Privacy and the government

Unfortunately I’m having a busy time of it at the moment, with lots going on both in and out of work. I really wanted to write a decent post around this, but haven’t had the time.

For now, I’ll just link to two articles from the Guardian:

Revealed: police databank on thousands of protesters

This first article shows how police are routinely storing photos and videos of political campaigners or protesters. These people aren’t breaking the law, but their movements and behaviour are being compiled into a large intelligence, to be kept for seven years, alongside evidence of those convicted of public order (or worse) offences. It’s a massive violation of privacy, as far as I’m concerned.

The second article stretches this loss of privacy even further, with the former Whitehall security co-ordinator stating “Finding out other people’s secrets is going to involve breaking everyday moral rules.”

This to me is a staggering admission that the government and civil service are happy to breach the rights of privacy for innocent citizens by routinely capturing and mining it to spot ‘suspicious’ patterns. The data to be collected are “personal information about individuals that resides in databases such as advanced passenger information, airline bookings, and other travel data, passport and biometric data, immigration, identity and border records, criminal records and other governmental and private sector data, including financial and telephone and other communications records.”

Even more worrying (though perhaps unsurprising these days), there’s a good chance the data management will be outsourced to the private sector and not held by the government. This means that private organisations, quite likely outside the UK will be responsible for the security of your financial information, communications records (in other words your phone bills, and likely your emails), and travel records.

It seems there’s little general awareness of the scale of these plans. If you happen to stumble across this post, I recommend you try to learn more about this, and if you feel strongly, write to your MP.