Don’t let the Government create a digital Police state

You might be aware of plans to give Police more powers through the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill 2021. What you may not know is that the Government is proposing to do the same through the National Fraud Initiative (NFI), which is a programme that matches data between public and private sector bodies to detect fraud.

This dramatic expansion of Police access to our personal data comes with no checks and balances and in effect creates a digital Police State. Current plans would widen the NFI’s scope far beyond its anti-fraud base to include virtually any other criminal activity without any mention of safeguards or restrictions regarding Police access.

This is deeply concerning given that the NFI currently has over 300 million sensitive data records including public sector payroll, housing benefit, social housing waiting lists, parking permits, council tax, local authority pension payments, electoral register, right to buy, and public sector housing.

The Cabinet Office, which manages the NFI, is holding a public consultation until 5 May 2021. We need your help to ensure the Police are not given unchecked access to these vast records.

You can use these bullet points and our recent briefing to help craft your message, but PLEASE USE YOUR OWN WORDS so your message is taken into account.

We are calling on the Cabinet Office to:

  • Place restrictions on Police access to NFI data records.
  • Establish external oversight of Police handling of NFI data records.
  • Establish safeguards within the NFI to protect the right to privacy.
  • Clarify NFI data retention practices.
  • Require that any data matching exercise is preceded by a comprehensive Data Protection Impact Assessment and a cooling-off period for the project to be publicly reviewed.

This consultation is now closed.

Many thanks to everyone who submitted comments and spoke up for digital privacy!