One Data Protection rule for them, and another for us.

 

Yesterday for me was just a (*collective noun) of paradoxes.

Last week, the puppy chewed up my daughter’s phone.  She ordered a new one on line but was not in when UKmail tried to deliver it.  She went to their website but there was no option to arrange a re-delivery date.  Instead, there was a phone number.  She doesn’t have a phone because the dog ate it.  So she facebooked me the consignment number and asked me to contact UKmail for her.  I duly phoned and waited the prerequisite 25 minutes for an operator (obviously they explained that they were experiencing high traffic volume – there are 2.6m people looking for a job but doubtless my phone call, contributed to their profit margin)

However, in spite of having the consignment number and only wanting to tell them to deliver it on Monday morning, I was not allowed to say anything because of ‘data protection’!

My daughter would have to phone… but my daughter hasn’t got a phone….  UKmail have her phone.  Catch 22 and left me wondering how many fraudulent phone calls they get from people with the consignment details?

At the same time, the Guardian revealed that all my emails, facebook messages, telephone conversations etc have been picked up by the US and passed on to GCHQ…  In fact, they already know the details of my history with UKmail and my daughter’s phonelessness.

Data protection?

Meanwhile, another daughter had a migraine and Ibuprofen was not working.  We had also run out of soluble paracetamol and codeine, which I need for me, but makes my daughter vomit.

So I went to the local chemists, knowing that I’d also have to drive to another one, 4 miles away, because of not being allowed to buy more than 32 tablets containing paracetamol…. Health and Safety legislation.

However, when I tried to buy one of the various over-the-counter migraine tablets that I’ve bought in the past, I found that all the local pharmacists now require a consent form to be filled in first … and you guessed it.  My daughter had to fill it in.  But my daughter couldn’t go and fill in the form because she had a migraine…..

Presumably, the consent form is to prevent my daughter from suing the pharmacist … However, with the removal of legal aid, they don’t really need to be so worried.

I couldn’t help but wonder where were the consent forms applying to activities of the financial sector … let alone to prevent fracking?  Then I remembered – fracking was one of the major reasons why the Tories are restricting Judicial Review.

Furthermore,  when it comes to Health and Safety,  why aren’t they prosecuting this Tory/LD government for doing nothing to regulate the banks or stop us heading for another financial crash?

Where is Health and Safety when it comes to removing peoples’ benefits; forcing people out of their jobs and homes?  What about the massive rise in food banks; the cutting back of social care; or the suggestion that one child minder could safely look after 6 two year olds… ?  I could go on.

But to return to my paradoxical day.

When I told my eldest daughter about my frustrations, she said:

“You should have said that the phone/tablets were for you.”

And of course, that is exactly what this government does.  It lies!

They know that we do not want the NHS privatized so they say that its safe in their hands and is not being sold off.  They pledge not to raise tuition fees.  They say that the cuts are necessary because of the last Labour government.  They say that its critical that the deficit and the debt must be brought down whilst doing the opposite.  They say that people on benefits or unemployed are skivers.  They say that the economy is recovering……

But more pertinently, in the current context… the Tories are lying about the need to introduce a ‘Snooper’s bill’.

Why do they need a ‘Snooper’s bill’?  The US are already doing the ‘snooping’ for them!  

In fact, I was puzzled at the time by the US and the UK voting against the International Telecommunications Union bill to restrict the internet in Dubai last December… not least because of ‘British government’s current draft communications bill which would produce a system of blanket collection and retention of all online data.’

 

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a UN organisation that counts 193 countries as its members, aims to add the internet to its existing regulatory roles…. Its goal is to establish government-led “international norms and rules standardising the behaviour of countries concerning information and cyberspace”

The most subversive proposal is the plan to force internet provider companies to monitor data and restrict their services to uses deemed ‘rational’ by the government of that country.’

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, said “These decisions will have a huge impact on freedoms and the everyday use of the internet [that] people take for granted and most people would be shocked to know that something so major could be happening amongst such secrecy.” 

Tribune Magazine November16-29 2012 p.1

 

Furthermore… one of the worrying aspects of the leaks from TPP documents suggests that a version of SOPA could be introduced by the backdoor, limiting internet freedom and internet privacy rights.  It is reasonable to assume that similar attempts will be made to include these in the US-EU Free Trade Agreement that is being rushed through in secret negotiations for 2014.

So why did the US and UK vote against the ITU bill limiting internet freedom?

It may be that the US and UK votes were another ‘lie’, a ‘blind’ for public consumption, thus maintaining the mythology of free speech and democracy… and/or it may be that the US did not want their freedom to snoop restricted by foreign governments.  Whatever, the explanation, it is clear that there has been considerable double-speak and a massive invasion of personal privacy.  Those who say that they have nothing to hide in being ‘snooped’ upon should think twice about how wise it is to trust governments who do not in any sense ‘play fair’ or transparently.

Furthermore, is it wise to trust a government that constrains ordinary commonsense behaviour by the public, in the name of Data protection/Health and Safety legislation but totally ignores the risks to, and the rights of that population in favour of protecting the freedom of the corporations, finance and the super-rich?  Capitalism has always had to find a balance between the accumulation of wealth for the few and the danger of precipitating riots and revolt from the masses.  To that end, intrusive surveillance, curtailing access to information, and over-controlling the behaviour of the mass population makes total sense.

There is one set of rules for them and another for us.

Pathetically, I can only hope that the Guardian revelations have given Obama and the Tory/LDs a migraine .. and that they have as much trouble as I did to get painkillers.

*Suggestions for a collective noun for paradoxes from all SORTSA LINGUISTIC EXPERIMENT:

  1. an enigma of paradoxes  
  2. contradiction of paradoxes

Now I wonder what collective noun I could find for the coalition government….

Access to UK Justice means Stopping Legal Aid ‘Reform’

Cameron attacks our hard-won ‘Right to Challenge’

Are we already in the post-democratic era?

Next Month’s International Threat to control the Internet – Act Now!

Is Ed Davey’s energy bill really turning Blue, Green?

Quote

Open letter to Ed Davey on Draft Energy Bill

Open letter from SGR to Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, on the Draft Energy Bill and wider UK energy policy. The letter makes four main criticisms: insufficient curbs on greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuel plants; favouritism towards the nuclear industry; inadequate support for the renewable energy industry; and failure to prioritise energy conservation.

First posted on 19 July 2012

Rt. Hon. Edward Davey, Secretary of State
Department for Energy and Climate Change
London

Dear Sir

Open letter on Draft Energy Bill and wider energy policy

We write on behalf of Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), a UK organisation with 1000 members drawn from across the science, design and technology professions, and with a concern for peace, social justice and environmental sustainability.

We wish to add our voice to the widespread criticism of the Draft Energy Bill, published in May, and also highlight our broader concerns about current UK energy policy. In summary, our concerns are the following.

• Insufficient curbs on greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuel plants. We note with considerable disappointment that the Bill has set an Emissions Performance Standard for new electricity generating plant at the unambitious level of 450 g/kWh, and that such power stations would be subject to the level until 2045 (Section 36). We are also very concerned by loose wording regarding exemptions for projects intending to use Carbon Capture and Storage technology (Section 37), which we firmly believe could be used to side-step restrictions for new unabated coal-fired plant. Both these factors are highly likely to undermine attempts to meet carbon reduction targets under the Climate Change Act. As the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recently noted,1 such shortcomings could be remedied by including an explicit target for a reduction in carbon intensity in the electricity sector – of no more than 50 g/kWh by 2030. We strongly urge you to insert such a target in the Bill.

• Favouritism towards the nuclear industry. The system of proposed incentives for building new low carbon plant is, in our view, strongly geared towards supporting new nuclear power over renewable energy technologies, and creating ways to side-step the commitment not to subsidise nuclear power. We have numerous concerns about nuclear power, but perhaps the most pertinent to the current situation is the poor progress being made with current new nuclear plant construction in Western countries – specifically, Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in France (both many years behind schedule and massively over-budget) – coupled with spiralling estimates of build costs, more generally.2 Government cost estimates – and indeed those quoted by the CCC – do not seem to reflect such real world experience and we strongly urge the government to reconsider such support mechanisms. The key problem in our view is the current proposal for Feed-in Tariff with Contracts for Difference (FiT-CfDs). While a strong case may be made for support mechanisms for new technologies as they move towards commercialisation, to use such a mechanism for established technologies such as nuclear power seems deeply illogical – as well as being a clear breach of the coalition government’s commitment not to subsidise nuclear power. And for these mechanisms to lock the consumer into supporting such technologies for as much as 25 years (compared with only 15 years for renewable energy projects) is high risk. Coupled with numerous other measures which benefit only the nuclear industry – not least favourable insurance conditions and fixed unit pricing for radioactive waste disposal – this mechanism as currently planned has, in our view, little to justify it. We therefore call on the government to exclude nuclear power from the FiT-CfD system.

 Inadequate support for the renewable energy industry. There is a distinct lack of ambition shown by the government for the expansion of renewable energy in the UK. We have an enormous indigenous resource base – especially wind and marine – and costs are falling rapidly – especially in technologies such as onshore wind and solar photovoltaics. Employment opportunities in these areas are large and growing. The government is aware of all of these factors and yet has responded recently with over-zealous and poorly organised cuts to solar energy tariffs and with such lukewarm support for wind power that Vestas has cancelled its plans for a wind turbine factory in Kent which would have employed nearly 2,000 people. In general, the control framework set up for DECC spending on renewables is too restrictive3 – especially when compared with the generosity shown to the nuclear industry. Given the transitional nature of the financial support needed as these technologies move towards a more competitive position – unlike that for nuclear power – we strongly urge the government to shift its position and provide significantly more financial support to key renewable energy industries.

• Failure to prioritise energy conservation. We have been very disappointed by the government’s proposed Green Deal, which in our view is also unambitious. While improvements have been made recently, it still seems very unlikely to exploit the enormous potential for reducing domestic energy demand in the UK. Indeed, compared with existing energy efficiency schemes, analysis suggests that it will be markedly less effective.4 Two key flaws in our view are a low level for the ECO subsidies, and a lack of timeliness in issuing documentation to allow the businesses expected to deliver the scheme to forward plan. However, we believe that the problems with policy on energy conservation run much deeper. Here we wish to endorse the call from a recent WWF-co-ordinated study5 that argued that energy conservation be put at the heart of UK energy policy, rather than added as an afterthought. Only a fundamental shift of this nature will, in our view, deliver the combined goals of providing energy security, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling fuel poverty.

In summary, we do not understand the government’s position. The development of a low carbon economy offers the UK a real opportunity to create long term jobs through sustainable improvements of households and businesses across the UK. Government support and stronger regulation would drive a strong regeneration of the economy. In our view, there is a powerful argument to use what would amount to a small proportion of the sums for quantitative easing (which currently stand at £375bn) for direct support of a large-scale UK-wide insulation and business premises upgrade programme. Recent studies show that such a programme would pay for itself at commercial interest rates, provided funding of the order of £5-10bn can be secured for major city regions such as Leeds, and that this activity could be scaled up across the UK.6 We are aware that such proposals have been put directly to government by both CCC expert advisors in the economic sphere, and by other senior advisors to government, and we think that this is an opportunity that should be grasped for the benefit of the UK economy, our world standing as a climate change leader and would have support of the public.

Sincerely

Dr Stuart Parkinson, Executive Director
Dr Philip Webber, Chair

Cc:
Rt. Hon. Charles Hendry, Minister of State, Department for Energy and Climate Change
Rt. Hon. Gregory Barker, Minister of State, Department for Energy and Climate Change
References

1. CCC (2012). Meeting the Carbon Budgets: 2012 progress report to parliament. http://theccc.org.uk/reports/2012-progress-report
2. For example:
The Times (2012). May 7. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/industries/utilities/article3406852.ece
Toke D (2012). May 5 (updated June 21). http://realfeed-intariffs.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/edfs-nuclear-plans-are-more-expensive.html 
Toke D (2012). July 16. http://realfeed-intariffs.blogspot.co.uk/2012_07_01_archive.html
3. DECC (2012). Control Framework for DECC levy-funded spending. http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/funding-support/fuel-poverty/3290-control-fwork-decc-levyfunded-spending.pdf
4. For example:
Goodall C (2011). http://www.carboncommentary.com/2012/01/03/2230
5. WWF et al (2012). Securing the UK’s power supplies.http://www.wwf.org.uk/research_centre/research_centre_results.cfm?uNewsID=6074
6. Gouldson et al (2012). The Economics of Low Carbon Cities. University of Leeds.http://www.cccep.ac.uk/Events/Past/2012/April/EconomicsLowCarbonCities-mini-stern-review.pdf

About Scientists for Global Responsibility: 

Unlike the ‘technological optimists’ SGR recognises that science, design and technology are indeed part of the problem; but, unlike those who are indifferent or even hostile to science, SGR also recognises the enormous contributions that science, design and technology make to our civilisation and wellbeing. The new problems, as well as those that have always been with us, such as starvation, drought and illness, require a combination of new scientific, economic and political solutions.

If social justice, care for the other species of this planet, and a concern for future generations have their rightful place as fundamental values, then science, design and technology can be much more part of the solution than part of the problem. Here are just a few programmes that deserve much more science, design and technology funding …

  • the clean, sustainable production of energy, and its efficient use
  • the development and application of biological and medical knowledge to the benefit of all
  • the study of social and economic affairs with the aim of improving the lot of all
  • the development of clean, efficient transport systems, in a social setting which provides needed transport for all but inhibits unnecessary travel and freight-miles
  • the use of information technology to increase energy efficiency, reduce the need for transportation, eliminate unnecessary labour, and promote access for all to humanity’s pool of knowledge
  • the design and construction of energy efficient and zero energy building.

BBC in the dock again – the weapon of mass distraction.

Quote

The furore over Jimmy Saville and the BBC is just a re-run of the tactics used over weapons of mass destruction and the subsequent death of Dr David Kelly.   The public are being ‘slid’ into believing that trust in the BBC is the major issue, whilst the really astounding cover-up of the failures of the powers elite are ignored.

‘The BBC’s uncovering of its own cover-up was uncovered by the BBC’s Panorama after it uncovered a cover-up by the BBC’s Newsnight which it is alleged was attempting to uncover a cover-up which was eventually only uncovered by ITV’. Pride’s Purge

Meanwhile, reporting has all but disappeared of the many children who were sexually abused in hospitals, Children’s homes, Broadmoor, approved schools and in the wider community, by a man who hobnobbed with royalty; spent Christmas at Chequers with the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; was appointed by Edwina Curry to be an advisor about Broadmoor; was allowed to wander at night, unsupervised in Leeds Infirmary and so on …. not to mention twice honoured by the Catholic church … and now suggestions of a powerful paedophile network linked to the very top in society* (see update below)

Just as it was, with David Kelly and his leaked information about the lack of weapons of mass destruction, the blanket coverage of the inadequacies of the BBC, is acting as a distraction from a wholesale abrogation of responsibility for children across a whole range of the establishment, police, journalists, and the Westminster bubble.  Just as the Hutton Inquiry was essentially set up to avoid discussing the lies on which the horrific, catastrophic, illegal decision to follow the Bush administration into Iraq was based … the BBC is yet again acting as the fall guy.

To talk about cancelling the Saville programme, as being the biggest crisis in the history of the BBC because of the loss of public trust, is just risible…. The BBC has already lost public trust because of the non-reporting of the privatisation of the NHS, the Welfare Reform bill, Gove’s education reforms … the anarchic dismantling of public services; the lack of analysis or investigation of any of the policy implications; the unbelievably inadequate reporting about the economy; and the uncritical regurgitation of palpable government lies and sleights of hand.

These are the far greater reasons for the BBC to worry about a loss of public trust than their complicity with the repugnant behaviour of Saville and his ilk decades ago, and the suppressing of a programme which clashed with another of their output.  The independence of the BBC and their impartiality are far more compromised by their lack of rigour in deconstructing the Tory/LD government’s policies than the current ‘scandal’.  But perhaps the real reason for the craven capitulation of the BBC (again) is a fear of what ‘revenge’ government might take against their ‘independence’… what a conundrum.

“Even if the [media] does not mold our every opinion, it does mold our opinion visibility; it can frame the perceptual limits around which our opinions take shape. Here may lie the most important effect of the news media: they set the agenda for the rest of us, choosing what to emphasize and what to ignore or suppress, in effect, organizing much of our political world for us. The media may not always be able to tell us what to think, but they are strikingly successful in telling us what to think about … the media teach us tunnel vision conditioning us to perceive the problems of society as isolated particulars, thereby stunting our critical vision. Larger casualties are reduced to immediately distinct events, while the linkages of wealth, power and policy go unreported or are buried under a congestion of surface impressions and personalities.

In sum, the media set the limits on public discourse. They may not always mold opinion, but they do not always have to. It is enough that they create opinion visibility, giving legitimacy to certain views and illegitimacy to others … This power to determine the issue agenda, the information flow, and the parameters of political debate so that it extends from ultra-right to no further than moderate center is, if not total, still totally awesome.”

Inventing Reality Michael Parenti

* Update:  Tom Watson MP has asked a question in PMQs which suggests a powerful paedophile network linked to the very top in society.  He used parliamentary privilege to refer to a paedophile ring linked to a previous British prime minister:

“The evidence file used to convict paedophile Peter Righton, if it still exists, contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring. One of its members boasts of its links to a senior aide of a former Prime minister who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad.”

“The leads were not followed up but if the file still exists, I want to ensure that the Metropolitan Police secure the evidence, re-examine it, and investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and Number 10.”

Tom Pride at Pride’s Purge, reports that Cabinet office has sent defamation notices to blogs ordering them to remove the name of a high ranking member of the present cabinet who has been named as a paedophile by Ben Fellows, the child actor.

Cabinet Office Shuts Up Blogs Naming High Profile Tory In Savile Scandal

Alleged paedo MP referred to by Tom Watson is from Heath/Thatcher era.

http://tompride.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/bbc-panorama-investigates-bbc-newsnight-over-bbc-scandal-of-bbc-cover-up-over-bbc-scandal/

http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/oliver-huitson/how-bbc-betrayed-nhs-exclusive-report-on-two-years-of-censorship-and-distorti 

https://think-left.org/2011/11/11/inadequacies-of-bbc-coverage-of-the-eu-financial-crisis/

https://think-left.org/2012/02/11/who-pulls-the-strings-at-the-bbc/

https://think-left.org/2012/10/08/the-puppeteers-at-the-bbc-more-dishonesty-disharmony-and-broken-strings-from-the-bbc/

http://tompride.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/cabinet-office-shuts-up-blogs-naming-high-profile-tory-in-savile-scandal/#comments