We cast our eye over the main stories impacting the security industry. Here’s what’s appeared on the radar since the last issue.
Canada rejects asylum request from Kim Jong-il’s ex-bodyguard who fears kidnap
2 September 2020
Canada has reportedly rejected an asylum request from Kim Jong-il’s former bodyguard. Lee Young-guk, 57, said he fears he will be kidnapped if he is deported back to South Korea. Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board is said to have rejected a request by the ex-bodyguard to allow him to remain in the country.
The board reportedly said that Lee’s statements that he faces persecution in South Korea “lacked credibility”.
Lee told The Toronto Star through an interpreter: “The situation is bleak.
“(The regime) tried to kidnap me when I was in South Korea. If Canada returns me there, I’m a dead man.”
In 2000, Lee joined an exodus of defectors and made it to Seoul via China.
Lee told the Star that he began working as a bodyguard for the late Kim Jong-il in 1978.
At the time, Kim was the heir apparent to his father, Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea.
Of his job as a bodyguard, he said: “We were paid $100 (US) a month and followed him wherever he went.
“Everyone was scared of him because even when he was happy, he was rude and cruel.”
Kim died in 2011 and was succeeded by his son, the country’s current leader, Kim Jong-un.
“I find there is substantial evidence … to show the brutality committed by the regime, by the leaders and the common population throughout the regime of Kim Jong-il,” asylum adjudicator Brenda Lloyd wrote in refusing Lee’s claim in a decision released on July 31.
Government outlines next steps for UK’s proposed use of digital identity
10 September 2020
LEADERS IN the tech, business and civil society sectors have welcomed the Government’s proposals to enable the use of digital identity across the UK, with plans to update existing laws and a new set of guiding principles for policy development.
The proposals come after it was revealed that 2.6 million people have made a claim for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme online since its launch on 13 May 2020, with 1.4 million having no prior digital identity credentials and needing to pass through HMRC’s identity verification service.
Increasingly, people are required to prove their identity to access services, whether that be to buy age-restricted items on and offline or make it easier to register at a new GP surgery.
Now, following a Call for Evidence published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport alongside the Cabinet Office, the Government plans to update existing laws on identity checking in order to enable digital identity to be used as widely as possible.
The Government will consult on developing legislation for consumer protection relating to digital identity, specific rights for individuals and an ability to seek redress if something goes wrong and also set out where the responsibility for oversight should lie. It will also consult on the appropriate privacy and technical standards for administering and processing secure digital identities.
Figures issued last year show a 32% rise in identity fraud over five years, with 223,163 cases recorded in that year alone. This is up 18% on the previous year.
Charlie Hebdo are still going, but now with bodyguards
7 September 2020
More than five years after Islamist militants killed 12 of their colleagues, staff at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo say they re-published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad to tell the world they are “still standing”—albeit with a security detail.
The gunmen are dead, but on September 2 a Paris court began hearing the trial of 14 people accused of being their accomplices. To mark the start of the trial, Charlie Hebdo republished the cartoons which, when first published, turned it into a target of searing anger and a global symbol of free speech.
“It’s to show that we are still standing, still alive, still doing Charlie,” said Antonio Fischetti, who has worked for Charlie Hebdo since 1997.
Tens of thousands of people protested in Pakistan on Saturday over the re-publication, chanting “Death to France”. In France, criticism has been muted.
The magazine moved its offices to an undisclosed location that several staff described as a windowless bunker. The magazine also employs a private security firm at a cost of about 1 million euros per year to guard the newsroom.
Bodyguards provide by state law enforcement agencies are assigned to some cartoonists and writers, according to several Charlie Hebdo staff.
French prosecutor seeking court appearance for ex-Macron bodyguard Benalla
7 September 2020
The French prosecutor’s department said on Friday that it wanted Alexandre Benalla, a former bodyguard to President Emmanuel Macron, to appear in court over allegations including the misuse of diplomatic passports and other charges.
Benalla, who was sacked in 2018 after a video emerged of him beating a protester in Paris, had been under scrutiny over his use of diplomatic passports.
Chief Executive of the Security Industry Authority (SIA) steps down
4 September 2020
The Security Industry Authority’s Chief Executive, Ian Todd, has announced his decision to step down from the role as a result of “significant changes in personal circumstances”. Mr Todd will leave the role on 16 October 2020.
Speaking about his departure Ian said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to lead the SIA over the past 18 months and I am proud of what we have achieved together, particularly rising to the challenges of COVID-19. Whilst I am disappointed that I will not see our corporate plan through to completion, I remain positive that the foundations are strong and that I will be able to look back, in future, and see an even stronger organisation as a result. I would like to thank the Authority members and all staff for making my time at the SIA such a positive experience.”
Elizabeth France CBE, Chair of the SIA said: “We are sorry that, for personal reasons, Ian has decided not to continue as our Chief Executive. He is an excellent Chief Executive and has played an important part in the development of the SIA, leading it through a challenging period.
We are keen to see the plans he has put in place delivered and shall immediately appoint one of our Directors as acting Chief Executive to ensure that no momentum is lost while we conduct a formal recruitment process.”
NEW NONPROFIT LOOKS TO STRENGTHEN THE SECURITY WORKFORCE
7 September 2020
Two security trade groups join forces to build a nonprofit aimed at boosting employment in the industry. The Security Industry Association (SIA) and the Electronic Security Association (ESA)—are taking steps to strengthen the talent pipeline.
The groups just announced the launch of a new nonprofit, the Foundation for Advancing Security Talent (FAST), which aims to promote careers in the security and life safety industry.
The foundation will focus on helping companies in these fields by encouraging outreach to schools, colleges, and universities; creating research on workforce development; and developing continuing-education resources for those already in the industry.
SIA Board Chair Pierre Trapanese said FAST could help solve recruiting challenges for the sectors, which often must compete with the rest of the technology field for new hires.
SIA: Short-sighted Portland Moves To Ban Facial Recognition Technology
14 Sept, 2020
Portland, OR, US
The Security Industry Association (SIA) has stated that the decision by the City Council of Portland, Oregon, to ban facial recognition technology use by businesses in places of public accommodation, starting January 2021 and to prohibit all city government use of facial recognition technologies are shortsighted decisions that do not consider effective and beneficial applications of facial recognition.
“Turning back the clock on technological advancement through a complete ban on private-sector use of technology that clearly keeps our fellow citizens safe is not a rational answer during this period of social unrest in Portland,” stated Security Industry Association (SIA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Don Erickson.
As part of the council’s discussion, Portland City Councilwoman, Jo Ann Hardesty stated prior to the vote that the council would revisit the ban when there is technology that is not racially biased and is tested by independent third parties.
SIA notes that such technology is available in the current scenario, and in July, SIA authored and submitted a letter to Portland’s Mayor and City Council, which noted the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s research paper that documented that high-performing algorithms perform equally well across different demographics.
SIA welcomes working with cities and government on future facial recognition ordinances and policies to ensure decisions are based upon facts and a complete understanding of current technologies and that such policies consider widespread public support for the benefits of this technology.
State Owes Private Security Firms 3 Billion
4 September 2020
Private security firms have warned of imminent collapse following delayed payments for services rendered to key government ministries, agencies and parastatals.
Through the umbrella Protective Security Industry Association (PSIA), the firms yesterday claimed they are owed Sh3 billion for services offered before and during the Covid-19 period.
The firms, which largely depend on government for business, complained that the payments had been delayed for more than six months.
Top on the list of debtors is the Ministry of Sports, which PSIA said has an outstanding bill of Sh25 million, accrued over nine months, for security services provided to all the stadia in Nairobi.
PSIA chairman Cosmas Mutava called on the government to fast-track payments to cushion Kenya’s 700,000 private security guards’ livelihoods.
“Security provision is the prerogative of the government. What we offer are complementary services. If we don’t get paid, then we run the risk of laying off our staff during these tough times and eventually closing shop. The impact of that to the industry would be regrettable,” warned Mr Mutava.
Bodyguard’s widow rebukes ‘uncaring’ Foreign Office after his death in Kabul
26 August 2020
Belfast, Northern Ireland
A north Belfast widow has criticised the Foreign Office for a lack of support over her husband’s death in the British Embassy in Kabul earlier this year.
Father-of-three Mark Taylor died in mysterious circumstances in the Afghan capital in April.
Mr Taylor (46), who had served with the British Army for 14 years, was working as a close personal protection officer for G4S guarding diplomats at the embassy.
Almost five months on Jennifer Taylor says she has not been given precise details of the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death.
Two post-mortems have proved inconclusive.
Mrs Taylor says she feels let down by the Foreign Office, claiming she had not been offered any support or guidance since her husband’s body was found on April 2.
Despite reaching out to officials for help to fly her husband’s body directly back to Belfast, his remains arrived home via Dublin.
Mrs Taylor said her husband’s body had been “shipped up” to Belfast from Dublin “like a piece of lost luggage”.
Mrs Taylor is appealing for more information about her husband’s death and has a series of unanswered questions about his final hours, including why a healthy young man would go to bed and “simply not wake up”.
North Belfast MP John Finucane said the way the Taylor family had been treated was “absolutely despicable”.
“If you wanted to create an atmosphere whereby people are suspicious, then the Foreign Office have done just that through their lack of support for Jennifer,” he added.
The Foreign Office said: “Our staff continue to support the family of a British man following his death in Kabul in April. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”