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Reasons for guarded optimism about the ID card issue

Talking to a business contact of mine earlier today, the subject of the Levenson enquiry concerning the alleged hacking of persons’ phones by journalists/others came up. One thing that was mentioned was that the corruption of certain police officers, and possibly other officials with access to important data, highlights the dangers of aggregating large amounts of important data into a few places, since the temptation to abuse this for financial gain – by selling some of the juicy stuff to journalists – will be hard to resist. And that surely is another argument against centralised ID systems of the sort that groups such as No2ID have campaigned against.

Call me optimistic, but at least I hope I can say that for the moment, the case for compulsory ID cards is off the table in the UK. That does not, of course, mean that the Database State is not advancing, quite the reverse. But at least some of the more brazen examples of this are not advancing, and the public are getting a very good education in the dangers of data aggregation and the abuse of data by those who are entrusted to defend the public.

6 comments to Reasons for guarded optimism about the ID card issue

  • John Miller

    Nice photos but they wouldn’t be much without the electric lights boyo.
    Bet they are not the crap we have to buy!

  • Bruce

    Questions and comments on the “phone hacking” caper”:

    Are the mobile phone networks in Britain analogue or digital?

    If currently digital, at what time was the analogue network switched off, if at all?

    If digital, what level of encryption is used on these networks? Australian digital networks use “A5” encryption; this is pretty serious stuff.

    Thus, it is probable, that if the mobile metworks are encrypted digital systems, the ONLY way to intercept, decrypt and record conversations is to tap into the exchanges. This is not normally a walk in the park either. In fact, it would require the “assistance” of someone not only “inside the system” but with intimate knowledge of what goes on inside the exchanges and computers thenselves.

    Any UK telecoms techies out there with any other ideas?

  • Andrew Duffin

    @Bruce, I don’t believe they hacked into anything, actually.

    What they did was to take advantage of the fact that nobody (well, hardly anybody) bothers to put a PIN on their voicemail, thus allowing anyone who knows the phone number (ie, anyone) to play back and manipulate said voicemails.

    The word “hacking” got dropped into all this by ignorant journalists.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Andrew Duffin, a better word would have been “snooping”. It is like someone going into your private address book or looking through your garbage.

  • Edward King

    @Bruce, the UK’s analogue network was deactivated entirely in 2001. An actual phone “hack” occurred prior to that; the infamous Prince Charles “Tampon Talk” to Camilla…

    The UK digital network is GSM 900/1800 with A5/1 encryption, supporting EDGE data.

    Can’t say anything about the UK 3G networks.

    But as Andrew Duffin says, this is irrelevant. The info was got simply by ringing the mobile numbers, waiting till they dropped to voicemail and then trying the provider’s default voicemail password. If it worked, then bingo! Voicemail access! And people stupid enough not to change the default password also tended to be stupid enough not to delete listened to voicemails…

  • 6079SmithW

    The EU control the UK’s destiny on ID cards, not our beloved government. When told to jump, they will jump and we will all be required to have ID cards, tattoos, chips or whatever technology the EU requires.

    The EU may be having a few distractions at the moment, but there are enough beurocrats still beavering away on all the other totalitarian wet dreams to bring about ID for all if we have the misfortune for the EU to survive.

    Do not rest easy. List ways that the ordinary man in the street can help the EU to fail, permanently.

    Winston Smith