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Correct the HRA and Data Protection Act so data can be kept indefinitely but not used unless authorised

Comment 8th July 2010

The headlines about Russian spies recently shows that enemies of this country and our freedoms exist and can (and are?) be among us now.  That these "sleepers" were embedded decades ago emphasises the great need for us to be thorough in keeping and maintaining the records needed to enable us to track these people down.  The same is true for the non-government enemies; the terrorists and single issue extremists.

However, we as citizens need to be comfortable that our Government is not abusing this information to further its own ends; it is disgraceful that Local Government is abusing legislation regulating the Intelligence Services for such trivialities as dog fouling and car parking offences.  This is unacceptable and demeans both the Public and the Intelligence agencies protecting us – it must be stopped immediately.

My proposals are: 

1)that local government is immediately forbidden from using HRA/RIPA/ISA legislation

2) that Intelligence and suitable law enforcement agencies  are able to keep any quantity of data collected legally for unlimited periods

3) that Intelligence and suitable law enforcement agencies can only use this data when expressly authorised to do so in an auditable way and ensuring that the data they have is accurate and used in a proportionate fashion.

The intention is to remove the feeling that we the Public are being spied on for trivial purposes but that the organisations we expressly authorise, warrant and control have access to every piece of data they need to keep us safe, without any additional bureaurocratic overhead other than recording every use of that data and a justification for why it is being used.

Why does this matter?

The Public have a right to carry on their lawful activities without the State intruding into their lives.  It is not acceptable for intrusion by the State to be allowed for trivialities.  However, we must allow our Intelligence and Law enforcement organisations every access to data required to identify threats to the Nation, by other Nations or by criminals, and we must do so in the most cost-effective, non-bureaucratic way possible.  The State couldn't care less what law-abiding people do – and any use of data must be justified such that the Public know this to be true.  We cannot hamstring those we trust to keep us safe – and we must ensure that they in return prove that trust and are seen to prove that trust.

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