Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Police are Ready

Talkin of reminders, here's one to highlight the extent to which the police stand to benefit from proposed identification schemes. Cards are still on the starting stretch, but the networks exist already to implement much of what people fear about an ID system:

Police to use roadside fingerprint technology if SOCA Bill is passed

"Suspects without sufficient identification will have to place their finger on the electronic device, which will link to records kept on the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System."

Exercise for the reader: Define "suspect".

"Interesting TImes"

It seems to be another of those weeks of great change, and any change is never bad change. At least the issues at stake are presently being thrust through the discussion millstone, and it seems to me to be better to have people thinking about it one way or the other than not thinking at all.

The Guardian leads with the Guantanamo Britons being sent home while the Beeb highlights Blair's defence of the new house arrest plans, saying:

"'[Terrorists] will cause death and destruction on an unlimited scale and they will and are trying to organise such terrorist activity in our own country. I just hope people get this in perspective.'"

Alas for him, I've already gained a much larger perspective - one greater than thinking that merely slamming anyone who could pose a possible threat in jail will work, ever. I feel it's perhaps time to remind myself, and anyone else that may have forgotten, that laws based on fear are laws that seek to punish, exclude and squash. While we continue to shout about avoiding the very real threats posed to us, we are simultaneously ignoring the very real causes and equally plausible solutions to them.

I have yet to work out what these new proposed anti-terrorist laws truly mean, but until our leaders begin to accept the true causes of terror (hint: "hatred of our freedom" no longer washes), I doubt that their "answers"will have any impact other than a draconian jailstate in which, yes, everyone will be safe, but also no - no global accountancy, no governmental transparency. We'll be safe asleep in our beds while the World burns outside.

The hypocrisy continues.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Home Office replies

Things are quiet of late still, mainly due to heavy workload and some other activities, but I have received a response from MP Des Browne, following my initial letter to my MP back in December.

I've only just transcribed it into electronic format (so apologies for any typos), but rest assured there are plenty of points to respond to in it, along with some interesting (to me) tidbits such as the definition of "serious crime" (" conducted by a large number of persons in pursuit of a common purpose").

As usual, the Home Office tends to ignore any sensible point about the proposals, opting instead to submit back to me their own stock set of arguments as explained patiently to the media every time the issue arises. By the looks of it, the letter isn't a standard form one (which is heartening - I like having attention paid to me ;), but I wouldn't be surprised if there was some copying and pasting from a "standard response" document somewhere. The usual vaguaries are also abundant, for instance:

"Law enforcement agencies ... will be able to seek disclosure of information from the Register for specified purposes e.g. for the prevention or investigation of crime."

So when something is "specified", it's nice and broad then.

I will try and find some time to concoct a decent reply asap. It's nice to know that maybe maybe I have their ear for a change, too.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Another one bites the dust

Pretty quiet recently, as 2005 kicks in without the media-happy face of Mr Blunkett to wake me up in the morning. Sigh. Don't be fooled though, nothing much is changing, and another Lawyer for terror detainees quits.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Will *anyone* back ID cards?

Quick catch-up from last year - amongst the increasingly cautious over ID Cards are the
SNP and the
Citizens Advice Bureau. Both warn against trusting the government about their promises of what the scheme can deliver. I don't know - all this worry, yet still the bill went through all so easily... Politicians, eh?

The BBC are also having a field day as truckloads of documents get revealed under Freedom of Information. Apparently Labour dismissed ID cards in 1974, it turns out. Why? Despite a threat of terrorism from the IRA, they were deemed to be "extremely expensive and largely ineffective", as well as entertaining "the danger of being driven to more and more extreme measures involving unwarranted infringement of personal liberty."

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Blair names new security supremo

Welcome, all, to 2005. The year ahead promises to be an exciting, intriguing funfair-ride of great change.

Admittedly, this blog has been on a small hiatus over the last few festive weeks, but I trust that we're all back, relaxed and rested, and ready to stay vigilant and sceptical as we move forwards.

A small one to start off with... The head of the immigration service is to take over as "security and intelligence co-ordinator".

Oh, and don't forget that the Freedom of Information Act is now primed and ready.