The public is enduring a shock and awe campaign of complex and contradictory executive commands, endowed with the weight of criminal sanctions. Ministerial decrees like those we’ve seen today require us to reflect on the damage parliamentary democracy has sustained during this crisis. The restrictions may be justified, but this should be a matter for parliament. It is alarming that ministers are governing via press statements rather than the democratic process.
The Prime Minister’s plans to legally require pubs, restaurants and other premises to demand customers’ details and become data controllers overnight are excessive, intrusive and pose serious privacy risks. Voluntary systems that respect individuals’ judgement and consent have more chance of fostering trust and co-operation.
We will see cases where people’s personal data is hoarded, lost and misused, whether for marketing or unwanted personal contact.
We have already made representations to some premises after people who gave personal details for contact tracing received unsolicited messages from staff.
We will closely scrutinise the new law when it is published to assess the impact on our privacy rights.