A thorn in the side of Big Brother.
December 20, 2004 8:24 AM   Subscribe

White Rose "is a protest blog collective focusing on civil liberties in the UK and the rest of [the] world. It was set up to point a finger at the erosion of personal freedom in the UK. Government's active measures introduce new means of control such as identity cards and surveillance cameras, the passive measures such as weakening of double jeopardy and presumption of innocence." Nice quote from this entry:
My audience were all gluttons for freedom, if by that you meant the freedom to hunt, or the freedom to eat roast beef without the fat trimmed off. But they were perfectly happy to see their own liberties curtailed, if that gave the authorities a chance to crack down on scroungers and bogus asylum-seekers.
posted by languagehat (20 comments total)
Oops, forgot to add: via our own plep.
posted by languagehat at 8:29 AM on December 20, 2004

It's about time that a blogger came out in support of civil liberties.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 8:46 AM on December 20, 2004

The Samizdata crowd is pretty uniformly libertarian; I'm sure that many here would deride them for being "Randroids." Their smarminess earned my readership long ago.
posted by trharlan at 8:51 AM on December 20, 2004

Yeah, they're not a bad crowd, except for the gun fetish fuck lefties stuff.

Oh, and DrJohnEvans, I fully agree. We need even more bloggers talking about civil liabilities.
posted by gsb at 9:05 AM on December 20, 2004

The NTK.net newsletter has a bunch of information about ID-Card schemes and the like. For a nice long review of ID Cards, I'd reccomend that people download and read this.

I'm just hoping that they ask EDS to do the Computer releated stuff on this project.

Thanks for the link languagehat.
posted by seanyboy at 9:13 AM on December 20, 2004

in a country where no one thinks twice about paying with a credit/debit card, eagerly hands over their tesco club card to earn precious bonus points, and can hardly go anywhere without being tracked by a CCTV camera, the opposition to the national id card - for fear of being tracked by a big evil central computer - seems more than a little bit irrational.
posted by three blind mice at 9:48 AM on December 20, 2004

yes, but three blind mice, you can use cash, you don't absolutely need a tesco card, and without a national ID card, you don't necessarily know who you're looking at when you see someone on CCTV.
posted by chaz at 9:59 AM on December 20, 2004

The name is a reference to the famous anti-Hitler German underground movement during WWII. An interesting choice.
posted by norm at 10:05 AM on December 20, 2004

I use cash for the majority of my purchases, don't have any kind of loyalty card whatsoever (precisely because I want to avoid being profiled by enormous private companies), and I refuse to use the godforsaken Oyster card - but unfortunately the CCTV battle has already been lost. I'm not a civil liberties activist or anything - I just want to maintain the smallest semblence of privacy.

Which is precisely why I'd sooner go to jail than carry a state-mandated ID card. They can go fuck themselves.
posted by influx at 11:22 AM on December 20, 2004

Oh, and I have long been mulling over producing a "No, I don't have a fucking Nectar card" t-shirt, if there's any takers.
posted by influx at 11:23 AM on December 20, 2004

chaz, influx, i'm with you. my point is that we seem like a very small minority. how many people on the same principles on which they oppose the national id card would oppose credit/debit cards? very few is my guess. convenience erodes more civil liberties than fear.

as for the nectar card, everytime i go into the sainsbury at the O2 center the cashier asks me "do you have a nectar card?" to which i answer "yes" and then after he stares at me for a moment expecting me to hand it over i add "oh, but i never use the thing." the tee-shirt is a nice idea though.
posted by three blind mice at 11:48 AM on December 20, 2004

I was "asked to leave" the Angel Sainsbury's for presenting one of their 4ft cardboard cutout Nectar cards when asked for one at the checkout. Some people have no sense of humour.
posted by influx at 12:28 PM on December 20, 2004

I don't think the CCTV cameras are really all they are cracked up to be - the sheer number of cameras compared to the staff watching the images makes monitoring rather tough. I sometimes feel that they are in place simply to provide Sky One with programming on slow nights when all you see are replays of drunken fights on "Nightmare Swansea Nights : From Hell XXVII!!".
posted by longbaugh at 12:35 PM on December 20, 2004

funny stuff influx. just hope i'm not in line behind you!

longbaugh you are right about that. there was an article in the times recently that in most instances the images captured by the CCTVs are of such poor quality that they can't be used.

so i guess this means i won't be needing my blurry face disguise.
posted by three blind mice at 1:02 PM on December 20, 2004

A few years ago I took part in a study of CCTV footage at Stirling University. The results were clear - CCTV footage is useless. The quality is so low that identification doesn't even begin to come to close to reliable.
posted by influx at 2:19 PM on December 20, 2004

According to the 7th Annual Survey on the state of privacy in sixty countries (report by Privacy International and the Electronic Privacy Information Center), Britain holds the record for video surveillance, with one CCTV (closed circuit television) camera for every 14 people – a 300 per cent increase over the past three years. Most city centres in Britain are watched by a linked system of cameras with full pan, tilt, zoom and night vision capability.

Nice to hear that they are useless. Why is so much money being spent on them, then? Is it just a panoptic principle?

(*ahem* repeating own comment on own FPP, but i don't care)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:44 PM on December 20, 2004

CCTV isn't totally useless. I had a friend who was beaten up, and CCTV footage was used succesfully as evidence.

I too refuse to own a loyalty card, but suspect that the supermarkets use my debit card to track purchases. I'm not that bothered about that though. The privacy infringement is nothing more than "Tesco's know what they sold me."

I'll never accept an identity card though. Talk to me in 10 years time, but my feeling is that this is something I'd be happy to go to Jail over.

Ironically, I think I signed all rights to my privacy over to the government back in 1993 (When I had a brief stint as programmer for the Inland Revenue).

But as you say. Fuck 'em. I wonder if they'll have to build a special Computer Free prison for all the Geeks they're going to have to lock up.
posted by seanyboy at 4:29 PM on December 20, 2004

As far as the ID card battle goes, I earnestly hope that all UK mefites are signatories to Charter 88 - this poistion paper is about as good as it gets on this subject.

Liberty could do with a donation over Christmas if you were so inclined to put your money where your mouth is on civil liberties in the UK.

I have to say though that I strongly believe that the indefinite internment of foreign nationals without charge or trial is a rather more gross violation of civil liberties than the ID card issue.

(Full disclosure: A former client pitched for Home Office biometrics work but I am opposed to their introduction)
posted by dmt at 4:55 PM on December 20, 2004

CCTV might not be good for identification but they are good for crime prevention. Here in Cape Town the CBD was getting quite dodgy at night, but with a CCTV rollout the response time to crimes dropped to 1-2 minutes and subsequently crime in the area went through the floor and now the areas with coverage are bustling at night with bars and restaurants.
posted by PenDevil at 12:53 AM on December 21, 2004

Yeah, I can't get too worked up about CCTV. If nothing else, they can act as a deterrent.

I don't have a Tesco card either, for the reason that my purchase data is far more valuable to Tesco for what they offer in return, let alone the privacy aspect. I'd buy a "no I don't have a fucking Nectar card" t-shirt if you made one, influx!
posted by salmacis at 3:00 AM on December 21, 2004

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