A strong bid for the title of “Most-Hated Woman in British Politics since Margaret Thatcher” from Jacqui* Smith.
(You might think there’s limited competition. You haven’t thought about the repellent Anne Widdecombe, then. Or even, how about the likes of Harriet Harman who seem to have happily betrayed everything they ever once represented, just to be in government? And that’s without even counting some of female political commentators that the Mail can bring out.)
The House of Lords did the noble thing (well, the clue should be in the name) when its Constitution Committee came out with some forceful opposition to the database state:
“Electronic surveillance and collection of personal data are “pervasive” in British society and threaten to undermine democracy, peers have warned. (from the BBC website)
(There are quite a few pieces in the Guardian about this.)
What did Jacqui have to say:
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has rejected claims of a surveillance society and called for “common sense” guidelines on CCTV and DNA.
And where is this sudden upsurge of common sense going to come from? Who’s responsible for setting guidelines on CCTV and DNA. Blimey, it turns out to be you. So how can you be calling for other mythical common sense-exuding person or ministry to do the decent thing?
Forget the Lords, the European Court of Human Rights gave you some “common sense” guidelines on DNA…(hint, stop collecting it from innocent people, as a bare minimum)…
The Home Office “said CCTV and DNA were essential crime-fighting tools and that it was already reviewing the retention of DNA samples and consulting on the use of RIPA. The European Court of Human Rights told the Home Office in December that the retention of innocent people’s DNA was illegal.” (from the Register)
… and you haven’t even rushed to implement European law.
In fact, in the time since that ruling, rather than concentrate on dismantling the procedures that got the UK in trouble, you’ve been busy sneaking in new intrusions, like the innocuous-sounding Coroners and Justice Bil* which no2id is getting rather annoyed about.
Hidden in the new Coroners and Justice Bill 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 and everything recorded about you anywhere could be accessible to any official body.
Let me just refresh your memory about the safety of “anything recorded about you anywhere” In November 2008, IT Pro wrote about a year of data losses, starting with a Revenue and Customs loss of data on 20 million people and going upwards from there.
Which reminds me…. What happened to all those people hassling Jacqui for the chance to get an ID card back, also in November 2008? Have they got one yet, Jacqueline**.
* Do I have to use they Orwellian word again? It’s getting to be a cliche.
** Can I call you Jacqueline? It just seems so much more authentic. Or at least more predictably spellable. Jacqui sets my teeth on edge. Jackie would be fine, but it’s obviously not pretentious enough.