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It's official: The Home Office is listening

And will officially ignore anything you say

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As for the claim that no “new information” is created, only “undiscovered links”, we must assume that the author of this report is unaware of the “jigsaw” concept that is central to Official Secrets legislation. This makes it a criminal offence for an individual to take two or more unrelated (and unclassified) pieces of information and put them together to create a conclusion that is “secret”.

Presumably what is good enough for official information is not good enough for personal information.

Of course you can say no...

Another very large timebomb buried in the Home Office report includes the suggestion that “public authorities need to be very careful about relying on consent {for the processing of data}, as the requirement can be complex to apply and it is often difficult to be sure than an individual has genuinely consented”.

Translation: If the buggers won’t agree to let government process their data, remove their right to say no!

There is plenty of fine waffle in support of guidelines, high level reviews and impact assessments – although it is hard to shake the sense that wherever any of these come into conflict with what government wants, they will end up being no obstacle at all.

As the Home Office quite rightly says, it will have no time for “fishing trips” or attempts to use information in new ways to deal with a new issue. Oh no. Data would only be used in this way where an “objective” need is identified.

And on and on and on. Individual rights when it comes to DNA? Victims might not understand. Public concern about how personal communications are intercepted? The Home Office plans not to do less of it, but to “raise awareness” of the benefits such practices can bring.

For a government committed to listening, this is a pretty poor show. Or perhaps not. They have clearly heard the arguments against their approach, but, as Sir Neville-Kingdom puts it, they are “confident they can get {the public} back on-side”.

How? Just keep repeating the same bland reassurance and take no notice of substantive criticism. In time, it will all just fade away. ®

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