« Home | Swinton Thomas offers a mixed bag. » | Just fancy that! » | de Menezes: Ian Blair cleared, but questions remai... » | Pseuds corner. » | Prosecute? Why bother? » | Scum-watch: That Peter Hain, he ought to be strung... » | Won't someone please blame the children? » | Scum-watch: "The Investigator" returns. » | Rendition: The silence continues. » | Scum-watch: Yet more lies about human rights. » 

Tuesday, February 20, 2007 

Papers, citizen!

We shouldn't be too surprised that the whole truth about the ID cards scheme has finally come out. Blair, clutching at straws in his response to the petition against them on the 10 Downing Street website, has rather let the cat out of the bag:

I also believe that the National Identity Register will help police bring those guilty of serious crimes to justice. They will be able, for example, to compare the fingerprints found at the scene of some 900,000 unsolved crimes against the information held on the register. Another benefit from biometric technology will be to improve the flow of information between countries on the identity of offenders.

Yep, it's in essence what has long been the preserve of the more reactionary of police officers and the belief of Blair himself: that at birth everyone should be both fingerprinted and have a sample of their DNA taken. The reason why this is only being put forward stealthily is that Blair's savvy enough to know that this is one imposition on the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty and on liberty itself that the public would overwhelmingly reject. This isn't the first time that Blair has actually said something along these lines; he did back in November, but no one seems to have realised exactly what he meant or actually read his nonsense. The other mention was in a long forgotten Home Office document, as the Register notes. Other ministers have preferred to mention the "benefits" the ID cards will bring on fighting terrorism, benefit fraud and immigration rather than on tackling crime itself.

As said, we shouldn't be too shocked by this. Back in 2000, when the DNA database was still in its infancy, it was found that 50,000 DNA samples had been wrongly retained that should have been destroyed. Rather than do just that and tighten the scheme, as you would expect would happen, the government instead legitimised exactly what the police had been doing in secret. Now after another of Labour's crime bills, those arrested have their fingerprints and a DNA sample taken and put on the database regardless of whether they are ever charged with an offence. While it's true that a number of crimes committed decades ago have been solved as a result of this change in policy, the amount of samples on the database has now reached over 3 million, with ethnic minorities, especially black men aged 15 to 34 disproportionately making up a large number of the entries. Even children who have been wrongly arrested have had to campaign hard to have their information removed from the database, with parents only accepting that it genuinely had been destroyed by witnessing it happen, no longer just taking the word of the police.

Even faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the Home Office minister responsible for this intrusion could only come up with this pathetic diversion attempt:

But Joan Ryan, the junior Home Office minister, rejected any suggestion of a "fishing expedition" by police.

She said that police would have to check fingerprints against all their databases before requesting assistance from the Identity and Passport Service (IPS).

"They can approach IPS and approved IPS staff will be able to search the national identity register to see if we can achieve a match for that fingerprint," she said.

"So there won't be any fishing expeditions. That's complete nonsense, it's not what can happen."

Oh, so that's all right then. The police will instead be getting the IPS to do the fishing expeditions for them.

This is in effect one of the last nails in the coffin of privacy. We already have the most CCTV cameras in a Western country, if not the world, the largest number of DNA samples on a database in the world, the ID card will contain the most information on the person of any scheme in the West, a network of cameras that can track the movement of vehicles across the country, and unless the opposition against road charging grows further or is substantially changed, a scheme that will be almost an eye in the sky on the movement of every single privately owned motor vehicle. We're not yet a police state, but we're starting to get there.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Share |

Post a Comment

Links to this post

Create a Link

About

  • This is septicisle
profile

Links

    blogspot stats
    Subscribe

     Subscribe in a reader

Archives

Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates