Sunday, 25 April 2010

UK election - parties' privacy & data protection promises

Hawk Talk have usefully put together in one place extracts relevant to privacy and data protection from the UK election manifestos of the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives, Labour, and Scottish Nationalist and Plaid Cymru parties.

I'll do my bit and add stuff on the Green Party - purely based on a crude search on their site for "privacy" and "data protection" so may not be comprehensive -

PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION and GOVERNMENT - Identity, Privacy and Freedom of Information

PA850 The Green Party believes that there must be a balance between the need of government on behalf of the community to obtain and hold information to identify individual citizens and the civil rights of individuals, particularly that of privacy. The individual's civil rights should prevail, unless waived by specific agreement or overridden by a specific public interest stipulated by law as overriding privacy. Information on individual identity so obtained should be held confidential, unless that confidentiality is waived by specific agreement or overridden by a specific public interest stipulated by law as overriding confidentiality.
PA851 Such information must be obtained and held only by government servants subject to appropriate regulations on privacy and confidentiality; the task must not be given to commercial organisations. In accordance with the Green Party's policy on a 'Freedom of Information Act' (RR401), information acquired by government agencies and other organisations for specified purposes must not be given to other such organisations or used for other purposes.
PA852 The need for the state and other organisations to obtain information on individuals for specific purposes must not entitle them to access unrelated information at other times for any other purpose. This would undermine the civil liberties of individuals. It would enable those in charge of government and other organisations to obtain and use the information to attack the legitimate rights and activities of those opposed to them.
PA853 Information obtained and held by the state or other organisations must not be used to subvert and attack the legitimate rights and activities of those opposed to them.
PA854 The Green Party opposes the introduction of a general identity card, whether on a compulsory basis or on a "voluntary" basis tantamount to compulsion, and would seek to abolish such identity cards if introduced.
PA855 "Identity" in this context means a name by which a person may be known, and where necessary an address through which they can be contacted. For the purposes of the Electoral Roll, a location for the purposes of qualification may be required.
PA856 The Green Party believes that citizens should be entitled to access to information held by all levels of government and public authorities and by bodies acting on their behalf. Information should be available except where specifically restricted, and quickly and at reasonable cost. Restrictions shall be limited to those necessary to protect the privacy of individual citizens, national security, certain international relations, and information properly provided in confidence. Information on policy formulation, the conduct of public affairs, the environment and health and safety should be freely available. In addition, restrictions should only apply where the government can show they are required to prevent real harm to the public interest. Provision shall be made for an independent commission to test the latter contention and require access if that contention is not sustained.
PA857 The circumstances in which access to council meetings and documents and files may be withheld from the public shall be clearly defined. In particular the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 will be tightened up in a number of ways, for example:
The creation by local authorities of 'working parties', 'panels' or other such bodies, which are not covered by the Act, will be ended. All such bodies will be defined as committees or subcommittees, to ensure that the Act applies to them;
The use of valid exemptions to public access to documents pursuant to the 1985 Act, to restrict public access to matters not intended to be covered by those exemptions, will be ended; for instance the practice of excluding the public from decisions about grants given to organisations - as distinct from individuals where genuine personal privacy may apply;
Steps will be taken to curtail decision-making in secret party group meetings as this practice makes the subsequent meetings of the council or its committees or sub-committees meaningless as the decisions ostensibly taken in public will in practice have been made beforehand. We would also wish to end the practice in which all members of a party are required to follow a whip imposed in secret, with penalties if they fail to do so.

RESPONSIBILITIES AND RIGHTS - Human rights & civil liberties
RR400 The Green Party supports the principles of the National Council for Civil Liberties' Charter for Civil Rights and Liberties, and would introduce a 'Bill of Civil Rights and Liberties' based on this charter.
RR401 The Green Party would introduce a 'Freedom of Information Act' which would include a clear definition of what constitutes national security, with broad provisions for data protection.

CULTURE MEDIA & SPORT - Censorship & Privacy
CMS206 The Green Party is opposed to all forms of censorship in the media and cultural activities for adults. The state and persons holding positions of power to control activities shall not censor freedom of artistic expression or freedom of speech. Where there is a conflict between the right to free expression or speech and the responsibility not to cause offence this should be dealt with by allowing the offended person equal right of reply.
CMS207 The Green Party recognises that not all freedoms may be appropriate for young persons. Parents and guardians have a responsibility to protect those in their charge from inappropriate material. In the case of material targeted directly at children the relevant authorities may have a duty to control content in loco parentis. (in the place of a parent)
CMS208 The Green Party recognises the right of citizens to enjoy privacy within their home and domestic activities. Where there is a conflict between the individual's right to privacy and legitimate public interest then the onus is on those claiming public interest to demonstrate their case. The Green Party recognises that an individual's actions in placing their private life in the public domain (for example politicians or celebrities inviting media attention) may undermine their right to privacy.

EUROPE - Schengen Convention
EU740 In June 1985, France, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Benelux countries signed an agreement, in Schengen, to remove border controls between their countries. In 1990, this became the Schengen convention, separate from and parallel to the EU. With the Amsterdam treaty, the arrangements laid out in this convention have come under the aegis of the EU. All other EU states have or are about to join, with the exception of the UK and Ireland.
EU741 It is the declared aim of the EU that there shall be free movement of goods, capital, services and people. In practice it has emphasised cross border trade and investment rather than people's freedom to move. Ostensibly it is the aim of the Schengen convention to facilitate such freedom of movement. In fact the arrangements set up pose great threats to the freedom of both EU citizens and others, discriminate against ethnic minorities, and fail to take account of the diverse situations of different member countries.
EU742 The Green Party is committed in principle to freedom of movement for people. However we will oppose vigorously any moves for the UK to sign up to the inappropriate Schengen arrangements, to impose the Schengen arrangements on the EU as a whole.
EU743 The "compensatory measures" put in place by the Schengen arrangements to counteract their opening of internal borders include much stricter surveillance of people within borders, and much tougher policing of the external borders to create a "Fortress Europe". EU citizens may not need to show a passport to cross a border between Schengen states, but may instead be required at any time to produce proof that they are EU citizens. In practice these arrangements have been used to discriminate against ethnic minorities perceived as "non European".
EU744 We are completely opposed to this attack on civil liberties, and to any such proposal to require identity cards.
EU745 A database has been set up (SIS, or Schengen Information Service) of information on people, vehicles and artefacts. Its purpose is to prevent crime, and to "maintain order and public security, including the security of the state".
EU746 The SIRENE system supplements SIS. This allows police in a member state to request supplementary information about people, which the SIS is not allowed to hold, thus avoiding completely the already inadequate data protection measures relating to SIS.
EU747 We are completely opposed to these developments, which evade accountability for and scrutiny of information held on people, and undermine civil liberties thereby. The Green Party will work to make these arrangements better known, to mobilise public support for removing them.
EU748 The Schengen arrangements fail to recognise the distinction between land and sea borders, the different nature of traffic across each, the particular position of island states and those on the periphery of the Schengen area, on which the burden of external border control falls. It is notable that it is the two island members of the EU which have not joined the Convention, and that it has created major difficulties for countries on the periphery with much sea traffic, such as Sweden.

HOUSING - House building standards
HO501 All new houses will be built to improved standards for accessibility, space and facilities, ergonomics, sound and thermal insulation, and energy efficiency. Design standards shall also include consideration of social factors, such as the need for privacy and the need for community focal points. Existing buildings shall be brought as near these standards as practical.

There's also (for some reason unavailable except via cache) - RRR95.1 Video Surveillance Safe-guards (Spring 1995)

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