Monday, October 13, 2008

I'm From The Government, And I'm Here To Help

Yesterday, as we were coming back through immigration, the gentleman reviewing our passports looked at the number of stamps we have and suggested, in a helpful way, that we register for the Home Office's IRIS Program--a biometric program to protect borders and keep us safe from terrorism, while of course guarding our confidentiality.

We know that the UK government has a sterling record on protecting personal data:
Personal data on every child in the country and national insurance numbers and bank account details of parents and carers claiming child benefit have gone missing after the government sent two password-protected CDs through the post.

And UK governments have never misused anti-terror powers before, have they?
Thousands of middle managers in local councils are being authorised to spy on people suspected of petty offences using powers designed to prevent crime and terrorism.
Even junior council officials are being allowed to initiate surveillance operations in what privacy campaigners likened to Eastern bloc police tactics.
The Home Office is expected to be urged by the Commons Home Affairs select committee to issue guidelines to councils on the type of operations in which surveillance can be used.
Amid increasing concern in Parliament that the UK is slowly becoming a surveillance society, the committee has looked at the operation of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which some MPs say is being misused to focus on petty crime rather than serious offending.

And of course, the UK government itself has never used anti-terror powers to resolve a contract dispute, have they?
Iceland's authorities last night appeared close to agreeing a repayment package to help cover the losses of British savers with deposits in Icesave, the UK operation of one of the country's stricken banks.
Officials from the Treasury, Bank of England and FSA flew back from Reykjavik yesterday having made "significant progress" in talks with banks and government officials aimed at securing a rapid payout for British depositors.
However, the deal does not yet include the billions of pounds invested by councils, charities and other public bodies.
The Icelandic government took control of three of the country's largest banks last week and froze deposits, including an estimated £4.5bn from British savers.
The UK government has used anti-terror laws to seize an estimated £4bn in Icelandic resources, and ministers said yesterday these will not be released until a deal has been struck.

We of course politely told the immigration drone we'd think about it, but I think I'll view standing in queues as a minor inconvenience compared to the major inconvenience of losing my personal freedom.

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Blogger Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

It should be noted that the House of Lords gets it:

Controversial plans to detain terror suspects without charge for up to 42 days are likely to be rejected overwhelmingly by the House of Lords today, piling fresh pressure on Gordon Brown to abandon the proposal.

The strength of feeling among peers is highlighted today by Lord Goldsmith, Tony Blair's long-serving attorney general. In an article for the Guardian, Goldsmith writes: "This pernicious provision should be removed from this bill now. I regard it as not only unnecessary but also counterproductive; and we should fight to protect the liberties the terrorists would take from us, not destroy them ourselves. This proposal is wrong in principle and dangerous in practice."

Who says hanging onto the nobility is always a bad thing?

3:09 PM  
Blogger Middle Kid said...

It's good to know that someone gets it. Here, everyone is rushing to give up personal freedom in the name of "security." The American public will buy anything the government has to sell.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Kevboy said...

Benjamin Franklin said, "Those who are willing to sacrifice liberty in the name of security deserve neither and will lose both." BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.

5:52 PM  

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