Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum


Corruptissima republica plurimae leges
Tacitus
When the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous

Yesterday saw the introduction of a law which means that every email you send or web site you visit will be recorded.

Access to this data is covered by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa) which means that Reading Borough Council can, if they so wish, ask to see who you are sending emails to or which web sites you are visiting.

These powers were introduced under anti-terror legislation, which is why their biggest use is to work out who is dropping litter or trying to get your children into a good school. Those crazy Al-Qassam Martyrs will definitely think twice before conspiring to drop crisp packets in Broad Street.

I can see the appeal of "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" mantra, but it is a crap argument of an intellectually bankrupt mind. We've seen how easily Daily Mail campaigns become law in this country. When the Tories introduced laws to ban ticket touting at football matches, the select committee said that it wouldn't be used to criminalise the ordinary fan. So why then do touts continue to act with impunity whilst I personally know ordinary fans who have been arrested for handing over tickets to their friends? It's because the guarantees we are given are not worth a politician's promise.

The anti-terror laws were just such a prospect. Launch an illegal war against Iraq knowing that it would create more danger for British citizens, wait for the sadly predictable response and then hoodwink the public into removing centuries old earned rights and force everyone to be a drone of the state in the name of anti-terrorism. Anti-terror was never the agenda though. Scrapping the ID card scheme and putting more police on the street with the money saved would have been the most appropriate response, but whilst socialism is now a dirty word in the Labour party, central state control of the individual has never gone away from their plans.

The inevitable end point of all these laws is that the state will define who you are, your access to resources such as health care, education and even having your bins collected, all on the basis of you playing by the rules... their rules. The sad thing is that now they are on the statute books, the Tories won't repeal them for fear of looking soft on terrorism. I hope I am wrong about that, but I'm yet to be convinced by the public school boys.

And just to show how mad things have got, these laws make it possible for an organisation that allows staff on 'gardening leave' to shred documents over a weekend unsupervised and can't even supply copies of exant emails requested under the Freedom of Information Act because they can claim unverifiably that they have been deleted to now have unprecedented access to our personal lives?

There is a lot more to come out over Shreddergate but here's the sneaky bit, as my FoI requests proves, if you don't know what to ask for you won't get it. And just to make sure that nothing gets out into the public domain, if you do ask people are given 'confidential briefings' and are then under the threat of being Standards Boarded if anything should leak out. Clever!

The years of the one party state in Reading has left many unanswered questions which I'm not sure if we'll ever get to the bottom of because, as Jo Lovelock's threat to whistle blowers at the January full council meeting signified, there are some desperate for things to remain hidden.

In the meantime, if anyone from the council has any further information they would like to share, do not use your reading.gov.uk address and do not use the council's proxy servers to send emails via hotmail. They are monitored.

2 comments:

Nowtas said...

I am the first person to take the plunge and dare make a comment under this topic.

Nothing else to say really, other than if it turns out someone at RBC has been paid to track online correspondence, they really would need to start answering why they cannot find so many of their own emails, etc.

howard thomas said...

Where is Andrew Walters when you need him??
Too big a subject for you is it Andrew?
Firstly I don't have a problem with ID cards , providing they are purely for ID purposes---we don't need to have something like 50 bits of information on them to recognise us.
This current government couldn't have made a worse mess of 'selling' ID cards to the public.Using the aftermath of 9/11 to try tell us that ID cards 'that would stop terrorists' was always a bollocks arguement--they wouldn't/they didn't and they won't!
What they could do is to make it easy to see who should be in this country and who should not.
No ID card sir,then I'm afraid you will have to pay for your non emergency medical treatment.
Same applies to benefit claimants---no ID --no claim.
The argument that they can be forged could be countered by having a DNA database connected to the card.
This would have a massive impact on the solving of crime ,especially sex crimes.How many times have you watched Crimewatch to be told that we have the rapist's DNA,but we don't know who he is.
Are the liberties that are talked about anything to do with the liberty afforded to rapists to carry on raping because they are 'innocent' members of the public.Who reading this would like to have to explain to a victim that she was raped because we choose not to have a database.
Having said that there is a reason that I can think of that would need strict laws to protect the public,and its not 'cos its mine'.
I've asked this question more than once on the letters pages of the local press ,without response!

Moving on to Sheddergate, this stinks! How can the council manage to investigate itself properly? surely the sort of body doing that investigation might be Ofsted.
There is no way that this saga can be above board from where I am sitting.Council staff ,in at the weekend,shredding loads of files,in a department with a problem,---yeah sure, thats OK
then!

On e-mails, it would be remarably funny if MacBrides dodgy e-mails had been cc Gordon Brown ,that would be justice!
Just a thought ---is there anything that can't come under terrorism laws these days?