Privacy is Now a Thing of the Past

It’s the Biggest Brother instrusion into privacy in history. From tomorrow across the European Union every email will be stored, details of every website visited by every person will be stored, even information about every internet phone call will be stored, initially for a year.   But then all it takes is another directive to extend the storage indefinitely. These will be available to the Government, police and security services, as well as hundred of local government agencies and even what we call “quangos” in this country – quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations – of which there are no end.

Just like the anti-terrorism laws that have now allowed local councils to stalk people and invade their privacy in many different ways on suspicion of having the wrong rubbish bins or living across the street from a local school catchment area, the same jobsworths with now be able to know everything about you while they go on fishing expeditions to find anything else you might be doing wrong.

Britain has not be an unwilling participant in all of this. It has, in fact, led the way. It makes the Home Office’s Intercept Modernisation Programme much easier to implement. Under the European directive, internet service providers will have to store the information. Under the Home Office plan, the Government itself will have one giant database of their own, through which everything will be monitored and which will gather far more information.

Of course the Home Office won’t reveal the full extent of its plans, just like the European Union would not reveal what it was doing until it was in place. We certainly have no guarantee that either Brussells or Whitehall have told us anything near what they have actually done or what they actually intend to do with it. That what they have told us is so disturbing makes it all the more worrying.

As we have seen over and over and over, every bit of private information the Government has collected manages to go missing, whether it is the bank details of every family with children or top secret military data on laptops or the confidential details of every prisoner in the UK and of 5,000 employees of the justice system, and the list goes on and on.

All this electronic surveillance is on top of every bit of information held by any part of central or local government, and with socialised medicine this includes all medical records, being available to any bureaucrat at any level. Even I called that the end of privacy. That was in January and it was only the beginning of the end.

Only a few years ago, this would have been the stuff of science fiction – a paranoid all-controlling state actively engaged in monitoring every move, every conversation, every communication instantly and at every level. This would have been the fantasy of communist police states, but only realised in what for some silly reason we call the free world.

The End of Privacy

Once again, just when you think the British Government could not get more intrusive, they prove you wrong.

I have often discussed the ever-increasing Big Brother approach of the Labour Government as each new plan is revealed. Now we learn that any bottom-rung local bureaucrat will be able to access every piece of information on any individual held by any Government or local department, agency, or council.

When you consider that this will include all medical records, every email and phone call made, and all of the biometric data to be stored for the mandatory ID cards, think about local council workers making £12,000 a year. Certainly most of them are completely honest (even if honesty is not a particular plentiful commodity in this country), but think of the profit that can be made from identity fraud. We are assured by the Ministry of Justice that anyone misusing the data could get a prison sentence of up to two years. Two years = one year with good behaviour. Prisons bursting at the seams mean very few people can be sent away for first, second or third offenses. Seems like a pretty light risk for very big gain.

Or to put it more bluntly, it is handing over the data to people who will do terribly things with it. Then after the bureaucrats are done, the criminals will get it.

The Need to Know Everything

Do we need another scary Big Brother story? Probably not, but the Government just keeps throwing them out there for us.

As reported in the Daily Telegraph, the UK Government is accessing one million travel record each month.

The data is handed over to the Home Office through the e-Borders programme.

It includes personal information like name, address, itinerary, meal preference, sex, detail of travel companions and credit card numbers.

The Home Office admitted it had collected this level of detail on 54 million people since the launch of e-Borders in January 2005.

Why do they need all this information? It is ostensibly to fight crime. But who goes through all this information? How many civil servants does it take to process this amont of data?

And who exactly then has access to all this data?  After they lost the bank details of 25 million families, what are they doing keeping the credit card details of 54 million people?

And why do they need to know the meal preferences of every traveller? Do terrorists choose certain meal options?

No, the Government is sending a message. If you have committed a crime in any way, they will catch you. They will even catch if you are someone who might act in some way like someone who might think of committing a crime. That is enough to make you an enemy of the State. Perhaps eventually all of the people who choose chicken can pass through customs and those who choose beef will be stopped and strip searched.

I know you must be thinking that we are joking when Brits tell you that this is what passes for Government in this country. Judges are ordered to not give burglars jail time so they can have a place to put all of he people they can trap through non-stop, ever more invasive surveillance.

Matters of National Insecurity

The Government is actively and admittedly planning the ultimate in surveillance on the British population. You could call it the Mother of all Big Brothers. Gordon Brown wants the Government to keep a database of every email, phone call and all time spent on the internet. After all, innocent people have nothing to hide. The Government just wants to be able to keep tabs on your innocence.

Sure it’s a lot of personal information, but if you can’t trust the Government, who can you trust? After all, the Government is only here to look after us and protect us. And where else could your information be more safe?

Take the Ministry of Defence, for example. They tell us it is just a fluke that 658 laptops were stolen between 2004 and 2007. That’s in addition to the 89 that have just been lost. But hey, they have recovered 32 of these. Up until a few weeks ago, the MoD only acknowledged that 347 laptops had been stolen. Seems there were “anomalies in the reporting process” that kept ministers from knowing that another 311 had been taken. A significant number of these laptops contained, as you might suspect, secret information vital to national security.

But the MoD doesn’t just keep information on the hard drives of its laptops. No, this the era of the USB memory stick. They have had 131 of these lost or stolen, but just like the laptops, they can’t even say when or where. They do know that some of the sticks also had classified information on them.

Yet in the midst of admitting all of this – and given that the British government never likes to admit anything, just think of what breaches of security and carelessness with data lie unknown that this point – they dismiss out of hand any attempt by opposition parties to hold them accountable and insist they must have more and more data about every single person.  It beggars belief.

There has never been a government in this country – at least in modern times – to have such complete disregard for the people they govern.

Big Brother is Tracking

Big Brother is at it again. The Government has announced that every 14-year-old will be issued a number for life. This is not like a National Insurance or Social Security number. It will be called a Unique Learner Number (ULN) . It will be used to access the new Managing Information Across Partners (MIAP) database. It will have all their personal details, exam results, and school disciplinary record to be accessed by employers, colleges, and anyone else in any Government department or 40 “stakeholder organisations” across the education sector. It will be used by Government agencies to track an individual until they die.

All the information will be on the internet. Each person will get two passwords – one for themselves and one to give an employer. How long will it be before the whole system is hacked and all the details available on the black market to anyone will to pay for it? How quick will it lead to wholesale identity fraud? If the Government’s recent track record for losing massive amounts of critical personal details (like the bank details of nearly half the population last year by putting them into the post) is any indication, it won’t take long.

Nonetheless, the Information Commissioner is said to now be happy with the security arrangements, so it will now go online next September.

This MIAP is separate from the ContactPoint database, which will contain details of all of the children in Britain, including names, addresses, schools, GPs and, where applicable, social workers. I don’t know if social worker details will include the health visitor, which is the nurse/social worker assigned to every child from birth until they start school. They were ready to start putting ContactPoint in operation when the Child Benefit details went missing and a security review was ordered.