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The Glass Box for Thursday

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Peter Rippon | 18:13 UK time, Thursday, 22 November 2007

Sorry this is late. We thought the blog wasn't working. It turns out it is. Or might be.

Please comment on the programme here.

I am the PM editor and don't you forget it.

Comments

  1. At 06:34 PM on 22 Nov 2007, Molly wrote:

    I've been meaning to ask for ages- why do ex-presenters like Charlie Lee Potter, Val Singleton etc pop up on trailors during PM?

    It must be a bit sad for them seeing 'another'
    in their seat, as it were......

    Mollyxx


  2. At 07:04 PM on 22 Nov 2007, steven dryden wrote:

    About the Missing Disks.

    There is something not quite right about the explanations being given with regard to the missing data disks.

    It should not be possible for an office junior to have access to a CD writer.

    I was a network administrator for a large college.
    Network administrators run the networks in any large organisation.
    Users are made members of user groups, user groups have certain priviliges and permissions depending on the work they do. No one except the administrators have access to all areas. (even dept heads)

    Computers used in offices do not have CD writers in them, nor do they have floppy disk drives or USB ports. This stops users from introducing data from unapproved sources. This also stops users from taking data without authorisation. This is security at it's most basic level.

    Anyone that requires massed amounts of data or any data at all, have to request it from the network administrators. This follows strict procedures, requests are double checked to ensure that they are not erroneous and are legitimate.

    All the data in these large organisations is held on the servers, users desktop pcs log onto the servers. No data is ever stored locally on users desktop pcs. When a user logs onto their pc, a user profile is loaded from the servers that contains their permissions and desktop settings.

    Network administrators always take a lock down approach. ie. any new user who has been made a member of a user group, does not get any access whatsoever to start off with.
    The network administrators will wait until the user tries to do their work and cannot, because, they cannot access anything. The network admins then contact the users department head and check what the access level should be for a particular user.
    The network administrators then only open up one area at a time to the users. This ensures that users never have access to areas that they should not have.
    Again the administrators will wait until users complain that they cannot do their work and the administrators check again with their department heads and may open another area to the user. This continues one area at a time to ensure that users only ever get access to what is absolutely necessary to do their work. (even then I personally ignored every request until it had been made three times).

    It is simply impossible for an office staff member to compile and burn data to CD roms and that includes department heads.

    The only people who can do these tasks are :---"The Network Administrators".

    Anyone who works in a large - ish organisation will recognise this procedure, even if they did not realise that is how it is done.

    Nail them. The country is being run by fools, none of these people have got a clue.
    Unfortunately none of them are any good, ALL politicians are liars, thieves, cheats and conmen.
    No wonder I have not voted since I was 18, 25 years ago.
    Thank You.

  3. At 07:21 PM on 22 Nov 2007, nikki noodle wrote:

    Molly,

    May I simply say I wouldnt swap you for a million roubles?!!!

    Baron Nikoli Nikolievic

  4. At 07:21 PM on 22 Nov 2007, Charlie wrote:


    Good article on Pandemic Flu

    Although, given the latest events in "Blighty" I'm not entirely(?!) sure I trust HM Govt

    Well, it's possibly your life as well. Do you..?

    Instead, I rather prefer the "G Dubbya Bush's response last year to the possible "Bird Flu" threat

    At least "he's" got the technology...

    "The Americans were worried about Bird Flu.

    They’re no longer worried. Bush has told them he's going to bomb the Canaries..."

  5. At 07:31 PM on 22 Nov 2007, Piper wrote:

    Steven @ 02

    "The country is being run by fools..."

    Were that the case Steven, we'd be doing well. Very well!

    "Unfortunately none of them are any good, ALL politicians are liars, thieves, cheats and conmen"

    Why, I wonder, do you rate them that highly..?!

  6. At 07:39 PM on 22 Nov 2007, John Wilson wrote:

    Interesting coverage of the NAO emails. Nice to see how the civil service plays the "it ain't me guv" game. I notice that the released letters give the mobile number for the Assistant Auditor General - at least they treat their own private information with as much care as they do ours.

    The request for reducing the amount of information seems to have been made just to reduce the size of the dataset not out of any concerns for privacy. Even if they had removed the specified data there was still substantial amounts of personal data (like the names and ages of the children).

    I look forward to developments.

    Well done so far Eddie

  7. At 07:40 PM on 22 Nov 2007, Gillian wrote:

    A great programme tonight - a classic mix of pith and piffle.

  8. At 08:44 PM on 22 Nov 2007, bank manager wrote:

    just read that Sequin is leaving "Today" to follow other projects - are we losing her too?

  9. At 09:46 PM on 22 Nov 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Well explained Steven. I too wonder why you rate Our Great Leaders so highly.

    Salaam/Shalom/Shanthi/Dorood/Peace
    Namaste -ed

    Topologists are just plane folks.
    Pilots are just plane folks.
    Carpenters are just plane folks.
    Midwest farmers are just plain folks.
    Musicians are just playin' folks.
    Whodunit readers are just Spillane folks.
    Some Londoners are just P. Lane folks.

  10. At 10:56 PM on 22 Nov 2007, Rene Rust wrote:

    Missing discs and identity fraud...

    Can anyone tell me a rational reason for not introducing identity cards in the UK? ID cards have worked and still work in many other countries for decades. With ID cards problems with identity fraud and illegal immigration in the Uk would be - if not solved - at least drastically reduced over night. Where is that irrational fear of ID cards coming from? Make carrying an ID card mandatory and a prerequisite for opening bank accounts, etc. and - viola - problem sorted. No ID cards? How pathetic to ask for utility bills when opening a bank account as if it was a huge challenge to fake those...but hey, whilst the modern days bring innovation in giant leaps also for fraudsters, you proud Britannia, remain with a silent smile of comfort in the middle ages.

  11. At 11:07 PM on 22 Nov 2007, Deepthought wrote:

    Steven (2)

    I almost agree with you about computers in offices.

    However, I legitimately came to have an old computer from a well known former government department. Apart from a floppy disc (regarding your comments), it was such a basic machine. Made to a price, for sure, but I'm sure was charged for at a cost a significant multiple of what it cost to make. Absolutely no scope for improving the hardware in any way - no second hard disc, no extra RAM - so that a change in operating system would probably require a new computer whose spec was just good enough to run it.

    I don't agree with your sunny optimism regarding our leaders.


    Bank Manager (9),

    I heard the radio announcement on 19:00 Tuesday I think, Sequin is continuing on her Westminster Hour/stand in for Eddie &c, seemingly just giving up getting up at ungodly hours for Today.

  12. At 11:45 PM on 22 Nov 2007, Deepthought wrote:

    Rene Rust (10),

    It's not the ID cards per se, it's the huge database behind it that everyone objects to.

    During WW2, everyone carried a card identity card. It was not liked, it did it's job, but there was not much scope for an NAO/HMRC leak of information of personal details.

    The ID cards being proposed now have vast amounts of personal data, far more than you've ever given the government before, stored in a government database to authenticate the data on the card. Moreover, each time the card is used, the transaction can be/probably/(I'm not an IT expert but to be valid must be) recorded.

    This is well beyond everyone having a passport and showing it on every transaction - there will be a recordable transaction, that a government computer will have a record of. Indeed, the recording of the data must be recorded else there is no point in the complexity of the system in the first place. After an enivatible leak of data, do you really want to have to explain your purchase at an Ann Summers shop that your wife did not receive the goods? Paid a builder in cash to avoid VAT? Had cosmetic surgury your wife does not know about? A youthful indescresion with the law? (A few random examples). You have absolutely nothing to hide?

    You think those examples extreme? Well, if ID cards are so good, why not use them to confirm your credit card purchase (just like the newly introduced in the UK but widely available for years before elsewhere PIN), since that would better against fraud. And that's where your spending gets recorded...

  13. At 12:13 AM on 23 Nov 2007, LadyPen wrote:

    Here is this evening's 'oddly enough' story . . .

    I have received during the past week or so a series of calls on my landline phone, purporting to be from my bank/building society. Each announces itself as an automated call, slots my name (badly mispronounced) into appropriate spaces, tells me this is very important and exhorts me not to hang up. It then asks me to key in my date of birth so that it can be sure of my identity before proceeding further.

    On the grounds that it hasn't yet given me sufficient proof of its own identity, I hang up at this point.

    The day the 'missing 25 million sets of data' story broke, I emailed my bank/building society to tell it that I'd been receiving these calls, that I was very concerned because it had sworn it'd never ask for any personal details over the phone or by email and - if the calls really were from them - why were they asking for information they'd said they'd never ask for?

    And if the calls weren't from them, how had someone managed to make a connection between my name, my phone number (which is ex-directory) and the fact that I had an account with them?

    I'm not one for conspiracy theories as a rule, but am aware that my bank/building society (that begins with Na and ends with ide) had a bit of a security scare a while ago, and that I am in receipt of Child Benefit.

    And - here's the 'oddly enough' bit - since I sent that email I haven't had any more of these calls.

    If I've missed out on my chance to win £657,098,000 on some foreign lottery I shall be deeply sorry. Obviously.

    If my bank was trying to tell me something I might realistically have wanted to know, why were they doing it along lines they said they wouldn't?

    And if it was somebody weird, scary and possibly criminal, how on earth did they know who and where i am and who I am banking/building societying with?

    All these questions are rhetorical of course. But a bit worrying.

    xx
    LadyP

  14. At 10:42 AM on 23 Nov 2007, Dave wrote:

    English Football – the problems

    Too much money
    Too much molly coddling
    Too much belief that we are still a world power
    Too much belief that our players are world class
    Too much taking the fans for granted
    Too much politics within the FA

    Not enough work ethic
    Not enough fighting spirit
    Not enough acceptance that other teams are equally as good or better than us
    Not enough tactical acumen within the coaching staff

  15. At 12:24 PM on 23 Nov 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    I've tried several times to post this and failed, so as seems to have become normal for this blog I shall go on trying until it appears. Sorry if that means it gets put up more than once in the end.

    Rene Rust @ 10:
    ID cards might be fine, and they work in other countries (except when they don't, as in Madrid). The sort being proposed here, not so fine.

    A rational reason for being opposed to compulsory *biometric* ID cards, with all the details being kept in a large database organised in accordance with government practice? two, related to each other.

    The tech is not yet good enough for the cards to work as advertised, and they are going to cost several billion pounds to set up in order to prove that the tech doesn't work. That's on the estimate at the moment; this being a government IT project, that estimate rises if one blinks and looks back, so make that tens of billions. High tens of billions. Oh, what's a couple of hundred billions between friends?

    There is also the little detail about the mess this government's chosen subordinates and providers make of IT projects as a whole, and the way we kinda reckon their track-record isn't good enough for us to want them to be in charge of this project, which after all will give rather a lot of power to anyone able to access the database (like, any half-way competent ten-year-old with a laptop, or postman with a grudge...)

    steven dryden @ 2 (and John Wilson @ 6), the problem over and above the tech being inadequate as yet and the cost being astronomical is that this isn't the only clear and simple lie we are being told. Steven is making it obvious with what he recounts that this is not a single failure by a maverick individual, as the government want to make us believe. It is, most precisely, the thing they say that it is not, a systemic failure.

    deepthought @ 11, I hope you checked that second-hand computer for sensitive data. Surprisingly large amounts of stuff stay on computers when they are sold, and you might have been able to use it wisely.... (evil grin)

  16. At 12:36 PM on 23 Nov 2007, Charlie wrote:


    LadyP @ 13

    It's entirely possible the Police would have an interest in the calls you describe

  17. At 12:41 PM on 23 Nov 2007, Blue Peter Staff wrote:


    "I am the PM editor and don't you forget it"

    It's not so much us not forgetting it Mr Rippon, it's the fact we're (blog-wise) unable to comment on it

    Nicely done Peter

    One day, you must tell us how...

  18. At 12:46 PM on 23 Nov 2007, Annasee wrote:

    Lady P - I too had a call very similar to yours, with my name, the name of one of my banks, & asking for my date of birth "just to confirm we are talking to the right person". I couldn't think of a valid reason why they should be calling me, & didn't want to be engaged in a marketing call, so told them to get lost (politely, of course). This was after 8 at night. On thinking it over later, I decided, like you, this was probably a fraudulent call.

  19. At 12:54 PM on 23 Nov 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Rene Rust (10): Deepthought has covered one part of the concerns regarding ID cards. I would like to suggest some more, and ask some questions for any supporter of ID cards to try and answer:

    Let's assume that you are going to use an ID card to prove your identity in, say, a Post Office. That means the post office will need to be linked into the system accessing the governmental databases. After all, it is only by checking that the data on the card matches that on a central register that a proof of ID is made. Simply checking that the data on the card matches you would not be enough, as a fake card couild do the same. So, any scenario you think of that an ID card is supposed to be used will involve linking that location/person/organisation to the governmental databases in some form. That means we must trust that an unscrupulous person in an organisation cannot use this access to their own advantage. It may be difficult, but I am sure that someone with good technical skills could manage it. Also, it means that our telecomms system will have to be a lot more secure, if all this data is going to flow back and forth over it. So far, none of this has been mentioned by ministers or supporters of ID cards. Who is going to pay for THAT part of the system. So far, all the figures that have been mentioned are for the setting up of the governmental system only (offices, technology, etc) not the "outside world" part of it. This means a lot of expense for something that has little proveable benefit to the country...

    Now for the questions:
    1. Please explain HOW an ID card system can aid in the prevention of terrorism. So far the large terrorism attacks of the last 7 years have all been carried out by people travelling/living legally under their rightful name.
    2. The government has acknowledged that up to 1 in 10 records on the database(s) could have more than one error in them. If the record disagrees with the facts, how can an individual prove that it's the database at fault? Who will pay for the correction?
    3. The proposed legislation has left open the idea of allowing access to the databases by private organisations and even foreign governments. How can they guarantee that individuals overseas are not mis-using the data?


    So far all the evidence that I have seen/heard has led me to the view that a proposed National ID card scheme is an expensive system that cannot do what is promised, and is nowhere near secure enough. I think it's time to step up pressure for this white elephant of a scheme to be scrapped, before more money is wasted on it. I don't often say this, but the Tories are right...

    I've been 502'd a few tomes now, but I'm going to keep trying, as this is an important subject...

  20. At 12:55 PM on 23 Nov 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    From my inbox:


    Expose the Farce
    President Bush is organizing a "peace meeting" at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland next week. Although he made sure members of the Israeli apartheid regime would be part of this meeting it fits the purpose of this gathering that absent will be some important Palestinian leaders and Palestinian elected officials and any other Palestinians opposed to the U.S.-Israeli occupation of Palestine.

    This is a gathering to promote war against Iran and divide the pro-Palestinian movement in the Middle East to justify the continued occupation of Afghanistan while supporting the latest Israeli genocide against Palestinian people in Gaza while the building of Israeli settlements, walls and checkpoints in the West Bank continue daily.

    Now is the time for all progressive people to renew their commitment to justice in the Middle East.
    http://www.troopsoutnow.org/nov27.html


    Salaam/Shalom/Shanthi/Dorood/Peace
    Namaste -ed

    (1) Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood.
    (2) If your stomach antagonizes you, pacify it with cool thoughts.
    (3) Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.
    (4) Go very lightly on the vices, such as carrying on in society, as the social ramble ain't restful.
    (5) Avoid running at all times.
    (6) Don't look back, something might be gaining on you.
    -- S. Paige, c. 1951

    502 once, Fri Nov 23 11:24:01 GMT 2007
    and a third Fri Nov 23 11:54:42 GMT 2007

  21. At 01:37 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Rene Rust (10): Deepthought has covered one part of the concerns regarding ID cards. I would like to suggest some more, and ask some questions for any supporter of ID cards to try and answer:

    Let's assume that you are going to use an ID card to prove your identity in, say, a Post Office. That means the post office will need to be linked into the system accessing the governmental databases. After all, it is only by checking that the data on the card matches that on a central register that a proof of ID is made. Simply checking that the data on the card matches you would not be enough, as a fake card couild do the same. So, any scenario you think of that an ID card is supposed to be used will involve linking that location/person/organisation to the governmental databases in some form. That means we must trust that an unscrupulous person in an organisation cannot use this access to their own advantage. It may be difficult, but I am sure that someone with good technical skills could manage it. Also, it means that our telecomms system will have to be a lot more secure, if all this data is going to flow back and forth over it. So far, none of this has been mentioned by ministers or supporters of ID cards. Who is going to pay for THAT part of the system. So far, all the figures that have been mentioned are for the setting up of the governmental system only (offices, technology, etc) not the "outside world" part of it. This means a lot of expense for something that has little proveable benefit to the country...

    Now for the questions:
    1. Please explain HOW an ID card system can aid in the prevention of terrorism. So far the large terrorism attacks of the last 7 years have all been carried out by people travelling/living legally under their rightful name.
    2. The government has acknowledged that up to 1 in 10 records on the database(s) could have more than one error in them. If the record disagrees with the facts, how can an individual prove that it's the database at fault? Who will pay for the correction?
    3. The proposed legislation has left open the idea of allowing access to the databases by private organisations and even foreign governments. How can they guarantee that individuals overseas are not mis-using the data?


    So far all the evidence that I have seen/heard has led me to the view that a proposed National ID card scheme is an expensive system that cannot do what is promised, and is nowhere near secure enough. I think it's time to step up pressure for this white elephant of a scheme to be scrapped, before more money is wasted on it. I don't often say this, but the Tories are right...

  22. At 02:19 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    FF (21)

    And they are going out to tender for Phase I of the ID Card scheme in May 2008, if I remember rightly.

  23. At 05:06 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    One other small matter about ID cards and identity theft.

    The majority of identity theft specifically doesn't happen with an individual (who might be identified from CCTV, apart from anything else) showing a false card in person; it is done over the internet or telephone, and the actual, physical ID of any kind is not shown at any point.

    So how exactly is having or not having an ID card, however accurate, going to make a ha'porth of difference? All it will do is make the theft easier, if any details from the card are accessible to whoever has it -- which they have to be if the cards are to be of any use to the retailer. Are they *really* proposing to make all reatil employees too honest to steal details off a card? If so, how, and why aren't they being used already to prevent fraud?

  24. At 09:40 PM on 29 Nov 2007, E Smith (10) wrote:

    I have a new slogan for Scotland:


    Scotland may look picturesque but there's more to it than that ....

    Elizabeth Smith (10)

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