• United States



Destroyed hard drives kill off UK National ID Cards

Mar 30, 20114 mins
Data and Information SecurityHard DrivesMicrosoft

If you enjoy watching hard drives being destroyed, then this video may please you. Better yet, the data that was pulverized was part of a surveillance society, the centralized database for UK National ID Cards.

If you enjoy watching hard drives packed with personal data being destroyed, then you might be amused by Britain’s mass destruction of drives which made up a centralized database. There were about 500 hard drives and 100 backup tapes with personal details and fingerprints for 15,000 people that were publicly destroyed.

Britain’s Home Office said the drives were “magnetically wiped and shredded. They will soon be incinerated in an environmentally friendly waste-for-energy process. This signals an end to the National Identity Register which was built to hold the details of people who applied for an ID card.”

In the video below, British Immigration Minister Damian Green crushes the drives. According to the Home Office, Green said, “Laying ID cards to rest demonstrates the government’s commitment to scale back the power of the state and restore civil liberties. This is about people having trust in the government to know when it is necessary and appropriate for the state to hold and use personal data, and it is about the government placing their trust in the common-sense and responsible attitude of people. This is just the first step in the process of restoring and maintaining our freedoms.”

Microsoft identity guru Kim Cameron has every right to say, “I told you so,” about the British ID Card scheme, but he was more polite when he posted “Broken Laws of Identity lead to system’s destruction.”

Cameron is Microsoft’s Chief Architect of Identity and author of The Laws of Identity [PDF]. He wrote:

the British scheme was exceptional in breaking so many of the Laws of Identity at once. It flaunted the first law – User control and Consent – since citizen participation was mandatory. It broke the second – Minimal Disclosure for a Constrained Use – since it followed the premise that as much information as possible should be assembled in a central location for whatever uses might arise… The third law of Justifiable Parties was not addressed given the centralized architecture of the system, in which all departments would have made queries and posted updates to the same database and access could have been extended at the flick of a wrist. And the fourth law of “Directed Identity” was a clear non-goal, since the whole idea was to use a single identifier to unify all possible information.

The UK Identity Cards Act was packed with “feature creep” which allowed “the potential scope of the scheme to be much greater than that usually publicized by the Government.” Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown was reported to have been “planning a massive expansion of the ID cards project that would widen surveillance of everyday life by allowing high-street businesses to share confidential information with police databases.” Brown had described how “police could be alerted as soon as a wanted person used a biometric-enabled cash card or even entered a building via an iris-scan door.”

Hey, USA, sound creepily familiar at all to Real ID: DHS National ID Nightmare that Won’t Die?

The UK had ignored technology and privacy experts in setting up its Identity Card Act, at least until the recent election where the people made it known that they wanted to end it. I wish the U.S. would take note of the disastrous UK ID scheme and pulverize the Real ID Act before it creates Total Information Awareness. But then there is the SAR database, so it’s unlikely we will see those hard drives destroyed for massive U.S. surveillance databases. Yet seeing Britain destroy those drives and the plan for the ID cards at least gives me hope that perhaps the same could happen in the USA some future day.

Like this? Check out these other posts:

  • All of today’s Microsoft news and blogs
  • Is Skype a security risk that endangers your privacy?
  • TSA Surveillance: Peep Show, Police State, Privacy Invasion or All Three?
  • 4Chan Founder Moot: ‘Anonymity is authenticity,’ Zuckerberg ‘wrong’
  • Real ID: DHS National ID Nightmare that Won’t Die?
  • The Devil Is In The Details: DHS Monitoring Keywords & Social Media
  • No Conspiracy Theory Needed: Tor Created for U.S. Gov’t Spying
  • Watchdog Group questions Google’s relationship with NSA
  • Former FBI Agent Turned ACLU Attorney: Feds Routinely Spy on Citizens
  • Watchdog to Obama: Schmidt policing online privacy is like Madoff heading SEC

Follow me on Twitter @PrivacyFanatic

ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.