People up and down the country are becoming more and more worried about Tony Bliar's "Big Brother" surveillance state. CCTV cameras watch us while we shop, more cameras record our movements while we drive, satellites will soon spy on farmers while they farm, we are promised ID cards containing all our personal imformation with hefty fines and even prison sentences if we don't cooperate, our waste bins are to have chips embedded so the local council can monitor our rubbish, there are plans to put RFID devices into supermarket produce so they can keep tabs on the contents of our larders, litter wardens snoop to see that we don't put our personal litter in public bins, thousands and thousands of children and adults are entered on the national police database and have to stay there even if charges are dropped or they are acquitted, the police enter our schools and charge our children if they scrap in the playground or call each other names, our internet use is logged and stored, and blah blah blah - you know the rest …
There are a couple (yes, I know, it's sad. Only two?) of things we can all do to make things just a little more difficult for our lords and masters.
Firstly, The GOS urges you to apply for your new passport NOW, whether you need one or not. The Identity Cards Act 2006 turns your passport into a one-way ticket to control of your identity by the government. It means lifelong surveillance, and untold bureaucracy - but it's still not too late. The UK Identity & Passport Service (UKIPS) has not yet changed passport renewal procedures, but is currently recruiting staff for its network of 69 new 'enrolment centres'.
You may have heard that you'll be able to opt out of having an ID card if you renew your passport before 1st January 2010. But the card is not the point. Even if you chose not to have it, you would still have to pay for it. And you will get no choice about attending an official interview, producing numerous personal documents to be recorded, and having your fingerprints and eye scans taken for the records. Once you are on the Register, you will never get off until it is abolished. But you'll be exposed to all the risks and dangers of the scheme immediately. The Home Office is building the most complex and intrusive ID control system in the world. Given their atrocious track record, it will certainly go wrong. Once you are on the Register - with or without a card - you will also be forced to keep all the details that are kept about you up to date (and sort out any government errors). Once you are on the Register you will face penalty charges for not telling the Home Office if you move house or if any other of your registered details change.
By renewing early you send a message to the politicians and bureaucrats who think that they can take control of who we are, and to the companies that hope to make a fortune at our expense by helping them.
Do visit this website where you will find a downloadable fact-sheet about the issue. You can get details of passport renewal here.
Second, the NHS "Care Records" scheme is currently being rolled out, with a huge national database of patient medical records and personal information (sometimes referred to as the NHS 'spine') with no opt-in or opt-out mechanism for patients at all. It is very much akin to the government's proposed ID database.
Your medical confidentiality is at risk as potentially millions of NHS employees and central government bureaucrats will have access to not only your medical records but also your demographic details - name, address, NHS Number, GP details, phone number (even if it's ex-directory) and mobile number.
There is no opt-out whatsoever for your demographic details. You can only have them hidden in special circumstances if the police or social services request it - if, for example, you are a victim of domestic violence. Pharmacists will also be able to access this information. The only way to stop your demographic details being available nationally is to have them 'stop-noted'.
You are however allowed to 'lock down' your medical details. But even this can be overidden in certain circumstances - for example, if you go to Accident and Emergency. You will no longer be able to attend any Sexual Health or GUM (Genito-Urinary Medicine) Clinic anonymously as all these details will also be held on this national database, alongside your medical records. For the first time everyone's most up-to-date and confidential details are to be held on one massive database.
Scary or what? And, given the government's record with massive IT systems, how long will it be before (a) some dishonest NHS employees sell your details to commercial companies, and (b) the entire system breaks down completely?
The Big Opt Out is a campaign against this NHS database, and their website even gives you a template letter to send to your GP. The GOS has already sent his!
Go on, do it today. We probably can't defeat Big Brother, but if enough of us care sufficiently to take these small precautions, we will at least make life a little difficult for the bastard.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
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