On the back of their recent election wins the tory UK Governement is pushing full steam ahead with various data handling proposals and actually implementing them without any concerns for data privacy.
Firstly, we have the National Fraud Initiative Data Matching Powers and new Code of Data Matching Practice which allows the sharing of data across public bodies and also allows sharing with private entities with little or no oversight: https://www.openrightsgroup.org/publications/briefing-on-the-national-fraud-initiative-data-matching-powers-consultation-proposals/.
Secondly, we get the proposal in the opening of Parliament’s Queen’s speech to make photo id mandatory when going to vote – potentially disenfranchising thousands of voters: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/may/10/queens-speech-photo-id-future-elections-social-care.
Thirdly, we now learn that the NHS is creating a new centralised database of patient data, again with little oversight and the possibility, or rather certainty given this Government’s track record, that the data will be shared with US health care companies: https://www.theregister.com/2021/05/13/nhs_data_grab/.
I took up the opportunity to contribute to the NFI consultation:
“Dear Cabinet Office consultation team,
Privacy in a digital age can only be achieved by data on subjects being difficult to obtain, store and distribute.
Private data must also be available to data subjects in a transparent way so that erroneous data can be legally challenged or deleted.
Consent to data storage by data subjects is also vitally important.
If all three of these criteria are met then confidence in and support of any personal data storage and query system by the public whether run by Government or private entities can be met.
It is clear that the current proposals in the National Fraud Initiative Data Matching Powers and new Code of Data Matching Practice do not meet these criteria.
Specifically, the proposal to allow police entities to interrogate personal data via the National Fraud Initiative without any or little oversight gives these entities a free for all in obtaining personal data – making it easy for these entities should not be the starting aim of the proposals. Checks and balances are required in a democracy to make sure that such powers are not being abused. The additional proposals to include personal data held by private entities and allow private entities to also interrogate data via the NFI is even more worrying. This will and should be called a ‘big brother’ proposal – “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” – George Orwell, 1984.
There appears to be no mention of an individual’s right to interrogate and request amendments to the data being held on them. Why make it easy for police and private entities to search for information on an individual but not make it easy for the individual themselves. There should be a presumption that data held on an individual is not just owned by the state or a private entity but is also owned by the individual. Transparency and the right to challenge should be the fundamental basis for any proposals on the storage of personal data.
Consent has become a hot topic in the social media age. Many individuals are shunning online services once they realise that there personal data is being sold and used for profit by faceless private organisations that, in legal terms, own the personal data they have collected. There is widespread debate as to whether this situation should be allowed to continue with all the implications for a healthy democracy that such privately held massive silos of data bring. Our elected government should not be going down the same road but should be creating new systems of data storage with accountability and the rights of individuals built in.”
We’ll see what happens with the photo ID proposals which I assume will be debated in Parliament at some point.
As for the NHS database intiative this seems to have just been nodded through without any debate. I have written to my MP, Neil O’Brien:
What is the Government playing at!
First we get NFI proposals to widen the sharing of information across public bodies with little scrutiny (see my previous email), then proposals to require electors to present photo ID when voting and now we get the imposing of a new NHS central database.
There appears to be no oversight, no debate in parliament and just a rush to push through privacy breaking systems all over the place. They shouldn’t even be seeing the light of day.
Please ask them to get a grip – there are much more important things to be worrying about!”
I think that sums it up – now get off yer backsides and do something about it before the thought police start coming for you.