Tag Archive | "right to privacy"

Big Brother Britain goes mobile in Manchester

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Big Brother Britain goes mobile in Manchester


Not satisfied with 4.2m CCTV cameras, speed cameras and ANPR, the Greater Manchester Casualty Reduction Partnership has now introduced (as a pilot) a Smart Car complete with high level CCTV camera. The aim is to catch errant motorists that speed, use a mobile phone, park illegally or commit any other form of motoring offence. Drivers can then expect to receive, in the post, a fine and/or penalty notice which could carry 3 points.

At a time when the public struggle to get the police to act when they are the victim of a burglary, anti-social behaviour, fraud or criminal damage, the police have decided to continue persecuting drivers, simply because they are an easy target and the police can claim to have detected, investigated and prosecuted another crime. Great for their clear up rates! However, this type of prosecution (or persecution) lacks any interaction with the public, therefore it is likely to create even more resentment between the police and the public at a time when they need all the support they can get.

Of course, this type of system will only be able to trace and prosecute people that are, for the most part, law abiding. This is because these types of cameras rely entirely on the registration number and as we all know, there are over 1m vehicles on the road where the drivers have no insurance and/or bogus registered keeper details. So the serious criminals will be simply get away with it. I am not defending law breaking, instead I am advocating a programme where the police treat all crime seriously, rather than placing so much resource behind a single section of the community, because is is easier to secure a ‘hands up’ prosecution.

At a time of economic mayhem, increased cases of serious crime and terrorist threats, the police, presumably supported by politicians, make clear where their primary focus will remain. Targeting easy crime. Of course these cameras won’t just take pictures of errant motorists, operating constantly, they cannot discriminate between an errant motorist and someone going about their normal business. So must we all acccept that, if extended, we must allow ourselves to be monitored by 4.2m CCTV cameras, as well as mobile cameras?

Big Brother Britain is getting out of hand. Everything we do and say is being monitored and stored, this does not feel like a free and democratic country, instead is seems like we are in a police state. Civil liberty campaigners are often derided, as are those that claim we are moving to a police state, but take my word for it, in a few years time, the people of this country will realise that far from being reactionary, these people were visionary…and unlike our politicians, they have been speaking the truth.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Farcical Regulations, General, Labour | Comments (5)

LibDems undertake to repeal oppressive civil liberty legislation

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LibDems undertake to repeal oppressive civil liberty legislation


Finally, one of the major political parties has come out and made a clear and unequivocal statement in favour of returning power to the people. The LibDems have promised to repeal the series of authoritarian measures introduced by New Labour, which has lead, to put it in their words, to the “slow death” of our civil liberties. To be fair, the LibDems have taken a long time to recognise that this is a key are of concern for citizens of this country, but lets face it, better late that never. What a pity that the Conservative party have been so weak when it comes to civil liberties and government intrusion, but then again, they demonstrated their true colours when they sided with Jack Straw, when he used the Ministerial veto to hide the the minutes of cabinet meetings leading up to the Iraq War from the public.

The LibDems are calling on the government to reverse the controversial policing and criminal justice legislation introduced in recent years. Doubtless, this request will be ignored, given our current government have demonstrated time and again, that they have little or no time for anyone who would dare to criticise their policies. Further, this government have consistently paid lip service to the hard won freedoms that we have enjoyed prior to their term in office, dismissing protests with a wave of their hand. New Labour’s philosophy it is the state that is master, not the people, supporting this argument by spending £billions on new methods to record information of the general public.

The LibDems have stated that they would reduce detention without charge from 28 days to 14, remove the ministerial veto altogether, allow DNA to be retained only in cases where someone has been charged and convicted, scrap ID cards and order a full scale review of the use use of CCTV cameras, which now numbers over 4m. To put that into perspective, in 2004 a European Commission report found that there were some 40,000 cameras monitoring public areas in 500 British towns and cities, compared to fewer than 100 cameras in 15 German cities. Little wonder that nearly every report you read states that we are the most spied on country in the world.

However, the LibDems need to go much further. They must seek to cancel the Big Brother Britain databases that this government has either introduced or announced. At the very least, this should include the database proposed in the new Data Communications Bill intended to record every call, text message and email we send or receive, in addition to spying on our internet browsing habits. As well as the latest government wheeze, the travellers database, that seeks to record every trip we take, where we go, how we pay and where we sit. There should be a review of the ContactPoint database already introduced in terms of whether the benefits will outweigh the cost and risks and the NHS database, which is hopelessly inefficient and is the subject of much criticism from the very practitioners who are supposed to benefit from it.

I have never voted LibDem in my life, I have always viewed them as the party of high taxation, the Green Party in disguise if you like and quite frankly, lacking in any real substance. However, I have been heartily impressed with Vince Cable’s take on the economy, not that I have agreed with everything he has said, but he speaks with authority and knowledge, unlike some other that you would expect to be well briefed. Compare that with the wishy-washy approach from the Conservative party and the reckless abandonment demonstrated by the current Labour government. I fail to see much difference between the policies of the Conservatives and those of New Labour, it just seems to be more of the same, couched in a ‘softer’ tone or called by a different name and that is NOT what I want. Labour have promised us tax increases, the Conservative party have promised us tax increases, so what the hell, they are now all on a level playing field. The Labour party have demonstrated that they could not give a toss about our right to privacy, liberty and freedom to go about our business without state interference, the conservative party have said a few weasley words in condemnation, but nothing more. so I think we know where they stand, especially after their appalling and ill-conceived support for Jack Straw and his ministerial veto.

In fact, there is so little to choose between any of the main parties, that I suspect who we decide to vote for, may well be based on something that they do differ on, provided it is important to the voter. I believe, that whilst all parties broadly agree on key electoral issues, such as the NHS, education, crime, immigration, the environment and taxes, it will be the smaller things that become the deciding factor.

For that reason, unless we start to see substantial policy differences, not variations on the same theme, I do not believe that ANY party, especially the Conservatives, can count on winning the next election. In my view, the next election will go to the wire, people will decide late in the day and Cameron & co, unless they can highlight real policy differences and intiatives between the Conservatives and Labour, will be left with egg on their face. This could lead to the LiDems and other independent parties being in a position whereby they can punch well above their weight. Having seen what happens when a government gets such a massive majority, I never want to see that happen again, because the longer the term in office with a large majority, the more authoritarian they become. Given none of the parties are talking about wholesale reform, it can be safely argued that there is no need for massive majorities anyway.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (4)

European Court of Human Rights, DNA rebuke

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European Court of Human Rights, DNA rebuke


How ironic that British subjects have had to turn to the European Courts to protect their liberty and privacy, rather than being able to rely on our own laws. If this does not demonstrate just how far this control obsessed government has gone to destroy the rights and civil liberties of the people of this country, then nothing will.

The case was brought by two men who had their DNA profile and fingerprints taken when they were charged with an offence. One had his charges dropped and the other was acquitted, yet in spite of this, the South Yorkshire Police, supported by the government, refused to destroy the DNA profile and fingerprints. Under existing laws, DNA profiles of everyone arrested for a recordable offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are kept on the database, regardless of whether they are charged or convicted. This is not the case in Scotland where records are destroyed. 

Now, in what turned out to be a unanimous decision of 17 judges sitting in Strasbourg, the Grand Chamber Judgment ruled that the action of the police was violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which is the ‘right to respect for private and family life‘. In fact, the Court went further, stating that the retention of this information could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society and they had been struck by the indiscriminate nature of the power of detention in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This amounts to a direct rebuke of the British government. Needless to say Jacqui Smith who has spent a great deal of public money defending the governments position, is “disappointed”, with the outcome. Just who the hell does she think she is, I thought she said that no-one was above the law.?

I do not doubt that DNA profiling is a useful tool in the fight against crime, however, there are other civil liberty concerns that should have been considered. This government has ignored any civil liberty and right to privacy issues by introducing legislation that allows DNA profiles to be retained irrespective of whether the people involved have been convicted of an offence. This is an affront to the people of this country and it has taken the European Court to uphold our rights by applying an equal measure of commonsense and existing human rights laws to come to a judgement.

What a pity this government could not have done the same. In part, we are at fault, because so many people fall, hook line and sinker, everytime the government come out with a line as to why they need to bring in new, draconian laws, believing it will never affect majority of us. Well that is simply not true. Once you discard our right to liberty, privacy and freedom, you deny us virtually everything, given it is but a short step to a police state. Take the Damian Green affair, the opposition parties never thought that the laws which they allowed this government to pass would come back and bite them in the backside, they thought it just affected the plebs! The police and security services in this country have unprecedented powers for a democratic country.

This government, as arrogant as ever, has insisted that the existing laws will remain in place whilst they consider the judgement. What? They have just been rebuked by 17 judges, from across Europe and they still insist that they are right. Does the arrogance of Jacqui Smith and the New Labour government know no bounds? A European Court has ruled that this government has not acted reasonably having failed to get the balance between the public interest and that of the private individual. In fact they noted in their judgement that England, Wales and Northern Ireland appear to be the only countries in the European Union that allow the indefinite retention of DNA profiles. Further, that in effect, this government has not applied any commonsense, nor have they considered the European Charter prior to drafting the legislation. Surely a competent government would not have drafted laws in this country without considering how they would impact on European Human Rights legislation? Unless of course, they couldn’t give a toss, believing that we are all so stupid that we will accept whatever is thrown at us, only realising that we have lost when it is too late to do anything about it.

I would like to see one of the major parties take up civil liberty issues and try and redress the balance between state and individual, because as far as I can see, we are sleep-walking into a police state, where civil liberties, freedom and a right to privacy is disregarded by a government with a phobia for control, a penchant for bullying and delusional self-gratification. No wonder they spend so much time in from of mirrors!

Posted in General | Comments (11)

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