Update posted 1:30pm, Friday 22nd April
I have added the Plaid Cyrmu statement and the fact that the Conservatives have promised to repeal the Human Rights Act
Please find in the blog coverage of all the privacy aspects from the manifestos of main political parties election; the order is Lib Dems, Conservative, Labour, and Scottish Nationalist and Plaid Cymru. The text is cut and pasted from their manifestos. I have not covered the Greens, UKIP and the rest – so sorry.
The only personal comment I am making relates to the policies of Monster Raving Looney Party. You should put them side-by-side with the Labour Party’s efforts; both are equally incomprehensible but at least you can laugh at the former.
Liberal Dems: protect and restore your freedoms.
• Introduce a Freedom Bill. We will regulate CCTV, stop councils from spying on people, stop unfair extradition to the US, defend trial by jury, and stop children being fingerprinted at school without their parents’ permission.
• Restore the right to protest by reforming the Public Order Act to safeguard non-violent protest even if it offends; and restrict the scope of injunctions issued by vested interests.
• Protect free speech, investigative journalism and academic peer reviewed publishing through reform of the English and Welsh libel laws – including by requiring corporations to show damage and prove malice or recklessness, and by providing a robust responsible journalism defence.
Scrap intrusive Identity Cards and have more police instead, and also scrap plans for expensive, unnecessary new passports with additional biometric data.
• Halt the increase in unnecessary new offences with the creation of a ‘stop unit’ in the Cabinet Offi ce. Every department in Whitehall would have to convince this unit of the need for a new offence.
• End plans to store your email and internet records without good cause.
• Remove innocent people from the police DNA database and stop storing DNA from innocent people and children in the future, too.
• Ensure that everyone has the same protections under the law by protecting the Human Rights Act.
• Scrap the intrusive ContactPoint database which is intended to hold the details of every child in England.
Conservative: Restore our civil liberties
Labour’s approach to our personal privacy is the worst of all worlds – intrusive, ineffective and enormously expensive. We will scrap ID cards, the National Identity Register and the Contactpoint database. To protect our freedoms from state encroachment and encourage greater social responsibility, we will replace the Human Rights Act with a UK Bill of Rights.
We will scale back Labour’s database state and protect the privacy of the public’s information. We will introduce a balanced approach to the retention of people’s DNA and reform the criminal records system so it protects children without destroying trust.
Wherever possible, we believe that personal data should be controlled by individual citizens themselves. We will strengthen the powers of the Information Commissioner to penalise any public body found guilty of mismanaging data. We will take further steps to protect people from unwarranted intrusion by the state, including:
• cutting back intrusive powers of entry into homes, which have been massively extended under Labour;
• curtailing the surveillance powers that allow some councils to use anti-terrorism laws to spy on people making trivial mistakes or minor breaches of the rules;
• requiring Privacy Impact Assessments of any proposal that involves data collection or sharing; and,
• ensuring proper Parliamentary scrutiny of any new powers of data-sharing.
The indefinite retention of innocent people’s DNA is unacceptable, yet DNA data provides a useful tool for solving crimes. We will legislate to make sure that our DNA database is used primarily to store information about those who are guilty of committing crimes rather than those who are innocent. We will collect the DNA of all existing prisoners, those under state supervision who have been convicted of an offence, and anyone convicted of a serious recordable offence. We pushed the Government to end the permanent retention of innocent people’s DNA , and we will change the guidance to give people on the database who have been wrongly accused of a minor crime an automatic right to have their DNA withdrawn.
We believe that people working in positions of trust with children should go through a proper criminal record check. But Labour’s new system goes too far. So we will review the criminal records and ‘vetting and barring’ regime and scale it back to common sense levels.
Labour: Using technology to cut crime
We will continue to make full use of CCTV and DNA technology: new weapons deployed to strengthen our fight against crime. We are proud of our record on civil liberties and have taken the DNA profiles of children off the database and tightened the rules around the use of surveillance – but we are also determined to keep our streets safe.
CCTV reduces the fear of crime and anti-social behaviour. We have funded cameras in nearly 700 areas, and brought in a new power for people to petition their local authority for more CCTV.
Advances in DNA technology have been critical in solving serious crimes – last year alone there were 832 positive matches to the DNA database in cases of rape, murder and manslaughter. Labour will ensure that the most serious offenders are added to the database no matter where or when they were convicted – and retain for six years the DNA profiles of those arrested but not convicted.
The new biometric ID scheme which already covers foreign nationals will be offered to an increasing number of British citizens, but will not be compulsory for them. It will help fight the growing threat of identity theft and fraud, as well as crime, illegal immigration and terrorism. In the next Parliament ID cards and the ID scheme will be self-financing. The price of the passport and ID cards together with savings from reduced fraud across the public services will fully cover the costs of the scheme.
Statement by the Scottish Nationalist Party
The SNP believe in the importance of protecting people’s identity information and the privacy of individuals.
The SNP Government has announced proposals for public sector organisations to avoid creating large centralised databases of personal information and keep clear audit trails on how identity data is used. The Scottish Government is consulting on Identity Management and Privacy Principles that aim to raise confidence in the management of personal data. Draft principles include:
* Proving identity or entitlement: people should only be asked for identity when necessary and they should be asked for as little information as possible;
* Governance and accountability: private and voluntary sectors which deliver public services should be contractually bound to adhere to the principles;
* Risk management: Privacy Impact Assessments should be carried out to ensure new initiatives identify and address privacy issues;
* Data and data sharing: Organisations should avoid creating large centralised databases of personal information and store personal and transactional data separately;
* Education and engagement: Public bodies must explain why information is needed and where and why it is shared.
The work to develop the principles has been commended by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner and the Dutch Commissioner.
Statement by the Plaid Cymru
Plaid is committed to supporting organisations such as Liberty to ensure an end to detention without trial, and the scrapping of identity cards. We fully support the NO2ID campaign and our Members of Parliament will continue to oppose any attempts to introduce identity cards in the strongest possible manner. Plaid Cymru MPs are obliged to present an annual report on the state of civil liberties in Britain to the autumn party conference. We will also oppose attempts to introduce identity cards by the back door through a requirement for passport applicants to give fingerprints.
Furthermore, we believe that the proposed introduction of Identity cards will significantly erode individual rights, civil liberties and justice; they will prove costly and ineffective in their supposed aim of increasing security; they will cost us billions of pounds in the middle of a public spending crisis, and will have little or no tangible benefit for ordinary working people.
We know that the use of identity cards in other countries has not prevented fraud, illegal immigration or terrorism; we fear that identity cards will lead to an increase in state control and surveillance over the individual and they will create an unacceptable imposition on every citizen.
In fact, we believe that the proposals are unlawful under the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights which amongst other things guarantees every person the fundamental right to privacy, and that the introduction of identity cards will marginalise and disenfranchise already disadvantaged people, and encourage greater institutionalised racism and scapegoating.