Author Topic: The task ahead  (Read 740 times)

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Offline Margie

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The task ahead
« on: May 15, 2010, 08:11:47 am »
Dear supporter,

After six hard years of campaigning, the publication of the Conservative & Liberal Democrats coalition agreement [1] is a moment to pause and celebrate what we have achieved so far.  NO2ID's success is a tribute to each and every person who has fought to change the hearts and minds of their friends, family and colleagues, local and national media, politicians, parties and government - and to everyone who has given so generously in money to allow us to run an office, send mailings, and produce briefings and leaflets. 

Guy Herbert, our General Secretary, and I would like to express our deepest gratitude for everyone's continued support and hard work, particularly the dozens who have volunteered in some way to keep all the invisible parts of a national campaign running.  But I'm afraid we cannot afford to be complacent: NO2ID's work is far from done.

The database state has insinuated itself into far too many aspects of our everyday lives for it to simply wither and die, even were some of its more visible tendrils to be lopped off or pruned back.  Even during the election, despite the parties now in government being skeptical about it, Connecting for Health was pushing forward with its vast plan [2] to nationalise and centralise all medical records in England.

The new government's commitment to "a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour Government and roll back state intrusion" is reason to be cautiously optimistic.  But the promised repeals and reforms MUST be worked out in detail, if they are to have the necessary effect.  Pressure MUST be maintained for them to be enacted... and properly enforced. 

Don't imagine for a moment that Whitehall will give up its pet projects, empires or agendas without a fight - battles for which we know it has been preparing for years.  Nor should we expect the political, commercial and media proponents of database state initiatives to stand quietly by.  The official obsession with identity and information-sharing, the very idea that"personal information is the lifeblood of government" still remains. 

Stopping the database state is not just a matter of scrapping a few high-profile databases - as welcome as this will be. It means changing the culture of showing "ID" at every turn [3], embedding proper protections in law, in institutions and technology, and achieving real control over our own information.  The nature of the campaign, too, may change, as it becomes even more a matter of education and forming public policy and less of organising direct resistance.

The new government says it will take the first steps towards protecting our privacy and autonomy, and needs to be held to that. Rolling back the database state will involve further long and difficult battles, but what we have proved is that - working together - this is a war that very definitely CAN be won. 

Phil Booth, National Coordinator, NO2ID

 --

1) To read the full text of the coalition agreement, see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8677933.stm

2) Connecting for Health (CfH) has sent out 30 million 'Patient InformationPacks', but no opt out forms. It is desperate to achieve a 'critical mass'of records so it can argue the system can't be scrapped. If you care about medical confidentiality, please opt out now -http://www.no2id.net/downloads/SCR_optout_sheet.pdf - and ask your new MP to call for an immediate and complete suspension of uploads to Summary Care Records, pending a full enquiry.

3) 'Challenging the culture of routine checks on British citizens' identities is as crucial as taking on the ID card scheme': http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2010/may/14/identity-cards-passport-checks

 

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