back to article Top prosecutor warns against growing state power

The country's most senior prosecutor has intervened in the gathering storm over the forthcoming Communications Data Bill by urging "legislative restraint" in coming months. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced last week that laws will be open to consultation in the new year. The security services are demanding massively …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Wayland Sothcott Bronze badge
    Black Helicopters

    Leaving it a bit late to stop the police state

    The he leaves his job and then decides to make the stament about the police state. The fact that he could do nothing about it whilst he was the UK's Top Presecuter says it all.

    As for Jaqui Smith holding a public consoltaion reminds me of her MyLifeMyID website.

    We just don't have enough police state icons. The Eskimos have 192 different words for snow.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Debated?!

    "It is therefore of paramount importance... are fully debated."

    But if Gordon says so then that is fully debated isn't it? When has our unelected PM ever been anything but completely democratic?

    Mine's the one with the ovinator in the pocket (ref: Jasper Fforde).

  3. John H Woods Silver badge
    Stop

    The Wrong Hands?

    "Creating huge databases containing personal information is never a risk-free option as it is not possible to fully eliminate the danger that the data will fall into the wrong hands."

    Such as those of the government?

  4. dervheid

    Close, but no cigar

    "It is therefore of paramount importance that proposals threatening such intrusion into our lives are fully debated"

    No...

    It is therefore of paramount importance that proposals threatening such intrusion into our lives are consigned to the dustbin / looneybin where they belong.

  5. Elmer Phud
    Flame

    Sky still falling in - panic now to avoid the rush

    We are, apparently, under severe terrorist threat here in the U.K.

    We are being told that it's 'normal' for innocent people to be shot as it's just part of how 'security' works here. We are told it's 'normal' for people to be mistakenly identified as potential threats and we should accept this as part of our day to day lives. We are supposed to accept this as the basis of extreme monitoring of our daily lives as a 'Just In Case' measure.

    It's all bollocks coming from people who need to big-up their government posts to avoid the cuts later, to keep the pig pay coming, to maintain their rightful position at the trough.

    That we continue the well-established practice of shoring up entire governments who terrorise their own people and the well-documented successive governments in the pockets of the UAE is calmly ignored while hopefully pointing towards the mountains and declaring that's where the enemy is - give me more money and more power.

    Keep the populace looking over their shoulders to ensure no-one looks too close elsewhere is an old trick. Smoke and mirrors plus a bit of snake oil now and then.

    UK corp, a division of Fox News.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Grrrr

    "Jacqui Smith said last week that she wants an open, reasoned debate to build consensus around the Bill. "

    Does she f*ck, they want complete and absolute power, just as in post-war Germany. We need to get rid of these closet Communists building a stazi state

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What if Jacqui Smith is right?

    What if she is right, and the chief prosecutor is wrong, and parliament and the EU law and the mechanism that drafting the limits in Article 4 she's trying to break, and her own party and the Lords, and the fundamental right to privacy and all the previous governments and armies that have fought for those rights she's removing..... what if they are all wrong and she alone is right?

    Just kidding, look Jacqui Smith plays political games. It's not possible to get rational thought from her, and suggesting that she's wrong only drives her viewpoint to ever more extremes. She has to be removed from her position, she didn't listen to any previous criticism by people in the know and this will never change.

    Can you name any time a policy of Jacqui Smiths has been criticised by people who know better and she has taken that criticism on board? Nope?

    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Sack-Ms-Smith/#detail

    I appreciate the chief prosecutor congratulates himself on prosecuting terrorists without prevetting judges, or special kangaroo courts, but the process changes Jacqui has put in place mean the convictions are suspect. This is not the first time questions have been raised about her competence, and given her tendency to become more extreme under criticism it won't be the last.

  8. Robert Ramsay
    Unhappy

    "Fully debated"

    *always* means lipservice to attempt to placate the opposition.

    You can always tell how stupid someone is by how stupid *they* think *you* are.

  9. Sceptical Bastard

    @ The Wrong Hands

    Quote: "Such as those of the government?"

    Nah, a courier van-driver or some bloke on a train.

    That's not to say that this government is not the true enemy within.

    The terrorists have already won. The government and the press are doing their work - inspiring fear - for them. One aim of all political 'terrorists' is to provoke repressive over-reaction by its opponents. Thatcher may have been a hateful bitch but she never gave in to the IRA whereas Blair, Brown and successive Home Secretards have fallen into the trap laid by the current crop of mad bombers.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reasoned Debate

    Ms Smith has called for an "open and reasoned debate".

    Of course this relies, as always, on Jacqui's own terms of reference. Firstly anybody reasonable is, by Jaqui's definition, anybody who agrees with her. Therefore if you don't agree with her you are being unreasonable and will therefore be barred from her "open and reasoned debate".

    She learned this trick from Tony Blair.

  11. Elmer Phud
    Stop

    re:reasoned debate

    Are you forgetting the next bit after 'reasoned debate'?

    It can only lead to 'consultation' - which we know by now means 'we've already made our minds up'. Any objections are directed towards the situation needing to be dealt with by a 'holistic' approach, which means 'we can wriggle out of anything we like as we can include/exclude whatever is more convenient to us'.

    Ah, I remember the old days, you knew where you were with the iron-shod feet of our Maggie. You know where you are with an out and out dictator.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course

    Of course we're going to be, "living with something we can't bear." The problem is that the Government just don't care.

  13. George Speller
    Black Helicopters

    "We just don't have enough police state icons"

    Your "watching you" image at the head of the story would cover everything.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no debate

    I saw the interview on C4 News and it appears that the debate isn't about whether the database is to be built or not but how it is to be managed afterwards.

    So the decision has already been made to build the database and we are supposed to feel that we have had a say. Well I say NO. Labour are unlikely to win the next election and we must vote for a party who is opposed to this.

  15. Geoff Hirst
    Thumb Down

    Another government database?

    Like they don't have enough data to lose already. What is it with these people that they must have their hands on every single 'bit' (sorry) of data that gets transferred.

    We have managed without the 'uberdatabase', jeez, they haven't even got the ID card database running properly. I have to question who is going to get the job? Someone who can actually do it, to budget and timescale or is it going to those who have screwed up so many other government IT projects?

  16. dreadful scathe
    Black Helicopters

    bring back Maggie?

    Shes starting to look good. She called a spade a spade alright.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Labour, drowning, not waving.

    So, Ken MacDonald, the nation's most senior prosecutor, makes the first contribution to Smith's "open, reasoned, debate" and very welcome it is. Fails only in the respect that he misunderstands the nature of the proposed debate. As Smith showed during the 42 day extension debacle, advice from experienced professionals including senior police officers, former heads of the security services, and top government law officers will be dismissed out of hand. Smith failed (epic fail) to produce one scrap of evidence to substantiate her case and lost.

    No evidence will be forthcoming this time either, just the usual parade of special interest groups, policy wonks, and subsidised think-tanks trotting out the party line.

    Ken MacDonald's voice is the first of many that will be raised against this insanity, support them in every way you can and the dogmatic duchess will lose again. Freedom will win.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop using telephones and t'interwebs.

    And start using carrier pigeons instead? They'll likely get intercepted or lost though.

    Else start encrypting all communications? gpg encrypt all comms.

    Use anonymouse surfing as well. example:

    http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.google.co.uk/

    PITA starting off, but worth it if for no other reason as to piss off the gov.

    Anyone know a solution for phone calls though?

  19. Graham Marsden
    Stop

    <Title deleted by Government Censors>

    "Jacqui Smith said last week that she wants an open, reasoned debate to build consensus around the Bill. "

    A "consensus" that will then be ignored if it doesn't agree with what Wacky Jacqui and friends want, because they've already decided that this is "good for us(tm)" and so will be implemented anyway.

    I'd suggest a "Big Brother" icon for stories like this, but that would just allow Jacqui and co to zero in on those of us proles who fail to engage in "blackwhite" thinking (The ability to accept whatever "truth" the party puts out) and, instead are engaging in illegal crimethink (even considering any thought not in line with the principles of the party)...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Welcome to the 1st Western Communist state!

    The rules:

    Your opinion will not be tolerated.

    The Party is always right.

    If you do not agree with any of the Party's judgements then you must be a dissident.

    Dissidents are Terrorists and therefore must be caught.

    You are a Terrorist and must be caught, therefore we are correct in our motives.

  21. mr.K

    Election

    Ok, here is one reasonable person speaking out, and there seem to be a few reasonable people commenting here. What about you lot gather and elect a reasonable person to govern you? Seems to be like a lot more productive.

  22. David Pollard

    @AC: What if Jacqui Smith is right?

    It would be a mistake to think that it would suffice to 'get rid of' Jacqui Smith, or even nuLabour.

  23. Mark

    re: bring back Maggie?

    Hell, according to the Labourites, Maggie is STILL in power.

    Current crisis? Maggie's fault.

    Conservatives doing well: Don't vote for them! Remember Thatch!!!

    All politicians are right wing neocon nutjobs? Maggie told them to.

    If she'd left after two terms there would only have been good things. Even if, on the whole, they were bad (killing off the unions was the right decision because unions had TOO much power. The long term result is bad because now corporations have too much power and unions too little), they were at least consistent and rational.

    She went a bit Ted Heath when she was kicked out which showed she'd started to believe in her rightness because she'd been right before.

    Mind you, Labour have done that pretty much since they started in power...

  24. John Stag

    Re: "Full public debate before...."

    Oh, sure, that's going to happen.

    I think I can already tell you what the public will say.

  25. A J Stiles

    @ Mr K

    Your plan is almost as cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University. There is, however, one *tiny* flaw in it:

    There are no reasonable people to elect.

  26. Tony
    Flame

    Communists??

    I find it very odd that people keep equating the current Nu Labour government to Communists.

    I can only think that because Labour historically were a socialist party that people with no understanding of politics think it is still so.

    Or perhaps they are trying to delude themselves that things might be in some way different under Cameron and cronies? If it is the latter then they are obviously too young to remember the eighties properly.

    Nu Labour swept into power by moving to the right in the political spectrum. They beat the tories by becoming the tories. As this seemed to work out so well for them, they have since apparently decided that the best thing to do is keep moving right until they are now moving into what can only be described as fascism.

    Somehow the tories are now seen as a moderate influence. How messed up is that?!?

    Incidentally there was a little fella with a silly moustache that also got into power with a socialist party. Strangely no-one remembers him as a communist. Oh.. and before anyone quotes Godwin's Law at me - I believe the comparison is justified. If it acts like a fascist state I think it is fair to compare it to one.

  27. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Home Office consultation, New Labour style

    'We asked a representative panel of intellectuals comprised of David Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen, Jon Gaunt, Melanie Phillips and Gary Bushell under the prestigious chairmanship of Kelvin McKenzie to discuss their opinion of government proposals.'

  28. Thomas Jerome
    Flame

    Jacko to go

    Wacky Jacqui is quickly becoming the UK's answer to Sarah Palin. A liability to her own party, who may cost them come election time.

  29. daniel
    Black Helicopters

    its all a matter of time.

    A Reasoned public debate that will, in turn be duly ignored. Jaqui knows what she wants, and she'll keep on throwing her teddy out of the pram until she gets it and to hell with what anybody else thinks! We should be used to this. The public at large though (out side of IT profesionals) tend not to care very much. To them a Database means nothing, they don't think about what else it could be used for.

    I can see the data that are stored on the Databases that will keep us all in check being sold to big companies for marketing purposes, to fund the things.

    anyway sorry for the almost certian spelling mistakes.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here's a thought...

    Although I believe very firmly in what Labour used to stand for (you know, up the workers etc.), I'm going to have to vote against them next time and will be urging everyone I know to do the same.

    That said, here's a thought for the day. Politicians are people who want us to trust them to rule us. Not govern; rule.

    I believe that anyone who actively *wants* that power shouldn't get it for fear of the crazy stuff that we're seeing here.

    And is it just me or who else thinks that Jacqui has some paranoia about people who frighten her? And anyone who just stops her in the street to say hi would frighten her so automatically we're all people who could inspire terror in her, and ... here we are.

    Seriously though, if this carries on, I'll consider emigrating to somewhere with less frightening rules, like the USA. And we all know how intelligent that move would be.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Geoff Hirst

    "I have to question who is going to get the job? Someone who can actually do it, to budget and timescale or is it going to those who have screwed up so many other government IT projects?"

    Sounds like a job for Crapita.

  32. EvilGav

    Read The Wording Carefully

    "Jacqui Smith said last week that she wants an open, reasoned debate to build consensus around the Bill. "

    Too many peolpe are stopping at "open, reasoned debate" and forgetting the rest of that statement. She's stating that she wants a debate, but only insofar as it make you agree with the bill being proposed, not to change the bill, not to blow this comlpetely out of the water, but to agree with whats already written.

    In itself, she doesn't want a debate, she wants to spend lots of time talking until everyone gets bored and cant be bothered arguing anymore.

    As for whether Nu Labour are communist or fascist, it doesn't really matter, any dictatorship is a bad thing and the differences between com and fasc dictatorships are few and far between.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Mr K and @ A J Stiles

    Plus to elect reasonable people we would have to have an election, grodo did promise us one when he got into power, but then realised he would lose and cancelled it.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    bill of rights anyone?

    I absolutely applaud the exit speech, it was a brave move and indicative of the contempt that these sorts of opinions are held in within gubment circles. i hope there is a way out, but fear there is not, surveillance will only ever increase.

    One thing that might help is to start to define what citizens ARE allowed to do, otherwise the noose just tightens, first it was drunk driving, now a hanging offence, with automatic penalties, no need to consider the degree of impairment, the level of risk, anything. I fully appreciate the great grief that follows a fatal accident, but the majority of cases are actually marginal - with impairment similar to being old, tired or slightly distracted. Worse still is the speeding, inappropriate limits abound, and the penalties originally provided in law were for drivers that sped whilst being pursued for 2/3 of a mile, now the same penalties apply for an empty road at 3 AM, and most people applaud them, the whole safe driving debate has become one-dimensional. Then it is mobile phone use, then smoking, then anything they care to demonise.

    I say consenting adults in private should be able to do what the bloody hell they like. Possibly with the exception of conspiring to cause harm to others, though conspiracy is a thoughtcrime, a difficult area, maybe one should require a "making preparation" clause also.

    there is a contract between society and the individual, though only one side ever gets written, its a recipe for slow strangulation.

  35. RW
    Boffin

    A ray of hope

    They'll hire EDS. The project will never be finished nor will it ever work.

    Jacqui needs to be put in small, quiet, well-ventilated cell somewhere with a single text to meditate upon: Oliver Cromwell's immortal line "I BESEECH YOU IN THE BOWELS OF CHRIST THINK IT POSSIBLE YOU MAY BE MISTAKEN."

    With an eye on the future, I'm going to suggest that all UK-resident readers of El Reg write letters to Conservative MPs and functionaries asking "what are your plans to dismantle the surveillance state that NuLabour has installed over the last eleven years?" Snail mail, short, polite, preferably hand-written.

    My own experience with The Bureaucracy is that short, well-written letters carry surprising weight. When the Conservatives note an apparent groundswell on this topic, it is within reason that they may start to shift their own position. They have no ego invested in NuLabour's Stasi-like nonsense; one hopes that they are therefore more flexible on the subject.

    The Liberal Democrats are also candidates for such letters, as it will encourage them to make it an election issue.

    It may be important to specifically say that terrorism and the protection of children are mere smokescreens for the destruction of privacy and civil liberties.

  36. T Wright
    Coat

    Another Way

    This woman is a menace. She's one of those bully's who shout down anyone who disagrees with her. The debate should be national, open & no decisions made on how to move forward until a consensus found.

    My personal idea of data protection is for me to have control of mine & no-one else, then it's my decision if I want to sell it, my decision if I want to release it & my decision if I want to keep it to my bloody self.

    How about if we were all just given a memory stick with our own database on it containing as much or as little info as we wish to keep all under nationally agreed groupings. We have a choice of encryption provided by the open market for us. If you want your algorithms provided free with a packet of cornflakes as a promo thats up to you. If you want to pay for military grade you can. When you get your car tax, walk into a job centre, go to your bank or where-ever you use your key to provide what YOU wish. If someone offers you a discount or a new toaster for lifetime access to your TV viewing habits again it's up to you.

    Of course not providing certain information could disqualify you from things, just like today not giving your wage slips will stop you getting a mortgage (possibly).

    Some info could have a second or third layer of encryption held by a third party if needed.

    If you wanted a job at GCHQ you may perhaps wish to prove you have not been surfing anarchist sites for the last 7 years. It's up to you

    In the end and the whole point of this is YOU would be in control not some raving mad woman who wants to treat everyone as a child.

  37. J.Butler
    Stop

    Jacqui Smith

    The same Jacqui Smith that has ignored all reasoned and scientific evidence in the classification of drugs.

    Enough said, she's removed from reality and any notion of proportionality.

    She is unfit to do her job (IMV).

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    ICO - Alarmed

    I am not convinced that the ICO means what it say's - "The Commissioner warned that it is likely that such a scheme would be a step too far for the British way of life."

    Isn't this the same ICO who sit on their hands and allow ISP's to inspect all an individuals http data as long as it's Opt in. B****cks, the consumers should not even get the choice. It's spyware - Phorm must be stopped!

    Do your job properly and consistently and there is a very small chance this Orwellian 1984 society like future may be stopped. Allow yourself to be ridden roughshod and we are all doomed.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sign Here Please

    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/no-to-1984/

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Petition

    Everyone in Britain please sign this petition and pass it on to as many people as you can. Let's work together to stop such stupidity:

    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/privacy-matters/

  41. Paul Buxton

    @Tony

    "I find it very odd that people keep equating the current Nu Labour government to Communists."

    It depends what people's idea of communism is. I imagine a lot of people are confusing Communism with Stalinism. I just wish that this government would understand that 1984 is an idea to be avoided, not a project plan to be implemented.

  42. Nebulo
    Black Helicopters

    Oh, Sir Ken

    Why do you guys only ever start talking sense when you're *leaving* office, and never when you're *in* office?

    Oh, and Jacqui ... A lot of us have been having a very reasoned debate about what you people are doing to our country. The consensus seems to be that we don't want your bloody long nose poking into our affairs. Got that? ... Thought not.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    No Confidence

    In the UK, we are meant to have a democracy. To me that means two things:

    1. We elect people who we think will run the country the best.

    2. In matters that affect the majority of citizens, we should be able to vote on it.

    I love Smith's wording, she wants an open, reasoned debate to build consensus around the Bill.

    Consensus, that means obtaining a general agreement. So she wants an open, reasoned debate where the outcome will be to agree to this database? No way!

    To me, that means the cow will set up a quango of "experts" that just take the money and say yes. It's a load of bollocks, something as far reaching as this should be put to the public vote. I am so suspicious of this government, I would not put it past them or the "intelligence" services to allow another bombing just so they could say "see, if we had that database, we could have prevented it".

    I want to live in a country where I have some privacy, I don't want to talk to a friend or relation about a bombing on the news and for that conversation to then be flagged and have someone listening to it.

    Smith and the government in general don't seem to understand that they have an excellent weapon against terrorism already. The Police force, these men and women are trained to observe and notice suspicious behaviour, getting more of them on the streets would be a massive help. Just stop the stupid amount of paperwork they have to handle.

    I'd love to know what happened to the breed of MP that wants to make this country better. It seems to me they are all to busy choosing the décor for their second homes with their allowances or visiting "image" consultants to get off their collective behinds and make some decisions that don't screw over the entire population.

    If this is a democracy, why isn't there box I can tick on the ballot paper that says "No Confidence"?

    "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely" - Lord Acton (1834–1902)

    "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it" - William Pitt, the Elder, British Prime Minister (1770)

    Grrr!

  44. This post has been deleted by its author

  45. Vaughan

    Communists?? Fascists??

    The only difference is the rhetoric.

  46. Watashi

    War on freedom

    Geoff Hoon also said: “the biggest civil liberty of all is not to be killed by a terrorist”.

    When my granddad fought in Africa during WW2 he wasn't doing it to stop a small group of religious nut-jobs blowing up a couple of buses. He did it to protect the British way of life... and it is with terrible irony that Brown, who claims to be such a fan of Britishness, is now doing a better job of destroying it than Hitler ever managed.

    400,000 British lives were sacrificed to protect the liberty of the British nation during WW2. And now Hoon is proposing we give up that same liberty to 'protect' the lives of the tiniest fraction of that number. The worst thing is that there is no good reason to think this will even prevent acts of terrorism.

    It will be election time soon - every vote against Labour is a vote for freedom.

  47. Graham Wilson

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? - Who watches the watchers?

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    I wonder when bin Laden was congratulating himself over 9/11 whether he had the foresight to know he had already won the greater war.

    Did he have the forethought to know his horrific act of malevolence would reawaken grotesque leviathan convictions deep within the depths of the West which would become his unwitting ally?

    The once latent notions of totalitarian State control united with unbridled power and sustained by all-encompassing surveillance, which in the 1930s and '40s, subverted and undermined democracy and wrought havoc and mayhem on the world, have with 9/11 arisen anew. And with breakneck speed they have spread, meme-like--with the tenacity of a metastatic cancer, throughout the minds of democracies' governing elites.

    Governments of the so-called free world, in one fell swoop, have made the biggest grab for power in modern democratic history under the guise of protecting citizens from terrorism, yet those who are primarily and mostly affected are the citizens themselves. Our democracies have paid a horrendous price for the 'The war on terrorism' to the point of the citizen being reduced to little more than a serf with respect to his freedom of movement, the right to privacy and his/her ability to hold government to account.

    Modern electronic surveillance in its many and varied guises has made a mockery of privacy laws. The ability of modern computer networks to bring together many disparate and seemingly non-connected snippets of one's life can produce a picture of extraordinary detail. As tiny little information snippets are collated an image appears about one's life as a photograph appears to emerge and pop up from nowhere in a developing tank, yet the citizen's ability to have even modest control over his data is now nigh on zero.

    Having a one-way flow of power from the citizenry to the ruling elites or through increasingly intrusive surveillance will not solve terrorism. Surveillance is the bluntest of blunt instruments for resolving political disputes: voyeuristic, snoopy, leaky and often incompetent bureaucrats, spooks and law enforcement who are on unjustified fishing expeditions, increasingly harm the citizenry with this one-way flow of information, whilst only incompetent or silly criminals or terrorists are caught. For example, witness the incredible--almost unbelievable--bungle with the MoD--Ministry of Defence's loss of the personal details of 600,000 people in the Armed Forces or those who were interested in joining them.

    Never the reverse occurs. After a surveillance operation, you never have the State go to the citizen and hand over the gathered information. The State never opens its books, records or files for public scrutiny, never lets those who are performing the surveillance be seen or named in public and never lets citizens know that they were under surveillance. A State with secrets is a democracy compromised.

    Terrorism will only ever be fully solved through bona fide political means. This is not to say the problem of terrorism, especially when targeted against defenceless and innocent civilians, is not a tragic problem of monumental proportions--it certainly is. Nevertheless, undermining our democracy and well-established way of life in the process is not only idiotic but also acknowledges the terrorists have won. On every count, it is wrong.

    .

    The Communications Data Bill

    Perhaps, in the horrific light of the UK's pending Communications Data Bill, it's time to visit the prophet once more. Those who know the text below will sigh with disturbed resignation and concern, those who have never read it before should commence at the beginning--some 246 pages back--at least it is in my 1972 Penguin Edition:

    " …Much had changed in him since that first day in the Ministry of Love, but the final, indispensable, healing change had never happened, until this moment.

    The voice from the telescreen was still pouring forth its tale of prisoners and booty and slaughter, but the shouting outside had died down a little. The waiters were turning back to their work. One of them approached with the gin bottle. Winston, sitting in a blissful dream, paid no attention as his glass was filled up. He was not running or cheering any longer. He was back in the Ministry of Love, with everything forgiven, his soul white as snow. He was in the public dock, confessing everything, implicating everybody. He was walking down the white-tiled corridor, with the feeling of walking in sunlight, and an armed guard at his back. The long-hoped-for bullet was entering his brain.

    He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother. "

    Depressing. How many of you Winstons are out there?

    When you've finished you should contemplate why there's hardly a whimper from the citizenry, especially those of the English-speaking countries, over their enormous loss of rights since 9/11; or congruently, consider the transfer--or more correctly--the compulsory acquisition of powers [rights] by the State from the citizenry since then. It's pretty simple really, governments, through their propaganda and spin departments have 'manufactured consent'* for the transfer of power. In the hands of skilled propagandists, the citizenry is very pliable. A tragedy it may be, but true.

    What has happened to our democracies and to our democratic rights and freedoms over the last few years has been simply appalling, there are no other words for it. Moreover, the pending Communications Data Bill has to be the very bottom of the barrel, if passed it would have to be the very worst legislation to come out of any democratic society. It is hard to imagine anything could be worse.

    Whether you are for the legislation or not you should read about how governments go about conning you, the citizenry. Yes, we all know it is by incessant, all-present, all persuasive, seemingly logical messages from governments, their spin-doctors and propaganda departments. Well, here is pretty much the original template: the master document for all propagandists, spin doctors, public relations companies, BS artists et al. Of course, it is not one they would ever have admitted reading or even knowing about. Written by one of the most reviled and despicable persons of 20th Century, this now dated document, parochial in parts--with some references that won't be familiar to everyone and written in a form a little unfamiliar to us today--arguably changed the 20th Century, and not for the better. Nevertheless, it's brilliance shines though, and it ought to be read by all citizens as a salient lesson in the remarkable power of professional propaganda, from either the State or elsewhere. We should ALL learn from it, not just those who expect to order us citizens about. Heed its methods, and try to make yourself much less susceptible to them: http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/goeb54.htm.

    …So, 'who will watch the watchers', who will guard the guardians?' Democracies have the separation of powers between the executive, judiciary and legislature for this purpose. However, as the proposed Communications Data Bill clearly attests, something is not working. In the end, it is we citizens who have to take responsibility. Write, complain and make a nuisance of yourselves. As Thomas Jefferson and perhaps Thomas Paine said 'The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.'

    * No, I won’t be tempted mention the author of that phrase for fear of it being indexed, it would then attract his loony critics.

  48. Mark

    @Stop using telephones and t'interwebs.

    You can get a plugin for softphones that'll take care of encryption - can't remember what it's called but I think it's free. Needed at each end as with anything so a bit of a pain in the arse. Skype obviously not an option after the Chinese patch went in.

  49. kain preacher

    What if Jacqui Smith is right

    The American equivalent would be , what if Bush and Chaney were right ??

    The answer to that one is were all fucked beyond believe. Sarah Palin seems to be Jacqui's twin. Do what ever you want, no matter the cost. IF the facts dont support your position get rid of the facts.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re:Here's a thought...

    By Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 21st October 2008 14:48 GMT

    "Seriously though, if this carries on, I'll consider emigrating to somewhere with less frightening rules, like the USA."

    You must not be paying any attention to the news. The Home of Free and the Land of the Brave is about to be taken hostage by socialism that's been creeping in the back door for the past 20 years. And with it comes all of the requisite censorship and limitation of civil liberties. As it is right now, Americans can't publish opinions that dissent with Obama without enduring accusations of racism.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    doom.

    we are in the last few days now, treasure what you once believed, it will not occur.

  52. Mark

    re: Re:Here's a thought...

    "You must not be paying any attention to the news. The Home of Free and the Land of the Brave is about to be taken hostage by socialism that's been creeping in the back door for the past 20 years. And with it comes all of the requisite censorship and limitation of civil liberties.As it is right now, Americans can't publish opinions that dissent with Obama without enduring accusations of racism."

    My god.

    Do you realise that all of the communistic (Stalinist) legislation has been at the explicit wishes (via Presidential Fiat if necessary) by GWB?

    HE is the socialist.

    He knows better than you whether you need to know what the government is doing to you.

    He knows better than you whether there is a risk.

    He knows better than you whether you can be considered safe to fly.

    He knows better than you where your taxes can be spent and when you'll have to be taxed more.

  53. Mark

    @Graham Wilson

    "I wonder when bin Laden was congratulating himself over 9/11 whether he had the foresight to know he had already won the greater war."

    bin Laden has denied he did it. Given he and his family were such good friends with the Bush's and that he has since had to go into hiding REAL deep under cover, this has some evidence to support its veracity.

    Al Quaeda didn't exist. It was a cover name for several groups of "terrorists". Now they exist because of the overreaction in 9/11 (where Shrub said that America would not stand for terrorism against them. HEY! WHERE WERE YOU IN THE 80's??? Oh, yeah, supporting Gerry Adams...).

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    @ac - grrr!

    Does she f*ck?

    Are you insane. Please erase all bits in my memory bankies now while I go take a lie down

  55. Graham Wilson

    @Mark re @Graham Wilson

    (...So this is a very late reply. But I felt compelled to reply to Mark.)

    .

    I have always regretted not having the ability to write as do luminaries such as H. L. Mencken or Hunter S. Thompson who, in a single sentence, can express tremendous outrage and proffer a solution, yet still convey it to readers with crystal clarity.

    The following is too long, but....

    "bin Laden has denied he did it. Given he and his family were such good friends with the Bush's and that he has since had to go into hiding REAL deep under cover, this has some evidence to support its veracity.

    Al Quaeda didn't exist. It was a cover name for several groups of "terrorists". Now they exist because of the overreaction in 9/11 (where Shrub said that America would not stand for terrorism against them."

    Agreed. Here, I used 'bin Laden' as a broad-brushed metaphor or symbol for those responsible.

    Also, whilst not disagreeing with your point, mine was that increased State control over the citizenry in times of threat usually results in a 'bull in a china shop' approach, it's not very effective and can have negative outcomes for society. The fabric that underpins society is fragile and is easily damaged; protecting it requires considerable care and sophistication--a smart approach rather than brute force.

    "HEY! WHERE WERE YOU IN THE 80's??? Oh, yeah, supporting Gerry Adams...)."

    I assume you mean by this comment that I would have had us all sit back and allowed the outrages by the IRA to go unchecked. Certainly not, many innocent people were hurt or killed and society has full right to defend itself. Nevertheless, with respect to the Northern Ireland problem, the State's response (which supposedly represents its citizens' interest) should have been more cautionary and above reproach. In hindsight, it did a pretty woeful job: the 'war' went on far too long with lots of counterproductive rhetoric and little effective negotiations, lots of dead and injustices, such those committed against the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four, not only undermined citizens' faith and confidence in the State but it confirmed in the enemy's eyes that the State was essentially disingenuous.

    Perhaps I should have mentioned in my last post [1] that in certain circumstances I believe the State should use surveillance to protect its citizens but not as a first-line, default method of investigation as it is increasingly becoming. As electronic surveillance is extremely easy for the State to conduct and increasingly so, there is an almost overwhelming temptation for the State to give itself unlimited powers to do so (as it is intending to do with Data Communications Act).

    Given the very real dangers that surveillance poses to personal privacy and safety of citizens, with even potential to undermine democracy [2] itself, undertaking surveillance should never be an easy option for the State, it should only go down this route after extremely rigorous and independent oversighting by those directly affected--the citizens themselves.

    Electronic surveillance is now such an all-powerful all-pervasive tool it has the potential to directly alter the existing balance of power between state and citizens - to turn the State from servant into 'enemy'. Consequently, for their own safety, citizens need independently monitor and administer its use through an authoritative and transparent arm of government as the judiciary administers laws of the State. In a process similar to the separation of powers, executive government (and its enforcers, police, monitoring agencies etc.) should be directly accountable to others whose primary brief would be to protect citizens, uphold basic freedoms and democratic tenets whenever surveillance is used.

    Perhaps by now readers are thinking I am putting an undue emphasis on one aspect of our governance--surveillance. Then I should point out that governments are much more likely to instigate and pass laws which increase their powers if it is easy to do so, even if expensive or unpopular (as is the proposed Data Communications Act). Governments often justify such laws in the name of safety, law enforcement, security etc., but in reality, they are little more than dictates that have had little or no public involvement during their drafting. Moreover, the propaganda or spin that surrounds them is often couched in motherhood statements that are hard to argue against and which assures them a swift passage through parliament.

    A closer inspection often shows those who stand to gain the most from such laws are usually governments themselves along with already-privileged public-sector bureaucrats who will administer the provisions of such laws, for after all it is they who initially instigate them. The Data Communications Act, not only remove citizens' powers over privacy and undermines democratic principles but one assured outcome would be to confer better work conditions for these secret gnomes. Proving the hidden agenda would be nigh on impossible but you can bet one outcome of this proposed law will be to confer an 'affirmative action' status onto spooks. No longer will the bulk of them need to get their hands dirty with traditional, messy in-field investigations. In future, many will never have any need to take leave of their desks. Right, connotations of the Gilbertian line about 'sticking close to one's desk' come readily to mind.

    An all-embracing electronic surveillance will make for lazy policing; lazy policing means bad law enforcement.

    Those whose work involves protecting and securing the State takes several distinctive forms, generally the more arduous the job the less they are paid. Usually the military covers external threats, law enforcement: internal, and spying, data gathering and surveillance cover both internal and external threats. The military has (and always has had) the worst end of State security, especially the poor bloody infantry.

    At the other extreme will be those who administer the Data Communications Act, they will be paid the highest, sit at their desks and never get their hands dirty...

    ...and never will they ever have to worry about whether a land mine will jump up in front of them and nuke their manhood.

    ---------------------------

    [1] The previous post was a long and I'd have had to explain many caveats that I believe ought to cover covert surveillance to ensure that citizens are properly protected from State.

    [2] Right, this sounds all very esoteric and impractical you might say. Perhaps it is, but as any thinking person would have to agree, Democracy is under more threat now than ever before. It is not just surveillance and increasing control of the citizenry by the State that is at issue, there are many others. For instance, erosion of one's vote through lobbying, vested and corporate interests influencing and biasing government processes, the covenant between the citizenry and government is being decoupled, citizens' increasing disrespect for their parliamentary representatives and the institution of government itself, and growing numbers of parliamentary representatives who have a Burkian determination NOT to represent their constituents or defend their wishes, and so on.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Jaqui Smith dismises the Top prosecutor quotes on the select commity

    i was watching a little parliment channels yesturday and i noteced on the human right sections Jaqui Smith dismises the quotes on the select commity that the Top prosecutor made as " i didnt write the speech" so i dont know how it relates to my proposals or some such off hand dismissive answer.

    perhaps you can see the section online and pull the exact quotes off for a continuation of this story and fill in the latest blanks

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021