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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.
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    Friday, April 28, 2006

    Identity Cards: early function creep

    I have long posted against the National Identity Register, applauded the House of Lords as they defeated the bill, noted the concerns of the Information Commissioner about function creep (he pointed out the significant additional uses made of the war-time ID cards before they were phased out), lobbied about personal data and the individual's rights to know what data is held about them (I attended a government consultation exercise "we will listen but do not promise to act on your concerns"), and - significantly - wasted a lot of email space trying to get CILIP to lobby against the bill - a bill which essentially deals with the handling of information.

    But still we have ID cards and the National Identity Register on the statute books / in the planning stages.
    And, scarcely is all this finally settled, the debate closed, than the function starts to creep. writes,
    "The Government announced last week that data from the National Identity Register (NIR) will also be used as an adult population register for a range of novel data sharing functions... Data from the NIR will also be shared with many public authorities so they can update their databases without the consent of the cardholder. Other changes also envisage the storage of medical records as part of the NIR."

    This was exactly what the consultation exercise that I attended had discussed - the sharing of personal data between government departments. Is this the truth behind the ID Bill? Is this why the government was so determined to get it through? The need to provide a basis - an index - for all that data sharing?
    My post from last December has the details of the consultation exercise, and of the not unreasonable suggestions for public-access to personal records.
    I am old enough and cynical enough to believe that no one can stop a government set on a course of action... but someone, someone should be trying. CILIP make much of their advocacy - indeed new President Martin Molloy says his Presidency will focus on (among other things):
    "Advocacy: making the voice of librarians and information workers heard and valued in policy and agenda setting arenas."
    ... and he is a member of the Advisory Council on Libraries, advising the Minister for Media and Heritage. Perhaps I should try again to get CILIP to show their concerns about personal information and data protection? OK, it is not a 'library and information professional' issue as such, but it IS about information, and we ARE the information professionals.

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