Iain Dale’s piece in The Guardian is one of the politest condemnations of a “government” that I have seen. Its obsession with control and monitoring of private citizens “justified” by the argument “we are protecting you from terrorism” is one of the most offensive aspects of its time in power.
The introduction could be said to apply to me as much to Iain Dale:
Looking back to the days before 1997, if you had asked me then whether I would consider myself a natural supporter of the campaign group Liberty and its director Shami Chakrabarti, I would likely have answered in the negative.
But, as Iain writes, those days have long gone. Ask Jack Straw like I did. Best of luck getting a reply.
It was Churchill who coined the phrase “The test of civilisation”. Iain argues that this “government” is failing that test.
He isn’t wrong.
A good democratic government acts with decency (expenses, Gurkhas) and protects the privacy of its citizens (illegal DNA retention, CCTV monitoring, failing to enforce the law over Phorm and BT’s secret testing).
BBC reports that a report by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust claims that a quarter of all “government” databases are illegal and should be redesigned or scrapped.
The reports are interesting stuff which I will be reading over a hot cup of Assam tea during elevenses. Let me quote from the report’s introduction:
Of the 46 databases assessed in this report only six are given the green light. That is, only six are found to have a proper legal basis for any privacy intrusions and are proportionate and necessary in a democratic society. Nearly twice as many are almost certainly illegal under human rights or data protection law and should be scrapped or substantially redesigned, while the remaining 29 databases have significant problems and should be subject to an independent review.
6 databases from 46 assessed. That’s an abysmal pass rate. 29 databases with significant problems which leaves 11 identified as “almost certainly illegal”.
Given Jacqui Smith’s lack of response to comply with the recent European Court ruling that retaining DNA taken from people who are acquitted of crimes is illegal, what else do you expect from this “government”?
The Executive Summary (PDF file) can be found here.
The full report (PDF file) can be found here.
UK Justice Secretary Jack Straw blogged about the Surveillance Society, DNA databases and civil liberties on the Blackburn Labour blog. It’s typically vague stuff attempting to justify the DNA database but failing to address the recent European Court judgement on illegally retaining DNA samples from people not convicted of a crime.
Here’s my response to the Justice Secretary. If you’re a regular reader then you will already know the kind of thing I’m talking about.
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This post has been coming for a while.
Regular readers will know that I am vehemently opposed to the surveillance and database states that this current Labour “government” (I use “government” in quotes because the Labour administration is unworthy of the name) is obsessed with. I believe strongly that stupidity should not be tolerated and should be highlighted and challenged. As this Labour “government” worships the ideas of the surveillance and database states and is demonstrably stupid in areas such as understanding the internet, much of my writings here are concentrated on those issues.
Anyone who values personal freedom and privacy should vote Conservative at the next General Election. If you haven’t read George Orwell’s 1984 then you should.
Yes folks, crank up the Led Zeppelin classic Whole Lotta Love (used to be the countdown music on Top Of The Pops for anyone under 25 who hasn’t got a clue what I’m on about. It’s on my playlist and air guitars are not compulsory *smile*) because here are three reasons why I think Labour is unworthy of being in government*. Better get yourselves a cup of tea because this is a long post:
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C’est la verité:
As the UK prepares to put in place its shiny new vetting database later this year, analysis of a similar project in France reveals a devastating degree of inaccuracy, leading to real hardship for a very large number of people.
A report (pdf) issued last week by CNIL, the French Data Protection Agency, reveals that as many as a million people have lost jobs – or didn’t get them in the first place – because of inaccuracies in the police STIC database (Systeme de Traitement des Infractions constatés, or “criminal record check system”).
The report goes into detail about the horrifying intrusiveness of the systems in France and the real life consequences of wrong data.
And that’s the kind of thing the UK “government” wants to implement here.
This is the same government which loses personal data repeatedly – and those are only the reports we get to hear about.