Posts Tagged ‘ Britain ’

ID cards, privacy & hope for a UK Bill of Rights


The increase in surveillance of the British public has long been on the up, but a new state of the nation poll (reported in the Guardian) shows that the country has hit its tipping point.

One such aspect that has come under public scrutiny is the ID card. In July 2009, the home secretary, Alan Johnson, said the card were a ‘no brainer. They would allow easy travel between EU countries— passport free, only terrorists wouldn’t have them, and so on.

“The identity card is a safe, secure and simple way for people to protect and prove their identity and to travel around Europe but leave their passport at home,” he said. “Given the growing problem of ID fraud and the inconvenience of having to carry passports coupled with gas bills or six months worth of bank statements to prove identity, I believe the ID card will be welcomed as an important addition to the many plastic cards that most people already carry.”

And then a UK newspaper hired a hacker to test the ‘unhackable’ cards out. With a phone and a laptop, the card was hacked in minutes and cloned, with new information put on it. Not so fraud-resistant after all. Besides which, even if they were, it only takes one corrupt/breakable/bribable individual on the inside to screw the whole system. On the surface a good, all-inclusive, ‘no sensitive info‘, easy idea. On the inside, deeply flawed and unlikely to go down well in a country where trust in the government is at best tenuous.

The last state of the nation poll showed only 33% of people opposing ID cards. Now 53% perceive them to be a [very/]bad and 63% of people– up from 53% – worry about the government holding information on them.

The state of the nation poll shows the rights that the sample believed should be included in a Bill of Rights:

81% – the right to know what information government departments hold on you

79% – the right to privacy in your phone, mail and email communications

76% – the right to join a legal strike without losing your job

75% – the right to obtain information from government bodies about their activities

72% – and the right to free and peaceful assembly.

Which just goes to show that the UK still wants to be a free society.

This information was released by Power 2010, which asked the public to choose its top five priorities for political reform, the poll revealed that

80% agreed with the need for a bill of rights, 52% strongly.

The British public seems to be rejecting the idea of massive centralised power over which they have no control.

56% thought government power was too centralised, with

88% saying that local communities should have more say over decisions that affect them.

And that’s what democracy is all about… Right?

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UK full-body scanners set for take down


The use of full-body scanners in airports may be illegal on basis of discrimination and privacy, according to an equality watchdog.

The scanners have been hastily introduced to certain major airports in the UK in an attempt to catch potential terror attacks (like the recent Christmas Day incident) before they happen and stop them, but have now run into a hitch:  the human right to live versus the human right to privacy, dignity and not to be discriminated against. Understandably, many Muslim people are concerned that they will be singled out for the ‘random’ selection process —and they probably would be. This would be wrong for all the obvious reasons, but in addition it is foolish to think that the only people with a beef that could get attention from aeroplane-related terror tactics are [the minority of] Islamic people [who might resort to such measures]. The answer here is simple.

As much as I don’t fancy having my whole body peered at through a scanner (even though almost as much effort has gone into ensuring genital imperceptibility as into the perceptibility of everything else), I would rather that than be blown up mid-air (or anywhere for that matter). With regard to the potential for discriminatory practice, I believe everyone should be scanned. How else is the process supposed to be thorough? Scanning everyone is the only way to ensure that everyone is checked and nobody is discriminated against.

Time consuming, but worth it I think…

UK whore tax could help plug a gap


Also known as:

The case to have brothels  legalised, standardised, pasteurised (well, not quite), regulated and taxed.

Why?

The short answer:

Firstly, because the workers could be medically screened and physically and legally protected.

Secondly, the tax the government could/would reap would be massive,  comparable even to that of smokers’ and drivers’ taxes.

Simples.

The longer answer?

It could be argued that ‘no one’ wants a brothel on their doorstep and this is fair enough. Put them in industrial parks. Not sexy enough? Neither’s an alley (although something resembling an alley could be constructed on premises with an outside area).

Is this heinously commodifying women? I never said brothels should only be worked in by women; men are fair game too. Don’t like the commodification of sex? Here’s some news: it’s the oldest trade in the world, it was commodified long before any of us were born and with a country strapped for cash (and the government dipping into the pension funds etc.) we might as well stop being prudish and wilfully ignorant. Legalising this area of the black market could generate masses of revenue, plugging a gap in the economy, at the same time as all-importantly looking after the health and safety of the workers – not to mention the peace of mind of the patrons.

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