I didn’t get to go to the Westminster eForum conference today on privacy and security, but my colleague Katherine Ollerhead did a nice summary for me. Thanks Katherine!
“The key question that came out of the conference today was “Where should the balance be between individual privacy and public security?”. Needless to say, no one had the answer. What became apparent from the speeches and questions is that there is serious concern amongst those involved with privacy and data protection about the DPA, RIPA and the way that the surveillance state is developing. The Shadow Minister for Justice offered to “reverse the rise of the surveillance state”, were the Conservatives to get into power this year (but, she did point out that they would not be manifesto pledges). The ICO offered its guidance in suggesting that we look at its codes of conduct in order to ensure that best practice was being operated in any event. The assistant commissioner for the ICO saw the DPA as the minimum requirement that companies should follow and that the codes of practice and other guidance offered ways in which companies (and government departments) could and should be behaving, e.g. over and above the strict letter of the law, in order to maintain data privacy. The take away message for all delegates was that it is up to those in parliament, those who influence parliament (which includes lawyers), the ICO and those in industry to look at how the law is changed and developed going forward and to stop us “sleep walking into a surveillance state”. Much discussion on ID cards, the DNA database and other surveillance databases and technologies. More detailed notes will follow in due course.”
My point is this: I suspect we’re already *in* that surveillance state, I’d like to know how to reverse out of it. Answers on a postcard please.