thanks, ICO!

There’s a weird 1970s-80s retro feel this week; the anniversary of the miners’ strike, the renewed salience of some old ideas, and this story: it seems that a political blacklisting operation which kept files on trade unionists in the construction industry has been busted.

Rather like the old Economic League, which lasted from 1919 to 1993 before being shut down for violating the Data Protection Act, the “Consulting Association” was raided by the Office of the Information Commissioner, whose agents recovered a huge card index and invoices detailing a large number of customers. In fact, it turns out, it was all the work of a former League employee, as this informative article in the Guardian points out. From the Grauniad, here’s the inverse blacklist, of companies who used Mr Kerr’s services:

Amec Building Ltd

Amec Construction Ltd

Amec Facilities Ltd

Amec Industrial Division

Amec Process & Energy Ltd

Amey Construction Ex-member

B Sunley & Sons Ex-member

Balfour Beatty

Balfour Kilpatrick

Ballast (Wiltshire) plc Ex-member

Bam Construction (HBC Construction)

Bam Nuttall (Edmund Nuttall Ltd)

C B & I

Cleveland Bridge UK Ltd

Costain UK Ltd

Crown House Technologies

(Carillion/Tarmac Construction)

Diamond (M & E) Services

Dudley Bower & Co Ltd Ex-member

Emcor (Drake & Scull) Ex ref

Emcor Rail

G Wimpey Ltd Ex-member

Haden Young

Kier Ltd

John Mowlem Ltd Ex-member

Laing O’Rourke (Laing Ltd)

Lovell Construction (UK) Ltd Ex-member

Miller Construction Ltd Ex-member

Morgan Ashurst

Morgan Est

Morrison Construction Group Ex-member

NG Bailey

Shepherd Engineering Services Ltd

Sias Building Services

Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd

Skanska (Kvaerner/Trafalgar

House plc)

SPIE (Matthew Hall) Ex-member

Taylor Woodrow Construction Ltd Ex-member

Turriff Construction Ltd Ex-member

Tysons Contractors Ex-member

Walter Llewellyn & Sons Ltd Ex-member

Whessoe Oil & Gas Ltd

Willmott Dixon Ex-member

Vinci plc (Norwest Holst Group)

It would have been shorter to list the firms that didn’t.

Well, great. I’m especially pleased that ICO actually did something; I’d long written it off as essentially a flexible friend, doing a lot of bemoaning the Surveillance Society but always giving in when the government wanted to do some more surveilling, and the only occasions when I actually reported someone to it hardly inspired confidence.

Obviously, of course, this is the clear moment to explain that all this stuff about civil liberties is nonsense. It would perhaps be better to point out that surveillance and data-hoarding by the private sector is every bit as troublesome as by the state.


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