The issue of the Database state is so
important, and so perilous to our wellbeing as individuals and as a nation,
that I have republished this article from the NO2ID campaign, a link is
available at the bottom of this article, for those who perhaps read my blog but
not theirs. I fully support the NO2ID
campaign, as their aims and ambitions reflect my own.
If any of you consider that the content of
my blog is paranoia, then read everything below, it is real, it is government
policy, and they are enacting it under your nose right now. The one item not covered in this article is
the benign NPfIT. As every member of the public will be signed up to the NHS,
by default this will become a super database as well, so we fully recommend
that you write to your doctor and opt-out of an entry into the electronic
records system. Do you want your piles
being discussed by a civil servant in the DVLA, and that information being sold
on to marketing companies? That’s what
sharing your data means.
The government does not want to “share” my data – it wants full control. How can I give informed
consent to having my data 'passed on' if I don't know how it will be used in
the future, or who will have access to it? These [data-sharing] proposals show
government claims for 'ID cards', centralised medical records and a Children's
Index are not only complete fantasy – but currently ILLEGAL. No government that
passes (or ignores) laws to serve its own “efficiency” over the
personal security and privacy of citizens, can claim to represent the public
interest. – Phil 'NO2ID' Booth, London
As my comment on the BBC's 'Have Your Say' (Added: Monday, 15 January, 2007,
15:11 GMT) has mysteriously failed to appear, I decided to kick off this update
by posting a slight edit of it here – expanding the abbreviations I used to
meet the 500 character limit.
If you would like to engage in open discussion about this (and many other
issues) I recommend a visit to NO2ID's forums. Elements of this update are
drawn from a post I made in our 'Data Sharing' forum, here:
Many people who haven't been tracking the ID issue as closely as NO2ID will not
be aware of the key documents and initiatives that have led up to, or are a
part of, Tony Blair's latest data-sharing 'revelations'. The BBC was
unfortunately a bit wrong-footed on Sunday, reporting a new 'superdatabase' –
as it, and others, were similarly misdirected over the Home Office's supposed
U-turn on the National Identity Register (or 'NIR', the database behind ID
cards) before Christmas.
The Home Office has NEVER said that there won't be an NIR. They have just
changed from building a complete new system to trying to build a rather more
complex system by linking several existing databases. Before Christmas,
ministers insisted that the information on these databases would be
'segregated' and protected by security measures and the normal confidentiality
rules. This new data-sharing scheme appears to overthrow that promise.
What follows is unashamedly a reading list. And I warn you – it's not easy
There's a lot to plough through, but I do urge those of you who want to
understand just how concerted and deliberate an attack on civil liberty, personal
security and privacy the government's ID and data-sharing proposals really are,
to *make* the time. The government is relying on you not to.
The most important documents and initiatives, in roughly chronological order,
1) The Citizen Information Project [Treasury] – an Office for National
Statistics (ONS) project, quietly 'wrapped into' the National ID Scheme just
after the passing of the Identity Cards Act 2006. All the available
documentation on CIP is published here:http://www.gro.gov.uk/cip/
If you want to start somewhere, I strongly recommend the Final Report – you
could get lost in the rest, which may have been the point of publishing it all
– available as a 405KB PDF:
2) 'Transformational Government' [Cabinet Office] – the key strategy document,
subtitled 'Enabled by technology' with the the cringe-worthy strapline:
'Citizen and business-centred shared services, professionally delivered'.
Places the National Identity Register (or 'NIR' – see below) right at the
centre of things. Available as a 412KB PDF file:
John Suffolk – the Government's new 'Chief Information Officer' – publishes an
Annual Report on 'Transformational Government', the first of which you can
comment on here:http://www.commentonthis.com/tfg/
3) The Identity Cards Act 2006 [Home Office] – bullied onto the statute books
in March 2006, this is the piece of legislation that prompted the setting up of
NO2ID as a public campaign. The 'National Identity Register' – whether one
database, as originally promised, or three or many more – sits at the heart of
the government's 'identity management' ambitions. And its tentacles will reach
into every aspect of YOUR life, if we don't stop it and get the Act repealed.
a further 187KB of Explanatory Notes
4) 'Information Sharing Vision Statement' [DCA] – buried in September 2006,
just after the anniversary of 9/11 and when Tony Blair's troubles at the TUC
were bound to grab the headlines. As NO2ID said at the time, “The
announcement of the abolition of privacy ought to be big news” – it
wasn't. We even went so far as to accuse the Information Commissioner of
“throwing in the towel”. People may draw their own conclusions from
the deafening silence from the ICO on these latest announcements…
5) The Varney Review [Treasury] – Full title, 'Service transformation: A better
service for citizens and businesses, a better deal for the taxpayer', fronted
by Sir David Varney and published in December 2006. Available as a 752KB PDF
You can also read it online and comment on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis at
Sam Smith's excellenthttp://www.commentonthis.com/varney/
6) 'Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme – Safeguarding your
identity' [Home Office] – note the none-too-subtle shift from 'ID cards'.
Buried literally hours before Parliament rose for Christmas on 19th December 2006. Available as an 858KB PDF file:
Commentable copy here:http://www.commentonthis.com/idaction/You
may note that the word “trust” does not appear once in the entire
document. A pretty fundamental concept for identity in any shape or form,
entirely absent from the government's plans…
These are the the reports published to date. But there are yet more in the
7) 'The Straw Committee' – we hadn't even heard that this was going on, until
Stephen Harrison (chief civil servant at UK IPS) let it slip at a meeting of
the British Computer Society. Intended to find “quick wins for identity
management” so that the government can claim that state ID control is good
for us, and that it is actually doing something, anything, about it – despite
having failed to put any of the ID scheme out to tender almost a year after
forcing through the legislation.
8) 'The Hutton Report' – mysteriously absent, despite having been dragged in to
justify the latest data-sharing announcements. Another review, this time of
'customer care standards across public services', that forms part of the Prime
Minister's 11th hour sweeping policy review, a last-ditch attempt to tie his
successor to his view of the New Labour project. Unfortunately, Gordon Brown
and others do seem to be buying it…
[Clearly, given the government's outstanding record on IT delivery, the best
way to improve the quality and efficiency of public services is to join all
their databases together to permit data-sharing on an unprecedented scale and
give bureaucrats even more control over every aspect of our lives… NOT!]
9) The 'Public Private Forum on Identity Management' – the former CEO of HBOS,
Sir James Crosby, chairs Gordon Brown's 'ID taskforce' that is expected to
release a report in March 2007 on “how the public and private sectors can
work together… to maximise efficiency and effectiveness”. It seems that
there are quite a few of these reports floating about – might it not be more
'efficient and effective' to have a proper debate, rather than to let the
various departments, potential successors and candidates for the post-Blair top
slots squabble amongst themselves?
Of course not, because we have…
10) 'Citizen panels' / 'Citizen forums' – Tony Blair now tells us that:
“Ordinary people [hand-picked by government-retained PR merchants, of
course] will have the chance to directly influence government decisions [i.e.
be used in a profoundly undemocratic way to rubber-stamp government policy] as
part of a major policy review starting this month.
“Members of the public will be consulted in a “deliberative
forum” that will put them in the shoes of decision makers in government
[overlooking for a moment the fact that these people won't be elected
representatives, why are we supposed to be so impressed by this?]. Cabinet
Office Ministers Pat McFadden and Ed Miliband will support them throughout the
process ['support'? More like 'manage any troublemakers that slip through the
“The February meetings will see 100 delegates study official papers
currently under discussion, and then consider the same dilemmas [i.e.
“We'll fix the questions, or at least tell you what they are.” Surely
these 'ordinary people' can make up their own minds what questions to ask? They
might even help the government think through the issues from an 'ordinary
person's' perspective…] which Ministers face on a daily basis before making
their final decisions.”
The citizens' panels are expected to start reporting in March – hmm, I wonder
if this could be timed to steal any of Crosby's thunder? – having had just one month to deliberate on what, quite
clearly, has taken ministers and civil servants years to cook up.
There you go. It's all there in black-and-white. Maybe buried under layers of
spin, but you can read the planned architecture (even see some of the diagrams)
of the database state for yourself.
This is not fantasy.
This is not paranoia.
This is government policy – and it will affect YOU (and your kids and your
grandchildren, and their children…)
If you want to do something about it, then I urge you to join NO2ID:
We and tens of thousands of our supporters are fighting this as, almost every
week now, the government ramps things up yet another notch. It may think it can
boil the entire population like frogs, leaking overly-dramatic announcements
and then sneaking out another piece of the jigsaw puzzle as the fuss dies down.
Don't be fooled. Inform yourself, and tell others.
Together we can stop this – say NO2ID and the database state.