Corruptissima republica plurimae leges
TacitusWhen 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.