Feeds

A dossier on every UK citizen?

Bureaucratic creep fears over life records plan

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The Government plans to establish a database of life records which could be used to create a dossier on everyone in the country, privacy advocates fear.

The Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR) has called on the Government to ensure that a new electronic database of life events - births, marriages, deaths etc. - supports, rather than reduces, privacy and liberty.

In a response to the Office of National Statistics' consultation on its plans for such a database, the FIPR said the "proposal amounts to establishing the foundations for a compulsory dossier on every citizen".

"Once begun, the database would develop its own momentum as agencies discovered new advantages. Fraud and crime prevention could be argued to justify the inclusion of information relating to social security benefits, tax, passports, drivers' licences, criminal records and much else," the FIPR writes.

"Public health considerations might be argued to justify extension of the snapshot of information about the cause of death to an accumulation of information about health events during life. The protection of children might be argued to justify linkage with information accumulated by social services departments. The needs of the war on terrorism seem capable of being used to justify almost anything," it adds.

According to the FIPR, the proposed database is already intended to store information that goes beyond its stated purpose.

"It is difficult to see the justification for including occupations, ranks and professions of brides, grooms and their parents, or causes of death, within the registration system."

The FIPR argues that simpler measures could be cheaper, less invasive and more effective. For example, a basic registry of deaths would allow the Passport Agency to check applications for fraud.

The think tank also believes paper records are more trustworthy because they are "harder to retrospectively alter" than database files.

Nicholas Bohm, General Counsel to the FIPR and author of the response, said: "The Government must avoid the risks of turning the register of births into a set of comprehensive dossiers on every citizen."

"We should not be moving towards a system where our very identity is dependent on registration by the Government in a central database." ®

Related Stories

UK ID card scheme likely to be 'debacle', says Jack Straw
Finger, faceprints get green light for Europe's ID standard
NHS patient privacy? What patient privacy!

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's iPhone 6 first-day sales are MEANINGLESS, mutters analyst
Big weekend queues only represent fruity firm's supply
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Bill Gates, drugs and the internet: Top 10 Larry Ellison quotes
'I certainly never expected to become rich ... this is surreal'
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.