May 22nd, 2009

Big Brother, not quite so big

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

The older I get the more into grumpy old man mode I slide. I have a strong sense of law & order & a moral obligation to assist the forces of the law in any way I can. But, I also have a determination that this should not be at the expense of my liberties.

That’s why I have always disagreed with the retention of the DNA of innocent people. It’s why I started out many years ago thinking that if you had nothing to hide, carrying an ID card could only assist society, but now I feel there is no need for me to possess such a thing. It’s why I don’t want the details of everyone I ring or email held on a national database, etc etc.

So I was pleased today to see a result in the Appeal Court which has ruled the Metropolitan Police must destroy surveillance photographs of someone who has not committed nor been suspected of any offences.

Andrew Wood is an arms trade activist who was photographed at the offices of an arms fair company. He has never been arrested. Police added his photos to a criminal intelligence database & refused to destroy them saying they could prove valuable should Mr Wood go on to commit any offences at some unspecified future date.

Law Lords decided 2 to 1 that his rights had been breached & ordered the destruction of the photos. They have left time for the Met to appeal before destroying the photos, so we will have to see what happens next.

As far as I’m concerned it is simply not good enough to say ‘if you’ve got nothing to hide’ what have you got to worry about’. I believe the onus should be on the authorities to show a very good reason why they should have me on any kind of database, particularly if I’m doing nothing illegal.

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