The Register Columnists

Mark Ballard

Contact Mail Follow RSS feed
The Register breaking news

Gov. resists ID card scrutiny

The Office of Government Commerce has appealed against an order by the Information Tribunal that it must publish official documents that assess the justification for the government's identity card scheme. Meanwhile, speculation over Prime-Minister-in-waiting Gordon Brown's support for the programme has been see-sawing for lack …
Mark Ballard, 30 May 2007
The Register breaking news

Half of black Britain on track for DNA database

Half of all black British males are destined to become records on the police National DNA Database by 2010, according to an analysis of government figures by the Liberal Democrats. If you count only men of an arrestable age, 68 per cent of them will have been nabbed and dabbed by the police by 2010. Just 14.4 per cent of white …
Mark Ballard, 29 May 2007
The Register breaking news

UK regulator urges caution on data sharing

The Information Commissioner has published some advice for government bodies that want to share information but think data protection laws prevent them from doing so. The advice note gives a rough idea of the mindfulness public bodies ought to have for human sensibilities when they start shunting data between computer systems …
Mark Ballard, 29 May 2007
The Register breaking news

Google plays cat and mouse with regulators

Google has faced down one European probe into what it does with people's personal information, only to be challenged with another. Last October, privacy watchdogs in Norway, which is not part of the European Union but has identical data protection laws, asked Google to justify why it retains people's search histories for up to …
Mark Ballard, 25 May 2007
The Register breaking news

EU extends TV law to the internet

The European Council has passed a law which extends the laws governing television broadcasters to companies providing video content online regardless of how it is transmitted. The Audiovisual Media Services Without Frontiers Directive broadens broadcast rules introduced in 1997 to encompass content on the internet, mobile …
Mark Ballard, 25 May 2007
The Register breaking news

Expel the IT bodgers, says Microsoft

IT bods should be struck off if they create too many dodgy computer systems, according to Microsoft's UK national technology officer. Speaking to ZDNet yesterday, Jerry Fishenden, Microsoft's key government liaison, said something needs to be done if the IT profession is to earn the respect of normal people. "If you look at …
Mark Ballard, 24 May 2007
The Register breaking news

Police database delayed indefinitely

The Police National Database has been scaled back because of budget over-runs and technical problems. The commitment to a full implementation of the Police National Database (PND) by 2010 appears to have been dropped. Full implementation of the PND could only now be managed if the budget was allowed to over-run by up to £186.3m …
Mark Ballard, 23 May 2007
The Register breaking news

Europe votes to restrict police data sharing

The European Parliament voted on Monday night to reinstate the principles of data protection in legislation that would allow police across Europe to routinely share data about their activities. As the Parliament has no authority in the third pillar (the EU's jurisdiction for police and judicial matters), the amendments it …
Mark Ballard, 23 May 2007
The Register breaking news

Amnesty Int to hold web censorship conference

Amnesty International and the Observer newspaper have called a conference against internet censorship and repression. The interactive global event will be held on 6 June at 18:30 (UK), 19:30 (Europe), 13:30 (EST), 10:30 (PST). Go here for the webcast. Topping the the list of speakers, perhaps curiously, is Martha Lane Fox the …
Mark Ballard, 22 May 2007
channel

EnterpriseDB ramps up focus on Europe

An open source services firm is looking for European partners to sell a version of the Postgres database it has souped-up for enterprise customers. EnterpriseDB, a contributor to the open source version of PostgreSQL, launched its commercial version in Europe in January, which it said would save customers 80 per cent over the …
Mark Ballard, 22 May 2007
The Register breaking news

Public-private shoe-in wins Birmingham contract

Birmingham Council has handed the second raft of its 10 year transformation programme over to a public-private vehicle that is majority owned by Capita. Capita said in a statement to the City yesterday that Service Birmingham, its joint venture with Birmingham City Council, had been given a budget of £142m over 10 years to …
Mark Ballard, 22 May 2007
fingers pointing at man

Phoenix maintains gentle ascent

The disaster recovery business has been keeping Phoenix IT Group heading skyward. Revenues were up overall by 16.3 per cent to £126.7m, which included five months of sales from Servo Computer Services, the SME IT services and product sales business that Phoenix acquired in November 2006. Excluding the Servo figures, "the like- …
Mark Ballard, 21 May 2007
Microsoft

Microsoft squares up to Google with $6bn buy

Microsoft today opened a new front in its war with Google for online advertising dollars, with a $6bn cash offer for the Seattle-based online advertising group aQuantive. This is Microsoft's biggest acquisition to date, and boy, does it want the company: the $66.50 per share offer is an 85 per cent premium on aQuantive's …
Mark Ballard, 18 May 2007
The Register breaking news

HMRC claims IT successes

HM Revenue and Customs revealed today how joining up its IT systems has contributed to falling costs in the merged departments. However, the annual report also said losses to missing trader VAT frauds had been creeping up above one of its key targets. Revenue and Customs' financial accounting systems were merged and their …
Mark Ballard, 18 May 2007
The Register breaking news

FCO to probe visa security lapse

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has closed its online service for visa applicants from India while it investigates a security breach that made the personal details of visa applicants available online. VFS Global, the private firm that runs the FCO's online visa application service, told the reporter who broke the …
Mark Ballard, 18 May 2007
Warning: aircraft

Gatwick gets iris recognition

Gatwick South has started using an iris recognition system - it is the ninth UK airport terminal to roll out the system. Project IRIS(Iris Recognition Immigration System) is designed to give travellers resident in the UK, who have no black marks against their name on the immigration database, a means of avoiding normal …
Mark Ballard, 18 May 2007
The Register breaking news

100,000 'erroneous' records on DNA database

The complex relationship between the police, the National DNA Database Unit and the forensic service has left the UK's DNA database with at least 100,000 erroneous records, The Register can reveal. Which makes the NDNAD Unit's admission in its annual report today that between 1995 and 2005 it failed to load 26,200 records to …
Mark Ballard, 17 May 2007
The Register breaking news

ID scheme not failing, just shifting

The Identity and Passport Service has claimed its identity card scheme is not "out of control", as the London School of Economics claims, but is being built on "uncertain" sands. In an argument for "common sense" criticism of complex government IT projects, the IPS claimed that its cost estimates were likely to change with time …
Mark Ballard, 16 May 2007
Symantec

Symantec pursues $55m copyright damages

Symantec is seeking $55m in damages against eight US and Canadian firms for selling illegal copies of its software. It has filed civil lawsuits for trademark and copyright infringement, fraud, unfair competition, counterfeit documentation, trafficking, and false advertising. Scott Minden, director of legal affairs at Symantec …
Mark Ballard, 16 May 2007
The Register breaking news

MPs must act on runaway ID project

The London School of Economics has called for Parliament to intervene in the government's identity card scheme to find out if it is "getting out of control". In its response to the government's six-monthly report on costs of the ID scheme, which said last week that estimates had risen by nearly £1bn since October 2006, the LSE …
Mark Ballard, 16 May 2007
cloud

Evesham plots rocky road back from HCI havoc

Evesham Technology, one of the UK's last remaining PC manufacturers, is clawing its way back to profit after Gordon Brown's overnight closure of the Home Computer Initiative (HCI) left it with a £30m hole in its accounts. When the firm publishes its 2007 results in three months time, for which it is just closing its year end, …
Mark Ballard, 16 May 2007
The Register breaking news

UK gov mulls prison for those employing illegal immigrants

The UK government is considering increasing fines and introducing prison sentences to encourage employers to act as immigration police on their own staff. The Home Office published a consultation paper (21 page pdf) on its plans today, inviting comment on its proposed system of penalties. The penalties were attached to a …
Mark Ballard, 15 May 2007
The Register breaking news

Immigrant data protected from EU police

The European Parliament voted last night to build the world's largest biometric database, but only after ensuring that the police would not have free access to it. The Visa Information System (VIS), which the European Commission has already started building, is expected to record the fingerprints and mugshots of 20 million visa …
Mark Ballard, 15 May 2007
The Register breaking news

Surveillance state can't monitor itself, says US

It would be impractical for the US to monitor how its border guards use the massive databases it is building on European citizens, US Homeland Security Security secretary Michael Chertoff told the European Parliament yesterday. Answering questions before an extraordinary meeting of the European Parliament's Committee on Civil …
Mark Ballard, 15 May 2007
The Register breaking news

Half a million kids' DNA on UK police database

Half a million children have had their DNA recorded on Britain's police database, the government admitted yesterday. The number of people being added to the police DNA database is rising rapidly, with a total of 667,737 people added to the database last year, home secretary John Reid said in a parliamentary written answer …
Mark Ballard, 11 May 2007