Monday, May 28, 2007

Pull apart the government's cukoo's nest

Henry Porter was on song yesterday with a call to arms against the apathy the UK population has shown in the face of the systematic dismantling of civil liberites by New Labour over the past ten years.

"Of far greater importance is the news that the DNA of 100,000 teenagers - many of them guilty of no crime - has been taken and stored on the police national database. They will be on it for the rest of their lives and have no rights over how their DNA is used and, like the rest of us, cannot predict what genetic science will eventually tell the authorities about them. Can anyone seriously doubt that this is a fundamental breach of privacy and is contrary to the spirit of any code of rights ever written?

What makes our apathy so striking is that even police officers are beginning to speak out about the state we're creating. Ian Readhead, head of the Association of Chief Police Officers data protection group, warned that we were moving to an 'Orwellian situation' with cameras being installed in peaceful villages such as Stockbridge in Hampshire. Mr Readhead, also deputy chief constable of Hampshire, said if the spread of cameras continued, Britain would not be a country he would want to live in.

His comments followed those by the acting chief constable of Suffolk, Colin Langham-Fitt, who criticised the growth of CCTV and the government's ID card scheme. If these officers are expressing concern, we can safely conclude that it is time for us to show something more than the bovine compliance of the last few years.

The issue of surveillance and databases is crucial to our future, to our children's future, and the maintenance of sound and transparent democracy. The more information we allow government about our movements and our lives, the more power we give up to a centralised authority which will, as night follows day, become ever more shielded from proper scrutiny...

It is our fears, lack of rigour and laziness which have led us to this pass."

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