Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Surveying The Damage

The House of Lords is a strange organisation. By every judgement it ought not to work, but it seems to.

As a revising chamber it has, from time-to-time in recent years, come to our rescue by refusing to accept the very worst of the government’s dreadful measures, not least of all on 42 days. And on Friday the Lords Constitution Committee published a damning report on the extent to which the government is spying on us.

The facts, and the scale of the problem, are quite staggering. In addition to the government’s insane obsession with a national identity card scheme, we are faced with:
...refusal of the Home Secretary to comply with the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that innocent people should have their details removed from the massive DNA database, which already holds information on 7% of us;
...the government’s desire to track everyone’s emails, phone calls, text messages and internet usage;
...the ridiculous use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), which has seen councils employ kids to try and catch people dropping litter and tailing parents in cars because they think they might be sending kids to schools in the wrong catchment area;
...the fact that the number of CCTV cameras in use is now thought to be, wait for it, 4 million.

Lord Goodlad, chairman of the Committee concludes in ringing tones: “There can be no justification for this gradual but incessant creep towards every detail about us being recorded and pored over by the state.”

The report is unequivocal in its call for the government to comply with the European Court’s ruling, says RIPA should not be employed for the trivial purposes used by councils at present and makes over 50 recommendations in all, mostly aimed at curbing the burgeoning powers of a micro-managing, power-crazed government. It is one of the best documents to have come out of Parliament for some time. Even so, it does little more than try to prevent the rampaging fire spreading any further.

The government’s surveillance bandwagon is completely out of control. The fact that they can even consider tracking every email I write is in itself a shocking indictment of how far things have come, and a sure sign of the contempt with which Jacqui Smith and her henchmen in the Home Office have for our freedom and our privacy. Regrettably, no House of Lords report is going to change that.

What is needed is nothing short of a revolution. To stop, never mind to reverse the shattering juggernaut will take a monumental effort and a revolution in thinking. It has long been clear that this government is capable of neither even if it cared about the issue. I regret to say that right now the Conservatives scarcely look much better. It is one thing to be opportunistic, and hence make the right noises, in opposition; it is quite another to effect fundamental change once in government. The vested interests in surveillance are huge – almost every government department benefits in some way at the expense of the individual. We are desperate for someone to champion our cause; who will it be ?

House of Lords report is here.


nigel erricker said...

Yes Womble how true.Also do you see what they are up to now. Read part three of the Coroners and Justice Bill going through parliament currently. Turns the Data Protection Act inside out, making it virtually compulsory for govt agencies (and NGO's) to file share everyones personaL data.
oH YEAH, and i'm with you 100% on the poor nurse who was persecuted for praying for a patient.Cheers Nigel Erricker

Citizen Stuart said...

This sort of abuse of power is exactly the reason why the Libertarian Party is so badly needed. We can't trust any branch of LibLabCon.