ICO to really stare quite hard at Home Office

From The Telegraph via El Reg, and H/T to Landed Underclass who covers this also.

David Smith, the deputy Information Commissioner, is demanding tighter controls amid concerns the police are pressuring businesses to install closed circuit television because it helps gather intelligence.

This would be in response to events such as this one where the Met effectively made it a condition of a publicans licence that he

“installed CCTV capturing the head and shoulders of everyone coming into the pub, to be made available to them upon request. “

Or this one, where

“police requested a licensing condition that in future, “all persons entering the premises must supply verifiable identification details that are passed through a digital scanning and recording system such as Club Scan, Idvista or similar computerised system”

The tendency of the state to treat people as it’s chattels, and the wrong-headedness of it’s faith in technology as a means of controling them is something I will no doubt harp on about at some length later, but for now let us fisk David Smith a little.

To start with, he absolutely isn’t ‘demanding’ anything. The last time the Home Office, or any other part of government listened to ICO was never. Let’s be clear about this, ICO has zero power to compel the Home Office to do anything at all.

Even if it did, no doubt Jackboots Jacqui or some other incumbent authoritarian blowhard would simply change the law to make what they wanted to do all nice and legal. The way her and that ass-hat Jack ‘Justice’ Straw did with the Coroners and Justice Bill, introducing a clause that would allow the Home Secretary to suspend or repeal by statutory instrument any law that was an obstacle to information sharing between government departments. They nearly got away with it too, and they haven’t given up. Bastards.

Mr Smith said: “”What we are worried about is that businesses are being forced into gathering information for police and the law enforcement agencies.

“The question is whether we are going too far and is this surveillance at a level that is unacceptable that doesn’t justify the benefits.

No, you odious cretin, that is absolutely not the question. ‘We’ most certainly are going to far, and this most certainly is “surveillance at a level that is unacceptable.”

The question is “What are you going to do about it ?” or more aptly, What are we going to do about it ? ICO is the most useless of all the regulators. The Data Protection Act was passed in 1984 by a Conservative government who were so keen it not apply to them in that they headquartered the regulator responsible for enforcing it in Cheshire (map)

Neither they nor the current mob want ICO any where near their business. In theory ICO has the power to bring prosecutions under the Data Protection Act, this rarely happens. This is a typical example of what does happen

“I have now in writing from the bank that she was not given their permission to give this information and the Information Commissioner’s Office has admitted she has committed a criminal offence under the DPA, although they are writing to this person, they will not be prosecuting.”

Successive governments have resolutely failed to give ICO any bigger teeth, in case it bites them, and ICO is afraid to use the ones it has in case government notices and pulls them out.

So David Smith is free to demand things from Jackboots Jacqui all he likes. He’ll be lucky to even get a response, but if does, it will undoubtedly be a resounding ‘fuck off’.

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