“Boycott the UK census over links to Lockheed Martin, protesters say”

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February 19, 2011

People are being urged to boycott next month’s UK’s census because the US arms manufacturer responsible for Trident is involved in gathering the information. Protesters say they are willing to break the law and face a £1,000 fine and a criminal record by refusing to fill in the 32-page questionnaire. Resistance to the decennial census is growing as a coalition of anti-war groups, pacifists, religious organisations and digital activists begin raising public awareness about the role of Lockheed Martin, America’s largest arms manufacturer. The company, which makes Trident nuclear missiles, cluster bombs and F-16 fighter jets, won the £150m contract to run the census on behalf of the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

A spokesman for the Stop the War Coalition said: “We will certainly be calling for a boycott and telling people not co-operate with the warmongers.” The Green party has dropped its original opposition to Lockheed Martin’s lead role “because the census is extremely important and needs to be accurate”, but there is grassroots disquiet. A campaign to address the issue, bringing together religious groups, peace activists and digital data campaigners opposed to Lockheed Martin, is expected to emerge in the coming days. One of its organisers has told the Observer that a call for a boycott would be one of its major considerations. Siân Berry, a former Green party member who led the party’s 2008 campaign against Lockheed’s bid for the contract, said she was disappointed by the decision to support the census. “The really worrying thing is the fact that the information being collected in the next census – including new questions on sources of income and place of birth [to help monitor immigration] – would be ideal fodder for the kind of anti-terror analyses being carried out by Lockheed, and could lead to a faraway database identifying thousands of us as potential ‘threats’.”

Lockheed Martin – which does 80% of its work for the US defence department – assists more than two dozen American government agencies and is involved in surveillance and data processing for the CIA and FBI. It has controversially provided private contract interrogators to the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. All US-based companies are subject to the Patriot Act, which allows the US government to have access to any data in the company’s possession. Campaigners have warned this could give the US government access to detailed and personal data on the UK’s entire population. But a spokesman for the ONS dismissed the fears. “No personal census data will be handled or seen by any American-owned company. No Lockheed Martin employees will see or handle any personal census data. The public can be reassured that their personal details from the census will be kept confidential and will remain so for 100 years,” he said. That assurance has failed to convince objectors. According to Geoff Meaden, a peace campaigner and former Green party parliamentary candidate, “we have no legal precedence as to whether, under the pretext of national security, this census information can be acquired by the US government. “The Office for National Statistics claims that our data will be safe but the UK government has demonstrated on several occasions that it cannot be trusted with managing digital data containing personal records.”

Simon Barrow, co-director of the Christian thinktank Ekklesia, which examines the role of religion, ethics and values in public life, said: “There are several reasons for concern over Lockheed Martin’s involvement in the census. The government may have endangered the census by granting the contract to a company whose involvement has triggered a boycott. “Many British people are likely to object to aiding the profits of a company that arms oppressive regimes and which has played a heavy role in the unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is understandable that some will conscientiously object to participating in the census and will choose to boycott it.” Any boycott of the census could lead to further funding problems for local councils, who already fear they will miss out on hundreds of millions of pounds of funding from central government because hundreds of thousands of people will not be counted. The last census in 2001 has been accused of failing to count a million people and this time a number of major councils have expressed fears that lessons have not been learnt, a claim denied by the Office for National Statistics. Census statistics are used to allocate public money for local services including education, housing, transport and health. Over £100bn per year of public money is distributed nationally using population estimates.

LONDON, UK, 25 October, 2006

Lockheed Martin UK has today been named as one of two companies shortlisted to compete for the UK Census 2011 programme. Both companies will conduct a Field Test project in 2007 before the prime contract award, which will be decided by the end of next year. The government authorities organising the UK Census 2011 Programme, and who announced their down select teams for the field test, include the Office for National Statistics for England and Wales, the General Register Office for Scotland, and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Ian Stopps, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin UK said: “This is an essential national initiative, and we are committed to delivering an efficient, modern and cost-effective UK Census in 2011. Our team’s talent and experience mean we will provide the highest levels of reliability, data privacy and security for this important project.”

Lockheed Martin, who successfully provided the data capture elements of the 2001 UK Census, has created a consortium of predominantly UK-based world-class companies with proven integrated census data collection, processing and analysis expertise to partner with the UK Census Authorities on the 2011 programme. Team members are Broadcasting Support Services (bss), LogicaCMG (UK) Limited, Pearson Government Solutions Ltd and Royal Mail Group PLC, all from London; Cable & Wireless UK of Berkshire; Polestar Group Limited of Milton Keynes; and Oracle Corporation UK Ltd and Xansa of Reading. Other companies supporting the programme proposal include Concensus, of Southampton, and T-Rex Consulting Corporation and Evolver from Reston, VA, in the United States. Working with the government authorities, the Lockheed Martin team will design, install and support an innovative enterprise-wide response system to execute an accurate and comprehensive British Census for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Lockheed Martin census solutions use state-of-the-art character recognition and colour processing. Based on a multiple channel, modular framework, the solutions allow for paper, telephone, Internet and person-to-person responses. Each system Lockheed Martin delivers is flexible, scalable, comprehensive, secure and accurate, and can be tailored to meet the customer’s needs. The consortium has a strong commitment to success through partnership. In addition to the 2001 UK Census, Lockheed Martin teams also have fielded successful census solutions for the United States and Canada. “Since 2001, we have continued to build upon our collective experience and capabilities, and have enhanced our breadth of census services for 2011,” emphasised Timothy Bradley, the executive director leading the bid for Lockheed Martin’s team.

“Our UK consortium members are experts in their chosen disciplines, and we are committed to working with the UK Census Authorities to provide the technologies and experienced personnel necessary to support a successful national rollout.” Lockheed Martin UK, a unit of Lockheed Martin Corporation, is a leader in systems integration working on major programmes spanning the aerospace, defence and civil sectors. Lockheed Martin works with more than 100 business partners and employs over 1,500 people at 15 sites across the UK. Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

One response to ““Boycott the UK census over links to Lockheed Martin, protesters say”

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