“The Government denied exit visas to some categories of persons, including policemen and physicians, and maintained lists of political figures and other citizens who were not permitted to travel abroad.” (…) “Women cannot travel abroad without the permission of their husbands or male guardians; however, this prohibition was not enforced strictly, especially for NC members.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41628.htm

Swaziland
Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation, “The law does not provide for these rights, and the Government placed some limits on them in practice. Citizens may travel and work freely within the country; however, under traditional law, a married woman requires her husband’s permission to apply for a passport, and an unmarried woman requires the permission of a close male relative.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41629.htm

Syria
“Travel to Israel is illegal, and the Government restricted travel near the Golan Heights. The Government also denied human rights activists, leaders of opposition groups, and other individuals permission to travel abroad, although government officials continued to deny that this practice occurred. Government authorities could prosecute any person found attempting to emigrate or to travel abroad illegally, any person who was deported from another country, or anyone who was suspected of having visited Israel. Women over the age of 18 have the legal right to travel without the permission of male relatives; however, a husband or a father could file a request with the Ministry of Interior to prohibit his wife or daughter’s departure from the country”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41732.htm

Tunisia
“The law provides that the courts can cancel passports and contains broad provisions that both permit passport seizure on national security grounds, and deny citizens the right either to present their case against seizure or to appeal the judges’ decision. The Ministry of Interior is required to submit requests to seize or withhold a citizen’s passport through the public prosecutor to the courts; however, the Ministry of Interior routinely bypassed the public prosecutor with impunity. The public prosecutor deferred to the Ministry of Interior on such requests.” http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41733.htm

Turkmenistan
“The Constitution does not provide for full freedom of movement; although the Government took steps to ease restrictions on freedom of movement, restrictions remained.” (…) “In January, the Government eliminated the exit visa requirement, following international pressure from the diplomatic corps, the OSCE, and the U.N. The elimination of the exit visa regime allowed the majority of citizens to travel abroad; however, the Government maintained a “black list” of those not allowed to travel. Some members of minority religious groups, regime opponents, relatives of those implicated in the November 2002, and those suspected of having “state secrets” were not permitted to leave the country.” http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41714.htm

Ukraine
“Exit visas were required for citizens who intended to take up permanent residence in another country…” http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41715.htm

United Arab Emirates “Custom dictates that a husband can bar his wife, minor children, and adult unmarried daughters from leaving the country by taking custody of their passports.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41734.htm

Uzbekistan
“The Government required citizens to obtain exit visas for foreign travel or emigration, and while it generally granted these routinely, local officials often demanded a small bribe.” (…) “Authorities did not require an exit visa for travel to most countries of the former Soviet Union; however, the Government severely restricted the ability of its citizens to travel overland to neighboring Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Turkmenistan and restricted and significantly delayed citizens attempting to cross the border to Tajikistan. Authorities closed the border with Afghanistan to ordinary citizens.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41717.htm

Vietnam
“Although the Government no longer required citizens traveling abroad to obtain exit or reentry visas, the Government sometimes refused to issue passports. The Government did not allow some persons who publicly or privately expressed critical opinions on religious or political issues to travel abroad.”
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41665.htm

Oooooooooh, yes

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

Decorating yesterday, without a radio, 2 Kate Bush thoughts.

1. The Man With The Child In His Eyes

This song has the most perfect, beautiful ‘ooooh’ of any song, surely. Yes, it does, and i did call you surely. It’s not lascivious, giving come-hither looks or being downright dirty like other oohs I could mention. It’s a luscious, loving, wonderfully rounded, beautiful ‘oooh’, the kind you’d have sung to you by the person who loves you most dearly.

2. Bloody pigeons

Thanks to her last album, Ariel, I now can’t hear a wood pigeon cooing without thinking ‘A sea of ho-ney, a sky of ho-ney’.

It is secret because it is EVIL

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

ID cards – some of the main corporate beneficiaries so far

Some in the IT industry are concerned about facets of the ID cards programme: the costs, the lack of a robust business case, and uncertainties over how well the technologies will work when applied to millions of people.

But not everyone is complaining. Indeed a by-product of the government’s decision to award a plethora of contracts under the ID Card scheme is that parts of the IT industry have signed up to non-disclosure terms, which has reduced significantly the number of cognoscente who could speak openly about the scheme even if they wanted to.

These are some of the organisations and individuals that have won contracts so far under the Identity Cards scheme …

PA Consulting (in part including Electronic Commerce Associates Ltd.) Approx 29.5m to 33.5m
Capita Resourcing – up to 5m
Field Fisher Waterhouse Appox 1.1m
Atos Origin IT Services UK Ltd – 1m+
Parity Resources – up to 1m
Glotel Technology – up to 1m
Sirius consortium (Fujitsu Services Ltd and Global Crossing Ltd and PWC) – 184,000
CESG Communications Electronic Security Group – 140,000+
Veredus London 135,000+
Ernst and Young – 111,000
Partnerships UK – 93,000+
KPMG – 90,000+
Cornwell Management Consultants – 48,000
Shreeveport Management Consultancy – 43,000+
Sigma – 37,000+
The Metropolitan Police – 35,000
Axon Group Plc – 29,000
Excel Recruitment – 20,000
Whitehead Mann Ltd – 17,000
Alan Hughes – 16,000+
Office of Government Commerce – 12,000
Abbey Consulting – 4,000
Interleader Ltd – 2,000

Contracts worth up to 500,000

Adecco UK Ltd
Allen Lane
ASE Consulting Ltd
Capita Interim Management
Chamberlain Beaumont
Computer People
Crystal UK Ltd
Elan Computing Ltd
Electronic Computer Associates (novated from PA Consulting contract)
Hays Accounting
Hedra Ltd
Hudson Global Resources Ltd
Kelly Services
Logica CMC
Methods Consulting
Montpelier Contracting and Consulting
Northern Recruitment Group plc
OGC Accounting Service
Pendragon Information Systems
Real-Time Consultants plc
Ruillion Computer
Sand Resources
Search Total Recruitment Solutions
Security Printing Systems Ltd
Spring Technology
TAG TPS Ltd
The Nesco Group

Contracts under 50,000:

Angela Mortimer plc
Anite Public Sector
Beamans Ltd
British Print Industries Federation
Brook Street
Buchanan and Darby Associates
Business in the Community
Callcredit plc
CE Williams
Central Office of Information
Centre for Accessibility
Diane Bailey Associates
Donaldson’s
Drivers Jonas
ER Consultants
Equifax Ltd
Excel Recruitment
Home Office Cashiers
Ian Farrand HR Management Consultants
Ideas UK
Identix Ltd
Insight Consulting
Josephine Sammons Ltd
Kingston Communications plc.
Lambert Smith Hampton
Manpower
Michael Page UK Ltd
Minority Matters Recruitment
McCrindle Associates Ltd
OCS
Officeforce Ltd
Parity Training Ltd
Partnerships UK
Plain English Campaign
PicnicBox
Procurement Services Ltd
QDOS Computer Consultants
Q1 Consulting
Reed Accounting Personnel
Resource Analysts Ltd
RNA Ltd
Robert Walters
Security Services Group
SGS UK Ltd
Siemens Business Services
St. John’s Ambulance Services
Step Ahead
Streamline Financial Solutions
Telelogic UK Ltd
TK Cobley
The Whelan Partnership
The Whitehall and Industry Group
Turner and Townsend Project Management Ltd
White Young
Yale Data Management Consultant Ltd

[…]

http://www.computerweekly.com/

It doesn’t matter how many people they corrupt and who have signed NDAs. It is the people who are going to suffer at the hands of these companies who matter. It is their rights that are central to this, and despite what anyone says, the answer to all of this is ‘NO’ and HMG is wasting your money because in the end, this scheme will be dismantled if it ever goes into production.

There are some other interesting aspects of this list; the potential points for leaks are high in number. It cannot be possible that every one of the thousands of people who are going to be working on this will keep quiet. We can expect some leaks, if anyone decent works in any of these companies.

And finally, all the talk about open government (not that anyone with a single brain cell believed it) is further put to rest by everyone in this list being held under an NDA.

If this ID card scheme is so secure, then, like peer reviewed crypto (GPG etc) it should be possible for everyone to know how it works without compromising security. Security through obscurity is no security at all.

But you know this…

And now you can read about why this scheme is doomed to failure:

BBC’s File on 4 reveals defects in ID Cards scheme – with wide implications for government IT

Analysis/comment

A BBC Radio Four File on 4 programme on 31 July 2007 on ID cards gave a useful insight into how ministers approve a major new IT-based project, then leave the rest to committed civil servants who have no clear what theyre supposed to be doing.

The broadcast included an interview with Computer Weeklys news editor and several experts from the identity and IT community. It was apparent from the interviews that co-ordination and genuine accountability were lacking, or even absent, from the ID cards scheme, and that civil servants were trying to implement something indefinable that their leaders had decided to implement, nobody having a clear idea of the task that lay ahead.

This was the government machine at its worst: working in secret, having meetings whose minutes were secret, keeping secret gateway reviews of the scheme, and nobody having to account to ministers, stakeholders, the public, Parliament or the public over any decisions taken or not taken.

Carl Jung said that in all disorder theres a secret order. Not in the case of the ID cards scheme, I suspect. Listening to the experts interviewed by the BBC I began to visualise the ID cards scheme as clusters of arms convulsing on an empty floor, none of them attached to a torso.

Peter Tomlinson an IT consultant and specialist in smart card technology told File on 4 he had attended government meetings where the ID card programme was discussed.

He was puzzled when officials from the Home Office, which was the department in charge of ID cards, didnt appear to be present. The meetings were called by people in the Cabinet Office. There were topics on the agenda that were set by people in the Cabinet Office and we kept on thinking: why are we not seeing people from the Home Office. Why are we not seeing technical people from the Home Office, or people involved in technical management? Eventually they began to come along but they never produced anyone who had any technical understanding of large-scale systems. We were just completely puzzled.

File on 4s researcher asked Tomlinson what questions had been asked at the government meetings hed attended.

Other government departments were asking the basic question: how will we use this system, and never getting an answer. No answer at all. ..It was my first real introduction to silo government. Individual government departments were completely independent of each other and now they were going to have to start working together. But they just did not start to do it.

One of the governments business justifications for the ID card scheme is that departments will be able to link into the National Identity Register to verify that citizens are who they say they are. But File on 4 found that departments have not assessed the costs of providing systems or software upgrades that integrate with the register.

Neil Fisher, vice president of identity management at Unisys, was also interviewed for the broadcast. Unisys is one of the companies that hope to join consortia bidding for ID scheme contracts.

Fisher had been talking to the Home Office about other computer projects he was involved in. He believed that work on these projects should have fed into the identity scheme. He, too, criticised a lack of co-ordination. He said it was difficult to find out who was in charge.

I think there has been a realisation, as they have gone through this, that there are a lot of projects, even within the Home Office, being run by awful lots of different and smaller divisions in perhaps immigration, in law enforcement, in passport, and in ID cards, all of whom have a sort of relationship which was ill-defined.

So [when I went] into a meeting invariably the wrong person from the wrong department would be there who could not speak for their colleagues in some other silo.

He added that suppliers liked to talk to those who work within a well-organised chain of command. But it just isnt like that. I am not giving away any secrets here. The Home Office is quite a difficult department to run. It is like a herd of cats and its very difficult to herd cats as you know.

Tomlinson said that as he sat listening to officials discussing the ID project at Cabinet Office meetings, he began to wonder whether it had really been thought through.

We were asking questions like: how does one government department that is not the Home Office connect up to the identity card system? Where are the specifications for the communications protocols? How does the equipment get to be security certified? There was no work going on any of these technical topics

If you are going to design a large-scale system like this you first go and look at the volumes of transactions that are going to take place, how often are they going to take place and then we would see roughly how big it was going to be. You cant specify a system unless you have these figures. There were about four of us who used to go to those meetings and we were all very puzzled. We said that this project is empty. It has no content.

None of this can be blamed on James Hall, the affable, experienced, open and business-minded Chief Executive of the Identity and Passport Service. James Hall did not join the ID cards scheme until last October three years after its inception; and in any case no individual civil servant, however deft his skills, can resolve the deep-rooted problems on the ID cards scheme which are arguably more to do with the anachronistic, cosy, closed-door culture of government than the action or inaction of any one person.

Several times during the File on 4 programme, Hall ably defended the scheme saying that it would continue to evolve. But some of those listening to him could be forgiven for thinking that he was saying in essence: things are not clearly defined at the moment and were at least partially reliant on suppliers defining things for us.

Its the salesmen and consultants from suppliers that have pushed for ID cards; and so it will be, it seems, the technical people from some of the same companies that will be largely responsible for setting the specifications they will contracted to deliver against.

Very odd.

James Hall told the BBCs researchers: We have published a plan laying out our approach to the national identity scheme last December. Since January we have been in continuous dialogue with the technology industry and we have taken on board some of their thinking about the shape of the scheme and thatll be reflected in procurement activity. And I have no doubt that once we into the procurement process we will continue to get innovation and good ideas from the market which will continue to refine our thinking about the precise details of how we deliver this.

Martyn Thomas, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and visiting professor of software engineering at Oxford University Computing Laboratory, said the requirements for the ID cards scheme are still not being articulated.

He added: Without a very clear statement of what the requirements are it wont be possible to build a system that meets those requirements cost effectively.

File on 4s programme was specific to ID cards, so its easy to forget that there are much wider implications of the disclosures made in the broadcast. The civil servants we have met have been bright and committed. But its not their fault if they work without clear tasks, without leadership and in secret so mistakes and inefficiency are hidden.

If the machinery of government is in such poor condition and some parts of it seem to be how can it be exploited for the purposes of huge, complex, risky, costly and ambitious IT-projects such as ID cards?

[…]

http://www.computerweekly.com/

Tony Collins is really on the ball. Astonishing stuff.

Johnson ‘would destroy London’s unity’ as mayor…NOT!

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

Doreen Lawrence attacks Tory frontrunner, saying black people will not vote for him

Patrick Wintour, political editor
Saturday August 4, 2007

Doreen Lawrence, the mother of the murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, yesterday launched a fierce personal attack on Boris Johnson, saying he would destroy multicultural London if elected mayor, and that no informed black person would vote for him.

Ms Lawrence, who does not normally become involved in party politics, said she had been moved to make the criticisms by her anger at Mr Johnson’s attitude to the Macpherson inquiry in 1999 into the Metropolitan police’s failure to bring her son’s killers to justice 14 years ago.

Her intervention comes as David Cameron, the Tory leader, steps up his efforts to woo the black vote in the capital.

Ms Lawrence said: “Boris Johnson is not an appropriate person to run a multi-cultural city like London. Think of London, the richness of London, and having someone like him as mayor would destroy the city’s unity. He is definitely not the right person to even be thinking to put his name forward.

“Those people that think he is a lovable rogue need to take a good look at themselves, and look at him. I just find his remarks very offensive. I think once people read his views, there is no way he is going to get the support of any people in the black community.”

Mr Johnson wrote a series of articles at the time of the Macpherson inquiry, claiming some of its recommendations were born of political correctness and that the furore around the murder had created the whiff of a witchhunt against the police. The inquiry team found the police institutionally racist.

Mr Johnson was especially condemnatory of a “weird recommendation that the law might be changed so as to allow prosecution for racist language or behaviour ‘other than in a public place’.”

“Not even under the law of Ceausescu’s Romania could you be prosecuted for what you said in your own kitchen,” he wrote. “No wonder the police are already whingeing that they cannot make any arrests in London. No wonder the CPS groans with anti-discrimination units, while making a balls-up of so many cases.”

He argued that “the PC brigade, having punched this hole in the Metropolitan police, is swarming through to take over the whole system” and went on to say that he feared “what started as a sensible attempt to find justice for the family of Stephen Lawrence has given way to hysteria”.

In his articles – mainly in the Daily Telegraph – Mr Johnson also made it clear that he believed there had been “grotesque failures in the Lawrence murder case, and they may well have originated in racism”, adding the police officers “may have jumped to the wrong conclusions due to a racialist mindset”.

In another article, presumably for stylistic effect, he has referred to children as “piccaninnies” and described the “watermelon smiles of black people”.

Ms Lawrence said such remarks made it surprising that Mr Cameron was backing Mr Johnson. “[David Cameron] says he is trying to change the Conservative party from its past, and support multiculturalism, and bring in new communities, then supporting Boris Johnson is not a way of doing that.”

[…]

Guardian

This woman is insane.

Under ‘Red Ken’ Livingston, London has been turned into the very model of dehumanized surveillance grid living, where everyone’s privacy is violated routinely by a system that he personally implemented; the ‘Congestion Charge’. It was Red Ken who extended it despite the explicit objection of the majority of Londoners.

Under people like him, the so called ‘blacks’ will have an increasingly hard time as the biometric net / Quantized Human Pleb Grid is rolled out. They will be the ones routinely stopped and fingerprinted. They are already the ones most represented in the appalling and unprecedented DNA database. It is people like Boris who are for removing these monstrosities; she should be FOR him not AGAINST him.

This woman simply is not thinking:

She added: “He felt that people should be entitled to say what they want. It sounds to me that what he believes is that because something is said and done in private it is acceptable, but clearly it can never be acceptable to hold those views. Anyway, what is said in private normally manifests itself out in public.”

See what I mean?

Not once does this deranged person mention a single policy that Boris wants to implement. But this is not about policy. This is about the inmates taking over the asylum.

What has happened to her is unbelievably sad, but it has clearly caused her to become irrational. The media have made her into a sort of saint figure, and they listen to and print her every word uncritically. This is crazy. Her suffering of an unimaginable injustice does not qualify her to set the standards by which we should all live, and I deeply despise people who want to control what we can and cannot say.

Boris Johnson, as a British man is free to write whatever he wants. This is the freedom that people in Britain have, and just because he has a sense of humor that someone somewhere might find offensive, this does not exclude him from running for office, and it does not mean that he would not make a brilliant Mayor of London. I would rather have a ribald Boris as Mayor of London tearing down the Congestion Charge system, anonymising the Oyster Card system, mandating that busses take cash, reinstating the Routemaster, overturning the smoking ban … returning London to what it is meant to be, than some politically correct, fascist police state facilitator who is turning the entire city into a giant concentration camp.

Increasingly, people are going to have to accept that people ‘say things’. All sorts of things. The internets can bring you these things instantly. This woman would have us living in a paranoid world where everyone is thinking one thing and writing another; where everyone is writing as if they are under surveillance, where their freely expressed thought can come back to ‘haunt them’ in the future, as PC witchunters Google their words for expressions of forbidden thought.

That is not a world where any decent person wants to live and work. It is the world of fascism, and people who say things like she does are the absolute enemies of mankind … and she has every right to say it, as wrong headed as it is. This unelected figurehead has the right to say whatever she wants, and so does Boris. That is freedom of speech in a free country. She should not be toppled from her position as a ‘community leader’ for spouting twaddle, and Boris should not be put off the list of Mayoral candidates for using his own unique brand of expression. Everyone can choose for themselves who they want to control London…that is where the person is elected.

But I digress…

Everyone is going to have to accept that people write what they write, and this has no bearing on the sort of person they really are, or what their policies are and how efficiently they implement them. If we do not accept this, then only the people who have never written are going to be ‘fit to be employed’ or ‘fit for office’. If someone doesn’t write, keeping their innermost ghastly thoughts (if a thought can be ghastly) secret and to themselves, this doesn’t mean that they are ‘nice’, or that they will be able to do the job well. If someone only writes smooth things, does this mean that we can trust them more? Of course not. What we have to talk about are ideas applied to problems and then performance and execution. Writing for fun or employment has nothing to do with either of those things, and these personal attacks on Boris Johnson are just childish, stupid and pointless. Opinion must always be separated from Policy. Informal thought written down is NOT POLICY.

Lets see what Boris wants to do with London / what he is informally thinking shall we?

Transport

A dedicated cyclist, Boris Johnson wants to get rid of “Ken Livingstone’s 18-metre-long socialist frankfurter buses” and speed humps “which necessitate the need for 4x4s”. He has attacked legislation on car booster seats for children as “utterly demented”.

He has bemoaned “the unbelievable and chronic chaos on the tube” and the state of the railways, observing: “The fundamental problem is not that the train companies are monstrously abusing the travelling public, though they are … Gordon Brown and the Treasury are … making them pay so much for the franchise that they simply don’t have enough to invest in services.”

I agree with all of this.

Marriage

“David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith are plainly right to extol the benefits of marriage, and, if a 20 tax credit would really begin to bubblegum together our broken society, then that would clearly be a price worth paying … It is outrageous that the benefit system should be so heavily skewed in favour of single parent families,” Johnson wrote recently.

Marriage is good!

Diversity and integration

The Tory MP has argued that society must “inculcate … Britishness, especially into young Muslims”, adding: “We should teach English, and we should teach in English. We should teach British history. We should think again about the jilbab, with the signals of apartness that it sends out, and we should probably scrap faith schools.

“We should forbid the imams from preaching sermons in anything but English … we cannot continue with the multicultural apartheid.”

Last year he said localism could lead to sharia law because “large chunks of the Muslim population” did not feel British. He added: “Supposing Tower Hamlets or parts of Bradford were to become governed by religious zealots believing in that system?”

The Mayor of London cannot forbid people from preaching in Arabic… or Latin for that matter. This is just TALK. Real democracies have checks and balances in place so that no matter what the personal opinions of elected officials are, they cannot violate your rights. Sadly, the Mayor of London can violate your rights willy nilly, and there is nothing that you can do about it. If a bad man, like Red Ken is in charge, then bad things like the Congestion Charge can and will happen. The rights of people in the UK need to be enshrined….but thats another blog post.

Inequality

He admits the low tax rates enjoyed by many in the City are “odd”, but argues: “Without their efforts, there would be no squillions, and a windfall tax might simply kill the goose.” He suggests philanthropy should be encouraged instead.

He has accused Labour of waging a middle-class war against “the bottom 20% of society – the group that supplies us with the chavs, the losers, the burglars, the drug addicts and the 70,000 people who are lost in our prisons … They keep them snared in a super-complicated system of means-tested benefits … They tax them an exorbitant proportion of their incomes.”

Completely correct, and he is completely right about Philanthropy, as are others.

The environment, Housing, Health its all good. This is a man who has some common sense, who is not in thrall to political correctness, which means that he is free thinking. We need free thinkers…heavens above, we need people who can THINK. That is why Boris Johnson should be Mayor of London. ‘Shock Jock’ Nick Ferrari is just thick, and anyone who used to be ‘ShowBiz Reporter at The Sun’ shouldn’t be left in charge of a ten penny piece let alone one of the greatest cities mankind ever created. Ken Livingston has been an unmitigated disaster. Whoever the lib-dems are fielding they are unelectable thanks to their absurd local income tax ‘ideas’.

and finally, a nifty comment from a real person:

Bye ken, and welcome Boris, who is someone who will say what we all feel, and not scared by the do gooder groups, who so many bow down to now!

– Graham, Southend on sea, UK

from This is London

See what I mean?…again?

Skating towards a police state…

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

Richard Littlejohn

Fancy a pair of those newfangled motorised roller skates? Careful, you could end up being branded a potential serial killer and forced to hand over your DNA.

Police chiefs want the power to take samples from people committing even the most trivial offences.

And where the first motorised roller skates go, the first motorised roller skates breath test will surely follow.

After all, the Old Bill have already breathtested one man using a child’s scooter with a strimmer engine attached and another riding a skateboard.

But you won’t have to be skating under the influence to be catapulted to the top of the “Most Wanted” list. You’d be breaking the law simply by using the skates.

Senior policemen and the Crown Prosecution Service agree that would be enough to justify you being forced to give a DNA sample on the spot.

Currently, they’re only allowed to take swabs from those convicted of crimes which carry a jail term.

According to one of the supporters of the scheme, Inspector Thomas Huntley, of the Ministry of Defence Police, failing to take a sample ‘could be seen as giving the impression that an individual who commits a non-recordable offence could not be a repeat offender.

“While the increase of suspects on the database will lead to an increased cost, this should be considered preferable to letting a serious offender walk free from custody.”

We’re not just talking reckless endangerment with a pair of turbo-charged roller skates, either. What they mean by ‘non-recordable’ encompasses anything from ignoring a stop sign or not wearing a seat belt to dropping litter or letting your dog foul the pavement.

HOW are the police supposed to know that the little old lady allowing her poodle to poop in a public place won’t go on to commit another Dunblane massacre? Or that the spotty youth casually dropping a KitKat wrapper in the gutter may not be the next Yorkshire Ripper.

You never can tell. Better to be safe than sorry. Open wide.

The step from not wearing a seat belt, or running a red light, to mass murderer may be a small one in the tiny mind of someone like the impertinent Inspector Huntley.

But it’s a giant leap in terms of liberty and the presumption of innocence.

What was that phrase again? We can’t be certain that someone could not be a repeat offender.

Of course we can’t. But our system of justice is based upon a person being innocent until proven guilty.

We don’t lock up shoplifters for life on the grounds that they might one day rob a bank. Nor should we be taking

DNA swabs from those guilty of piffling offences, just in case.

And while convictions for relatively minor offences are wiped clean under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, your DNA sample is for ever.

This is an attempt to establish a comprehensive national biometric database by stealth, because they know we would never agree to it voluntarily, just as the new passport regime is a way of bringing in ID cards by the back door.

How many politicians would be prepared to stand for election on a commitment: “Vote for me and if you forget to fasten your seat belt you will be forced to hand over a DNA sample”?

It’s monstrous, but it’s par for the course these days.

How many people voted for the thousands of new “criminal” offences brought in over the past few years?

How many of these exciting new crimes were brought in after a ‘consultation’ exercise, rather than a proper debate and vote in Parliament?

How many times have I written about this Government’s sinister determination to criminalise as many people as possible and pretend that a middle-class motorist doing a few miles an hour above the limit on a deserted motorway is just as much a villain as an inner-city mugger?

That’s what’s happening again in this case. It’s all in line with Labour’s love of surveillance and snooping and treating us all like criminals.

No one voted for officials to be given the power to come into our homes to prod our roof insulation and measure our conservatories, to use satellites to assess the size of our gardens for taxation purposes, or to rip open our bin-liners to check for the “wrong” kind of rubbish.

No one voted for the millions of CCTV and speed cameras on every street corner, or for the increasingly intrusive amount of personal information demanded even to get a bus pass.

There are already four million people on the DNA database – including one million who have never been convicted of any crime.

Curious how a government in thrall to “yuman rites” has such contempt for the right to privacy.

We already live in a punishment culture and we’re getting perilously close to a full-blown police state.

If we don’t want to wake up one day and wonder where the last of our liberties went, it’s time to get our skates on.

[…]

Daily Mail

You know its ‘Game Over’ when you agree with people like Litlejohn!

More Biometric Propaganda

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

New biometric technology means one in the eye for airport queues

Beat the crowds at UK airports this summer by taking advantage of the latest biometric technology, says Emma Hartley

It’s been a bad week for the British airport queue. First, MPs said that standing in one could make you a “sitting duck” target for terrorists.

Then Kitty Ussher, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, warned that “Heathrow hassle” and long queues, particularly at passport control, were deterring business people from flying to London for meetings, which could have a long-term impact on the national economy.

Never has air travel been less glamorous for the British holidaymaker. The recent beefing-up of airport security, while understood and accepted with typical stoicism, has none the less turned foreign sojourns into an epic and tiring series of queues and checks.

But it needn’t be that way: there is a recently installed digital solution to at least half of the problem – the part encountered at the arrivals hall in the UK – available to those travellers classified as “low security risk”.

IRIS, an acronym for Iris Recognition Immigration System, is a service provided free at the point of contact by the Immigration Service, in which eight British airport terminals – four at Heathrow, two at Gatwick plus Birmingham and Manchester – have the facility to scan a human iris. As with a fingerprint, every iris is unique, even for identical twins.

The iris-scanning process takes about two minutes and no appointment is necessary; you just need to clear security at a participating airport, keep hold of your boarding card, and ask to be directed to the IRIS suite.

The particular infrared camera system used to power IRIS was developed by Sagem Dfense Scurit, a French company that has also developed iris-scanning applications for military use, but the basic technique involves taking simultaneous pictures on two light frequencies – ambient light and that from a light-emitting diode in the infrared region.

Paul Stanborough, managing director of rival outfit Aditech, explains: “It’s the red light that makes the picture of the iris unique. That’s the clever bit that generates the algorithm, coding the image and allowing it to be stored and found again.”

With the images of your irises held on a database, when you return to the UK you can skip the long queue at passport control and instead head for the IRIS gate. The queue here, by comparison, is determined entirely by the scheme’s uptake – only around 100,000 have enrolled so far, very few of whom will be travelling at any given time, so there is rarely any queue at all.

Moreover, the day when that line will be the same length as the others is a long way off, not least because access to the scheme is restricted to those deemed “low risk”.

Passing through the IRIS system involves simply gazing into a mirrored box at the recognition technology, which should spring the gate open within seconds.

IRIS users are and will remain almost entirely UK passport holders, according to Brodie Clark, the Government’s strategic director for border control. “It is possible, though, that if [non-British passport-holders] fly to the UK often on business and are not on any police watch-list, you may also be eligible,” he said.

Because the data is not stored on your passport but on the Immigration Service’s database, the scheme is unaffected by passport expiry. However, IRIS must be activated within six months of enrolling and is valid unused for two years but renewed every time it is used.

It is designed for frequent flyers, most probably business and solo travellers. It’s not without its pitfalls: if, for instance, someone takes a small child into the IRIS gate the technology will not work since it is designed for one person at a time. Similarly, a person wearing backpack-style hand luggage might create the impression of two people in the booth and disrupt the process, so all baggage must be put on the ground.

Until now, the system’s existence at passport control has remained a rather well-kept secret. The three other people who presented themselves for enrolment at Gatwick South Terminal during the 15 minutes or so I was there this week all said that they had heard about it in a roundabout way, through random browsing on the internet or from friends.

However, it is understood that the Government is about to launch a promotional drive to encourage greater use of the IRIS technology.

And the benefits of IRIS will be felt elsewhere in the airport, too. Since the time-saving benefits of iris-scanning are wiped out if you speed through immigration just to hang around at the baggage carousel waiting for your suitcase, the scheme indirectly encourages people to take less luggage when they travel, leading in turn to shorter check-in times.

Balm to the soul for Britain’s weary travellers.

[…]

Telegraph

This is a piece of blatant propaganda, placed by a PR company in the Telegraph, for money.

SHAME.

Today we learn that the DNA database has been accumulating records at one per minute, and that the government wants to be able to take your DNA on the street for dropping litter or not wearing a seat belt.