Friday, February 04, 2005

Human Rights? What they?

Not sure if this came out a week ago, but I only just picked it up on

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has released its report on the Identity Cards Bill [summary], raising numerous (read "shedloads of") concerns around the privacy implications of the Register Scheme. further summarises, but the main points are:

  • The extent of personal info being held is questionable, both in terms of scope and effectiveness

  • Allowing information to be held in the database without the individual's knowledge/consent is questionable

  • A system of "designated documents" would make the scheme "effectively compulsory" for certain (very large) groups

  • Information "shared" from both public and private organisations to confirm the register's information may be too much

  • "extensive disclosure of personal information on the Register to public bodies for a wide range of purposes"

Much of it seems to be regarding the potential for further expansion, an observation I completely agree with. There are very few safeguards to ensure that the government itself handles data with any responsibility at all, and there doesn't seem to be any eagerness to address this issue of accountability.

The Committee's questions to Charles Clarke pulls few punches, offering insight and rationale that the government has sorely been lacking so far in its arguments. For instance:

"Requiring only those who hold driving licences or passports, and who apply to hold or renew them, to enter their details on the Register appears unlikely to provide an effective means of addressing any of the aims of the Bill." (Question 2)

It's going to be an interesting reply (the Committee request one by Monday 7th February) from the Home Office, one which I look forward to reading.

This is also really good material, from an extremely reputable source, to forward onto Ministers (hint, hint). What would be even better is an easy-to-read version (with relevant pointers to the original source) that gets the findings across really quickly. I wonder if a wiki or something could be used/useful for this...

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