Davis criticises Tory privacy decisions

By Liz Stephens

Former shadow home secretary David Davis has launched an attack on his own party’s decision to back the transfer of people’s health records to Google.

Writing in The Times today, Mr Davis said that when he found out the Tories were backing the data transfer to Google, “my heart sank”.

Mr Davis is a vocal privacy campaigner and resigned from the shadow Cabinet last year in order to force a by-election and cause a wider debate on the issue of the erosion of civil liberties.

Speaking about the Google data transfer, he said: “The policy described was so naive I could only hope that it was an unapproved kite-flying exercise by a young researcher in Conservative HQ.

“If not, what was proposed was both dangerous in its own right, and hazardous to the public acceptability of necessary reforms to the state’s handling of our private information.”

Mr Davis said: “Google is the last company I would trust with data belonging to me”.

He cited information from human rights watchdog Privacy International, which recently gave Google the lowest possible assessment following the company’s deal with China to limit its citizens’ access to certain internet sites.

Google’s Streetview was also heavily criticised by campaigners as an invasion of privacy.

Until recently, Mr Davis had avoided voicing criticism of the Tory leadership. However, since last month the one-time leadership rival is becoming a thorn in the side of David Cameron.

Just a few weeks ago, Mr Davis launched an attack on his party by re-opening the festering wound of grammar schools.

In a thinly-veiled swipe at Eton-educated David Cameron, he told a meeting on grammar schools the only winners from the death of the selective education system were the public school boys who now “dominate” Britain.

The lethal issue of grammar schools previously triggered a rebellion by Tory backbenchers early in Mr Cameron’s leadership.

Mr Davis’ decision to thrust the subject back into the spotlight was considered by many in the Tory frontbenches as an open declaration of war.

Mr Davis has also hinted that he is planning to speak out on other issues in future, such as the need for public spending cuts.