The facts are horrifying. The secret database penalised innocent people by storing unverified information about character and abilities, which often prevented them gaining employment. Union membership was a black mark. An electrician from Manchester Steve Acheson believes he was blacklisted because of his union membership and only received 36 weeks employment in the last nine years. He has spoken movingly about the way his character and demeanour have been affected by the lack of work during one of the greatest construction booms ever known...
The bigger point is this: where information about people is gathered in a database without individuals knowing what is held on file or being able to challenge it if they suspect it is wrong or unjust, abuse of their rights is likely to follow. That applies right across the board – from Kerr's seedy operation, run out of anonymous offices in Droitwich, to the big government databases formed or proposed by schemes such as the national identity register, ContactPoint, the e-Borders scheme and the communications superdatabase, which will allow the government to store information on every phone call, email, text message and internet connection.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Secret databases and employment blacklists
Henry Porter has been one of the most astute observers of the state of civil liberties in the UK in recent years. In this column he paints an alarming picture of how secret databases are already being abused: