Monday, 16 February 2009


As of today you can now, potentially be arrested for taking a photograph of a police officer.

Meanwhile the police cannot only take photographs of you exercising your democratic right to peaceful protest but can add your name to a list of subversive extremists.

The police effort to reduce crime and, of course, the "fight against terrorism" provide the justification for the government’s intention to introduce an identity card system, despite the fact that countries who already have ID cards have similar crime levels to ourselves and are just as vulnerable to terrorist attacks as ourselves. Those who carried out the Madrid bombings in 2004, for example, fulfilled their legal obligations of carrying ID cards, but the bombs still went off.

We are being asked to entrust our personal information to a scheme operated by a government that has repeatedly failed to keep the information it already has safe and secure (they have lost some 30 million pieces of information in the last two years), at the same time as decisions about whether we are honest citizens or subversive extremists are determined at the whim of under-trained and under-resourced police officers pressured to produce results.

A bit of local history; for centuries Bristolians who, either because of their political views, religious beliefs or simply because they had upset the Merchant Venturer oligarchy that ruled the city, had only one choice to escape the wrath of the local authorities – they could remove themselves “beyond the gate” (which had a similar meaning to the more modern “beyond the pale)”. The “gate” in question was Lawford’s Gate which used to be at the eastern end of Old Market Street and marked the boundary of the county and (later) city of Bristol – outside the gate you were relatively safe from the interference of the city fathers and their intrusion into your private thoughts and beliefs.

It is therefore perhaps fitting, that “beyond the gate” on the 28th February, NO2ID will be hosting the Modern Liberty conference as part of a nationwide debate to discuss the implications of this government’s attack on our fundamental rights and privileges. Details are available at

No comments:

Post a Comment