Put 'Big Brother' state into reverse, says Torridge MP Cox
A future Conservative Government would drastically scale back the intrusive and ineffective Big Brother state, Geoffrey Cox MP for Torridge and West Devon has declared. He warmly welcomed new proposals from Conservatives who are pledging to offer an a
A future Conservative Government would drastically scale back the intrusive and ineffective 'Big Brother' state, Geoffrey Cox MP for Torridge and West Devon has declared.
He warmly welcomed new proposals from Conservatives who are pledging to offer an alternative to Whitehall's curtailment of civil liberties and stop taxpayers' money being wasted on expensive and ineffective IT databases.
This comes amid growing concern about the Government's new Independent Safeguarding Authority. This scheme could force 11 million adults to be vetted and monitored - even if they just give lifts to children as part of a school run or local football club.
Conservative proposals include:
* Scrapping the National Identity Register, which will contain personal details of every citizen, and abolishing the Identity Cards that will accompany the database.
* Ditching the ContactPoint database - which holds the names, dates of birth, schools and home addresses of all 11 million children in England until the age of 18, but is entirely separate from the children at risk registers.
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* Ending the permanent retention of innocent people's DNA on the National DNA database.
* Preventing councils from using controversial anti-terror laws to spy on local citizens; surveillance could only be used where necessary to stop a serious crime (involving a custodial sentence) and where a magistrates' warrant has been obtained.
* Subjecting all new laws to a new 'privacy' test, and beefing up the role of the privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner.
Mr Cox has previously taken a strong stance on civil liberties issues, making his maiden speech in the House of Commons on the dangers of ID cards and recently drawing attention to the growth in the use of number plate tracking cameras on Britain's roads.
He said; "The Government's approach to our personal privacy is the worst of all worlds - intrusive, ineffective and enormously expensive. The surveillance state and over-reliance on databases has exposed the public to greater risk, not less.
"We need to abandon the Government's obsession with massive databases and information sharing. We also need to accept that these schemes are not foolproof, something which Ministers seem incapable of doing. Security and protection must not come at an unacceptable cost to freedom, liberty or privacy."
Commenting on the Independent Safeguarding Authority, he added:
"The Government's nanny-state attitude will do nothing to safeguard the children most at risk. Checks are needed on those who have jobs working with children, but vetting one in four of the population is complete nonsense, and will only drive volunteers away from providing the help on which so many schools and voluntary groups in Torridge and West Devon depend.