|26/07/04||NO2ID NEWSLETTER – Supporter's Newsletter No.1|
This is the first of a planned series of regular email newsletters to keep you informed about the campaign against the Home Office's plans to fingerprint and track the entire population of Britain for its National Identity Register. As soon as practicable the NO2ID Newsletter will also be produced in printed form to let us reach people without email. Meanwhile, if you want to forward this email to friends or print and distribute hard copies, then we have no objections.
You've been sent this (if you are a first hand recipient) because we believe you registered as a supporter of the campaign. If not, or if you just don't want the newsletter, let us know and please accept our apologies. We don't want to spam anyone.
(Equally, if you were a supporter in the past, but have now decided that you do want yourself and your family to be tagged like cattle at huge and unnecessary expense, please let us know.)
THANK YOU – A message from Mark Littlewood, National Coordinator
It has been a slow start, I know, but the NO2ID organisation is now up and running, and I believe we have a fighting chance of stopping Britain becoming the world's first “database state”. We wouldn't have got this far without the support of numerous volunteers and supporters. Unlike our opponents, nobody is making a living doing this. Some supporters who are politicians, civil servants, or work for big IT contractors, would have an easier life if they accepted Mr Blunkett's glib assurances and took advantage of the public money gravy train being hauled by such a vast project. Everyone involved so far in the smallest way or the largest is giving their time freely for personal liberty and the public good. So before asking you for yet more help, it is worth pausing to say thank-you to everyone who has supported the campaign so far.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
The Home Office's latest consultation exercise, that on its Draft Bill www.homeoffice.gov.uk/inside/consults/current/index.html has just closed. It will take a while to “consider” the result, but the conclusion is predictable: Responses will be said to have been broadly in favour of the proposals. Some valuable technical points will have been made that will be “taken into account” in legislative proposals.
We believe that the whole consultation process has been a sham. So, apparently, does David Blunkett. The Scotsman newspaper reported—before the period for submissions to the consultation closed:
“Mr Blunkett's officials also confirmed that, as Liberty and other campaigners had warned, the planned national identity-card system would form the foundation of a central data collecting and monitoring system.”
As well as jumping the gun, this substantially extends the scope of what has been proposed. It has never before been admitted that the so-called id-database is to be linked to others. It is rather interesting that access to the information on the register might be available to foreign governments through Interpol, and that people may be flagged as “believed to be a threat to national security” by the security services.
Is the public process is on one page, and the secret process on another?
Be that as it may, we believe it is important to show opposition in detail as well as in principle. NO2ID presented a lengthy response to the consultation, which will soon be available for download on the website: www.no2id.net/
On the plus side, NO2ID is formally established, has a bank account, and the backing of a lot of committed people. Starting from scratch only a few months ago, we are catching up the Home Office's 20-year start. We are supported by respected organisations such as Liberty, Charter 88 and Privacy International, and several political parties (though the Conservatives, as a party, are sitting on the fence)—see the website for details.
A public meeting “Mistaken Identity” was held at the LSE on 19th May, organised by Privacy International and supported by several other organisations. It was judged a great success by those who attended. There was some positive press coverage. It certainly wasn't intended as a rally, but any supporters of the database state failed to turn up. The Home Office in particular refused all inducement to take part, and no official spokesman for the Labour Party was available. (Though as individuals Labour MPs and Peers made their presence felt—for the anti-government side.)
David Davis, Shadow Home Secretary, in a thoughtful speech, said he was undecided but would be in favour of ID-cards if they would stop terrorism. (Since it can be shown they won't, it looks like Mr Davis may well be persuadable to our part of the argument.) There were many impressive contributions among them a deeply considered speech in opposition to the system from the Law Society.
A full list of speakers, none of whom one could call a zealous advocate, is available here: www.privacyinternational.org/conference/missingid/ Mr Blunkett should not be able to get away with characterising his opponents as—in that revealing turn of phrase—”the usual suspects”. This can be an establishment campaign. We are defending traditional rights and freedoms.
You are probably aware of the poll recently conducted by YouGov for Privacy International. (Detailed analysis from: www.privacyinternational.org/issues/idcard/uk/idpollanalysis.pdf ). Government research has confined itself to asking people vaguely if they think ID CARDS are a Good Thing, allowing them to be triumphant about getting a majority 'yes'. The PI Poll shows something much more interesting.
The more people know about the project, and the National Identity Register, the less they like it. And opposition is substantial. We are not alone.
If you scale up the number of people who say they'd rather go to jail than carry a compulsory ID card from the poll sample, then there are approximately 3 MILLION people for the Home Office to fine and jail. Maybe this is why the plan is for the scheme to be introduced gradually at first—and by stealth.
The Parliamentary Select Committee on Home Affairs reports on Identity Cards at the end of this month. Like all committees it has a government majority, but we know that there are a significant number of sceptics of all parties on the Committee. It should make interesting reading.
The Queen's Speech is in November. The last one announced the Draft Bill, and we expect an actual ID Bill announced in it this time round. However, it is possible that it will be timetable for the autumn regardless, to give it the maximum time to get through before a prospective general election (which most commentators believe will be some time towards the end of the first half of next year).
We are reasonably confident that the Bill, when it comes, can be stopped in the Lords—though that will take work. There was no mandate for it in the government's last election manifesto, so the Lords has every reason to exercise a restraining power on such a profound measure. After the General Election, it is likely that the Labour government will be returned again, in which case it seems very likely that the population database will be back, perhaps under yet another new name.
But if we can create delay we will have gained some time to bring the myriad problems and oppressive details to public attention.
“ID” IN THE NEWS
CONFUSION about parameters and scope threatens ID card success – ComputerWeekly.com:
Do you have friends in the Isle of Man or Channel Islands? Time for them to think about this too:
(Some links from friends and personal browsing, others gathered via the splendid Google news alert service. Please send me any items of interest you encounter -Editor)
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT
1. Tell your friends about the campaign and that you are supporting it. Feel free to redistribute this newsletter to acquaintances. (But please do introduce it personally and don't spam.) Your personal witness will help others understand that this is an important real-life matter, and not just the province of hyper-political nuts.
2. Let us know if you have time or special expertise that you can give to the organisation, even if only a couple of hours a week. We desperately need an experienced Press Officer, secretarial staff, and policy researchers. Professional creative and marketing expertise are badly wanted to lift public awareness of the issues.
3. Get together with others in your area to form a local group. A national campaign needs a national network. Guy Taylor mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org can give you advice on how to do this. If you are in London come to the open, pub-based, meetings that we hold every month on a Thursday somewhere central. Details are posted on the website.
4. Write to the local and national press, to express your concerns whenever there is relevant news. Phone-in to appropriate radio and TV programs. There is plenty of information on (and linked to) the website to help you do this.
5. Write to your MP and MEP expressing your disquiet and ask for _their personal opinion_. (Big-party MPs in particular sometimes avoid controversial issues, or may pass on your letter to the Home Office rather than answering for themselves.)
6. Buy a T-shirt, and wear it. This publicises the message—people will ask you what it means—and raises funds. Details on the website. You can buy online at: www.ntkmart.co.uk/ntkmart.cgi#No2ID
7. Join. Membership costs £15 a year and entitles you to a say in the running of NO2ID. A membership form will appear on the website shortly.
8. Give generously. A few weeks back we had no money. Now we have next to no money. The Home Office is planning to spend billions. But we will spend your money better. Direct payments to HSBC Account in the name of NO2ID, A/c no: 91339427, Sort Code 40-28-15. You can send a cheque, payable to “NO2ID” to: NO2ID, c/o Privacy International, 2nd Floor, Lancaster House, 33 Islington High Street, London N1 9LH. Special donation or sponsorship enquiries should be made to email@example.com Help in kind is equally welcome.
NO2ID WHO'S WHO AND RESOURCES
If you have specific assistance or information to offer, you can contact the following NO2ID people:
National Coordinator – Mark Littlewood mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Please, please remember that everybody on this list will be getting a huge amount of email, so you should only direct enquiries to the relevant person. We are grateful for all specific offers of help, but can't give detailed answers to individual general queries. There is a lot of information on the website. And there will soon be much, much more.
*********** Support the campaign, buy (wear!) a T-shirt ***********
NO2ID T-shirts are now available in a range of sizes for men and women.