Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Announcements News Your Rights Online

Where is the British EFF? Just Around the Corner! 205

Drachan writes "A seminar at the UK's (BBC sponsored) technology conference 'Open Tech 2005' (organised by the fantastic 'Need To Know' (NTK) team as a follow on to last year's "Notcon 2004"event) posed the question 'Where is the British EFF?' The answer, as prompted by those attending the seminar was, of course 'Nowhere! so... uhh.. well... why don't We create it?' A PledgeBank page was set up within a few hours (available here) which states that the pledging person will donate £5 (GBP) per month to the support of a British EFF-style organisation provided that 1000 others also agree to do so. There is considerably more information at Danny O'Brien's Oblomovoka. Maybe this is a step in the right direction, after all the controversy over ID cards, the Anti-Terrorism Bill and general UK political disaster?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Where is the British EFF? Just Around the Corner!

Comments Filter:
  • by zenmojodaddy ( 754377 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:25AM (#13163348)
    Stability doesn't necessarily mean good government. It can also mean stagnation and convergence of the main political parties, so they only way you can tell a Conservative from a Liberal Democrat or Labour MP is the colour of their tie.

    Speaking as a UK citizen, the political setup is a rickety pile of hacked fixes, kneejerks, self-interest and outmoded traditions. The current government is incapable of coherent thought: on the one hand, giving the police more powers to deal with the growing binge-drinking culture, while also loosening licensing laws so pubs and bars can stay open all day. Not to mention the idiotic political correctness that sees Metropolitan Police officers take off their shoes before raiding a London mosque they have reason to suspect is harbouring criminals.

    Don't think this makes it okay for you to slag us off though. It's like family: it's okay for an insider to complain, but if someone from the outside criticises, the ranks close and you'll get your sorry arse bawled out... :)
  • by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:30AM (#13163363) Journal
    That's not the problem, the problem is that they want these cards to be mandatory to carry at all times and include fingerprint and possibly iris scans. They also want to make them exempt from the data protection act so that you won't even have the right to know what information they store. As if that's not enough they will also use RFID (and we will probably see that broken) and they want to charge each of us for the honour, an estimate of £100 to £300 each!
  • by thaig ( 415462 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:46AM (#13163404) Homepage
    Here's the view from an insider who wasn't always an insider: stability is good and something that one shouldn't knock without experiencing the alternatives.



  • Why not FFII? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:53AM (#13163420) Homepage Journal
    Why don't they just join forces with the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure []? That seems to me the closest European equivalent to the EFF. Even if the goals are not exactly the same, an organization at european level would have a stronger voice than an organization based in a single state, I should think.
  • by NigelJohnstone ( 242811 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:56AM (#13163428)
    It's a disaster because nobody wants to elect the Conservatives after the idiot John Major. So all the Conservatives do now is try to copy Labour but out-do them.

    Labour wants a million cameras watching everyone all the time, and Conservatives want, no, DEMAND, 2 million cameras. Labour wants detention without trial, Conservatives want execution without trial.
    (OK, so I'm exaggerating, but you get the idea).

    The voter has no choice, there is Labour and Labour-to-the-Max (Conservatives). All because Tony Blair is such a convincing orator that they don't want to disagree with him.

  • by torpor ( 458 ) <ibisum@gm a i l . com> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:53AM (#13163549) Homepage Journal
    To be honest, I don't see a *huge* problem with mandatory ID cards.

    You lose the card. You can't cash checks, withdraw money from your bank, shop at the grocery store, go out drinking with mates, buy plane tickets, get on a plane.

    The point is: it is a limit being put on the actions of society. When you need an ID card in order to buy milk, your life will revolve around whether or not you have that ID card on you, or not.

    It may seem strange to the modern citizen, but it is actually possible to live a safe, happy, comfortable life, without needing ID right now. If the ID act goes into place, and its mandatory: without that card, your life will be hell. Restricted. You will not be able to live 'within the so-called normal limits' of society.

    Think of it as a mandatory genetic modificiation which, if not performed, precludes you from certain society. Like circumcision.
  • by flajann ( 658201 ) <fred.mitchell@g m x .de> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:58AM (#13163563) Homepage Journal
    With the way the British gov has been acting lately, squashing privacy everywhere in that country, it is about bloody time they get into operation something akin to EFF.
  • by awol ( 98751 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:01AM (#13163570) Journal
    I think the poster's distinction between left and right with regard to the position on ID cards and things like CC TV monitoring is mistaken. The issue is big government vs little government and when taken in that context the Labour party is exactly the party that I would expect to push for ID cards and monitoring.

    The main issue for politics in the socialist democracies of Europe and the Commonwealth (Aus, NZ, Canada etc) is that there is an overriding push to the centre for economic policy since there is almost no way of "arguing" against the tenets of economic rationalism in the Global Economy. Interest rates, Budget deficit are more or less out of the control of the government (well whilst technically in control, to use fiscal policy unfettered has been shown to be ordinarily problematic). Which means the battle ground for politics has turned to how the government spends money (the extent and quality of the welfare state) and how they collect it (who pays what tax).

    Since there are so few actual issues, it is almost impossible for the parties to distinguish themselves. Most people attribute this to the fact that the parties are equally crap. The reality is, I think, much more benign. The function of government is so well established that it is only around the edges that can be tuned and the distinguishing features of the left and right are unable do do this "tuning" in such a way that they are different enough to justify someone changing their vote.

    Obviously, radical changes in structure are possible. In the UK the most recent was Thatcher's attack on the labour market to free up the structural rigidity that was stifling the economy. But there was the NHS before that and others before that. In Australia, the massive changes to industrial relations (the labout market) that are impending are the natural successor to the extensive deregulation that has already taken place. These radical changes in structure are usually the result of "great leaders" (I don't mean good I just mean influential) and it seems to me that these structural changes are the result of the left and right ideological differences. One would never find the labour party in any of these economies advocating the kind of industrial reform being contemplated in Australia and once the reform is complete the left may well regain power to add a little "sugar" to the recipe that the right has formulated. As a result the swinging between left and right in the Liberal Democracies is a very marginal thing in general since there are so few "fundamental" differences remaining to distingush them.

    This begs an obvious question in my view and that is; "Are there new 'big ticket' items that the left and right can use to distinguish themselves?".
    From my perspective it is less the left and the right that is the axis on which the new big issues are based and more liberal -> totalitarian and the answer is yes. The EFF acts in the space where I think many of these issues will be defined. So it is a very important organisation to add to the Corporatist landscape since it is the influence of these corporate groups (environmentalists, human rights campaigners, business groups, etc etc) that provide a second channel for the influence of political agenda within the democracies of which we speak.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:10AM (#13163588)
    Ignoring the issues of costs, effectiveness and infringements of civil liberties there are good, hacking reasons for not wanting ID cards.

    The government will no doubt spend millions developing encryption techniques on the cards. This will not be open to scrutiny and we, the UK public, will just have to trust the government that the cards are secure. Yet inevitably the cards will be hacked by some of the thousands of hackers on net who can makes tens of millions stealing and abusing people's ID. And because ID cards are meant to be the one safe reliable piece of ID, when your identity is stolen its like someone's got root on your server. They can do whatever they like.
  • by Shaper_pmp ( 825142 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:52AM (#13163704)
    Bonus points - the compromised ID will have biometric data on it.

    You can always change a password or PIN after you experience ID theft - ever tried to change your iris map or fingerprints?

    Connecting the ID card to biometric data was the single stupidest idea since... well, the ID card.
  • by TobascoKid ( 82629 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:54AM (#13163711) Homepage
    There is also no good arguements why the ID card is better than the photographic driver's license or passport.

    One thing I find interesting is that no one has mentioned that the excuse given in the early 90's as to why the UK didn't join the Schengen area (the part of the EU with no internal borders) was that we didn't have ID cards like the rest of Europe - so we needed the border controls because police couldn't go up to somebody and ask them for ID to prove that they should be here. But nobody on the pro ID card side has mentioned that one of the "benefits" of ID cards would be that there's no longer any need for border control with the rest of the EU.
  • by nairobiny ( 601844 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @07:35AM (#13163829) Homepage
    Connecting the ID card to biometric data was the single stupidest idea since... well, the ID card

    Actually, I see the biometric data as the sole purpose of the ID card. The Government, simply, wants a big database of our biometric data.

    In a properly designed database, the biometric data would not form part of the database itself. Rather it's a mechanism for validating whether your assertion that you're you is true. They've tied it to fingerprints and iris scans in order to snatch your biometric data and then use it for alternative purposes. I don't suppose the average Brit would be too happy with being considered a suspect in every crime where a fingerprint is left at the scene. But now, they will be. Probably every crime in Europe and the USA too, when we've consolidated our databases ("for national security measures", mind you). Before long, they'll take your DNA when you go to the doctor as well, so you can additionally be considered a potential rapist in every case.

    The potential for miscarriages of justice in such a sloppy regime are enormous, yet the ability of the individual to make good his/her record or correct errors would seem minimal. On top of which, we'll have sucked so many resources into staffing the scheme that we'll inevitably have to reduce our intelligence-gathering and community policing. Result? More incidents like 7/7 and 21/7 (but at least we'll know who the suicide bombers were after they've blown a carriageful of innocents to pieces).
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @01:07PM (#13166844)
    The biometrics don't work.

    They certainly don't work reliably enough, that's for sure.

    Lack of reliability is one of the big reasons behind the first objection I listed (not bringing the claimed benefits). This, combined with the ability to trawl the database for suspects any time any biometric information is found near a crime scene, is also a major cause of objection 4 (the NIR is subject to abuse).

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson