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08 February 2009 @ 04:16 pm
Funeral Of Privacy  


While I called my last entry 'The Death of Privacy' my protest was mainly about people 'telling tales' in a way which once would have been considered dishonorable.  However, several comments  highlighted many real - and far more sinister  - threats to our privacy.

xiv_gemina pointed out that The Coroners and Justice Bill is currently in the process of going through Parliament. "It specifically empowers ANY Minister to decree (without Parliamentary influence) that ALL your private data be shared across any arm of Government that they wish. i.e. every facet of information about you that is held by ANY branch of Government - e.g. DVLA, NHS, Prison Records, Court records, Social Services, JobCentres - can (so will) be shared across EVERY organisation that is paid by the Government - including Corporate contractors." Furthermore  "How many lost discs, lost memory sticks and lost/stolen laptops will it take before the Database State idea is dropped?"

Thenslw2004  provided a link to an alarming article about google software spying on people while today acrorat drew attention to an article informing us that the government is compiling a database to track and store the international travel records of millions of Britons.

My fear is less that an Orwellian  Big Brother will be watching our every move and more that unauthorised and unscrupulous people with a little bit of power and a limited understanding will try to call us to account.
 
 
 
Carefully, Correctly Wrongdiffrentcolours on February 8th, 2009 04:28 pm (UTC)
Agreed - putting everybody's intimate personal details in one place, and facilitating access to that information from hundreds of thousands of people, from civil servants to private companies, is in itself a worry because there's just so many things that can go wrong.

It's things like the Child Maintenance Bill, which can be read to imply that the Government can stop you getting NHS treatment if you fail to keep up your child support payments, or Meg Hillier wanting the Government to be informed whenever you buy cigarettes or alcohol, which build up to this overwhelming Database State.

At the end of the month, the Convention on Modern Liberty will be discussing action on civil liberties in London and around the country, including Manchester. The leading campaign against the database state is NO2ID, and I'd recommend that everybody join the campaign and get involved with a local group.
ijournalerijournaler on February 8th, 2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the links to NO2ID - it looks as if it could work as an umbrella organisation to protest these threats from all directions.
Carefully, Correctly Wrongdiffrentcolours on February 8th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC)
That's what it's already doing - check the list of press releases to see some recent pronouncements.
ijournalerijournaler on February 9th, 2009 09:38 am (UTC)
Be counted not numbered
Very impressive - I'll certainly register my support
Aarona_pawson on February 8th, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
Google is not spying on people. This is just scaremongering.

To use Lattitude, you have to sign up, of your own free will, and then give specific permission to anyone else you want to be permitted to see your location.
ijournalerijournaler on February 8th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
Google
I didn't mean to endorse the statement that Google is spying on anybody. However their new software, to be loaded onto mobile phones, will make it possible for parents to 'spy' on their children [trace exactly where they are] and for partners, bosses, friends to know the same. This is alright if everyone is getting on okay and you are happy to know that your boss can trace you.

However, the software, in Beta format, could easily be loaded by one person onto another person's phone. A reporter for the BBC reminded us that Google is always too quick to release its latest software but not always that careful to make sure that there are warnings displayed on the mobile [in this case] to tell the owner that the software is on it.
daesondaeson on February 8th, 2009 07:16 pm (UTC)
number of users
Did the numbers for livejournal grow like facebook and myspace is growing?
ijournalerijournaler on February 9th, 2009 09:52 am (UTC)
Re: number of users
Live journal has been going for 10 years. I first had an account 6 years ago when it was by invitation only. This lapsed and I started a new account about a year ago when it had expanded massively. Apparently now has over 16,500,000 members. I'm not sure how this compares with facebook and myspace - it is certainly never mentioned in the same breath as those!
the adventures of Christinecdaae on February 8th, 2009 07:41 pm (UTC)
Absolutely agreed. Particularly on this: "How many lost discs, lost memory sticks and lost/stolen laptops will it take before the Database State idea is dropped?"

No matter how many assurances the government gives us that there are measures in place to stop abuse of the system and keep our private data private, we know for a fact that they are systems which have already failed, so why on earth would we accept yet more of our data being stored and made available in this way?
ijournalerijournaler on February 9th, 2009 12:06 pm (UTC)
It strikes me we hear of their loss but never any further reports of what happens afterwards.
Perfidious Albionmatttt on February 15th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC)
ijournalerijournaler on February 15th, 2009 09:39 am (UTC)
Good sleuthing I see that on 25 June 2008 the Chancellor stated (among other things)

I should also tell the House that the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which conducted its own investigation into the loss, is publishing its report today. The IPCC found no evidence of misconduct or criminality by any member of staff at HMRC.


Despite extensive searches by HMRC and the police the discs have not been found, but I can tell the House that I am advised that there is no evidence of any fraudulent activity as a result of the loss.

Hurray - no one was to blame and no harm has been done!


Perfidious Albionmatttt on February 15th, 2009 11:01 am (UTC)
The IPCC found no evidence of misconduct or criminality by any member of staff at HMRC.

In other words ... 'Our employment manual is so poor that it contains nothing whatsoever about the safe transmission of the data we hold on behalf of our customers [or whatever the Civil Service is calling the public nowadays], hence there is no misconduct'. I'm entirely happy to take that the action wasn't criminal in intent, so I've disregarded that side of the Chancellor's statement.
Carefully, Correctly Wrongdiffrentcolours on February 9th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)
XIV_Geminaxiv_gemina on February 8th, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
Something else to worry about
"My fear is less that an Orwellian Big Brother will be watching our every move and more that unauthorised and unscrupulous people with a little bit of power and a limited understanding will try to call us to account."

I agree with this, but one must also bear in mind the effect that data integrity erros will have.

If all the records that the Government holds about you do not match one another exactly (e.g. if a temp has mis-typed your NI number on ONE database), your ID Card must be suspected as a forgery.
You will have ceased to exist!
No passport, no driving licence, no benefits, no healthcare, and no job for you!
"Your ID Card hasn't been recognised, so you cannot prove that you are entitled to work in the UK.
I'm sorry, it's the Law - we cannot prove to the Ministry that you are NOT an Illegal Immigrant, so we can't employ you."

And that's without thinking about what might happen to you if someone eaccidentally ticks the box to identify you as a sex offender, a terror suspect, a debotr, a convicted fraudster, a benefit cheat etc.

"If it's on the computer, it MUST be true..."
Carefully, Correctly Wrongdiffrentcolours on February 8th, 2009 10:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Something else to worry about
Computer says no...

It's not like CRB checks are accurate after all, and CRB checks will be one of the first nonspecific things tied into the National Identity Register...
hybridartifactshybridartifacts on February 9th, 2009 11:59 am (UTC)
Re: Something else to worry about
I agree that this is by far the biggest danger. Coupled with the insane faith government also has in technology, in things like facial recognition (which is just daft-there are plenty of 'look a likes in the world and the technology is horribly unreliable anyway) the potential for errors is vast. the bigger and more complex they make it, the higher the risk of errors and the more catastrophic those errors will become.

I do also think it will inevitably be used to stifle democracy though. There is already a tendency to use and abuse anti-terror legislation to deprive people of legitimate rights of protest and comment, and I can see this all being used in conjunction to track and harass people who disagree with the government. Considering that it is rapidly becoming apparent that acts of protest and even civil disobedience will be probably be the only way to uphold the rights of common people and democracy over government and big business this will become even more serious.
ijournalerijournaler on February 9th, 2009 12:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Something else to worry about
Thank you hybridartifacts - very good points.
ijournalerijournaler on February 9th, 2009 12:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Something else to worry about
I had a rather different version of this when I was persuaded by a sales assistant to apply for a store card - I didn't want it but was offered 20% of my rather substantial shopping. After a long wait I was called into an office and told with some embarrassment that my application had been turned down as I "hadn't got a credit record". This was because being an old-fashioned type of person I never used credit - just saved up till I could afford something.

This was all harmless and they let me have the 20% reduction as a goodwill gesture but under other circumstances it could get nasty!
Carefully, Correctly Wrongdiffrentcolours on February 9th, 2009 12:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Something else to worry about
Yep, I couldn't get a credit card or mortgage for years because British Telecom accused me of failing to pay a debt after I was a victim of identity fraud. Even after clearing the matter up, getting the police involved etc. I couldn't get the black mark off my credit record...