The Telegraph – The next Horizon scandal will be even bigger

Big Brother Watch Team / April 24, 2024

If the Prime Minister were to stand in front of the nation and vow to constantly and repeatedly search the bank accounts of every Briton in the name of looking for potential indicators of welfare fraud and payments errors, the public would surely be outraged.

And yet, today, in a small Committee room in the House of Lords, extraordinarily intrusive bank spying powers will be debated as they hurtle towards the statue book, smuggled in at the last minute to a 288 page Data Bill.

As one crossbencher put it, “It feels as if this draconian clause is being hidden in the depths of a Bill that the Government perhaps felt would not generate much interest.”

It certainly does, because this financial snoopers’ charter will affect every single one of us. For the people most at risk of surveillance, intrusion and false suspicion at the hands of algorithmic monitoring, this new system could make the Horizon scandal look like a mere cautionary tale for a far more widespread disaster of injustice to come.

Fraudulent uses of taxpayers’ money must be dealt with – and the Government already has strong statutory powers to investigate the bank accounts of benefit fraud suspects – but now it is creating a nation of suspects and seeking powers to force banks, building societies and other organisations to repeatedly scan all of our accounts according to secret criteria. Banks must hand over unlimited types of information to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Whilst every single one of us will have our accounts scanned, the targets are those linked to receipt of a benefit: including the 10 million Brits in receipt of the state pension, the 3 million people with long-term illness or disabilities, and the hundreds of thousands of carers making great sacrifices to look after elderly and disabled family members. These are the people who would most likely be the victims of being falsely accused, just as happened in the Post Office Scandal.

– Silkie Carlo, Big Brother Watch Director

The Telegraph – The next Horizon scandal will be even bigger