Examination of Witnesses (Questions 280
TUESDAY 26 JUNE 2007
Q280 Chairman: Moving on to you,
Dr Metcalfe, can I perhaps put the question this way. Should my
concern be that somebody will actually find out something about
me and do something to me as a result, if you took Dr Forbes,
the previous witness, that all my neighbours can watch the CCTV
as well as the CCTV control room, or somebody finds out something
about by credit record or something and damages me, or is it almost
a more philosophical objection that some people would say, "Even
if nobody does anything to harm me, I have somehow lost out as
a free citizen by the fact that other people have got access to
information about me that I would rather they did not have"?
Where in our inquiry should we be focusing on the practical damage
that can be done to individuals or the philosophical concern that
we are less free if other people have our private information?
Dr Metcalfe: I am sorry to say
that you have to focus on both. It is entirely true that you have
to focus on the practical, but also, yes, you are harmed, in a
way, if the information is stored, even if the information is
never actually seen by anyone else, because your own sense of
personal privacy is affected by the knowledge that people have
access. For example, if I write a diary and I leave it in a room
and I am subsequently aware that maybe 10 people have gone through
that room and had the opportunity to read my personal thoughts
sitting on the desk, maybe none of them did, but already that
has had an effect on my personal privacy. If you think about all
your personal data as being in that diary and if you think about
not merely 10 people passing through that room but, say, all the
relevant agencies that have come on to the stage having access,
then you have reason to be concerned, and your own sense of personal
privacy, which we think has a very important value because it
allows us to do so many things that we take for granted as being
part of a good life, is affected as a result. There is a chilling
effect that comes about in that kind of situation.
Chairman: When you talk about your diary,
I feel very much the same about my blog. Anybody could read it,
but nobody seems to bother!
Q281 Mrs Cryer: Shami, congratulations
on your CBE. I just want to take it a bit further from what the
Chairman has been saying. I want to ask you all if you accept
that there could be real and pressing needs for data sharing,
particularly in the light of what happened on 7/7 two years ago
and given the fact that we all recognise that the most precious
human right is the right to life itself and to keep our bodies
intact. Therefore, how do you compare that need for the public
to know what is going on and protect our citizens with the overriding
consideration for individual privacy?
Ms Chakrabarti: I think you have
to do it on a case by case or policy by policy basis. I think
that the principles in the European Convention, and in this country
they are olderthere is the justificatory principle for
interfering with the individualstill work very well. So,
rather than balancing these issues at an abstract philosophical
level, we would look at a particular policy, or a particular interference,
a particular need to match data or to access data. I am assuming
you are talking about the law enforcement context or the investigation
context possibly by compulsion rather than voluntarily, though
in other contexts sometimes voluntary sharing is good enough.
You say, "Is this policy, is this measure, is this particular
accessing of data truly necessary and proportionate for this?"
and it is balance. That is why it is so difficult. If I may say
so, that is why Parliament is actually better suited to protecting
privacy ( and I think it has got a long way to go) and I hope
this is the start of it, than the courts are. In my experience
the courts are almost uniquely well qualified for dealing with
a situation where what is at stake for the individual is torture
or incarceration, and that is being balanced against other factors,
but the courts are not best placed where the balance is between
two great societal objectives, where the interference with the
individual's right is not that great actually. Some would argue
that if my DNA is taken from me, for example, when I am arrested
for shop-lifting, even though they got the wrong woman and the
police apologised to me and sent me on my way, the DNA is now
kept forever because someone says one day I might be a terrorist
or I might be guilty of shop-lifting, the courts have not so far
been very good at conducting that proportionality exercise, but
I would hope that because that taking of DNA is as much an issue
for hundreds and thousands of people as it is for me individually
that Parliament is actually much better suited, and in the future
I hope that the debate about privacy and various policies could
be really enhanced by greater Parliamentary involvement.
Q282 Mrs Cryer: Would anyone else
like to comment?
Dr Pounder: Just one comment in
relation to trust and trusting in the data sharing arrangements.
I think the issue is one of trust, and possibly the risk is the
global erosion of trust. The previous speaker, Professor Wessley,
said in relation to medical research there was a lack of trust
in the system, and that he had experience in people refusing to
give consent for medical research. If you look at the data sharing
arrangements, all the trusting is from the public. The public
has to trust that the data sharing is limited in accordance with
the rules, the public have to trust that staff who do the data
sharing are properly trained and follow the rules, the public
have to trust that the procedures for authorising the data sharing
are properly maintained and the public have to trust that Parliament
does not enact legislation that provides for function creep. All
this trusting is in one direction. What there needs to be, as
Shami said, is a strong counterbalance to that public trust. All
the trust is coming from the public to the authorities with very
little counterbalance, in my view.
Ms Chakrabarti: Ironically it
could manifest itself. If this trust is broken on occasions or
generally, it manifests itself, not just in a way that is of detriment
to the individual but of great harm to public policy as well.
For argument's sake, if there were a health collection of data,
and, of course, we have heard from people who care about protecting
trust and privacy, your previous witnesses, but if you got to
a point where the public no longer trusted the protection of their
confidential information that they share with their doctor, people
would say less to their doctor, and then, suddenly, you have got
a counterproductive policy where you thought you were being so
expedient by saying more and more people within the Health Service,
etcetera, etcetera, can have access to this data because we are
going to do such great research and we are going to help people
wherever they are in the country. That all seems very laudable,
but if you lose trust, then the woman who has been battered does
not confide in her doctor any more. So, it is this very difficult
balancing exercise which, as Dr Pounder has said, can also be
enhanced by saying information is taken for a specific purpose.
We put more robust ethics and laws and practice and culture in
place to make sure that there is not just a general free-for-all
or a general presumption of sharing where it is it expedient rather
than sharing when it is truly necessary and proportionate.
Dr Pounder: Can I add.
Chairman: No, I am sorry, to get through
the questions, we have got four witnesses, we cannot have everybody
having two goes at every answer, so if everybody can be brief
and if people have said the main points, please can we move on.
Q283 Mrs Cryer: We were talking mainly
about public authorities and their knowledge of people. Can we
move on to private authorities, private concerns, and their accessing
and holding information on individuals and, even more complicated,
where the functions are contracted out from public authorities
to private authorities. Would you comment on those areas about
access to private information?
Mr Russell: I think there are
a number of similarities and a number of differences between large
databases held by private bodies and large databases held by public
bodies. Liberty has concerns or is interested in both but has
mainly focused on public bodies, it has to be said. For example,
in the context of our concerns about CCTV, that applies both to
private bodies and public bodies. I think one of the main differences
is this question of consent. In terms of giving information to
a private body, it is very much based on consent but actually,
in the context of providing information to a public body, it is
often compulsory or, if it is not compulsory, it is basically,
in order to receive a public service which people are paying for
by their taxes, you have to provide that information. I think
that is quite a key difference between these two types of database,
but, of course, there is a big question as well about informed
consent in terms of providing information to private databases
and whether people are really aware about the value of what they
are providing to those kinds of companies.
Dr Metcalfe: I think there is
a significant problem with private companies in that they are
not always motivated by the same issues as the public sector obviously.
In fact we received a letter very recently about the use of fingerprinting
technology being sold to schools. A number of private security
companies are selling schools security systems, whereas you used
to be able to access the school library by way of a library card,
and, indeed, with school lunches you now can have a fingerprint
system. The kids just swipe their fingerprint across a scanner
and that is matched against a record of their fingerprints, which
are stored. So, you now have private companies holding fingerprint
databases of school children. There are, obviously, various legal
measures which can apply to that kind of situation, but I think
it is a very good example of the way in which technological change
is impacting upon personal privacy without very much appreciation
of that impact.
Q284 Chairman: It has been suggested
to us that public sector companies are being covered by the ECHR,
private sector companies are not being covered by it, and that
possibly, going by the recent court ruling last week, for example,
if the DWP at some point contracted out its work on investigating
incapacity benefit to a private contractor, the private contractor
would not be covered by the ECHR provisions. Is that correct,
and is that a significant issue to worry about?
Ms Chakrabarti: Sadly, it is not
completely clear. What is clear from, in my view, a very disappointing
decision last week is that residential care homes have not been
considered to be public authorities, regardless of Parliamentary
intention or the vulnerability of the people concerned. The case
is confined to that situation, and their Lordships did try to
distinguish a number of other potential scenarios, but there is
a lack of clarity. You would not be able to say that all public
functions that are contracted out are definitely caught; and so
there will be parliamentary work to be done. I would argue, on
a sector specific basis to be absolutely certain, that where Parliament
is allowing local government or central government to contract
out a particular service, that Parliament makes the decision,
at the time of providing that sector specific legislation, whether
it intends the Convention to apply, because I do think it could
be an important safeguard.
Mr Russell: Can I give you an
example of where this particular issue is arising in a bill that
is before Parliament at the moment? It is the Serious Crime Bill,
and there is a power in there for the Audit Commission to mine
data in order to identify potential fraudsters. There is a power
in that bill for the Audit Commission to subcontract the power
to do that data-mining, this kind of mechanical, computerised
fishing expedition, to a subcontractor, to a private body. I think
what was said is that, given the doubt in the court's mind about
whether that body would be covered by the Human Rights Act, Parliament
could clarify in the Serious Crime Bill that, for the avoidance
of doubt, any private contractor will be covered.
Dr Pounder: Could I quickly add
on this point. The Data Protection Act has its concept of a data
controller. The data controller is the person who has the statutory
duty and if somebody contracts out delivery of the statutory duty,
the delivery of service to a data processor, I think the data
controller would still be in control of the data. That is my own
view of it.
Chairman: That is a very useful comment.
We can rehearse current issues around it.
Q285 Ms Buck: Can we pursue this
issue of the difference between the approach of the private sector
and the public sector, and just to ask, particularly Dr Pounder,
but others may have a view, about what could be done. If we assume
that the consent element in the private sector is a strength in
terms of data protection, what could be done within the public
sector systems to, if not exactly follow down that line, perhaps
for some of the reasons we heard from the earlier witness, to
try as much as possible to build in that kind of informed consent?
What would be the systems requirements and how feasible is it?
Dr Pounder: It depends on what
you are doing. The previous witnesses said something about the
police and consent which personally I did not think was quite
right. I cannot see the police seeking consent for anything. If
you have a statutory duty you do not need to seek consent, end
of argument. What you can build in, in certain circumstances,
is the right to object to the processing of personal data. So,
in the private sector body, say, for example, I do not like Tesco.
I have consented to Tesco processing my personal data. I am able
to withdraw consent quite easily, for example, in relation to
marketing or, possibly, in relation to their databases that look
into my sales and purchases. So, for some areas of data sharing
in the public sector, where there is a statutory gateway that
permits the sharing but the sharing does not involve, say, for
example, law enforcement, that kind of area, you could have an
easy right to object to the processing. When the UK Government
implemented the right to object in the Directive they implemented
it in the narrowest possible terms, and that could be broadened.
I am thinking particularly, for example, of the facilities in
the identity card legislation that allows for disclosures for
efficient and effective delivery of public services. You could
have a right to object there.
Q286 Ms Buck: Having listened to
those witnesses, particularly on health, to what extent do you
accept that there is a tension between public good, in terms,
for example, of the benefits of using accurate epidemiological
data, and the kind of protection and the potential right to opt
out or to change data?
Dr Metcalfe: I think a very good
example is the police DNA database, because we have already seen
applications being made by medical researchers to use that information;
and it is all very well to say that the information is being stored
for one particular law enforcement purpose but, as we know, the
definition can go very broadly, and so you might say that the
storing of DNA for a law enforcement purpose means that it should
only ever be used in relation to a specific crime and a specific
forensic investigation, but what we find happening is that medical
researchers will go along to the police database and say, "We
are interested in the idea of perhaps a gene for criminals. Can
we do the speculative search in relation to your database to see
if there is a link between, say, for example, people with red
hair and criminal behaviour and potentially, given the breadth
of the scope of the law enforcement purpose, that could actually
fall within it. Obviously the police DNA database has its own
regulatory framework and there are high ethical standards in relation
to medical research, but I am not going to say it is impossible.
I know that medical searches have already been approved in relation
Ms Chakrabarti: There comes a
point, I think, where you really do need to start saying: is the
Information Commissioner well-resourced enough? Does he have enough
powers to really police even the existing Data Protection Act,
and you have to say, given all the possibilities that we have
at the moment and which are coming, Parliament is going to have
to take a more robust role because there is a tension, there will
be a tension at times, and I am not going to say that the previous
witnesses are all wrong about the enormous potential benefits,
but someone has got to make that judgment. When they say the normal
paradigm has been consent or anonymity but that paradigm has to
change, I would argue that it is you and your colleagues who should
be conducting that judgment ultimately on behalf of your constituents,
and, frankly, if that kind of paradigm is going to be ignored
on occasion because they are going to cure cancer, then I think
maybe there should be a specific bill and there should be a robust
parliamentary debate. Generally speaking, law enforcement and
the state have powers of compulsion, but in return there has been
greater accountability. That is generally the trade-off. The private
sector has generally been taking information by consent and there
is less accountability. The lines between the private and public
sector are increasingly merging to the point where I am not even
sure the distinction is that helpful. The real question is the
purpose for which the interference is taking place, who sanctions
the interference and what are the protections against abuse?
Q287 Ms Buck: A last question on
that really, which is, I think, particularly for Dr Pounder. What
about the scope for actually changing and adding to data in a
way that is theoretically possible, although I suspect in practice
it is not quite as easy as that, to change data on your credit
rating? To what extent should it be possible within public databases
to actually amend and correct data?
Dr Pounder: There is specific
legislation (the Consumer Credit Act) that permits that. In relation
to the NHS discussion that we had, the NHS Act 2006 allows the
disclosure of medical records without patient consent, subject
to the Patient Information Advisory Group giving permission. I
was a bit puzzled about why the medical researchers do not use
the statutory routes that are available to them. In relation to
public and private sector merging, what I would say is if you
look at, say, the credit reference agenciesthat is private
datacredit reference agencies collect a whole pile of transactions
from the banks, the telecommunications companies providing data
to the authorities on a regular basis, the public and private
sector is merging. The barrier is not there in large databases.
I think Shami is right, you have got to treat the whole thing
case by case.
Q288 Mr Winnick: Liberty and JUSTICE,
in particular, the paper we received from Liberty, paragraph 12,
the final sentence of that paragraph states, "There is growing
public unease about the extent of the surveillance society."
What evidence do you have of such public unease?
Ms Chakrabarti: I am going to
call on Mr Russell to answer that, but can I apologise at the
outset for the author of this evidence not being here. Gareth
Crossman is our privacy expert, he will publish a report later
in the year, but I am afraid that the rights of privacy and family
life seem to allow people to take personal holidays when they
are working at Liberty. I did take advice on this.
Chairman: We will hold you collectively
to the evidence, I am sure.
Q289 Mr Winnick: Mr Russell what
evidence do you have?
Mr Russell: First of all the anecdotal
evidence is that we do receive hundreds and hundreds of queries
from the press, and I suspect that you receive hundreds of letters
through your mail bags about privacy type issues, but it is definitely
something that we receive a lot of mail on.
Q290 Mr Winnick: Mr Russell, can
I interrupt you. I do not know about my colleagues; I cannot recall
in recent times a single letter from constituents complaining
about lack of privacy. I am being the devil's advocate, because
to a large extent, as often with Liberty and JUSTICE, I intend
to take the same view as you, but my job, like my colleagues,
is to cross-examine you and find evidence for your statements.
When you say there is great unease, that everyone is trembling
in our constituencies that their privacy is being invaded, pray,
give us some evidence.
Mr Russell: There has been some
limited polling done on this, and there was an article at the
end of last year in the Telegraph with some YouGov Survey and
that said that 78% of people felt that they lived in a surveillance
society. Only 2% thought, for example, that the Government could
be trusted to run an ID card scheme which did not contain serious
errors. Fifty-two per cent were fairly unhappy, or very unhappy,
at the idea that personal data could be recorded on government
databases. So there is some data. One of the things that we will
propose and will consider in this report to be published later
in the year is the idea that more polling needs to be done, more
information needs to be done about public attitudes to surveillance,
but there is some suggestion in this limited data that there are
Q291 Mr Winnick: I am going to ask
you this question, Mr Russell. If there is such concern, why is
it that, not only perhaps my colleagues have a different sort
of post bag, but if I have not received such correspondence and
my constituents, certainly those who write letters, are not usually
reluctant to express their point of view, I get quite number of
letters of a different kind asking, in fact, for CCTV cameras.
Of course they take the view (perhaps it is exaggerated) that
CCTV cameras, in the view, presumably, of the large majority of
people in this country, play some part in undermining criminality.
If there is such a feeling of concern, why do I receive letters
along the lines I have just indicated?
Ms Chakrabarti: In my experience
it is extremely dangerous for Liberty to fall into the trap that
you are setting, which would be to suggest that general elections
are going to be won or lost on CCTV. We are not in a position
to argue that. Of the issues that people write to us about, that
is already a more limited class. People do not ask us to build
a Health Service for them, etcetera. It does seem to be a very
high concern. When MPs write to us, which they do as well, to
ask for help, on many occasions they are writing to us with concerns
about fingerprinting in schools, DNA and so on. It may be a healthy
minority of the public. I do not think that there is going to
be a revolution about CCTV, but CCTV is really interesting. There
is an interesting cultural point if you compare Britain to other
European countries, because even in as far as privacy interferences
go, there are big cultural differences about which particular
interference people are concerned about. In Germany or other parts
of the Continent you put a CCTV camera in the wrong place and
there literally will be riots, and may be that is the non-democratic
past. As a result, the authorities go through a much more rigorous
process of community consultation and analysis before they decide
where to place cameras. They put them up for the October Fest
in Munich because they are expecting anti-social behaviour and
trouble. At the end of the festival they take the cameras down.
In Britain we seem to have had a much higher tolerance of lots
and lots of cameras that seem to make a lot of people comfortable,
but we still have concerns that from an efficacy point of view
having lots of cameras everywhere, many of them not particularly
well looked at or maintained, is not necessarily the best use
of public money but also it is largely unregulated. Mr Denham
made the point that you would feel better about the cameras if
you thought that the people who were operating them were properly
trained and properly recruited. That is not always the case, and
it is not really regulated as an industry. I am not going to sit
here and say that every single CCTV camera that has ever been
erected is a complete violation of human rights, but I do think
proportionality has a lot to contribute.
Q292 Mr Winnick: Next time I receive
letters about that I will bear in mind your comments. Dr Metcalfe,
do you believe on behalf of JUSTICE that there is a large feeling
in the country that we are on the verge of 1984, big brother and
Dr Metcalfe: I think there is
public unease. I do not think there is enough. There should be
more public unease.
Q293 Mr Winnick: There should be
more, but it does not exist at the moment.
Dr Metcalfe: There is public unease.
We get the same letters and emails and telephone calls that Liberty
get inviting us to take up concerns. Generally speaking, we go
along, we have our club card points, we have our credit cards,
we walk along the street, we are monitored by CCTV and we really
do not think about the impact these things have on our personal
privacy. Maybe someone is arrested. It is a case of mistaken identity,
but someone makes a complaint about them being, say, a sex offender.
They are acquitted or maybe charges are not even brought, and
they think nothing of it until the next time they try to apply
for a job working with children, and then they find they cannot
because they have failed the child protection check because of
the fact they have been arrested in relation to a sex offence
means that that information has to be disclosed. That is the point
at which people recognise that personal privacy has some importance.
I am not saying for a moment that that kind of information should
not be disclosed, I am saying that we do not have very much appreciation
of the way in which information is transferred, even with our
consent, because we all tick the box on the credit card form,
not being aware that it says, "This information may be transferred
and shared with other third parties", but we never fully
appreciate, until we start receiving marketing letters from other
people on the credit card list, how precisely that information
is being used. So there is public uneasea lot of issues,
like, for example, fingerprinting in schools that came to our
attention by way of a letterbut is there enough? No, there
Q294 Mr Winnick: Can I put this question
to Dr Pounder. Is there a contradiction between what we were just
dealing with, the concern and how far it is extended regarding
intrusion into private lives, and the fact that an increasing
number of the public seem to take what could be described as a
remarkable casual attitude to publishing large amounts of personal
data about themselves? For example, FaceBook or MySpace websites.
For all we know, on Mr Denham's blog he might be openly speculating
what sort of job he is likely to be offered later this week!
Dr Pounder: People have their
own view of privacy. Lots of people are ex-directory; lots of
people are not ex-directory. Some people when they fill out an
application form tick the box before filling in the form. If people
want to put their personal information on the Internet, then,
basically, that is them giving permission, but coming back to
the point here
Q295 Mr Winnick: Pursuing that for
a moment, it does demonstrateI do not do it myselfthe
fact that there seem to be so many people, perhaps younger people,
putting such information on the websites which I have mentioned.
It does not seem me to express a fear that their personal privacy
is in some way being invaded.
Dr Pounder: Well, they take the
risk. Whether they know the risks, I do not know, but coming back
to the point hereseriously, it has to be facedthere
have been 20,000 complaints to the Information Commissioner last
Q296 Mr Winnick: How many?
Dr Pounder: Twenty thousand in
the annual report. The annual report also has a tracking survey
for privacy that picks up Liberty's issues. You are already having
people thinking of the "Big Opt-out" in relation to
the Summary Care Record of the NHS, you have people, in a sense,
questioning (and I am sure you have had this) why the police have
DNA data on somebody who has not committed a crime, you have even
got people questioning the electronic tag on their rubbish collection.
If that is not concern about surveillance, I do not know what
Ms Chakrabarti: To interrupt
Chairman: No, we are not going to have
two attempts at the question. Can we move on?
Mr Winnick: I assure you, Dr Pounder,
I share your view, although it might not appear to be in my question.
Chairman: Meanwhile, I am composing 10
pictures of my favourite members of the Select Committee! Carry
on, Mr Winnick.
Q297 Mr Winnick: I am sure I would
be foremost. Dr Metcalfe, JUSTICE, you argue that the interests
of the private individual and public good are not opposedthis
is the point of view you have expressedbut is not the job
for parliamentarians somewhat different, a question of personal
liberty versus the common good, and trying, as far as we are concerned,
to reach a balance between the two?
Dr Metcalfe: The point I was trying
to make, and it was probably the most philosophical section of
our evidence, is that personal liberty is ultimately part of the
common good, that we benefit from having privacy, we benefit not
merely as individuals in having privacy, we benefit as a society:
because people do things in their private space, in their private
time, and the benefits from that flow on to society as a whole.
You could give the example of a writer. We would not have much
of the great literature that we have today if, say, all our great
writers thought that everything that they wrote down was likely
to be under surveillance, for example. It was just a very abstract
philosophical point about the way in which privacy exists, not
only for the individual, but also for the common good, and that
we should be very careful about the impact of new technologies
that threaten that, and I think MySpace and FaceBook are very
good examples. It is great that we have these new communication
networks, but I do not actually think that lot of young people
think very clearly ahead about the way in which their personal
data could be disclosed and could be used, in the same way that
young people do not think ahead about an awful lot of things,
like their educational choices and how much they drink on a Friday
night. So, in the position of responsibility that Parliament is
in, we need to establish greater safeguards to ensure that other
bodies, other agencies, other companies take responsibility as
Q298 Mr Winnick: Presumably that
is Liberty's point of view?
Ms Chakrabarti: Absolutely. You
were all elected in secret ballots and the concept of a secret
ballot is essential to free elections. Without this right, even
in the human rights community, sometimes regarded as a bit low-level,
a bit trivialit is not torture, it is not arbitrary detentionyou
cannot have free elections, freedom of thought, conscience and
religion, freedom of speech in some circumstances without that
little bit of personal space and respect for it. I completely
agree with Eric on the young people and the FaceBook point. The
threats do not just come from the Government or big business;
if we are not careful we will rear a generation of young people
who have not really known the value of privacy as part of dignity,
as part of respect. People can take pictures of each other with
their mobile phones; they put pictures of their girlfriends on
Internet in states of undress. We as citizens, if you do not help
us to resurrect the importance of privacy and dignity, could be
a great enemy to each other in relation to this value.
Q299 Patrick Mercer: Turning now
to automated data exchange and Shami Chakrabarti, this is for
you, please: do you think that the creation of databases sometimes
provides an easy or a lazy solution to problems that actually
require better communication and co-ordination between responsible
Ms Chakrabarti: Yes, I do. That
is a very helpful and leading question, but, yes, I do. At Liberty
we try to take a balanced view of these issues. We are not against
all databases, how could we be, let alone all automated databases,
but sometimes, we would argue, when something bad happens it is
easy to say that the answer, for example, to a Climbié
situation is to build an ever bigger database, whereas in the
specific tragic case of Victoria Climbié it was not the
lack of a data entry of every child in the country, a lot of bad
things happened to that girl before she came to her tragic end
and people did not communicate about the specific. Obviously,
sometimes when you are looking for a needle in a haystack, it
has been said many times before, do not build an ever bigger haystack
where you increase the risks of accidents, and so on and so forth.