The Scottish Identity Card Scandal:
Campaign News - 2011
36. Scottish Review, 11 Jan. 11 - Our police state, part I: The lives destroyed by Scotland's secret files, Kenneth Roy
... An 'expert group' – whose members included one Jerry Fishenden of Microsoft UK as well as 'prominent lawyers and academics' – has recommended [to the Scottish government] that 'large, centralised databases of people's personal information' should be avoided and that, instead, data should be kept in 'purpose-specific stores' only to be drawn together 'if there is a business need to do so'. What a business need is, or a purpose-specific store for that matter, I am unqualified to say...
Today we will show how part of [Scotland's] federation of databases operates and how it is destroying lives...
Girfec ['Getting It Right for Every Child', the comprehensive children's database] is not just about offences. Girfec is about 'information'. This information can be passed on for many years and do immeasurable harm to a person's life. Yet much of it is based on pure hearsay. Here are examples of the kind of information gathered in Girfec assessments:
'Believed to have been inappropriately sexually active underage'.
'Believed to be involved in the supply or use of illegal drugs'.
'Reported by a neighbour to have behaved sexually inappropriately towards another child'...
What right does the child have to see and dispute this 'information'? None.
What right do the parents have? None.
Yet the information-sharing protocols adopted in Scotland mean that many others do have access to the files. We have it on good authority that among those with access are the headteacher, the teacher, the classroom assistant, the school secretary, the school nurse, the social worker, the administrators in the social work department, the police, the GP, the health worker, the Social Work Inspectorate...
A child is a work in progress, not the finished article: that was the humanitarian principle on which the [Scottish] children's hearing system was based. Secret police records on the one hand, Girfec files on the other, make a mockery of this ethos. In too many cases the Scottish child is not a finished article, simply finished.
37. Scottish Review, 12 Jan. 11 - Our police state, part II: Scotland is introducing a compulsory ID scheme at the school gate, Kenneth Roy
If you are aged 11 to 26 (and I suppose you're not), you might be thinking of applying for a Young Scot card. Out of interest, I had a look at what happens when you are accepted for this plastic. Here is what I read on the website of the Young Scot charity:
• Got a Young Scot card?
• Excellent stuff, cos now you can register your card right here and now. This means you can enter all the well cool competitions, and post your ideas/comments/messages on the Loud + Clear message boards. So make the most out of this site, and keep that smile on your face. It'll only take ya about a nanosecond so don't be shy...
The NEC [National Entitlement Card] offers 'the same great services' [as the earlier Young Scot Card] but has been created by the Scottish government, Young Scot, 'your' local council 'and lots of other organisations working together'. It is being promoted as 'a national card supported by the Scottish parliament'. Only the far from well cool Scottish Review remains sceptical...
None of this is deeply impressive. But if I am someone aged between 11 and 26, who has successfully applied for the card and failed to tick the opt-out box, I have agreed to share my personal details – for what purpose and with whom I am not entirely sure – but at least I have discounted fares on the buses, so I suppose everything is all right, really.
But it's not all right. It's far from all right. In the FAQs on the Young Scot website, there is the following exchange:
• Is this the start of a national ID scheme for Scotland?
• No. It's completely voluntary.
This is no longer true. At Breadalbane Academy in Aberfeldy, and we believe at other schools in Perth and Kinross, pupils now need to carry a National Entitlement Card in order to gain access to their own education. Parents have been told that the system has been put in place 'to maximise security in the school building'.
Will Young Scot now amend its website to make it clear that the scheme is not completely voluntary? Scotland seems to be introducing a national ID scheme by stealth – at the school gate.
38. Scottish Review, 2 Mar. 11 - The questions they are asking our children, Kenneth Roy
Among its many curiosities, the national entitlement card for young people in Scotland has succeeded in turning language on its head. In the lexicon of official Scotland, the word 'voluntary' no longer means what it says. It now means 'compulsory' or 'compulsory in effect'.
When we first looked at this card for 12 to 25 year olds, we claimed that a national ID scheme was being introduced at the school gate. Our basis for this claim was the new policy of Breadalbane Academy in Aberfeldy, and other schools in Perth and Kinross, to make the production of the card obligatory for pupils wishing to enter the school building... If this is not 'compulsory', what is?
The card's promoters, the Young Scot charity, responded to the Scottish Review with a long letter complaining that we had misrepresented the position. Significantly, however, the letter failed to address the specific example of Perth and Kinross...
The Scottish Government, the principal sponsors of the scheme, and the Scottish local authorities who administer it in their areas, peddle the same line. Yet it is not difficult to refute these official assurances by further example and to show that it is not the Scottish Review which is misrepresenting the position.
A reader has sent us an extract from the prospectus of Falkirk High School in which it is stated that every pupil – repeat, every pupil – is issued with the card at primary school. The bold italics are ours:
They [the pupils] must keep this [card] throughout their time at Falkirk High School... No cash is accepted in the cafeteria. Pupils will not be served if they do not have enough credit on their card...
Readers have alerted us to other local authorities, including Edinburgh and the Borders, in which similar policies apply...
At least one local authority has added a supplementary questionnaire in which applicants for the card are asked if they have committed a crime... Why are children as young as 12 being asked such questions; who handles the data; and where does the information go?...
Here is a final sobering thought. Children aged 13 or over do not require parental authority to apply for a national entitlement card. The cards are being actively promoted at stalls in town centres and in the schools themselves. Roll up, roll up, kids, and give us your details.
39. Herald - Letters, 16 May 11 - Smartcards would significantly increase public transport use in Scotland, Dr Geraint Bevan
Councillor Jonathan Findlay, chairman of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, opines that Transport Scotland has created a strong platform for an integrated multi-operator system and suggests that plans are well advanced for deployment of multi-operator cashless smartcards for Glasgow's Subway (Letters, May 14).
In developing these cards, it is to be hoped that greater thought is being given to personal privacy than has been the case for the national concessionary bus scheme. If these smartcards are to be successful, they must offer the ability to travel anonymously without logging each person's journey history on the expensive databases that generally add so much to the cost and complexity of such schemes.
In particular, the developers of the Subway cards must ensure they are fully conversant with, and abide by, the new Identity Management and Privacy Principles published by the Scottish Government in December last year.
40. Falkirk Herald, 18 Aug. 11 - Council lays cards on the table
Falkirk Council has apologised to parents and pupils for misleading them over payment cards for school dinners.
Previous school prospectuses issued to parents haven't made clear there is an alternative card for pupils to use other than the Young Scot card...
Education chiefs say schools have now been told to ensure parents are made aware of the [alternative] blank swipe cards.
Falkirk resident Robert Howden believes the Young Scot card is another controversial ID card for children.
He said: "The card which appears to have been presented by Falkirk Council as the only alternative for schools was actually against the Scottish Parliament policy. All parents against a 'data base state' should be aware of the fact that there is an alternative to the Young Scot card in schools."...
A council spokeswoman said: "We accept that some wording in school prospectuses may be misleading and apologise for any confusion."...