The Scottish Identity Card Scandal:
Campaign News - 2010
31. NO2ID Newsletter No. 145, 25 Mar. 10 - When is a bus pass just a bus pass?, Dr John Welford
In her desperation to tease out new uses for the ID card Meg Hillier has come up with a brainwave. Why not get rid of the free pensioner bus pass, and instead supply every pensioner with an ID card, possibly offering them for free! That would mean many more millions of people carrying ID cards, and with free bus travel as the tempting bribe it would be a sure-fire winner.
But wait, haven’t we been down this bus lane before? We surely have, and it started in Scotland just four years ago. Old-style simple cardboard bus passes were abolished everywhere, to be replaced by shiny new plastic ones. But while these cards were widely advertised merely as ‘new bus passes’, in the smallprint it was clear that they were cleverer than the old ones, because in time they were to have other uses, such as local library access. Oh, and the posh name for these cards? – National Entitlement Cards (NEC). And school students were to be treated to them too, in the form of the Young Scot card.
The reality behind this story is, of course, that these NEC cards are in fact RFID-chipped, ITSO-standard ID cards, which can indeed be used to log every pensioner’s bus journeys and library borrowings. Moreover, in the card registration process each pensioner has been issued with a Unique Citizen Reference Number (UCRN) and placed on a national database. So, in short, these so-called ‘bus passes’ are actually Trojan Horse ID cards, and indeed they are so intrusive that they would not be permitted as ID cards in Germany for example.
When the Scottish card was introduced in 2006 I refused to have one. This has meant that I have foregone free bus travel in favour of defending privacy. I urge all pensioners to consider doing likewise. Through such acts of lawful non-compliance we can defeat the government’s ghastly ID scheme.
32. Herald - Letters, 27 May 10 - There are ways to reduce the cost of concessions for bus travel without scrapping the scheme, Dr Geraint Bevan
Means-testing concessionary bus passes would undoubtedly add considerably to the administrative costs of the scheme. In austere times, we should instead be seeking ways to reduce the burden on taxpayers. A first step would be to eliminate the costly inspection and auditing systems currently employed, including the intrusive database of individual passengers’ journeys.
After several years of operation, sufficient data must have been acquired to allow a reasonable statistical analysis of the use of each route by concessionary card-holders. It would benefit the public purse if Transport Scotland now scrapped its privacy-deficient journey database, the associated card-scanning equipment on buses and associated audit functions, and instead agreed a flat fee for each route that would be fair to both taxpayers and the bus companies. These flat fees could be implemented as conditions of each franchise.
What possible argument can there be against a measure that would enhance passenger privacy while cutting costs?
33. Scottish Review, 5 Oct. 10 - Big Brother Scotland, Kenneth Roy
... GIRFEC ['Getting It Right For Every Child'] has been marketed to compliant journalists – and, more generally, to the unsuspecting public – as a benevolent information-sharing project, enabling social work and education professionals, the police, doctors and health workers to co-operate more closely in identifying children at risk. Parroting the mantra 'early intervention' and invoking one or two notorious cases, GIRFEC's promoters assure us that the project is 'cutting bureaucracy' and 'achieving results'. These assurances have been swallowed whole without proper scrutiny of the claims or, more generally, of the underlying agenda.
... To get at the full story about GIRFEC, it is necessary to access an obscure document issued in 2008 by the 'Transformational Technologies Division' of the Scottish government. This emphatically disposes of the theory assiduously put about by the Scottish government and its friends in the media that GIRFEC's sole concern is the protection of vulnerable children.
... What we are witnessing in Scotland, piece by piece, local authority by local authority, is the establishment of a vast database of personal information about our children. This intrusion into privacy – in effect surveillance of the population – is unknown to most parents, yet is being actively encouraged, indeed sponsored, by successive Holyrood administrations. This largely hidden scheme raises not only practical issues about the use and security of the data, but deeply troubling ethical questions. It is time they were addressed.
34. Scottish Review, 16 Dec. 10 - Open Secrets, part III: Here's how they got you on the database without you even knowing, Kenneth Roy
... If you are an 'older' person and have one of those nice passes entitling you to free bus travel in Scotland, the chances are that you crossed a box giving your local authority permission to share your personal details. Perhaps you did not give the matter very much thought. You would not necessarily have known that the act of putting a cross on an innocent-looking form would qualify you for automatic entry on [Scotland's] citizens' database.
I have the form in front of me. It is true that there is an alternative box – the one you cross if you are refusing permission to have your details shared – but, such are the persuasive arguments in favour of consent, only fully paid-up subversives would contemplate being awkward about it.
Here is the sweetener that few will be able to resist: 'If you give your local authority your permission to use your personal details we will not ask you to fill out a form again to get additional applications on the card if you are entitled to receive those services' ... including membership of the council's libraries and leisure clubs. In effect, consent is presented as the only reasonable option.
The consequences of putting your cross in the correct box are also explained, but not at the same length. '... the council wishes to share your personal details with departments and agencies of the council, other Scottish councils, and the Scottish Executive. The purpose of sharing this information is to ensure that your personal details are correct, wherever these bodies hold them'.
Now that you have consented, you pass 'Go' into the state's database (if you are not already there), where other information about you can start being 'aggregated' and shared.
... This is how we sleep-walk into a surveillance society – by complacency and default. Isn't it time we woke up?
35. The Courier, 21 Dec. 10 - Breadalbane Academy ID card causes data protection concern, Kirsten Johnson
A concerned mother has spoken out against plans to force Breadalbane Academy pupils to carry identity cards.
Madelaine Thorley is concerned young people might be denied access to the new community campus if they do not carry a National Entitlement/Young Scot card.
Parents were told the system was put in place to maximise security in the school building, but Ms Thorley believes it could in fact bring about a large-scale data protection breach.
She is worried the cards, which contain the pupil's name, address, sex and date of birth, could "fall into the wrong hands." Card users will also benefit from reduced prices on travel and food — which the mother thinks is a "bribe" to increase uptake...
Ms Thorley questioned whether the cards were compulsory... "I was under the impression that these cards are not compulsory, yet the way that Perth and Kinross Council have set up the system is that an NEC needs to be used... Is it going to be future P&K policy to include fingerprinting or other methods of biometric identification on their database?"
The National Entitlement Card programme is a multi-application smartcard scheme run as a partnership between the Scottish Government, 32 of Scotland's local councils and other agencies. Ms Thorley is worried that such a large-scale database could attract hackers...
"Why is this NEC system being used by P&K schools, and why is this being allowed in Scotland?"....