"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


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Monday, October 26, 2009

Britain's Surveillance Society

Check out this NYT article "Britons Weary of Surveillance in Minor Cases" by Sarah Lyall (via Drudge Report) about the extent that of government surveillance allowed in Britain. I highly recommend reading the entire article at the other end of the link. It is worrisome situation.

"A report in 2007 by the lobbying group Privacy International placed Britain in the bottom five countries for its record on privacy and surveillance, on a par with Singapore.

[...]

"[U]nder a law enacted in 2000 to regulate surveillance powers, it is legal for localities to follow residents secretly. Local governments regularly use these surveillance powers — which they 'self-authorize,' without oversight from judges or law enforcement officers — to investigate malfeasance like illegally dumping industrial waste, loan-sharking and falsely claiming welfare benefits.

"But they also use them to investigate reports of noise pollution and people who do not clean up their dogs’ waste. Local governments use them to catch people who fail to recycle, people who put their trash out too early, people who sell fireworks without licenses, people whose dogs bark too loudly and people who illegally operate taxicabs.

[...]

"The law in question is known as the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, or RIPA, and it also gives 474 local governments and 318 agencies — including the Ambulance Service and the Charity Commission — powers once held by only a handful of law enforcement and security service organizations.

"Under the law, the localities and agencies can film people with hidden cameras, trawl through communication traffic data like phone calls and Web site visits and enlist undercover 'agents' to pose, for example, as teenagers who want to buy alcohol."

I have to wonder how it is that law enforcement became so separated from the police? Why is it that local government agencies can run undercover sting operations for failing to recycle and dogs barking too loudly? I think this whole situation illustrates why a government's powers need to be limited.

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