Tag Archives: identity

You can believe the Jamaica deportations are questionable after this Home Office boob

Computer says no: the Home Offices systems can’t be trusted – but the Tories happily uses them to deport people.

How can we accept the justice in Home Office deportation decision when civil servants asked a 101-year-old man to get his parents to confirm his identity?

People like Boris Johnson claim the information used by the Home Office to deport 17 people to Jamaica was accurate, but consider this:

Giovanni Palmieri is 101 years old, and Italian. He has lived in the UK since 1966 and applied for settled status in advance of the UK’s departure from the European Union.

But in a classic Little Britain-esque ‘Computer says no’ moment, the Home Office app into which he scanned his passport in order to send his biometric data to the Home Office misunderstood his date of birth.

It interpreted it as being 2019, rather than 1919 – and demanded that his parents must confirm his identity. That would have been a bit tricky!

The Home Office has claimed that other people aged over 100 have successfully used the app – but doesn’t that indicate that other Home Office decisions are also ripe to be queried?

This brings us back to the Jamaica deportation.

How can we be sure of the Home Office’s justification for the removal of those individuals, if its systems cannot even tell that a man is 101, not one?

I am reminded of a time a few years ago when people going through checks on their suitability to work with children, or in security, or other restricted-eligibility jobs were refused because the government’s system showed them as guilty of crimes.

This came as a jarring shock to them – as far as they knew, their records were spotless.

Of course it was another glitch in the system.

But Tories like Boris Johnson are happy to quote such information in order to support the removal of foreign-born people from the UK.

What does it prove? That these individuals had committed crimes? Or that the Tories are racists?

Source: Home Office asks 101-year-old Italian man to get his parents to confirm his identity – Mirror Online

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Tory post-Brexit residence scheme for EU citizens shows they’ve learned NOTHING from Windrush

The Empire Windrush brought many people to the UK to help rebuild the country after World War II. If it was still in service, the Tories would be trying to use it to deport EU citizens.

Those racists in the Conservative government think we all have really short memories, don’t they?

Their colleagues and cronies at the Home Office have unveiled a new “EU Settlement Scheme” for citizens of the European Union who want to continue living and/or working in the UK after Brexit – and it looks startlingly – shockingly – Windrushy. I hope you understand what I mean by that.

Applicants under the scheme will have to provide proof of their own identity, proof that they live in the UK, and proof that they do not have a criminal record.

And it will cost them up to £65 to provide this information to a government that should have it all already.

Perhaps the Home Office destroyed it, along with the documents that would have saved thousands of the Windrush generation from deportation.

Here’s the Home Office’s tweet on the subject:

It seems clear these Tory racists have learned nothing from the Windrush scandal.

They see Brexit as an opportunity to humiliate Johnny (and Jane) Foreigner – make them leap through hoops for the dubious benefit of staying in a country that is about to fall off an economic cliff, thanks to the result of a referendum designed to end discord in their own bigoted, minority-interest party and their own ineptitude at any kind of negotiations (including Theresa May’s failure to negotiate her way out of a car door at one point) thereafter.

And they see it as an opportunity to deport anybody who fails to provide this information and/or cough up the cash.

Charming.

The social media have reacted appropriately. Here‘s Liisa Smith: “How disgraceful. I’ve been living here for nearly 18 years as a tax-paying resident and this is how the UK government treats people. It makes me sick.”

John Clarke tweeted for many when he wrote: “The Tories shame us all.”

As Rachael Swindon elaborated, the scheme is “horrific, cynical, threatening and unnecessary. They promised to learn the lessons of the hostile environment policy, and lied once again.”

Labour MP David Lammy added: “Shame. What a way to treat our neighbours, friends, family and partners from Europe. King Herod would be proud Theresa May. Screw this shit.” Strong words for an MP, but appropriate, perhaps.

But what do EU-born residents make of it all? The answer is: Not a lot.

Peter Stefanovic stated: “As the son of an immigrant and part of a European family I can honestly say this breaks my heart.”

And Stewart Wood told us: “Just told my 83-year old German mum, who has lived here since 1964, that she’ll have to go through (& pay for) this process – to prove to the Home Office who she is, & that she’s not a criminal. I tried hard, but couldn’t really explain why. It’s an awful stain on our country.”

That it is – by which I mean, obviously, the Conservative government is an awful stain on our country.

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Do you believe the latest tall story about the alleged Skripal poisoners?

Identity crisis: Alexander Petrov? Or Alexander Mishkin?

What do you think?

When Bellingcat claimed to have revealed one of the suspects in the Skripal poisoning as Anatoliy Chepiga, I published the claim on This Site and received a lot of flak for it.

Bellingcat had simply gone into photographs of GRU agents and found one that looked like the suspect, according to many critics.

Well, now that website has claimed it has identified the other man as Alexander Mishkin.

What do you think of that claim?

The name of the second suspect in the Salisbury case is actually Alexander Mishkin, the BBC understands.

The Bellingcat investigative website says the man who travelled under the alias Alexander Petrov is in reality a military doctor working for Russian intelligence, the GRU.

Last month, Bellingcat named the first suspect as Anatoliy Chepiga, a claim rejected by Russia.

Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in March.

The British open-source website said it had identified the suspect using testimonies from people the suspect knew and a scanned copy of his passport.

Source: Skripal attack: Bellingcat names second Salisbury suspect – BBC News

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Labour’s descent into madness: Supporting a benefit cap that will drop children into poverty

Can anything demonstrate the Labour Party’s crisis of identity more graphically than the party’s statement of support for a drop in the benefit cap to £23,000 – despite warnings that the current cap of £26K is already causing homelessness and “putting children on the breadline”?

A Labour Party with its heart in the right place would never countenance an Act of Parliament that intentionally throws children into poverty.

Ms Harman outlined several caveats to Labour’s support, arguing that the lower cap should not put children into poverty or increase homelessness. She said discretionary housing payments and other measures could prevent the problems seen so far.

That simply isn’t good enough. The Tories have already hidden behind discretionary housing payments when criticised over the Bedroom Tax, and they have proven pitifully inadequate with regard to that issue. Why should anybody believe they’ll be able to take any further strain?

As for the other measures she mentions – what other measures? It’s nonsense waffle to hide the fact that Labour has badly lost its way.

The Party of the People needs to take hold of itself and clear out the dead weight – now.

Source: Labour moves to support Tories’ lower benefit cap despite ‘children on breadline’ warnings – UK Politics – UK – The Independent

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Was political propaganda as blatant as this under Labour?

131109doublespeak

The DWP press office put out a diabolical piece of bilge masquerading as news on Friday. It’s so godawful I have to share it with you.

The gist is that the new ‘Claimant Commitment’ a contract “demanding more from jobseekers” is now in place across the whole of the UK, with 635,000 JSA claimants having been forced to sign these agreements.

But let’s go through it in detail, with each paragraph clarified by Vox Political‘s special ‘BS’ translation service.

“The Claimant Commitment has now been successfully rolled out across the country, the latest figures show. It means all new jobseekers and those completing the Work Programme must agree and sign the commitment in order to receive benefits.” Translation: It doesn’t matter that you’ve paid taxes all your working life – you do what we say or we bankrupt you.

“The new agreement sees jobseekers agree the steps they will take each week to give them the best chance of getting into work.” Translation: Agreement has nothing to do with it – we’ll make them jump through hoops in a poodle costume if we want but it won’t help them get a job.

“This could include registering and looking for work through Universal Jobmatch or a recruitment agency.” Not only do we do nothing to help them get a job, we also help identity thieves steal their details and put vulnerable youngsters in the clutches of the sex industry.

“It builds on help already in place.” Obviously we’re having a laugh with this line.

“Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud said: ‘With Universal Credit we are creating a modern and sustainable welfare system that is fit for the 21st century – one that supports people when they need it and helps them become independent.” This has nothing to do with the Claimant Commitment but I’ve been told to ‘big up’ Universal Calamity whenever I can, to hide the fact that it’s such an albatross.

“‘The Claimant Commitment redefines the relationship between jobseekers and the state.” To one between slave and master.

“‘Claimants receive greater support to get into work from their work coach-‘ All our work coaches have been given extra training in how to use a whip ‘-and we expect them to do all they can to find a job as quickly as possible as part of the deal for receiving their benefit.’ We know there aren’t any jobs but this simply means we can cut off their cash more quickly when they fail.

“‘Staff have told me it has strengthened their ability to support people into work at the earliest opportunity.’ Those who haven’t gone on long-term sick leave with depressive conditions have developed a kind of dead-eyed look and keep repeating, ‘I’m just following orders’.

“Following an in-depth conversation, work coaches and jobseekers agree regular specific tasks, work preparation and training opportunities that will give them the best chance of finding work quickly.” Tasks… preparation… opportunities! Oh, our sides are splitting! “The penalties claimants could face for failing to meet their responsibilities to get into work are clearly spelt out.” And horrifying.

[The following paragraph is edited as it purports to feature an actual jobseeker] “‘Dizzy’ Guise [not his real name], signed a Claimant Commitment after he was made redundant.” We know our official wording has it that their jobs are redundant, not the people, but it gives us a tremendous sense of superiority over these proles to say that they are redundant instead. “He said it helped him focus on his job search and he’s now working as a business apprentice in Barking.” You’d have to be barking to believe that!

“He said: ‘When I first met my adviser I was probably like every person coming to the Jobcentre, a bit unenthusiastic.'” We want people to think that everyone claiming JSA is a sponger and doesn’t want to look for work.

“‘But I don’t think people know how much the Jobcentre advisers do for them.'” To them.

“‘I thought the Claimant Commitment was demanding, but fair. It motivated me.'” We want people to think that everyone claiming JSA is a sponger and doesn’t want to look for work.

“‘Without that commitment you probably don’t do so many job searches.’” We want people to think that everyone claiming JSA is a sponger and doesn’t want to look for work.

“The new commitment is an important part of the cultural transformation that Universal Credit will bring-” from a free society in which every citizen is equal to one where we can treat you like the scum we think you are “-and will place a strong focus on the responsibilities that claimants must fulfil” … while we accept no responsibility at all for whatever happens.

That seems much clearer now.

Would any jobseekers, who have had to sign this Claimant Commitment, care to tell us what it’s really like?

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Jobseekers told to do more to find (non-existent) work

Esther McVile: The employment minister, who claims adamantly that changes to housing benefit do not constitute a 'bedroom tax', is pictured complaining about a so-called 'tunnel tax' in her own constituency in a blatant display of double standards.

Esther McVile: The employment minister, who claims adamantly that changes to housing benefit do not constitute a ‘bedroom tax’, is pictured complaining about a so-called ‘tunnel tax’ in her own constituency in a blatant display of double standards.

WARNING: This article has been edited using the ‘Guide to DWP euphemisms’ published by Richard Hutton, and with inspiration from it.

New rules coming into force at the end of the month mean jobseekers will have to do more to find work – even though there are currently five of them for every job available – the Department for Work and Pensions has announced.

Simply ‘signing-on’ for benefits will be a thing of the past under the draconian and repressive new rules.

Employment Minister and double-standards queen Esther McVey has hailed the new rules as undermining the range of support available, which helps diminish aspects of the social security system so that it no longer protects anybody from being left impoverished – in this case by making sure people cannot start claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) by just signing-on without first humbling themselves before the Tory-led government.

She said: “With the economy growing, unemployment falling and record numbers of people in work, now is the time to start expecting more of shirkers if they want to claim benefits. It’s only right that we should push people who are unemployed into such a depth of poverty that even ‘in-work’ poverty is a step-up.

“This is about taking support away from people and undermining the range of support available to them so they can hit rock bottom faster. In return, we will give people as much harassment as possible, to make them stop scrounging or face sanctions, because we know from employers that we have to break people’s spirit before they’ll work for a really low wage.”

To prepare for their first interview with a Jobcentre Plus adviser, people looking for work will be told they will not even be able to sign as unemployed until they have prepared a CV, set up an email address – even though they might not have a computer on which to use it – and registering with the government’s discredited jobs website Universal Jobmatch, which will expose them to identity thieves and exploiters looking for sex workers. This change will make it possible to exploit people as soon as they start their JSA claim.

People who don’t tow the line will receive more harassment from their Jobcentre Plus adviser – weekly rather than fortnightly – to ensure they can be cleared off the books via sanctions if it proves impossible to push them into poverty work.

All new JSA claimants will also now have a quarterly review with their adviser, who will try to find a reason to impose sanctions and get them off the books.

These new measures are being introduced as figures show the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by over 363,000 on the year, the largest annual fall since 1998. This shows that the system of sanctions, putting people on Workfare to hide the fact that they are unemployed, and asking them to pretend that they are self-employed in order to fraudulently claim tax credits instead, is working.

The government is committed to sanctions and the vast majority of people are bullied off JSA quickly – more than 75 per cent of people end their claim within six months. Every working day Jobcentre Plus advisers shout at 98,000 interviews jobseekers and there are a range of ploys available to push them off the system. These include:

• Hiding them on the Work Programme
• Referring them for ‘training’ by companies that provide the minimum help available, take the money and run
• Putting people on pointless ‘work experience’ that won’t lead to a job but will clear them off the claimant count
• Fooling people with ‘incentives’ that mean nothing
• Getting people to pretend they are self-employed.

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Stalled – the plan to share NHS patients’ confidential information with big business

Freudian slip: The BBC's article on the care.data delay was accompanied by this picture of a hand drawing on a diagram of a pair of breasts. Is this a tacit implication that the Department of Health has boobed? (Sorry, ladies) [Image: BBC]

Freudian slip: The BBC’s article on the care.data delay was accompanied by this picture of a hand drawing on a diagram of a pair of breasts. Is this a tacit implication that the Department of Health has boobed? (Sorry, ladies) [Image: BBC]

A plan to sell the confidential medical information of every NHS patient in England has been put on hold after it caused a public outcry.

The care.data system, also called variously the General Patient Extraction Service (GPES) or the Health and Social Care Information Centre, was dreamed up as a money-spinning device by Jeremy Hunt’s Department of Health.

The aim is that, if you are an NHS patient in England, your GP will be forced to provide your confidential records, showing every medical condition you have ever had and providing intimate details of your current state of health, to a huge national database.

From there, your information may be sold on to private healthcare and pharmaceutical companies for “research”. A new proposal backed by NHS England (a body set up largely to support the increasing privatisation of the NHS, if my information is correct) would give non-NHS bodies including private companies the right to ask for access to the data.

The government has said the information would be “pseudonymised”, in an attempt to reassure you that you cannot be identified from the information to be provided to outside organisations. This is not true, and in fact it will be entirely possible to trace your medical information back to you.

The government claims the information will help experts assess diseases, examine the effects of new drugs and identify infection outbreaks, while also monitoring the performance of the NHS.

In fact, it seems far more likely that this is a widespread invasion of privacy, with the information likely to be used (for example) to sell you health insurance that you should not need.

We are told that NHS England organised a mass mailing to every household in England, explaining its version of what the planned system will do – but a BBC poll of 860 people last week found that fewer than one-third of them could recall receiving it.

Concern that people are likely to end up allowing their information to go into commercial hands without ever knowing about it has led to the scheme being halted – for the time being.

NHS England has accepted that its communications campaign must be “improved”, although we do not yet know how. A propaganda campaign on TV and radio seems likely.

Every NHS patient in England has the right to opt out of the data sharing scheme, and many have already chosen to do so. You can do it right now, using a form designed by the medConfidential website.

While NHS England and the Department of Health will continue trying to justify this scheme, there is no justification for selling your private information to commercial organisations.

It is to be hoped that this six-month pause will end with the abandonment of the scheme.

If the organisations that want the information genuinely intend to use it for humanitarian concerns, it would be fully anonymised and they would not be buying it.

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Are you happy for big business to have your confidential medical records?

n4s_nhs1

Do you live in England? Are you an NHS patient? Have you realised that your Conservative-led Coalition government is selling your medical records to private healthcare and pharmaceutical companies? Do you know that these ‘anonymised’ records are in fact nothing of the sort, and anyone buying your details will be able to identify you?

Do you want to do something about it? It isn’t too late.

Vox Political warned last September that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning to sell records to “approved” private companies and also universities – that’s sell, mark you, to make money for the government.

The system was called the General Patient Extraction Service (GPES) – although exactly who it serves is entirely up for debate. It seems to have metamorphosed into the Health and Social Care Information Centre by now, but the purpose remains the same. You may also see it described as the care.data scheme.

Hunt wants us to believe that the information will be valuable for medical research and screening for common diseases.

In fact, the information could be used by private health companies as evidence of failures by the National Health Service, and could help those companies undercut NHS bids to continue running those services – this would accelerate the privatisation that nobody wanted.

This week, The Independent reminded us all that the system that will sell off your information will go live later this year.

The article warned: “Companies like Bupa or Virgin that already hold data on UK patients may be able to use the new anonymous data available from the centre to precisely identify where it has come from, according to campaigners.

Phil Booth, co-ordinator at patient pressure group medConfidential, said: “The scheme is deliberately designed so that ‘pseudonymised’ data – information that can be re-identified by anyone who already holds information about you – can be passed on to ‘customers’ of the information centre, with no independent scrutiny and without even notifying patients. It’s a disaster just waiting to happen.”

The information for sale to profit-making firms will contain NHS numbers, date of birth, postcode, ethnicity and gender.

Patients can opt out of the system by contacting their family doctor, but medConfidential has designed a form to make it easier.

On its ‘How to opt out’ page, the organisation writes: “Under changes to legislation, your GP can now be required to upload personal and identifiable information from the medical record of every patient in England to central servers at the Health and Social Care Information Centre. Once this information leaves your GP practice, your doctor will no longer be in control of what data is passed on or to whom.

“This information will include diagnoses, investigations, treatments and referrals as well as other things you may have shared with your doctor including your weight, alcohol consumption, smoking and family history. Each piece of information will be identifiable as it will be uploaded with your NHS number, date of birth, post code, gender and ethnicity.

“NHS England – the body now in charge of commissioning primary care services across England – will manage and use the information extracted by the Health and Social Care Information Centre for a range of purposes, none of which are to do with your direct medical care. Though the official leaflets talk a great deal about research, these ‘secondary uses’ for which your data may be used include patient-level tracking and monitoring, audit, business planning and contract management.

“In September 2013, NHS England applied to pass on your information in a form it admits “could be considered identifiable if published” to a whole range of organisations that include – but are not limited to – research bodies, universities, think tanks, “information intermediaries”, charities and private companies.

“Though you may be told that any data passed on will be ‘anonymised’, no guarantees can be given as to future re-identification – indeed information is to be treated so that it can be linked to other data at patient level – and NHS England has already been given legal exemptions to pass identifiable data across a range of regional processing centres, local area teams and commissioning bodies that came into force on April 1st 2013. The Health and Social Care Information Centre already provides access to patient data, some in identifiable form, to a range of ‘customers’ outside the NHS, including private companies.”

The opt-out form is downloadable from the medConfidential web page, along with a form letter in various formats, allowing patients to opt out themselves, their children and any adults for whom they are responsible.

This is a gross abuse of patient confidentiality for the purpose of commercial gain.

Don’t let it happen to you.

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Hands off my medical records, Jeremy!*

The two-fingered salute: Jeremy *unt displays his high regard for the NHS patients whose details he wants to steal and sell to private business.

The two-fingered salute: Jeremy *unt displays his high regard for the NHS patients whose details he wants to steal and sell to private business.

Conservatives. They think they own everything – including your medical records.

If you live in England, Jeremy ‘The Misprint’ *unt wants your doctor to send your confidential patient record to a national database, from which it will be sold on – sold on to make money for him, mark you – to “approved” private companies and also universities.

The system is called the General Patient Extraction Service (GPES) – although exactly who it serves is entirely up for debate. You may also see it described as the care.data scheme.

He thinks this gross abuse of patient confidentiality is a good idea. But then, he’s a Tory and therefore thinks he has a God-given right to take anything, from anyone, if they have less filthy lucre than himself.

According to the Daily Mail – and you know the Tories have lost the plot when even the Heil weighs in against them – the *unt wants us to believe that the information will be valuable for medical research and screening for common diseases.

And an NHS England spokesman told the paper, “The programme will provide vital information to approved organisations about the quality of health services.”

Oh really?

So in fact this information could be used by private health companies as evidence of failures by the National, publicly-funded, service, yes?

How would it help in screening for common diseases? This information becomes freely available without any data having to be sold – how else would we know when an epidemic breaks out?

And how is this valuable for medical research – beyond the possibility that the now-infamous ‘job offer’ for people to take part in human medical experimentation may be targeted at particular individuals, according to medical records that they thought were only available to their own, trusted GP?

Doctors say Mr *unt and NHS England have failed in their duty to publicise the plan in a proper and reasonable way, that patients are not getting an “informed” choice about the matter, and that patients could be identified from the data with any information other than that on common conditions – which, we’ve already established, becomes public knowledge anyway.

Some Local Medical Committees (LMCs) are already discussing whether to opt out of the system – and this blog would urge all the others to do the same.

If you are concerned about this gross invasion of your privacy, you can contact your own LMC and request that they opt out. Contact details can be found on the British Medical Association’s website here.

*In fact he won’t be able to get his filthy hands on them anyway because I live in Wales. The title is for effect.