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.

Oops, They Did It Again

Clearly the Government chooses its contractors on the basis of the cheapest bid, without any regard for little things like competence. Many of the security and information breaches over the last couple of years have been by EDS. This time it is by Atos Origin.

A memory stick containing all the confidential pass codes to the tax websites was found in a pub car park. As a result the Government had to shut down access to driving licence applications, VAT returns, pension entitlements and child benefit.

The Prime Minister has now even admitted the government cannot promise the safety of personal data entrusted by the public. He has not changed his plans for ID cards for everyone, which security experts have said will be hacked almost as soon as they are issued. So the Prime Minister is saying that even though the data will be completely insecure and unreliable, and will be used illegally to the detriment of an incalculable number of citizens in terms of financial loss and identity theft on top of the usual invasion of privacy, the Government must have it to control terrorism and immigration.

Can’t Be Trusted

It has been announced by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith that I will be amongst the first to be required to have a national identity card and have all of my details – including fingerprints and other biometric data – held on a Government database.

While offering the comforting words that most ordinary Britons will not face compulsory registration until at least 2017, non-EU foreign nationals will be require to have the card from November of this year. This is because I am apparently more of a terrorist threat. You never know what we foreigners might do.  Especially if we are not from an EU member state.

But even if before November I am able to pass the Life in the UK test and fork out the £655 application fee and the Government decides I can be trusted to be a UK citizen, I get caught up in the next round. I’m in a “sensitive” job. That doesn’t mean they have recogised that I care deeply for those to whom I impart the knowledge religion and history, or that I cry easily when they can’t be arsed to learn. No, just being a teacher is sensitive. “Sensitive” is New Labour Newspeak for “can’t be trusted”.

But isn’t that the whole point of what will be a national database? Isn’t that why totalitarian regimes insist of identity papers? No one can be trusted. The problem is that in this society it is the Government which isn’t trusted enough by the people. The population has to be gently convinced that they themselves can’t be trusted.  With the deftness of a pickpocket, they will be divested of every shred of privacy.

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.