- Authority to Carry consultation document (PDF file - 328kb)
- Impact assessment - Implementation of authority-to-carry scheme (PDF file - 421kb)
- Equality impact assessment - Implementation of authority-to-carry scheme (PDF file - 278kb)
Note the lack of any Privacy Impact Assessment, despite the plans for automated snooping on the travel data of millions of innocent passengers a year.
The Consultation document asks
12. The Authority to Carry Scheme takes its name from legislation. Are the meanings of the terms 'authority to carry' and 'refusal' or 'denial' of authority to carry clear? If not, are there different terms which may be clearer?
When we first read the words "Authority to Carry Scheme" in the context of Aviation Security, we assumed that it was something to do with the ineffective and dangerous schemes for allowing firearms on to passenger flights favoured by gun crazy Americans, involving armed Air Marshals or Airline Pilots etc. - did none of them watch the film Con Air ?
However it appears to be another plan for an extension of bureaucratic snooping on innocent people, with no reasonable chance of ever achieving its stated aims.
Like the previous incompetent yet authoritarian Labour regime, the current Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition is paying lip service to civil liberties and human rights.
Civil liberties are at the heart of the Government's approach to counter-terrorism and it will be important to ensure these proposals give consideration to people's freedoms.
Measures will be put in place to minimise the potential for members of the travelling public to be mistakenly identified as an individual whom an airline should be denied authority to carry under these arrangements.
Nowhere in this plan is there any mention of any system for rapid, public apology, generous financial compensation and the effective purging of the libellous toxic database entries, shared around the world, which put a black mark against the name of an innocent person wrongly identified as a terrorist.
There is no mention of the six figure legal costs to the Government and the Airline industry which will result from libel cases etc. when they falsely accuse some innocent passengers as terrorist suspects.
The Home Office civil servants and politicians still live in a fantasy world and are seeking to justify spending millions, or even billions of pounds of other people's money on a feeble Black Swan Event scenario, which even their astonishing Impact Assessment admits will have a massive rate of False Positives and which may never prevent any terrorist attack, before the policy and its underlying assumptions are changed.
No doubt some terrorist plots will be foiled by the work of the intelligence agencies, the police or the vigilance of the general public, in spite of this policy, but not because of it.
Impact Assessment page 9
Between 1999 and 2009, there were ten major terrorist plots in the UK : The shoe bomb plot (2001), Ricin bomb plot (2003), fertiliser bomb plot (Operation Crevice, 2003), London transport attacks of 7 July 2005 and 21 July 2005, transatlantic liquid bomb plot (Operation Overt, 2006), Haymarket car bombs and Glasgow airport attack (Operation Seagram,2007), Ibrahim suicide vests (Operation Vulcanise, 2008) and the Exeter bombing (2009). Of these, just one (7 July 2005) was successful; the rest were either disrupted prior to execution by the police, or failed after execution due to perpetrator error or police intervention.
Using assumptions about the potential fatalities, casualties, property damage and tourism losses that each of these attacks could have caused, it was estimated that the average cost of these terrorist attacks, had they each been successfully executed, would be in the region £950m - £1.64bn. Given the current 'success rate' (1/10) and frequency of attacks (10 per decade), it is estimated that in an average decade, terrorist attacks will cost the UK economy £828m - £1.43bn .
None of these "major terrorist plots", most of which did not even involve airline flights at all, could have been prevented by the proposed "Authority to Carry Scheme" policy, but they are being used as the "benefit" calculation justification !
These cases are also being used to justify the budgets of MI5, MI6, GCHQ, the Metropolitan Police etc..
The "shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted" policy driver appears to be the Christmas 2009 "underpants bomber" case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - the intelligence agency communications failures in that case, which did not involve the United Kingdom at all, would not have been mitigated by this proposed Aviation Security pre-flight Passenger Name database "Authority to Carry" scheme.
Neither would the "Authority to Carry Scheme" have prevented the visits of the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik to or from the UK.
Impact Assessment Page 10
- The manual system is assumed to be 99% effective, and the automated system 100% effective
- The number of false positives is assumed to be equal to the number of individuals correctly identified (i.e. 2.25 individuals per annum)
We simply do not agree with these ridiculous assumptions.
Given the hundreds of millions of airline passenger flights at UK airports every year, where exactly have they come up with these figures from ?
Where are the assumed figures for the number of False Negatives ?
Where are the figures of the number of terrorist suspects travelling on fake or genuine but falsely obtained Passports etc ?
Impact Assessment Page 12
These figures are based on data about all major terrorist plots to the UK, rather than using only those plots aimed at journeys in transit to the UK.
If they did that, then there would be no basis for this policy at all !
The Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition have dithered over their pre-election promises regarding our freedoms and rights which were under such legislative assault by the previous Labour government.
Will they demonstrate that they are better than Labour and actually drop this proposed Aviation Snooping scheme on human rights grounds, rather than on "big cost / no financial benefit" grounds ?
If you care about your privacy and freedom, then put political pressure on the Coalition government to actually fulfil their pre-election promises and stop them from proposing inept, repressive, Labour style "technological magic fixes", by supporting the cross-party NO2ID Campaign
Text of the Impact Assessment: