Wednesday, 29 October 2008

More on fingerprinting

The NO2ID Campaign has called for plans to allow the police to fingerprint people on the street using mobile scanners to be put on hold until vital legal protections are put in place. Police currently have the power to demand fingerprints only after arresting someone. However if scanners are in use the public could come under pressure to give prints "voluntarily". Given the government's appalling record on abuse and mishandling of personal data does anyone want even more personal details under their control?

NO2ID wants full disclosure on biometric data trials, information currently blocked under claims of "commercial confidentiality". Unfortunately this Government has a habit of only reporting the good news about biometrics, not the bad news about how often the scanners get it wrong. NO2ID also want checking only against criminal fingerprint databases. Currently the checks would be able to access the proposed National Identity Register and turn mobile fingerprinting into fishing expeditions, effectively turning the entire population into suspects with nothing to stop mobile scanners resulting in the creeping fingerprinting of everyone in the country.

When Hartlepool Council decided that every Councillor must undergo a CRB Check, (illegally in my opinion) I opposed the move, in fact I was the ONLY Councillor who voted NO, not because I have anything to hide (which of course is the easy charge to make) but because I opposed the creeping intrusion into people’s private lives and the growth of Big Brother. In actual fact I have had several CRB checks and hold a copy of my own Police Computer Record, (anyone can demand a copy of their own record, under the Data Protection Act) and all but one have come back 100% clear. The only problem came on my Council Check where someone with “Similar” details to me came up on the check. I was asked to provide finger prints to “eliminate” the “similar” person from the check. My first reaction was to ask for a definition of “similar” if it was another 40something, white, male, who looked like me, lived in Hartlepool and had the same National Insurance Number then I was more concerned about identity theft than anything else. If however it was another white male living in the North East with the initials SA then I didn’t see why finger prints were required. A quick check on our photographs should be enough? NO came the reply Fingerprints or NO CRB. Please note, I didn’t fail the CRB check, I just didn’t complete the full process and so the CRB were unable to proceed with my application. The CRB are far too canny to fail people as that would then leave them open to challenge.

Co-incidentally I was required to complete anther CRB for a different organisation a few days after the Hartlepool Council. My application through this organisation passed without any comment! The “similar” person never appeared on this check! Just a co-incidence? Since then I have had two more CRB Checks and both of these have passed without any problem. I do wonder if the CRB are being used to collect fingerprints “voluntarily” thereby getting everyone on the government systems. In my opinion it’s only a matter of time before we are chipped like dogs!

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