Monday, December 29, 2008

New Labour Attempts To Export Its Police State

I lived almost five years in the UK, and during that time, I got to watch what happens to a relatively free Western society when the Nanny State crosses the line over into a police state.

And make no mistake, New Labour's Britain is undoubtedly a police state these days.

When I lived there, I watched as prison and/or draconian fines became a standard punishment for even the most minor of "crimes." Buy the wrong class of ticket for a train? Fine and prison.

Use a garden hose during a "water shortage" (caused by leaky pipes in a country where most of the year is rainy and overcast)? Fine and prison.

Demonstrate within one mile of Parliament? Fine and prison. (This law was passed after ruling party MPs got tired of seeing angry anti-war demonstrators out of their windows on their way to work). Incidentally, this law means that most of Central London, including Trafalgar Square, is now off-limits for political speech and demonstrations. The outrage over that trick was great enough that the government has promised it will repeal the law at some point. Maybe.

Cameras popped up everywhere. Britain is the most-watched society on earth, with the government boasting that it can track you on foot, and even track your car's movements at every step of the way... and keep the information for two years.

Own more than one mobile phone? The government is encouraging citizens to report you as a potential terrorist.

Are you a dark-complexioned Brazilian traveling on London's underground? Well, police may shoot you eight times in the head for no reason and then lie about you "being suspicious," but the chief of police will be "sorry" about your death -- while warning that such shootings could happen again.

Mandatory ID cards with biometric imprints have been created and implemented recently, first for new migrants to the country. Eventually, they will be mandatory for everyone. Don't have the card and cannot present it on demand to authorities? Fine and prison.

Don't have a TV license to watch television? We're watching you and we're coming to get you -- it's all in the database. The license, used to pay for the BBC, is mandatory for all TV owners and the British government is spending millions on a campaign to promote its ability to track you down.

Don't have the proper car tax disk? You're being tracked, and we'll come to crush your car.

But the Labour Party government in London isn't content to stop here. It has a new idea -- let's censor the Internet!

The kind of ratings used for films could be applied to websites in a bid to better police the Internet and protect children from harmful and offensive material, Britain's minister for culture has said.

We have to protect the CHILDREN!

Giving websites film-style ratings would be one possibility.

"This is an area that is really now coming into full focus," Burnham told the paper.

Internet service providers could also be forced to offer services where the only sites accessible are those deemed suitable for children, the paper said.

And helpfully, the Good Minister Of What We Should And Shouldn't See offers this helpful observation:

He said some content should not be available to be viewed.

"This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it; it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people. We have got to get better at defining where the public interest lies and being clear about it."

Riiiiiight. "We" meaning government, "public interest" meaning government officials' interests, and "being clear" meaning a whole new hosts of fines, penalties and prison time for noncompliant nasties who dare to publish content Labour judges "not in the public interest."

So why am I blogging on this?

Because Britain's totalitarian ruling party isn't merely interested in starting this latest revolution in its Brave New World -- it wants to export it here to the United States!

Andy Burnham told The Daily Telegraph newspaper, published on Saturday, that the government was planning to negotiate with the administration of President-elect Barack Obama to draw up new international rules for English language websites.

"The more we seek international solutions to this stuff -- the UK and the U.S. working together -- the more that an international norm will set an industry norm," the newspaper reports the Culture Secretary as saying in an interview.

Unfortunately for the Minister, the pesky First Amendment over here would quickly put the kibosh on such a scheme (although the US government did make an attempt to implement a weaker version of censorship with the Clinton-era Communications Decency Act, which was largely stricken by federal courts.

This is one carefully-wrapped package from London that the new administration should return to its sender, post-haste.


paulie said...

This is one carefully-wrapped package from London that the new administration should return to its sender, post-haste.

I propose dumping it in Boston Harbor.

Anonymous said...

What do you want to bet that if the damned UK Labor party gets it's way that one of the first web sites to be abolished will be this one?

Steven H. Newton said...

Given that, ten months after its initial publication, one of our highest rated posts is still "Ladyboy marriage," I'd hope we were at the head of the abolition queue.

Anonymous said...

I have lived in Britain for 69 years, and I can tell you that the position is even worse than you describe. One new imprisonable offence every 4 days since New Labour came to power in June 1997

Number plate recognition cameras everwhere, road charges applied by GPS trscking is in the pipeline, the right to silence (the 5th Amendment in the USA) breached to allow forced self incrimination in speed camera cases (I lost my appeal to the European Court of Human Rights over it - google my name)the Civil Contingenies Act allows any Minister to declare a State of Emergency, seize property without compensation and imprison without trial, the police set up a private limited company to provide special prosecutors to stop speeding defendants winning on "technicalities", saying "come and get us if you are hard enough, it will cost you £4,000 ($6000 dollars) if you lose.

I strongly recommend the book and/or film "Taking Liberties", summer 2007

But this is far from home grown- much the worst threat to civil liberties comes directly or indirectly from the European Union and its totalitarian, authoritarian, wholly corrupt mind-set.

Idris Francis

Anonymous said...

The Federal Govt in Australia is also trying to censor the interwebs. They have started a trial, and they have a list of banned websites. And guess what? We're not allowed to know what's on that list, because that "would compromise the effectiveness of the censorship". It's all aimed at protecting the children of course. Or so we have to believe, because WE'RE NOT ALLOWED TO KNOW WHAT'S ON THE LIST!!

V for Vendetta, anyone? Expect things to get worse.