Thursday, September 09, 2004

Not got a passport? That'll be £270, please

Once again, a little something from the Home Office that looks at first glance to be reasonable, then turns nasty under closer scutiny.

Consultation launched on immigration fee increases is a recent press release (8th Sept 2004). At first glance it all looks, well, beaurocratic and largely insignificant.

The idea, as stated in the introduction, is that a fee should be charged to immigrants coming here to work, most of the fees being paid by the company that hires them. Apparently this is already in effect because the document talks about raising the fee, rather than introducing it. So far, so beaurocratic.

Item Four: "Travel document fees for those who cannot get or use a passport from their own country could range from £25 to £270 depending on which type of document is applied for."

This item appears to a new fee. Now ask yourself, what sort of person could not get a passport from their home country? Refugees, maybe? Persecuted minorities, perhaps?

Combine this with the comments from the Mr Browne, quoted:
"The Government is also consulting on proposals to:
[snip]
Introduce separate travel documents for children who have been granted refugee status."

Two questions to the Home Office:

Will these new travel documents for the children of refugees be subject to the £25 to £270 travel document fee mentioned above. If so, what will happen to the refugees if their parents do not have the capital to meet the fee?

Will any of the fees for travel documents apply to those claiming political asylum?

CCW

Sunday, September 05, 2004

AFK

Scribe is heading off for a few weeks round the upcoming world, so no posting from him until the end of September. In the meantime, don't forget about NO2ID's Campaign Launch on September 18th, and check out the latest post over at voxpolitics.com for links to various blog-related activities surrounding the various adventuous conventions...

Friday, September 03, 2004

Hey, you told me them pesky fundamentalists were evil...

ePolitix reports that of a "sample of the 609 arrests made" under terrorist laws, two thirds were Muslim, and yet only a fifth (out of 15 - not exactly a great statistical population) of those actually convicted were Muslim.

Worryingly, this means if there is discrimination going on, it's surely pretty inherent to the system that seeks "justice"? Is it ok to discriminate however you like, so long as you believed you were right in the first place? Of course not.

And if there's this kind of biased policing as part of the daily routine, being reported widely and proudly through the media of the land (lacking the conviction figures, admittedly), then who's going to end up shouting and cursing when the bias becomes inherent in society-at-large?

Big Brother smiles on

CNN is running an article on Britain being the surveillance capital of the world, with a look at the rise of CCTV, the various cases it's been important in, the public's acceptance of it, and a few concerns towards the end.

Meanwhile, ePolitix offers a number of reponses to the satellite tracking trials from the main parties and related organisations, all seeming to offer little or no criticism of the scheme.

Thankfully the Register offers up some more thoughtful insight into the technology, including details I've not seen in any news "release" elsewhere ("The actual kit works like this..." - and there are 2 kinds of tracking), thoughts on how reliable the technology is (kind of important if you're putting so much faith in it, eh?), as well as the contractors standing to gain most from the scheme.

And, if you're really bored, here's the 10 Downing Street release. Mmm.

I figure it's only right to mention good ol' Jeremy Bentham's good ol' Panopticon as well. Refresh your memory.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

1984 Now

A brief reminder that satellite tracking of criminals goes live today, at least as a trial. The "prolific offenders" include "convicted burglars, robbers and car thieves", although it's hard to not get the impression that these are simply a lab-rat demographic as the article goes on:

"If the offender strays into an area they are excluded from the police are alerted." - how exactly do you define an no-go area for a car thief? Pedestrian areas are ok, I presume.

And it's clear which "end of the spectrum" Blunky wants to prioritise:

"We should use every tool at our disposal and if with very serious violent sexual offenders we can ensure that their supervision can be enhanced by satellite tracking we should do it." he says.

Fortunately he continues to undermine his own faith in any "corrective system" the country might currently be involved in, and maintains a gleeful hand-rubbing posture:

"We should also do it ... with low-level offences where we could have a prison without bars, making the community sentence really secure, being able to send people to jail if they break their curfew or break their community sentence."

How sweet... All those 10-year old shoplifters won't have to worry about being sent to prison any more. Now, British Government [tm] brings the prison to *you*! And because they're not really "locked up", and it's all for the "public" good anyway, surely there aren't any restrictions on who this technology can be applied to? (Comments noting otherwise duly appreciated.)

And, my favourite quote of the whole piece...

"However, under this system there is no way of knowing where the criminal has gone."

Magnifico. And just in case you weren't paranoid enough yet, I quote this gem:

"It will be a very, very clear, constant reminder to the offenders that we're watching them, we know where they've been, we know what they're doing and if they stray, we'll act to stop them." - DB.

Pretty soon, the "offenders" and the "criminals" being spoken of are going to be a very real and very large part of our society, not because the lack of technology until now has been insufficient to prevent their increase, but because too much faith is being placed in technical measures rather than educational ones. Down this path lies paranoid madness, and a very real and significant number of our own children being "tracked" simply because we've forgotten how to raise them.

Fancy gadgets do not a well society make.