So Much for Privacy

There’s an interesting article about government databases in today’s Guardian. According to a report commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, a political reform charity, out of 46 major government databases studied, 11 are in direct contravention of existing privacy and human rights legislation, and a further 29 need remedial work to bring them up to standard. You can find the complete report here.

Amongst the databases identified as currently illegally operated are the National DNA Database, the National Identity Register (intended to become the basis for an ID card system) and a system that allows data to be shared with law enforcement agencies in other EU countries without proper checks. Also on the list is the NHS Detailed Care Record, which apparently allows NHS staff to annotate patient records without any control or accountability. And perhaps most worrying of all, ContactPoint, a national index of all children in Britain which appears to be being used to highlight “problem” citizens from a very young age. From the Guardian article:

The report says children in particular are placed at risk. Three of the largest databases set up to support the young are failing to achieve their aims, it says.

Terri Dowty, of Action on Rights for Children, said young people had never been so measured, graded, monitored and discussed; the level of intrusion could not be “justified on the basis of good intentions”.

So basically what Britain is doing here is creating a sophisticated surveillance society by stealth under the excuse that it is “protecting” children. As kids people have few rights, and by the time they grow up it will be too late – the government will already have extensive data about them, much of which is liable to be wrong, and which they probably won’t be able to challenge.

Cory, where are you?

3 thoughts on “So Much for Privacy

  1. Interesting indeed – thanks for the pointer.

    One quibble: you describe the Trust as "a political reform charity" but to the best of my knowledge it isn’t a charity, because charity law doesn’t allow charities to engage in this sort of political activity. (Best not let me start on this one…)

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