Memorandum submitted by Mr G M Walkley
Kindly accept this document as written evidence
to be placed before the Home Affairs Committee.
My primary concern in relation to the subject
of a surveillance society is one of principle. Which is that as
a citizen of a democratic country we do not live by permission
of the government. A government is elected as the servant of the
people, not its master. We have a right to privacy and freedom
and only allow our government to curtail these freedoms in very
limited and important circumstances. It is not a proper function
of government to involve itself in surveillance of law-abiding
citizens, or to establish systems of compulsory identification,
nor open files on each person.
1. Many individuals have details of themselves
recorded on private databases and these should only be available
to public agencies in specific circumstances. It should be obligatory
on the agency attempting to access a private database to place
the a request for such access before the judiciary who will decide
the validity of the action.
2. This is a matter of trust. If a government
believes that the general population is untrustworthy then they
will do their utmost to prove any misdemeanour by insisting that
data is shared by all departments and agencies. To suggest that
measures such as ID cards will combat terrorism or wipe out benefit
fraud is to capitulate to those who perpetrate the crime. One
has to bear in mind that the criminal element in our society is
in the minority and that the law abiding majority should not be
criminalised. Therefore I submit that it is not necessary to take
DNA from those not convicted of a criminal offence, nor to fingerprint
our schoolchildren, or to have a national identity register. These
are but a few of the measures that are being introduced to monitor
3. The safeguards suggested by the Government
will never be enough as no computer system can be regarded as
secure-one only has to look at the recent extradition of a UK
citizen to the USA for hacking into the Pentagon computer systems
to see that this is true.
4. Abuses will inevitably take place as
the scope of these systems and those that can access them are
vast. It is for this very reason that the Minister of State for
Children, Rt Hon. Beverley Hughes, when referring to questions
raised said that "records of children whose circumstances
may mean that they are at increased risk of harm may be the subject
of shielding". She goes on to say that unauthorised access
will be prevented by using a combination (unspecified) of measures.
As already stated in item 3 no computer system is secure.
5. We have just recently received confirmation
that criminal elements have been targeting credit/debit cards
used at petrol station in the UK. A sophisticated scam has taken
place not very long after the introduction of the Chip and Pin.
How long will it be before the criminal fraternity hack into the
National Identity Register when it is up and running?
6. All these databases that have been or
are being introduced by the Government impact on the privacy of
the individual citizen and impinge on our human rights. We the
electorate cannot allow this to continue.
In conclusion I would say that this is a very
serious breakdown of trust! We elect our Members of Parliament
on the basis of trust and expect them to reciprocate that trust.
Without trust between our elected representatives and the individuals
who voted for them the very basis of democracy is threaten. It
is recognised that CCTV cannot now be rolled back however I would
strongly urge Parliament to consider the consequences on introducing
more draconian measures and indeed reversing some that have been
allowed to become law.