Big Brother Britain & Civil Liberties
Fight against UK governments attack on our civil liberties with Big Brother Britain initiatives

Feb
24

Power to the People

Hard-liner, David Blunkett, is expected to criticise the government’s continued obsession with creating a surveillance society intent on infringing the liberty and rights of British citizens in an address at the 21st annual law lecture in Essex University’s Colchester campus. Although Blunkett is expected, wrongly in my opinion, to claim that the government has got the balance between liberty and security he will voice concern over other highly contentious issues.

He will come out against the Government’s controversial plan to set up a database holding details of telephone calls and emails and its proposal to allow public bodies to share personal data with each other. He will also suggest a complete U-Turn on compulsory identity cards, although he is expected to insist that they should be mandatory for all foreign nationals. David Blunkett is also expected to urge the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, to dilute the provisions of the Coroners and Justice Bill on data sharing between public bodies. He will warn: “It is not simply whether the intentions are benign, undoubtedly they are, but whether they are likely to be misused and above all what value their use may have.”  Similarly, he is expected to criticise the misuse of the 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which has been used for example, by local councils to tackle dog fouling and the monitoring of rubbish (no, not MP’s, refuse!)

When someone that so vehemently supported the introduction of ID cards and tough anti-terror laws raises concerns about the risk to privacy and liberty, the government must sit up and take notice. Although Blunkett’s comments are measured, it is reasonable to surmise that he is genuinely concerned and in order not to embarrass the government, he has couched his comments to be received positively.  In just over a week, we have had the former head of MI5 criticising this government’s intrusion into our lives and now a former, hard-line Home Secretary. When will the government realise that they have gone way to far and, when will opposition parties appreciate that they would be pushing at an open door if they agreed to review and if necessary, repeal oppressive and draconian legislation that infringes the rights of the people of this country?

I will let David Blunkett have the last few words. “The strength of our democracy is that we are able to challenge when the well-meaning, but sometimes misguided, take their own knowledge of the threats we face to be justification for protecting our mutual interest at the expense of our individual freedom. If we tolerate the intolerable, the intolerable gradually becomes the norm.”

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Feb
17

The former head of MI5 Dame Stella Rimington has accused, not for the first time, the government of using the fear of terrorism to justify further restrictions of our civil liberties and right to privacy. Her words of wisdom even acknowledged that the people of this country felt they were living “under a police state“. No arguments there then!

In particular, Stella Rimington referred to the 42 day detention without charge and the intention of this government to force ID cards on the people.  This revelation comes in the same week that the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 comes into force, whereby it is now an offence to take a photograph of a policeman, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. Unless, of course, the offender can prove that they ‘had a reasonable excuse for their action’. It is incredible how this government has given the Police service virtually any powers they have requested, irrespective of whether or not this restricted or destroyed the civil liberties or right to privacy of the majority.

To put this thing into perspective, it is okay for government agencies to spy on our email, internet browsing habits, text messages and telephone calls. It is okay for the government or their agencies to record information on our children’s health, well-being, psychological needs, educational needs and so on. It okay for the government or their agencies to record where we go on holiday, when, how we pay, where we sit on the plane and what we spend when we are away. It is okay for the government or their agencies to use 4.2m cameras to spy on our every move, to introduce new cameras that eavesdrop on our conversations in the street, to monitor the movement of our cars with ANPR cameras. It is okay for the government and their agencies to take our DNA even if we are not charged and then retain it, even if we are found not guilty. But it is not okay of we take a picture of a police officer!

It is high time that the people of this country started to wake up to what is happening all around them. Since 2001, this government has directly and by stealth, introduced new legislation that strikes at the very heart of our right to privacy, freedom from an over-bearing state and our civil liberties. There is no sense in looking back in a couple of years and asking how it all happened, it will be too late then, now is the time to be fighting back. Even the opposition parties have said very little about these massive changes for fear of being accused of being soft on terrorism, or maybe because they quite like the ability to have state control the people if they get into power, who knows. Either way, we will only have ourselves to blame if we do nothing.

Feb
08

Power to the People

At a time when we should all be considering tightening our belts, the Labour government of Big Brother Britain has decided to set up yet another database to spy and record details of British citizens, this time on our travel. Once again, this has is being justified on the pretext of national security. Quite apart from the fact that this government has proven itself incapable of introducing working databases on budget, the fact remains that it is entirely unnecessary. The bottom line is this database has nothing to do with security and everything to do with the Labour governments obsession with control over its citizens. There is simply no way that this government, or for that matter, any other government can justify spying on 60m people in order that they can track, at most, a few thousand potential terrorists.

This is in addition to the governments intention to record every email, text message and telephone call, plus our Internet browsing habits. It is high time the British public started asking why on earth this government needs so much information on its citizens? It is estimated that the Big Brother Britain database for spying on calls and Internet traffic will cost £12bn, it is therefore, reasonable to assume that this latest travel database will cost at least 50% of the cost, a very likely £6bn, minimum. These two databases are equivalent to the cost of 300 new hospitals!

Once again, thus far, the opposition parties have been noticeable by their absence, they should be refusing to support the oppressive programme of civil liberty busting voyeurism of New Labour. The opposition parties must promise to scrap these databases or commit to repeal the legislation that permits the collection of this data on British citizens. There has, once again, been a complete lack of any justification by this government, presumably to ensure that there is as little publicity as possible whilst they try and sneak this programme through the back door.

Wake up Cameron, wake up Clegg and wake up people, this is becoming completely unacceptable, in terms of our liberty, right to privacy and of course, the excessive cost at a time when we can least afford it. We are already spied on by some 4m cameras, information on our children, their welfare, schooling, carers, health and so on is already being stored in a government database. This government is introducing a cradle to grave spying programme on its own citizens, it is time to say enough is enough. It has already been noted that we are one of the most spied on nations anywhere in the world, alongside places such as North Korea. Surely that must ring alarm bells for even the most complacent British citizen?

This latest database will store names, addresses, telephone numbers, seat reservations, travel itineraries and credit card details of travellers. The notion that if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear is total nonesense. Why? Because is presupposes that the people that have access to this information will use it for legitimate purposes. How can we be certain when this government has already allowed thousands of agencies, public and private access to our personal information that is already stored? Enough is enough, stand up and be counted people, and Mr Cameron, get off your backside and say something, either you support this destruction of our civil liberties, or you must fight against it, show some backbone, prove to the people of this country that you are not a lightweight. Say no to Big Brother Britain – RESIST!

Jan
20

Power to the People

Whilst members of parliament are for the most part at least, quite happy to do little or nothing while this government introduces legislation designed to spy on our emails, telephone calls and web browsing habits, they do believe there should be a debate when it comes to them revealing (under the Freddom of Information Act) how they spend our money with their taxpayer funded expense accounts. How so? Well, MP’s are due to vote this week on the new rules, which could allow them to keep their expense details secret.

But lets look at this in a bit more detail shall we? I can understand why no-one would want intimate emails or text messages read by some voyeuristic spook, after all, if it is public, it is no longer intimate or private. But expenses? Surely, it is only right that the very people that pay the expenses should know what they are for and who has claimed for them. Commonsense. So why do MP’s believe it is something that should be debated, have they got something to hide, do they think it is going too far to have to reveal how they spend our money? Yet to intercept calls, spy on emails and so on is acceptable? Has the world gone mad, or is it just the honourable members? Perhaps they truly do believe they are a cut above the riff raff that makes up the electorate?

Of course we should not be surprised that the rule change has been proposed by the Leader of the House of Commons, Harriet Harman. If ever there was good reason not to look for more diversity in parliament, all you have to do is review this non-person, in the non-job that is Minister for Women. Though I am not quite sure what this issue particular has to do with ministers expenses, perhaps she has too much time on her hands?

We should all look to see which way our MP’s vote on this issue. If they vote to hide the detail from us, then they either have something to hide or they consider themselves answerable to no-one. My view, is if they want to hide their expenses from the very people that placed them in such a privileged position, then they must not be trusted anymore. At the next election, our expression of displeasure can be served up in the ballot box. MP’s, be warned, the people of this country do not like double standards, MP’s cannot and never should be a special case, instead, they must know precisely how the laws they have passed affect everyone, including themselves.

One other thing, why is it that MP’s can vote on their own salaries, pensions perks and so on, whilst the rest of us have no say whatsoever. Who are the mugs here?

Jan
03

Cross-posted from the Libertarian Alliance, which is highly concerned about the state trend towards supervising or limiting/abolishing any activity which it considers harmful to its farm-animals: which is to say, us.

David Davis

We talked about this some months ago. Now also, you should smoke for the children, and also to keep up ZanuLieborg’s taxation-takings, so they can continue to dip their hands in the Till at the expense of poor-people who have nothing else much to lighten their miserable Nazi-jackbooted lives.

It is an absolute wonder, to me, that nobody else in the media-Glitterati can see that we are being marched, by jackbooted ThugNazis in our government, back to a pre-capitalist, neo-feudal society, that looks like anything pre-1381 – the date of the first bourgeois tax-revolt.

Ordinary common-or-garden Nazis were disarmingly frank and openly brutal, by comparison. They approached Mugabe’s PR skills, in fact.

Now  then….This caught my eye as the Firefox foxthingy animal-dooberry started to run just now.

What else is “to be sold under the counter” on direction from “ministers”, in due course?

Alcohol (causes death by driving), knives (kill people), tabloid newspapers and “Zoo” and “Nuts” (offend wimmin), FHM, pork (offends Moslems and contains cancer-causing chemicals), automobiles (pollute the planet), and we could all name more things that “dangerous”, “offensive” or risky in use.

You’d have thought that this junta, so keen on promoting the plight of “small shops” and “small businesses” would want to make it easier for them to sell gear to people, not harder. I don’t believe for a moment that !”ministers” who write and spout this stuff are unaware of its shining fascism: I think they mean it very, very sincerely and that they absolutely know that they can, must, and will force people to behave in defined ways predicated by themselves and theyr gramsco-Marxian “uni” Tutors. Just regard some of this blisteringly fascist prose:-

Tobacco products will be barred from display in shops despite fears it could hit small stores during the economic downturn.

The new restrictions come after an extensive consultation on measures to reduce the number of children who take up smoking and helping those already addicted to quit.

But ministers will not go as far as recommending all cigarette packaging be plain with only the brand name and health warnings printed on them.

Sales from vending machines will also be restricted as research has shown children can buy cigarettes from them easily even though they are supposed to be in places where shops owners and pub landlords can supervise them.

Experts are keen to build on the success of the ban on smoking in public places, introduced in England in July 2007, and the increase in the legal age to buy tobacco to 18.

The main opponents have been concerned at the impact on small businesses during the downturn and a surge in illegal tobacco smuggling into the UK.

Last night a Business Department source said: “We know that business has been resisting this but there are times when the consumer’s interest must outweigh that. We believe the public are with us on this move.

“We have asked smokers’ views on this too. There is no doubt that the vast majority want to quit.”

It was reported last month that Business Secretary Peter Mandelson was attempting to block the moves because of the effect on small newsagents and corner shops which rely on cigarette sales for up to a fifth of their custom.

Research has shown that children recognise many brands of cigarettes and prominent displays of products helps to reinforce their familiarisation which influences them to take up smoking. A study in California found children aged between 11 and 14 were 50 per cent more likely to smoke if they had been exposed to tobacco marketing in corner shops.

Shelves full of cigarettes also lure those trying to quit smoking into buying more packets or tempted those trying to quit to buy them, the Department of Health consultation said.

Almost a third of smokers thought removing cigarette displays would help them to give up.

The products will not necessarily have to be placed under the counter but should not be visible, ministers will say today.

It could mean that cigarette packets are covered, placed in a cupboard or a back room.

Launching the consultation in April, health minister Dawn Primarolo said: “It’s vital we get across the message to children that smoking is bad. If that means stripping out vending machines or removing cigarettes from behind the counter, I’m willing to do that.

“Children who smoke are putting their lives at risk and are more likely to die of cancer than people who start smoking later.”

Other countries have already banned the display of tobacco at the point of sale or are planning to do so including Iceland, Thailand, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Norway.

Latest figures show 22 per cent of adults smoke in England, which is down by 1.9m since 1998, and the Government is on target to reduce this to 21 per cent by 2010.

However almost 30 per cent of those in routine and manual jobs still smoke and rates are not dropping in this group as fast.

Smoking is one of the leading causes of early death and accounts for 87,000 deaths in England each year and smoking related illness costs the NHS £1.5bn a year to treat.

Among children nine per cent of 11 to 15-year-olds smoke regularly, rising to one fifth of teenagers aged 16 to 19. More than three in ten 20 to 24 year olds smoke, which is the highest of any age group.

And…I’m sure that Keeley Hazell would not want her little local shops, in Bromley, to go bust through lost ciggy-sales…the sales merely lost to the pushers, at £125 for 20 smacks! I’m not betting on it, but I’d guess the “street” price of 20 “Marlboro’s”, not legally manufactured by Philip Morris, at all, to be about £5 or £6 per spliff… and that’s for starters, until it gets more difficult to supply….

Sorry Im not allowed to smoke on film....

"Sorry I'm not allowed to smoke on film...."

Dec
20

David Davis

We learn today that the real murderer of this poor young woman, tragically witnessed by her toddler son, who vainly tried to stauch his mother’s wounds witht e contents of her handbag (google it) has now been identified and sentenced. or, at least, the person who pleads guilty has been sentenced.

But this will now be used as justification for extending the British State’s DNA database. Watch. It will.

Of course murderers and hoodlums, socialists and all other similar types of destructive scumbag, should be caught and punished. But the whole population (starting with men in ths case, as will be the case) should not be made “pre-suspects” by the State, in its bid to look like the benevolent protector of all.

UPDATE: Obnoxio’s musings on this very very sad and badly-handled case are perhaps more considered than mine. I am concerned for the (probable) future attenuations  – by “Jacqui” “Smith” or whatever alternative-State-cybotron succeeds her in her “post” – of everyone’s liberty and privacy. By contrast, Obnoxio concentrates, also rightly, on the deliberately-designed-in unaccountability of an increasingly fascisticated Police Force.

On another tack, the majority of today’s murderers in Britain are men, because socialism in schools deliberately leaves young boys unsocialised and functionally*** illiterate (so as to have a clientariat later.) Discuss.

***”Floppy, Chip and Biff…I can’t guess what sex even they are.

Dec
16

David Davis

I came across this today via a tip off Guido‘s “seen elsewhere list”. Jonathan Miller provides a spectatularly comprehensive roundup of (a) the sheer iniquity of the telly-tax-scheme, and (b) what to do about it at indiviual level. Worth a read, and worth also spreading virally.

I personally have had my doubts about “detector vans” for some time. The Landed Underclass will like this one that’s coming…..and he’s got his own pennyworth of useful stuff here….

In fact, in the mid 1970s, I performed this experiment as follows:- (WARNING! DO NOT PERFORM it yourself without supervision by a qualified electrician or a Radio Ham – the voltages present inside the case of an old tube-type colour TV can be LETHAL – up to 35,000V, which is rather a lot !!! (and you won’t know where they are unless you already know.)   TOUCH the EHT from the line-output transformer, while it is working,  and you are DEAD !!! ) (UPDATE – as far as I am aware, the insides of modern flat-screen tellies are safe, except for the presence of mains (230V AC) voltage. Don’t monkey with these either or you will invalidate your warranty…)

I completely lined the inside of 405/625-line “dual-standard” colour Tele Vision Set fully (these were still available new, and also widely used) with a double layer of aluminium foil, electrically attaching it to MAINS EARTH (NOT the chassis whcih is almost always live to the mains) and screening as far as possible all round, up to the edge of the tube front.

I then made a RF “sniffer”, using a coil/capacitor netwrok approx tuned to the 45 MHz “intermediate frequency” which was used inside the receiver module in the set I was playing with. This was in efect a small radio RX whose output registered on a milliammeter instead of a loudspeaker. I was able to tune the incoming frequency through a range of about 8MHz either side of the 45 band centre, so I could also check if the sniffer was picking up any other oscillator signals or sums/differences coming from inside the set as a result of its decoding the vision signals and line/frame sync pulses.

In the room, which was about 9ft x 12 ft, there was a detectable 45 MHz RF flux, but it was rather weak. I also found small peaks at 49.33 MHz and 40.57 MHz roughly, probably from heterodyning witht he 4.43 MHz crystal which did something or other in the receiver. There was a weak 45 MHz signal outside the window but nothing else.

I could not detect the 45MHz signal out on the road. Nor incidentally any other ones from nearby houses.

I did not think of trying to detect the harmonics of the line-output frequency, which was 15.625 KHz. I expect they owuld have been weak, at any frequency above about 10 MHz.

Since the uniform characteristic of machines then was a 45 MHz IF, I expect that this would have been what “detector vans” would major on, for the lifetime of cathode-ray Tellies – none of which would have been built with full electromagnetic screening of their innards – what would be the point? (Radio-Hams suffer from interference from consumer electronics far, far more than consumers do from interference by hams!)

I was therefore unconvinced, and have remianed so ever since, of the claims of the BBC about “detection”.

Dec
09

Another pointless piece of tokenism by this control obsessed Labour government is the ban on displaying cigarettes, ostensibly to discourage under age smokers. A commendable goal, but surely even they can work out that it is not the display of cigarettes that encourages youngsters to smoke, but easy access, peer pressure and so on, none of which will be dealt with by this heavy handed, ill-conceived approach which will affect 9m people, whilst failing to achieve its objective.

I, of course, have absolutely  no issue with government or other agencies seeking to discourage children and teenagers from smoking, after all, we all know that it is a lot easier to start than it is to stop. Therefore, I would actively support any education programme that is designed to achieve this objective, but banning the display of cigarettes…..does anyone really think that this will have any affect on underage smoking? Well clearly yes, this out of touch, politically correct Labour government.

This is political tokenism at its best, removing cigarettes from display will not reduce the number of young people from smoking, in fact it may provide a perception of something illicit, which I feel sure, will appeal to some youngsters. The claim is that there are up to 200,000 11-15 years olds smoking. Okay, so given it is illegal to sell cigarettes to children of this age, where does the government think they get them from. Maybe it is via vending machines or an older mate, or perhaps a ‘friendly’ local store. Either way, it is claimed that some 200,000 youngsters have found some method of feeding their habit. So, what really encourages them to smoke, is it peer pressure, something to do, the fact that it is illegal or because it makes them feel grown up? Maybe it is a combination of all these factors, but it can hardly be said it is because they have seen them displayed.

The problem with political tokenism is the knock-on effect or consequences of the action. For example, did the banning of cigarette sponsors for Formula 1 lead to a reduction in smoking? I don’t think so. But now, at a time when the likes of Honda are looking to put as many as 800 people out of work because they cannot afford to continue their race team, cigarette sponsors could have been a lifeline.

Take a look at the pub trade. Some 5 pubs are closing every week in this country; many landlords have put this down to, amongst other things, the ban on smoking. Yes, I accept that it is also as a consequence of the alcohol duties and competition in the supermarkets, but many landlord place the lion share of blame at the smoking ban. So, at a time when people need jobs and accommodation, 5 pub businesses are closing every single week. And, of course, it is not just pubs that are being affected, even beermat manufacturers are finding it tough. A few weeks ago there were 4 Uk based manufacturers, now one has transferred manufacturing to Germany and another has closed its doors for good, halving the capacity overnight and placing people out of work.

What is not evident is whether this government simply couldn’t give a toss about collateral damage, or if they just didn’t bother to look any further than political tokenism and a positive set of headlines. Government should act responsibly, which means that if they intend to introduce new legislation, they should look at the potential consequences of their action, not just the headlines. A failure to do so, is a gross dereliction of their duty and of course, there have been many examples of this over the past 11 years. I am personally sick to the back teeth of this politically correct government, their sledgehammer to crack a nut approach to every problem and their insistence that stick is better than carrot. The bottom line is we are all being treated like children by New Labour, and I for one, have had enough.

Dec
05

Power to the People

I am delighted to confirm that Jacqui Smith is “disappointed” by the ruling given yesterday relating to her insistence that Big Brother Britain be entitled to store the DNA and fingerprint profiles of any British subject that is arrested but not charged, or arrested and subsequently acquitted. Clearly, the only reason Miss Smith could possibly want to store this information is because she and her attack dogs believe that we will all, eventually commit a crime. In other words, we are to be potentially guilty until found guilty. I accept that this does now mean that the police are going to need to get some exercise, because no longer will they be able to investigate by PC, at least not in the case of DNA profiling!

Here is a copy of my post on this subject:

How ironic that British subjects have had to turn to the European Courts to protect their liberty and privacy, rather than being able to rely on our own laws. If this does not demonstrate just how far this control obsessed government has gone to destroy the rights and civil liberties of the people of this country, then nothing will.

The case was brought by two men who had their DNA profile and fingerprints taken when they were charged with an offence. One had his charges dropped and the other was acquitted, yet in spite of this, the South Yorkshire Police, supported by the government, refused to destroy the DNA profile and fingerprints. Under existing laws, DNA profiles of everyone arrested for a recordable offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are kept on the database, regardless of whether they are charged or convicted. This is not the case in Scotland where records are destroyed.

Now, in what turned out to be a unanimous decision of 17 judges sitting in Strasbourg, the Grand Chamber Judgment ruled that the action of the police was violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which is the ‘right to respect for private and family life‘. In fact, the Court went further, stating that the retention of this information could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society and they had been struck by the indiscriminate nature of the power of detention in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This amounts to a direct rebuke of the British government. Needless to say Jacqui Smith who has spent a great deal of public money defending the governments position, is “disappointed”, with the outcome. Just who the hell does she think she is, I thought she said that no-one was above the law.?

I do not doubt that DNA profiling is a useful tool in the fight against crime, however, there are other civil liberty concerns that should have been considered. This government has ignored any civil liberty and right to privacy issues by introducing legislation that allows DNA profiles to be retained irrespective of whether the people involved have been convicted of an offence. This is an affront to the people of this country and it has taken the European Court to uphold our rights by applying an equal measure of commonsense and existing human rights laws to come to a judgement.

What a pity this government could not have done the same. In part, we are at fault, because so many people fall, hook line and sinker, everytime the government come out with a line as to why they need to bring in new, draconian laws, believing it will never affect majority of us. Well that is simply not true. Once you discard our right to liberty, privacy and freedom, you deny us virtually everything, given it is but a short step to a police state. Take the Damian Green affair, the opposition parties never thought that the laws which they allowed this government to pass would come back and bite them in the backside, they thought it just affected the plebs! The police and security services in this country have unprecedented powers for a democratic country.

This government, as arrogant as ever, has insisted that the existing laws will remain in place whilst they consider the judgement. What? They have just been rebuked by 17 judges, from across Europe and they still insist that they are right. Does the arrogance of Jacqui Smith and the New Labour government know no bounds? A European Court has ruled that this government has not acted reasonably having failed to get the balance between the public interest and that of the private individual. In fact they noted in their judgement that England, Wales and Northern Ireland appear to be the only countries in the European Union that allow the indefinite retention of DNA profiles. Further, that in effect, this government has not applied any commonsense, nor have they considered the European Charter prior to drafting the legislation. Surely a competent government would not have drafted laws in this country without considering how they would impact on European Human Rights legislation? Unless of course, they couldn’t give a toss, believing that we are all so stupid that we will accept whatever is thrown at us, only realising that we have lost when it is too late to do anything about it.

I would like to see one of the major parties take up civil liberty issues and try and redress the balance between state and individual, because as far as I can see, we are sleep-walking into a police state, where civil liberties, freedom and a right to privacy is disregarded by a government with a phobia for control, a penchant for bullying and delusional self-gratification. No wonder they spend so much time in from of mirrors!

Nov
28

David Davis

Hat tip Obnoxio the Clown.

Welcome to the future... (like Knowsley)

Welcome to the future... (like Knowsley)