Scotland is to introduce the free world’s most intrusive computer database of personal details, with every citizen being logged and monitored from “cradle to grave.”
It will begin logging and monitoring the name, dates of birth, genders and postcodes for everyone in Scotland, including health records, maternity details, mental health, cancer, GP and even dental notes. Education, childhood and parenting profiles will also be stored.
Social care, housing and justice statistics, as well as information from the 2011 Scottish Census – which includes financial and salary details, religious and sexual orientation, relationships and family life, will be held in the database.
There is also the suggestion that the system will contain DNA records.
Ministers have lashed out at the plan saying it will turn millions of Scots into human guinea pigs at the expense of civil liberties.
Steering groups set up to oversee the project have been warned that most people are opposed to the idea but have vowed to plough ahead regardless.
Nick Pickles, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, yesterday described the database as “an identity card system without the piece of plastic”.
“This is an unprecedented effort to open up our personal information to huge numbers of people across the public sector by joining up lots of separate databases to the point they might as well be one enormous database.
“We may live in tough times, but that’s no justification to sell-out the privacy of Scots for a short term gain or in the hope that companies are going to pay for the chance to use the country as a massive research lab. Sadly many parts of the public sector have a dubious record when it comes to protecting this kind of information and I’m afraid it is going to lead to some harrowing intrusions on people’s privacy.”
Mairi Clare Rodgers, director of media relations for Liberty, added:
“Plans to access highly personal details via a large, unwieldy centralized database raise major concerns – these proposals fail to even mention ‘consent’ and without proper safeguards there’s a real risk data will be lost or misused.”
The “vision” behind the plan is that: “Scotland will be recognized the world over as a hub of innovative and powerful statistical research, attracting investment and job creation.”
If a research project – whether commercial, scientific or academic – is deemed to be “legal, ethical and in the public interest”, then it will be given masses of “anonymous” data to study.
As a safeguard, the government is planning to set up a Privacy Advisory and Ethics Committee to oversee the database.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said:
“The Data Sharing and Linkage Service will help by providing researchers with secure access to anonymous data. This government is committed to improving Scotland’s public services.”
“Over the past few years we have been working together with our partners to use data that already exists in a way that is efficient, safe and secure and is fully respectful of people’s privacy.”
The government says it will be efficient, safe and secure just like everything else they manage…right!