Green party

Census Alert!

19 August 2007

GREENS LAUNCH "CENSUS ALERT" CAMPAIGN TO STOP THE 2011 CENSUS BEING RUN BY US ARMS COMPANY

The Green Party are today launching 'Census Alert', a campaign set up in order to oppose the involvement of Lockheed Martin in the next census.

This month, the two companies who have made it to the last round of selection to run the 2011 census will hand in their final bids to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), who contract the process out. The ONS will decide in January 2008 which of these companies has won the contract.

One of the two contractors in the final round of selection is the American arms company Lockheed Martin, 80 per cent of whose business is with the US Department of Defense and other Federal Government agencies. Many of Lockheed's services are weapons-based, but it also provides interrogators for Guantanamo Bay, builds 'integrated threat information' databases for US intelligence agencies, and helps with global phone and email tapping.

Launching the Census Alert campaign, Green Party Principal Speaker Siân Berry said:

"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. 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.

"Supporting companies like this with public contracts alarms me enough already. But the idea of Lockheed Martin gathering our personal data isn't worrying only on an ethical front - it also threatens the integrity of the census itself.

"A fundamental tenet of census-taking is that the people filling in the forms should trust that they are doing so in privacy, to ensure they give accurate information. Involving a company with the dubious connections of Lockheed Martin could easily undermine public confidence, and so devalue the worth of the information collected."

In a short video launched today on the Census Alert website, YouTube, and Facebook, Sian sets out the Green Party's case against giving the contract to Lockheed Martin. She says:

"As a member of the Green Party, I am not happy that our taxes may be given to a company that has made massive profits from the Iraq War, that supplies depleted uranium shells, and builds Trident missiles.

"But what is much more worrying is that the Census data - which now includes questions on income, religion, place of birth and spoken languages - would be just great for plugging into the 'threat analysis' systems that Lockheed supply to the US government.

"In the worst case, that could lead to a faraway database identifying thousands of us as potential 'threats'.

"Now I'm sure that any contract the government signs will say that Lockheed Martin cannot go away and use the census data to finger us all as terrorists. But in an age where even my keyring can hold two gigabytes of data, I think it will take a lot more than a clause in a contract to convince all of us that our data will be safe."

The Census Alert campaign aims to demonstrate public opposition to this contract being given to Lockheed Martin, and to prove that issues surrounding public confidence mean that Lockheed are not a suitable contractor for the Census, despite world trade rules which prevent government agencies using ethics as a criteria in public procurement processes.

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

"The Green Party is urging people to write with their concerns to their MPs and local councillors, and to sign the campaign petition on the Downing Street website calling on the Prime Minister to 'stop the involvement of Lockheed Martin in the 2011, because this company's history of working in American military intelligence will undermine public confidence in the Census process.'

ENDS

Notes for Editors

Our petition can be found at petitions.pm.gov.uk

More information on the campaign website: www.censusalert.org.uk

The Green Party's video can be viewed at:

censusalert.org.uk

www.youtube.com

www.facebook.com

For more information on Lockheed Martin, please see www.lockheedmartin.com

The Green Party previously called for a boycott of the census test taking place in five areas of the country earlier this year. To see details, please go to www.greenparty.org.uk

Lockheed Martin and the Office of National Statistics both responded to Sian's comments in May, and her blog also drew support from rights groups. To read their comments please see: www.newstatesman.com