“Nothing to hide nothing to fear” – words that have a certain nuance and are, in a liberal society, vile in the intonation.
We see that many of the politicians – of all colours, in the UK parliament still believe that having chunks of information on a database is a good idea – so good that they are willing to utilise billions of pounds and dollars to make those databases work. Maybe the argument against those databases once were just for the tinfoil hat brigade – I proudly add my name to that creed, because with stories like the one linked to, I, and those like me, are being proven correct.
Many people I speak to are, unsurprisingly, for such things as ID cards – yet against biometric ID cards. Yet the government and those proponents of biometric ID cards say that only with them will crime be fought and so will terrorism – bollox, I say.
Then we read this:
For years, 66-year-old Ian Kerr has run his business quietly in a first-floor office in the Worcestershire town of Droitwich. There was no nameplate for his premises, which was protected by a green door, and workers in the neighbouring shops either failed to notice him or thought he was a little mysterious.
“Oh yes, Ian,” said one. “He has been there for years. We never really knew what he does – probably works for MI5 or something.”
Kerr did not work for the security services, but the world he operated in was certainly a private one, and it can be exposed today because of an investigation by the office of the information commissioner, Richard Thomas.
Thomas, whose watchdog is entrusted with maintaining the public’s privacy, believes Kerr has spent 15 years compiling and maintaining a huge database on 3,200 workers from around the country.
He alleges that Kerr, trading under the anodyne name of The Consulting Association, sold information from this database to construction companies who wanted to vet potential staff.
Can you imagine how much easier it would be to vet workers if you had all their biometric information at hand? All on one massive database?
Details of workers’ trade union activities and past employment conduct were recorded on cards.
One individual was said to be a “poor timekeeper, will cause trouble, strong TU [trade union]”. Another card referred to a member of the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians as “Ucatt … very bad news”.
A member of the Transport and General Workers Union was described as “a sleeper and should be watched”. One entry on a worker simply said: “Do not touch !”
Sprinkled throughout the database were warnings of the confidentiality of the database; companies were told “do not divulge any of the above”.
From reading that – I can only suppose that this odium of humanity kept all his work on hard copy – if that is the case then I would and should say he was diligent – and that, once again, brings us around to looking at what would happen if all this information was kept electronically on computer databases?
Commissioner’s list: Companies allegedly involved
The information commissioner, Richard Thomas, alleges that the following companies have been making payments to a private investigator, Ian Kerr. Thomas said the use of brackets indicates where companies have undergone a change of name or where subsidiaries have been absorbed by parent companies. He added that the phrase “ex-member” next to a name means that company may no longer exist or no longer pay for Kerr’s services.
Amec Building Ltd
Amec Construction Ltd
Amec Facilities Ltd
Amec Industrial Division
Amec Process & Energy Ltd
Amey Construction Ex-member
B Sunley & Sons Ex-member
Ballast (Wiltshire) plc Ex-member
Bam Construction (HBC Construction)
Bam Nuttall (Edmund Nuttall Ltd)
C B & I
Cleveland Bridge UK Ltd
Costain UK Ltd
Crown House Technologies
Diamond (M & E) Services
Dudley Bower & Co Ltd Ex-member
Emcor (Drake & Scull) Ex ref
G Wimpey Ltd Ex-member
John Mowlem Ltd Ex-member
Laing O’Rourke (Laing Ltd)
Lovell Construction (UK) Ltd Ex-member
Miller Construction Ltd Ex-member
Morrison Construction Group Ex-member
Shepherd Engineering Services Ltd
Sias Building Services
Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd
SPIE (Matthew Hall) Ex-member
Taylor Woodrow Construction Ltd Ex-member
Turriff Construction Ltd Ex-member
Tysons Contractors Ex-member
Walter Llewellyn & Sons Ltd Ex-member
Whessoe Oil & Gas Ltd
Willmott Dixon Ex-member
Vinci plc (Norwest Holst Group)