Plans to electronically send records of United Kingdom births, deaths, and marriages to India for indexing are "outrageous", a civil service union says. The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) said the Office of National Statistics (ONS) was playing "fast and loose" with sensitive information and that hundreds of UK jobs could be lost. Some members of Parliament seem to agree.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) said the move would help people to trace their family histories. It claimed that the project, which would take about three years to complete, would be secure and would lead to a more efficient online service.
However, a British MP Thursday urged the government to cancel the deal to transfer British genealogical data to India as London police launched an investigation into claims of Indian call centre workers selling off banking and credit card details.
Labour MP John McDonnell tabled a motion in the House of Commons, urging the government to drop moves to transfer a database containing details of every birth, marriage, and death in England and Wales since 1837 to an offshore centre in the southern Indian state of Chennai. McDonnell cited concerns about protection of private information in a country that has been shown to have little regard for such issues.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, slammed the move. "Not only is this highly irregular, it is also outrageous that a government will so readily dismiss concerns of parliament in handing over the records of 250 million people to a third party halfway across the globe," he said. "These are important records charting the births, deaths, and marriages of this country's population, which should be maintained securely in the UK public sector by people accountable to us all," said Serwotka.
The records are currently held in Southport, but would be sent to Chennai, India, creating around 1,000 jobs for the Indians. About 250 million records from England and Wales dating back to 1837 would be sent to India to be transcribed and placed into computer databases.