Archive for March, 2008

Privacy International complaint poised to shut down Heathrow passenger fingerprinting

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Privacy International’s recent complaint to the UK Information Commissioner has threatened to bring a halt to an imminent plan to fingerprint all domestic and international passengers departing from Heathrow’s Terminal 1 and Terminal 5, due to begin business on March 27th. The British media is reporting that in response to PI’s complaint, the Information Commissioner has advised that passengers should only accept fingerprinting “under protest” until our complaint is resolved.

The prospect of a complete shutdown of two Heathrow terminals has emerged since Privacy International’s complaint about passenger fingerprinting. The complaint, lodged with the UK Information Commissioner on March 9th 2008, argues that the scheme breaches the fundamental tests of necessity and proportionality under the UK Data Protection Act.

The complaint states: “We believe the BAA solution is disproportionately intrusive. Even if it were to be established that passenger switching (if indeed such a problem exists) was a terrorist threat (rather than merely a breach of airline terms and conditions on transferability) then the photo option would be less invasive and would involve fewer intrusive procedures and less personal data.”

The complaint alleged that the design of Terminal 5 was intentionally created to ensure that passengers, both domestic and international, were exposed to retail outlets to the maximum possible extent. It noted: “We are troubled by BAA’s justification that the new procedure will ensure that “all our passengers will enjoy the same great facilities and wide choice of shops and restaurants”. To diminish privacy rights in order to achieve greater sales revenue is a disquieting development in the evolution of thinking with regard to data protection.

Privacy International alleges that there is no basis in UK law for the establishment of mandatory fingerprinting, and that the claims made by the British Airports Authority (BAA) were based in fantasy or deception. “BAA’s claim that these measures are “required by government” appears to be of dubious substance. There certainly appears to be no legislative requirement for fingerprinting in these circumstances, and so we assume that the scheme is based on an informal arrangement with government. Indeed a spokesman for BAA is quoted in the Evening Standard (March 11th) saying: “the fingerprinting scheme was introduced in cooperation with the Home Office”.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has confirmed to Privacy International (see below) that it has never been approached by the Government, British Airways, BAA or any other party about this scheme.

This PI claim received further weight when the British newspaper, the Mail on Sunday, reported that the Home Office denied that it had set any requirement for passenger fingerprinting.

If the Information Commissioner is not satisfied that the fingerprinting scheme is justified he has the authority to present a cessation order, breach of which would be a criminal offence. If BAA is found in breach of UK law its contractual terms could then be in jeopardy.

See here for the complaint and the response from the Information Commissioner’s Office. Here are some excerpts:

Privacy International believes the Heathrow fingerprinting scheme breaches the fundamental test of Necessity for compliance with Data Protection. We are not aware of any published evidence indicating that passenger switching has become a significant security issue, nor are we aware of any evidence that it could be in the future.

BAA’s claim that these measures are “required by government” appears to be of dubious substance. There certainly appears to be no legislative requirement for fingerprinting in these circumstances, and so we assume that the scheme is based on an informal arrangement with government. Indeed a spokesman for BAA is quoted in the Evening Standard (March 11th) saying: “the fingerprinting scheme was introduced in cooperation with the Home Office”.

[…]

We are troubled by BAA’s justification that the new procedure will ensure that “all our passengers will enjoy the same great facilities and wide choice of shops and restaurants”. To diminish privacy rights in order to achieve greater sales revenue is a disquieting development in the evolution of thinking with regard to data protection. We would have hoped that the planning of Terminal 5 and its associated security procedures would have taken account of compliance with law. We would be interested to learn whether a Privacy Impact Assessment was conducted or whether due diligence was instituted with regard to the DPA.

We do not believe this scheme will be in any way voluntary or opt-in. Most passengers will have little or no choice over which terminal they use, and even where such an alternative exists it may be costly. We do not believe in these circumstances that passengers should be compelled to undergo fingerprinting.

We refer you to the advice provided by your office on the subject of fingerprinting of children in schools (23rd July 2007):

In view of the sensitivity of taking children’s fingerprints, schools should respect the wishes of parents and pupils who object to their (or their children’s) fingerprints being taken in school.

We see no reason why this “sensitivity” should not extend to the adult population, particularly where some people feel vulnerable or anxious about the procedure, or where strong convictions are held about such procedures.

[…]

It is, in our view, not acceptable for BAA to institute an intrusive system merely because of a “state of heightened alert” over airport security, particularly where no evidence is offered to justify fingerprinting. Nor in our view is it acceptable to advance architectural determinism or poor planning as a justification for the necessity for intrusive practices. The decisions that are made with regard to Terminal 5 will resonate across the travel industry, and so it is crucial to ensure that the justification, the legal compliance and the procedures are positioned properly in these early days. Vague claims of government requirements are not appropriate under these circumstances.

Nor, in our view, is it acceptable to define necessity and proportionality in a minimal or casual manner when the environment in question offers so much scope for the development of privacy friendly alternatives to fingerprinting.

http://www.privacyinternational.org/

This is a properly drafted response, from an organization that is actively working to solve problems.

Well done Privacy International, your cheque is in the post.

This is the sort of organization that is worth donating to and joining. They will not fob you off with cranky emails, admonishing you to not ‘pester them’ with matters like this, whilst on the surface, pretending to be working against these outrageous and Orwellian measures.

They also get things done, and actively attack problems instead of endlessly appearing on TV and in the newspapers, decrying all that is going wrong.

Send your checque to:

Privacy International
6-8 Amwell Street
London, EC1R 1UQ
GB

Lest we forget, here are our other posts on this subject:

ID Cards, the NIR and Heathrow Terminal 5
http://irdial.com/blogdial/?p=982

Richard Rogers: Architect of The New Authoritarianism
http://irdial.com/blogdial/?p=771

Heathrow Terminal 5: Architectural Disaster
http://irdial.com/blogdial/?p=767

More BBQ Biometric Propaganda: Terminal 5
http://irdial.com/blogdial/?p=825

Terminal 5 fingerprinting; the howls begin
http://www.irdial.com/blogdial/?p=1015

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WordPress 2.5 upgrade

Monday, March 31st, 2008

We have finally upgraded WordPress!

Whenever I previously tried to do it, MSQL returned:

WordPress database error: [Duplicate entry '1'
for key 1]
INSERT INTO wp_terms (term_id, name, slug, term_group)
VALUES ('1', 'In', 'in-2', '1')

WordPress database error: [Duplicate entry '1-category'
for key 2]
INSERT INTO wp_term_taxonomy (term_id, taxonomy, description,
parent, count) VALUES ('1', 'category', '', '0', '22')

WordPress database error: [Duplicate entry '2' for key 1]
INSERT INTO wp_terms (term_id, name, slug, term_group)
VALUES ('2', 'Administravia', 'administravia-2', '1')

WordPress database error: [Duplicate entry '2-category'
for key 2]
INSERT INTO wp_term_taxonomy (term_id, taxonomy, description,
parent, count) VALUES ('2', 'category', '', '0', '6')

WordPress database error: [Duplicate entry '3' for key 1]
INSERT INTO wp_terms (term_id, name, slug, term_group)
VALUES ('3', 'The Law', 'the-law-2', '1')

Which resulted in an upgraded WordPress, with 1000 posts that were all Uncategorized.

Eventually, after reading up and doing some dry runs, I discovered the solution:

  • Back everything up, deactivate plugins.
  • Upload the new WordPress files.
  • Truncate the wp-terms table.
  • Truncate the wp-taxonomy table.
  • run the wp-admin/upgrade.php script.

It works!

Is Organic Food better for you? The only test you need

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

The Guardian, once again, has a pro-corporate, pro-pharmaceutical propaganda piece in its toilet paper.

It goes like this:

Organic food ‘no benefit to health’
Eating fruit and veg is more important than whether produce is ‘green’, says expert

Jo Revill, Whitehall editor
Sunday March 30, 2008
The Observer

Parents who want their children to eat healthily should focus more on serving them extra fruit and vegetables and less on giving them expensive organic produce, according to one of the country’s leading nutrition experts.

Lord Krebs, former head of the Food Standards Agency, said families were becoming ‘deeply confused’ by conflicting messages about healthy eating.

The market for organic food reached more than 2bn last year, with most consumers from households with children under the age of 15. An average of 37m is spent each week on organic produce, mostly in south-east England.

[…]

http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/food/story/0,,2269340,00.html

Without going into wether or not Lord Krebs is corrupt or not, or is a paid liar or not, or wether or not Monsanto, GSK or any other corporation is really behind this proclamation or not, we can say one thing for sure.

Organic food is better for you than non organic food.

And I can prove it.

Lets say you are someone with an infant child.

You have two glass ten litre beakers, marked ‘A’ and ‘B’, of distilled water in front of you and your baby.

I take a container of commercially available liquid pesticide, open the lid, and dip the tip of a thin sewing needle into the surface of the pesticide. I then dip that needle into the beaker marked ‘B’ and then stir the water vigorously.

I pour some water from beaker ‘A’ into a baby’s bottle marked ‘A’, and some water from beaker ‘B’ into a baby’s bottle marked ‘B’. I pour out 90% of the water in bottle ‘B’ and then replace the missing volume with water from beaker ‘A’.

Now.

Which bottle do you give your baby to drink?

Any sane person will give their baby bottle ‘A’. No parent with a single working brain cell will knowingly give their child the water in bottle ‘B’ which has been tainted by a miniscule amount of pesticide.

This is what Organic food is about, at the most basic level. Deliberately feeding people pesticide, at any concentration IS INSANE. It is better to eat food that has not come into contact with pesticides than it is to eat food that has come into contact with pesticides.

Organic food has not been sprayed with pesticides, and so therefore, it is better for you.

And that is THAT.

Then of course, there are all of the other ramifications of spraying crops, the pesticide entering into and remaining in the soil and rivers, the animals poisoned by it, etc etc. But I digress. Anyone who tells you that pesticide in small concentrations is safe to eat either works for one of the manufacturers of these poisons, is a paid liar for them, or they are stupid or ignorant.

Exactly the same demonstration can be made about organic meat.

Organic meat has not been injected with growth hormones, steroids and all manner of unnecessary and monstrous interventions. Would you feed your child a piece of meat that has trace amounts of animal growth hormone in it, or one that has no trace of such a thing?

The choice is obvious, and anyone who says that these trace amounts of drugs is harmless is is one of the above, a liar, a paid liar, ignorant or just plain stupid.

I would love to know how much money these journalists and newspaper editors are paid to regurgitate this nonsense unchallenged. Obviously they have no morals or human decency.

Thankfully, the majority of people are now waking up to why they should be eating organic food, and no, they are not so stupid as to conflate having a balanced diet with what organic food is all about. These imbeciles can publish all the papers they like, make all the proclamations they like in whatever newspaper or media they choose; we are ignoring them. Every time they publish a new paper or make another absurd proclamation, they become further discredited, and every time a trashpaper like the Guardian uncritically reprints their lies, they too become more discredited an look more foolish.

The same, tired religious dogma is trundled out:

However, according to Krebs, an eminent scientist and principal of Jesus College, Oxford, there is still no reliable, peer-reviewed evidence to show that there is any clear health benefit to eating this ‘green’ produce.

And we do not care. We do not care about the eminence of Krebs, Jesus College, Oxford, reliable peer reviewed evidence, his proclamations or anything else these suspicious characters, charlatans and religious fanatics come up with. Their credentials are meaningless. We are not eating poison because you say it is safe to do so. We are not going to give our children pesticide to drink because there is ‘reliable, peer-reviewed evidence’ saying it is safe. We are not going to sit around and wait to be told what is or is not beneficial or what is or is not safe to eat. You have lost all credibility, all authority, and no matter how you are announced in the newspapers the slavering ‘journalists’ intoning from your sacred scroll of hierarchical science power, we do not, and will not believe what you say.

Note how when the writer of this nonsense tries to balance out her article by quoting The Soil Association, she only quotes ‘A Sopkewoman’. No list of credentials, letters, academic associations…just ‘A Spokeswoman’ not even ‘an eminent Spokeswoman’. These sorts of cheap tricks no longer work; in fact, they can never work when the initial premise is so absurd, counterintuitive and blatantly false. What is in fact happening is that the more you are associated with these discredited bodies, the LESS you are believed, thanks to the decades of lying for money, bullshit and PR.

But you know this!

Organic food is better for you, better for the environment and better for the animals that are used as food.
Organic food is bad for evil scientists, bad for pharmaceutical companies and bad for fear-mongering journalists.

And that, my friends, is a proclamation you can trust!

Breed for greed cont.

Friday, March 28th, 2008

WordPress doesn’t like my commnt on the Breed for Greed post, maybe you do:

Civilization depends totally upon innate intelligence.

‘Civilization’ is not an entity, it does not have rights and cannot be used as a bargaining chip over individuals (that are entities and can demand rights).

Simple: the least-intelligent people are having the most children.

The less educated (and so poorer) portions of the population have always had more offspring – in the past without social welfare many of the offspring would have died in childhood. Perhaps with the ‘best of the worst’ surviving to create the next generation?

So what should society do? Thats the important question

Although a ‘passive’ eugenecist could argue that not supplying anyone with free medical care, etc. would be the best way of ‘standing idly by’, and allowing the cream of the crop to rise (and the unfit to whither on the vine). They may also point out that poorer, less intelligent (it is about intellect, right?) people generally have shorter lives.
If they are a more active eugenecist they may reach for Plato’s Republic to show a template for ‘eugenic’ separation of certain classes of people, without the need for sterilisation.
It is of course an incredibly flawed template, in all guises throughout history. In fact the state structures for societal/state support of the ‘stupid’ would be nothing to those required for eugenic separation or selection of the population. The eugenic state has to continuously monitor its population to prevent ‘degeneration’, its people have to give up their individual corporeal rights and submit to the state approving their right to reproduce, the state selected career path, the state will need to ensure that certain sets of mind are trained to not question eugenics so political programming would be required from an early age and continue throughout life

Of course ‘society’ has no natural right to demand that certain people do not reproduce. Just as I feel those who cannot naturally reproduce have no natural right to demand state funded IVF treatment, is that so different from saying that those who cannot afford children should not have them – it seems the only the proactive nature of the intervention is different.

Again eugenecists seem to assume that their offspring will be worthy, just as those who talk of overpopulation find ways to justify their own procreation and those who don’t oppose ID cards/NIR suppose the state could never disapprove of their own actions.

So what should society do? How should it enforce that the money we provide is being used positively and not wasted in ways that get our backs up?
If the state does nothing in this type of case what happens?
– Perhaps the parent starts stealing to support their ‘lifestyle’ (but maybe we feel that our taxes are being stolen anyway) and has a wider negative impact.
– Perhaps the children can’t be looked after and suffer neglect, I would say this is what ‘society’ most wishes to avoid.
– Perhaps even the ‘parent’ is still living with their parent(s) as the state has not provided any support at all.

This was the state of the slums before the welfare state existed. Would we let civilisation slip that far back if the state no longer provided, or would we support charities to a larger degree to prevent this would explicitly charitable support be any better focussed?

Nutter Watch

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

I always see nutters as those who feel that their moral ideas should be inflicted on others. They usually mean well, but unfortunately their morality is based on nonsense, and this is reflected in the validity of their ideas.

Most of the time their ranting isn’t taken too seriously and it is ignored by everyone but themselves.

Just occasionally they strike a chord with the blame society and we end up with nutter inspired legislation

Note that this section constrains itself to censorship and the media.

[…]

http://www.melonfarmers.co.uk/nwi.htm

found whilst trawling the internets randomly, testing the new search engine Searchme.

How many of the ‘Video Nasties‘ have YOU seen?

They are even showing them on TV UNCUT these days…

The Royal Mail

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Breed for Greed!

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

‘Extreme’ blog councillor resigns

WebsiteThe blog claimed there should be compulsory sterilisation

A Medway councillor has resigned after claiming on his website that there should be compulsory sterilisation for parents on benefits. John Ward prompted comparisons with the Nazis after attacking what he called “professional spongers” whom he claimed “breed for greed”.

The Tory councillor, who lives in Chatham, told BBC South East Today the views were not his own.

He lifted them from other sites, and has since deleted the page, he added.

When asked if he supported the concept of sterilisation, Mr Ward said: “No.

“I’d hope that before it became such a big problem that the nanny state does impose something like that the way they tend to do, with compulsory ID cards, compulsory whatever.”

‘Extreme and unpleasant’

The sentences from Mr Ward’s blog said: “I think there is an increasingly strong case for compulsory sterilisation of all those who have a second, (or third, or whatever) child while living off state handouts.”

Now, then. What are you thinking right now? What is that seedling thought sprouting under that pile of old Guardian newspapers in the recycling bin of your mind?

Am I being harsh on you? Or are you actively censoring your own thoughts? These are interesting questions, should you choose to address them. In the privacy of your own head, should you wish.

On Tuesday, he said he had lifted the words from other websites to promote debate, and had been interrupted before he had had a chance to make that clear on the web page he then published.

Adding that he had resigned, he said he felt “delighted”, with a “weight lifted from his shoulders”.

But councillor Bill Esterson, from Medway’s Labour group, said: “It had nothing to with the benefits culture issue.

“It had everything to do with some extreme and very unpleasant views about forced sterilisation of people – the sort of thing that happens in totalitarian regimes, that happened in Nazi Germany.”

Of course, Nazi Eugenics. But discussions about eugenics have not stopped since world war II, but have been swept from the table of politically correct society. There are people who make the case for eugenics today. They argue:

1. Human intelligence is largely hereditary.

2. Civilization depends totally upon innate intelligence. Without innate intelligence, civilization would never have been created. When intelligence declines, so does civilization.

3. The higher the level of civilization, the better off the population. Civilization is not an either-or proposition. Rather, it’s a matter of degree, and each degree, up or down, affects the well-being of every citizen.

4. At the present time, we are evolving to become less intelligent with each new generation. Why is this happening? Simple: the least-intelligent people are having the most children.

5. Unless we halt or reverse this trend, our civilization will invariably decline. Any decline in civilization produces a commensurate increase in the collective “misery quotient.”

It’s hard to argue against those statements, isn’t it? So what should society do? That’s the important question. The eugenics supporters would say society at present not only stands idly by and watches the less intelligent members of society breed, but actively encourages and supports this behaviour by supplying them with free medical care, housing and food!

Of course, normal people (you are normal, right?) would find the eugenics argument abhorrent, arguing perhaps that by providing care and education society can propel these people upwards on the scale to the benefit of all mankind. But didn’t the eugenics people say intelligence is mostly genetic? Hmm. And is there evidence that providing handouts is helping society? Hmm.

Political blogger Iain Dale said: “The problem is if you’re writing a blog and you get angry about something, you’re anger transmits itself from your brain through your fingertips on to the keyboard and on to the internet.

“Ten minutes later, you might think ‘maybe I’ve gone a bit over the top there’, but it’s too late.

“You can amend what you’ve written, but it’s already out there and someone, somewhere, will have found it.”

I wonder how many kids this man has.

Googles cache of the ‘offending’ blog:

Saturday, 15 March 2008

What You Probably Won’t Read in the Press

One side of the Shannon Matthews story you are unlikely to read in the mainstream Press is what the police themselves know about this sorry tale. Inspector Gadget has it HERE. Note the “seven children” part in particular, and the implicit reasons for that…

At least there was a good outcome on this occasion, which makes a pleasant change from so many of the “missing child” news stories of recent years.

This one, though, is yet another example of “Breakdown Britain”, about which so much has been reported over the last several years, much (if not most or even all) of which stems from the Government-encouraged change away from the hard-working and decent family structure to an increasingly self-indulgent immoral and State-funded lazy lifestyle, with huge handouts to provide for just about all one’s needs and desires, at next to no personal expense or effort. Children become just a means toward that end, and are of themselves of little if any further significance in this new society. What was once a small issue has now become mainstream.

I think there is an increasingly strong case for compulsory sterilisation of all those who have had a second (or third, or whatever) child while living off State hand-outs. It would (if one thinks about it) clearly take a lot of social pressures off all concerned, thus protecting the youngsters themselves to some degree, and remove the incentive to “breed for greed” — i.e. for more public subsidy of their lifestyle (a now well-known dodge, worth ever greater amounts to countless thousands of professional spongers).

With over-population being the root cause of so much that negatively impacts Planet Earth, and thus needs to concern human society, the very last thing the world needs is to encourage excessive breeding.

There are some subjects in society that are taboo, and openly discussing eugenics is clearly one of them. But it should not be. Some very important people are discussing eugenics, and if you are censoring yourself then you are no longer able to argue either way. If you are guilty of being your own Thought Policeman, give yourself a nightstick upside your head.

Lightening the mood a little, here’s a little something for the idiocrats out there.


Enlarge


The TwoDaLoo is billed as the world’s first toilet two people can use … at the exact same time. It brings couples closer together and conserves our water supply all with one flush. The TwoDaLoo features two side-by-side toilet seats with a modest privacy wall in between. An upgraded version includes a seven inch LCD television and iPod docking station.

It’s just a small evolutionary step from this to spending 18 hours a day on a Lay-Z-Boy armchair with built-in toilet, watching trash TV and ‘bating.

BBC terrorist journalist strikes again: Heathrow Terminal 5

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Anonymous shill BBC Terrorist Journalist strikes again; this time its back to Heathrow Terminal 5 and the fingerprinting debacle:

Heathrow fingerprint plan probed

Plans to fingerprint passengers at Heathrow’s new Terminal 5 are being probed by the data protection watchdog.
The Information Commissioner’s Office warned airport operator BAA it may be in breach of the Data Protection Act.

First of all, who is the author of this piece?

Under the plans, prints will be checked at the gate to try to ensure the person who checked in is the same as the person who is boarding the aircraft.

This is clearly a lie, since it has never been a problem before.

BAA said the data was encrypted straight away and destroyed within 24 hours, in line with the act.

This is nonsense. Encryption protects data while it is in transit over a public network. Since the Terminal 5 system is a closed one (unless they do the data processing off site, which is of course possible), encryption is meaningless to the security of the data. All someone has to do is get into the server room, install rsync or some other data mirroring tool, and all the data will escape, in real time. The 24 hour deletion becomes meaningless, as does the encryption.

These sorts of lie should never be repeated without challenge. PERIOD.

The investigation would not delay the opening for business of the 4.3bn terminal on Thursday, the airport operator added.

pfft!

Prosecution possibility

The move will allow domestic and international passengers to mingle in the terminal’s departure lounge.

And why is it desirable for the passengers to mingle? Why did the architects DELIBERATELY design a building where, against all common sense, domestic and international passengers are not segregated?

It cannot be so that they can shop more easily, since shops exist in both the domestic and international sections of airports all over the world. The only possible reason for this (other than incompetence) is that this building was designed deliberately broken, so that there was a ‘problem’ to be fixed by biometrics, causing a market for the machinery and a building that can be used to soften up the public to the idea of being fingerprinted.

The people who designed this building are guilty of a serious crime against humanity.

The idea behind the fingerprinting is to make it impossible for a terrorist to arrive at Heathrow on a transit flight, then exchange boarding passes with a colleague in the departure lounge and join a domestic flight to enter the UK without being checked by immigration authorities.

This is possibly one of the most offensive sentences I have ever read on a BBC website.

Fingerprinting cannot stop terrorists. It cannot detect terrorists. It cannot stop terrorists from entering any country. But you know that. Also, if you want to stop people from exchanging boarding passes with colleagues, then you BUILD A FUCKING WALL BETWEEN THE PASSENGER AREAS. You DO NOT fingerprint millions of innocent people.

This is so absurd, so illogical, so offensive, so counterintuitive, so ass backwards, that it can only be a line regurgitated verbatim from a PR company hired to do damage limitation.

That this BBC writer copied it faithfully is sickening, but then, this is exactly what we expect from the BBC, the biggest bunch of dirty, filthy, immoral, unprincipled, journalists for sale BASTARDS ever to sit behind a keyboard.

But Deputy Information Commissioner David Smith told the Mail on Sunday: “We want to know why Heathrow needs to fingerprint passengers at all.

“Taking photographs is less intrusive. So far we have not heard BAA’s case for requesting fingerprints.

There is no case for either fingerprinting or photographing passengers. The building should have been built correctly. International passengers already have to carry passports, and these are ‘secure’ and have been used for decades without any problems.

The question that needs to be asked is how was it that BAA consulted with the Home Office and you had no part in those discussions Mr Smith?

“If we find there is a breach of data protection legislation, we would hope to persuade them to put things right.

Wow, “if we find that a bank robbery had taken place, we would hope to persuade the criminal to put things right”

I want to smoke what that S.O.B. is smoking!

“If that is not successful we can issue an enforcement notice. If they don’t comply, it is a criminal offence and they can be prosecuted.”

Wow, they KNOW that it is a criminal offence, but they get a warning FIRST and then if they keep doing it, they get prosecuted! Bank robbers take note, you have SEVERAL CHANCES TO CHANGE YOUR BANK ROBBING WAYS before they actually prosecute you!!!!

Data ‘encrypted’

BAA said the Border and Immigration Agency had been keen on a “reliable biometric element” when plans had been announced for common departure lounges for international and domestic flights.

That has nothing to do with checking into a flight. This is about a badly designed building, and nothing more. It does however, support the idea that this is a softening up exercise, and demonstrates how they want you to keep scanning in all over the place. Think about it. BAA scans you to get onto the plane TWICE, and immigration scans you to check you out of the country. That is three times in one day where before only a criminal charged with an offence would be fingerprinted and photographed.

Fingerprinting was selected as the most robust method by BAA, the BIA and other government departments, it said.

If that is true, then they are the most stupid people on this planet. A WALL is actually the most robust way of segregating passengers.

A BAA spokesman said: “The data is encrypted immediately and is destroyed within 24 hours of use, in accordance with the Data Protection Act. It does not include personal details nor is it cross-referenced with any other database.”

If it is not cross referenced with with any other database, how do they know that you are the passenger? They must record what ticket you have and place that information next to your prints and photo in their database, otherwise, your ‘terrorist colleague’ could hand you a domestic boarding pass and sneak you into Britain.

Since your fingerprint and face are written next to your ticket details, that means your flight details (stored on the SABRE system) are connected to you.

Anyone with direct access to BAAs fingerprint database will then be able to use this connection to find out everything about you, as this info is stored by SABRE, including your credit card details, which would provide another bridge to detailed knowledge about you via VISA MASTERCARD AMEX etc etc.

That is how it REALLY works you imbeciles; once you connect a plane ticket to your prints it can be used to find out everything about you. BAA, if they are talking about encryption in this way, are clearly incompetent when it comes to IT, and so they absolutely cannot be trusted with anything like this. It is probably being outsourced in any case, and if it is the case, a spokesperson from that company should have been trotted out to explain how they have managed to create dry water.

The Home Office said BAA was not required to involve fingerprinting in its security arrangements at Terminal 5.

BACKPEDALLING!

We all know that the Home Office was consulted when they were planning this!!! ROTFL!

“Our primary concern is that the UK border is secure and we won’t allow BAA to have a common departure lounge unless they ensure the border is secure,” said a spokesman.

So now you entrust the border security of the UK to BAA, and leave the responsibility to THEM to get it right, instead of mandating that passengers are segregated?

THAT my friends, is the definition of INSANITY.

Let me get this straight.

If they find that this airport is breaking the law, they are going to stop fingerprinting people and continue letting passengers mingle. The airport design is broken, they may prosecute if they do not fix it, but by cutting out the offending part, they have a huge illegal immigration hole through which people can pour, but border security is not the Home Office’s responsibility, its BAA’s responsibility.

That is the level of competence that has ruined this country.

Richard Rogers is going to be hit with a lawsuit methinks, since it was HIS IDEA to create this abomination in the first place.

“They presented us with this plan, which we are happy secures the border. The design of the plan is a matter for BAA.”

[…]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7310158.stm

Now BAA will pass responsibility up the line to the architects.

This building will have to be retrofitted to physically separate the two types of passenger, domestic and international. All fingerprinting snake-oil will have to be removed and destroyed, and someone will have to pay for it all.

Start running NOW Richard!

And here are the other posts on this subject we have written, and thanks to the lurker who emailed this!

+++++++ UPDATE!! +++++++

The Telegraph have also drunk the Kool-Aid on this one, repeating verbatim the same damage control press release above:

The Information Commissioner’s Office warned airport operator BAA that the security measure, designed to stop terrorists getting into the country, may breach the Data Protection Act.

[…]

You see? ‘Designed to stop terrorists’. It is the same lie, verbatim.

Under the plan all four million domestic passengers using Terminal 5 annually will have their fingerprints taken when they first go through security.

They will then be checked again at the gate. BAA said the measure was required because of the way Terminal 5 is designed, with domestic and international passengers sharing lounges and public areas after checking in.

Without fingerprinting, terrorists, criminals and illegal immigrants could arrive at Heathrow on a transit flight, then exchange boarding passes with a colleague in the departure lounge and join a domestic flight to enter the UK without being checked by immigration authorities.

[…]

Note the order in which this is put, terrorsts heads the list. It is utter garbage of course, and we can substitute accordingly:

“Without physically segregated passenger lounges, terrorists, criminals and illegal immigrants could arrive at Heathrow on a transit flight, then exchange boarding passes with a colleague in the departure lounge and join a domestic flight to enter the UK without being checked by immigration authorities.”

You see? Much better!

A leading barrister has already informed BAA that he will refuse to give his fingerprints, describing the process as an “Orwellian” abuse of civil liberties.

Nigel Rumfitt QC, a specialist in serious crime including terrorism, said it was a move towards a “database state” and Britain would become a nation that “restricts the internal movement of its citizens”.

[…]

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/03/23/nheathrow123.xml

At last, people with some balls are saying “enough is enough”.

Idiocracy Part n+1

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Jan Bledsoe was shocked Thursday to learn she can no longer just swipe her finger across a screen at the local Jewel store to buy her groceries because the bankrupt company behind the technology no longer will process such transactions.

“I’m concerned because I didn’t know it wasn’t Jewel that I’d given my information and fingerprints to,” said Bledsoe of Lake Villa. “The girls at the Jewel were as surprised as anyone” that the system was shut down.

Bledsoe was among thousands of disappointed customers to learn that Solidus Networks Inc., a provider of payment processing, is no longer operating its biometrics unit. The firm’s failure prompted some financial analysts to question whether technology that relies on biological information to identify a customer is ready for the market’s mainstream.

[…]

Although biometrics is far from perfect, it offers consumers an option for making purchases with minimum hassle and no need to remember passwords.

“Commercial biometrics is inevitable,” said Paul Saffo, a Silicon Valley-based trend forecaster. “There are huge risks, but it’s just so cheap and convenient, people won’t be able to resist it. Whenever Americans face a choice between privacy and convenience, they always choose convenience.”

[…]

http://www.chicagotribune.com/

There are so many examples of Idiocracy out there, we need a category just 4 it.

BBC Slight Retraction

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Home Schooling parents, alerted to the vile smear carried out by the anonymous liar at BBQ have all received the same response from lie central:

Dear Mrs XXXXXXXXXX,

Thank you for contacting the BBC News website.

We agree that our first attempt at an explainer piece on parental responsibility and Scarlett Keeling confused the issue of her case and that of home education.

We are sorry for that confusion and have now updated the piece in order to make it clearer.

Thank you again for your views which we value.

Yours,

BBC News Website

Notice how this is from yet another filthy cowering slimebag who will not put their name to this communication.

Here are before and after screengrabs of the original article and their ‘second attempt’. Perhaps if they make a THIRD ATTEMPT they will actually get it right. ‘Third time lucky’ as they say:

The fact of the matter is, in Goa the law and courts of India have jurisdiction, not the law and courts of the uk, so any reference to this girl in that aspect is just stupid, unless the anonymous swine who wrote this is suggesting that parents should not be allowed to leave the UK with their children unless they have been issued with exit visas. But I digress.

This is a sad story about a crime. That crime has nothing to do with Home Schooling, or the laws in the UK concerning children. FULL STOP.

Let us now re-write this article for the numbskulls at BBC News:

Title: Parental Responsibility.

Fifteen-year-old Scarlett Keeling was killed while on an extended visit to India with her mother and siblings.

The title now makes sense. What is an ‘extended’ visit? Extended in terms of what exactly? No vague language should be allowed.

Her mother, Fiona MacKeown, has been criticised for taking her children out of school and leaving the teenager while she travelled without her for part of the trip. But what are the rules surrounding parental responsibility?

First of all, WHO CRITICIZED HER? This is like Fox News saying, “some people say” as a clever way of injecting editorial spin into a subject or discussion. No reasonable journalist uses these shabby techniques; if someone said something, SAY WHO IT WAS, or DO NOT CITE THE WORDS.

This “some people say” technique is the shoehorn for this entire article. Once you eliminate it, almost the whole piece is erased.

Here are some of the laws and guidelines that govern schooling and child supervision in the UK.

Irrelevant, since this crime happened in India, not Britain.

When is it appropriate to leave a child alone?

There is no legal age limit for leaving a child on his own.

However, it is an offence to leave a child alone if it places him at risk.

Under the Children and Young Persons Act, parents can be prosecuted for neglect if they leave a child unsupervised “in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health”.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) believes it is unacceptable for a child under 16 to be left alone overnight.

It says most parents would be happy to leave a 16-year-old alone for an evening, but would not leave them for a weekend.

That is not a law making body, and their opinion is irrelevant. Each parent has the right to bring their children up as they see fit. Full stop. BBC uses quotes from these irrelevant organizations because they can’t get legitimization from any other quarter for bogus pieces of ‘journalism’ like this. Clearly the author (whoever it is) is not qualified to write on this subject, otherwise, they would have put their name to the piece as, “education correspondent” or whatever.

Is it compulsory for children to attend school?

Education is compulsory in the UK, but attending school is not.

Home education is an option and parents are not required to register or seek approval from the local authority to educate their children at home.

Neither does home education have to take place solely in the family home.

This is completely irrelevant to the case of a murder in another country. It is astonishing that after being flooded with letters from Home Schoolers, these beasts are persisting in making a link between a murder in India and Home Schooling in Britain.

How long can youngsters be taken out of school?

The Independent Schools Council, which represents about 1,200 of the 2,500 independent schools, said each school would have its own policy on allowing pupils to be taken out for extended periods.

If you are paying the fees to a school, they are rendering a service to you. If you decide to remove your child for any reason at any time, this is your absolute right. In any case what on earth does The Independent Schools Council have to do with a murder case in India? NOTHING.

For state schools, parents can take children out of school for up to 10 days per year. However, this has to be approved by the school and may meet with opposition by officials.

Actually, your children are not the property of any school, and you can remove your child from a school at any time for any reason. Since the state is rendering you a service, there is an argument that they have the right to exclude your child should you break their rules, but other than that, they have not right to control you, or what you choose to do with your children, no matter what the law says.

Once again, none of this has anything to do with a murder case in India.

Some schools may refuse to release a pupil and the decision partly depends when in the year it happens.

For example, removal of children during an exam period would – in all likelihood – result in a refusal.

Irrelevant; and I would like to see a school try and stop parents taking their children away from school. The whole idea is completely absurd, apart from being nothing to do with the sad story of this girl.

Amazingly, that is where the propaganda piece ends.

All we are left with is a fraction of the first sentence, ‘the slug’ and the title and thats it!

Clearly this article should just be deleted in its entirety, since none of it can be salvaged.

We are sorry for that confusion and have now updated the piece in order to make it clearer.

They have totally failed to ‘make it clearer’. The only thing that is clarified is that these animals, take license payer’s money and then lie and spin and smear and disparage whilst hiding behind anonymity.

Nauseating and totally unacceptable behavior.

and here is a very concise ‘tear-apart’ of this piece and its feeble re-write, by a Home Schooler:

It is clear that one or two – often anonymous, as in this case – members of your staff have it in for home education, and “Q & A: Home education and responsibility” is a case in point.

The article strongly implies that home education had something to do with the death of Scarlett Keeling. Apart from the fact that British law is irrelevant to the case, the law relating to leaving children unattended is separate from home education.

While it is true to say that had Scarlett Keeling attended school then she wouldn’t have been in Goa at the time, this is as ridiculous as saying that home education would save the lives of all children killed in traffic accidents on their way to school.

By using the tragic circumstances of Scarlett Keeling’s death as an excuse to “discuss” the law relating to home education, the writer deliberately places home education in a negative light.

The discussion – albeit biased – is a legitimate one, but not in this context. The fact that Scarlett Keeling was home educated had nothing to do with the circumstances surrounding her death.

No British laws were broken by her mother, and in any case, British laws no longer apply to India. The implication of the article and the context of the discussion was that Scarlett Keeling’s death resulted from Fiona MacKeown’s lifestyle choices and that the law relating to these choices should therefore be tightened up. Apart from being thoroughly vindictive in tone against Ms MacKeown, it is completely unacceptable that the BBC allows its writers to use such a case to question the option of home education and the laws relating to it.

If a child dies or is attacked on a school trip, the BBC doesn’t decide to attack the lifestyle choices of his parents. Perhaps the BBC can bring itself to apply the same standards to families that choose to educate their children outside of school. It is too much to ask the BBC to stop discriminating against home education, but please do not use a completely irrelevant case to do so.

BANG!

Sharp!

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Thanks to Chris. Is it wrong to try to have a deaf child?

Please Doc, I want a baby who is left-handed, red- haired and sings out of tune. I could not love him/her otherwise.

No no no! If you cannot accept a child for who he is, stay childless!
They call me Mimi, Edinburgh

As Chris says, “<insert Mick Hucknall satire here>”.

http://ifyoulikeitsomuchwhydontyougolivethere.com/

T’Only Th’Money

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Scarfacial Profiling

Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008)

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Clarke’s First Law: When a distinguished but elderly scientist says that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he says it is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

Clarke’s Second Law: The only way to find the limits of the possible is by going beyond them to the impossible.

Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

A most intrusive and nauseating operation

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Who is Phorm anyway?
Phorm is an internet marketing company. They make money by selling advertising on web pages to various companies through their brokerage which they call the Open Internet Exchange (OIX). You can find out more about Phorm and the OIX from their website (http://www.phorm.com) but beware of the marketing-speak!

What’s so different about that, google has been doing it for years!
Google’s advertising relies solely on Google’s own database to ‘target’ it’s adverts. It does this based on the content of the page you’re viewing, and doesn’t use any kind of browsing history unless you specifically opt-in (by creating a Google account). Phorm on the other hand targets it’s advertising based solely on your browsing history, which it collects direct from your ISP. You can opt-out of Phorm’s tracking by allowing a cookie to be set on your PC.

So you’re saying I’m automatically opted in?
Yes. If your ISP is Virgin Media, BT or Talk Talk, your browsing details WILL be sent to Phorm by default, you will require to disable the Phorm system by opting out on every browser that uses your network connection. There is no way to ‘globaly opt out’ of the Phorm system.

So what do they actually see?
Phorm doesn’t just see the URL of every page you visit, they see the entire content of every single web page (with the exception of encrypted pages). That means they can read your mail if you use most types of webmail, view all the posts you make or read on web forums, obtain the content of most webforms you complete, in fact just about anything you do on the web that is not encrypted can be hoovered up by Phorm. Phorm claim they do not store this information for more than 14 days.

What do they store?
According to their website, Phorm store an aggregate history of your browsing, not a detailed history of each page you visit. Even so, such a history would reveal considerable detail about your browsing and potentially about your personal life.

Can this history be tied to my identity?
Phorm claim they do not store any personally identifiable information (including IP addresses) or interface with any ISP systems that would allow them to identify you, however they assign each user a unique ‘tracking ID’ which relates directly to their browsing profile. If someone connected the ID to any piece of personally identifying information your browsing history would no longer be anonymous.

I heard Phorm was associated with a rootkit, is that true?
Phorm is not, however their predecessor company (121 Media) was. This has been confirmed by Phorm’s current CEO, who was also involved with 121 Media.

Someone said Phorm was linked to Russia, is it true?
Yes, there is a clear link between Phorm and Russia. Phorm employ Russian programmers (“The development team for the new software was recruited from Moscow’s elite Lebedev Institute of Precision Mechanics and Computer Engineering, a vital part of of the Cold War spying effort and still a centre for developing Russia’s ‘national security’ computer systems.– Mail on Sunday article)  and have been indirectly linked to the Russian security services by a Mail on Sunday article (full article is here)

http://www.badphorm.co.uk

[…]

It had to happen.

Given that governments everywhere want access to all your browsing habbits, it was inevitable that someone, somewhere would say, “but we can make money out of this!”.

and here is an update:

Web creator rejects net tracking
By Rory Cellan-Jones
Technology correspondent, BBC News

The creator of the web has said consumers need to be protected against systems which can track their activity on the internet.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee told BBC News he would change his internet provider if it introduced such a system.

Plans by leading internet providers to use Phorm, a company which tracks web activity to create personalised adverts, have sparked controversy.

Sir Tim said he did not want his ISP to track which websites he visited.

“I want to know if I look up a whole lot of books about some form of cancer that that’s not going to get to my insurance company and I’m going to find my insurance premium is going to go up by 5% because they’ve figured I’m looking at those books,” he said.

Sir Tim said his data and web history belonged to him.

He said: “It’s mine – you can’t have it. If you want to use it for something, then you have to negotiate with me. I have to agree, I have to understand what I’m getting in return.”

Phorm has said its system offers security benefits which will warn users about potential phishing sites – websites which attempt to con users into handing over personal data.

Kent Ertugrul, chief executive, of Phorm, told BBC News: “We have not had the chance to describe to Tim Berners-Lee how the system works and we look forward to doing that.

“We believe Phorm makes the internet a more vibrant and interesting place. Phorm protects personal privacy and unlike the hundreds of other cookies on your PC, it comes with an on/off switch.”

The advertising system created by Phorm highlights a growing trend for online advertising tools – using personal data and web habits to target advertising.

Social network Facebook was widely criticised when it attempted to introduce an ad system, called Beacon, which leveraged people’s habits on and off the site in order to provide personal ads.

‘No strings’

The company was forced to give customers a universal opt out after negative coverage in the media.

Sir Tim added: “I myself feel that it is very important that my ISP supplies internet to my house like the water company supplies water to my house. It supplies connectivity with no strings attached. My ISP doesn’t control which websites I go to, it doesn’t monitor which websites I go to.”

Talk Talk has said its customers would have to opt in to use Phorm, while the two other companies which have signed up – BT and Virgin – are still considering both opt in or opt out options.

Sir Tim said he supported an opt-in system.

“I think consumers rights in this are very important. We haven’t seen the results of these systems being used.”

Privacy campaigners have questioned the legality of ISPs intercepting their customers’ web-surfing habits.

But the Home Office in the UK has drawn up guidance which suggests the ISPs will conform with the law if customers have given consent.

Sir Tim also said the spread of social networks like Facebook and MySpace was a good example of increasing involvement in the web. But he had a warning for young people about putting personal data on these sites.

“Imagine that everything you are typing is being read by the person you are applying to for your first job. Imagine that it’s all going to be seen by your parents and your grandparents and your grandchildren as well.”

But he said he had tried out several of the sites, and thought they might in the end be even more popular with the elderly than with young people.

Sir Tim was on a short visit to Britain from his base at MIT in Boston, during which he met government ministers, academics and major corporations, to promote a new subject, Web Science.

This is a multi-disciplinary effort to study the web and try to guide its future. Sir Tim explained that there were now more web pages than there are neurons in the human brain, yet the shape and growth of the web were still not properly understood.

“We should look out for snags in the future,” he said, pointing to the way email had been swamped by spam as an example of how things could go wrong. “Things can change so fast on the internet.”

But he promised that what web scientists would produce over the coming years “will blow our minds”.

[…]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7299875.stm

At last, SOMEONE standing up for what is right.

Another Dalek in the TARDIS

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

Via the Guardian/Observer

Primary school children should be eligible for the DNA database if they exhibit behaviour indicating they may become criminals in later life, according to Britain’s most senior police forensics expert.

Hmm, eligible, how grand – sounds almost postive. Now shall we count the number of ways a primary school child may exhibit criminal tendencies? No, let’s not suffice to say that young children are at a stage of life where they are full of energy, interact in the world in ways that are ‘irrational’ and ‘unlearned’, basically they make ‘mistakes’ as part of growing up. It is not a reason to target them as future criminals.

We can also think of further injustices in how this would be implemented – children of ‘high-risk’ adults would receive preferential ‘eligibility’ so presumably children of poor brown skinned muslim immigrants would be in there ASAP.

Gary Pugh, director of forensic sciences at Scotland Yard and the new DNA spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said a debate was needed on how far Britain should go in identifying potential offenders, given that some experts believe it is possible to identify future offending traits in children as young as five.

Why is a debate needed? Perhaps there should be a debate on how best to behead forensic police officers, after all ‘We Have The Technology’.
Some experts? How large a percentage and what research have they done, did the ‘experts’ say that criminal behaviour could be educated out or otherwise removed without the need to submit their DNA to a criminal database.

Does Gary Pugh even believe in ‘free will’?

‘If we have a primary means of identifying people before they offend, then in the long-term the benefits of targeting younger people are extremely large,’ said Pugh. ‘You could argue the younger the better. Criminologists say some people will grow out of crime; others won’t. We have to find who are possibly going to be the biggest threat to society.’

But what does this have to do with DNA databases? In any case the vast majority of criminal activity can be dealt with without recourse to DNA profiling

Pugh admitted that the deeply controversial suggestion raised issues of parental consent, potential stigmatisation and the role of teachers in identifying future offenders, but said society needed an open, mature discussion on how best to tackle crime before it took place. There are currently 4.5 million genetic samples on the UK database – the largest in Europe – but police believe more are required to reduce crime further. ‘The number of unsolved crimes says we are not sampling enough of the right people,’ Pugh told The Observer. However, he said the notion of universal sampling – everyone being forced to give their genetic samples to the database – is currently prohibited by cost and logistics.

Pugh thinks that he (and his computer profiling) is in a better position to control a child’s future than the parents and teachers of the child – people with real human interaction. Having said that in the future any teacher is likely to have submitted to the NIR database (as being a person in a ‘position of trust’) so probably not not a reliable judge of character and rights.

Hardly gratifying to know Pugh’s only real concern about enmeshing the whole population is limited to cost and logistics, perhaps his ‘debate’ is only intended to further raise the profile of DNA databasing in government departments.

Civil liberty groups condemned his comments last night by likening them to an excerpt from a ‘science fiction novel’. One teaching union warned that it was a step towards a ‘police state’.

So many ‘steps toward’ over the last few years maybe we got to the zoo and haven’t noticed the lion closing its jaws around the hand of the fools offering snacks through the railings.

Pugh’s call for the government to consider options such as placing primary school children who have not been arrested on the database is supported by elements of criminological theory. A well-established pattern of offending involves relatively trivial offences escalating to more serious crimes. Senior Scotland Yard criminologists are understood to be confident that techniques are able to identify future offenders.

And why does Pugh want to initiate ‘debate’ with the government rather than ‘the country’? Because he knows he needs the knuckle of POWER to enforce his hideous ideas.

A recent report from the think-tank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) called for children to be targeted between the ages of five and 12 with cognitive behavioural therapy, parenting programmes and intensive support. Prevention should start young, it said, because prolific offenders typically began offending between the ages of 10 and 13. Julia Margo, author of the report, entitled ‘Make me a Criminal’, said: ‘You can carry out a risk factor analysis where you look at the characteristics of an individual child aged five to seven and identify risk factors that make it more likely that they would become an offender.’ However, she said that placing young children on a database risked stigmatising them by identifying them in a ‘negative’ way.

Well this may or may not be true but it has nothing to do with DNA databases

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty, denounced any plan to target youngsters. ‘Whichever bright spark at Acpo thought this one up should go back to the business of policing or the pastime of science fiction novels,’ she said. ‘The British public is highly respectful of the police and open even to eccentric debate, but playing politics with our innocent kids is a step too far.’

From the mistress of gross understatement this should be read as a damning condemnation!

[]

Pugh, though, believes that measures to identify criminals early would save the economy huge sums – violent crime alone costs the UK 13bn a year – and significantly reduce the number of offences committed. However, he said the British public needed to move away from regarding anyone on the DNA database as a criminal and accepted it was an emotional issue.

Thus hoist by his own petard, this idiot shows that he wants a database that is NOT a criminal but a general databse, this man doesn’t believe in the principle of ‘innocent until PROVEN guilty’, he doesn’t care that a police database of the general population is an erosion of habeas corpus and the similar rights that have had to be fought for.

‘Fingerprints, somehow, are far less contentious,’ he said. ‘We have children giving their fingerprints when they are borrowing books from a library.’

And this is Right?

Last week it emerged that the number of 10 to 18-year-olds placed on the DNA database after being arrested will have reached around 1.5 million this time next year. Since 2004 police have had the power to take DNA samples from anyone over the age of 10 who is arrested, regardless of whether they are later charged, convicted, or found to be innocent.

And this is Right?

I repeat we are already at the zoo today, not tomorrow – and YOU are there too.

Concern over the issue of civil liberties will be further amplified by news yesterday that commuters using Oyster smart cards could have their movements around cities secretly monitored under new counter-terrorism powers being sought by the security services.

Of course this is further generalised surveillance that will not stop anything related to terrorism, there is no underground station or bus stop called ‘how to do jihad’, nor ‘semtex R us’, nor ‘At the age of five I spat on a dog’.

Another Schneier bullseye

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Privacy and Power

When I write and speak about privacy, I am regularly confronted with the mutual disclosure argument. Explained in books like David Brin’s “The Transparent Society,” the argument goes something like this: In a world of ubiquitous surveillance, you’ll know all about me, but I will also know all about you. The government will be watching us, but we’ll also be watching the government. This is different than before, but it’s not automatically worse. And because I know your secrets, you can’t use my secrets as a weapon against me.

This might not be everybody’s idea of utopia — and it certainly doesn’t address the inherent value of privacy — but this theory has a glossy appeal, and could easily be mistaken for a way out of the problem of technology’s continuing erosion of privacy. Except it doesn’t work, because it ignores the crucial dissimilarity of power.

You cannot evaluate the value of privacy and disclosure unless you account for the relative power levels of the discloser and the disclosee.

If I disclose information to you, your power with respect to me increases. One way to address this power imbalance is for you to similarly disclose information to me. We both have less privacy, but the balance of power is maintained. But this mechanism fails utterly if you and I have different power levels to begin with.

An example will make this clearer. You’re stopped by a police officer, who demands to see identification. Divulging your identity will give the officer enormous power over you: He or she can search police databases using the information on your ID; he or she can create a police record attached to your name; he or she can put you on this or that secret terrorist watch list. Asking to see the officer’s ID in return gives you no comparable power over him or her. The power imbalance is too great, and mutual disclosure does not make it OK.

You can think of your existing power as the exponent in an equation that determines the value, to you, of more information. The more power you have, the more additional power you derive from the new data.

Another example: When your doctor says “take off your clothes,” it makes no sense for you to say, “You first, doc.” The two of you are not engaging in an interaction of equals.

This is the principle that should guide decision-makers when they consider installing surveillance cameras or launching data-mining programs. It’s not enough to open the efforts to public scrutiny. All aspects of government work best when the relative power between the governors and the governed remains as small as possible — when liberty is high and control is low. Forced openness in government reduces the relative power differential between the two, and is generally good. Forced openness in laypeople increases the relative power, and is generally bad.

Seventeen-year-old Erik Crespo was arrested in 2005 in connection with a shooting in a New York City elevator. There’s no question that he committed the shooting; it was captured on surveillance-camera videotape. But he claimed that while being interrogated, Detective Christopher Perino tried to talk him out of getting a lawyer, and told him that he had to sign a confession before he could see a judge.

Perino denied, under oath, that he ever questioned Crespo. But Crespo had received an MP3 player as a Christmas gift, and surreptitiously recorded the questioning. The defense brought a transcript and CD into evidence. Shortly thereafter, the prosecution offered Crespo a better deal than originally proffered (seven years rather than 15). Crespo took the deal, and Perino was separately indicted on charges of perjury.

Without that recording, it was the detective’s word against Crespo’s. And who would believe a murder suspect over a New York City detective? That power imbalance was reduced only because Crespo was smart enough to press the “record” button on his MP3 player. Why aren’t all interrogations recorded? Why don’t defendants have the right to those recordings, just as they have the right to an attorney? Police routinely record traffic stops from their squad cars for their own protection; that video record shouldn’t stop once the suspect is no longer a threat.

Cameras make sense when trained on police, and in offices where lawmakers meet with lobbyists, and wherever government officials wield power over the people. Open-government laws, giving the public access to government records and meetings of governmental bodies, also make sense. These all foster liberty.

Ubiquitous surveillance programs that affect everyone without probable cause or warrant, like the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping programs or various proposals to monitor everything on the internet, foster control. And no one is safer in a political system of control.

The inherent value of privacy:
http://www.schneier.com/essay-114.html

There is another aspect to this that is worth mentioning again.

Each of the examples above refer to scenarios where there are two people who are interacting with each other.

Once you disclose to a police officer, his disproportionate power over you not only exists at that moment, but his actions further aggregate power in the police as a group, whereafter they can search for info on you in absentia.

The aggregated power of the police and of the state, holding all the cards and acting in secret to surveil and catalogue you creates a power that his without precedent in its scope and size.

Anyone who puts forward the mutual disclosure argument dimply DOESNT GET IT. Even if everyone everywhere had equal access to all databases, the public does not have the power of the law; the power to change the rules arbitrarily.

Take for example, the Chancellor’s recent budget. At the stroke of a pen, he is able to put 14p onto a bottle of wine. No vote, no right of redress, THAT IS THE NEW LAW and there is nothing you can do about it.

If we do a little substitution, it is not hard to see how this power over shops pricing wine translates into humans being forced to be fingerprinted like criminals for a database, without any reason other than “it can be done”.

This is how people were forced to wear yellow stars because they were Jewish during the Nazi era, only now, moves like this can be done on every level, because the database gives the state direct access to you on a personal level.

I have always held that there is nothing wrong with being thick. People can’t help being born stupid. If you ARE stupid however, you need to STFU when it comes to complex issues like privacy, databases and the state. These specious arguments: “nothing to hide, nothing to fear”, ‘mutual disclosure’, “they already know everything about us anyway” are all spawned from the mouths of the thick, the idiots, the morons, the dunderheads. They, with their simplistic ‘arguments’ always provide a rationale that is easier to digest, bad for the future, the one that lets the government off the hook, encourages the worst possible practices and to sum up, makes the whole world a shittier place to live in.

BBC anonymous attack on Home Schooling

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

A lurker writes:

Hi. I visit Blogdial when I can to get a different take on whats going on.

I know that home schooling is a topic that comes up from time to time and wanted to share something that noticed on the BBC website earlier today. I am not sure about whether I am confused (and therefore missing the obvious connections) or whether this is a blatant attempt at linking a tragedy to home schooling without even the pretence that the two have a common link.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/devon/7291792.stm

The death of Scarlett Keeling, 15, in Goa has highlighted the issue of parental responsibility and the law relating to education.

I have been reading about this girls death, or murder as now seems more likely. It is a tradgedy that this girl died and even more so if it turns out that she was indeed drugged, raped and then murdered.

However, I am still trying to find a link between her death on a beach in Goa and the law relating to education and more specifically to home schooling which takes up about half of the BBCs piece.

The only thing that I can think of is that she might have been out of school during term time, but since she was with her mother and siblings (ie not a truant), and presumably the school knew where she was, this should really not have been an issue.

From what I have read, Scarlett was prone to experimenting with drugs but does not seem to have been arrested or have priors on this or any other count, so this does not appear to be an issue either and a link between this and laws on education or home schooling seem tenuous.

The only question seems to be that her mother left her with friends while she went with her other children to a neighbouring area. In my mind this is a separate issue and can be related even less to laws on education or home schooling.

I freely admit that my research into this non-existant, but even if she did have a record and she had been taken from school during term time without the schools knowledge, the fact remains she was enrolled in a school even though it may be regarded as quite alternative (I am providing the link as it looks like a very cool project http://www.smallschoolhartland..org/).

In fact a previous BBC news article quoted:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/devon/7275977.stm

Staff and pupils at Scarlett’s school – The Small School in Hartland, which has only 23 students – said they had been deeply affected by her death.

Starting from this basis I do not see any link between her death and home schooling or why it should even enter into the equation, yet the BBC piece devotes about half of the text to home schooling. Not only that, but the paragraph immediately preceding the start of the home scholing section is titled When is it appropriate to leave a child alone?.

Am I missing something here?

Is this really just using the headlines surrounding this girls death possibly at the hands of someone in Goa to try and suggest that home schooling is somehow at fault?

Or to equate home schooling to leaving a child alone?

Or even that small community based schools are bad because they are similar to home schooling and nowhere near as protective of the children as a large state run school would be?

Maybe I am just confused and if Scarlett had been enrolled at the local comprehensive then none of this would have happened and she would have gone on to become a happy and productive member of society or maybe an MP or MEP even.

What do you think?

Bye for now.

Xxxxx

Well, first of all this is a typical BBC propaganda piece, without an author so there is no one who is accountable. These people are the worst human garbage behind keyboards, and they are rabid statists and control freaks.

This death has nothing whatsoever to do with Home Schooling, and neither do any of the other bogus stories that the BBC posts where they weave Home Schooling into a horror story with their poisonous lie spinning loom.

Home Schooling is under attack by these scum-bags, for several reasons.

Those jackasses that managed to produce children and who also work at the BBC are green with envy of the families that Home School; lets face it, Home Schoolers are a very fortunate lot, living lives that BBC types would love to lead, whereas they have to work their bollocks (and tits) off to pay their mortgages while their children are being brainwashed in inferior schools.

They know full well that the many Home Schooled children that are now entering the system are going to beat their inferior children for places at University. As you read BLOGDIAL, you will know that Universities in the USA are bending over backwards to attract Home Schooled students because they are simply superior in every way. By extension, these BBC animals know that what will inevitably follow is the exclusion of their children from jobs at the BBC, which of course, they feel belong to their children by virtue of the fact that they work there now.

This is a class war issue, pure and simple. The BBC editorial control and the anonymous writer in this case, have lumped Home Schoolers in with Etonians as a class of people who have unfair ‘privilege’ and advantage by being Home Schooled while everyone else has to suffer a substandard education at the mercy of the state. Like Etonians and Harovians, Home Schoolians get fast track access to the best in higher education, and all the downstream advantages of that. This deep and bitter resentment is doubly compounded by the fact that Home Schooling families have better family lives than they do. They eat together, spend quality time together and actually know each other, unlike the BBC drones who only get to see their children for a short time every day after work, when they are completely exhausted and unable to be fulfilled.

Finally, Home Schoolers do not watch television.

That is their greatest sin.

Once again, this is a pure propaganda piece. It suddenly switches, without any reason, to ‘How many children are taught at home?’ out of nowhere. It is a vile, nasty baseless piece of garbage writing, delivered on command, as part of a long term strategy to dismantle Home Schooling in the UK. The people ordering this sort of bogus report know full well that they are building a dossier of cases that will eventually be trotted out as sufficient proof that there, “is a need to change the law”. We must remember that ContactPoint was justified on the death of a single girl – this is how they operate. In the case of Home Schooling, because such a tragedy is not likely to happen, Home Schooling parents being the least likely to fall into the class of people that abuse their children, they would have to wait literally until the end of time for a ‘Climbie’ to materialize to help them outlaw Home Schooling. This is why they have to build up a dossier over years, and this case, though it has nothing whatsoever to do with Home Schooling, fits the bill, because they can lie on the record via the BBC.

The fact of the matter is, Home Schooling is growing, and will continue to grow. American home schoolers are very organized, and there are millions of them; they have already reached the tipping point, and legislation over there is mostly retreating from the tidal wave of change.

Britain, sadly, is always 20 years behind america, so we will have to wait until the evidence is so ‘in your face’ that the paid liars at the BBC cannot ignore the facts any longer. Then the headlines will transform overnight to, “Should more children home School?”, instead of the biased, baseless, brainwashing attacks they peddle now.

That is what I think.