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MP seeks assurance UK census details not passed to CIA

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, March 24, IRNA -- A backbench Labour MP has made a last minute intervention to seek assurances from the British government that personal details from this weekend's mandatory census in the UK is not passed to any US agency, including the CIA.

In an Early Day Motion to parliament, seeking the support of other MPs, Roger Godsiff said that he was concerned about the involvement of major US arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin in gathering information for the 2011 Census.

Godsiff questioned “whether a company with the closest of commercial links to the US Department of Defense and involved in surveillance and data processing for a number of US administration agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, should have been allowed to tender for this contract.”

This was because it was given the ultimate responsibility for processing personal and sensitive national data about the UK's population from the census, which is held every 10 years.

A campaign is already being coordinated by Count Me Out to boycott the census amid increasing fears about data security and the involvement of Lockheed, which won the £150m contract to run the census in 2008 under the previous Labour government.

“Lockheed Martin has a ruthless and blood-soaked history. They are best-known for building cluster bombs and our Trident nuclear weapons system, and their arms sales to Bahrain and other repressive regimes are an ongoing controversy” the campaign said.

“Granting the contract funnels our money into conflict and the suppression of legitimate protest, and gives credibility to a company that deserves none. This credibility is in turn used to gain the contract for more censuses,” it said on its website.

Stop the War Coalition has also expressed alarm, questioning how many people are aware that the collection of data for the forthcoming UK census has been contracted to the American arms manufacturer.

Godsiff referred to the government's recent record in safeguarding personal data as “abysmal” and said that the Office for National Statistics claims that data will be safe even though all US companies are subject to the Patriot Act which allows the US administration to access any data in a company's possession.

He called on ministers to “make public what safeguards are in place and to make a categorical assertion that this data, when it undergoes analysis, will not be passed through any US administration and non-administration databases now or at any stage in the future.”

Census questionnaires have already been sent out to every household in Britain and are due to be completed on March 27 or as soon as possible afterwards.

The obligation to provide full personal details is compulsory with the threat of a fine facing anyone failing to comply, with the one exception of a question on religious adherence, which like when it was first introduced at the last census in 2001, remains voluntary.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30309403

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