Liberal Democrats call for curb on surveillance society

Jan Harris

August 21, 2007

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell and home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg are to launch a campaign to roll-back legislation which threatens the privacy of UK citizens.

The campaign will be launched at the Liberal Democrat party conference next month.

The move could mark the end of Gordon Brown’s hopes to secure cross-party consensus on measures to tackle terrorism.

The campaign is in response to Mr Brown’s support for an extension of detention without charge beyond 28 days for terrorist suspects, and also to concerns about surveillance issues highlighted in a recent report from the Government’s Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas.

The Liberal Democrat campaign will cover a range of privacy issues including greater safeguards on the use of CCTV – with 4.2 million CCTV cameras, one for every 16 people, Britain is the most watched country in the world.

It will also call for a roll back of legislation, including the Identity Cards Act 2006, the creation of a national identity register and proposals for data-sharing powers across Whitehall departments.

The campaign will also question the UK DNA database, which is the largest in the world with 3.6 million samples; the role of the Information Commissioner, who currently has no power to restrict data processing by government agencies and the use of intercept warrants – the UK is the only democratic nation to have warrants granted by ministers.


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