Less Government snooping would also mean a cash saving, says shadow justice secretary
The conservative party has promised to increase protection of privacy and cut back on government databases, if it wins the next election.
Government databases cost too much and erode people’s civil liberties, said the shadow justice secretary, Dominic Grieve, in a policy paper entitled Reversing the Rise of the Surveillance State.
The announcement follows months in which the party leader David Cameron has proposed cutting costs by putting National Health Service data into the hands of private companies such as Google, plans which were condemned as “mad” by Tory MP and privacy advocate David Davis.
Grieve’s promises include scrapping the Government’s proposals for ID cards, introducing a Bill of Rights, and restricting council’s powers to snoop under the Regulation of Investigative Powers Act (RIPA), to the investigation of serious crimes only.
“As we have seen time and time again, over-reliance on the database state is a poor substitute for the human judgment and care essential to the delivery of frontline public services,” said Grieve. “Labour’s surveillance state has exposed the public to greater – not less – risk.”
The full 11 points issued at the launch are as follows.
- Scrapping the National Identity Register and ContactPoint database
- Establishing clear principles for the use and retention of DNA on the National DNA Database, including ending the permanent or prolonged retention of innocent people’s DNA
- Restricting and restraining local council access to personal communications data
- Reviewing protection of personal privacy from the surveillance state as part of a British Bill of Rights.
- Strengthening the audit powers and independence of the Information Commissioner
- Requiring Privacy Impact Assessments on any proposals for new legislation or other measures that involve data collection or sharing at the earliest opportunity. Require government to consult the Information Commissioner on the PIA and publish his findings
- Immediately submitting the Home Office’s plans for the retention of, and access to, communications data to the Information Commissioner for pre-legislative scrutiny
- Requiring new powers of data-sharing to be introduced into law by primary legislation, not by order.
- Appointing a Minister and senior civil servant (at Director General level) in each Government ministry with responsibility for departmental operational data security
- Tasking the Information Commissioner to publish guidelines on best practice in data security in the public sector
- Tasking the Information Commissioner to carry out a consultation with the private sector, with a view to establishing guidance on data security, including examining the viability of introducing an industry-wide kite mark system of best practice.