privacy in scotland

This motion is apparently going to be debated in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow:

That the Parliament believes that the fundamental liberties enjoyed by generations of our citizens must not be eroded;
welcomes the commitment by the previous Scottish Executive that ID cards would not be needed to access devolved services and its proportionate position on DNA retention;
is concerned at the threat to civil liberties from the UK Government’s expensive and unworkable proposal to introduce compulsory ID cards;
believes that the Scottish Government should not put citizens’ privacy at risk by allowing the UK ID database to access personal information held by the Scottish Government, local authorities or other devolved public agencies;
therefore calls on the Scottish Government to ensure that all data protection procedures are secure and that audit of data under its jurisdiction is independent of government and accountable to the Parliament,
and takes the view that there should be no blanket retention of DNA samples and that the Assistant Information Commissioner for Scotland should have specific powers to carry out spot checks on the compliance by Scottish government agencies and bodies with the Data Protection Act 1998.

It will be interesting to see what they say. Already in Scotland some fears have been raised about the so-called Scottish Entitlement Card, which people apply for on the basis that it acts as a free bus pass, but which requires them to waive their data protection rights in order for their personal information to be shared across unspecified other government departments, on the basis that this will give them easier access to other government services which may be provided via the card in the future. (In theory there is an opt-out, so that your personal details will be used only for the purpose of getting you the bus pass you’re entitled to but for no other purposes, but, as John Welford has been documenting, it’s not so easy to achieve in practice.)

I’m a bit unclear as to the procedures of the Scottish Parliament and what the implications of any outcome of this debate will be, but if (in the wake of the multiple data loss scandals of the past few weeks) our elected representatives in the Scottish Parliament decide that identity register schemes are not in the interests of ordinary members of the public, some change of policy on the much-vaunted ‘free bus pass’ might well be required.

One thought on “privacy in scotland

  1. Thanks to John Welford’s site, here’s a link to the debate:
    Civil Liberties

    The motion was passed by 64 votes to 1 (with 60 abstentions)

    I’m still not any clearer about what practical implications this might have, but at least the issues were aired and a strong consensus (including apparently everyone *except* Labour) seems to be building against further civil liberties infringements


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