BBC News – Business as usual for ‘Big Brother state’?

September 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

ID card Scrappng ID cards was one of the coalition’s first acts

Privacy campaigners might have been forgiven for thinking all their Christmases had come at once when the coalition government came to power.

As the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats groped about for common ground on which to base their unlikely coalition, the abolition of ID cards and the dismantling of the “database state” suddenly shot to the top of the political agenda.

Here was one issue on which both parties could heartily agree – that the state under Labour had become too powerful and too concerned with gathering and storing the personal details of citizens.

One of the coalition’s first acts was to set legislation in train to scrap ID cards and the ContactPoint children’s database – and to begin opening up much of the data held by government agencies and departments to public scrutiny.

These developments have been greeted with something bordering on amazement by campaign groups such as Liberty and NO2ID, who had grown used under the previous government to hearing their concerns dismissed as “airy fairy” civil libertarianism, to use one of former home secretary David Blunkett’s favourite phrases.

But some fear that despite the big headline announcements, behind the scenes it is very much business as usual for the database state.

The pressure to make efficiency savings by any means possible – and the fear of expensive legal action from IT suppliers if contracts are cancelled means that some big IT schemes conceived by Labour are going ahead as planned.


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