Paul Mackie, CEO and compliance director of CameraWatch, told IFSEC Global.com that the government has “blown away” £405 million through “sheer and utter incompetence.”
In an interview at IFSEC International last week, Mackie criticised Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s decision to announce that the Data and Communications Bill would be scrapped during his local radio show on LBC. The bill, nicknamed the Snoopers Charter by the news media, has been estimated to have cost the government £405 million so far.
“From a personal point of view, I would have expected that UK government business should actually be done through Parliament, and not through a local radio station,” Mackie said after his presentation discussing the bill alongside Nick Pickles of Big Brother Watch.
The bill is a “farce” that “typifies the rush and the lack of expertise within the government in the last few bills that have been presented,” Mackie said. “The big problem is that £405 million has just been blown away through sheer and utter incompetence.”
He also said that the Protection of Freedoms Bill that made provision for a CCTV commissioner — a position filled by Andrew Rennison, who also spoke last week — is unnecessary, because the Data Protection Act already covers CCTV. An image of an individual’s face is in fact that individual’s personal data, so there is already adequate legislation for the use of CCTV in the UK, but it is not policed properly. “Therefore, CCTV users, managers, don’t actually know anything about it and ignore the Data Protection Act.”
Because the Surveillance Code of Practice covers only local authorities and police authorities in England and Wales, it applies to only 3-4 percent of the UK’s surveillance camera population. “About 96 or 97 percent of the CCTV systems that we have at present are totally ignored by this new legislation. I find that unbelievable, I find it incompetent, and I just don’t understand what’s going on.”