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This page provides occasional items, linked to the original articles, as we attempt to keep up with the rapidly changing situation on civil liberties.

fighting for civil liberties in the uk

Free spirits pursuing their alternative way of life, going to visit a well-loved cultural site, were brutally attacked by the forces of peace and order. Laws were later passed, outlawing their itinerant living style. Nearly ten years on, they are returning to their cultural focus-point. How 'the establishment' is failing to crush every freedom.







19th May, 2004: Public Meeting about ID cards

There's a public meeting (free attendance) to discuss the government's ID cards plan and Blunkett has been invited to it. Confirmed speakers include people from political parties, pressure groups, the police and experts in security. Attendance is free, register at


The proposed UK government ID card: A licence to live

While the UK government starts the steam-roller to increase control of their electorate, citing state security and fraud prevention, a sane voice discusses why British ‘citizens’ would just be subjugated further without any useful benefit.


UK government to introduce guilt by association?

“The plan, according to the Observer, is to allow the placing of orders banning people from contacting suspected terrorists on pain of imprisonment.”


UK parliament discussion on the possible introduction of identity cards.

“I have changed my view. I had felt that if there was a compelling case I would be prepared to set aside some of my instinctive civil liberty and libertarian concerns, but there is no compelling case. A range of issues has been raised, which, in my judgment, mean that the Government should not introduce the cards. They should heed the consultation and listen to Labour Members and members of the Cabinet, and they should not proceed with this policy. It would be unpopular in the country and unworkable.”
Mr. Mark Oaten (M.P. for Winchester)

James Hammerton, a major contributor to, starts a web log (blog). Read details here.



Major international report on net censorship
This first link gives a précis, while here is the full report (2Mb pdf file).

“This study has found that censorship of the Internet is commonplace in most regions of the world. It is clear that in most countries over the past two years there has been an acceleration of efforts to either close down or inhibit the Internet. In some countries, for example in China and Burma, the level of control is such that the Internet has relatively little value as a medium for organised free speech, and its used could well create additional dangers at a personal level for activists. The September 11, 2001 attacks have given numerous governments the opportunity to promulgate restrictive policies that their citizens had previously opposed. There has been an acceleration of legal authority for additional snooping of all kinds, particularly involving the Internet, from increased email monitoring to the retention of Web logs and communications data. Simultaneously, governments have become more secretive about their own activities, reducing information that was previously available and refusing to adhere to policies on freedom of information.

“Governments of developing nations rely on Western countries to supply them with the necessary technologies of surveillance and control, such as digital wiretapping equipment, deciphering equipment, scanners, bugs, tracking equipment and computer intercept systems. The transfer of surveillance technology from first to third world is now a lucrative sideline for the arms industry. Without the aid of this technology transfer, it is unlikely that non-democratic regimes could impose the current levels of control over Internet activity.”

“There are some positive developments within this survey. Countries have established protections, countries have enshrined protections, companies have fought for the rights of privacy of individuals, technologies have sustained the ability of dissident groups to speak freely and access content privately, differences in laws in countries has sheltered the speech of the oppressed. Technological developments are being implemented to protect a free Internet, but the knowledge gap between radical innovators and restrictive institutions appears to be closing.”


Breach of confidentiality and description

“Anonymity services can flourish only if users trust providers to be straight with them at all times. This in turn means that providers must be absolutely punctilious and obsessive about disclosing every exception to their assurances of anonymity. One doesn't build confidence by letting the Feds plug in to the network, legally or otherwise, and saying nothing about it.

“Justifying it after the fact, as the JAP team did, simply isn't good enough.

“Telling us that they only did it to help catch criminals isn't good enough either.”

Note that detecting this privacy intrusion was made possible by the software being open-source.

Link thanks to ag


International civil liberties weblog



“Portland's top brass said it was OK to swipe your garbage—so we grabbed theirs.”

An interesting and useful article on the growing government intrusions.


more opposition to government intrusion

“Fearing that the Patriot Act will curtail Americans’ civil rights, municipalities across the country are passing resolutions to repudiate the legislation and protect their residents from a perceived abuse of authority by the federal government.”

“In retaliation, some librarians have called special meetings to educate their communities about the Patriot Act’s implications. Others now routinely purge borrowing records and Internet caches.”


why government snooping will ultimately fail

Out there are millions who will use their wits to protect their freedom from over-ambitious government. Among them are great numbers who are much brighter and more creative than most government time-servers. Among them is a growing generation that increasingly understands the net, and a core of old control freak fools who do not.

The Internet is the end of the old top-down society. Either government opens up, or it will inevitably isolate itself.

“Poindexter, the controversial Pentagon official who is creating a global database surveillance system that could collect massive amounts of private, personal information.”

“But activists have created webpages to invade Poindexter’s own privacy, posting his home phone number, his home address, his birthday, information about his family, ways to find his Social Security number, and even a satellite photo of his neighborhood.”

Good government serves the people, it does not seek to rule or to harry them. Good government seeks the help and cooperation of the people. Good government can be trusted. Good government is open, not secretive.


The Internet counters Spanish censorship

“The Prestige was carrying more than twice the amount of fuel oil contained by the Exxon Valdez when it ran into an Alaska reef in 1989. Nevertheless, the traditional Spanish media—most of which is controlled by the government— has largely failed to cover the event.”

“The University of Vigo has consistently contradicted the government’s pronouncements on the advance of the black tide—a term never mentioned by the official press, locals say—with reports published by French and Portuguese experts.”

“Additionally, activists have used online forums to create petitions goading the government to greater action, to coordinate volunteers and to organize protests.”

“ ‘Once again, the Internet has proven to be an effective means of communication when faced with government censorship of the news media,’ said opposition Sen. Félix Lavilla Martínez. ‘The Spanish people have seen the images and commentaries; solidarity has been extended through the Web. ”


Attempts to close down sites by using foolish UK ‘law’

“The commission found that the law put ISPs under pressure to remove sites as soon as they were told the material on them might be defamatory, without considering whether the information was in the public interest, or true.”


Mission creep—the DNA intrusion on civil liberties

“Such expansions pose threats to civil liberties. DNA banking of convicted violent offenders is a good thing, but compulsory DNA sampling of the accused changes the nature of the relationship between citizens and the state. No longer are we innocent until proven guilty. Worse, the expansion of DNA databases creates new opportunities for genetic criminal profiling in the future — and the likelihood of DNA-style defenses.

A recent report by the British Nuffeld Council on Bioethics suggested that, as our knowledge of behavioral genetics grows and scientists identify genetic traits that encourage antisocial behavior, courts might consider a criminal’s genes as a mitigating factor in sentencing, just as they now weigh environmental influences such as a history of poverty or child abuse.”


Total Information Awareness project

“In the Pentagon in Washington, a team is working on plans to collect as much information about every single aspect of everyone in America as they can."”


The clash between free speech and incitement

As European leaders move to ban Internet hate speech and seek support from the United States, civil liberties groups charge that the proposal would violate free-speech rights.

[Site indicated by Limbic]


Declaration of Principles on Tolerance
“Proclaimed and signed by the Member States of UNESCO on 16 November 1995”

The reader needs to take account of the rather squishy vocabulary in this document.


Spain attempts to interfere with the Internet

Any Spain-based Web site that engages in commerce - even a struggling Egyptology site - must now register with the government under a stringent new law that took effect on Oct. 12.

The tough rules have prompted at least 300 Web site owners to take their pages offline in protest, according to Kriptopolis, a digital rights and Internet security site coordinating the campaign. It has drawn support from online civil libertarians across Europe.

Many site operators say their protest is open-ended, but others are gone for good. Still others say the law is so hard to decipher they've gone blank while studying how to comply.


Is Islam Compatible With Democracy and Human Rights?
An interesting document comparing Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 to Islamic law and doctrine.

Associated article by an author of arabic origin.
Is Islam Secularizable?

Don’t read article without the other.

Australia taps 20 times more phones than the United States
as a result of a judge’s signature on the warrant no longer being required.
[Sydney Morning Herald, 16.09.02]
How attacks on civil liberties are unfolding in the USA
As the article states, there is a greater awareness and concern with liberty in the USA, and a greater understanding....


© 2002, 5 september

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variable words
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