"Evils which have struck their roots deep in the fabric of human society are often accepted, even by the best minds, as part of the providential ordering of life. They lurk unsuspected in the system of things until men of keen vision and heroic heart drag them into the light, or until their insolent power visibly threatens human welfare." William Charles Braithwaite, 1919
Thanks to my colleague Judith Williams for drawing my attention to the first of these and to William Heath for pointing out the Braithwaite quote, in the midst of an entertaining rant about the leaking of the government's non disclosure agreement allowing warrantless police and private security company searches of the homes of anyone engaged in employment in connection with the ID card system.
My list of good guys would be similar to William's though I'd also include the good Mr Heath himself, Lilian Edwards, Cory Doctorow, James Boyle, Richard Clayton, Peter Sommer and John Naughton. And quite a few others who may not be as visible but are working equally hard on steering our evolving information society in a positive direction.
"The latest leak to come through Phil “hardest man in NGO-world” Booth takes us deep into the power and control-crazed vision of group-think-world. Behing the mind-guards lurks a fearful and paranoid community whose arrogant power seems to run unchecked by reality, and therefore somehow impotent.
For years I told suppliers to think very carefully before taking on the business and political risk of dealing with people who didn’t know what they were doing and were wilfully blind to how unpopular it would be. I should have added: the suppliers should also expect to be treated with contempt, corporately and as individuals.
There’s a dark humour in this. The more the control model fails, the more desperate the attempts to exert more control. It’s well worth a read, and it does make for desperate reading.
If a court requires disclosure about the Benighted Scheme (think BAe/Saudi Arabia, illegal immigrant security guards in Home Office etc) suppliers are required by the NDA to be as uncooperative as possible with the request. Instead they must co-operate with Home Office/IPS agencies to challenge the validity of any requirement to disclose. This sums up the Home Office’s open government philosophy.
The Home Office will pick up half the tab of the legal challenge. Who cares? It’s only taxpayers money, and what better activity to spend it on than contesting legalistic do-gooders trying to be open about the Benighted Scheme?
Company premises, and the premises of individuals working for the companies, can be searched without warrant on the sayso of the Home Secretary. Who cares? These are but filthy profit-grubbing private sector people, barely worth getting a proper pension. They take the generous patronage of the Home Office IPS, and can expect to forego some basic rights for 25 years.
When I’m really gobsmacked by the ways of the world, and trying to react constructively to it I find a Sunday morning with the local Quakers helps calm me down. These words form 1919 were helpful today:
Evils which have struck their roots deep in the fabric of human society are often accepted, even by the best minds, as part of the providential ordering of life. They lurk unsuspected in the system of things until men of keen vision and heroic heart drag them into the light, or until their insolent power visibly threatens human welfare.
Let’s drag these secretive, disrespectful and probably illegal practices into the light. I hereby give an Ideal Government “men of keen vision and heroic heart” award to
- Phil Booth of No2ID, who is far smarter than his critics in government have ever considered, and also far more constructive. (And funnier)
- Ross Anderson of FIPR. Yes, you can be cantankerous, but it’s a pleasure working with you sir.
- all the FIPR posse working on an imminent report for JRRT: Terri, Angela, Ian, Philip
- Becky Hogge, not merely to show than the masculine can be taken to include the feminine in this quote but mainly for a wonderful stint at Open Rights Group
- Kim Cameron, Stefan Brands, Caspar Bowden, Jerry Fishenden, now all at Microsoft but all thinking globally
- Jeff Jonas and select IBM colleagues ditto; Robin Wilton and select Sun colleagues ditto
- David Davies, Clare Short and all politicians who are taking this stuff seriously
- Henry Porter, Simon Jenkins and all other journalists ditto
- everyone at the Reg except for that chippy nitwit whose name I’ve forgotten
- the officials inside Whitehall who are concerned but should not be named
- the Wikileaks team
- everyone who helps or supports FIPR, ORG, No2ID, ARCH, Liberty Alliance
- Doc and the new VRM colleagues working to deliver a more constructive approach which empowers humans to deal with the organisations’ big machines
IdealGov ethnographers: feel free to nominate more!
Hey! We’re a posse! What a wonderful group to hang out with. It’s so invigorating and exciting to be trying to bring constructive change to something so sinister and stupid. We’ll get through this. And remember: the people throwing up this sort of dismal rubbish may be our foes today but they’l be our friends tomorrow. Each one is (as Bazza O’Bazzer’s critics would never call him) a child o’ God.
But it’s going to be difficult for a bit. "