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Big Brother Watch Vol. 1, No. 10 PDF Print E-mail
Contributed by James Plummer   
Saturday, 15 July 2006

UK's national ID card scheme collapses?!

No smooth sailing for Navy data
Administration relaunches student-spying efforts

Big Brother Watch Vol. 1, No. 8

by James Plummer and Joshua M. Parker
July 15, 2006

Big Brother Watch is published by the Big Brother Watch Center, a project of the Liberty & Privacy Network, a 501(c)3 affiliated with Liberty Coalition. A website is forthcoming at www.watchingbigbrother.org

UK's national ID card scheme collapses?!

The Home Office of the Blair Government in the United Kingdom announced on Tuesday that it would be conducting a new review of the scheme to compel every Briton to carry a national ID card. Sources within the Home Office subsequently leaked word to the BBC that this meant the plan would be postponed "indefinitely."

With all planned contracts, design specifications, and timetables all completely scuttled, the project seems doomed. Indeed, in one email leaked to the Sunday Times, government official David Foord says, "I conclude that we are setting ourselves up to fail." The email goes on to list about a dozen seemingly insurmountable programs with the scheme, including "unaffordabilit," "lack of clear benefits," and a "very serious shortage of appropriately qualified staff." Foord gets to the point in a subsequent email, saying "Just because ministers say do something does not mean we ignore reality - which is what seems to have happened on ID Cards."

Some UK analysts have hailed the development of the de facto end of the scheme, but the stake has yet to be driven through its heart with a public announcement by the government.

Americans concerned about the REAL ID Act, which is set to turn state drivers' licenses into a national ID system, can take comfort in the news from the UK, however, as they move forward with campaigns to encourage states to refuse compliance with the federal mandate.

No smooth sailing for Navy data

Yet another government leak of private data occurred in the past week. On July 7th, the Navy Safety Center (NSC) announced that personal information of more than 100,000 Navy and Marine Corps aviators and aircrew was accidentally posted on its public website. Information revealed included Social Security numbers. Unfortunately, this is not the first time the Navy has had such a mishap. Social Security numbers, birthdates, and other personal data of 28,000 service members had been posted on a public website by the Navy Personal Command (NPC) in late June.
This private information is contained on 1083 web-enabled safety program disks. These disks are mailed to Navy and Marine Corps commands. NSC says it is working to recall the disks and the information has been pulled off of the webservers. Rather than repeatedly trying to puit the toothpaste back in the tube, NSC should take more ex-ante protective measures concerning personal privacy.   -- Federal Computer Week
Administration relaunches student-spying efforts

Students at private colleges are the latest targets of a federal government surveillance dragnet. Last month, Education Secretary Margaret Spelling's Commission on the Future of Higher Education released a draft of a plan advocating a national student "unit" tracking system. The biggest concern about this proposal is that the Department of Education would be collecting information in individual students, as opposed to just aggregate data. At present, colleges submit Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System information in compliance with the Family Educational Records Privacy Act. But, this information only includes aggregate information such as enrollment numbers and graduation rates. The Commission's proposed plan would create a mandated national registry on all students enrolled in college. The potential the data will eventually be used by other pars of the government is overwhelming.

There is significant opposition towards this data collection scheme. In March 2006, the House passed the Higher Education Act reauthorization bill (H.R. 609), which included a provision prohibiting such a scheme. Moreover, according to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, 62 percent of respondent colleges oppose a federal data-collection effort, and 45 percent strongly oppose the effort. So, for now, Big Brother is not the big man on campus. -- Washington Post


Big Brother Watch is a part of the Liberty and Privacy Network, a DC-incorporated 501(c)(3) organization, affiliated with the Liberty Coalition (http://libertycoalition.net/).

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 18 July 2006 )
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