The Mother of all lies responds

March 26th, 2006

That anonymous email that has been spreading like wildfire has done so much damage to the government’s case for ID cards, that the undersecretary of state himself has stepped up to refute it. He doesn’t even get close however:

‘ID cards will not mean we are watching you’

Sunday March 26, 2006
The Observer

I find it hard to believe that Henry Porter has read the Identity Cards Bill. (‘This ID project is even more sinister than we first thought’, Comment, last week). If he had, he would be aware of the safeguards built in to the scheme to protect personal information.

The safeguards? Are these the same assurances that were given when the Terrorism bill was introduced, that its scope would be ‘very limited’? Now we see that over 40,000 people have been arrested using this legislation, one even inside the labour conference itself in front of the cabinet’s eyes. This brazen, venal government has proven that it can never be trusted, that is run by habitual liars, and that they will use any tool they can concoct to violate people’s rights, and that they prefer to do this on a massive scale rather than on a small scale.

The government has admitted that they don’t even have a complete technical specifcaiton, so any guarantee that this man offers on that basis is simply a lie. Furthermore, all large scale IT projects rolled out by the government have been spectacular failures. They cannot do a job like this, even if it were right that they were trying to do it.

His article swallows the contents of a ridiculous, anonymous email and unquestioningly regurgitates it.

That email is not ‘ridiculous’. The fact that it is anonymous is irrelevant. Unlike its sexed up dossiers that are used to justify mass murder, this email contains only the facts, and was not compiled by stealing other people’s work, as a google search will demonstrate. They could learn from its author on the fine art of how to make friends and influence people.

The press unquestioningly regurgitates government pronouncements every day, but somehow, thats OK, but if this is done with something against their evil, it is not. This is pure hypocrisy in its most unaltered form.

Now come the astonishing doublespeak lies:

The scheme will not track your life’s activities. ID cards will be used when it is important to verify identity. That is not an everyday occurrence for the majority, while the use of credit cards and mobile phones, logged in itemised bills and statements, occurs daily. The log is a safeguard. It is important because instances where verification of identity is required tend to involve important transactions which could be open to abuse. That is why it is there – as a protection. It allows an individual to check where and when information about their identity has been checked and by whom.

This is of course, complete rubbish. The ID card WILL track your life’s activities, by design, and ‘The log’ is where your activities will be…logged! How stupid do they think we are?! If the log allows the individual to check, it allows ANYONE to check; that is the whole point of our opposition.

And if you think that you will be able to check wether M|5 or other departments has taken a peek at your records you are totally deluded; they will have special access that does not leave a trace. This means that anyone with the right connection can look at your details without your knowing. There will be all sorts of circumstance where this would be allowed, say in the middle of a criminal investigation, meaning that any policeman will need to have this back door un logged access.

“ID cards will be used when it is important to verify identity” That means every time anyone wants to check your identity. The examples of buying alcohol or cigarettes or prescription drugs are perfect; these are all instances where people will have their identites checked on a regular basis. Buying alcohol, ciggarettes and prescription drugs are a daily occurence for tens of millions of Britons every day. What this man has just done is tell a lie.

In the United States, this is already happening at places that sell alcohol, and they are using driving licenses to grant people access. Look at this article from The New York Times:

ABOUT 10,000 people a week go to The Rack, a bar in Boston favored by sports stars, including members of the New England Patriots. One by one, they hand over their driver’s licenses to a doorman, who swipes them through a sleek black machine. If a license is valid and its holder is over 21, a red light blinks and the patron is waved through.

But most of the customers are not aware that it also pulls up the name, address, birth date and other personal details from a data strip on the back of the license. Even height, eye color and sometimes Social Security number are registered.

”You swipe the license, and all of a sudden someone’s whole life as we know it pops up in front of you,” said Paul Barclay, the bar’s owner. ”It’s almost voyeuristic.”

Mr. Barclay bought the machine to keep out underage drinkers who use fake ID’s. But he soon found that he could build a database of personal information, providing an intimate perspective on his clientele that can be useful in marketing. ”It’s not just an ID check,” he said. ”It’s a tool.’ […]

This also proves catagoricaly another part of that email; private businesses will be able to build up databases containing your information, and patterns of behaviour. The visitors to bars like the one described above have their information stored in a privately owned database, which is valuable to the owner in that he can sell it to marketers who want to target people who frequent bars. That data will be sold again and again, then aggregated with other databases from other bars, until there is richly detailed information on every person who visits bars in the USA, on one hard disc that can fit in the palm of your hand. This is not speculation, this is a fact, and it is only possible because america has a defacto ID card; the driving license. A non machine readable ID card would make what is happening above impossible.

Next, we have the nonsense that ‘you already carry cards and are tracked’; it is a subtle deception. The fact that telephone companies and credit cards keep logs of your calls and purchases is actually irrelevant. Firstly telephone and credit card companies are not government organizations and the use of these services is not compulsory. Secondly you can also tailor these services to suit your needs; you can have a telephone number in any name that you like, or no name at all, to protect your identity. The same goes for credit cards; these are services provided for the benefit of customers, wheras compulsory, state issued ID cards exist for the benefit of government, not the citizen.

“It is important because instances where verification of identity is required tend to involve important transactions which could be open to abuse” This is another bare faced lie; buying alcohol, cigarettes or prescription drugs are not ‘important transactions’ except to the purchaser, who will not want anyone to know that he is taking an anti-venerial drug for example, or buying a half bottle of Stoli every lunchtime.

Under the bill, the Secretary of State can revoke a card under specific circumstances, aimed at the prevention of fraud and the protection of the cardholder’s identity.

This is utter nonsense and doublespeak; if you look at it carefully however its implications are frightening, and actually confirm the contents of the anonymous email and the other warnings of the anti ID camp. If the Home Secretary is going to revoke your card ‘for prevention of fraud’ this means that he is going to be asked to do this quite alot, meaning more than ten times a day. This means that there will have to be a special department set up to handle the revocation of cards. It means that there will be a point of entry for fraudsters to create new identites for themselves. It also means that there will need to be someone other than the home secretary making these determinations. That means an office full of people like the person below.

It means that your identity can be ‘shut off’ probably by a single phone call. All of a sudden, your card will stop working for no reason. You will not be able to withdraw money or buy your prescription or travel. Quite apart from this disruption, you will then have to enter a beaurocratic nightmare of the sort suffered by the people who are ground up by Lunar House, where immigration is processed.

Of course, you will have to pay fort the privilege of having your card replaced.

It has to be said also, that just because ID fraud is on the rise this is not a reason for HMG to create a huge, cumbersome, badly designed compulsory ID card system, that violates every citizen. It would be far better that industry tailors its products so that they meet the needs of customers; reducing fraud between private people is not a job for the state.

I note that, like other opponents of the scheme, Henry Porter fails to offer his readers any alternative means of safeguarding their identities. Identity fraud is a growing threat and we know that it enables other crime, including terrorism.
Andy Burnham
Under Secretary of State, Home Office, London SW1


Incredible. He couldn’t resist throwing in the terrorism line when this has now been admitted to be nonsense even by the government itself. It is yet another lie, in the vein of ‘if you repeat a lie enough times, it becomes the truth’.

Many people have put forward ideas for making documents more secure and have offered alternatives to ID cards; the government is not interested in them because they all return power to the user, and eliminate the opportunity to track ordinary people, which is the true and sinister purpose of this scheme.

Frankly, if this is the quality of person that is in charge of everything, we are in very serious trouble, and since he is at the top, can you imagine the untrammeled incompetence of the people who will be actually running the ID card programme should it not be stopped? It doesn’t bear thinking about. Here are some links of what ‘doesn’t bear thinking about’ means, lest we forget:

From The Blarchive

DVLA man helped animal activists

Barry Saul Dickinson

Dickinson used the DVLA’s computer records to find the addresses

A vehicle registration official who gave drivers’ addresses to animal rights activists has been jailed for five months. Barry Saul Dickinson, 34, of Manor Forstal, New Ash Green, Kent, was convicted at Stafford Crown Court of misconduct in a public office.

He had enabled protesters to find people connected to a guinea pig farm in Staffordshire.

A police spokesman said information had been used to “terrorise” families.

Insp Dave Bird of Staffordshire Police, said: “This was a breach of trust of the highest order – Dickinson abused his position as a public servant.

“Dickinson accessed DVLA computer systems to look up people’s registration numbers […]

And again:

On page 8 and 9 of the June 1st edition of MCN there is an article about 15 people who had the category ‘A’ section of their motorcycle licenses deleted when they either changed address or changed their paper driving licence to a photo card license.

This is a very important story, not only because it shows how government agencies cannot run simple databases, but it demonstrates the sort of attitude the ID agency will adopt if everyone in the UK is compelled to be entered into a ‘National Identity Register’.

The DVLA erased the motocycle ‘entitlement’ of an unknown number of riders, and had these responses to give when MCN questioned them about the mistakes:


MCN: Have you lost acategories from licences?
DVLA: The agency has no knowledge of any data loss occuring since its operations began in 1972, through instances such as the fire alluded to in your article (MCN, April 27)

MCN: Is it possible a category could have been deleted?
DVLA: When the driving records were converted from the local authorities to DVLA in the early ’70s, the details from some 18 million old-style ‘red-book’ licences were transferred to the DVLA database. Due to the scale and complexity of hte excersise inevitably some errors were made which could have resulted ini the driver’s entitlement being incorrectly recorded.

MCN: Are victims of errors entitled to compensation?
DVLA: If, during the course of any such investigations concerning incorrectly held data, it is established that the agency has been responsible for an error, then we consider any claims fo rcompensation.

MCN: Will the DVLA reinstate a category on a licence?
DVLA: If valid evidence of incorrectly held data is recieved from the data subjecte, the agency will, as a matter of course, take all steps to ensure that an individual’s record is updated, and, if appropriate, issue revised documentation.

MCN: Does the DVLA accept responsibility?
DVLA: The agency always emphasises the need for the driver to examine thier licence and to bring any discrepancy to its attention. […]

And so on, from The Blarchive. In these cases, simply replace ‘license’ with ‘ID card’. Once again this is not speculation, these two instances are FACT.

The anonymous email stands.

5 Responses to “The Mother of all lies responds”

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