Friday, January 23, 2009

Burying Database Law in another Bill Fencepost!


NO2ID has been warning since 2006/7 about the stated intentions of
government "to overcome current barriers to information sharing within
the public sector" [1]. Now the Ministry of Justice has launched an
extraordinary coup. It is about to convert the Data Protection Act into
its exact opposite, a means for any government department to obtain and
use any information however it likes.

Hidden in the new Coroners and Justice Bill [2] is one clause (cl.152)
amending the Data Protection Act. It would allow ministers to make
'Information Sharing Orders', that can alter any Act of Parliament and
cancel all rules of confidentiality in order to use information obtained
for one purpose to be used for another.

This single clause is as grave a threat to privacy as the entire ID
Scheme. Combine it with the index to your life formed by the planned
National Identity Register [3] and everything recorded about you
anywhere could be accessible to any official body.

The Database State is now a direct threat not a theory.

Quite apart from the powers in the Identity Cards Act, if Information
Sharing Orders come to pass, they could (for example) immediately be
used to suck up material such as tax records or electoral registers to
build an early version of the National Identity Register. But the powers
apply to any information, not just official information. They would
permit data trafficking between government agencies and private
companies - your medical records are firmly in their sights - and even
with foreign governments.


We urge you to write to your MP straight away via - don't wait. The Bill is being rushed
through Parliament, even as we write. It contains a number of
controversial provisions, but to the casual reader appears mainly to be
about reforming inquests and sentencing.

As it progresses, NO2ID will be publishing more information but it is
crucial that every MP realises how dangerous the information sharing
clauses in the Coroners and Justice Bill really are. This will only
happen if YOU tell them.

*In your own words*, please ask your MP to read Part 8 (clauses 151 -
154) of the Coroners and Justice Bill, and to oppose the massive
enabling powers in the "Information sharing" clause. The Bill is due its
Second Reading in the Commons on 26th January 2009.

Request them to demand the clause be given proper Parliamentary
scrutiny. This is something that will affect every single one of their
constituents, unlike the rest of the Bill. There is a grave danger that
the government will set a timetable that will cut off debate before
these proposals - which are at the end of the Bill - are discussed.

With support for the ID scheme crumbling, even in the Home Office's own
skewed polls - the last of which showed a 5% drop [4] - trust in the
government's handling of our personal information is at an all-time low.

A YouGov poll in the Sunday Times on 18th January shows that the public
opposes these new powers by a factor of 3 to 1 *against*. 65% of people
asked said they give government "too much power", only 19% thought not
[5]. The government can't pretend a popular mandate for what it is
doing. And it is a mechanism designed to by-pass parliament in future.
It is being done only for the convenience of the bureaucrats.

Please write NOW - - it won't take long, and
we are going to ask you again. But if you don't start now, our battle is
going to be much harder.

Please ALSO pass on or forward this part of the newsletter to friends,
family and colleagues who might share your concerns. The more people it
reaches, the more we hope will act.

We really can't afford not to win.

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