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Tony Allen

Security matters - ID cards and hotel key cards

Wed 4 Nov 2009

By Tony Allen

1: ID CARDS – NOW TO BE VOLUNTARY? OR CREEPING INTRUSION?

My column last time covered the sensitive issue of ownership of your identity, and touched on the matter of ID cards. The new Home Secretary has now announced that these will be voluntary for UK citizens. But those applying for a passport (or a voluntary ID card) will have their details added automatically to a National Identity Register (which is what most people oppose).

There is the issue of intrusion creep. One can imagine governments in due course demanding to put your medical details, financial status, court judgements, travel history, on the Register or the ID card, before you can visit your GP, access council services, register for higher or further education, seek schooling for your children, for example.

How will ID cards benefit us?

Will they stop terrorism? Apparently all the Madrid bombers had Spanish identity documents. That says it all really.

Will they stop illegal immigration? Employers are already required to check on workers' immigration status. Unscrupulous ones do not. Spot checks and prosecutions are more likely to have an affect on the problem

Will they reduce crime? The law enforcement agencies biggest difficulty is catching criminals, and getting sentences passed, not identifying them.

Who will pay and how much?

The government claims the total cost over 10 years for ID cards and biometric passports will be in the order of £5 billion (of which only £1 billion will be for producing the ID cards). This will be claimed back by charging people. I expect you can think of better things to spend your hard-earned cash on. And not just during a credit crunch.

Costs would include the IT equipment, and installation of ID card readers all over the country. An estimate (and this was in 2005, so can be expected to have increased since then) by the London School of Economics, was £19 billion.

What's the record on getting it right?

The government's record on large IT projects (and implementing a national ID system would certainly be one of them) is appalling (the roll out of the national NHS system is one good example of this). There are many others, including the attempts to integrate the courts and probation service systems, which you may have heard about.
And now the government has just announced the abandonment of Scope IT, which was an initiative set up to improve collaboration and communication between the various UK security and intelligence agencies (budgeted at £25 million). This is despite saying it is essential that these organisations have effective systems for close collaboration. So would ID cards be just another expensive failure? I leave you to make up your own mind on that.

Sleep walking into this

This is the danger with ID cards. With an election looming in 2010, you can of course check out the main parties' positions on these. Whether you do, or not, is up to you of course, but if you don't, then you can't blame others for getting something imposed upon you that you really don't want or need.

2: CAUTIONARY WORDS ON HOTEL KEY CARDS

A recent article in a motoring magazine about hotel key cards shocked me, as it made me aware of something I should have known about, but hadn't thought about.

A lot of hotels now give you a key card (rather than a room key) when you check-in.
This allows you to open the room door, and use the services inside the room, including electricity (hence use of lighting, kettle, TV and air conditioning). This is obviously because the key card contains an access code allocated to you on check-in.

Check out

When you leave, you probably give the card back to the receptionist, or put it through a slot at the reception desk. This is a practice we all have become used to with room keys. (I have had to post these, including heavy metal tag, back to hotels more often than I care to say in the past.)

But the card contains more than just a room access code. Stored there as well are your name, partial address, check in and out dates, credit card number and expiry date. Hand the key in, and this information is there for any unscrupulous employee to access via the hotel scanner. A handful of cards can be taken away and scanned in to a computer, and used for shopping at the customers' expense! Hotels do not erase this information until the card is used for another client checking in.

So what should you do?

The obvious remedy is to take the card with you when you check out, and cut it up later as you would do with a credit/debit card. Hotels do not charge for key cards, as it's illegal to do so. And never throw the key card away intact, because the information sits there on it.

We all learn all the time! I hope this is useful information for your consideration.

 



Other columns by Tony Allen

TONY ALLEN’S COLUMN “COMMUNITY MATTERS” - Tue 9 Nov 2021
TONY ALLEN’S COLUMN “COMMUNITY MATTERS” GETTING INVOLVED WITH YOUR LOCAL COUNCIL - Mon 2 Aug 2021
TONY ALLEN’S COLUMN “COMMUNITY MATTERS” BOVEY THANKS VOLUNTEERS & “LIFELINE” SHOPS - Mon 14 Jun 2021
TONY ALLEN’S COLUMN “COMMUNITY MATTERS” BREATHS OF FRESH AIR ALL AROUND - Tue 7 Jul 2020
TONY ALLEN’S COLUMN “COMMUNITY MATTERS” COMMUNITY COHESION………………… - Tue 11 Feb 2020
CLIMATE ACTION: WHERE DO YOU START?.......... - Mon 2 Dec 2019
WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON IN OUR LOCAL COUNCILS…? - Thu 1 Aug 2019
BOVEY TRACEY ACHIEVES “PLASTIC FREE” STATUS........... - Fri 3 May 2019
IDEAS & SUGGESTIONS FOR THE FUTURE........ - Thu 24 Jan 2019
COMMUNITY MATTERS - “PLASTIC FREE BOVEY”, RARE PRAISE, ELECTIONS - Thu 8 Nov 2018
Young people in the community - Thu 15 May 2014
Moving Bovey Tracey forward - Tue 4 Mar 2014
Is Bovey Tracey too shabby and run down to attract visitors? - Mon 9 Sep 2013
A public consultation should be just that - Mon 11 Mar 2013
Athletes, young people and rural watch - Tue 13 Nov 2012
Bovey Beats Most Of The Summer Weather - Wed 5 Sep 2012
What sort of Town do you want Bovey to be? - Sun 1 Jul 2012
Awards, Traffic, Policing & another Top Shop! - Thu 3 May 2012
GOOD NEWS, SPECULATION, AND MORE GOOD NEWS - Thu 5 Jan 2012
RUBBISH, SPEED, LIGHTS OUT, BADGERS and more! - Mon 7 Nov 2011
Newspapers, Tragedy, Cheques and MORE! - Sun 11 Sep 2011
Community Matters - Mon 11 Jul 2011
Growth of Neighbourhood Watch In Bovey Tracey - Tue 3 May 2011
Which would you rather have: A PC (Police Commissioner) OR Several PCs (Police Constables)? - Thu 10 Mar 2011
Helping Ourselves In Time Of Austerity - Sun 9 Jan 2011
Security in the current Economic Climate - Thu 4 Nov 2010
Security Matters - Spelling it Out - Mon 6 Sep 2010
The Ultimate Deterrent or Not - Tue 6 Jul 2010
NHS Summary Care Records  Will Your Personal Health Information Be Secure? - Mon 3 May 2010
Social Networking - A risk or a good thing? - Sun 28 Feb 2010
Security Matters - Back to Basics! - Thu 3 Dec 2009
Security matters - are you being conned? - Wed 4 Nov 2009
Security matters - Personal security - Wed 4 Nov 2009
Security Matters - Who owns your identity? - Wed 4 Nov 2009
Security Matters - Victim of crime - need help? - Wed 4 Nov 2009


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