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Steve Boggan on the database state

Posted by James Hammerton @ 7:52 pm on 1 March, 2007.
Categories privacy and surveillance, British politics, the database state.
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Although he doesn’t use the phrase “the database state”, Steve Boggan’s recent article in the Guardian is a useful primer on the development of the database state in Britain, explaining how the National Identity Register fits in with other government databases and the government’s plans to allow more sharing of personal data:

The Identity Cards Act makes provision for the establishment of a national identity scheme commissioner to monitor the whole thing. But it also provides for the sharing of your data - without your consent - with the director general of the security service, the chief of the intelligence service, the director of communications at GCHQ, the director general of the Serious Organised Crime Agency and chief police officers up and down the country. And this, the act says, is not something the commissioner may keep under review. He will have no watchdog powers over the security services in this regard.

The prime minister likes to call all this “transformational government” and few would deny that changes are, indeed, taking place. For example, next year will see the introduction of the children’s information sharing index, which will track every child, and all services they receive, from birth. And, of course, there is the NHS care records system, the so-called Spine database on which the government wants to hold all personal health information.

Once you have a national identity card, a number and an audit trail, all of this - and everything every government department, bank or supermarket has on you - could be accessed, without your knowledge or consent, by the security services, justified by their slightest suspicion of you. And the national identity scheme commissioner, the watchdog without teeth, wouldn’t be able to so much as growl.

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