“Whitehall coup” hidden in Queen’s Speech – Press Release

Campaign group NO2ID [1] says a provision tacked on to the Digital Economy Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech hides “a revolution in government”, “a Whitehall coup”.

Little notice has so far been taken of the bland-sounding “use of data to deliver government services” [2], but the underlying proposals [3] would create new rules for information about individuals and companies held by government. Information given in confidence for one purpose, could be later taken by officials and used for another, without any specific political or legal authority.[5] This is to be embedded in a Bill mainly concerned with broadband provision and internet regulation.

Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID said:

The idea that information we give to government stops being ours and starts being official property won’t go away. In 2009 the last Labour administration sneaked something similar into the Coroners and Justice Bill – and had to withdraw it in embarrassment. But this is even worse.

“Sharing” – that is, seizure – of our information when it suits officials to do so. would be a revolutionary change in the way we are governed. Jack Straw’s failed scheme of ‘Information Sharing Orders’ would at least have involved ministerial decisions about specific powers. Hustling this in, hiding it in unrelated legislation, is bad enough. Cutting out ministers for the future too looks like a Whitehall coup.


Notes for editors

  1. NO2ID is the national campaign against the database state, the tendency to try to use computers to manage society by maintaining state files on the population as a whole.

  2. See pp14-15 of the note accompanying the Queen’s Speech plans https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/524040/Queen_s_Speech_2016_background_notes_.pdf

  3. The announcement of new data-sharing plans in the Queen’s Speech follows a quiet Cabinet Office Consultation on ‘Better us of Data in Government’ that closed on 22nd April. – ‘https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/better-use-of-data-in-government

  4. NO2ID has made a full response to the ‘Better use of Data in Government’ which can be downloaded from this link – NO2ID-BetterUseData-response (1)

For further information, or for immediate or future interview, please contact:

Guy Herbert (General Secretary, [email protected]) on 07956 544 308 (London)

James Baker (Campaigns Manager, [email protected]) on 07817 605 162 (West Yorkshire/Manchester)