Monday, 15 September 2008

The Database State – hell on earth

You might think that NO2ID is against ID cards—and we are—but there is a lot more to it than that. I am of course talking about databases. One thing I have noticed in the UK is that people are starting to act and talk like machines, i.e. they are behaving unintelligently. Databases are concentrations of identifiable data, and they are useful in lots of ways, but our increasing over reliance on them for making real world decisions is very troubling to put it mildly.

I’m grateful to Ross, a NO2ID colleague, for sharing the following personal story which I think is a very good illustrative example of the database state at work.

My wife is American. She came to England in the mid-80s, and was issued a temporary NI number, but never told it was 'temporary'. After about 14 years of living and working in the UK, a new employer pointed out that she was still on a temporary number, and needed (and now long since married to a Brit, was entitled to) a permanent one.

Applications ensued, with me STRESSING that we needed to make sure her contributions up to that point would be transferred to the new number. Were assured they would be.

Soon after, I applied for a projected pension estimate for each of us, to double check. Sure enough, she was deemed to have only just started working in the UK. Phone calls, letters followed. Final result, and here's the punch line, they say 'We have no record of you working in the UK prior to receiving your permanent NI number. IT'S UP TO YOU TO CONTACT YOUR PREVIOUS EMPLOYERS AND PROVIDE US WITH PROOF'.
And that's how the bureaucrat/ database state operates - THEY lose your date, YOU take the blame and suffer the consequences.

BTW, After much effort, we've managed to get some evidence together - not easy as firms previously worked for merge, go bust, lose your records etc, but there are still about 6 years missing - 6 years of NI contributions she'll get no credit or pension for. They even had the nerve to say that she should have kept all her payslips for the previous 14 + years.

What a nightmare! You see if you’re not on the database for some reason you have to start proving that what you say is true: no one will take you at face value. In Thanet last year I produced a birth certificate and passport as proof of identity and was then told by a prospective employer: “but we don’t know who you are.”

Databases: information, information, information, but no ability to judge and assess according to a human set of values—which is fine if you don’t rely on them to make your decisions for you, or rely on them to keep you secure etc. But the ID database that the government is in the process of setting up is a monstrosity, and you are going to be held to account for the accuracy of the information on it, not the government! We say NO to the Database State, which means NO to the ludicrous ID card scheme, NO to more unnecessary databases and NO to the linking up of personal information.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

TUC to the fore in fight against the ID card scheme

Congress pledges to resist this [ID] scheme with all means at its disposal

Thus resolved the TUC recently in Brighton—hurray! NO2ID salutes this landmark resolution which marks a significant step-up in worker resistance to the government’s database-backed ID card scheme, resistance we predicted would emerge back in December last year when Thanet NO2ID was founded.

The motion against the ID scheme, which stated "Congress sees absolutely no value in the scheme or in improvements to security that might flow from this exercise..." was proposed by the pilots' union, BALPA, whose members are among those targeted by the Home Office for compulsory registration on the National Identity Register, the sinister database behind the British ID card. Pilots are intelligent people who can see right through this lamentable scheme, and naturally they are angry about being selected as guinea pigs for its roll out.

Is Stephen Ladyman listening? Considering he was one of the 304 Labour MPs who voted for the undemocratic ID scheme in the first place—something we are not going to forget—one would certainly hope so.

Commenting on the TUC’s resolution Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID, said
"The Home Office has almost given up pretending that its ID scheme is necessary for national security. Those involved in aviation security day-to-day don't believe it. Now the plan is that ID will confront us in the workplace - as a form of official permission to earn a living. We are delighted that the unions and their members will be ready to fight it."

Meanwhile, I was interested to learn from this BBC report that PA Consulting, the clowns who lost all the criminal records in the land, have had their contract cancelled. But that is too late isn't it, and how come no one ever gets held to account for these outrageous breaches of security? Ultimately the government is responsible and they cannot be trusted to build a secure ID database.