Friday, March 18, 2011
Is 1984 a step closer?
A debate this week in the House of Lords, does not appear to have hit the UK broad sheets. Some may think that it was of little consequence, as it was simply the UK choosing to sign up for the idea that Passenger Name Records should be kept for ALL Pan-European flights in a massive European Travel Register. Lord Hannay in his own opening speech, promoting the motion, stated that it was a "considerable invasion of privacy".
The declared goal is the standard "protect us from terrorists" mantra, the negative or unexpected consequences of such a large database being available to all European Governments are not apparently being included in the decision. This is especially concerning as it is also likely that the US Government and other Foreign States may gain access to the database by fair means or foul.
Let's consider a few "Abuse Cases":
Simply by tracking the flights of the CEO's of all the major European companies a Foreign State, could glean significant information about potential mergers and acquisitions.
As The Earl of Erroll pointed out in the debate a Foreign State could acquire information about the travel companions of key leaders of Industry, or other Foreign States, that could in turn be used to blackmail or pressure said leaders.
Given the attributes to be stored will include passenger financial data, the database could be the cause of a massive exposure of Credit Card details.
As The Earl of Erroll also points out if we were concerned about the dangers of a National Identity Register, why would we not be concerned about the dangers of a European Travel Register that arguably will hold even more detailed information.
The record of large government organisations when it comes to protecting the private records of its citizens have not been shown to be the highest. Just how access to such sensitive data would be limited to those exploring Terrorism or Organised Crimes is not clear.
What's next? The recording of all train journeys across borders, and then car journeys, and then...?
Should we not all be as concerned the Earl of Erroll?