The UK Government is at it Again

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You would have thought the smack across the knuckles delivered by the public over their attempt to hide MP's expenses from scrutiny would be enough for the UK government's ministers, but oh no, they're up to their old tricks:

Hidden in the new Coroners and Justice Bill [2] is one clause (cl.152) amending the Data Protection Act. It would allow ministers to make 'Information Sharing Orders', that can alter any Act of Parliament and cancel all rules of confidentiality in order to use information obtained for one purpose to be used for another.

This single clause is as grave a threat to privacy as the entire ID Scheme. Combine it with the index to your life formed by the planned National Identity Register [3] and everything recorded about you anywhere could be accessible to any official body.

The Database State is now a direct threat not a theory.

Quite apart from the powers in the Identity Cards Act, if Information Sharing Orders come to pass, they could (for example) immediately be used to suck up material such as tax records or electoral registers to build an early version of the National Identity Register. But the powers apply to any information, not just official information. They would permit data trafficking between government agencies and private companies - your medical records are firmly in their sights - and even with foreign governments.

The only hope we have is to repeat the success we had (at least temporarily) with the MPs' expenses: kick up enough fuss that MPs start asking questions, forcing the Government to back down. You know what to do: use the ever-wonderful WriteToThem. Here's what I've just sent off:

I have just learned about clause 152 in the new Coroners and Justice Bill. This would allow ministers to make 'Information Sharing Orders', that can alter any Act of Parliament and cancel all rules of confidentiality in order to use information obtained for one purpose to be used for another.

It seems extraordinary to me that such a huge change in the relationship between the state and the citizen should be made in this way. This is no minor tweaking of the legislation, but a massive change of direction that will impact the privacy of everyone in your constituency and, indeed, in this country.

I therefore urge you to vote against this clause in its present form so that and open debate about what this would do to democracy in this country is vital. I am grateful that you were against keeping MPs' expense out of public scrutiny, and would hope that you will also vote against this present move.

Time is of the essence, so please don't delay.