Levels of personal security criticised by House of Lords as being 'pervasive' in British society

News by Dan Raywood

The amount of CCTV cameras and the growth of the DNA database are two examples of threats to privacy.

The amount of CCTV cameras and the growth of the DNA database are two examples of threats to privacy.

 

According to the Lords constitution committee, the methods of surveillance and collection of personal data are ‘pervasive' in British society and threaten to undermine democracy.

 

Lord Goodlad, the former Tory chief whip and committee chairman, said: “The huge rise in surveillance and data collection by the state and other organisations risks undermining the long-standing traditions of privacy and individual freedom which are vital for democracy.

 

“If the public are to trust that information about them is not being improperly used there should be much more openness about what data is collected, by whom and how it is used.”

 

The government claimed that CCTV and DNA recording were ‘essential crime fighting tools', but did acknowledge that personal data should only be used in criminal investigations where necessary.

 

A Home Office spokesman said: “The key is to strike the right balance between privacy, protection and sharing of personal data. This provides law enforcement agencies with the tools to protect the public, while ensuring there are effective safeguards and a solid legal framework to protect civil liberties.”

 

Gary Clark, VP EMEA at SafeNet, said: “The Lords' surveillance report has highlighted a huge disconnect between the public's right to privacy and authorities' desire for data.

“Over the past 12 months, organisations, both public and private, have proven far from adept at holding onto personal, often highly confidential, information. And data loss-themed headlines certainly don't help to alleviate public fears.
 
“The public should be able to trust that stringent practices are in place to secure data and the necessary safeguards are agreed to protect it. These include identifying process weaknesses, adopting robust security standards and, most importantly, encrypting all sensitive data, not just ‘in some circumstances' as the report advises.
 
“If authorities' continue to push for mega databases and increased levels of surveillance, then organisations need to up their game in the security stakes. Before the public can be confident its personal details are safe, organisations need security policies that outline how confidential information is protected across the entire organisation – from core to edge.”

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