Suicide watch…

Eamonn Butler is the head of the Adam Smith Institute – a free-market think-tank.

But I’d not be surprised to hear that the Dignitas marketing folk were keen to retain his services.

I say this because, ever since I started reading this:

image5

I’ve been increasingly curious about their services.

It’s an unceasing catalogue of the things that Gordon Brown and his coterie of bastards has done to our country.

Oh sure, there’s not much in there that you couldn’t find on most libertarian blogs, but the sheer scale of their destruction wrought upon the fabric of our economy, society, liberty, privacy, justice system and democratic protections is breath-taking.

I may, in fact, never finish this book, because I decide that I want to live. On the other hand, I may neck a fistful of vallium and get it over with. The book, I mean.

AJ

Ronnie Biggs fears culture of violent crime…

Well that might as well be the headline…

I fear Big Brother state, reveals David Blunkett [former home secretary]

David Blunkett will today warn of the dangers of allowing an ‘oppressive’ and ‘eventually self-destructive’ Big Brother state to develop.

The former Home Secretary has concerns about plans for mass data sharing by public bodies and the Home Office’s proposal for a giant database holding records of every phone call and internet click.

In a speech today, Mr Blunkett will also suggest one solution to the identity cards row would be to make passports compulsory for everyone, with ID cards only being issued to those who want one.

But Mr Blunkett, architect of the ID cards policy while at the Home Office, denies Britain is becoming a ‘surveillance state’.

Eh?

He will say it is necessary to use the likes of CCTV cameras to carry out surveillance which  -  if it were possible to employ enough police to do the work in person  -  there would be few complaints about.

Mr Blunkett will tell the 21st annual law lecture at Essex University: ‘We need principles on which we can base actions which may otherwise, in the name of protecting freedom and decency, become oppressive, intolerant of difference and eventually self destructive.’

Mr Blunkett, who had many run-ins with the civil liberties lobby when Home Secretary between 2001 and 2004, will say there must be ‘very clear rules’ to protect the public from intrusion by the state and private businesses.

He will go on to attack the ‘absurdity’ of council officials using the anti-terror provisions of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act when dealing with ‘dog fouling or waste management misuse’ problems.

It just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever…. does it? Perhaps he fancies being Home Sec again under Jack Straw. Either way, I’m getting piss-bored with these 11th hour epiphanies.

AJ

Data Abuse

Having reached 1000 posts, UK Liberty is running a ‘Best Of’ post at the moment, which has drawn my attention to this:

Data Abuse

This page has some real-life (as opposed to hypothetical) examples of abuses of our personal data. See also Data Loss for information on data that has gone ‘missing’. This document is updated from time to time. It was most recently updated on 23 January 2009.

And this:

If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear

The contention that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear presupposes that those with access to information will not abuse it, whether on behalf of themselves for (say) curiosity or money, or on behalf of the state.

Unfortunately there is plenty of precedent to suggest otherwise, ranging from individual abuses to the facilitation of mass abuse, such as by the Stasi, or those committing genocide.

There are also several other nuggets to be deployed in the battle to retain what liberty we have, in the face of an indifferent public, and authoritarian government and an alarmingly pragmatic opposition.

AJ

e-Borders chaos and invasion of privacy to ensue….

Via the previous item….

Here’s the deal. You travel out of the UK & by the time you reach security, they have to have answers to these questions (most provided by to the travel agent when you book):

The information, taken when a ticket is bought, will be shared among police, customs, immigration and the security services for at least 24 hours before a journey is due to take place.

Anybody about whom the authorities are dubious can be turned away when they arrive at the airport or station with their baggage.

Those with outstanding court fines, such as a speeding penalty, could also be barred from leaving the country, even if they pose no security risk.

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Critics warned of mayhem at ports and airports when the system is introduced, beginning in earnest from mid-2009.

By 2014 every one of the predicted 305million passenger journeys in and out of the UK will be logged, with details stored about the passenger on every trip.

The scheme will apply to every way of leaving the country, whether by ferry, plane, or small aircraft. It would apply to a family having a day out in France by Eurotunnel, and even to a yachtsman leaving British waters during the day and returning to shore.

The measure applies equally to UK residents going abroad and foreigners travelling here.

The information will be stored for as long as the authorities believe it is useful, allowing them to build a complete picture of where a person has been over their lifetime, how they paid and the contact numbers of who they stayed with.

The Home Office, which yesterday signed a contract with U.S. company Raytheon Systems to run the computer system, said e-borders would help to keep terrorists and illegal immigrants out of the country.

Aye right. Terrorists and illegal immigrants with an outstanding speeding ticket? Wank.

The personal information stored about every journey could prove vital in detecting a planned atrocity, officials insist.

Ah – atrocities. Okay – I was wrong…… oh, wait.

The e-borders scheme is expected to cost at least £1.2billion over the next decade.

Travel companies, which will run up a bill of £20million a year compiling the information, will pass on the cost to customers via ticket prices, and the Government is considering introducing its own charge on travellers to recoup costs.

David Marshall of the Association of British Travel Agents said: “We are staggered at the projected costs.

How utterly selfish of the travel industry to be concerned about footing this paltry bill in order to fund the government’s programme of getting right up our arses track down terrorists, especially during a credit crunch.

“It could also act as a disincentive to people wanting to travel, and we are sure that is not what the Government intends.”

Too bleedin’ right. It’s the reason I’ve wound my air travel right down and would never go to the USA.

Phil Booth, of the NO2ID group, warned travellers would pay a “stealth tax” on travel to pay for the scheme.

He added: “This is a huge and utterly ridiculous quantity of personal information. This type of profiling will throw up many distressing errors and problems for innocent people.

“We have already seen planes turned around mid-flight because a passenger’s surname matches that of somebody on a watch list.

“When the Government talks about e-borders, it gives the impression it is about keeping bad people out. In fact, it is a huge grab of personal information, and another move towards the database state.”

A quid says this is driven by the EU and the dry run took the form of the datagrab that people have been subjected to before entering the US, ever since 11 Sep 2001.

Unspeakable bastards.

AJ

Coppers and photographers

I have alluded to this previously. There are so many things to rage at just now, but this one is worth highlighting because, as the article’s author (Henry Porter) points out – the ‘I feel just as free as I did 10 years ago’ brigade need to be shaken out of their stupor. Or they need to share their drugs with me.

Terrorist laws have gone off the rails

I meet a lot of nice, intelligent people these days who say they aren’t aware that their lives have become any less free. Maybe your life is unaffected, I say, but a lot of people are now experiencing Labour’s authoritarian laws. Then I choose a story such as this one from yesterday’s papers about the artist and photographer Reuben Powell who was arrested and held for five hours under terrorist laws.

I point out that Reuben, who was photographing the old HMSO print works in London, was doing nothing wrong but he had everything to fear from the police who treated him like a criminal, fingerprinted him and took his DNA. But for the action of Simon Hughes MP, a member of the one party that seems to understand the threat we face from the police state – the Liberal Democrats – Mr Powell would have spent a lot more time in custody.

I would add that this is a far from unique event in Britain. I have it on the authority of a policeman of my acquaintance that most of the stop and searches under terrorist laws are inspired by the need for local police commands to meet targets each week, which means that the public is being needlessly harassed while no significant gain against the terrorists is being achieved. In the case of Reuben, the police had only to ask themselves if the former HMSO print works were a likely terrorist target and if a terrorist on reconnaissance would be carrying sketch pad, rubber and craft knife for sharpening pencils.

Oh but this is just a one off, they say. Well, actually it isn’t. Photographers, artists, naturalists, trainspotters, journalists are being routinely harassed and persecuted up and down the country. Today, there are reports of a Tory MP, Andrew Pelling, who was arrested while taking photographs of a cycle path. People’s fundamental rights are being eroded and nobody seems to give a damn.

Except Norman Baker, another Liberal Democrat MP, who has discovered that the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2004 has been used to stop a staggering 62,584 people at railway stations, while a further 87,000 were stopped by police under rules which allow them to ask people to account for themselves. (What nonsense it is for the government to continue to insist that ID cards will never be demanded on the street.)

Among those most frequently stopped are trainspotters. A 15-year-old boy in school uniform was accosted last year and made to sign a form under Section 44 of the anti-terror act. (Plainly part of any New Labour’s modernised tyranny is form filling. We have form 27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act which is being issued to football fans, form 696 required by the police for those staging live events in London, and this week we had first sight of the 53 questions to be issued to all people travelling abroad.

It seems that anyone who takes a picture in a public is at risk of prosecution and harassment. A Polish man who photographed a woman who was "ill" outside an Edinburgh pub was fined £100 under public order laws and told by the sheriff that he was "unchivalrous". Maybe, but he was hardly a threat to public order. Perhaps that sheriff needs to be sent on a course to learn about Britain’s fundamental rights.

More serious, perhaps, is an incident which took place outside the Greek embassy last month when two press photographers were prevented from covering a demonstration. Police removed them from the scene and grabbed one camera. Happily this was filmed and a complaint has now been formally lodged.

However many examples one produces of the slow deterioration of our national life, the erosion of our freedoms and the loss of respect between authority and public, nice intelligent people shrug their shoulders and say the police are just trying to do their job, and we don’t live in a perfect world. This is the ultimate complacency, and it derives from a failure to understand that a system of rights can only work if it is universally applied. That is to say that we must are all feel outrage when someone is arrested unfairly and prevented from doing his or her job, even if it’s just a bloke taking pictures for his art.

Bully-boy fascist porcinates.

AJ

Jacqui Smith Slapped Up and Down the Place

I don’t often refer you to the Spyblog, which tracks the encroachment of the surveillance state into our lives.

Today, though, our correspondent completely takes apart the speech to some bunch called the Intellect Trade Association delivered by the bovine entity called Jacqui Smith.

Jacqui Smith’s speech to Intellect – do we have – “safeguards, openness, proportionality and common sense” – or a surveillance society ?

What is your definition of a “surveillance society” ? It is probably not the same as Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s still secret definition.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, like her Labour party fellow travellers, seems to be spewing Orwellian doublethink and newspeak, where normal sounding English words, have their meanings utterly reversed, without displaying any sense of shame, or pang of conscience, at their perversion.

Safeguards, openness, proportionality and common sense.

From now on, all of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s policy statements will be analysed with these categories in mind. We suspect that she will be found wanting in all of them.

Unfortunately these weasel worded soundbites, which touch on several topics about which Spy Blog regularly comments on, are the current Government’s substitute for detailed, practical, cost effective policies:

Apologies for the length of this blog article fisking of this speech, but she uttered a lot of weasel words which need to be challenged.

Do pop along and read the speech and its dissection – she is just in another world.

AJ

If you ever doubted that Polly Toynbee is a mentalist..

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/11/economy-creditcrunch

It’s our time

The era of laissez-faire small government is over. Now we can start fixing the big problems the market can’t solve.

Suddenly only the power of government can save us – and most of the world agrees. How oddly that idea clashes with the prevailing political mood in Britain in the last few years. Until Lehmann Brothers crashed out of the sky and the world turned upside down, big government was becoming increasingly unfashionable and the idea of the strong central state was under attack from all sides.

Meanwhile a second anti-state battleground had opened up, as libertarians of right and left attacked the government for Big Brother-like interference with the privacy and freedoms of the citizen. Labour’s plans to introduce identity cards, to allow police to hold terrorist suspects without trial for 42 days and the widespread use of CCTV cameras in public places were seen by conspiracy theorists as sinister encroachments on ancient civil liberties.

Now the credit crunch and the prospect of a prolonged slump have changed everything. The government borrows billions to rescue the banks that once complained about state regulation. Businesses large and small beg for state help with cash. They need government to intervene to force the banks to lend at good rates. Property owners need rescuing before their homes are repossessed. Only the state can create new jobs in green industries to reduce the numbers of unemployed.

 

AJ

Know your rights

This site has lots of useful information. It seems absurd that those of us who consider road protesters, animal rights activists and other such lentil-mongers to be utter scum need to worry about this, but in light of recent events, and considering New Labour’s continuing drive to criminalise every one of us, it seems necessary and worthwhile.

http://www.urban75.com/Action/index2.html

AJ

Philippines, Latvia, Hungary, Argentina afford more privacy than UK

This came out a few months ago, before I started this raddled piece of crap blog, but it’s worth raising again, since I was asked about it.

Privacy International have been researching privacy around the world and publishing an annual index since 1997. Here is the 2007 report, from which the following chart is clipped -click the chart to zoom-in:

PrivacyChart 

Here’s the Wikipedia entry for Privacy International.

AJ

BBC caught in the act of Jacqui Smith Love-in

Courtesy of the UKLP blog and The Register, we have a fine example of the BBC’s comically bad attempts at being an unbiased news organisation. About 5 or 6 completely different accounts of Ubergruppenfuhrer Smith’s latest ID cards wheeze came out from the BBC in one day.

Here’s the story

On the 6th of November the BBC announced to an astonished world that “People ‘can’t wait for ID cards’. Breathlessly repeating the words of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s speech that morning, Auntie reported: “I believe there is a demand, now, for cards – and as I go round the country I regularly have people coming up to me and saying they don’t want to wait that long.”

And added that the market for fingerprints, photographs and signatures* garnered in post offices and retailers would amount, according to Smith, to “about £200 million a year.” The Beeb neglected to mention that the £200 million a year represented a laundered price hike of up to £40 a throw, but there are a few other things the Beeb neglected to mention – or more properly, stopped mentioning – that day, too.

The report’s revision history, documented by News Sniffer, takes us on an impressive Odyssey from “Smith to unveil airport ID scheme”, through “Shops may take ID Card biometrics” to the final sales-pitch version, cunningly deniabled with quote marks.

The final – at time of writing, anyway – version isn’t an entirely uncritical commercial for ID cards, containing as it does (balance, balance…) comment from Phil Booth and the two main opposition parties. But if we’re talking about developing stories in the wonderful world of Web 2.0 reportage here, what one must assume represents a day’s ferreting by the Beeb’s finest (or a day’s being shouted at by Home Office spin doctors) does look very much like a fail.

Remember that you’re compelled to pay for these cack-handed totalitarian collaborators if you have an idiots’ lantern in your dwelling.

AJ