Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Database Election

(The following statement reproduced from NO2ID's national website)

The general election will be over in a month. But the struggle over ID cards has already lasted more than one parliament. The database state has built up huge momentum. Stopping it will require MPs of all parties to pay attention now — and take action for the long-term.The opposition parties have promised to scrap the ID scheme and ContactPoint, and to review other databases. But Whitehall won't want to lose its empires whoever is elected. Whoever is elected needs to know how much it matters, and have the determination to follow-through.

[...] Despite recruiting just a few thousand guinea-pigs so far, the Home Office still intends that everyone will be fingerprinted and indexed on a central database — whether or not that involves a token card. The start date has slipped back from 2008 to 2012, but the plan still is for you to pass control of your identity to the state when you apply for a passport.

Medical records. The Department of Health has engineered a massive mailshot to patients during the election. You may have received a letter. It might have gone missing. But fail to respond and your GP's records on your family may be irreversably locked into a central database, retrievable without your consent from that point on. Opt out now.

ContactPoint. An index of every child in England and Wales has gone live despite technical faults and security concerns. Putting everyone on the system doesn't make any child safer. The existence of a "shielding" scheme denied to most families suggests the reverse.

DNA and criminal records. A million (and counting) innocent people are already on the largest DNA database in the world. When will they be taken off? The Criminal Records Bureau may treat you as a convicted criminal if you have been arrested. The Independent Safeguarding Authority can ban you from your career for accusations, or even for its own idea of 'risk factors' in your legal behaviour.

Data surveillance and trafficking. Many government bodies collecting more personal information about you, holding it for longer — and passing it around: when and where you travel; your finances; who you contact by phone or e-mail; what you read or watch online.

Mass surveillance, whether of road journeys (ANPR), overseas travel (e-Borders), in communications (data retention) or through any of the many national databases is profoundly different from the selective surveillance for a purpose that has always been part of law enforcement. It means the death of privacy. It means a future official looking over your shoulder while you live your life now.

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