back to article UK.gov's long-awaited, lightweight biometrics strategy fails to impress

The UK government's lightweight biometrics strategy has failed to make any serious policy recommendations – and instead reiterated a series of already announced promises and promising further consultation on governance. The long-awaited strategy – first promised in 2012 – landed at 4pm on Thursday with a rather light thud, …

  1. Neoc

    <quote>

    For instance, on the continued retention of photos of people held in police custody who haven’t been convicted, despite this practice being ruled unlawful, the government simply reiterated the fact its computers systems do not support the automatic removal of images, and new systems should help.

    “When the Law Enforcement Data Service, which will replace the Police National Computer (PNC) and the PND, is in place it will enable more efficient review and where appropriate, automatic deletion of custody images by linking them to conviction status, more closely replicating the system for DNA and fingerprints,” it said

    </unquote>

    How about coming over to the Antipodeans, where we've been removing Biometrics from our IT systems for almost 20 years. No, it doesn't happen automatically and yet this is not deemed to be a burden to the Police force.

    For the record, the system generates paperwork which requires departments to destroy their evidence (i.e. photographs, fingerprints, DNA samples, etc...) - note that it first checks to see if the person in question has ever been found guilty of an indictable offence; if so, bad luck buddy. These forms are barcoded for ease of reference and the people in each biometric department can simply scan the barcode to find out the individual records which need to be physically destroyed, because OF COURSE we uniquely identify each piece of evidence (duh). When the evidence is destroyed, the relevant officer signs the form and returns it to central processing.

    This is all possible because the system is also the one which generates and prints the paperwork for when photographs, fingerprints or DNA are taken - and thus knows what biometrics are held against which person. So when the person is released a button is pressed, the legal status of the subject is checked, and the relevant destruction paperwork is generated (or not).

    So unless the UK plods manning (peopling?) each biometric department have to handle a sh*tload more offenders than we do down here, there should be no reason the damn things can't be destroyed manually and the whole "oh, we can't do it unless it's automated" sounds like a load a manure to me.

    1. agatum

      the government simply reiterated the fact its computers systems do not support the automatic removal of images

      Your systems do not support crontabbed rm -rf or slurp equivalent of that? Fuck you.

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    government Bimetircs Strategy. TL:DR

    We are the Home Office (actually we are small cabal of people within the HO and other govt departments)

    We are collecting as much of your biometric data as possible.

    We will keep it as long as we can (permanently if possible)

    We will use it in any way we can think of. We'll try to not let it get stolen, but we're not bothered if it is.

    Data fetishism.

    It's not a sane policy. It's a personality disorder

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who needs ID cards when you have bio-metrics?

    Kids these days have to use fingerprint to access the school canteen and aren't allowed out at lunch anymore. How long before access to government services (NHS/Benefits etc...) requires some form of bio-metric? How long before CCTV in hospitals and elsewhere is hooked up to the cloud and monitored in real time? Enemy of the state was a fictional film but as they say we have the technology.

    The thing that concerns me most is the intentional avoidance of regulation by the government as shown in this so called "strategy", clearly there is a plan for all this however nobody is owning up to what it actually is and the general public don't care.

  4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Sigh

    I am going to repeat it again and again.

    Copy the lonely Russian boy Without Friends sitting in the corner of the classroom's homework.

    Their biometric identification bill which is actually properly written and literate from a technical perspective comes into power in ... let me see the calendar ... 4 days time. 2nd of July

    Just plagiarize it (same as we have plagiarized other stuff in the past) and cut the "biometric strategy" nonsense.

  5. Dave 15 Silver badge

    It only needs 1 sentance

    Dont do it, it isnt needed, if the cops want to catch a criminal they can do it the old fashioned way that worked for years, catch them in the act, chase them down, cuff them

  6. Tromos

    Maintaining public trust

    Need to get it in the first place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maintaining public trust

      No need to get public trust, the general public don't care.

      We live in the age of unlightenment where schools don't teach children critical or lateral thinking because they don't want them thinking and questioning things, it's why they keep changing the education standards. Then there is the church of the celebrity and the self where people watch television just so they have something to talk about in their mundane rubbish pay job that they then use the wage to buy crap they don't need to satisfy something they feel is missing in their life, Most of this has been imported from America by way of the crap tv they peddle to their own kids. There are exceptions to the rule and there are people that eventually grow up and see the world for what it is but by then it's too late to make a difference.

  7. Rich 11 Silver badge

    What a surprise

    It's the lack of strategy in the strategy document which tells us what their strategy really is.

  8. Wolfclaw Silver badge
    FAIL

    So in other words, another piece of fudged, useless documentation and broken promises from the govenment and the overpaid, braindead mandarins in the civil service who probably wrote this piece of crap !

  9. Graham Cobb

    I despair

    Why aren't there riots over this? Why aren't there resistance cells being created, with freedom fighters destroying surveillance cameras?

    My parents fought in WW2, and I lived through the threat of nuclear annihilation in the Cold War, to protect us against police states, where the authorities tried to monitor what everyone was doing. Out of that we maintained Britain as a free society, with (now) the lowest crime rates ever and even terrorism is not a serious threat (reduced to running people over with vehicles).

    Why on earth are people willing to just give up all liberty and put an electronic tail on every man, woman and child at all times? The police have a tough job, and that is deliberate! If the police are too effective, if their job is too easy or cheap, they become a tool for the government to suppress free thought, protest, whistleblowers, activists, trades unionists and, eventually, even political disagreement. Policing needs to be hard and expensive so they are forced to focus on important crime.

    Whatever your political interests, whether you are a right-wing abortion protester or a left-wing animal rights activist, you have to be really concerned about tracking and surveillance. How have we got to this state?

    1. GnuTzu Bronze badge

      Re: I despair -- Queue Zappa

      You will obey me while I lead you

      And eat the garbage that I feed you

      Until the day that we don't need you

      Don't got for help...no one will heed you

      Your mind is totally controlled

      It has been stuffed into my mold

      And you will do as you are told

      Until the rights to you are sold

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Policing needs to be hard and expensive so they are forced to focus on important crime.

      As Joseph Wambaugh (who was a former beat cop) put it "Police work is only easy in a police state."

      IOW in a free society police work should never be "easy."

  10. davenewman

    Add all the home office civil servants to the biometric database

    And let them personally experience the problems of having your face in big database.

    I bet then they will find a way to remove them.

  11. adnim Silver badge

    "... fails to impress"

    Add it to the list.

    Wait for proven technology before giving contracts to your buddies, sycophants and contributors to the party's kitty.

    Apparently, Angry of Tunbridge Wells once wrote somewhere, it could have been across the pages of Public Eye, the span of a motorway bridge or perhaps some cards were simply left in a telephone box.

    Whatever the case, he wrote... "FFS... Ya should be working for us not yourselves. We pay your wages you contriving, conniving shits". Citation needed.

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