Monday, May 21, 2007
Universal enforced snooping is on the agenda. A real ‘New Labour theme.
Council staff, charity workers and doctors could be required by law to tip off police about anyone they believe could commit a violent crime. The Home Office proposals, leaked to the Times newspaper, insist public bodies have "valuable information" that could identify potential offendersLets be clear. If you know someone has commited a crime you tell the police. They prosecute, you are a witness and can have your evidence tested in court. This propsal is for something else entirely. A compulsory database of suspicions.
Look what this means in terms of the database society, discussed in detail back when NuLab effectively pitched its bid to be the Party of Databases. This ignores the danger of ‘data artefacts’ being created where so-called information from different sources gets linked in a database in a way which makes wild rumour an equal partner to painstaking forensic investigation.
LibDems believe – I think- that we can do better than a system that encourages imaginary connections from unrelated datasets seeming to support strange conclusions about individuals.
We do need to work on this though – part of our narrative perhaps?
Back in 2005 we had Blairs NuLab conference speech which in my view suggested a move towards a Soviet-style justice system for Britain, a point emphasised here as beefed-up ASBOs were proposed in January this year.. One thing to watch with Irn Broon is whether he rejects this creeping authoritarianism or gives it a boost.
Staying on the old Soviet theme, can’t resist this genuine Soviet-era samizdat joke.
Child in a Soviet school is asked by teacher ‘How big is the Communist Party?’
‘It’s five foot six tall’ says the child. (*)
‘Er – what do you mean?!
‘My dad is six feet tall. He comes back home every evening and puts his hand across his throat and says “I have HAD the Communist Party up to HERE”…’
Seriously, fear of children telling innocent tales to officials was one of the great fear inducers of Soviet society. Perhaps unfairly, the story flashed into my mind when I saw the BBC report…
(* story translated from the original metric for the benefit of Imperial Measurement diehards).