UK Liberty

Same old tripe from the Government

Minister of State Michael Wills in the Guardian:

A new dialogue on data

We need a rational, respectful discourse if we are to properly consider the benefits and flaws of using databases. …

… the increasing sophistication of data management has sparked concern about data protection and civil liberties, most acutely over the measures government takes to protect its citizens. This tension is serious, complex and inescapable. In modern democracies it will always be hard to strike the right balance between protecting the public from the threat posed by crime and terrorism and the need to protect civil liberties.

Reconciling the goods of liberty and security and opportunity, which all speak different languages, is never easy. The only way that it can be done is through rational and mutually respectful discourse, wary of anyone, on any side of the debate, who claims a monopoly of wisdom.

But that’s what the Government does, isn’t it? Claims a monopoly of wisdom, I mean.

Unless people agree with the Government, in which case those people are wise too…

The basic principles for using personal data are that it should be proportionate and necessary. That goes for debate about it too.

Sadly, such a rational, respectful discourse, so essential to the creation of public policy on this crucial issue, has been largely absent in recent years.

Government must take its share of the blame. Too often, we have been overly defensive and dismissive of criticism.

Rather understating it, seeing as Government Ministers have smeared and traduced their critics and called them “intellectual pygmies“, among other things.

But equally, opponents have been too quick to assume the worst of government, without any evidence to support their assumptions, replacing argument with rhetoric.

The Rowntree report, Database State, exemplifies this flawed discourse. Riddled with factual errors and misunderstandings, it reached conclusions without setting out the evidential base for doing so. The government has now published its response.

Which itself is riddled with factual errors and misunderstandings and reaches conclusions without setting out the evidential basis for doing so.

… We can never be complacent about databases – the challenge in getting the balance right between seizing the opportunities they offer and avoiding the risks they pose is evolving as fast as the technologies themselves. Whenever changes need to be made, we will make them. But we can only do this on the basis of a rational dialogue between all concerned.

Government Ministers aren’t interested in dialogue, nor are they interested in supporting their assertions with evidence.

They continue to waste our time and our money on half-baked, unsupported, proposals, and post hoc insincere apologies and justifications.

This is not “rational and mutually respectful discourse”, this is treating the world as a write-only medium and our money as their largesse.

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