In confidence


David Moss


March 2009


The Guardian, among others, are doing their bit to raise consciousness about the database state. The debate centres on the loss of individual privacy. But it's not just individuals whose privacy is evaporating. Businesses, too, are suffering.

Businesses make profits. Businesses export. Businesses pay corporation tax. Businesses pay employers NI. Businesses collect employees NI and PAYE. Businesses pay VAT. Businesses pay Stamp Duty. Businesses pay Stamp Duty Land Tax. Businesses pay Petroleum Revenue Tax. Businesses pay excise duty. These taxes are the lifeblood of any state. Even the database state. Businesses employ people. Businesses innovate. Businesses make political contributions. Businesses employ lobbyists. Businesses get access. Businesses get listened to. By the 1st XI.

And businesses need confidentiality.

In the database state, this confidentiality becomes almost impossible. An industrial spy just needs to find one purchase ledger clerk in one local authority who can be suborned and who will obtain mobile phone records for him, to put together the picture of who the Chairman of Glaxo, say, is talking to and where – why, follows.

Without confidentiality, out go the profits, the taxes, the employment, the innovation and the political contributions.

Businesses should be just as angry about the prohibition of privacy as we individuals. And businesses have got more clout than us.

Two thoughts:

1. How do we raise the consciousness of business? Perhaps something like this – Industrial Espionage?

2. Some businesses find themselves in a strange position, facing both ways. The mobile phone business, for example. That business plays a crucial part in the annihilation of privacy. And yet, if they want to continue to thrive, they should be interested in protecting privacy.