ID cards, fingerprinting and all the push for that stuff concerns me greatly - a report released on Wednesday only adds to those concerns.
Photo: View across to Stroud
Statewatch released the 60-page report, seven years on from 11 September 2001 and entitled 'The Shape of Things to Come' by Tony Bunyan - it looks at the EU's new five year strategy for justice and home affairs and details how European governments and EU policy-makers are pursuing unfettered powers to access and gather masses of personal data on the everyday life of everyone - on the grounds that we can all be safe and secure from perceived 'threats'.
The proposals set out by the shadowy "Future Group" set up by the Council of the European Union include new technologies of surveillance, enhanced cooperation with the United States and harnessing the "digital tsunami". A rather insensitive concept to say the least - anyhow in the words of the EU Council presidency: "Every object the individual uses, every transaction they make and almost everywhere they go will create a detailed digital record. This will generate a wealth of information for public security organisations, and create huge opportunities for more effective and productive public security efforts."
I can only agree with the Statewatch report call for a “meaningful and wide-ranging debate” before it is “too late” for privacy and civil liberties.
Eight page Conclusions: http://www.statewatch.org/news/2008/sep/the-shape-of-things-to-come-conclusions.pdf
Copy of full report (pdf): http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/the-shape-of-things-to-come.pdf
It is not as if the technology is working - yet all air passengers will have to give their fingerprints - a NO2ID supporter writes: "A frequent traveller who visits the US regularly and is enrolled on their fingerprint database for foreign nationals was refused entry on arrival from New Zealand. When she eventually proved who she was and was admitted, the immigration officer stated 'This quite often happens with long-haul passengers, the aircraft pressurisation alters the fingertip geometry beyond the tolerance of the biometric measurements'."
The Daily Mail asked if this was for security or simply to raise profits for the duty-free shops? The measures, which will apply to both domestic and international passengers, are being introduced despite opposition from the Information Commissioner, Britain's privacy watchdog.
Meanwhile I did not have to look far to find these stories in the national press in the last weeks:
- German firms are illegally trading millions of sets of personal data drawn from the official registration system.
- a computer hack allowed researchers to clone identity cards that are used by million of people to access buildings and travel on public transport
- a consignment of 3,000 "useless" blank biometric passports has been stolen on its way to British embassies throughout the world - or at least, the Identity & Passport Service says they're useless. Commentators suggest this claim is based on the standard, highly optimistic party line that, as the passports contain a chip, they can't be used to produce fake passports.