The abuse of emergency legislation: here we go again

A video of Brian Eno’s historic warning against emergency legislation that takes away liberty.

Brian Eno
1 August 2014

DRIP, the British Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act, was rushed through parliament as an ‘emergency’ measure last month, just before the Commons disbanded for the summer. A constitutional outrage against what remains of the UK’s democracy, the method is drearily familiar. Here is Brian Eno in 2009 reflecting on the method and danger of DRIP's implementation five years ago, in a very short black and white medley made for the Convention on Modern Liberty.  

As Eno says, "One of the ways in which civil liberties become curtailed is that governments introduce legislation theoretically to deal with emergency situations and then they suddenly start using it for all sorts of different things, so that a law that is meant to really deal with an extreme and dangerous situation is suddenly used to mop up any inconvenient activity at all." 

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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