ENDitorial: New coalition's U-turn on privacy in UK

By EDRi · June 16, 2010

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [ENDitorial: Kehrtwende der neuen britischen Koalition | http://www.unwatched.org/node/2006]

The coalition Government plans to keep the Summary Care Record, despite
pre-election pledges by both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to
rip up the system – which is not compliant with the I v Finland judgement of
the European Court of Human Rights.

Last year colleagues and I wrote Database State, a report for the Joseph
Rowntree Reform Trust, which studied 46 systems that keep information on all
of us, or at least a significant minority of us. We concluded that eleven of
them were almost certainly illegal under human-rights law, and most of the
rest had problems. Our report was well received by both Conservatives and
Lib Dems; many of its recommendations were adopted as policy.

Old-timers may recall that back in 1996-7, many of us geeks supported New
Labour enthusiastically, as Blair promised not to introduce key escrow. It
took him almost a year to renege on that promise; it has taken the coalition
less than a month.

Blair’s U-turn on key escrow in 1998 led to the establishment of FIPR, and a
two-year fight against what became the RIP Act (where at least we limited
escrow to the powers in part 3). What’s the appropriate response now to
Cameron and Clegg?

It’s inconceivable that assurances given to farmers, or to soldiers, or to
teachers would be tossed aside so casually. Yet half a million of us earn
our living in IT in Britain – there’s a lot more of us than of any of them!
And many people in other jobs care about privacy, copyright, and other
digital issues. So do those of us who care about digital policy have to
become more militant? Or do we have to raise money and bribe the ruling
parties? Or, now that all three major parties are compromised, should we
downgrade our hopes for parliament and operate through the courts and
through Europe instead?

Coalition Government to retain Summary Care Record (4.06.2010)

General practice is reaching ‘saturation point’, NHS England admits

Tories would ‘dismantle’ NPfIT infrastructure (10.08.2009)

Liberal Democrats’ health policy (26.01.2010)

Finland privacy judgment (23.07.2008)

Finland privacy judgment

Database State (23.03.2009)

Database State

(contribution by Ross Anderson – EDRi-member FIPR – UK)