This is a little late but the Convention on Modern Liberty is taking place today. ‘The “database state”, counter-terrorism laws and press freedom will be among issues discussed’.
A few weeks ago, I was watching the above video on YouTube (I was researching conspiracy theories for The Yesterday Tree at the time — that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it 😉 ) in which Noam Chomsky points out, quite correctly, in my opinion, that every authoritarian government (i.e. every government — it’s a matter of degree… of what they are allowed to get away with) benefits from incidents such as the 911 attacks in that it allows them to rein in their populace more effectively (“effectively”, that is, from their point of view.) This is not to say, of course, that the Bush administration planned and implemented the attacks as some (idiots) would have us believe, but it is very much an observable phenomenon, and one which I was reminded of when my friend Lou today sent me the article below.
Now I’m not disputing that we have some very real social problems, in part centred around under-age-drinking, in the UK. The behaviour of some of these young people impacts severely on whole communities and, yes, it has to be addressed — or more to the point, the underlying problems that prompt this kind of behaviour need to be addressed.
But is this the way to do it? No. Absolutely not. We have enough existing laws in place to deal with this problem without taking such an extreme approach. As far as I’m concerned, the comment form Inspector Neil Mutch of South Yorkshire Police pretty much hit the nail on the head:
“The Act was brought out for terrorism but it suits us very nicely.”
Lazy policing. This Act was implemented to protect the UK citizen from serious crime and terrorism, not to make Inspector Mutch’s job that little bit easier.
It shouldn’t really be a surprise, by now. We have been faced with so many similar stories over recent months that it is difficult to know what more can be said on the subject, other than to once again point out that this underscores the argument against the planned Super Database and ID cards.
Our current sorry excuse for a government (and, I’m sad to say, I suspect it would be the same whoever was in power) and the private firms that they employ to do research for them et cetera are quite simply incapable of responsibly handling large amounts of personal data.
If you are also opposed to ID cards/database, you can register your opposition here.
NO2ID News No. 104
14 August 2008
++ NO2ID AT THE PARTY CONFERENCES ++
Once again NO2ID will be holding fringe meetings at the party conferences taking place this year, which will take place in September/October. We will be holding a TUC fringe meeting in Brighton on Monday 8th September at the Brighthelm Centre, chaired by our Union Liaison Christina Zaba. We have a presence at the Green conference and our General Secretary, Guy Herbert, will be speaking at fringe meetings at the Liberal Democrat and UKIP conferences, both in Bournemouth. At the Conservative conference in Birmingham we have a stall (highly prized, now the Conservatives are widely seen as winners by lobbyists) on the Home Affairs day, and we will be at the Labour conference in Manchester.
Volunteers for all these events are needed. If you are available to help at one or other English Party conference please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or the relevant NO2ID local group. If you can help at Scottish Party conferences please contact NO2ID Scotland (email@example.com), and we would be delighted to hear from people involved in Welsh or Irish politics (particularly the latter where our contacts need developing) – email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Today came as something of a relief. I have not succeeded, due to a number of distractions and research requirements, in progressing any further with the chapter outlines for We Are Watching, but last night I found myself telling my parents all about it — what I had so far, where I hoped it would go, why I wanted to write it and so on — and the simple act of speaking it, of hearing the story in outline form, rekindled the flame. With this kind of novel, there can be a tendency for it to sound a little silly in an unplanned oral presentation. But it stood up remarkably well. My parents, who are the perfect critics (direct and, yet, well aware that the novel will have a stronger plot foundation than a spoken outline) got it right away. A very productive conversation.
It also helped me see where I didn’t want to go with the story. In many respects, it is an allegory for the current surveillance situation in the UK — but I saw quite quickly that it is fairly vital that it remain an allegory. I do not want becoming a “government conspiracy” novel involving databases etc. All of that will be there, but as a subtext.
On the subject of government and databases, I today read with a mix of relief and scepticism that no decision on the giant database — intended to contain details of all phone calls, emails and Internet use — has yet been taken. More debate has been called for. Whilst reading this article, however, a piece of advice within it struck me as one worth repeating. It’s something many of us will have been aware of for a very long time, but it never does any harm to be reminded of such things.
“There will be more people look at your internet information than look at a postcard when you write it…”
Take care out there 😉
After top-secret documents were left on a train by a Cabinet Office official last week, we now have another unforgivable security breach — this time in the form of a stolen computer from the constituency office of Hazel Blears.
Naturally, thefts happen. Ms Blears cannot necessarily be held responsible for that. What she is accountable for, however, is the fact that the machine…
“… contained a combination of constituency and government information which should not have been held on it.”
And they expect us to believe that we will be safe and protected when they institute their SuperDatabase!