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Counter-terrorism powers are too vulnerable to abuse

I recall vividly the day when a police officer – not one serving in Wycombe – told me of his disgust at a superior’s easy resort to counter-terrorism powers against people not suspected of terrorism. Now the police have taken that resort against a Guardian journalist’s partner, we have a story. In a video, the Guardian’s editor Alan Rusbridger explains that the disturbing element of the David Miranda arrest was the use of counter-terrorism powers to suspend the normal rules. […]

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Let’s not be hysterical about CCTV

As reported by the BBC and Sky, the CCTV Code Of Practice (PDF) comes into force today. Nick Pickles of Big Brother Watch featured heavily on BBC Breakfast this morning, urging applicability of the code to private CCTV operators. Big Brother Watch writes: The code is a step in the right direction towards bringing proper oversight to the millions of cameras that capture our movements every day. However, with only a small fraction of cameras covered and without any penalties for breaking […]

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I didn’t seek election to roll forward Labour’s surveillance state

Via Government web surveillance: ‘Expensive, impractical, totalitarian’ – Telegraph: The Government’s plan to make Internet Service Providers capture personal communications data is nothing new. It was brought up under the last Labour government as the “Intercept Modernisation Programme” and received heavy criticism from the Tory party in opposition. The article concentrates on the practicalities of recording people’s internet activity. For a more philosophical point of view about why it shouldn’t be attempted, see Sam Bowman’s Our road to serfdom. Meanwhile, […]

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Remember, remember, the 5th of November

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As CNN reports, the V for Vendetta-style Guy Fawkes mask has inspired Occupy protesters around the world. CNN points out: Ironically Fawkes, far from being the anti-establishment hero he has come to be seen as in the years since his death, was a monarchist who merely wanted to replace the Anglican king with a Catholic queen. A transcript of his trial with co-conspirators is available here. It’s hard reading for one not accustomed to 17th century English but, in relation […]

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BBC News – Nudge not enough to change lifestyles – peers

As if ‘nudge’ were not bad enough: Plans to get people to adopt healthier lifestyles will not work unless the government is more prepared to use legislation, peers believe. via BBC News – Nudge not enough to change lifestyles – peers.

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Tory MP says HMRC ‘menacing’ letters show state is using ‘sinister’ psychology | News | Money Marketing

Updated. A story on Money Marketing, reporting my comments to them on a letter that two of my constituents received from HMRC as a first demand (notwithstanding HMRC’s claim in the article that it is only sent as a third reminder): A Conservative MP says recent letters from HM Revenue & Customs demanding people pay up or face having their possessions auctioned is an example of behavioural psychology now being employed by the Government. And He says: “We now have […]

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George ought to help

Via Samizdata, food for thought: So, here’s the text of one of HMRC’s standard letters. My constituents are rightly complaining about them after having been scared witless that they, decent law-abiding individuals and families who had in fact paid, were about to have property seized and sold by the state. Dear Sir/Madam To avoid extra tax costs, please pay £xxxx.xx Since I last wrote to you, most of those still owing tax have paid, making their contribution to the vital […]

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Tim Hewish: Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures

N.B. The author is Tim Hewish – my Parliamentary Researcher — Steve My attention was recently drawn to the reduced £13 million funding for State initiatives to provide books to pre-schoolers in the form of Bookstart, Booktime and Booked Up. I can sense the reactionary response: Why would any Government withdraw money for children’s books? However, as a first principle, that accepts the premise that it is the State’s obligation to offer a selection of books to infants. We should be […]

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Private versus Public Nudging

Via Private versus Public Nudging « Mark Pennington on Pileus: Listening to Professor Thaler I was reminded of the claim made by many socialists in the past – Lenin being perhaps the most prominent – that since private firms routinely engage in ‘planning’ there should not be any concern about the state ‘planning’ on  a society wide scale. Yet, as Hayek noted on numerous occasions, to recognise that ‘planning ‘ is an essential element of a progressive society tells us nothing […]

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Why we need Big Brother Watch

Something posted by Big Brother Watch on DNA prompted me to glance back at Albert Speer’s Inside The Third Reich. In the conclusions to this book, the war criminal wrote, referring to his final remarks at Nuremburg: The criminal events of those years were not only an outgrowth of Hitler’s personality. The extent of the crimes was also due to the fact that Hitler was the first to be able to employ the implements of technology to multiply crime. I […]

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