Joining the dots on 'data sharing'

The government is trying to remove all limits on use of your private information by officials. This means taking your information from anywhere and passing it anywhere they like – including medical records, financial records, ID information. For their own convenience, officials want to cancel all rules of confidentiality in order to allow information obtained for one purpose to be used for another

This is what we meant by "the database state". It is now a threat not a theory.

Those who haven't been tracking this issue as closely as NO2ID will not be aware of the key documents and initiatives that have led up to, or are a part of, these latest data-sharing 'revelations'. (Our section 'About ID cards' contains a more exhaustive historical list.) This page links to what we think are the most important documents, in roughly chronological order, and tells you what you can do to help stop them:


1) The Citizen Information Project [Treasury] — an Office for National Statistics (ONS) project on the creation of a 'general population register', very quietly 'wrapped into' the National ID Scheme just after the passing of the Identity Cards Act 2006. All the available documentation on CIP is published here.

If you want to start somewhere, we strongly recommend the Final Report — you could get lost in the rest, which may have been the point of publishing it all. Available as a 405KB PDF: http://www.gro.gov.uk/cip/Download.asp?CIP%20final%20report_tcm95-26296.pdf


2) 'Transformational Government' [Cabinet Office] — the key strategy document, subtitled 'Enabled by technology' with the the cringe-worthy strapline: 'Citizen and business-centred shared services, professionally delivered'. Places the National Identity Register (or 'NIR' — see below) right at the centre of things. Available as a 412KB PDF file: http://www.cio.gov.uk/documents/pdf/transgov/transgov-strategy.pdf


3) The Identity Cards Act 2006 [Home Office] — bullied onto the statute books in March 2006, this is the piece of legislation that prompted the setting up of NO2ID as a public campaign. The 'National Identity Register' — whether one database, as originally promised, or three or many more — sits at the heart of the government's 'identity management' ambitions. And its tentacles will reach into every aspect of YOUR life, if we don't stop it and get the Act repealed.

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2006/ukpga_20060015_en.pdf — 217KB PDF
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/en2006/ukpgaen_20060015_en.pdf — a further 187KB of Explanatory Notes...


4) 'Information Sharing Vision Statement' [Department for Constitutional Affairs] — buried in September 2006, just after the anniversary of 9/11 and when Tony Blair's troubles at the TUC were bound to grab the headlines. As NO2ID said at the time, "The announcement of the abolition of privacy ought to be big news" — it wasn't. We even went so far as to accuse the Information Commissioner of "throwing in the towel". People may draw their own conclusions from the deafening silence from the ICO on these latest announcements...

http://www.dca.gov.uk/foi/sharing/information-sharing.pdf – 399KB PDF


5) The Varney Review [Treasury] — Full title, 'Service transformation: A better service for citizens and businesses, a better deal for the taxpayer', fronted by Sir David Varney and published in December 2006. Available as a 752KB PDF file:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/53D/F2/pbr06_varney_review.pdf


6) 'Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme — Safeguarding your identity' [Home Office] — note the none-too-subtle shift from 'ID cards'. Buried literally hours before Parliament rose for Christmas on 19th December 2006. Available as an 858KB PDF file:

http://www.identitycards.gov.uk/downloads/Strategic_Action_Plan.pdf


7) The Service Transformation Agreement [Treasury] — an action plan for the surveillance state that explicitly states (in paragraph A.5, p19) the intention "to overcome current barriers* to information sharing within the public sector". Fifty-eight pages of a general vision and departmental 'service plans', explaining how each government department will use "identity management" to collate and share information about citizens and businesses.

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/pbr_csr07_service.pdf – 513KB PDF.

*Those "barriers" aren't mentioned in this document, but they were neatly pinned down by the MoJ in the 'Information Sharing Vision Statement' (see above) when it was the plain old Department of Constitutional Affairs. They are: 1) human rights law, especially the constructive privacy protections under Article 8 of the Convention, 2) the Data Protection Acts, 3) common law confidentiality, and 4) the fundamental rule of administrative law, ultra vires.


8) 'National Identity Scheme Delivery Plan 2008' [Home Office] and the Crosby Report [Treasury] — well over a year after the 'Strategic Action Plan', and with no sign of any progress on the ID scheme, this new plan and the long-overdue Crosby report on the 'Public Private Forum on Identity Management' were released together in March 2008. Few noticed that Sir James (the former head of HBOS) said the Home Office's "identity management" ambitions were utterly inappropriate, and that the function of "identity assurance" would be better taken away from government all together.

http://www.ips.gov.uk/identity/downloads/national-identity-scheme-delivery-2008.pdf — Delivery plan, 323KB PDF
http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/identity_assurance060308.pdf — Sir James Crosby's 'Challenges and opportunities in identity assurance', 226KB PDF


9) The Thomas/Walport Data Sharing Review [Ministry of Justice] — written by Richard Thomas (the Information Commissioner, but in a personal capacity) and Dr Mark Walport (the director of medical research charity, the Wellcome Trust) the review quite unsurprisingly recommended that the Information Commissioner's Office should get more funding and expanded powers, and that medical researchers should have greater access to people's medical records. It also contained recommendations to "remove barriers to information sharing" that were, of course, enthusiatically welcomed by government.

http://www.justice.gov.uk/docs/data-sharing-review-report.pdf – 460KB PDF


10) The Coroners and Justice Bill [Ministry of Justice] — received its First Reading in the Commons on 16th January 2009. For more detail on the massively dangerous information sharing clauses within this Bill, see below. Make no mistake, this is the Bill to build the database state.

To follow the progress of the Bill, and to read it and related documents, visit: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2008-09/coronersandjustice.html



Right now, the most important thing you can do is tell other people what is going on.

Send your friends, family and colleagues a link to this page (http://www.no2id.net/datasharing) if they want to find out more, and make sure that YOU keep up to date on what the government is doing.


Registering your support — to receive our fortnightly newsletter and a FREE information pack — is an easy way to stay informed.

Please do take the time to write to your MP via www.WriteToThem.com and, — a great way to reach lots of people, — write to the letters page of your local paper.

The Coroners and Justice Bill, currently being rushed through Parliament, contains a number of controversial provisions — but to the casual reader appears mainly to be about reforming inquests and sentencing.

In your own words, please ask your MP to read Part 8 (clauses 151 → 154) of the Coroners and Justice Bill, and to oppose the massive enabling powers in the "Information sharing" clause. The Bill is due its Second Reading in the Commons on 26th January 2009, and will continue on through the Commons and then into the House of Lords.

Ask your MP to demand the information sharing clauses be given proper Parliamentary scrutiny. This is something that will affect every single one of their constituents, unlike the rest of the Bill. There is a grave danger that the government will set a timetable that will cut off debate before these proposals — which are at the end of the Bill — are discussed.

With support for the ID scheme crumbling, even in the Home Office's own skewed polls — the last of which showed a 5% drop — trust in the government's handling of our personal information is at an all-time low.

A YouGov poll in the Sunday Times on 18th January 2009 shows that the public opposes these new powers by a factor of 3 to 1 against. 65% of people asked said they give government "too much power", only 19% thought not. The government can't pretend a popular mandate for what it is doing. And it is a mechanism designed to by-pass Parliament in future. It is being done only for the convenience of the bureaucrats.


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