Security Forward Risk & Intelligence Forum’s Winter Meeting was held at The London Capital Club in the City of London on 7 December 2016. We began with a presentation from our guest speaker Lorraine Homer, who specialises in security and policing communication and has handled some of the UK’s most dominant news stories, including communication for the London 2012 Olympic security, 7 July bombings, and the south-east Asian tsunami. Lorraine entitled her talk "Broadcast Terrorism And The Power Of Social Media". As a communications expert Lorraine gave an appropriately insightful and illuminating talk highlighting the power of communications and the speed of change in the modern world. She pointed out how effectively terrorist organisations have adapted to new technology. As we operate under the Chatham House Rule, Lorraine was able to discuss her past experiences and warn of some of the possible dangers in the future. She then took questions and there was a lively interactive session which extended up until the coffee break.
After the coffee break Professor Michael Mainelli, Chairman of Z/Yen Group, gave a brief presentation on Z/Yen's IDChainZ project. IDchainZ is a mutual distributed ledger (MDL, aka blockchain) system for sharing identity information in closed groups while meeting the EU General Data Protection Regulation. The short presentation highlighted the inexpensive, mobile phone-based applications that sat on top of a secure distributed ledger.
After that technical interlude, we moved on to our usual 'round robin' session to share 'issues of the in-tray’. As always this gave each of the participants an opportunity to highlight their most pressing issues and to alert other members to latest developments, connections, or need for help.
We then gave the floor to our 'Speaker in Residence' Lt Colonel Crispin Black, MBE, MPHIL, an independent expert on terrorism, intelligence and security. His presentation was entitled "Do You Know Who I Am? Who On Earth Do You Think You Are? Establishing And Protecting Identity In The Modern World" (as ever with Crispin, no points for brevity).
Crispin argued that in philosophical terms it has always been difficult for humans to agree a convincing definition of individual identity. Nevertheless, throughout history a workable form of identity has been the foundation of effective government underpinning border control, taxation, conscription, criminal justice, voting practices, and both business and state administration. In recent years it has become easier to establish physical identity through DNA testing and easier to store, protect and access identity-related information using mutual distributed ledgers and cryptography.
Demand for easily accessible proof of identity is likely to increase rapidly in the next few years as modern and developing states begin to understand its value and convenience. Three priority areas seem to be: voter registration, border control, and access to medical treatment and other state benefits. At the same time as states push for more comprehensive identity databases, individuals will seek more control over the storage and release of their own personal information. To Crispin, MDLs, accompanied by some kind of dual key cryptology, are uniquely placed to provide this. As always Crispin’s talk opened up a wide range of questions. In accord with our tradition, Crispin suggested a drink based on his talk. Given that his talk featured the new US President-elect, Donald J Trump, along with Mexican border discussions, he picked the 'Bad Hombre', suggested by relatives of his out West.
Following the meeting we had drinks in the Members' Bar and then returned to dinner in our private room. Our dinner speaker was Professor David Dilks, Professor of International History at the University of Leeds for 21 years, before becoming Vice Chancellor of the University of Hull. He gave an outstanding talk about his book "Churchill & Company: Allies & Rivals In War & Peace", a copy of which was presented to all those present. As David Dilks was Research Assistant to Sir Anthony Eden, he was uniquely qualified to reflect on what was happening in the corridors of power during the post-war period. His talk engendered a great deal of debate and, as his latest book is about the Katyn massacre of Polish officers, he was also able to discourse on that as well. As always, the networking opportunities resulted in the usual exchanging of cards and we know that many of our Members are in regular contact with each other which adds value to their Security function. Future Meetings are scheduled for 22 March 2017, 13 July 2017, 9 October 2017, 4 December 2017, and 22 March 2018.