HS2 Limited has come under fire for spying on people who oppose the controversial project.
HS2 Limited deleted the "Privacy Notice" from their website, after journalists from the Sunday Express contacted them about the worrying phrasing of the document which includes storing and sharing details such as a complainants sexual life (including sexual orientation), physical or mental health and financial details.
The document states that the non-departmental government body finds and stores information on employees, contractors and "complainants, correspondents, litigants, claimants and enquirers". They can also store information on your family and associates if you voluntarily passed information to HS2 or requested information from them.
The nature of the information has also raised concern, with the document listing 'racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, trade union membership' as well as 'sound and visual images'.
Although the organisation maintains that the majority of the information is supplied by the individual themselves, they also list several sources they use including HM Revenue & Customs, healthcare, social and welfare advisers and even social media.
They also state that HS2 may disclose your personal data to third party contractors, come of whom may be based outside the EU and therefore not bound by the Data Protection Act.
Another paragraph states that "HS2 keeps personal data as long as is necessary for the particular purpose or purposes for which it is held".
Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 campaign manager said:
“Parliamentary reports have found HS2 guilty of maladministration and a complete disregard for the public, but this news presents a new low and shows the truly Orwellian mentality of this organisation. We are absolutely shocked and disgusted that HS2 Ltd planned to pursue this strategy, which must have been endorsed by the government.
“We advise everyone who has been involved with HS2 to immediately request all files on them under the Data Protection Act.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said
“Having seen the policy I am absolutely flabbergasted by its extent. It basically allows HS2 Ltd to use any source to gather any data on anyone, or their friends and relatives, who has any connection with HS2 and then allows HS2 Ltd to give that information to anyone anywhere.
“Unfortunately this is less of a surprise then it should have been. Supporters of HS2 have previously run a smear campaign against people concerned about HS2, and this is just another new low.”
An HS2 spokesperson said:
“We have withdrawn the Privacy Notice with immediate effect. It does not reflect how we handle information. We will carry out an audit on data to ensure that we do not hold anything inappropriate.
“At no point has HS2 Ltd used any information held for financial gain, and nor do we intend to. We only share information with suppliers that require it to carry out work on our behalf, and do so in line with the Data Protection Act.”
If you are concerned that HS2 may hold personal information about you, you can email HS2enquiries@hs2.org.uk and specify what data you are requesting and provide two forms of ID which together provide your name, date of birth, current address and signature.