Westminster Lifestyle Survey

Whilst my walk home from work takes me past the Home Office and countless CCTV cameras, it is not often that one returns home to find the Big Brother state staring up from the doormat. Yet, that is exactly what happened last night when I stepped inside my front door and found the 'Westminster Lifestyle Survey' waiting patiently for my return.

Title The stated purpose of the document is to 'paint a clearer picture of the daily lives of our local community' which, although intrusive, could be seen as having some utility in terms of local service provision. But it is hard not to be shocked by the intrusiveness of some of the questions.

Eating Smoking The survey successfully nails each of the 'big hitters' in terms of interfering, nannying government. If you click on the thumbnails to the right you will see a few of the pages residents are encouraged to answer.

There is, of course, a 'what you eat' and 'smoking and drinking' questionnaire; the more concerning AboutYou HowYouFeel 'how do you feel?' and then the terrific 'About You', which not only requires you hand over all the standard information, but also your estimated household income and 'working status'.

NHS Westminster skillfully plays to its intended audience by offering a ¬£10 high-street shopping voucher to the first 100 people to return the document completed, and claim that any personal information is kept 'strictly confidential'. 

There are several questions that come to mind. Why, for instance, does the survey require a name, address and financial income? – if it were simply for targeting local services it would not matter who was responding.

But the overall impression one gets reading this survey is that it is all about building a profile for each person in the area, so that they can be targeted and sold-to at every opportunity. The state wants to know what we eat, drink, smoke and feel because it already knows where we go, how much we spend and what our interests are.

Privacy is a foreign country.

By Dylan Sharpe

Posted by on Mar 23, 2010 in Privacy | 3 Comments


  1. Andrew Ampers Taylor
    23rd March 2010

    Ag yis man, I am from Sith Ifrica en hate there is no “Wit Ifrican” bix in die forrrm¬∑
    But joking side, I am from Africa and I am white, and the Royal Free now include it in their forms as I complained.
    But I do agree with the writer here about the motives of the present regime. And, there is one thing you can all be certain of, if Cameron gets in, he will keep all this data.
    Being a politician isn’t all about money, it is about power as well!

  2. Bob Morgan
    23rd March 2010

    You are absolutely correct! – To Paraphrase L P Hartley, “Privacy (The Past) is a Foreign Country! – They do things differently there!”
    Bob Morgan

  3. Redacted
    23rd March 2010

    The word “lifestyle” raises my hackles even before I consider the rest.
    Ten quid shopping voucher? Is that the best they can come up with? I’d want a new identity, an offshore slush fund and a ticket to wherever people are still sane. Otherwise, shredder.
    Name: P. Mandelson
    How do you feel?: not applicable
    I notice that “how do you feel?” Does not include an option for “anxious about state intrusion into my private life.” But would I tick it if it did? I think not, it might be a trick question.
    Also in “which of the following do you think make it difficult for you to be physically active?” what is the critical difference between these two options: “Something else” and “None of these”.
    Ask stupid questions, you deserve stupid answers.