UK Liberty

We can trust everyone in authority

Posted in nothing to hide nothing to fear, surveillance society by ukliberty on December 21, 2009

The Register:

Forget Google’s Street View – Transport for London is the new black when it comes to privacy-busting surveillance black ops, if this live traffic camera image captured yesterday is anything to go by:

TfL camera in Richmond showing couple in bed

We’re not quite sure what’s going on here and how it affects the flow of traffic to and from Twickenham Bridge, but we reckon it might be a bit of this…

This will backfire

Posted in Uncategorized by ukliberty on December 16, 2009

Mall security staff given police powers:

A controversial scheme to hand police powers to civilians has been extended to include guards in one of Norwich’s main shopping centres.

Security staff at The Mall, Norwich, will have the right to issue on-the-spot fines, give lawful orders and check normally confidential police records after being accredited by Norfolk police. …

Magistrates don’t like it; the Police Federation isn’t keen.

Trafigura and Carter-Ruck again

Posted in freedom of speech by ukliberty on December 16, 2009

hat-tip Carl Gardner (and via Iain Dale):

BBC Newsnight’s “Dirty tricks and toxic waste in Ivory Coast”, 15min video, 13 May 2009

Summary

The flash video file presents a BBC Newsnight report on the toxic-waste dumping of commodities giant Trafigura. According to a September 2009 UN report, the dumping drove 108,000 people in the Ivory Coast to seek medical attention.

It has recently been removed from the BBC websites, along with an article on the matter.

Trafigura and their lawyers Carter Ruck had been pursuing an ongoing libel case against the BBC over a news story from on the case that aired in May 2009[1].

In the story “Dirty Tricks and Toxic Waste in the Ivory Coast”, the BBC’s Newsnight programme stated:

“It is the biggest toxic dumping scandal of the 21st century, the type of environmental vandalism that international treaties are supposed to prevent. Now Newsnight can reveal the truth about the waste that was illegally tipped on Ivory Coast’s biggest city, Abidjan”.

The programme alleged that a number of deaths had been caused by the dumping of this toxic waste, which had originated with Trafigura.

Until this week the story was still available on the BBC website.[2]

The link stopped working some time on December 10th or 11th, but at the time of writing the Google cache is still available[3].

Trafigura and Carter Ruck have become notorious for their willingness to use the UK’s repressive media laws to suppress legitimate criticism and comment. A number of other UK media have already been bullied into censoring stories about this case, but until now the BBC had stood firm. Unfortunately it appears that even the UK’s world-renowned public service broadcaster has now been muzzled by a rich corporation seeking to use the law to cover up the truth about its activities.

A handy guide for photographers

Posted in law and order, relates to ordinary people, state-citizen relationship, stupid by ukliberty on December 14, 2009

Less than a week after Chief Constable Andy Trotter emailed all the police authorities in England and Wales to say that “Officers and PCSOs are reminded that we should not be stopping and searching people for taking photos”, police stopped and searched some  people for taking photos.

John Band has some Legal guidelines for photographers in England and Wales.

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.