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Mark Ballard

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Home snoop CCTV more popular than Big Brother

The scheme that gave residents of Shoreditch links to local CCTV cameras through their TV sets had better viewing figures than Channel 4's Big Brother, according to an internal report by the local authority's rejuvenation body. The Register has learned how residents took to the Shoreditch Digital Bridge scheme in order to scan …
Mark Ballard, 11 Nov 2007
Mortar board

Schools chief pushes Big Brother out of dinner line

The government has told head teachers to lighten up after one British school told children in the dinner queue that if they didn't give their fingerprints they wouldn't get any food. The Department for Education and Skills said this week in a statement to the BBC Radio 4 Programme You and Yours that schools who refused school …
Mark Ballard, 4 Oct 2007
The Register breaking news

Banks want data pulled from US

The central banks of China and Russia have joined private companies in calling on Swift, the international financial intermediary, to pull all non-US data from America, The Register has learned. SWIFT has found itself caught between a rock and a hard place. The organisation secretly handed over personal data to comply with …
Mark Ballard, 3 Jul 2007
The Register breaking news

US gives in to EU demands over data

The US has capitulated to EU demands that its use of European data in counter-terrorism operations should be subject to foreign scrutiny. The two sides finally compromised this week on their long-running disagreements over the US requisition of personal data about European citizens from passenger name records (PNR) held by …
Mark Ballard, 29 Jun 2007

Home Office, civilians all fingers and thumbs on biometrics

The government's senior biometrics advisor says that the Home Office's biometric programmes have become bogged down in the face of bureaucracy's liking for manual processes. The Home Office is running various schemes using databases of people's biometric records, including identity cards, border controls and hi-tech passports …
Mark Ballard, 28 Jun 2007

Border agencies prep for multi-modal biometrics

The UK, Europe and the US are planning to belt and brace their border databases by using multiple forms of biometrics to identify people. While a set of fingerprints might be considered enough to tell one person from another, the trio expect to be eventually back this up with iris scans and mug shots. Frank Paul, head of …
Mark Ballard, 27 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news

Israeli futurologist predicts terror horror

Western nations have less than 20 years to prepare for the next generation of terror threats, according to Dr Yair Sharan, director of Tel Aviv University's Interdisciplinary Centre for Technology Analysis and Forecasting. These could consist of suicide bombers remote-controlled by brain-chip implants and carrying nano- …
Mark Ballard, 21 Jun 2007

Brits to US tech firms: we need you!

The UK's outgoing Home Secretary John Reid told US consumer electronics kingpins today that if they spent as much time turning their products into crime-stopping gadgets as they did making them look nice and work well, we might wash petty crime from our streets. Reid, who has been courting industry groups of late, leaves his …
Mark Ballard, 20 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news

Brown asks cops for gadget wish list

Prime Minister-in-waiting Gordon Brown has asked the police to come up with a wish list of gadgets they can use to combat crime. In a speech to the annual conference of chief police officers in Manchester yesterday, Brown suggested technology might help them strike a balance between the demands of volume crime and the need to …
Mark Ballard, 20 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news

US and allies lay global foundation for biometric border checks

The UK has proposed a transatlantic arrangement for sharing biometric data about travellers as US coalition countries in the "war on terror" push for a global system to control migration. The initiative officially lays the first brick in a concerted effort to establish a common border. Launching the UK's borders and …
Mark Ballard, 18 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news

UK government tunes out debate on DNA database

The government has responded to an e-petition on the burgeoning DNA database but rebuffed its main complaint that the world's largest criminological genetic store has been built "by stealth" and without Parliamentary and public consent. 750 people had endorsed the e-petition, "StopDNAbystealth", which complained that DNA policy …
Mark Ballard, 15 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news

UK border agency puts risk assessment on trial

The Home Office has started testing how it might pick potential terrorists and criminals out of immigration queues by using computers that which give them risk scores generated from their personal details. Ian Neill, deputy director of the Home Office's eBorders programme, said the trial of risk scoring was already under way in …
Mark Ballard, 15 Jun 2007
Free Software Foundation

Specsavers opens eyes to open source

Specsavers, the retail chain of opticians, is putting the finishing touches to an IT refit of its UK operation that has seen it move a third of its applications to open source software. The group is making the same transition across all eight countries in which it operates in order to save money and hassle. Key to the move is …
Mark Ballard, 14 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news

US harvests anti-terror research

The US will redirect the bulk of its investment in civil surveillance technology next year into the production of devices it can deploy in its war on terror. The US will have increased its investment in product development by three quarters, suggesting a four-year programme of investment in civil surveillance and counter-terror …
Mark Ballard, 13 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news

UK security industry pleads for closer goverment ties

The hi-tech civil security industry has said it needs a cosier relationship with government if the UK is to stay ahead in the "war on terror". Terrorists are finding new and frightening ways of subverting security, the industry warned today, and said companies that operate within it would not be able to keep up with the rapidly …
Mark Ballard, 13 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news wants to ramp up, co-ordinate anti-terror investment

The UK government's chief scientific advisor painted a depressing picture of an ever-evolving terror threat that had to be be met with an ever agile investment in science and technology for security. Launching the Home Office's Security and Counter-Terrorism Science and Innovation strategy, Professor Paul Wiles echoed its …
Mark Ballard, 12 Jun 2007
question mark teaser 75

MPs question Capgemini's HMRC profits

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has recommended that HM Revenue and Customs "rigorously benchmark" its 10-year deal with Capgemini after a steep rise in its revenue and profits from the deal after only three years. The contract HMRC awarded Capgemini in 2004 allowed the department to consider price changes if additional …
Mark Ballard, 12 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news

MEPs draft ring of flowers for fortress Europe

The European Parliament has fashioned a wreath of caveats it hopes will brighten up legislative measures designed to raise biometric borders and erect a network of biometric controls for police across the continent. The elected chamber is celebrating at least one certain success today: the official ratification of a compromise …
Mark Ballard, 8 Jun 2007
thumbs up teaser 75

Redstone 'delighted' after year of takeovers

Redstone, the long-time loss-making fixed-line telecoms firm,has morphed into a new age IT and telephony hybrid with a positive bank balance after a year of financial restructuring and acquisitions. The turnaround followed the arrival in 2005 of a new management team led by CEO Martin Balaam and CFO Tim Perks. The last year …
Mark Ballard, 8 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news

MS, Yahoo! and Google snub debate on freedom

Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft have passed up the chance to take part in a web conference on internet freedom being hosted by human rights group Amnesty International this evening. The event is being held to discuss how free debate is being quashed by oppressive regimes. The three tech giants could have made a crucial …
Mark Ballard, 6 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news

House of Lords steps into US-EU data spat

The House of Lords has called for some fair play in the homeland front of the "war on terror" after examining the massive data gathering exercises the US is using to build risk profiles of people travelling through its borders. In weighing the balance between public security and private rights, the House of Lords EU Committee …
Mark Ballard, 6 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news

MPs demand controls on Euro police databases

The Home Affairs Select Committee has advised government to put its weight behind neglected European efforts to hold the rapidly emerging system of police databases answerable to human rights legislation. The committee's proposals, published today in a report on EU police and judicial co-operation, include a bar on agreements …
Mark Ballard, 5 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news

OGC shreds identity scheme documents

The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has taken to treating its "Gateway" reviews of government IT projects like classified official documents as pressure mounts to have them opened to public scrutiny. The OGC, HM Treasury's procurement sheriff, has ordered civil servants to "securely destroy" all copies of Gateway reviews of …
Mark Ballard, 4 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news

Enron emails inspire GCHQ spooks

Geeks at GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), the UK's spook-infested listening station, are using the infamous Enron email trail to develop software that will monitor people's emails and stop them sending incriminating or confidential messages. The first findings from the research will be presented in August by Neil …
Mark Ballard, 1 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news

Facial drones spot passport frauds

The Passport Office has stopped 600 fraudulent passport applications using a facial recognition system it rolled out as a pilot across its fraud units last year. The Identity and Passport Service has since deemed the trial a success and, having built a database of mugshots belonging to around 25,000 known fraudsters, has …
Mark Ballard, 31 May 2007

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