Saturday, 24 January 2009

Statement by National Co-ordinator Phil Booth


This is one of the most serious threats to our liberty and privacy we've yet seen.

The government is trying to remove all limits on the use of our private information by officials. This means taking your information from anywhere and passing it anywhere they like - including medical records, financial records, communications data, ID information.

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

Clause 152 of the Coroners and Justice Bill, due for its first debate in the Commons on Monday 26th January, would convert the Data Protection Act into its exact opposite. 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 allow 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.

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 would apply to any information, not just official information. They would permit data trafficking between government agencies and private companies - and even with foreign governments.


We need you to do three things:

1) Please write straightaway IN YOUR OWN WORDS to your MP via - do it this weekend, if not before. The Bill is being rushed through Parliament, even as we write.

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 contains a number of controversial provisions, but to the casual reader it appears mainly to be about reforming inquests and sentencing. It is due its Second Reading in the Commons on 26th January 2009.

Request your MP to demand that 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.

2) Write letters to your local papers. Highlight the fact that the information sharing powers in this Bill are overwhelmingly unpopular.

A YouGov poll in the Sunday Times on 18th January (details here: shows that the public opposes these new powers by a factor of 3 to 1 against - 65% of people asked said they would give government "too much power", only 19% thought not.

The government can't pretend a popular mandate for what it is doing. And it is a mechanism designed to bypass Parliament in future. It is being done only for the convenience of the bureaucrats.

3) Tell as many people and other groups (local political parties, union branches, the WI, churches, mosques, temples, etc.) as you can. And find out more yourself. We have created a new page on the website dedicated to 'data sharing' which contains links to the key documents and a brief explanation of each.

Please read it, and pass on the link:

Let your friends, family, colleagues and anyone who might share our concerns know that the battle for their privacy is happening NOW. The more people we reach, the more we hope will act.

We really can't afford not to win. Good luck!

Matilda Mitford (NO2ID Local Groups Coordinator)
Phil Booth (NO2ID National Coordinator)

Sunday, 18 January 2009

New Bill 'terrifying' assault on liberties

From the Independent:

Sweeping new powers allowing personal information about every citizen to be handed over to government agencies faced condemnation yesterday amid warnings that Britain is experiencing the greatest threats to civil rights for decades.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the pressure group Liberty, warned that the laws, published yesterday, were among a string of measures that amounted to a "terrifying" assault on traditional freedoms.

Proposals in the Coroners and Justice Bill include measures to authorise ministers to move huge amounts of data between government departments and other agencies and public bodies. Bodies that hold personal information include local councils, the DVLA, benefits offices and HM Revenue and Customs.

The Bill will allow ministers to use data-sharing orders to overturn strict rules that require information to be used only for the purpose it was taken. But it places no limit on the information that could eventually be shared between public bodies, potentially allowing vast amounts of personal data to be shared by officials across Whitehall, agencies or other public bodies.

To read NO2ID's response to the Bill click here.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Scottish schools force children to have 'entitlement' card

According to Scottish Television:

Education bosses have been condemned for trying to force pupils in secondary schools to carry ID cards by refusing to serve them school dinners if they do not have one.

Scottish Borders Council has told parents that pupils who do not have the electronic microchipped National Entitlement Card (NEC) will not be served in the school canteen.

Campaigners claim that this is a “back door” strategy to impose the Home Office’s National Identity Register on people in Scotland.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

New police powers to hack without a warrant

The Home Office has quietly adopted a new plan to allow police across Britain routinely to hack into people’s personal computers without a warrant, according to the Times.

The articles goes on:

"The hacking is known as “remote searching”. It allows police or MI5 officers who may be hundreds of miles away to examine covertly the hard drive of someone’s PC at his home, office or hotel room.

"Material gathered in this way includes the content of all e-mails, web-browsing habits and instant messaging."

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, the human rights group, said she would challenge the legal basis of the move. “These are very intrusive powers – as intrusive as someone busting down your door and coming into your home,” she said.

“The public will want this to be controlled by new legislation and judicial authorisation. Without those safeguards it’s a devastating blow to any notion of personal privacy.”

She said the move had parallels with the warrantless police search of the House of Commons office of Damian Green, the Tory MP: “It’s like giving police the power to do a Damian Green every day but to do it without anyone even knowing you were doing it.”

Thanks to Andy.