Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Warmongers in Census negotiations

The following email was forwarded to me today:

The next UK Census (in 2011), in which participation is compulsory, might be run by an arms company with close links to the United States government, and which also focuses on intelligence and surveillance work. See below for more info.

The decision is now imminent. Sign the petition today: (Deadline to sign up by: 15 June 2008)

Petition on the Downing Street website

What's the problem?

The process of running the 2011 Census will be contracted out by the Office of National Statistics to a private company.

One of the two contractors in the final round of selection is the arms company Lockheed Martin, 80% of whose business is with the US Department of Defence and other Federal Government agencies.

This might concern you because: The Census rules mean that every household will be legally obliged to provide a wide range of personal information that will be handled by the chosen contractor. Lockheed Martin produces missiles and land mines which are being used in Afghanistan and Iraq and which are illegal in many countries. They also focus on intelligence and surveillance work and boast of their ability to provide `integrated threat information´ that combines information from many different sources.

New questions in the 2011 Census will include information about income and place of birth, as well as existing questions about languages spoken in the household and many other personal details. This information would be very useful to Lockheed Martin´s intelligence work, and fears that the data might not be safe could lead to many people not filling in their Census forms.

Census Alert is therefore campaigning to stop Lockheed Martin from being given the contract.

The campaign is supported by the Green Party, politicians from Plaid Cymru, Labour and the Scottish National Party, and others opposed to the arms trade and concerned about personal privacy.

We are not opposed to the Census itself. Aggregated, the information collected is important in allocating resources to local authorities and public services. But personal privacy is important too, and we are concerned that Lockheed Martin's involvement could undermine public confidence in the process and lead to inaccurate data being collected.

There is still time to stop this happening and we are not calling for a boycott of the Census at this stage.

Before the final decisions on the contract are made, we are asking you to do the following:

Sign our petition opposing arms company involvement in the Census. Contact your MP and ask them to raise the issue in Parliament. Contact your local Councillor and ask them to highlight their concerns about the allocation of local authority resources.

Important electronic communications disclaimer

Karen Clarke
Senior Lecturer in Social Policy
Politics, School of Social Sciences,
University of Manchester,
Arthur Lewis Building,
Oxford Road,
Manchester M13 9PL
Tel: 0161 275 4770

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