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Archive for the category “surveillance”

UK Citizen Surveillance Goes European

I have written many times about the ever increasing amount of surveillance and I won’t labour the point now but secret information has been revealed showing that EU wide co-operation in anti terrorism surveillance is being used in the UK to target lawful protesters who are exercising their legal rights and are being dubbed ‘Domestic Terrorists’. See report.

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Police State Gets Closer

Almost a year ago I wrote about the ever-increasing surveillance that is making the likelihood of a police state possible if and when the conditions are right. It gives me no pleasure to point out that this scenario comes even closer with the report out today in The Times.

Yes, Liberty will fight this in the courts, maybe even the European Court of Human Rights and will probably but not definitely win but will this change anything? The ECHR found against the Government on storage of DNA taken from innocent citizens which to a large extend government ignored or found a way around the ruling.  We are fast approaching the time when either we surrender the freedom that our forefathers fought for or we must rise up and demand our rights and the Poll Tax riots spring to mind for definite change forced upon those who usurp the power that we loan them. Unfortunately state surveillance does not, yet, hit the people in the purse or the wallet and so I fear the worst.

Fatherland

Whilst ‘enjoying’ a wet holiday I wandered into a secondhand bookshop and picked up a novel entitled ‘Fatherland’ by Robert Harris and published in 1992. Apparently it was a best seller and I’m not at all surprised as it was fast moving and totally gripping.

DSCS0002I’m not going to give a review but it’s based on the idea of Germany having won the last war and paints a vivid picture of life in a State where surveillance and control is all but total. As the story unfolded, the realisation crept up on me of how easy it would be for this very condition to be imposed now, in our own country.

I recommend getting hold of a copy, not only for a good read but also to be aware of the dangers facing us. The price of freedom is not just vigilance but being prepared to take action before it’s too late.

Police State Nearly in Place

It had to happen because if they can they will; thousands of cameras linked to computers are very soon to be logging our car registration plates as we drive to our destinations.

Along with records of our telephone calls and emails being kept, the highest number of CCTV cameras on the planet watching our every move, personal information on multiple electronic storage systems, ID cards on the way and a Government that is increasingly bypassing Parliament by using ‘Orders in Council’ and other non democratic powers derived from the Crown, our civil liberties are in grave peril. Add to this millions of DNA samples, of even innocent citizens, are kept, so far, even in defiance of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Article 8 – ‘the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence’ – should provide protection in our private sphere, and can extend into our working lives and encompass matters relating to our identity, independence and autonomy. The Government has done little to inform the British public of this Convention which they signed in 1998 and when found to be inconvenient will find ways around it. The Tory’s want to get rid of it altogether.

The old argument that ‘if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to worry about’ is regularly trotted out by those who seek to control but it’s just not true. Freedom that is granted conditionally is not freedom, freedom to keep your phone calls and email letters private, to go where you wish without it been recorded is a fundamental right and surely is simply natural justice. My DNA is a part of me, indeed in a sense, it is me and yes it should be used responsibly if I am suspected of a crime but no part of me should be kept, in case I commit an offence.

Worse still the conditions are almost complete when it is possible for a future malignant government to take total control, refusing to allow the democratic processes continuance and so leaving a return to true freedom all but impossible. Yes, this is a worse case scenario but it has happened in even recent history; Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and Saddam Husein’s Iraq spring easily to mind. We must therefore consider it possible that it could happen here and make every effort that we can to reverse the intrusion of the State into our everyday lives before it is too late.

Help The Home Office

Jackie Smith and the Home Office want ISP’s to keep records of all emails sent and received for at least six months and the government is willing to waste more of our money on paying them to do so. It is said that the contents of the emails wont be logged but surely it’s only a matter of time before that requirement is brought in going by this government’s progressive surveillance measures.

Now, this is not my idea but someone apparently suggested it on Radio 2. Why don’t we all help the Home Office and cut out the middle men i.e. the ISP’s, by simply inserting c.c. public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk on each of our, probably boring, emails.

This will surely help matters or maybe the Home Office will be unable to cope with this electronic traffic and realise they should keep their noses out of our affairs and drop this proposed intrusion.

More Control

We are now one day into yet another law that gathers our personal information and yet another step down the road to a police state.

Our ISP’s must now keep a record for at least a year of all our email usage and telephone calls made via the Internet. Land-line calls are already recorded by the way. This is an all EU law and was pushed through largely by the efforts of the UK government deviously under the guise of ‘civil law’ requiring a simple majority vote rather than a ‘policing law’ that would require unanimity of all EU states. Sweden, to it’s credit, has refused to implement this law and Germany is mounting a challenge to it.

More information can be found at The Open Rights Group.

Afghanistan…..Why was it again?

The Twin Towers and the Pentagon were attacked by suicide bombers piloting civil aircraft stolen in the USA. The pilots had flying lessons in the US but it was believed that the planning took place in Afghanistan so under the guise of NATO’s ethic of  ‘if you attack one of us we will attack you’ Afghanistan was invaded. The stated aim being to drive the Taliban out of the country and therefore make us all safer.

The result to date is that over 150 of our troops have been killed, hundreds maimed and disabled, thousands of Afghanis killed as well as US military. The financial costs too have been an incredible drain on our economy. The Taliban are far from defeated and control most of the country and when pressed, easily move to Pakistan for respite and re-grouping. Billions of dollars and Pounds have poured into the bottomless pit of corruption that is rife in that country and laws are proposed to legalise marital rape and the subjugation of women.

Even under this new and apparently benign US President the answer is more of the same. More money, more troops, more support for corruption. It should be of no surprise that we can expect more Taliban, more deaths, more alienation of the Muslim world and therefore more surveillance and restrictions on our hard won freedoms in the West in the name of anti terrorism and security.

As that old protest song said. “When will they everLearn?”

Underage & Binge Drinking

The Scottish Parliament is to consider setting a minimum price for alcoholic drinks in an attempt to decrease underage drinking. Well meaning yes but surely doomed to failure.

An increase in price high enough to have any effect will at the same time make buying booze in low price England and bringing it into Scotland an attractive proposition for many and a thriving black market will soon develop. Amongst the young some bright spark will quickly catch on to buying a bottle of Vodka and selling it on at an affordable £3 per nip and either end up being stabbed for his profits or become the next Sir Fred Goodwin.

Public Houses, particularly in rural areas, are social centres and an important part of our heritage and yet are closing down at an alarming rate. A good pub landlord will quickly spot an under age customer or someone who has ‘had enough’ and not serve them, providing a degree of gentle but effective control. The Government could introduce a two tier taxation system on alcohol whereby supermarkets and off licences had a very high tax rate and pubs a much lower one. This way young people are financially discouraged, adults are not penalised and the pubs have their survival chances greatly enhanced.

All that said, the real question is ‘why’ is there such an increase in drinking particularly among the young? Affordability is certainly a factor, the price of alcohol is quite cheap and in fact in some supermarkets cider is cheaper than bottled water.

Consider for a moment though, if you are brought up in a system where you are regularly tested on your ability to conform to narrowly defined educational achievements. You live your life watched by unseen eyes through CCTV cameras and you are judged by society not by who you are or what you can do but by what material possessions that you have. You see your parents working longer and harder just to keep abreast of the mortgage repayments or exorbitant rents and are too tired to engage you in a proper family life and can see this as your future too. On top of all this the media constantly gives the impression that your life is in imminent danger of being lost by stabbing or shooting and rarely highlights anything good happening. Wouldn’t you be tempted to escape into an alcoholic haze? I know I probably would but I was lucky, very lucky, as I grew up when the people of Britain were working together rebuilding the nation after WW2, when the NHS came into being and relieved the fear of accident or illness. A period of time when there was less inequality and trying to improve the quality of life had yet to turn into greed.

Financial Commonsense

With the Government spending countless billions of Pounds on rescuing banks from their excesses and the financial costs of the economic downturn, it is surely time for them to look at some of their own excesses and look to make savings.

Biometric Identity Cards for a start. The excuse for these is that they are an essential tool in protecting the UK from terrorists. Anyone but a fool can see that against a probably ‘home grown’ terrorist or any other, who is quite happy to die for his/her beliefs they are absolutely useless. As a means of adding to the control and surveillance of us all though, they are quite effective when linked with all the other systems that have crept in during the last decade. The cost is likely to be around £15billion. Well, that’s a good savings starter.

Two new aircraft carriers have been ordered complete with aircraft at an estimated £6bn and we all know that when it comes to most government projects the estimate usually doubles.

Replacement of the Trident nuclear submarines and their nuclear missiles comes in at £78bn for their 23 year life. We know we will never use them against a nuclear armed country and bring about the end of civilisation and neither will we use them against a non nuclear country in violation of International Law to be condemmed by the whole world.

We must learn that the UK is now just another small country in Europe, we stole an Empire in the past but now must move forward in a different and peaceful role. The aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines may make the admirals and air marshalls and politicians feel powerful but they are costing our nation far, far too much.

Taken from British American Security Information Council

“…cancelling the [Trident and aircraft carrier] programmes would
allow the Government to:-
•Take 1.2 pence off the basic rate of income tax; or
•Pay the capital and running costs of around 200 new hospitals; or
•Pay the capital and running costs of around 1,000 new secondary
schools in moderate /high cost areas, with 1,000 pupils each; or
•Pay £10-11 per week real increase in the basic state pension.”

Control Orders Legislation 2009

I watched today as the House of Commons debated the renewal of the Control Orders Legislation relating to the Anti Terrorism Act 2005 Draft as these orders require renewing annually.

In basic terms a Control Order can be issued against anyone suspected of involvement in terrorist activities. The subject of the order is not told of what they are accused although an advocate is appointed to represent them. This advocate is informed of the accusations but is not allowed to pass on this information to the controlee. So much for fairness and justice. An order is granted when the security services ‘believe’ that a person is a risk but either do not have sufficient evidence to ensure a conviction or that their security methods may be compromised by giving evidence in Court.

The controlee must reside in an approved location and is not allowed to leave except for a short period in an again approved place such as a walk in a park under observation. The controlee is not allowed any communication equipment except for a monitored fixed telephone and is allowed no visitors.

I feel shame that I am a citizen of a country can that enact such a law which flies in the face of all that this nation has stood for; fairness, equality before the law, justice, freedom and the right to a fair trial. I was also ashamed that for the duration of the debate in Parliament there were only about two dozen MP’s who were concerned enough to even listen to the arguments and yet when the division was called the Government won the vote with a majority of 261.

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