Thursday, December 07, 2006

Total disclosure of personal data held by government

And should be interested to know your views on something which is currently very obscure to me -- the information provisions of part 4 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill. What? That has not been your bedtime reading? Nor mine until today.

The basic functions of clauses 90 to 95 are to allow a creditor who has obtained a judgment debt against a debtor to apply to the court, and for the court then to apply to the Inland Revenue and indeed any other part of government, seeking information about the debtor, and then to use that information in advising the creditor how the creditor can best go about getting his money back.

For the full text, see:


At first sight, this is quite satisfactory. Some loathesome spivs are going to get their comeuppance when the court helps the creditors batten on to their villa in Marbella. But it is an extraordinary example of what the government and feel able to do with the vast amount of information that they have on each of us, and although the Bill does not precisely say that information on the debtor's tax affairs will be disclosed to the creditor, it strikes me as quite difficult to pursue an action to recover a debt on the basis of government information if you haven't been told the government information.

So, the unsatisfactory aspect is that everything the government knows about your may become public property if you don't pay your judgment debts.

As I have said before, I don't see any useful way of standing in front of this tsunami. It is no good trying to put in clauses to stop government departments passing on information to each other, or to restrict the gathering of that information -- that I'll always good reasons why it should be done. We have to develop ways of protecting the citizens rights on the assumption that the government will know everything about them, and will communicate this information when it suits them.