Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jacqui thinks again

FROM time to time, I chance my arm in this blog anticipating what might happen. Sometimes it's better to be proved wrong. Before the G20 protests, when someone was quoted as saying that if the police wanted violence, they would get it, I said this would probably be so, not because of the protesters but because police tactics would be designed that way.

With one man dead and many injured, I could not derive any satisfaction from saying "I told you so".

But here's another little thought I recently aired, and since I make enough mistakes reporting things during the year for people to notice and remember, I might as well clock the odd correct prediction, Not that this one was rocket science, if you'll excuse the cliche.

Commenting on the row over MPs expenses and the incidental revelation of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's husband's viewing interests, in "adult movies", I said that sometimes "public interest" turned to prurience, when private matters were published. "But then I remembered that it is Jacqui Smith as Home Secretary who would oversee government plans for a private company to run a "superdatabase" that will track all our emails, wcalls, texts, internet use and so on.

"'No government of any colour is to be trusted with such a roadmap to our souls", warns Ken McDonald, former head of the Crown Prosecution Service. Besides the infringement of civil liberties, campaigners say this is a major risk to our private data - but won't make us any safer. 'The sheer amount of information that the Government intends to collect will be impossible to analyse properly and will undoubtedly turn up false positives while missing potential security threats amongst the morass of spam emails and private chat'".

I probably wasn't the only person to see the irony and make the connection. But anway, I commented:
"Maybe Jacqui Smith, if she manages to keep her job, will reconsider. Having seen how easily the personal becomes political, the Home Secretary has been, to use a couple of cliches, hoist with her own petard, and given a foretaste of her own medicine".

That was on March 30.

Now here's the news:

The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, today ruled out building a single state "super-database" to track everybody's use of email, internet, text messages and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Smith said creating a single database run by the state to hold such personal data would amount to an extreme solution representing an unwarranted intrusion of personal privacy.

Instead the Home Office is looking at a £2bn solution that would involve requiring communications companies such as BT, Virgin Media, O2 and others to retain such personal data for up to 12 months.

The decision to abandon a state central database is a setback for the police and security services who wanted rapid access to the data while conducting counter-terror and crime investigations. Instead they will have to apply for the data to be released to them on a case-by-case basis to each individual telecoms ..."


The government is not giving up on snooping, mind, just asking the individual service providers to keep records. Still, any setback for the police and security services is better than none.



At 7:23 PM, Blogger Old git Tom said...

This is the greatest Tory government the Labour Party has ever produced. It tried to impose its own right-wing social compact - a few more benefits dribbled down by the state machine, to masses conceived as powerless & impotent. The powerlessness was reinforced by increasingly authoritarian laws & constrictions of freedoms. The City banks were impressed, untouched by democratic controls. Hence, this regime is now collapsing.
But note the sudden swing by the hacks of the press. The public has been diverted from the countless billions lost by the international banks. Instead, Joe & Jane Schmuck are gingered up with tales of a few thousands of expenses fiddled by MPs. Nice one, journos, including Guido Fawkes, who probably thinks himself no end of a radical feller.
'Public anger' will presumably swing in the New Order - another bunch of Tory thieves under yet another Old Etonian - an almost mirror-reverse of what happened in the USA.
Pepsi or Coke party, things will surely only get worse. Until that is, the poor dumb electorate twigs that IT is expected to pay all those millions pledged to shore up the banks.
Answers to this dire situation? Try permutating revolution, Threadneedle Street, bankers, lamp-posts, & ropes.


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