Posts Tagged ‘Surveillance Society’


Below is an extract from the Defy-ID ‘greasy palms’ list (available in full on www.defy-id.org.uk/greasypalms.htm), of companies either involved or actively seeking involvement in the UK identity scheme. This list is a work in progress and any information about companies, listed or not listed, will be gratefully received. Email: research@defy-id.org.uk

In late 2004, the Whitehall & Industry Group coordinated the recruitment of a ‘Head of Marketing’ for the UK National Identity Cards Scheme (see Corporate Watch August 24th 2004) through the Whitehall & Industry Group (WIG) website.[1] WIG is funded, by among others, Atos Origin, which has already supplied the Home Office with biometric technology for the ID card trials.

WIG also receives funding from Deloitte, Accenture, Capita, EDS, Fujitsu and Siemens. The team developing the scheme includes 39 civil servants, and 40 consultants from PA Consulting, the Government’s private sector ‘development partner’, and three on secondment from the Passport Service, the Metropolitan Police and a management consultant company.[2]

Around £9 million has been spent on the early stages of the project. The full ID scheme is expected to cost £5 billion or more to develop. PA Consulting Group was awarded a development contract said to be worth £10 million over 18 months in May 2004; this is the same company used by the Government in setting up the Criminal Records Bureau, whose chaotic beginnings led to serious criticism.

In 2004, there were two important corporate events for companies interested in the ID scheme. Many of the companies listed beow gave presentations at one of these conferences. The first event was ‘ID Cards: The Next Steps’, May 2004.[3] Organised by Intellect, the UK’s IT/electronics/telecoms trade body, sponsored by the Home Office, BT, EDS, Siemens Business Services and Sun Microsystems. The speakers at the conference included Raymond Wong from the Hong Kong immigration department and Brad Wing, Biometrics Coordinator, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The second event was ‘Digital Identity’, November 2004.[4] This was organised by IT firm Consult Hyperion, who brought together the public and private sectors to discuss ‘Moving Digital ID to Population Scale’. This conference was principally sponsored by military electronics contractor Thales and EDS.




Global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company; 9700 UK employees. Ian Watmore, Accenture’s former UK Managing Director, left May 2004 to become Cabinet Office Head of E-Government, with responsiblity for implementing the ID card scheme.


ARM develops processors and other components for biometric smart cards.

Astron Clinca

A Cambridge based company, established in 1998 to develop devices that imaged and analysed the skin using a technology called SIAscopy.

Atos Origin

An international IT services company. Atos Origin are one of the companies arguing that the government should introduce an ‘ID Card-lite’ and shift towards a full biometric card and detailed population database when the card is already in use.[5]

Axalto (formerly known as Schlumberger Smart Cards & Terminals)

A leading provider of smart cards and point-of-sale terminals for over 20 years.

British Telecom

BT may not bid for ID card contracts because of concern that its involvement would make it seem like a ‘Big Brother’ company in the eyes of the public. According to some media reports, BT has been talking to consultants and public bodies, including Liberty, in order to gauge how close involvement with the ID scheme would be perceived.[6] The area where BT’s skills would be likely to be most appropriate would be in providing the infrastructure that would be used in order to link the network of readers with the national identity register, and hence with multiple other government databases, which would put the company squarely at the Big Brother end of the deal.

Consult Hyperion

Independent IT management consultancy.


In April 2004, Detica commissioned MORI to conduct a survey into the British public’s attitude to the proposed ID card scheme.[7] Detica’s survey found ‘the British public gives a resounding ‘yes’ to the proposed ID card scheme — 80% of the adult population are in favour.’ Detica’s clients include HM Customs & Excise and the MoD plus major telecoms and defence companies such as Nortel and Lockheed Martin. Amongst other things, Detica develops systems for the ‘Lawful Intercept’ of data communications, — bugging to you or me.

Electronic Data Systems (EDS)

EDS is the largest issuer of smart cards in the US. In November 2004 EDS sponsored some research in the US which showed that in the US 69% of people ‘are open to the idea of using biometric identification methods’.[8] Paul Martin, Executive Director for EDS, said: ‘The findings reinforce our belief that, implemented correctly, ID cards actually enhance citizens’ privacy.”


An international credit reference agency.

ID Data

The UK’s leading independent ‘card and card solutions’ company, ID Data wants to be seriously considered as a supplier of choice for the UK’s National ID Card. Future talks are expected with the Home Office and their development partner, PA Consulting.


Provided the fingerprint capture and facial matching technology in the UK Passport Office biometric trial, April-Decemeber 2004.


NEC supplied its Automated Fingerprint Identification System to the Passport Office’s six-month biometric trial which ran from April-December 2004.

PA Consulting Group

Announced as the Home Office’s ‘Development Partner’ for the Identity Card Scheme on 24th May 2004. The contract is rumoured to be worth £10million over 18 months. It is reported that there are forty PA Consulting Group employees working as part of the Identity Card Programme Team.


Senselect owns UK and USA biometric patents in the field of fingerprint technology. A core technology patent, GB2342749, was published by the UK Patent Office in November 2000 and a complementary USA patent was awarded to the company in November 2003. Senselect has been selected as a partner under the EDS UK Incubator Programme.

Siemens Business Services

In the UK, Siemens Business Services received a contract from the Home Office in 2002 to build a back-office system for electronic passport applications. At the 2004 Labour Party conference, Siemens Business Services sponsored a panel discussion with the title ‘Who do we think we are? identity, diversity and citizenship’,[9] featuring then Home Secretary, David Blunkett. In April 2004, Siemens Business Services signed a contract with Sovereign Strategy Ltd., a policy and lobbying consultancy which has strong links with the Labour Party.[10]

SUN Microsystems

A multinational provider of computer hardware, software and services, Sun Microsystems is the creator and leading advocate for Java technology which is used in smart cards.


Thales is a global electronics company serving aerospace, defence, and information technology markets worldwide. Since 2002, Thales Identification has been in charge of production of ID smartcards for the People’s Republic of China.


From their website: ‘TraceTag provides various holographic materials with additional levels of security incorporated or overprinted.’

[1] http://www.careers.civil-service.gov.uk/index.asp

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/01/10/

[3] www.intellectuk.org/press/pr/press_release_24_05_04.asp

[4] www.chyp.com/digid/index.htm

[5] www.atosorigin.co.uk/industries/publicsector/idcards/response/response09.htm

[6] www.theregister.co.uk/2004/12/30/bt_wobbles_on_id/

[7] www.mori.com/pubinfo/rmw/a-question-of-identity.shtml

[8] www.itsecurity.com/tecsnews/nov2004/nov109.htm

[9] http://spinwatch.server101.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=165

[10] www.sovereignstrategy.com/news.asp#27


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There is a place in this society where one is perpetually under surveillance, where every movement is monitored and controlled, where everyone is under suspicion except the police and their bosses, where all are assumed to be criminals. I am speaking, of course, of prison…But at an ever-quickening pace, this description is coming to fit more and more public spaces. Shopping malls and the business districts of major cities are under video surveillance. Armed guards patrol schools, libraries, hospitals and museums. One is subject to search at airports and bus stations. Police helicopters fly over cities and even forests in search of crime. The methodology of imprisonment, which is one with the methodology of the police, is gradually being imposed over the entire social landscape.


This process is being imposed through fear, and the authorities justify it to us in terms of our need for protection – from criminals, from terrorists, from drugs and violence. But who are these criminals and terrorists, who are these monsters that threaten us every moment of our fear-filled lives? A moment’s careful consideration is enough to answer this question. In the eyes of the rulers of this world, we are the criminals and terrorists, we are the monsters – at least potentially. After all, we are the ones they are policing and monitoring. We are the ones who are watched on the video cameras and searched at the bus stations. One can only wonder if it is the fact that this is so glaringly obvious that makes people blind to it.

The rule of fear is such that the social order even solicits our aid in our own policing. Parents register their toddlers’ fingerprints with police agencies connected with the FBI. A Florida-based company called Applied Digital Solutions (ADS) has created the “Veri-Chip” that can hold personal, medical and other information and is intended to be implanted under the skin. Their idea is to promote its voluntary use by people, of course, for their own protection. It may soon be connected to the network of the Global Positioning System (GPS) Satellite so that anyone with the implant could be monitored constantly.* In addition there are dozens of programs that encourage snitching – a factor that is also reminiscent of prisons where the authorities seek out and reward snitches. Of course other prisoners have a rather different attitude toward these scum.

But all of this is purely descriptive, a picture of the social prison that is being built around us. A real understanding of this situation that we can use to fight against this process requires a deeper analysis. In fact, prison and policing rest on the idea that there are crimes, and this idea rests on the law. Law is portrayed as an objective reality by which the actions of the citizens of a state can be judged. Law, in fact, creates a kind of equality. Anatole France expressed this ironically by pointing out that before the law, beggars and kings alike were forbidden from stealing bread and sleeping under bridges. From this, it is clear that before the law we all become equal, simply because we all become ciphers, non-entities without individual feelings, relationships, desires and needs.

The objective of law is to regulate society. The necessity for the regulation of a society implies that it is not meeting the needs or fulfilling the desires of everyone within it. It rather exists as an imposition on a greater part of those who make it up. Of course, such a situation could only come to exist where inequality of the most significant kind exists – the inequality of access to the means for creating one’s life on one’s own terms. For those with the upper hand, this state of social inequality has the dual name of property and power. For those on the bottom, its name is poverty and subjection. Law is the lie that transforms this inequality into an equality that serves the masters of society.

In a situation in which everyone had full and equal access to all that they need to fulfill themselves and create their lives on their own terms, a wealth of individual differences would flourish. A vast array of dreams and desires would express themselves creating an apparently infinite spectrum of passions, loves and hatreds, conflicts and affinities. This equality in which neither property nor power would exist would thus express the frightening and beautiful non-hierarchical inequality of individuality.

Contrarily, where the inequality of access to the means for creating one’s life exists – i.e., where the vast majority of people have been dispossessed of their own lives – everyone becomes equal, because everyone becomes nothing. This is true even of those with property and power, because their status in society is not based one who they are, but on what they have. The property and the power (which always resides in a role and not in an individual) are all that have worth in this society. Equality before the law serves the rulers, precisely because its aim is to preserve the order in which they rule. Equality before the law disguises social inequality precisely behind that which maintains it.

But, of course, law does not maintain the social order as words. The word of the law would be meaningless without physical force behind it. And that physical force exists in the systems of enforcement and punishment: the police, judicial and prison systems. Equality before the law is, in fact, a very thin veneer for hiding the inequality of access to the conditions of existence, the means for creating our lives on our terms. Reality breaks through this veneer constantly, and its control can only be maintained by force and through fear.

From the perspective of the rulers of this world, we are, indeed, all criminals (at least potentially), all monsters threatening their tranquil sleep, because we are all potentially capable of seeing through the veil of the law and choosing to ignore it and take back the moments of our lives whenever we can on our own terms. Thus, law, itself, (and the social order of property and power which require it) makes us equal precisely by criminalizing us. It is, therefore, the logical outcome of law and the social order that produces it that imprisonment and policing would become universal, hand in hand with the development of the global supermarket.

In this light, it should be clear that there is no use in making laws more just. There is no use in seeking to monitor the police. There is no use in trying to reform this system, because every reform will inevitably play back into the system, increasing the number of laws, increasing the level of monitoring and policing, making the world even more like a prison. There is only one way to respond to this situation, if we would have our lives as our own. To attack this society in order to destroy it.

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One Nation


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