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Dominic Grieve unveils how a Conservative Government would reverse the rise of the "Surveillance State"

GRIEVE DOMINIC NW Later this morning - at a time that will curiously overlap with a press conference David Cameron is giving - Dominic Grieve, the shadow Justice Secretary, is launching a new policy paper, Reversing the Rise of the Surveillance State.

You can download the full document as a pdf, but here is a summary of the paper's 11-point plan on how a Conservative Government would respond to the trend of ever-increasing intrusive Government:

  1. Scrapping the National Identity Register and ContactPoint database.
  2. Establishing clear principles for the use and retention of DNA on the National DNA Database, including ending the permanent or prolonged retention of innocent people's DNA.
  3. Restricting and restraining local council access to personal communications data.
  4. Reviewing protection of personal privacy from the surveillance state as part of a British Bill of Rights.
  5. Strengthening the audit powers and independence of the Information Commissioner.
  6. Requiring Privacy Impact Assessments on any proposals for new legislation or other measures that involve data collection or sharing at the earliest opportunity. Require government to consult the Information Commissioner on the PIA and publish his findings.
  7. Immediately submitting the Home Office's plans for the retention of, and access to, communications data to the Information Commissioner for pre-legislative scrutiny.
  8. Requiring new powers of data-sharing to be introduced into law by primary legislation, not by order.
  9. Appointing a Minister and senior civil servant (at Director General level) in each Government ministry with responsibility for departmental operational data security.
  10. Tasking the Information Commissioner to publish guidelines on best practice in data security in the public sector.
  11. Tasking the Information Commissioner to carry out a consultation with the private sector, with a view to establishing guidance on data security, including examining the viability of introducing an industry-wide kite mark system of best practice.

Mr Grieve, the leading civil libertarian in the shadow cabinet, summarises his approach thus:

"This Government's approach to our personal privacy is the worst of all worlds - intrusive, ineffective and enormously expensive. We cannot run government robotically. We cannot protect the public through automated systems. And we cannot eliminate the need for human judgment calls on risk, whether to children, or from criminal and terrorist threats.

"As we have seen time and time again, over-reliance on the database state is a poor substitute for the human judgment and care essential to the delivery of frontline public services. Labour's surveillance state has exposed the public to greater - not less - risk."

Jonathan Isaby


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