Hardly a month goes by with a new law being written, a new power being used, or a new technology being invented that allows the government to track or monitor people.
These powers and technology are often said to be for the greater good of the country, to protect people from terrorism and the like, but this technology and power, while starting for the greater good always starts to be used to monitor people for the most petty of crimes.
In 2000 the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act was created and empowered police, and councils alike, to put people under surveillance. There was an outcry about this from the “left”, complaining that this would be misused, and it was the “thin end of the wedge”. Those fears were allayed by the police and politicians alike. Now, in 2008, RIPA is used to monitor people for everything from terrorism to dogs fowling, and even children trying to get into a better school.
When the DNA database was started in the 1990s it was to record only the DNA of people convicted of a crime. The database was there to protect the country, and not build up a DNA profile of everybody in the country; if a person was found not guilty then their DNA would have to be destroyed. In 2001 the law was changed so that even if somebody was later found not-guilty the DNA could still be kept. Then in 2004 the law was changed again so that Police had the power to take DNA after arrest, and without charge. This allowed for a huge increase in DNA sampling. By 2005 200,000 extra samples were in the database that would not have been otherwise – only 4% of these have since been linked to a crime. Now in 2008 the database is not only used to store DNA of innocent people, but it is also used to conduct searches, through DNA profiling, for potential family members who may be linked to a crime scene, even if their DNA is not on the database; with an average of 1.5 such searches happening every week. Now with the recent introduction of the Phom Convention this DNA is now shared with much of Europe.
When ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) first started being used it was aimed specifically at catching terrorists. Now, 10 years later, it is being deployed nationwide, has over 50 million “reads” a day, and is used to track cars, from systems around the country, into a central database. Its funding is coming, in part, from Fixed Penalty tickets it can issue- everything from bus lane infringements to a lack of MoT. ANPR in the UK is now becoming the most complete tracking system of a population in the world as it monitor the entire population moving by car around the country all day every day.
BioMetrics were heralded as a new way to enhance security, to try and catch terrorists, now it is used for everything from finger printing children going to school to facial recognition in shops to make sure you are old enough to buy alcohol.
From ANPR to RIPA, from DNA databases to Biometric recording systems, time and time again out data is being taken measured, tracked, and profiled. Some say this is a good thing, many don’t like it, and even more are unware of how much information is currently stored about them.
The aim of this site is to “try” and become a source for information about data and privacy.
It will report on information about privacy, CCTV, ID Cards, new laws, and new technology.