UK Liberty

Predicting children who may offend

Posted in control freakery, database state, surveillance society by ukliberty on March 29, 2007

Time to look at the Database Masterclass.

Charles Clarke MP on the only question that matters

Posted in Uncategorized by ukliberty on March 29, 2007

Is it “how can we improve education”?

Or health?

Or the economy?

Don’t be silly!

the only question which matters, both for us and the country: how can Labour win again?

Home Affairs Committee launches inquiry into surveillance society

Posted in surveillance society by ukliberty on March 28, 2007

[hat-tip: SpyBlog]

The Home Affairs Committee today [27 March 2007] launched an inquiry entitled “A Surveillance Society?”

The inquiry will consider the growth of numerous public and private databases and forms of surveillance with a direct relevance to the work of the Home Office. They either derive directly from the work of the Home Office and its related public functions or are controversial because whilst they offer the potential to play a part in the fight against crime their use may impinge on individual liberty.

The inquiry will be wide-ranging, considering the following issues:

• Access by public agencies to private databases

• Data-sharing between government departments and agencies

• Existing safeguards for data use and whether they are strong enough

• The monitoring of abuses

• Potential abuse of private databases by criminals

• The case for introducing privacy impact assessments

• Privacy-enhancing technologies

• Profiling.

The inquiry will focus on Home Office responsibilities such as identity cards, the National DNA Database and CCTV, but where relevant will look also at other departments’ responsibilities in this area, for instance the implications of databases being developed by the Department of Health and the DfES for use in the fight against crime.

The Committee’s aim is not to carry out a comprehensive detailed review of the subject of the kind recently carried out by the Surveillance Studies Network on behalf of the Information Commissioner (and published in his report on The Surveillance Society in October 2006); but to build on the Information Commission’s work in exploring the large strategic issues of concern to the general public, with a view to proposing ground rules for Government and its agencies.

The Committee is seeking written submissions of no more than 2,500 words from interested parties, before it takes oral evidence on this inquiry. Organisations and individuals interested in making written submissions are invited to do so by Monday 23 April 2007. Further advice on making a submission can be found below.

Little so far on the criminal justice reform proposals

Posted in control freakery, law and order by ukliberty on March 28, 2007

Not much in the ‘quality’ press so far on Blair’s proposals – but then it is a long, vague, document.

The Guardian (Simon Jenkins also) and the Independent headlines highlight the watching of children to prevent criminality, the articles talk about the other proposals as well.  The Telegraph focusses on the police.

There are articles by Tim Worstall, The Magistrate, and Not Saussure – whom I feel again compelled to quote:

But I cannot end without an example of what seems to me so wrong about this government’s whole approach. In the executive summary (I haven’t got as far as the detail yet) they say:

The Government’s vision is for a cohesive and tolerant country in which citizens share a set of common values and have a sense of belonging to both their community and their country. There are three key elements to realising this vision:

• promoting common values to ensure that all people living in the UK share a common civic British identity;
• building cohesion locally to promote safe and tolerant communities that are close, vibrant, support each other and are resilient to extremist sentiment; and
• addressing actual and perceived inequalities to tackle differences in opportunity by race, faith, class and gender.

I have what I think is a better vision. Let government forget about inculcating shared values, promoting common visions and building cohesive communities. Let it, instead, just let people worry about their own values and visions and leave us to get on with the business of pursuing our own multitudinous ends and ambitions on our own?

When people pursuing their own ends come into conflict, we can usually compromise in a more or less civilised manner. The proper role of government, it seems to me, is to step in, impartially, on those specific occasions when individuals cannot peacefully and informally resolve their conflicts, not to pursue impossible — and, in practice, sinister — dreams of a society in which conflict can never arise.

Groomed from birth

Posted in control freakery by ukliberty on March 28, 2007

Yesterday I wrote of the PM’s criminal justice proposals that

There is the suggestion that we should “intervene” in a child’s life earlier than the age of eight if we think they are at risk of future offending. I don’t yet know what constitutes an intervention. Also there will be “universal checks throughout child’s development to help service providers to identify those most at risk of offending”. Does that send a chill down your spine?

I’ve been reminded that this story (ThisIsLondon, also in the Times) appeared in the press a couple of weeks ago:

Incredible as it may seem, the Government is proposing — with an entirely straight face — to give babies marks for crying, gurgling or babbling, under a new curriculum for infants aged from birth to five years old, which all nurseries will have to follow.

Playgroups and childminders will have to show that they are helping babies make progress in no fewer than 69 areas of education and development, or else risk losing their funding.

No sooner will an infant exit from its mother’s womb, it seems, than the State will start expecting it to hit performance targets. As one might expect from such a barmy idea, these targets are suitably surreal.

Between birth and 11 months, babies will have to show they gain “physical, psychological and emotional comfort” from “snuggling in”, can “cry, gurgle, babble or squeal” to official requirements, and exhibit an approved level of enthusiasm for their fingers and toes.

And toddlers, would you believe, will have to demonstrate they can “run a rusk around their feeding tray” to prove that they are interested in making marks.

Is this really where we want to go as a society?