I’d be nervous too

Why people don’t trust census-takers

Exchequer secretary Angela Eagle told a February session of the select committee that personal data would remain under UK control regardless. In a carefully-worded follow-up letter to the investigation, she wrote: “I can assure you that the eventual contract that ONS places with the successful bidder will have sufficient provisions to ensure that the service provider will, at no stage, allow the removal from the United Kingdom of any completed paper questionnaire, or any electronic data or images that could in any way identify an individual. Both the warehouse and the processing centre will be located within the United Kingdom.”

All UK households are required by law to complete and return the census form.

The MPs are not satisfied by Eagle’s guarantees. In the conclusions of the report they wrote: “We remain concerned that the personal information gathered through the 2011 census could be subject to the United States Patriot Act and therefore we ask the government to take clear legal advice and advice from the US State Department and to publish it in response to this report.”

First the british government has a really bad record of safeguarding even the data it wants to keep confidential. Second, “removal” and “copying” are rather different processes that have identical effects. Third, even if the electronic data stays in the UK, what’s to stop the contractor from simply picking up the phone to talk to some spooks and give them the information they want, or inviting the spooks to come in and take their own look around…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: