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The UK's Total Surveillance 439

Budenny writes "The Register has a story in its ongoing coverage of the UK ID Card story. This one suggests, with links to a weekend news story, that the Prime Minister in waiting has bought the idea that all electronic transactions in the UK should be linked to a central government/police database. Every cash withdrawal, every credit card purchase, ever loyalty card use ... And that data should flow back from the police database to (eg) a loyalty card use. So, for example, not only would the government know what books you were buying, but the bookstore would also know if you had an outstanding speeding ticket!"
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The UK's Total Surveillance

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  • And we ALL have many things to hide.

    Abuse of the info will happen, so let it never be allowed, anywhere!

    "I have a right to buy those, but please officer don't tell my boss or my wife or my kids!"
    • by Valacosa ( 863657 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:48AM (#15865512)
      So, for example, not only would the government know what books you were buying, but the bookstore would also know if you had an outstanding speeding ticket!"
      And we ALL have many things to hide.
      What can I say? Information wants to be free.
      • by IAmTheDave ( 746256 ) <basenamedave-sd&yahoo,com> on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @10:07AM (#15865641) Homepage Journal
        What can I say? Information wants to be free.

        I know you're being sarcastic, but it's not information being free - it's information being collected to control the masses - thus being a complete solution for the removal of freedoms.

        A total surveillance society is a mere 10-20 years away. Every traffic light I approach I am taped. My face is scanned every time I go to a baseball game. The SCOTUS already upheld that I do indeed have to provide ID to a police officer even if I am not suspected of any wrong doing, at their whim.

        Biometrics are the rage. Biometrics and RFID will be on my passport, in my license. The REAL ID act officially creates a national ID in the US. And so on...

        While the US is behind the UK in terms of true overall survellance, it's not that far. 20 years from now, when facial recognition is perfected - or some new technology that can ready our DNA from a small distance exists - you won't need customer loyalty cards anymore.

        And people will accept it all - because it will all happen slowly, over time, and add seeming convenience to everything. Why carry an ID or a credit card? The police car will instantly recognize you, know exactly where you've been in public in the past few days, weeks, months... Everywhere your car travels, RFID tags or your cell phone will give away your location and be recorded.

        See, aside from the DNA sniffer... all of this is reality now. 1984 was a little ambitious - we needed a few more years to totally accept living in a police state, but that's because there was no MySpace back then to distract us from the realities of government total awareness.

        Yeah, lable me a tin foil hat person, but I'm going to hold out as long as I can - no EZPass, no customer loyalty cards, a new non-RFID passport, etc., etc. I may go down, but not without some degree of a fight.

        • And people will accept it all - because it will all happen slowly, over time, and add seeming convenience to everything. Why carry an ID or a credit card?

          We could have that now under certain circumstances, but we don't. When I go to the petrol station to fill up, my car's registration is read and OCR'd, so why do I have to go in and give my loyalty card and credit card? It should just be able to recognize that it's my car, authorize the pump to dispense a ceratin amount of petrol and let me drive off. It co
          • It could go one step furthur, they could link it up to the security cameras and only authorize it if it recognizes me - if it doesn't, then they can phone me up on my mobile (which they have from when I signed up to the loyality card) and ask if I know that my car is being driven by somebody else. The reason why this doesn't happen is that while it would be of great convience to me

            Your idea of convenience is having gas station security call you every time your SO takes your car to the station? Or you're on
        • by pete6677 ( 681676 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @10:46AM (#15865980)
          SCOTUS? Is that a sexually transmitted disease or something?
    • I have been using almost all cash only purchases for a couple of years now, mostly for budgeting reasons (once you empty your wallet, you are done for the week, a CC keeps going).

      You can still use cash for most transactions, and that does not yet get tracked.

      Of course, if you get your cash at the bank like I do, they probably track the serial numbers from your account (too paranoid?).

    • by iainl ( 136759 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @10:32AM (#15865854)
      Actually, I'd put it more cynically.

      Only those who honestly believe that this Government could organise an IT project in a datacenter need fear. The insane rantings of Blair and his Home Secretary Of The Month would be pretty damn terrifying, if I ever thought they will manage to build it and make it work. But there's very little evidence they will suddenly develop this ability.

      Blair likes gigantic IT projects because they sound shiny and tough, and send taxpayers' money to Crapita by the billion. At which point a nice big chunk goes straight into Labour Party coffers. There's no real expectation that they'll need to do any real _work_ to continue being funded, thank God.
      • It's not exactly good planning to assume that typical government incompetence will save your civil rights from governmental abuse.

        People like this Minister will keep trying (and spending taxpayer money) until they get something that works "good enough".

        The pretty & shiny ability of being able to get information on anyone anytime is just too attractive to control freaks like these types of guys.
      • by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @11:35AM (#15866489)
        There was a story in todays UK press about some poor guy who has the CSA (govt department that tries to make fathers pay for their kids - laudable enough if it weren't for them being idiots and about to be shut down) taking GBP300 out of his pay packet each month. Some woman he has never heard of gave them his name and DOB and now he's GBP1300 worse off pending a DNA test (with a six month lead time) to prove he's not the father. This is the governments quality data in action. Just to add insult to injury the CSA told his partner he'd refused to have the test. OK, the lady that supplied the original data may be a crook/grudge bearer but either way, this shows how hard and time consuming it is to prove the errors in something the government believe to be true. Once the Big Database is up and running, it's going to be a lot worse.
        It wouldn't surprise me to see people being locked up because the system thinks they're escaped crims or terrorists because they have a similar name. OK, you get out again in a few months but try rebuilding yor life/career after that and keep smiling.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "And we ALL have many things to hide."

      Not all of them morally wrong. Past examples of 'things to hide' included race, religion and political affiliation. Putting the power to determine what is hide-worthy and infinite surveillance in the same hands effectively gives a small group complete control of a population. Control is not the foundation of a democratic government.
  • *gasp* (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MrSquirrel ( 976630 )
    "Nothing for you to see here." *gasp* They got to /.!!!

    In all seriousness, this scares the bejesus out of me... and I don't even live in the UK. This would make Big Brother a whole lot bigger... do people really need the government "watching out for them" every step of their lives? And what's with the reverse-feedback? I could see some useful situations (i.e. a bar could see that a patron had a DUI and call him a cab), but overall it seems rather Orwellian.
    • Re:*gasp* (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      every day there is an artical about rights being oppressed in countries and anti-terror campaigns, but this is ridiculious.

      Dear UK people, it would be a good idea to invest in somthing like anonet [anonet.org] today since soon your msn/skype/aim/yim/gmail/email/computers/routers/an d anything else thats digital and has information will be also tied into this database *if* they get it together, also the government will be the least of your worries, just wait for the employers start getting access... lets just say, i'd tr
      • If this is implemented then I wonder how long before the UK Government starts handing over the info to the US Government... just like the flight data.

        The US surely needs this when i'm deciding to go there on Holiday..

      • Re:*gasp* (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TobascoKid ( 82629 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @10:26AM (#15865806) Homepage
        think about when you sign up for health insurance, they'll be like `dear sir, we know you lied on your application, we have seen you have purchased excessive tobacoo and alcholic substances in the last year`.

        Most people don't have private health insurance here, we have the NHS, and if you do choose to get private health insurance, you have to tell them how much you smoke/drink anyway.

        If anything, this would be one of the few possible benefits of such a system - the amount of tax you pay could be directly linked to your lifestyle, so people who smoke would pay more because they're probably going to make more use of the NHS than those who don't. True, they already pay more due to the high level of duty on cigarettes, but smokers are an easy target and what government can resist easy tax targets. They could sell it the same way that they're selling the road usage charge idea (the one one where they stick a gps in your car and monitor where it goes) - just use a dubious moral argument to get it through (smokers|car drivers are evil and must be punished through punative taxation).

        You could even go one stage further and make VAT progressive as well - instead of everyone paying the same 17.5%, your VAT rate would be directly related to income. Of course, that would mean moving to the US model where the displayed price doesn't include tax, which would mean people would actually become aware of how much money they're handing over to the government, and some resentment might result.
        • If anything, this would be one of the few possible benefits of such a system - the amount of tax you pay could be directly linked to your lifestyle, so people who smoke would pay more because they're probably going to make more use of the NHS than those who don't.

          Statistically, that's not true. Smokers cost the NHS less over the course of their lifetimes on average, because they tend not to live as long.

          This may be counter-intuitive, but it does illustrate very nicely how dangerous a little informatio

          • Do you have a source for this?

            Most health care costs occur at the end of life regardless of when that occurs.

            Smokers tend to have more illnesses during the course of their lives and more complicated end of life diseases such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis, both of which are a long expensive way to die.

        • Re:*gasp* (Score:5, Funny)

          by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @11:54AM (#15866736) Homepage
          If anything, this would be one of the few possible benefits of such a system - the amount of tax you pay could be directly linked to your lifestyle, so people who smoke would pay more because they're probably going to make more use of the NHS than those who don't.

          Dear Mr.Smith,

          We have noticed from your grocery purchases that this month you did not buy proper amounts of vegetables from our approved Nutritional Excellence(tm) list. Instead you purchased some cakes which, you must realize, are bad for your health. Accordingly, we have no choice but to double your health insurance premiums.

          Sincerely yours
      • Re:*gasp* (Score:3, Informative)

        Dear UK people, it would be a good idea to invest in somthing like anonet

        Oh, it's way past that. They need to move right to investing in guns by this stage.

        Wait, UK? Ha ha! Too late, they've already criminalized knives .
    • Re:*gasp* (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mwvdlee ( 775178 )
      If the patron is drunk, the barman should call the patron a cab no matter what the patron's legal record says.
  • by ShaunC ( 203807 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:33AM (#15865407)
    So, for example, not only would the government know what books you were buying, but the bookstore would also know if you had an outstanding speeding ticket!
    Sweet! Now they'll be able to suggest a discount if I buy a copy of "Traffic Court for Dummies!"
    • I actually think it would work better as:

      The system says you are an axe-wielding maniac, you are entitled to 25% off our powertools!

      As the article says though, its unworkable, and doesn't even get round to web/telephone transactions and verifying the person on the other end is who they say they are.
  • Terrorists (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:35AM (#15865410)
    And who's guilty of this all?


    And I do mean it. They're bad, bad folks who use scare tactics and incite the fear of getting blown up to control the population into obeying their demands.

    Yeah, that's right. Your beloved government fills all the requirements for the word "terrorists". Just like the other side of the pond.

    • Re:Terrorists (Score:5, Insightful)

      by oldave ( 160729 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:39AM (#15865438)
      Y'know what's really so bad about all this? It's exactly what the terrorists want. They've got the masses so scared that they'll go along with anything under the guise of "protection from terrorists."

      And no, government is no better than the idiots scrabbling around in caves hiding out. Both use fear to get what they want.
      • by www.sorehands.com ( 142825 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:58AM (#15865582) Homepage
        When I first heard about the 9/11 attacks, I thought "Was this a CIA plan to get a law passed to elimnate all are civil right?" Of couse not, but then they passed the Patriot act. Only terrorists and criminals would have anything to hide, only a terrorist would say, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
      • Re:Terrorists (Score:2, Insightful)

        by KiloByte ( 825081 )

        Y'know what's really so bad about all this? It's exactly what the terrorists want. They've got the masses so scared that they'll go along with anything under the guise of "protection from terrorists."

        And no, government is no better than the idiots scrabbling around in caves hiding out. Both use fear to get what they want.

        Yet, the government are obviously not idiots here. They are the winners, those who gain the most from the islamists' hard work.

        And if we didn't know that Dubya is incapable of coming up wi

      • Re:Terrorists (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by arivanov ( 12034 )
        And if the terrorists did not exist, some individuals in the government would have invented them.

        If MOSSAD did not meddle in the affairs of Palestinian resistance HAMAS would not have been there: http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/ZER403A.html [globalresearch.ca]. In fact HAMAS wrecks the peace process in the middle east exactly when and where Israel wants it so it will be extremely surprising if they are not on MOSSAD's payroll (the old question who does it benefit comes to mind).

        If Bush and Bliar did not provide free adv
        • Re:Terrorists (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Atheose ( 932144 )
          Who even says Bin Laden is still alive? The only proof we have are the videotapes that get released every so often, and those are of such poor quality that there's no way for us to know if they are real or if they were made in a Hollywood studio. The United States may gain some POLITICAL credibility by capturing Bin Laden, but it is not in their best interest; if Bin Laden is captured, what do we use as an objective, an ideal, to rally around? It becomes increasingly tougher to justify more Middle East agg
      • Goes to show us that TR (Teddy Roosevelt) was right, when he said

        "We have more to fear from fear itself".

        Osamma wanted to destroy America, and he only knocked down two buildings, and killed three thousand people.

        We have taken the ball from there, and began to destroy America.

        This goes to follow something my father said once, I think its a famous quote... We (America) will not be destroyed from without, but from within.

    • The UK Governments have been turning the UK into a country where everyone is individually responsable (i.e. no social responsibility) for a very long time. I don't think the crimnal justice bill or the poll tax had anything to do with Terrorists but they were the thin end of the wedge that's ending up with total survailance of the population just incase they step out of line.
    • Re:Terrorists (Score:2, Interesting)

      Other way around, surely. Our beloved governments use the bogie man of terrorists on every street corner to cajole us in to throwing away our civil liberties and turning over every scrap of data to them. You can usually spot a scary or stupid government idea because they tack on 'and this will protect us from terrorists' on the end of the description.
    • Re:Terrorists (Score:5, Informative)

      by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @10:20AM (#15865761)
      Interesting to see a definition from Webster's 1913 edition:
      Terrorism [uchicago.edu], n. [Cf. F. terrorisme.] The act of terrorizing, or state of being terrorized; a mode of government by terror or intimidation. Jefferson.
      So after a couple of centuries we're back at the original definition.
  • by Freaky Spook ( 811861 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:37AM (#15865429)
    If this database could be linked to myspace!!

    I'll never have to write my own boring blogs ever again, this could do it for me!

    11am bought donuts at krispy kreme

    11:15 incurred speeding fine on South eastern freeway

    11:30 purchased petrol
    • 12:00 forgot to tie shoelace

      12:30 looked at someone a bit funny.

      13:00 Arrested for descent of the government, thrown in prison for several months without charge because I'm a terrorist.
    • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:52AM (#15865530) Homepage Journal
      You never know it might happen - AOL could make a tender for managing this DB.

      17556639 how to kill your wife
      17556639 how to kill your wife
      17556639 wife killer
      17556639 how to kill a wife
      17556639, B&Q Stores, 59.99, Hammer action Drill
      17556639, B&Q Stores, 7.99, overalls
      17556639, B&Q Stores, 3.99, tarp
      17556639, B&Q Stores, 8.99, Large plastic bags
      17556639 poop
  • Visitors (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Superblargo ( 953025 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:38AM (#15865436) Homepage
    I wonder what people would do if they took a vacation in the UK or if they were there on a business trip. If this system became integrated into daily life and such, I bet that visitors would have to get some type of a temporary card so that they could be tracked, too.
    • Re:Visitors (Score:2, Insightful)

      But who would want ot visit the UK then?
      I for one will stay clear of this country... I just prefer to keep my privacy and not get shot.
      • Re:Visitors (Score:2, Insightful)

        >I just prefer to keep my privacy and not get shot.
        Don't be silly, we only shoot people if they live in the same house as a terrorism suspect. Stay away from them and you'll be fine. Unless you carry a table leg in a brown bag of course.
      • Re:Visitors (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Xest ( 935314 ) * on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @10:44AM (#15865961)
        To be fair it's not like the UK is the most worrying place for that sort of thing. If you're talking about going abroad then a lot of countries gather far more information on you than the UK does or likely ever will. This type of thing is never going to go live as much as the media likes to sensationalise these type of things, although it's arguable of course that media sensationalism is why it wont go live - people just wont accept it. Even if somehow it did get put into practice the European human rights courts would crush it within seconds (yes Europe IS good for something ;)).

        When I went to the US last year they insisted on taking my fingerprints and photograph (retina scan I think? Looked like a normal webcam though!) as well as a record of where I was going to be throughout my entire trip there, how much currency I had with me, where I worked, where in the UK I lived etc. I'd never seen a gun before except for in the army cadets, certainly never in a non-military setting for 23 years and a police officer at heathrow with an MP5 (i.e. my whole life to that point) however when I went to the US. In 4 weeks in the US travelling from Sacramento down through California and to Arizona back up to the grand canyon I saw 2 individuals with guns as well as 5 incidents (2 in Sacramento, 3 in Phoenix) of police officers with guns pulled on people in cars - that's 6 more in 4 weeks than I've ever seen in 23 years of living in the UK outside a military setting. Of course, gun crime there is a lot higher also as we well know.

        I'll note also that whilst I've seen no display of firearms by anyone in the other countries I've been to I must note that arguably the worst for information gathering and general nastiness of customs officials when I went on holiday was ironically Canada, a country that is supposedly full of friendly people. When I landed in Ottawa and got to immigration I was told to step into the customs office where I was interrogated for 3hrs and asked everything from the password to my laptop which I had in my case through to the amount of money in my bank account, whether I had a criminal record, what my job was, how long I'd worked there, whether I had a girlfriend/wife, why I had two shavers in my suitcase and whether I had any beastiality images on my laptop or digital camera (no seriously, it was hard to keep a straight face on that one). After they realised I really was just there on holiday and not a multi-billionaire, unemployed, shaver murderer importing a hoarde of beastiality porn on my laptop and camera to Canada they let me go on with my holiday, again not without however recording every little detail of my planned trip. Now I'll accept I was probably unlucky, that immigration was looking for someone specific after a tip off maybe (they did pull one other person aside but only for an hour) however again, I'm pretty sure Canadian immigration now still holds far more information on me than they probably should.

        The only country I've ever been to that hasn't bothered with personal details was Norway which was a weird experience, it was literally straight off the plane in Narvik and onwards with my whale watching trip.

        What I'm getting at here isn't that the UK is some innocent country where the authorities treat us really nicely or that America is a land of spying gun toting maniacs but simply that the parent comment is just simple paranoia, it's worth noting that Europe as a whole has refused to let many countries retain information on European citizens unless said country adheres to European data protection laws so there's a lot more protection out there than articles like in TFA would have you beleive.
  • Transparant lives. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:39AM (#15865444)
    Question: With all these people's lives transparant to business and government, do you think that business/government will become MORE or LESS transparant to people in exchange?

    My take is that this is a game of government and business ganging up on the rest of society in the name of security. Government is the daddy, business is the favorite trusted son, and everything else is their hunting ground. The conservative dream. [amazon.com]

    Ryan Fenton

  • by Churla ( 936633 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:42AM (#15865465)
    If you pay cash for something you'll be required to swipe your ID card through a reader anyways because "it's standard procedure to get a card swipe of some kind with every transaction"
  • I smell FUD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Daevid ( 992299 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:43AM (#15865468)
    "The bookstore would know you had an outstanding parking ticket" - how and why? The current bank card we use in a bookshop links to all our bank details but a bookshop cannot access them - no system would let retail outlets interrogate a database for that information or any other info that didn't directly refer to them - that would be a serious design flaw and would never be accepted.
  • by REBloomfield ( 550182 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:43AM (#15865470)
    So an article in the Observer makes claims from 'sources', and all of a sudden everyone should get their tin foil hats out. We've all seen what a spectacular failure most of the recent UK Gov IT projects have been, if I believed they were even capable of doing this I might be slightly concerned. When they officially announce this is what they're rolling out, I'll make a fuss.
    • We've all seen what a spectacular failure most of the recent UK Gov IT projects have been, if I believed they were even capable of doing this I might be slightly concerned.

      Or is that what they want you to think...

      FYI: I'm joking... or am I... no I am... possibly
    • Only possibly FUD (Score:3, Informative)

      by Epeeist ( 2682 )
      If it had been in the "News of the World" or "Sunday Mail" I might have agreed with you. However the Observer is one of the two Sunday newspapers that are actually newspapers (the Independent being the other, the Sunday Times is an upmarket Murdoch tabloid).

      So, even though there have been some fairly well reported failures in UK government IT projects I am not dismissing this one.

  • Changed sides (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:43AM (#15865473)
    About five years ago I was generally in favour of limited invasion of privacy like ID cards, CCTV etc. The level of craziness coming from Labour in the area has pushed me into the privacy nut camp. Their current behaviour just seems like the Labour equivalent of Thatcher's last years.
    • Re:Changed sides (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jtheletter ( 686279 )
      About five years ago I was generally in favour of limited invasion of privacy like ID cards, CCTV etc. The level of craziness coming from Labour in the area has pushed me into the privacy nut camp.

      See, this is one of the problems. Not to pick on you, but let me use your anecdote as an example. People who think 'ok, I trust my government, let's go along with them and give up a tiny bit of privacy to get all this security they're advertising.' And they ignore us 'nutters' who are screaming things like "slip
  • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy@tpn o - c o .org> on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:44AM (#15865483) Homepage
    Then two things occured to me;

    1) I don't live in the UK
    2) Natural incompetency will prevent this from ever seeing the light of day. They'll be a lot of noise about it, then a year or so before it's supposed to go live, there will be story after story about how this jack holes never managed to figure out what a database was, let alone link them to others.
    • Point 2 is spot on.

      I'm actually looking forward to the NIR (National Identity Register) because it will be a phenomenal disaster. Personal data will be leaked left right and centre, hundreds of arrests will be made based on innaccurate information, nobody will be able to do anything useful after losing their ID card (which they will do with alarming regularity) and all of this will be done without putting a dent in organised crime, illegal immigrants or terrorism. The IT infrastructure supporting the system
      • And um, who will this hurt, again?

        If you're assuming that The People will be so angry as to up and establish reform and punish those responsible, I've got a bridge in the east river to sell ya'.
      • The IT infrastructure supporting the system will be down more often than up and the costs will spiral in the tens of billions.

        Whilest it would provide a fair amount of amusement to me to watch the government screw up an IT system yet again (or rather, EDS or other complete idiots they decide to contract who have shown on numerous previous occasions to be incapable of running an abacus, let alone a national computer database+network), I can think of better things for my taxes to go on.

        And you can guarantee t
    • is to underestimate the opponent. This mistake can be fatal.
      • is to underestimate the opponent. This mistake can be fatal.

        I'm actually over estimating their abilities here by saying it will be worked on. In all likelyhood, it will never make it out of some industrial group meetings, where it will be held for further discussion.
    • Natural incompetency will prevent this from ever seeing the light of day.

      Contrary to prevailing beliefs on Slashdot, governments can become very efficient indeed when they have a mind to be. Case in point, the Holocaust. It was probably the most efficient government operation ever conducted. Executions continued even while under soviet bombardment and practically right up until the red army marched into the camp gates. Source [acusd.edu].

      Godwin's Law, blah, blah. For a more mudane example of government efficiency, reme

  • The Truman show (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MECC ( 8478 ) * on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:45AM (#15865489)
    Kinda makes me feel like I'm on the Truman show - all famous and special and such.

    Oh wait - its a bad thing, not having a life of my own...

  • Oh dear (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tygerstripes ( 832644 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:49AM (#15865513)
    Can you say "Police State"?

    Anyone remember the scare about the NSA commissioning programs that could pull together information on individuals from all over t'interweb and produce coherent, intelligent reports on behaviour patterns etc? The idea being that all of this data is available, but it's so massive and disparate that it would be almost futile to draw anything useful from it.

    Seems kind of obsolete now, doesn't it.

  • that started in 1215 with magna carta. Apparently your present prime minister, whom you have elected to power 2 times, is very enthusiastic about following in the footsteps of his sidekicks in u.s. government to kill democracy.
    • Pendantic Mode On (Score:2, Informative)

      by mutube ( 981006 )
      The public do not elect the Prime Minister. The public elect their regional MP (Member of Parliament) who takes a seat in the House of Commons representing a particular party. The Prime Minister is (by tradition, not constitution) the leader of the party with the most MP's in parliament. So, don't blame us.
  • Um, did the Norsefire party get elected whilst I wasn't paying attention?
  • The bookstore cited in the summary would not want to know about your speeding tichets. They would undoubtedly implement a filter to narrow down the information they display. Plus, I didn't RTFA, but it seems unlikely to me that the system would actually be structured in such a way that all information could be pulled with the same weight. I'd think that personal information would require a higher access level. However, in the US, traffic citations are public record, and a bookstore could pull them in if
    • The bookstore cited in the summary would not want to know about your speeding tichets.

      Gun Stores already have to run an id check. If you have any outstanding warrants, I'm pretty sure they're obligated to notify the police right away. Now, if your local supermarket had to do this, too, wouldn't it be a huge convenience for the state?
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:57AM (#15865568) Homepage Journal
    I myself am living through the hell of a family member's minor criminal infraction being repeatedly mishandled and miscoded by the 2 courts and 3 police departments that have some jurisdiction. Now on a daily basis there are cops at my house with one kind of arrest warrant or another for a charge that was dropped months ago.

    So yeah let's give the cops more power and more data to peer into and let's give them more of an excuse to wave a piece of paper in my face and tell me "I don't care what you say, this piece of paper says I'm right and you're going to jail.." Yeah let's do that.
  • Too Complicated (Score:3, Insightful)

    by airship ( 242862 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:58AM (#15865580) Homepage
    This system is far too complicated to ever work.

    A much easier system would be to just let the government decide what you can eat, where you can go (and when), and what you can read (if anything). In fact, let the government set your schedule, issue you a uniform with a number on it, and install a chip in your head so you can be tracked 24/7.

    Only then will we be safe from terrorists.
  • by vinsci ( 537958 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @09:59AM (#15865587) Journal

    Watch Ordering pizza [aclu.org] (turn on your speakers!)

    Although this film was made in response the the U.S. Information Awareness Office [wikipedia.org] program, it is equally relevant here.

  • by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @10:01AM (#15865601)
    One of the underlying goals of the whole ID card fiasco isn't the card but the database it is intending to use that is designed to integrate all the other government owned databases in a way that allows a single view of a person. As things stand, if you want to search the driving licence data, address, voting info, criminal records etc you haven't to search different databases.
    Nowhere have I seen anything that suggested this data will be available to 3rd parties such as shops but for sure, they want the data from shops.
    Anyway, the UK government have a terrible record for producing big systems either to time, budget or function so we'll have nothing to worry about for ten years by which time it will have bankrupted us and will use kit no longer available and crash out with errors and timeouts all over the place. It will probably be a doddle to hack too so at least the crims will get something useful out of it.
  • by Wonderkid ( 541329 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @10:04AM (#15865620) Homepage
    As a Brit who lived in the USA from 1991 to 2000, I can report unfortunately, that unlike the USA, whose wonderful constitution and congress means that controversial measures are often debated, here, if the PM or PM2B decides to implement a law, he may and sometimes will bring it into being. The collapse of morals, lack of principled leadership, common sense and genuine concern for the populace shown by Blair's government is terrifying. I have had several parking tickets (citations) in London whereby my car was photographed BEFORE the alleged offence, and without my permission. I was stunned to receive pictures of my car and toughly written letters demanding payment of £100 for very very minor and totally accidental parking offences. Once such CCTV systems and linked to the same database as this retail database, we will in fact be living in a world far worse than Owell envisioned because unlike people, technology is cold and unable to make compassionate or common sense based judgements. It's not the Orwellian nightmare we should be afraid of, it's the concept of Skynet and such a system being missued by a corrupt and morally bankrupt government. Or G-d forbid, any terrorists who take over parliament and use it to 'take out' people of a specific ethnic group. It's happened before! People of Britain, open your eyes!
  • the bookstore would also know if you had an outstanding speeding ticket!
    You're assuming that the bookstore would have read access to the database as well as write, which I'm nearly 100% sure is an incorrect assumption.
  • Time to start paying for everything in coins.

    I'm beginning to think I'm the only person in an English speaking country without a checking account, credit card, or cell phone.
  • by mormop ( 415983 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @10:16AM (#15865713)
    The oft used trick in the UK for getting the population to swallow whatever crap the government wants to hurl their way, i.e.

    1) Announce insanely over the top version of whatever it is you want to do

    2) Sit back while the population freaks out for a while and make a token defence of it

    3) Back off to the point you originally intended and watch the population sigh in relief your "capitulation" in the face of their protests.

    Generally, if there's one thing to realise about New Labour it's that things don't leak from a source close to anyone in the government unless there's an agenda behind it.
  • One of the more fascinating aspects of my emigration to England has been my total political reorientation. Rather, my beliefs and views haven't changed all that much, but the labels used to describe those beliefs - well, my head is still spinning.

    In America, I'm photographer, a writer, I work in publishing, from NYC ... pretty much the popular cliché of a member of the Democratic party: TAX-RAISING, LATTE-DRINKING, SUSHI-EATING, VOLVO-DRIVING, HOLLYWOOD-LOVING (without the tax-raising so much - and I

  • Watch out! I mean...carry on about your business.

    The cameras are your friends, as they are there to protect you, didn't you know?

    If you have a complaint in regards to your privacy, I suggest you see the security kiosks (located every half block) and file it there. Remember to speak directly into the camera eye. Also, you must remember to include your ID#, license number, phone number and bank account number in order to ensure an accurate and timely response. Protecting your security is our busine
  • I'm a UK citizen living in a non-English speaking foreign country, and at some point in the next few years my POP (plain old paper) non-biometric passport will need to be renewed. By the sound of things it might be cheaper and easier for me to take up the nationality of my country of residence (I have all the right qualifications for it) than go through the hassle of (re-)establishing my identity to the Thought Police^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H relevant UK authorities. I'd still end up with a biometric

  • Hey, I pirate stuff. Don't tell anyone. And I speed. And I tear the mattress tag off. But I'm not too worried about privacy. I'm one of the few that doesn't mind the government keeping track of all purchases. Often this is a great means for identifying and fighting large-scale crime and terrorism.

    However, I can't see how anyone would justify sending this information back to retailers.
  • by LordPhantom ( 763327 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @11:15AM (#15866256)
    Remember, Remember, the 5th of November,
    of gunpowder treason and plot.
    For I see no reason that gunpowder, treason,
    should ever be forgot.
  • by TomRC ( 231027 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @11:56AM (#15866757)

    Your ID card protects your identity - keep it close!

    Smile! Our cameras are here to protect your privacy!

    The new limits on automotive traffic will ensure you get to your destination quicker!

    Friendly reminder from the Revenue Service - save all financial records - We Do!

    Please don't litter - remember: everything you throw away has your DNA on it, so we'll know!

  • by ferin ( 925613 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @11:56AM (#15866765)
    'Give me six lines penned by the hand of an innocent man, and I will find in them somethign to have him hanged.'

    We all do, say, buy, or otherwise involve ourselves in things that might not put us on everyone's best person of the year list. If you have access to enough information about somebody, simply through selective presentation one can create a danmning image of an otherwise innocent and decent indivual.

    "And I see you bought drain cleaner, fertilizer, and firecrackers sir, clearly you are trying to build a bomb"

    This is definately a serious potential for massive abuse.
  • by UpnAtom ( 551727 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @12:37PM (#15867240) Homepage
    The British Government know that no-one in their right mind will actually volunteer for mass-surveillance and so they've forced the passport agency (now the Identity and Passport Service [ukpa.gov.uk]) to do the dirty for them.

    As soon as they can get the tech working, passport applicants/renewers will be entered on the National Identity Register (NIR). There is no opt out.

    This NIR is initially planned to be linked to your tax records, police records, passport records and even the new Automated Number Plate Recogntion [spy.org.uk] system which tracks all your car journeys.

    This, of course, is just the beginning [bristol-no2id.org.uk], but is already the world's most intrusive database on citizens, going further than even China. If Brown gets his way, it looks like your credit card transactions, phone calls & emails will soon be able to automatically flag you as a possible troublemaker.

    Britain's democracy has failed to stop this. It will likewise not stop future governments of any variety abusing you via your data.

    NO2ID [no2id.net] has known about this all along and we have been telling anyone who would listen. The campaign is extremely well run and full of great people, but we need YOUR help to stop this Orwellian nightmare [wikipedia.org].

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982