UK Liberty

No place for children

Posted in detention without charge by ukliberty on September 8, 2008

New Statesman launches campaign against the detention of children for immigration reasons:

Throughout its years in government – from Tony Blair’s famous “Education, education, education” speech to the more recent “Every Child Matters” programme – Labour has claimed to champion the needs of the younger generation. For the 2,000 children who are sent to UK immigration detention centres every year, however, these claims ring hollow.

These children are torn from their homes, their communities and their friends, locked up for an indeterminate length of time, and denied adequate education and health care. Their only crime is to have parents who have applied for asylum in the UK. …

International day of protest against surveillance 11 October – Freedom not Fear

[Hat-tip Dr Quite]

Stoppt die Vorratsdatenspeicherung (my emphasis in bold):

A broad movement of campaigners and organizations is calling on everybody to join action against excessive surveillance by governments and businesses. On 11 October 2008, concerned people in many countries will take to the streets, the motto being “Freedom not fear 2008″. Peaceful and creative action, from protest marches to parties, will take place in many capital cities.

Surveillance mania is spreading. Governments and businesses register, monitor and control our behaviour ever more thoroughly. No matter what we do, who we phone and talk to, where we go, whom we are friends with, what our interests are, which groups we participate in – “big brother” government and “little brothers” in business know it more and more thoroughly. The resulting lack of privacy and confidentiality is putting at risk the freedom of confession, the freedom of speech as well as the work of doctors, helplines, lawyers and journalists.

People who constantly feel watched and under surveillance cannot freely and courageously stand up for their rights and for a just society. Mass surveillance is thereby threatening the fabric of a democratic and open society. Mass surveillance is also endangering the work and commitment of civil society organizations.

Surveillance, distrust and fear are gradually transforming our society into one of uncritical consumers who have “nothing to hide” and – in a vain attempt to achieve total security – are prepared to give up their freedoms. We do not want to live in such a society!

We believe the respect for our privacy to be an important part of our human dignity. A free and open society cannot exist without unconditionally private spaces and communications.

The increasing electronic registration and surveillance of the entire population does not make us any safer from crime, costs millions of Euros and puts the privacy of innocent citizens at risk. Under the reign of fear and blind actionism, targeted and sustained security measures fall by the wayside, as well as tackling peoples’ actual daily problems such as unemployment and poverty.

In order to protest against security mania and excessive surveillance we will take to the streets in capital cities in many countries on 11 October 2008. We call on everybody to join our peaceful protest. Politicians are to see that we are willing to take to the streets for the protection of our liberties!

You can find the latest information on the protest marches and the list of participating cities at our website: http://wiki.vorratsdatenspeicherung.de/Freedom_Not_Fear_2008.

Our demands

1. Cutback on surveillance

* no blanket registration of all air travellers (PNR data)
* no information exchange with the US and other states lacking effective data protection
* no secret searches of private computer systems, neither online nor offline
* no blanket surveillance and filtering of internet communications (EU Telecoms-Package)
* abolish the blanket logging of our communications and locations (data retention)
* abolish the blanket collection of our biometric data as well as RFID passports
* abolish the blanket collection of genetic data
* abolish permanent CCTV camera surveillance and automatic detection techniques
* scrap funding for the development of new surveillance techniques

2. Evaluation of existing surveillance powers

We call for an independent review of all existing surveillance powers as to their effectiveness and harmful side-effects.

3. Moratorium for new surveillance powers

After the homeland armament of the past few years we demand an immediate hold to new homeland security laws that further restrict civil liberties.

4. Guaranteeing freedom of expression, dialogue and information on the Internet

* Ban the installation of filtering infrastructure on ISP networks.
* Only independent and impartial judges may request the removal of Internet content.
* Create a full right to quote multimedia, today indispensable to public debate in democracies.
* Protect common internet places of expression (participatory sites, forums, comments on blogs) today threatened by inadequate laws encouraging self-censorship (chilling effect)

Spread the word!

Stasi?

Posted in ID Cards, state-citizen relationship, surveillance society by ukliberty on September 8, 2008

The Daily Telegraph:

Children as young as eight have been recruited by councils to “snoop” on their neighbours and report petty offences such as littering, the Daily Telegraph can disclose.

The youngsters are among almost 5,000 residents who in some cases are being offered £500 rewards if they provide evidence of minor infractions.

One in six councils contacted by the Telegraph said they had signed up teams of “environment volunteers” who are being encouraged to photograph or video neighbours guilty of dog fouling, littering or “bin crimes”.

Presumably a bin ‘crime’ is when someone leaves the bin out an hour early. An acquaintance is a bin criminal – apparently she should have left the bin out at the ‘legal’ time, and consequently been made late for work.

The “covert human intelligence sources”, as some local authorities describe them, are also being asked to pass on the names of neighbours they believe to be responsible, or take down their number-plates.

Ealing Council in West London said: “There are hundreds of Junior Streetwatchers, aged 8-10 years old, who are trained to identify and report enviro-crime issues such as graffiti and fly-tipping.”

Harlow Council in Essex said: “We currently have 25 Street Scene Champions who work with the council. They are all aged between 11 to 14. They are encouraged to report the aftermath of enviro-crimes such as vandalism to bus shelters, graffiti, abandoned vehicles, fly-tipping etc. They do this via telephone or email direct to the council.”

I hope the people answering the telephone and email have been cleared to work with children.

Other local authorities recruit adult volunteers through advertisements in local newspapers, with at least 4,841 people already patrolling the streets in their spare time.

Some are assigned James Bond-style code numbers, which they use instead of their real names when they ring a special informer’s hotline. …

Matthew Sinclair, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, described the recruitment of children as “downright sinister”.

He said: “We are deeply troubled by these developments – they are straight out of the Stasi copybook. There is a combination of ever-stricter rules and ever more Draconian attempts to control people. …

Wikipedia:

The [Stasi] infiltrated almost every aspect of GDR life. In the mid-1980s, a network of civilian informants, Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter (IMs, Unofficial Collaborators), began growing in both German states; by the time East Germany collapsed in 1989, the MfS employed an estimated 91,000 employees and 300,000 informants. About one of every 50 East Germans collaborated with the MfS — one of the most extensive police infiltrations of a society in history. In 2007 an article in BBC stated that “Some calculations have concluded that in East Germany there was one informer to every seven citizens.” [1] Additionally, MfS agents infiltrated and undermined West Germany’s government and spy agencies.

Yes it does feel like that at times.

I wonder, however, if the Stasi would have fined someone the equivalent of £75 for dropping a bit of sausage roll?

In April, Hull council officials fined a young mother £75 for dropping a piece of sausage roll while trying to feed her four-year-old daughter. Sarah Davies, 20, refused to pay and the matter when to magistrates court where it was dismissed.

Where are we going with this, and where do we want to end up?

Court cases delayed because of lack of funding

Posted in law and order by ukliberty on September 8, 2008

Justice should be swift and accessible but the Times reports that,

The criminal courts are facing their biggest cash crisis in decades after a warning to judges and magistrates of a £90 million shortfall in the budget for the justice system. Judges and magistrates in England and Wales have been told of the emergency, which is likely to result in trial delays, cancelled court sittings and redundancies.

The shortfall over three years — which has arisen because of a deficit in income derived from fees paid by court users — was described as a bombshell by one senior judge.

Huge fee rises from May of up to 2,500 per cent are thought to be deterring people from using the courts: applications in care cases by local authorities, for instance, have dropped by 25 per cent since May.

The shortfall arose after ministers ignored Conservative warnings this year that the fee rises would cause a fall-off in work in the courts, he said.

A letter has gone out from Lord Justice Leveson, the senior presiding judge for England and Wales, to 2,000 judges and 28,000 magistrates. It says that the Courts Service has identified a £27 million shortfall in fee income for 2008-09, with shortfalls of £46 million and £17 million in 2009-10 and 2010-11 respectively. His letter comes after a memorandum from the Courts Service to court managers that says: “No part of HMCS [HM Courts Service] will be protected from having to find savings.” A plan identifying ways to find the savings is to be put forward to the board that runs the Courts Service and to the Ministry of Justice this month. …

ContactPoint delayed

Posted in database state, surveillance society by ukliberty on September 8, 2008

The Guardian (also read the Register):

The sudden postponement of the government’s flagship ContactPoint database last week was immediately shrugged off by ministers and civil servants as being due to technical problems. Embarrassing, perhaps, for a project costing the taxpayer pounds 224m, but simply a matter of taking a bit more time to iron out glitches such as drop-down menus.

But an investigation by Education Guardian reveals much more fundamental concerns about hundreds of vulnerable children being put at risk because of flaws in the whole system, and raises questions over whether the government will ever get its ambitious project to work.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) insists: “We are working hard to iron out glitches before it goes out to users. This is not about security issues.”

But whether the database goes live next month as planned or in January, as children’s minister Kevin Brennan rather shamefacedly informed MPs last week, security issues surrounding data on children are precisely what a lot of teachers and social workers are deeply concerned about. …

Also,

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), previously open in its criticism of ContactPoint, is nervous. “With any system like this, there are always going to be issues to iron out,” says ADCS spokesperson Richard Stiff. “But I defy anyone to stand up and say we don’t need data of this type. It’s ironic – we’ve been criticised for not taking enough action to safeguard children, but when we take steps to change this, we still get criticised.”

Because you’re doing it wrong!

Of course we need to ‘safeguard’ (this word is getting annoying) children. But we also need to be proportionate with our proposals to help them.

When you have give 330,000 users access to a database containing the personal information of children you are putting those children at risk.

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