Sunday, 4 April 2010

The Collection Of Data

Over the past decade - and to a lesser extent, previously - the state has been gathering information on us, supposedly in our name, using our money. We have virtually reached the situation where we have two 'personae'; ours and the approved, official government-sanctioned version resulting in the situation where we wish to access a public service - be that state owned or private - we have to justify that we are the same person as the official version.

Just after the end of the Second World War the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated in Article 12:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
 Fast forward to 1950 and the European Court of Human Rights, Article 8
1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Libertarians will argue, quite rightly, that Article 8 of the ECHR was the opening of a 'Pandora's Box' to the the detriment of personal liberty. It was in fact the 'European' version of stopping the state being a menace to freedom, to one of being society's 'protector'. This has culminated in the state gradually usurping powers from us, thereby allowing them to control us and, in the process, brain-washing us into believing that we, the people, cannot be trusted to manage our own affairs.

Where better to start with 'control' than with children, as by 'controlling the children one can 'control' the parents. Let us, again, go back in time to Lisbon, March 2002 and a meeting of the EU Heads of State. At that time the IT industry was struggling to survive due to the bubble bursting and it was decided that this industry could be revived with government 'business'. The decision was taken to create 'e-government' with a view to offering people more efficient, faster information on public services - and of course to maximise revenue by selling back to the public information that was theirs in the first place.

In Britain, the Cabinet Office's Performance and Innovation Unit produced a report entitled 'Privacy and Data Sharing' which identified areas where the agreed policy could be enacted - children and families that may well need to access public services. To backtrack once again, remember that the Education Act 1996, Section 537 only allowed government to collect 'school-level' data and expressly forbade collection of 'pupil-level' data. Amendments to bills passed in 1997/1998 were made to the wording to the original Education Act; so instead of information being collected at 'school-level', it could now be collected at 'pupil-level'. All that changed was just one word, yet it made a great difference to the information that could be collected. On top of that, just as the Bill was in the final stages, an amendment was inserted that allowed data to be shared across government - all without full parliamentary debate and little, or no, debate in committee.

It was subsequently found that the data to be collected wasn't specified in the legislation, but was at the discretion of the Secretary of State by means of Statutory Instruments (SI's) which are a means of implementing the fine detail of a law - not to create new laws, as is presently the case - and even today a Secretary of State can vary the data collected without recourse to Parliament.

In a post tomorrow I will, courtesy of Heather Brooke's book 'The Silent State', detail some of the data systems collecting information on children - data I never knew about and which it is suspected some parents never knew about.
Stay tuned...............

1 comment:

Lead Generation said...

Its not new, its now very common.