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Disarm the Census

Count me out banner

A protester in a Guantanamo Bay-style outfit

Ian Pocock reports on London CAAT’s protest about Lockheed Martin’s role in the UK census

As part of Count Me Out’s weekend of action against Lockheed Martin’s deplorable involvement in the census, Saturday saw London CAAT members carry out a protest at Victoria station.

The protesters engaged with the public for nigh-on two hours and found a lot of sympathy for our cause (one passerby even said we were saving the world but I wouldn’t go that far!). We handed out 400 leaflets as well as a number of stock letters that people could send to their MPs. The Guantanamo Bay-style costume attracted a lot of attention (Lockheed contracts out interrogation at Guantanamo Bay) and enabled us to inform the public why we were there.

£150m of taxpayers money has been given to the biggest arms company in the world (according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s latest list of top arms-producing companies) to help run the census. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons and also produces Joint Strike Fighters and F-16 fighters.

Another issue stems from the fact that they are an American company – under the US Patriot Act any personal data held by companies with systems in the US has to be made available to government intelligence, thus meaning our details could end up in the hands of the US government. Finally, our government does not have a good record of storing data securely.

For more information, visit the Count Me Out website at http://www.countmeout.me.uk. Here you can find a number of actions you can take regarding the census, from boycotting it entirely to spoiling your census paper as well as writing protest letters to your MP and the Office of National Statistics.

Also, the Peace News log has a piece on how to fill in your census form without Lockheed Martin profiting – http://www.peacenewslog.info/2011/03/how-to-fill-in-your-census-form-without-lockheed-martin-profiting-short-version/. And finally Indymedia has a supplementary page you can enclose with your form – http://www.indymedia.org.uk/media/2011/03//475485.pdf.

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