The totality of surveillance proposals
Finally the mainstream, national media seems to be getting around to talking about the totality of the effects of surveillance and database proposals as well as merely looking at them individually:
Privacy campaigners believe the proposals form part of a “pentagon” of five huge databases, all linked together in real time to create the ultimate surveillance society.
– or “database state” –
This would include compulsory registration of all Britain’s 72m mobile phones, more than 40m of which are prepaid. Terrorists and criminals prefer to hide behind the anonymity of prepaid phones, so a communications database needs to include accurate details of prepaid subscriber details. (the Times, for example)
I don’t know what this particular “pentagon” consists of but I’m building my own list (these are just the major ones, there are loads of public sector databases):
- ContactPoint is to record our interactions with state agencies from the day we are born until we are 18;
- the National Identity Register takes over at 18 15 and 9 months (even earlier if the child is given a passport), recording our names, addresses, and so on, as well as every interaction that requires us to prove our identity (from collecting a parcel at the Post Office to getting a new job to using non-emergency health care to crossing international borders) – also we will each be assigned an identity number, which will be used as an index in other databases (that is, if I am 10365 in the NIR, someone could draw together all the data on 10365 from all the other databases to find out everything about me – precedent suggests this isn’t a good idea);
- the Department for Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study links tax, social security, benefit, pension, ISA, TESSA, PEP information with names and addresses;
- the Intercept Modernisation Programme is to record every detail of our communications (except for the content, probably only because this would be practically impossible), who we talk to, when, for how long, and using what (see Article 5 European Data Retention Directive);
- the ANPR is to record all our vehicle journeys nationally and the PNR (see also this and this) is to record all our international journeys (currently its just journeys by air);
- the NHS medical records database, with our names, addresses, medical issues, health care workers etc;
- the CRB database and the Independent Safeguarding Authority database, which not only have details of our proven convictions (which I have no problem with) but also unsubstantiated allegations;
- the National DNA Database, which is recording the DNA of not only convicted criminals and suspects, but also innocent people including volunteers and witnesses, along with other details.
All adding up to an almost complete picture of our lives – and all for our own good, of course.
(Please see also Joining the Dots.)