The centralised civil register (CRS), which has existed in Denmark for more than 25 years, is a nationwide civil register whose purpose is to administrate the personal identification number system, to administrate general personal data reported from the national registration offices to the CRS, and to forward personal data in a technically/economically suitable manner in accordance with the Danish Act on the Civil Registration System and The Act on Processing of Personal Data.
The CRS promotes greater efficiency and rationalisation within the public as well as the private sector. The CRS is likewise a precondition for working with uniform data. Accordingly, the individual authority or company is thus exempted from collecting and verifying general personal data from the citizens, who in turn are exempted from notifying change of address, change of name, etc., to a number of public authorities and private companies which instead retrieve this information from the CRS. In this way the citizens experience a better service when approaching the public authorities.
The number is essential in Danish society. Without it, it is virtually impossible to interact with government services, and even with most of the private sector.
Henry Porter will no doubt be using the example of the totalitarian state of Denmark to prove his case against the use of a number for each citizen. Here he is waxing lyrical about the threat we all face.
We have a choice: either we can believe that the British state is peculiarly immune to tyrannical instincts that are beginning to show in this government or we can now start to oppose what is going on. We have a very short time to save our society from this nightmare, as has been made clear by Sir Ken Macdonald, the former DPP, Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, and the House of Lord constitutional committee.
You may wonder why parliament has not alerted us to these dangers. That is because it is because part of the project, and Labour ministers continue to shelter behind the Human Rights Act, which offers no protection to the British public whatsoever. What we need is entrenched legislation that controls the executive and makes sure that no British citizen will ever be assigned a number so that the state may conveniently watch his or her every move.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to resist for we cannot rely, as Omand asks us, on the “essential reasonableness of the UK police, security and intelligence agency activity”.
Tomorrow week the Commons committee meets to discuss Jack Straw’s data-sharing proposal in the coroners and justice bill. If this measure goes through we are lost.