The uncorrected evidence of the PM’s appearance in front of the Commons Liaison Committee is now on line. A particularly interesting bit of gabble from Blair about information-sharing caught our eyes because, although on ID Cards, it’s also relevant to the children’s Information Sharing Index:
I find this curious, for example, in the context of the whole identity card debate because the actual information on the identity database is basically what is on your passport – it is not a great deal of information, the average store card has more information; and also if you take Google Earth now and what it can do in terms of going down the street in which people live. Someone was saying the other day that Government is creating this great new database with this massive information on individuals, and we are not. The technology now exists to be able to share data in order to give people an improved service; for example, many people will now do their car tax on line – it is a better way to do it. I think provided that there are proper safeguards – and we do need to make sure it is subject to proper debate and proper scrutiny – then it would be bizarre, when in every other walk of life the technology is being used to enhance service, that in the public service we have put down a barrier.
Leaving aside the immediate rejoinder that some of us choose not to have store cards, the answer is so disingenuous that it prompts the question: does he think our heads button up the back? As with the IS index, the point is that the NIR provides linkage between systems that contain a lot more than the information contained in a passport. Indeed, if that were not the case, why bother with a new system at all?
The government has repeatedly dead-batted all protest over the appalling plans to share every detail of children’s lives with the assurance that the IS Index “will contain only basic details”. I won’t repeat what we have already said about this.
Returning to the Liaison Committee session, Qs73-78 see Alan Beith struggling to get the PM to answer this:
you talk about the need for a trade-off between liberty and security and you talk about all the technologies which can now be used, you said earlier it was bizarre to worry about the Government using these new technologies, but if you are trying to make the trade-offs between liberty and security what, in your mind, are the liberties which have to be protected against the encroachment of security policy. Can you name me a couple of things which for you are the borderlines; this far we do not go.
Judging from the replies to the variants on Beith’s question, I think it was a ‘no’.