The Census for Scotland is now being delivered by hand to homes in Lochgelly. The Census aim is to collect information on the public to help improve services and allocate budgets for areas in Scotland.
The Scottish Census is costing £65 million pound to collect data on 5 million individuals which seems excessive during a time of economic depression, job losses and cuts to public services.
Unlike the English Census which has received much criticism for awarding the data collection and processing to the American Arms Dealer, LockHeed Martin, Scotland has opted for another company.
Unfortunately that company is CACI (UK) Ltd which has won the £18.5 million contract to process the census and is the same company that has been accused of human rights violations in Iraq, and also has extensive contracts with the US National Security Agency (NSA)
CACI (UK) Ltd
CACI Ltd is an international corporation with their main headquarters in Arlington, Virginia with offices located in the UK. CACI Ltd provided “interrogation support” to the US Army in Iraq at Abu Ghraib. CACI staff were employed as interrogators at Abu Ghraib, and during that time, prisoners were humiliated and tortured by US military police. Images were later released which resulted in several low ranking soldiers being court martialed.
CACI is currently denying any wrong doing and is trying to block lawsuits (involving over 250 Iraqi plaintiffs) from former Abu Ghraib prisoners by claiming “official immunity”.
Former Abu Ghraib detainees have said they were tortured in various ways by CACI and its co conspirators, including;
- Torture with electric shocks
- Forced nakedness
- Forced participation in physical activities to the point of exhaustion
- Sensory deprivation
- Deprivation of food
- Deprivation of oxygen
- Deprivation of sleep
- Torture with extremely hot and cold water
- Intimidation by dogs
Also, in June 2009 it was reported that a dossier providing a summary of the corporations activities were passed to the Lothian & Borders police, who in turn believed there was a case to prosecute the company in Scotland. However, this was rejected by the Crown Office on the grounds that they have no jurisdiction to investigate the allegations made as they refer to foreign nationals on foreign soil.
Another worry about this census concerns the privacy issue and potential breaches to the UK Data Protection Act, and EU Privacy Legislation. All our data is to be processed by a company that is American based and is therefore, ultimately, outside the law of Britain and Scotland.
Under the US Patriot Act companies are legally obliged to hand over personal data to the US Government, CIA and FBI, therefore the US Government can have access to all our personal information. It has been stated for the English census by ONS (Office for National Statistics);
Under the contractual and operational arrangements we have put in place, no employees of Lockheed Martin UK or of its US parent or of any other US company will be able to access personal census data. The US Patriot Act could not therefore, be used to access such data…… ……the public can be assured that the information they provide to the 2011 census will be well protected and securely managed.
The details of the contractual and operational arrangements need to be displayed so people can ensure their privacy and personal data is being protected and not open to any abuse.
The following data security measures have been put in place;
- All data processing will be carried out in the UK – no data will leave or be held at any point outside the UK
- No Lockheed Martin staff will have access to any personal census data
- All data is the property of the ONS and only UK- or EU-owned companies will have any access to personal census data
However, it is the last point which is giving the most concern to privacy advocates and lobbyist groups that are claiming that this will allow any organisation to access the data if they request it.
Professor of international law at London Metropolitan University, Douwe Korff believes that data could be shared under exemptions outlined in Section 39 of the Statistics and Registration Service Act (SRSA):
Douwe Korff has stated:
The legal safeguards against breaches of confidentiality are so flimsy as to be useless. In a democracy under the rule of law, one should not have to rely on blind trust in the authorities; the law should guarantee restraint.
The law that applies to the census data does not stand in the way of the UK police, or intelligence services, foreign law enforcement agencies or secret services, seeking access – not just in exceptional cases but for general “trawling” or “fishing expeditions,”
This could lead to data being used to create terrorist profiles or general profiles for policy-making, such as labelling young children as “probable” future criminals, or likely to become pregnant while still a teenager.
Lastly, we have seen multiple errors by the Government losing personal data including the Child Benefit data which held personal details of all families in the UK with a child under 16, this detailed, names, addresses, date of births, NI numbers, and where relevant, bank details of 25 million people.
A report detailing lost data in 2007 by the Government, including local authorities, NHS Trusts, etc. lost a staggering total of 36,989,300 items, including passports, banking and mortgage details, credit cards, hospital records, to name a few.
So the Government has a very bad track record of keeping our personal data private and secure.
Should you fill out the Scottish Census
If you are concerned about your privacy and how the data is going to be processed or used, or have concerns over the fact that an American company with serious ongoing issues over human rights abuses allegations, you may wish to protest by not completing the census, but be aware, you are legally obliged to complete the census or risk a fine of £1000.
The last census in Scotland had 200,000 people fail to complete the census, out of that number, 8 were pursued and only 3 were successfully prosecuted in court.
Things you can do with the census is protest through lack of co-operation by going on a slow down:
- Write to the General Register Office for Scotland asking for clarification on any issues you may have on the census and explain that you cannot fulfill your obligation to complete the census until your queries have been addressed.
- Make Freedom of Information requests to the General Register Office for Scotland
- Write to your MSPs and Councillors with any concerns you have.
Further Reading & Article Sources
We have published links to our referenced sources and links to further reading for any of the issues covered in this article.
- Census firm free from abuses
- Scottish Government must cancel the census contract with human rights abuser CACI
- Lack of legal safeguards could lead to census data breaches, warns law professor
- Lockheed Martin targeted by census protesters
- Count Me Out
- Scottish Census 2011 – Scotland Against Criminalising Communities
- Prosecution authorities urged to investigate human rights abuse claims against firm awarded Scottish census contract
- Why I Will Be Breaking The Law on March 27, 2011
- Make & View FOI requests for General Register Office for Scotland
- Data Protection Directive
- Census Act 1920
- Government’s record year of data loss
We would love to hear your thoughts on the Scottish Census. Do you think the info they are collecting is too invasive? Is it ethical to allow an American company accused of Human Rights Abuse to be handling and processing the data? Do you support the census? Why not let us know in the comments below.