Wall Fall Part 1: Lessons On The Database State – From the Stasi

The Wall Came Tumbling Down

On Monday it will be twenty years since the government of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik finally conceded victory to the millions of massed demonstrators demanding the end of their oppressive regime and opened the gates in the Berlin Wall, presaging the fall of the Soviet Union.

While crowds streamed across the border to the West and ‘freedom’, lights burned through the night at the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit. Well, lights burned there every night, the Stasi, like New York, never slept. Also like New York this made them paranoid and creepy.

But on this night, and on every subsequent night until the evening of January 15th, 1990 when demonstrators occupied the building, the lights probably flickered as well. During this time, the Stasi officers inside had been shredding documents. By January 15, it has been estimated that they had managed to destroy 45 million pages. Reckoned to be a mere 5% of their files. Most of these files contained intimate details of the lives of the ‘citizens’ of the DDR.

Reuters carries the stories of some of those citizens, and the effects upon their lives of their Stasi files.

BERLIN (Reuters)For decades, Joachim Fritsch struggled to understand why he was being denied access to higher education and passed over for job promotions again and again.

Then he got hold of a 400-page file East Germany’s dreaded secret police had compiled on him. The Stasi had arrested him back in the mid-1950s when he was just 17 years old and branded him a “provocateur” for failing to produce his identity card.

Harsh is the regime which would brand a callow youth untouchable for life.

The First Corner Case

The Children Act 2004 Information Database (England) Regulations 2007 – a statutory instrument enabled by Section 12 of The Children Act 2004 – established the ‘ContactPoint’ database. According to the DCSF bumf

ContactPoint is an online directory holding basic contact information for all children. The directory is designed to ensure that there is easier and faster contact between professionals who work with children.

Even a brief skim of the enabling legislation shows this to be somewhat lacking, far more information is proposed to be stored than that. For instance Section 12 of the Children Act states that the database should record, for every child on the database.

information as to the existence of any cause for concern in relation to him;

As a parliamentary committee observed when the legislation was being debated, this is “an extremely subjective and open-ended phrase which is almost bound to include very sensitive information about a child”

We couldn’t damage a child much appending the word “provocateur” to their record, in the current political climate it is practically meaningless. It has been speculated, however, that we could achieve a similar effect to that observed above by applying the epithet ‘racist’. It is, of course, mere speculation.

The Second Corner Case

Fritsch was arrested for failing to identify himself when stopped by the police.

10 yards down the street however, we were stopped by a police medic who asked what my name was.

“I’m not so sure I want to tell you that” was my first response to this question, unwilling to comply with any attempts to draw me into casual conversation.

“Look, if you’re not going to tell me your name, I’m going to arrest you and we can get your name at the station” came the not so friendly reply.

Not a quote from Herr Fritsch, but a blog post by a member of Lancaster UAF reporting their experiences attending the recent demonstration by the UAF in Leeds against members of the EDL.

Police operations on that day were being conducted under the aegis of Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, “Powers to stop and search in anticipation of violence”, so by no means an ordinary set of circumstances. It should perhaps be noted that nowhere in it’s text does Section 60 give officers the power to arrest people for failing to identify themselves.

The Third Corner Case

Back to Reuters again :

Many people apply in order to prove they were unjustly imprisoned, to clear their criminal record and claim compensation for any time spent in jail.

“In a dictatorship, you don’t get any proof of what happened,” said Fritsch, who was twice imprisoned by the Stasi, and whose family distanced itself from him to escape Stasi persecution.

Fritsch, of course, had no idea why the Stasi had imprisoned him.

Up to 20 men regarded as Britain’s most dangerous terror suspects can challenge their detention after Britain’s highest court ruled that three of them had been denied a fair trial.

The men, who have been held under virtual house arrest under the Government’s control order regime, won the unanimous backing of a panel of nine law lords, on the grounds that the suspects did not know what they were accused of or what evidence was being used against them.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson called the judgment “extremely disappointing”, adding: “Protecting the public is my top priority and this judgment makes that task harder.

“Nevertheless, the Government will continue to take all steps we can to manage the threat presented by terrorism.

“All control orders will remain in force for the time being and we will continue to seek to uphold them in the courts. In the meantime, we will consider this judgement and our options carefully.

Apocalypse Now

So terrified were we of having to live under a regime such as that practised by the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit and it’s various Eastern Block contemporaries that we were prepared to engage in a nuclear war to prevent it from happening. So real was this possibility that the UK issued Civil Defence advice on what to do in the event of a nuclear war.

As previously mentioned on this blog, even a limited nuclear exchange would have utterly devastating consequences, and not just for those directly involved.

Even a small-scale, regional nuclear war could produce as many direct fatalities as all of World War II and disrupt the global climate for a decade or more, with environmental effects that could be devastating for everyone on Earth, university researchers have found.

Hyperbole ?

Could be, couldn’t it ? All the above listed similarities are, of course, corner cases, they involve the intersection of emotive things like child protection, racism and national security.

Tomorrow, in Wall Fall Part 2, I’ll take a closer look at the kinds of information that the Stasi collected and used for political control, and some of the ways they went about collecting it. Then we can ask the question again : “Is this just hyperbole ?”

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You are guilty of child abuse until we say you aren’t

Bad news for parents who chose to educate their children at home instead of sending them in to the soul destroying wasteland cherishing arms of the state education system.

A review of home education in England is expected to recommend a national registration scheme for home educators.

Now whenever the Stalinist apparatchiks of the state start talking about building a database ‘register’ of anything you just know that it’s only going to be the tip of a very unpleasant iceberg.

And so it proves to be in this case.

It is also expected to say local authorities should have the right to visit any child taught at home.

Because ?

the government has also been concerned that home education could be a cover for abuse.

Despite the fact that

the review has not found any evidence that home education was being used specifically to conceal trafficked children, or forced marriages.

So on exactly no evidence, the state demands the right to enter your home because they need to make sure you aren’t abusing your children.

And just so you don’t make the mistake of thinking that really this is just about local authorities responsibility to ensure children are educated

The review is not expected to propose any minimum standards or set subjects.

As Peter Hitchens points out in here

I haven’t any evidence that any members of the House of Lords abuse their children, because there isn’t any. But on this logic, that state of affairs would presumably entitle the Department ‘For Children’ to probe their Lordships’ House for evidence of such abuse.

This is, simply, a hysterical witch hunt. Worse, it is the state’s apparatchiks treating our children as their property.

It’s prime instigator is unpeakable harpy and Children’s Minister, Delyth Morgan. She clearly has a bee in her bonnet abut the who child abuse thing, and believes that the state must have primacy over our children, and the rights of parents, in order to protect them.

She also obviously has a prurient obsession with the sexual habits of others, as she issued a further press release this week that contains this absolute gem

The full extent of sexual exploitation is hidden as it mostly takes place away from streets in private homes. It can take many forms from the seemingly ‘consensual’ relationship where sex is exchanged for attention/affection, accommodation or gifts to serious organised crime and child trafficking. What marks out exploitation is an imbalance of power within the relationship with the perpetrator holding some kind of power over the victim, increasing the dependence of the victim as the exploitative relationship develops.

That’s right. Your relationship may seem consensual, but even you can’t be sure until you let Delyth Morgan Sex Stasi into your house to check. Presumably they like to watch.

Excellent coverage of the whole issue of Authoritarian Statists and the NSPCC vs HE, liberty and democracy can be found at Bishop Hill Blog.

Lords : Show us the evidence. Johnson : Mmm, poison!

Excellent news breaking on the beeb

Three terror suspects on control orders have unanimously won a major ruling over the use of secret evidence.

Nine Law Lords allowed the men’s appeals after they had argued they did not know what they were accused of.

Yes it turns out that you can’t possibly be considered to have had a fair trial if you aren’t presented with the charges or the evidence against you. Who’d have thought ?

The Law Lords have not quashed the men’s control orders, but instead ordered their cases to be heard again.

Only with the “evidence” this time. Good show.

Alan Johnson, immediately and enthusiastically gulping from the poisoned chalice gave the beeb a statement along the lines of

This is a very disappointing judgement, it is very important for the health of a free democratic society that the stasi security services be able to lock people up for years; then keep them under house arrest and convict them of unspecified crimes based on evidence that may not even exist. I would have thought that was obvious. We will of course be doing everything we can to reverse this terrible miscarriage of justice (i.e. that there is some). Mmm, lovely poison, can I have some more ?

There are only two types of evidence that are to secret to be heard in court, ‘intercept evidence‘ and heresay from ‘intelligence assets’. Neither of which would be allowed in a proper court of law in any case.

The government will fight this tooth and nail, through the Home Office and the Ministry of “Justice” *, and in the process Johnson will lose any credibility he might have had as labour Leader.

So farewell then, Jacqui Smith. Only, not.

Late on this, as I spent much of yesterday lounging around in the sun and chucking back cheap Pinot. And so it was that when the news reached me I was already fairly well oiled and quite cheerful and I was further pleased by the departure of this awful woman.

But a more sober look at the story makes me less sanguine. For a start she isn’t actually going anywhere.

Jacqui Smith is to stand down as home secretary in the cabinet reshuffle, sources close to her have told the BBC.

A reshuffle in which she was going to loose here job anyway. So this is just a case of “You can’t sack me, I resign”. This is the Labour party at it’s childish best.

Then we’re told

The source said she was stepping down for her family, who had been “at the forefront” of a row over her expenses.

Huh ? Her husband gave one press statement. I’ve never seen her children. I’d hardly call that ‘at the forefront’. And frankly this “for the family” stuff is starting to get irritating.

As long as I can remember “for my family” or “to spend more time with my family” has been the departing cry of politicians caught with their hands in the till, their pants down, or otherwise engaged in whatever the scandal de jour happened to be.

Nobody has ever believed it. Not once. Not ever. It is the last refuge of the condemned scoundrel, one final act of willpower aimed at deceiving themselves they are leaving with some dignity when nothing could be further from the truth. It is the hollowest of hollow platitudes.

Perhaps unsurprising then, that this harpy manages to make it look even less convincing :

It is understood Ms Smith, the first woman home secretary, intends to defend her Redditch seat at the next election.

So, not even “stepping down at the next election”. True, for practical purposes those two statements are equivalent. Smith has been expected to loose her seat even before the expenses row broke. Semantically though, they’re worlds apart. Despite the fact that she’s been caught lying abut her second home and making the sort of expense claims that have seen senior Tories thrown over the side, this awful convener of the fascist state still feels that she has a right to stand as an MP. Was it because she “did nothing wrong”, was she “all within the rules”. Oddly enough no

she felt “vindicated” in her overall approach to claims, now those of other MPs had been published.

It’s because everyone else was doing it, and that makes it OK.

How sadly unsurprising that Smith is as disgusting in her departure as she was in office.

ICO to really stare quite hard at Home Office

From The Telegraph via El Reg, and H/T to Landed Underclass who covers this also.

David Smith, the deputy Information Commissioner, is demanding tighter controls amid concerns the police are pressuring businesses to install closed circuit television because it helps gather intelligence.

This would be in response to events such as this one where the Met effectively made it a condition of a publicans licence that he

“installed CCTV capturing the head and shoulders of everyone coming into the pub, to be made available to them upon request. “

Or this one, where

“police requested a licensing condition that in future, “all persons entering the premises must supply verifiable identification details that are passed through a digital scanning and recording system such as Club Scan, Idvista or similar computerised system”

The tendency of the state to treat people as it’s chattels, and the wrong-headedness of it’s faith in technology as a means of controling them is something I will no doubt harp on about at some length later, but for now let us fisk David Smith a little.

To start with, he absolutely isn’t ‘demanding’ anything. The last time the Home Office, or any other part of government listened to ICO was never. Let’s be clear about this, ICO has zero power to compel the Home Office to do anything at all.

Even if it did, no doubt Jackboots Jacqui or some other incumbent authoritarian blowhard would simply change the law to make what they wanted to do all nice and legal. The way her and that ass-hat Jack ‘Justice’ Straw did with the Coroners and Justice Bill, introducing a clause that would allow the Home Secretary to suspend or repeal by statutory instrument any law that was an obstacle to information sharing between government departments. They nearly got away with it too, and they haven’t given up. Bastards.

Mr Smith said: “”What we are worried about is that businesses are being forced into gathering information for police and the law enforcement agencies.

“The question is whether we are going too far and is this surveillance at a level that is unacceptable that doesn’t justify the benefits.

No, you odious cretin, that is absolutely not the question. ‘We’ most certainly are going to far, and this most certainly is “surveillance at a level that is unacceptable.”

The question is “What are you going to do about it ?” or more aptly, What are we going to do about it ? ICO is the most useless of all the regulators. The Data Protection Act was passed in 1984 by a Conservative government who were so keen it not apply to them in that they headquartered the regulator responsible for enforcing it in Cheshire (map)

Neither they nor the current mob want ICO any where near their business. In theory ICO has the power to bring prosecutions under the Data Protection Act, this rarely happens. This is a typical example of what does happen

“I have now in writing from the bank that she was not given their permission to give this information and the Information Commissioner’s Office has admitted she has committed a criminal offence under the DPA, although they are writing to this person, they will not be prosecuting.”

Successive governments have resolutely failed to give ICO any bigger teeth, in case it bites them, and ICO is afraid to use the ones it has in case government notices and pulls them out.

So David Smith is free to demand things from Jackboots Jacqui all he likes. He’ll be lucky to even get a response, but if does, it will undoubtedly be a resounding ‘fuck off’.

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