Home Affairs Committee Press Notice

COMMITTEE ANNOUNCES INQUIRY INTO 'A SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY?'

The Home Affairs Committee today launched an inquiry entitled "A Surveillance Society?"

The inquiry will consider the growth of numerous public and private databases and forms of surveillance with a direct relevance to the work of the Home Office. They either derive directly from the work of the Home Office and its related public functions or are controversial because whilst they offer the potential to play a part in the fight against crime their use may impinge on individual liberty.

The inquiry will be wide-ranging, considering the following issues:

€ Access by public agencies to private databases

€ Data-sharing between government departments and agencies

€ Existing safeguards for data use and whether they are strong enough

€ The monitoring of abuses

€ Potential abuse of private databases by criminals

€ The case for introducing privacy impact assessments

€ Privacy-enhancing technologies

€ Profiling.

The inquiry will focus on Home Office responsibilities such as identity cards, the National DNA Database and CCTV, but where relevant will look also at other departments' responsibilities in this area, for instance the implications of databases being developed by the Department of Health and the DfES for use in the fight against crime.

The Committee's aim is not to carry out a comprehensive detailed review of the subject of the kind recently carried out by the Surveillance Studies Network on behalf of the Information Commissioner (and published in his report on The Surveillance Society in October 2006); but to build on the Information Commission's work in exploring the large strategic issues of concern to the general public, with a view to proposing ground rules for Government and its agencies.

The Committee is seeking written submissions of no more than 2,500 words from interested parties, before it takes oral evidence on this inquiry. Organisations and individuals interested in making written submissions are invited to do so by Monday 23 April 2007. Further advice on making a submission can be found below.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Written evidence should if possible be in Word or rich text format€”not PDF format€”and sent by e-mail to [email protected]. The use of colour and expensive-to-print material, e.g. photographs, should be avoided. The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from.

Submissions must address the terms of reference. They should be in the format of a self-contained memorandum. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document must include an executive summary. Further guidance on the submission of evidence can be found at www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/witness.cfm.

Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere, though previously published work can be referred to in a submission and submitted as supplementary material. Once submitted, your submission becomes the property of the Committee and no public use should be made of it unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee.

Please bear in mind that the Committee is not able to investigate individual cases.

The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written evidence it receives, either by printing the evidence, publishing it on the internet or making it publicly available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

For data protection purposes, it would be helpful if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details in a covering letter or e-mail. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Note to editors: The Committee membership is as follows:

Rt Hon John Denham (Chairman) (Lab) (Southampton Itchen)
Mr Richard Benyon (Con) (Newbury)
Mr Jeremy Browne (Lib Dem) (Taunton)
Ms Karen Buck (Lab) (Regent's Park & Kensington North)
Mr James Clappison (Con) (Hertsmere)
Mrs Ann Cryer (Lab) (Keighley)
Mrs Janet Dean (Lab) (Burton)
Margaret Moran (Lab) (Luton South)
Gwyn Prosser (Lab) (Dover)
Bob Russell (Lib Dem) (Colchester)
Martin Salter (Lab) (Reading West)
Mr Richard Spring (Con) (West Suffolk)
Mr Gary Streeter (Con) (South West Devon)
Mr David Winnick (Lab) (Walsall North)

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Media Enquiries: Jessica Bridges Palmer, Tel 020 7219 0724, email: [email protected]

Specific Committee Information: Tel 020 7219 3276, email: [email protected]

Committee Website: http://www.parliament.uk/homeaffairscom

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online: www.parliamentlive.tv

Publications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474). Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on www.parliament.uk