Monday, March 22, 2010

Child protection: detention and eCAF

On Friday Home Office minister Meg Hillier took a leap into la la land, attempting to justify the UK government's continued practice of locking up child asylum seekers and Michael Morpurgo filmed a powerful 2 minute denounciation of the UK government outside the Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire. Essential viewing.

Today the atrocious electronic Common Assessment Framework eCAF database goes live and the prime minister is promising 'superfast broadband' for all (that's 2M cf standard 100M in Korea btw) and that the magic internet will cure all our ills.
"So building on this next generation web and the radical opening up of information and data - and therefore more power in people’s hands - the steps towards achieving this ambition to become the leader in the next stage of the digital revolution are three-fold:
First to digitalise - to make Britain the leading superfast broadband digital power creating 100 per cent access to every home;
Second to personalise - seizing the opportunities for voice and choice in our public services by opening up data and using the power of digital technology to transform the way citizens interact with government;
Third to economise - in the Pre-Budget Report we set out our determination to find £11 billion of savings by driving up operational efficiency, much of it enabled by the increased transparency and reduced costs made available by new technology...
The other day I heard how one of Britain’s leading musicians, who spends most of his time abroad, reads his young son a bedtime story from thousands of miles away using Skype. And millions of us can now spend more time with our families because technology allows people to work easily from home...
The internet revolution is quite literally creating a different world.
But just imagine if you weren’t part of that world.
Imagine if you had never accessed the Internet.
Imagine if you had no access to the best deals on the virtual high street - that can save you on average £560 a year by shopping and paying bills online.
Well that is reality for around one in five adults in the UK. 21% of UK adults have never accessed the internet. That’s over a fifth trapped in a second tier of citizenship, denied what I increasingly think of as a fundamental freedom in the modern world: to be part of the internet and technology revolution.
This is unfair, economically inefficient and wholly unacceptable.
Consider the advent of electricity. How acceptable would it have been to say that only some people should have access to electricity?
Superfast broadband is the electricity of the digital age. And I believe it must be for all - not just for some.
We have already decided to commit public funding to ensure existing broadband reaches nearly every household in Britain by 2012.
Now government must decide what action it will take to bring about universal access to the next generation of superfast broadband, simultaneously ensuring the highest quality content is available online and available to all."
Nice that he's heard of Skype I suppose.  But how can he possibly square the circle of universal access to broadband internet services at the same time as his government is proposing to pass the digital economy bill containing measures to facilitate the censorship anid disconnection of potentially millions of people?

Meanwhile as Mr Brown gets excited about the Net, he presides over a government which through technology like eCAF and prisons like Yarl's Wood endanger the welfare of children and families.

Update: Looks like the government has noticed the 11000+ objections to their digital economy bill but with typical bloody minded stupidity are pressing ahead with pushing it through without proper debate, though promising a (no doubt half baked) amendment on a disconnection appeals process, before the election.

Update 2: Charles Arthur has done a useful 'what you need to know' about the digital economy bill article.

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