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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Big state arrogance

Henry Porter blogs over at Comment is Free on the continuing threat posed to our civil liberties by the Government's attitude to data collection and sharing:

The problem is that the government is pressing ahead with the vast project of merging all government databases (under the deliberately dull title of Transformational Government) without the slightest concern for individual privacy, or the mistakes contained in those databases. This week the data protection agency Garlik revealed that although millions of pieces of information were wrong, most departments had no policy or budget to correct them.

This tells you something about the government's sense of entitlement over personal data. Once it has our information, a discreet transfer of ownership takes place and it feels no responsibility to the people to whom this data actually belongs. This is classic big state arrogance, and no doubt the dreadful Straw hopes to smuggle this bill through parliament in the usual way – with as little scrutiny as possible. Jenny Willott a Lib-Dem MP sums up the situation: '"It is shocking enough that the government has no system to correct mistakes in personal information records, but to propose spreading this error-riddled data across the whole of government is dangerously absurd."

It must be clear to everyone that merging government databases will mean cross-infection of poorly maintained and uncorrected records, but I doubt this will concern Labour MPs. When the times comes they will file into the voting lobbies oblivious of the issues concerning bad records and privacy, and happy to act as the instrument of a project that is run behind closed doors by the civil service.

The government want us to trust them and their reliance on the systems that are in place so as to protect our liberties and our personal security. Unfortunately, all the evidence shows that their systems are not good enough, that there are no proper safeguards and Ministers themselves do not understand the monster they are unleashing on the public. There can be very little reassurance either in Ministers' actions or their words.


Let us not forget that the process of government data warehousing was started by the Conservatives.
Absolutely spot on. Garlik are absolutely right. Its obvious the government to be whether tory or labour want to gather ss much info about people as possible so as to set there policies in accordance of what they think the public want.
Big marketing companies do the same thing. Any old stats and more control over the people they serve.
I can see in the future that newspapers will have much to talk about over missing info, erroneous info, lost or stolen P.C. ,dongles, CD's. I hope people who get angry about all of this revert back to this blog post
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