Neil Harding is absolutely on form today, as he links football to the ID cards. Get ready for a rollercoaster ride of contradiction, strawmen, fallacies and statist fantasies!
The government losing 25m people's data is ironically likely to boost the case for ID cards (as it happens I doubt a single person will be defrauded because of this loss). Millions of call centre workers and employees have access to these details and people lose this sort of data every day - that should not be the problem. The problem is that this sort of data is useful.
Yes, this is true but it is not the problem. The problem is that whilst the government imposes very strict data control measures on private companies, it fails to do so itself.
The problem is that whilst those who misuse or steal data in private companies get sacked and/or prosecuted, those in government get £200,000 jobs elsewhere in the Civil Service and/or get moved to a safe house until the whole thing blows over.
The problem is tht whilst security breaches were known about three years ago, the government couldn't be bothered to do anything about it. The problem is that, even though HMRC has breached data security guidelines some 2,100 times in the last year, they failed to act to prevent such problems.
In short, the problem is that the state enforces data protection laws on private companies whilst failing to follow those same laws itself.
We have to make it more difficult for people to commit fraud. Although I reject the government's current scheme, some sort of ID scheme using biometrics has got to be the answer in the future.
You will note that not once does Neil contend that maybe, just maybe, the solution should be that the state should hold less data on its citizens. No, faced with a state that is, at best, extraordinarily cavalier in its attitude to our private security, Neil Harding's solution is to allow the government to collect even more data.
Fucking brilliant. And now, back to the football... [Emphasis mine.]
Apparently Gordon Brown was persuaded not to go the England game today because the Sun said he has been 'bad luck'. This is a perfect example - Brown should have turned around and made a big point about how this superstitious nonsense will make no difference to how the England team will perform. Instead he took the safe option in fear of being ridiculously blamed for the result. Absolutely pathetic. This is his (and our) problem. We need to be stood up to. Ultimately we will respect leaders that do that.
Absolutely. We respect a lot of leaders that stand up to the whining of their people: Stalin, Pol Pot, Pinochet, etc.
Oh, and of course, Margaret Thatcher stood up to the people over the Poll Tax; she believed that it was the right thing to do (as do I, ideologically: it is only fair that a four-person family should pay more for their services than one person living alone). Was she right to stand up to the people, Neil? Do you respect her for that?
Still, it's in the comments that things really get frisky. [All emphasis mine.]
Neil: You have to think the government are malicious to think that sharing this info with them is a problem - it is not.
This government may not be malicious—unless, of course, you are brown and bearded—but do we know that no future government will be?
How many fucking times do we have to reference the Nazis—a democratically elected (socialist) government—before it sinks into your thick skull, Neil? Or, indeed, the Rwandan genocide? When will you get it into your head that not all governments are benign?
When you are poor, homeless, ill etc. for all their faults, I know the government is the best hope. That is why I would trust the government with my name and address and fingerprints etc.
Fucking hell, Neil; just because when you are on your uppers the government is happy to use stolen money in order to prevent you starving does not mean that they are trustworthy. Rather the opposite, in fact; the government has amply demonstrated that it is willing to steal from others in order to fulfill its own agenda.
Now, you may argue that that agenda has some sort of democratic legitimacy, but it doesn't alter the fact that there really isn't any honour amongst thieves, you know. The government should know as little about you as possible because that is the safest way.
These are trivial pieces of info - I really don't see how it would be a problem.
Hang on just a second; one minute these biometrics are tremendously important and could be the way to stop fraud and the next second they are "trivial pieces of information"? Where you live is a trivial piece of information and what you do are "trivial pieces of information", are they?
Were you aware, Neil, that those disks that HMRC lost had the former names and the new identities of those in witness protection programmes? How trivial do you think those bits of information will be to them? Or to criminal fraternities looking for revenge on those who put them in prison?
And now Neil is on about the poor again.
Is the real problem that the government (or anyone else) loses some basic info - name, address, bank & NI numbers? We cannot expect to keep this info absolutely safe. Every day this info is in the post and millions of items of post go missing every day. Millions of people who regularly move, share flats and postboxes have post nicked unbeknown to them. These tend to be the poorest people at risk.
You what? People who nick mail tend to nick the mail of the poor and leave that of the rich? Are you fucking bats? If you were a thief, out for all you could get, would you go for the rich person's mail or the poor person's mail?
Maybe the present government ID scheme is not good enough - the jury is out on that, but one thing for sure, you would object to it even if it was a brilliant scheme. Nearly all the people opposed to ID schemes that I speak to are opposed for ideological reasons first and then conveniently add in practical objections later. Maybe they are right - but I would not be surprised if their practical objections are exaggerated.
Neil acts like this is a bad thing but he fails absolutely to see any contradiction in his condemnation of those who object to ID cards on ideological grounds whilst he himself is pro-ID cards on ideological grounds. The fuckwit.
I think that we should let Longrider's comment sum up the situation so far.
Of course we have to be aware that someone could copy someone's fingerprints (although I think it unlikely and certainly a lot more difficult to perform than getting hold of other data, nobody should assume it can't be done).
It's actually very easy and cheap. Some gelatin and putty will do the job nicely. Don't have someone's thumbprint to hand? Mug then and chop it off. If you want to be a little more sophisticated, you can use an etching kit, along with superglue, digital photography and simple photo editing software to create a fake print that will fool scanners easily and cheaply.
The only way to protect our biometric identifiers is not to share them in the first place. This is blindingly obvious common sense to everyone except government and their supporters who appear to be bereft of such qualities.These tend to be the poorest people at risk.
And your evidence for this wild assertion is? Now, I'm an identity thief... Who shall I steal from? Someone who hasn't two pennies to rub together or someone with a few bob in the bank?
Neil, it really is about time you started letting go of some of those bigotries, they are becoming too repetitive by far. The "poor" are not stupid and they do not need the patronising hand of the state to look after them. When it comes to managing and securing personal information, the best guardians of the information is the individual - not the government who have demonstrated conclusively that they are not fit to govern, let alone manage information.
But it does get even better. No, really. Neil says that "the market" (by which he means private companies) "is not going to help on [introducing biometrics], because it would be pointless for any bank to do this unilaterally and it would lose them business as well. It has to come from government with pressure from voters to enforce it across the whole industry."
First, the latest polls show that about 75% oppose the ID Cards, so no doubt Neil views this "pressure from voters" with the same sort of legitimacy as the "pressure from voters" that allows his political party to rule the country with 21.6% of the vote.
Second, if there was overwhelming pressure from voters, the banks probably would introduce biometrics because they have to please their customers. Further, when people get defrauded, generally speaking it is the banks that pick up the tab; if they thought that biometrics were really going to work, then they would definitely introduce it in order to protect themselves. They have not done so.
Third, and most unfortunately, Neil cites a German biometric system.
When I see supermarkets in Germany where customers pay with their fingerprints (and this makes it more secure for both) I think surely we can make it a bit harder for the fraudster and biometrics seem ideal for this task.
Which rather disproves Neil's assertion that "the market" is of no use in this situation.
Further, this system is, as Falco points out, is a voluntary system run by a private company.
I have no objection to that: if people, like Neil, are happy to give out their biometric details of their own free will, that is their problem. But that is not what the government has on the table: they want compulsory biometric ID cards held by a government that has amply demonstrated, over and over and over again, that it simply cannot be trusted to keep our data safe.
But, never mind, Neil is ploughing on, with increasing desperation.
Eventually some other country is going to implement a biometric ID scheme and make us all look silly.
What?! Well, fuck me, Neil, I hadn't realised that implementing this scheme was a matter of prestige. Is this the last argument? We have been told that it will stop terrorism (it won't), that it will stop fraud (it won't), and any other number of excuses and now the argument for tagging every person in the country is because someone else might do it first? Seriously, what the fuck?
Even those countries that have ID cards, i.e. nearly all of the EU countries, haven't tried anything this detailed, massive and completely fucking stupid because they know it won't fucking work!
We have tried other massive databases, Neil; the NHS Spine has already spent some £4 billion and it doesn't fucking work. It is projected to go as high as £12 billion or possibly even more. How many of your vaunted poor people would that help, Neil, you knob?
The NIR and ID Card scheme is estimated by some (the LSE) to cost at least £18 billion—the government's latest figure was about £8 billion and we all know, from the Olympics fiasco if nothing else, how good that government are at estimating budgets for large projects.
And if avoiding pissing £18,000,000,000—equivalent to one person on the median wage working for 756,000 years—up the fucking wall makes us look silly, then so be it.
You people and your fear of anything new are the reason the UK never does anything first anymore.
Ah, yes, it's Neil standard, "you are all Luddites" defence; the irony is that Neil has absolutely fuck-all understanding of technology (or of much else) and on this thread he is busy calling people who work in the IT busines "Luddites". How fucking arrogant can you get?
That is why we never join things like the Euro, which is rapidly catching up the dollar as the world's reserve currency.
Hello, Artie McStrawman, I thought we'd be seeing you here sooner or later. The reasons that we didn't join the Euro are many and varied, but the big reason was that the government were forced to promise a referendum on joining and they knew they'd lose (especially after we crashed out of the ERM). But, like all statists, at heart Neil is not tremendously bothered about the will of the people: he thinks that Britain should have been dragged kicking and screaming into the Euro expressly against the will of the voters. Way to expose your totalitarianism, Neil!
And anyone keeping Euros as their reserve currency is a fucking idiot (Gordon Brown: I'm looking at you, sunshine). It is pulling apart slowly but surely. Further, the comparison of growth rates in our economy and those of the Eurozone should easily lay to rest the idea that Britain made the wrong decision. But let's not get distracted...
I notice Ministry of Truth's unity is now considering a national ID scheme, and I don't think you can accuse him of being technically illiterate or prejudiced.
Indeed, and as Unity was one of the most informed and vehemently anti-ID cards, I thought that maybe I should look at linked article to see if I could work out the rationale for this Damascene conversion.
And to kill off another myth that’s rapidly circulating, no this does not mark the end of the Identity Cards project either. Darling has already been quick off the mark with one obvious line:The chancellor defended the government’s plans to introduce ID cards. He said that without the protection of the scheme, information was more vulnerable than it should be.
And from a pure data security standpoint, there is better ‘argument’ for pressing ahead with a ‘clean’ NIR system than an incident in which another key data system, the National Insurance Number, could be compromised on such a massive scale. If these CDs have got out ‘in the wild’ then one of corrective measures the government should take is to issue new NI numbers to all affected individuals, and its but a short step from there to the suggestion that the National Identity Registration Number should replace in the NI number, which is precisely where things will be heading over time in any case.
No, the National Identity Register is far from being dead in the water at this stage. In fact, once the dust settles you can expect to see this incident spun as further justification for the introduction of the system on the premise that it will add an extra layer of security.
Hmm, Unity's article is hardly a ringing endorsement of such a scheme, is it? Might we possibly accuse Neil of telling porkie pies? I think, given Unity's response when I emailed him, that we could definitely accuse Neil of lying, yes.
UPDATE: Unity chips in in the comments.
As I've seemingly come up in despatches, I should say that what I am mulling over is the feasibility of a zero knowledge proof based ID system, which would be a very different animal to what the government are proposing, not least because ownership of, and authority for use of, personal data would reside with the individual and not with the state.
I shall leave it there—do feel free to wander over and wallow in the full glory of Neil's idiocy. I shall let Longrider have the last word.
In his ongoing attempts to justify tagging us all like criminals, Neil Harding lets this little gem slip:I am not claiming to be an expert
Well, quite. For once Neil writes something that is true.
Quite. It's just another day in Hardingland...