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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.

News archive:
2002 - 2004


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No2ID protestors arrested on way to demo

The BBC reports:

Six civil liberties campaigners have been arrested outside a summit of European ministers on Tyneside.

A spokesman for the group NO2ID said two cars were driving towards the venue of the meeting in Gosforth on Thursday when police stopped them.

A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said four men and two women were held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage.

It comes on the second day of the three-day interior ministers' meeting.

Later on the article states:

The NO2ID group said they were arrested on Thursday morning on the grounds they may cause a breach of the peace.

The campaigners, who were going to wear orange boiler suits and bar codes on their foreheads, had created a massive ID card to highlight what they see as an increasing restriction on civil liberties.

A spokesman for the group said: "The two cars were approaching the venue when they were stopped and searched under the spurious grounds that there might be a breach of the peace.

'Inquiries continuing'

"Before they could even protest about our civil liberties being eroded they were arrested.

"It is shocking that we could not have a peaceful protest in a peaceful country but this is what these ministers want."

A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: "Four men and two women have all been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage and are currently in custody.

"Inquiries are on-going."





ID cards, Charles Clarke and "Big Brother Society"

UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke claimed that "Big Brother Society" is already here and that the UK govt's proposed identity cards will help control it:

He [Charles Clarke] attacked the "Big Brother state" accusation head-on, insisting: "People's names are already on a large number of databases.

"Most of us have dozens of cards in our wallets with our identities on. We already have a Big Brother society.""

It is true our names are on many databases and that we carry many cards. However, in most cases having these cards and having ones details stored on the databases is voluntary.

In all cases the information collected for one purpose cannot be legally shared for another purpose without an individual's consent, unless the police ask for it when investigating crime, or (increasingly these days) when government investigators do so.

The physical and institutional separation of these databases, and the voluntary nature of most of them, provide protection against misuse of the data by helping to ensure that only those who need the data can use it and that those who do not wish information to be stored about them can choose not to hand it over (except in limited circumstances). The proposed identity cards and associated database will undermine these protections.

The proposed card and database will be compulsory.

The card and database will be combined with a national identity registration number (NIRN).

The NIRN will eventually index into all the other government databases, plus many private ones, effectively unifying them.This will make it easy for someone armed with the NIRN to trawl these databases for information, legally or otherwise. It will also make it more difficult for individuals and organisations to control the access to their data.

These proposals will thus make identity theft/fraud easier, by providing a single point of failure, ready to be attacked by those who would misuse the data. Therefore it will not help control "Big Brother Society", but instead exacerbate the problems of ID theft and the misuse of personal information.

New NO2ID pledge

As reported by James Hammerton, No2ID have set a new pledge following the success of their earlier pledge reported below. This new pledge is aimed at those who are opposed to ID cards but feel they cannot afford to engage in non-compliance directly but want to support those who do. The aim is to get 50,000 people to pledge 20 to the legal defence fund set up under the earlier pledge, by 31st March 2006.

No2ID pledge reaches target of 10,000 signatures

Back in June, No2ID national coordinator Phil Booth set up a pledge on Pledgebank for people to sign up to. The pledge states: "I will refuse to register for an ID card and will donate 10 to a legal defence fund but only if 10,000 other people will also make this same pledge." A deadline of 9th October was set for obtaining the 10,000 signatures, but it has been been met only 1 month after the pledge was set up. Those interested can still sign up however -- 10,000 was a minimum being aimed for.

UK government pushes for retention of communications data in EU

The UK government has been pushing for communications data to be retained by phone companies and internet service providers for upto 3 yrs, so that law enforcement agencies can access it. This is data about who you email or phone, who phones you or emails you, what websites you visit and who visits your site. The government has pushed for this in the aftermath of the terrorist bombings in London on the 7th of July.

Government bans spontaneous demonstrations within 1km of Parliament

The British government has banned spontaneous demonstrations in any place the public have access to falling within a "designated area" with boundaries upto 1km from Parliament Square. It is an offence to organise, take part in or carry out an unauthorised demonstration within the designated area, even if only it is only a single individual doing so. More details at the link above and also here.

Identity Cards Bill re-introduced to Parliament

The UK government has re-introduced its identity cards bill to Parliament.

Satellite tracking of all car journeys proposed as means of road pricing

At a speech to the Social Market Foundation, Alistair Darling, the UK's transport minister, proposed using satellite tracking of all the vehicles on Britain's roads as a means of introducing road charges to tackle congestion, with rates varying from 2 pence per mile in rural areas to 1.30 per mile in busy congested areas.

UK's Violent Crime Reduction Bill introduces "drinking banning orders"

Gives courts the power to impose "drinking banning orders" on individuals they believe have engaged in "criminal or disorderly conduct" whilst under the influence of alcohol. The order can contain any prohibitions deemed necessary to protect others from further "criminal or disorderly conduct". Breaching an order can carry upto 51 weeks imprisonment and a fine.

Gives the police the power to order someone to leave an area, and not to return for upto 48 hours, if they think the individual is, in all the circumstances, likely to cause or to contribute to the occurrence or continuance of alcohol related crime or disorder. A fine can be imposed for failing to comply.

Note that neither banning orders or directions to leave an area require someone to have been convicted of an offence.

UK government publishes bill to criminalise incitement of religious hatred

The Racial and Religous Hatred Bill extends existing British laws, namely the Public Order Act 1986, on inciting racial hatred to cover the incitement of "religious hatred". "Religious hatred" is defined as "hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief". It will be an offence to publish something or say something in public that, "having regard to all the circumstances", is likely to be heard or seen by someone in whom it will, or is likely to, stir up religious hatred. It is feared that this will restrict freedom of speech and make it difficult for people to criticise religious beliefs.


Summary of UK governments latest attack on civil liberties (from James Hammerton's Blog)

The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 allows the British government to place “control orders” on suspected terrorists without a trial. The suspects may not even get to see the evidence against them and no charges are laid. Control orders can impose anything from internet bans to full blown house arrest. They can be applied to anyone resident in Britain. House arrest would require derogation from article 5 of the ECHR. Other “non-derogating” control orders can be imposed by the Home Secretary (if he believes the case is urgent) or by the courts, on application by the Home Secretary otherwise.


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