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Some UK Councils Barred From Using Gov't Vehicle Database 84

Posted by timothy
from the and-for-just-a-few-pounds-more dept.
Bruce66423 writes "A number of British councils are being banned from accessing the national Vehicle Database system. While sometimes this appears to be due to technical infractions, the banning of some 'permanently' seems to be as a result of more serious misdemeanours. Trust the government? Not a good idea..."
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Some UK Councils Barred From Using Gov't Vehicle Database

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  • Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FaxeTheCat (1394763) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:23AM (#42223975)

    Trust the government? Not a good idea..."

    Why not? The government taking action where they find indications of abuse. Surely that cannot be a problem?

    The fact that there are users and user organizations making improper use of the data is how the world works. That is why "the government" check and ban those who abuse the data.

    • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:32AM (#42223993)
      councils are local government - national government is banning local government from accessing the vehicle database. Not sure why any local government should have access to the vehicle database anyway. All taxation, etc, is done by national government.

      The data keeps getting sold to debt collectors, which may have something to do with it.

      • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Vulch (221502) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:00AM (#42224063)

        Parking enforcement is dealt with at local level which is wh they have access in the first place.

      • by YuppieScum (1096)

        Local government has control over local on-street parking management, so access to DVLA is not unreasonable in the first instance...

        On the other hand, as I live in Brighton and the local Green council have fucked the parking costs, I'm delighted that B&H have been blocked...

        • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by FireFury03 (653718) <`slashdot' `at' `nexusuk.org'> on Saturday December 08, 2012 @06:23AM (#42224269) Homepage

          On the other hand, as I live in Brighton and the local Green council have fucked the parking costs, I'm delighted that B&H have been blocked...

          Parking prices across the whole of the UK seem to have gone nuts over the past few years as councils have found it an easy way to make money. The council is there to provide services to residents, so IMHO shouldn't be in the business of profiting from them - charge the running costs of the carpark and nothing more please.

          • by nojayuk (567177)

            The local councils don't "profit" from parking charges, the money from charges and permits goes into the funding pool to help pay for everything the council does like street sweeping etc. If councils reduced the parking charges or zeroed them out they'd have to raise rates and other fees to cover the shortfall.

            Pictures of my city, Edinburgh from the 1960s show a few cars parked in busy city centre streets with no traffic meters or wardens because back then not many people had cars so there was no problem

            • by Carewolf (581105)

              The local councils don't "profit" from parking charges, the money from charges and permits goes into the funding pool to help pay for everything the council does like street sweeping etc.

              The problem in many places or at least Copenhagen were I used to live, is that the city will reduce the number of legal parking places, and increase parking costs and tickets, so instead of using the money to expand the service for those they tax, they use the money to destroy the service for those they taxed, for the purpo

              • The problem in many places or at least Copenhagen were I used to live, is that the city will reduce the number of legal parking places, and increase parking costs and tickets, so instead of using the money to expand the service for those they tax, they use the money to destroy the service for those they taxed, for the purpose of "earning" more tax.

                Also, I know a number of development projects in my area received EU funding on the basis of being "public transport friendly". This sounds good on the surface until you realise that "public transport friendly" actually just means "not enough parking spaces" rather than any kind of sensible tie-in with public transport.

            • by mrbester (200927)

              B&H council did profit and quite nicely thanks to a massive reduction in free spaces along with exorbitant price hikes on existing ones. You now have about a 15 min walk from a free space (and that's in a residential area so you risk pissing off people who can't park outside their own house anymore) or a £2 one way bus fare to get near to the city centre.

              In any case street sweeping and other local services are paid for by the Council Tax.

              It's probably different in Scotland though...

            • The local councils don't "profit" from parking charges, the money from charges and permits goes into the funding pool to help pay for everything the council does like street sweeping etc. If councils reduced the parking charges or zeroed them out they'd have to raise rates and other fees to cover the shortfall.

              Why should the councils be overcharging for one service in order to subsidise another? What's next, charging everyone with kids over the cost of providing schools in order to also fund the police?

              Pictures of my city, Edinburgh from the 1960s show a few cars parked in busy city centre streets with no traffic meters or wardens because back then not many people had cars so there was no problem finding space to park them. Today is a different matter with more people around and a higher percentage of them ownin

          • by Bert64 (520050)

            To be fair, Hillingdon council seem to be fairly reasonable... You get 30 minutes free in all the council operated car parks, and local residents (ie those who are paying their council tax to this council) get fairly significant discounts.

            Council parking enforcement in general however, is one of the biggest factors killing high streets... If parking within range of the high street shops is expensive or difficult, then people will happily drive to the out of town shopping centres who provide large free car p

            • Council parking enforcement in general however, is one of the biggest factors killing high streets... If parking within range of the high street shops is expensive or difficult, then people will happily drive to the out of town shopping centres who provide large free car parks.

              This is a primary motivation in me rarely going into the city centre (the other motivation being that generally I want to do my shopping on a weekday evening - I, like most people, work during the day on week days, and would prefer to spend my weekend doing something *fun* rather than shopping. I'd love to buy my groceries at the local market, and since they have generally sold out of produce and closed by the afternoon the only chance I'd get is saturday morning and as you can imagine I have better things

      • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Mendy (468439) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:21AM (#42224115)

        Not sure why any local government should have access to the vehicle database anyway. All taxation, etc, is done by national government.

        The council I used to work for had access to identify the owners of abandoned cars. We didn't have access to identify fly-tippers or people who might be disposing of trade waste at household sites which I understood would have made that job easier or indeed possible so some of the violations could have been through this kind of temptation or ignorance about the limitations.

        Technically it was quite a secure system - access was done from a private, locked room via a dedicated ISDN line whose number was registered with them and then several levels of authentication by users who had had to sign an agreement. They were very strict about the paperwork being up to date so I can believe the comments in the article about some having lost their access temporarily due to not getting the renewal forms back in time.

      • by beelsebob (529313)

        Not sure why the local government shouldn't have access... Do you have a reason?

    • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xest (935314) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:37AM (#42224005)

      It's not really suprising either, having worked in local government it's about the most unaccountable workplace you could imagine so to hear employees are abusing systems is not a suprise.

      If you have a problem with a council you can refer it to the ombudsman, but guess whose in charge there? An ex council chief.

      Nice to see the DVLA taking unilateral action on this, as there would be no hope of the councils sorting it out unless there was some kind of root and branch change in the way councils are run and managed to make them accountable organisations.

    • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Gordonjcp (186804) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @06:02AM (#42224213) Homepage

      Why not? Because it wouldn't allow timothy to post another anti-British story.

      • I don't see how this is anti-British in any way? (And I'm a Brit). Local government have been using their access improperly, so national level government have done the right thing and withdrawn their access. If it's anti-anything it's anti-local-government-being-muppets.
        • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Gordonjcp (186804) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @06:35AM (#42224293) Homepage

          Well, that's just it - it *isn't*, it's an example of government working well. "Oh sorry, you dicked about and broke the rules, now you don't get to use the DVLA data". Simple.

          What I'm getting at is that every story timothy posts about the UK has his unique brand of editorialising on it, trying to paint this country as some sort of Orwellian hell-hole. It makes me wonder what horrors he's trying to distract his followers from in the US.

    • This is entirely about the national govt being undercut on price by the local authorities on handing out access to this database to every tom dick and harry that wants a plate run.

  • by detain (687995) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:33AM (#42223997) Homepage
    Government is itself good but the people in it are not always worth our trust. Whats important here is that people in greater power are doing something that seems to be in the best interest of citizens and regardless if some people were abusing the system or not steps are being taken to resolve that.
    • FTA

      Mr Pickles said: "Concerns about the DVLA database have been voiced for several years, but it is remarkable that in just three years nearly half the country's councils have been suspended from looking at motorists' information.

      "One key issue that still has not been resolved is whether someone could be sent to prison for deliberately abusing the databases they have access to and that deterrent is badly needed."

      Not inspiring any confidence from me. The article also suggests that councils are using information on the DVLA data in some cases to save money in comparison with accessing the same information from the correct/appropriate sources, and in the worst cases may be selling data to journalists. This makes me trust them less.

      • by Cederic (9623)

        Eric Pickles is the type of ignorant fuck that should be banned from politics.

        Hey, Eric. Read the Computer Misuse Act. You can indeed prosecute people for abusing the databases to which they have access.

        So don't go creating yet another badly written law to try and create a deterrent to something that's already illegal.

        Fucking politicians.

        • by jo_ham (604554)

          Eric Pickles is the type of ignorant fuck that should be banned from politics.

          Hey, Eric. Read the Computer Misuse Act. You can indeed prosecute people for abusing the databases to which they have access.

          So don't go creating yet another badly written law to try and create a deterrent to something that's already illegal.

          Fucking politicians.

          Hey Cederic, Read the fucking article.

          Then you might realise that the "Mr Pickles" mentioned here is not Eric Pickles, but Nick Pickles, from a privacy-focussed watch group.

          Fucking slashdot "readers".

          • by Cederic (9623)

            Aww, come on. Don't let the facts get into the way of a good rant.

            Anyway, Nick Pickles: Go read the fucking Computer Misuse Act.

    • by demonlapin (527802) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:09AM (#42224083) Homepage Journal

      Government is itself good but the people in it are not always worth our trust.

      The second part of that statement is why so many of us want it limited - more powerful government attracts nastier people, because you can use it to do nastier things more often. Why do you think of the government as "good"? Necessary, perhaps, but it's like insurance - you need to have enough to protect yourself, but diminishing returns and exponential price increases set it really quickly if you try to turn that protection into a bulletproof cocoon.

      • by BlueStrat (756137)

        Government is itself good but the people in it are not always worth our trust.

        The second part of that statement is why so many of us want it limited - more powerful government attracts nastier people, because you can use it to do nastier things more often. Why do you think of the government as "good"? Necessary, perhaps, but it's like insurance - you need to have enough to protect yourself, but diminishing returns and exponential price increases set it really quickly if you try to turn that protection into a bulletproof cocoon.

        This is what so many people fail at connecting the dots on.

        It's in everyone's interests to limit the size, scope, and power of government. Look, whatever political party you belong to, at some point your guys are going to lose an election and your enemies are going to be the ones in charge.

        Every expansion in governments' size, scope, and power gives your opponents that power as well. Eventually, they'll have so much power that the

        • by tqk (413719)

          For most of humanity's 5,000 years of civilization, personal/individual freedom and liberty as we've known it for only roughly the past 200 years has not existed. ...
          Maybe it will take another few millennia of being serfs to remind them of what they valued so little and gave away so freely in exchange for TV soundbites, government programs, and party mottos, while greeting each loss of freedom, every encroachment of government authority & control, with thunderous applause.

          Even when it did exist, it's been flawed. Over two millenia ago:

          "... the Athenian statesman Themistocles used his political skills and influence to persuade the Athenian assembly to start the construction of 200 triremes ..."Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

          to successfully counter Xerxes. Soon after, some Athenians decided Themistocles had gotten too big for his britches, so pushed to get rid of him. At that time, Athenian democracy allowed for a vote to banish someone from the city, and the subsequent vote did exactly that; Themistocles was banished from Athens for ten years.

          It's recently been determined that that vote was rigged. Many of the potsherds used to cast the vote were written by th

      • by Johann Lau (1040920) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @07:07AM (#42224381) Homepage Journal

        I think of the government as theoretically, ideally "good" because it's a mutual social contract between all citizens. At least in theory government is simply people organizing themselves. If all people simply cooperated peacefully and honestly without coercion, then that decision of them would be what governs them and how they interact. You might as well ask what cooperation or self-restraint are useful for... isn't it obvious?

        While I agree that "our" (this is true in most industrialized countries I'd assume, I don't mean a specific country here) political system is kinda bonkers and not even *trying* to be that structured expression of self-governance and mutual responsibility -- but if people buy into the whole "us vs. the government" mentality they're kinda fucked. THESE PEOPLE are where governments derive their justification from in the first place. You cannot let someone take your mirror image away and talk with and about it like it's not you. That's fucking crazy. Just because it's widely accepted to be sane doesn't make it less crazy.

        In the sense of self-governance and mutual cooperation a "strong government" simply means a healthy society. Not that every single bit is regulated; ("the more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the state") but let's say if someone commits an utter atrocity, punishment (or even better, repair) will be sure and swift [tvrage.com]. Aha!

        The opposite of that would be... oh I dunno, societies split up in parties and groups who constantly bicker about who is utterly perfect, or who is to blame -- instead of simply agreeing we all are derps at heart, and seeing where we can go from there. Maybe it would even have lots and lots of mass media which constantly churn out trivial distractions or even fabricate blatant lies (by omission or otherwise). While a bunch of shark smile poopyheads use this disarray to stuff their jerkfaces full of delicious pie! Now that'd be a weak state of self-governance. Surely we must not let it come to th-- oh shit.

        Anyways, freedom isn't the complete absence of all restraints, that'd just be entropy and death. It's rather the quest for a set of rules (not final, but quested for... let's go all out and call them "living agreements", which are confirmed constantly and gladly by those who enjoy their fruits, how's that for something warm and fuzzy) that allows all humans to thrive and live in peace, while still being free to do their own unique things, insofar that is possible without restricting the others.

        But to just say "fuck it, everybody do what they consider best, without organizing that at all", that'd be naive at best. To moan and whine about government all day (I don't mean you, I mean the general hipness of it) without lifting a finger to improve it is actually playing into the hands of much more sinister forces who would love to shed all these pesky regulations. As pitiful as our laws and our political practice may be, they're better than the abyss below them.

        If the world was a village of 50 peeps, and the majority would allow 3 people to rule them who take food and work, and give lies and poison, while raping the women and beat the dudes -- and all of that works via words and obeying orders -- then they'd be just as, if not more guilty of what is going on than those 3 self-appointed, and tolerated, rulers. They're actually, literally, using our hands for it. The mind asplodes! /rant ^^

        • by khallow (566160)

          I think of the government as theoretically, ideally "good" because it's a mutual social contract between all citizens. At least in theory government is simply people organizing themselves. If all people simply cooperated peacefully and honestly without coercion, then that decision of them would be what governs them and how they interact. You might as well ask what cooperation or self-restraint are useful for... isn't it obvious?

          One could in theory think of government as a unicorn barter system or an unobtainium-formulated soap bubble manufacturer. When you don't have to consider reality, then theory can diverge a lot.

          But to just say "fuck it, everybody do what they consider best, without organizing that at all", that'd be naive at best. To moan and whine about government all day (I don't mean you, I mean the general hipness of it) without lifting a finger to improve it is actually playing into the hands of much more sinister forces who would love to shed all these pesky regulations. As pitiful as our laws and our political practice may be, they're better than the abyss below them.

          And who does that? A few anarchists at best.

          I consider government a necessary evil, not an ideal good (though perhaps in your theory, the two are equivalent), because government is a self-organizing phenomenon in the presence of a) greater advantage of cooperation, even forced cooperation (such as slavery) than ind

    • by tibit (1762298)

      I don't quite understand the outrage. In the U.S. at least, all run-ins with the law -- anything that involves the court, no matter what side of the case you're on, are a matter of public record. Anyone who ever got a ticket of any sort, or brought a court case, or was sued, can be looked up in public records. Same goes for professional licenses. So, the reality is that a lot of people are listed in publicly accessible, on-line records, and you can usually look them up from your browser. Say Pennsylvania [pacourts.us]. L

  • by jonwil (467024) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:01AM (#42224065)

    Don't allow councils to have access to the vehicle registration database in the first place.

    • Re:Better idea... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Spottywot (1910658) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:19AM (#42224105)

      Maybe, or maybe we hold our councillers a bit more accountable in general. Enforcing fines for fly tipping, littering, dog fouling and fly posting were all suggested as legitimate uses of the databases. Having lived in several council districts in the UK I can say that I've not seen much evidence that any of these things are enforced particularly well.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rogerborg (306625)

        The significant difference is that those are enforced at significant cost via the real criminal justice system, with that pesky presumption of innocence, the fines go into central government coffers, and prosecution costs are only haphazardly awarded.

        Parking and many moving violations go via the Kangaroo Kourts - PATAS and TPT - with a presumption of guilt. Most victims cave in and pay up early doors, and the money goes into the council's pocket, via their outsourced muggers.

        Parking is a racket, it has

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Don't allow councils to have access to the vehicle registration database in the first place.

      British councils get much of their income from exorbitant parking fees, so they want access to hunt down vehicles that don't pay.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @05:32AM (#42224123) Homepage

    The Data Protection Act only allows disclose for the purposes of "prevention and detection of crime". With parking enforcement now run as a cash cow, outsourced to Parking Pataweyo, and overseen by the Kangaroo Kourts, the DVLA shouldn't be handing out our personal information to any mugger with a lettehead who pays their access fee.

    The Information Commissioner needs to be sinking his teeth into this racket, hard.

    • That's not correct. The Data Protection Act allows disclosure, "on or by order of a court", for the purpose of "legal action", for "legal advice" or for "defence of any legally recognised right".

      So, for example, if I enter into a contract with another party, even if I refuse consent for my personal information to be handed to a 3rd party; if I fail to pay a contractual obligation, the other party to the contract can pass my details on to a debt collection agency, as they are defending the legal right to col

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Don't forget that DVLA have historically been rather lax in who they'll give information to. Many supermarkets and retail parks have their 2 hours free parking monitored by a private sector company. Many of these don't put an enforcement notice on your windscreen if you overstay, but use the DVLA database to send you the £75 fine by post. Some use ANPR cameras to 'clock' you entering and leaving, which removes the need for human enforcement officers, while some even go one step further and keep record

  • The Government is not at fault it is made up of people and the people are at fault. Government would probably be much better if we remembered that.

    • by tqk (413719)

      The Government is not at fault it is made up of people and the people are at fault.

      "The Government" is made up of policies and procedures, and rules and regulations. Those are implemented by people. If the former are wrong, no amount of effort or good will on the part of the latter is going to make any difference in the end.

      If something like this screws up in any way, management's to blame for allowing it to happen, or to let it continue to happen. Good management ensures mistakes can't be allowed to stand and are corrected when they do happen.

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