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UK Gov't Launches 'Your Freedom' Website To Seek Laws Worth Repealing 332

Posted by timothy
from the required-plug-in-crashed dept.
Firefalcon writes "The UK Government launched Thursday the 'Your Freedom' website, headed by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, to 'identify laws that should be repealed.' In a recent tweet, Police State UK pointed out an article in the New Statesman which appeals for people to call on the Government to repeal the ill thought-out Digital Economy Act that was rushed through Parliament without sufficient scrutiny. While part of the Act is regarding the digital TV switchover, other sections allow for users to be restricted or disconnected from the Internet at the behest of copyright owners, which goes against the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty' that has been in place since the Magna Carta."
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UK Gov't Launches 'Your Freedom' Website To Seek Laws Worth Repealing

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  • Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cstec (521534) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @05:11AM (#32784224)
    Damm, that rocks. Can we have some?
    • I'll donate to that.
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Hope they've got a big server....

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by funkatron (912521)
      You really want one of these? It's just an area for people to vent and then get ignored, reducing the size of Mr Clegg's inbox in the process. The last government has a website to petition the prime minister, you were basically signing up to a mailing list which would send out a very nicely written "fuck off". The only improvement I see here is the design of the page.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Shooter licensing and gun registration, imposing penalties for refusing to divulge passwords, default penalties for people who refuse drug and alcohol testing all go against the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty' that has been in place since the Magna Carta.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by beelsebob (529313)

      Since when is gun registration violating innocent until proven guilty?

      Is it the same way as driver and vehicle licensing violates it?

      That is... not at all?

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @06:47AM (#32784542)

        Since when is gun registration violating innocent until proven guilty?

        Is it the same way as driver and vehicle licensing violates it?

        That is... not at all?

        Just because the courts have ruled that vehicle licensing doesn't violate the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" doesn't necessarily make it so. After all, there was plenty of precedent that slavery didn't violate the principle of "all men are created equal" too.

        It may have been reasonable to require license tags on vehicles when the only real application was for identifying drivers who have been involved in an accident. But now that cameras are pervasive and the databases linking license tags to owners/drivers are too, license tags of people who have not committed a crime are routinely abused by both the government and private entities. The scope has creeped far beyond the original justification and thus what once was considered a reasonable trade-off between the public good and individual rights is no longer so.

        • Apart from ridiculous hyperbole and poor comparisons, do you have anything to substantiate the point.

        • by beelsebob (529313)

          How are road cameras abusing people who haven't committed a crime?

          They do nothing at all to people who drive within the law, and create the proof of guilt for the people who are guilty.

          • How are road cameras abusing people who haven't committed a crime?

            They record time and location information that is stored indefinitely.
            If you haven't done anything wrong there should be no reason to record where and when you were driving.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Licensing grants a person an exception from a general prohibition. In a country where the right to bear arms is recognized unless one has been convicted of a felony, licensing assumes the entire population are felons, and they must repeatedly prove that they aren't in order to own a gun. On the other hand, the government makes it very clear that driving is a privilege, and since it can deny you the ability to drive for any or no reason, guilt or innocence is irrelevant.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ahankinson (1249646)

          Huh? That's one twisted way to look at it.

          Licensing is the mechanism for regulation. A restaurant owner has to be licensed to operate, and if the quality of the food or sanitary measures falls below a certain level, that license can be revoked and the restaurant has to close. Licenses for cars allows for the regulation of those who have shown themselves competent enough to drive one. If you do something stupid, you get your license revoked and you can no longer drive. I have yet to hear of a credible story

          • by dryeo (100693) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @03:08PM (#32787418)

            It was put there to address a practical problem - that of the King of England not allowing the citizens to bear arms, making a people's uprising against the military impossible.

            Why do Americans have such a twisted view of history? The King of England hasn't had any practical power since a couple of revolutions, the last of which was in 1688 when Parliament kicked the King out for doing things that weren't in the interests of the people, including restricting firearms ownership and raising an Army in times of peace.
            It was Parliament, not the King who did everything that the Americans blame on the King.
            Since the Glorious Revolution, Parliament has been Supreme (until very recently) with the elected House of Commons holding more and more of the balance of power.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Shooter licensing and gun registration

      What? How does that violate "innocent until proven guilty"? More like, "dangerously incompetent with deadly force until proven otherwise".

      imposing penalties for refusing to divulge passwords

      This is a compliance issue. In certain circumstances it is entirely appropriate for people to be required to comply with police. I suppose next you'll be complaining that people have to pull over to the side of the road when a policeman pulls them over.

      default penalties for people wh

      • This is a compliance issue. In certain circumstances it is entirely appropriate for people to be required to comply with police. I suppose next you'll be complaining that people have to pull over to the side of the road when a policeman pulls them over.

        Oh, that's awful. You might as well argue that not confessing to every unsolved murder under interrogation is "a compliance issue". There are very specific circumstances in which people may be reasonably required to comply with police. In particular, the police may detain you for a limited period when there is a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime. There is your reasonable exception, not proof of any rule.

        RIPA makes me guilty of the crime of not speaking in a particular way, regardless of w

        • Oh, that's awful. You might as well argue that not confessing to every unsolved murder under interrogation is "a compliance issue".

          One case is about insuring against deliberately hampering a police investigation, and the other is about forcing false confessions. I simply don't see why allowing one necessarily implies we need to follow the other. Besides, I would say that providing or coercing a false confessions, is an extremely large compliance issue. Compliance is to the state, not to the police officer.

          T

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            One case is about insuring against deliberately hampering a police investigation,

            Not assisting the police is by no reasonable definition "deliberately hampering a police investigation". Deliberately hampering might include destroying evidence, or lying to the police, or resisting arrest. You cannot deliberately hamper by doing nothing.

            Consider for a moment an alternative world in which it is illegal to not actively help the police.

            and the other is about forcing false confessions. I simply don't see why allowing one necessarily implies we need to follow the other.

            You're asserting that the state should be able to require you to actively cooperate in finding you guilty, using some argument which assumes that the state ha

      • by selven (1556643)

        imposing penalties for refusing to divulge passwords

        This is a compliance issue. In certain circumstances it is entirely appropriate for people to be required to comply with police. I suppose next you'll be complaining that people have to pull over to the side of the road when a policeman pulls them over.

        default penalties for people who refuse drug and alcohol testing

        Again, a compliance issue. There's no assumption of guilt anywhere.

        Privacy is more important than "compliance issues". There's no privacy lost in pulling over, so it's acceptable to require it. Giving up your passwords and submitting to testing, however, are major infringements on privacy, so requiring them is unacceptable. Understand now?

  • by fyoder (857358) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @05:32AM (#32784294) Homepage Journal

    This should be coupled with a law that states there can only be a thousand laws (not including this law) on the books at any one time.

    That means that if they want to add a new law, they would have to get rid of an old one to make space. This would keep the number of laws from getting ridiculous, as well as discourage legislators from passing laws simply to look like they're doing something. Though I suppose they could be cunning and have one of the laws always be a disposable one which would be the one replaced by the new useless law which would then become the disposable one.

    Hm. There's gotta be a way to discourage politicians from making new laws. Perhaps just keep it simple and make the price of introducing a new law a finger or thumb. No mp could introduce more than 10 laws, and they might be reluctant to introduce even one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by iammani (1392285)
      Or they would have to pass a law to extend the number of laws permitted on the books.
    • by pjt33 (739471) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @05:45AM (#32784334)

      They'll just make them longer.

    • by kvezach (1199717) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @05:49AM (#32784356)
      How about an automatic sunset: a law that has 50%+1 support gets to live 5 years before it has to be passed again. A law that has 100% support gets to live 10 years before it has to be passed again. Scale linearly between the two to give some incentive to make popular laws, not just squeakers. If that would cause an overload at "pass-again day", add +/- 5% of the duration to the time until it has to be passed again so that the exact day will be sufficiently randomized.
      • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @09:40AM (#32785356)

        The cost of that still becomes prohibative over a long period.
        How about this: after a law is passed it expires 5 years later.
        If it is re-passed it takes 10 years to expire.
        If after 10 more years it gets passed again then it lasts 20 years.
        then 40
        etc etc

        that way laws like "no stabbing people" wouldn't have to be reviewed too often.
        Laws which often fail would have to be reviewed a lot(as they should since that would imply they're not popular).

    • by rdnetto (955205)

      They'll probably just use Codes [wikipedia.org]. i.e. massive laws that contain everything about an entire field. Then they'll only need to amend the code to add a new piece of legislation.
      Requiring a 50% approval vote from the actual population would probably be effective, provided that it was optional to avoid voter fatigue.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by cheesewire (876598)

        massive laws that contain everything about an entire field

        Impose a word limit + prohibit abbreviations?
        Let's say 150 words apiece so the laws of the land can be published unabridged in a modest paperback format. The perfect gift for every child as they turn 10 and gain criminal responsibility.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Except these codes are sometimes necessary. You clearly have no idea what laws do if you think all there is to it is the criminal code, which is a small and relatively simple section of laws. "IANAL" in this case seems to be "and I don't even have a clue what laws do" - a budget is a law, for one.

        • by rdnetto (955205) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @07:06AM (#32784606)

          Imposing a word limit would force them to remove exceptions, such as self-defense (murder) and fair use (copyright). And do you really want statutes to resemble twitter posts?
          Prohibiting abbreviations would make some parts of the law quite painful to read as well, and would also be ineffective as the norm is to use a simple, 1 word term (e.g. officer) and then define its meaning at the beginning of the act (e.g. police officer or member of law enforcement, or as defined by the Police Powers Act 1900)
          Your idea of condensing all legislation down into a single book is incredibly naive. Law has many similarities to programming - can you imagine the issues associated with limiting the no. of lines of code that a program's source may consist of, while still requiring the same functionality? Comments would be the first thing to go, and the equivalent of comments in legislation are extremely important to their interpretation. Similarly, even if all legislation were compressed down to a single book, this book would:
          a) be incomplete, as in any common law system precedent (i.e. past court cases) are of equal importance to legislation, and
          b) be incomprehensible - the average person is as capable of understanding laws as they are of understanding C++, and because of the nature of the content involved they will not be able to do so without education on how to do so. Even when written in plain English, there are many legal tools that define how phrases are to be interpreted. e.g. Ejusdem generis [wikipedia.org]
          Trying to limit the quantity of legislation is a poor way to go about your aim, which I presume is to restrict the power of the government. A far better way to do this is to explicitly limit what the government can legislate on. For example:

          51 Legislative powers of the Parliament
          The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to
          make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the
          Commonwealth with respect to:
              (i) trade and commerce with other countries ...

          -s51 of the Australian Constitution
          In our case though this is of little significance practically as the states have unlimited legislative power (i.e. they can make laws about whatever they want).

          Ultimately, the best way to keep stupid laws of the books is to keep stupid politicians out of parliament. This is largely dependent on keeping stupid people from voting, and consequently rather difficult to achieve.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jd2112 (1535857)

            Trying to limit the quantity of legislation is a poor way to go about your aim, which I presume is to restrict the power of the government. A far better way to do this is to explicitly limit what the government can legislate on.

            Look at how well "Congress shall make no law" has worked in the US.

    • by LambdaWolf (1561517) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @05:51AM (#32784362)

      Hm. There's gotta be a way to discourage politicians from making new laws.

      I've heard it suggested that every law should automatically expire after a fixed period, such as one year or five years. Not only would the legislature be kept busy with votes for the laws that obviously should be kept ("Uh oh, armed robbery is going to become legalized on Wednesday..."), but it would limit the damage from laws that spend frivolously, are poorly thought out, or are motivated by special interests. At worst, lobbyists would have influence legislators over and over again to reap the benefits of a law that favors them.

      Not saying it's the best idea, but it's definitely an interesting one, and I feel strongly that we need a way to get laws that were, say, meant to help bring electricity to rural areas 80 years ago off the books.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Irick (1842362)
      You never said it had to be the politician's digit. A loophole is worth a thousand laws. :P
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I would say shorter law would be better than fewer laws. Things like the DEA and the PATRIOT act had SOME provisions that most people supported, but a lot of other bullshit tacked on.
    • by selven (1556643)

      All laws automatically repeal themselves after 25 years and must then be renewed under the same processes as those for passing a new law. That would get rid of all the anachronistic ones.

    • Hm. There's gotta be a way to discourage politicians from making new laws.

      Well, if we weren't talking about the UK, I'd suggest the New Texas solution (H. Beam Piper, "Lone Star Planet") - allow "criticism of a practicing politician" to include anything up to and including death. Trial of the killer would be based only on the question of whether the politicians pulbic acts merited the level of criticism (in the story, one such trial was because the accused had hacked the politician up with a machete - it w

  • Sounds great, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Irick (1842362) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @05:35AM (#32784304)
    Great idea, in theory. I foresee abuse, trolling, duplicate posts and spammers making it an unintelligible and useless database for public opinion, but maybe it will at least highlight a few laws to be looked at and refined. I don't personally believe these sort of ventures stand much ground without some serious work being dedicated to dig out the gems of relevance within the tides of pure crap. The interent is a powerful tool, but having access to unlimited and unmediated information is not always the best thing possible when you need specific ideas. Then again, i've always been a 'pessimist'. We'll see how this works out, i hope it really makes a difference.
    • by CaptainOfSpray (1229754) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @06:21AM (#32784464)
      They are actually moderating now, marking duplicates, removing real nonsense (suggestions to repeal a law that doesn't exist) etc. They didn't on Day 1 because of the volume of traffic.

      Unfortunately, that still allows a lot of idiocy to be on display.

      But there is also plenty of good highlighting of idiotic laws and regs. Have a read - you might enjoy it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Shimbo (100005)

      The interent is a powerful tool, but having access to unlimited and unmediated information is not always the best thing possible when you need specific ideas.

      There's been some good stuff going on wikiversity [wikiversity.org] since way before the election. What gets posted to the government website, likely 99% junk.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jez9999 (618189)

      There is a big flaw in the 'highest rated' suggestions system; it sorts first on star rating. That means that an idea with an average 5 star rating and 3 votes trumps an idea with an average 4.8 rating and 100 votes. This is dumb and needs to be changed pronto.

      I've already e-mailed and tweeted them about this, I suggest others do the same.

  • by Bottles (1672000) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @05:36AM (#32784306)

    I am writing this from within the maximum security wing of the New British National Defence Forces detention island.

    I was absolutely delighted to share all of my views about laws I felt needed repealing in the UK. My IP address was in no way used to trace my identity and when my new friends from the NBNDF came to talk to me I felt I was completely fulfilled by their probing and vigorous questions.

    I have not been added to any lists of registered subversives.

    My stay at the security wing has been fulfilling. I feel refreshed, invigorated and entirely supportive of the NBNDF. No electro-pain equipment was used upon me at all during this week.

    Signed,
    Mr Bottles.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by zmollusc (763634)

      On behalf of the government department concerned, I thank Mr Tottles for his cooperation.

  • by pecosdave (536896) * on Saturday July 03, 2010 @05:40AM (#32784324) Homepage Journal

    Plus a new law that states all new laws must have a sunset (five years max) and must be voted into renewal each sunset.

    (save for actual amendments)

  • Note to America (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 03, 2010 @05:52AM (#32784374)

    This is what can happen in the rest of the civilised world if you vote for the third party.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @06:16AM (#32784450) Homepage Journal
    when i saw that when cameron moved into number 10, he only had a simple bed, 1-2 ikea brand stools and whatnot. i said to myself, well, someone who is living that simple has to have some good qualities at least.

    immediately thereafter he apologized to irish for the bloody sunday. then, he come up proposing that queen's funds should be frozen. (11 mil or so a year). now, his partner clegg comes up with this.

    it is sorry time for elite bloodsuckers in britain ...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Erm, they are a pair of former public-schoolboy toffs with millions of pounds in personal wealth. Don't fall for their "men of the people" propaganda, they are even more entrenched with the ruling elite than the previous government.

      (For the USians, "public schools" in the UK are actually elite private schools for the extremely rich)

  • wow lots of legalize cannabis posts. We need something like that here in the states. That would help alot of issues I think.
    • by Nadaka (224565)

      We did have a suggestion forum but it was deemed invalid because most of what people asked for was legalizing pot, proving that Obama isn't an american citizen and repeal of warrantless war powers by the secret agencies.

  • There's already a campaign on there to repeal the laws of thermodynamics. It's been spotted and locked but not deleted (at least, when I saw it).

  • by zmollusc (763634)

    'Identify free thinkers and malcontents' more like. Although I fail to see how a british government and rail infrastructure will organise the cattle cars to take us to the british equivalent of the god-forsaken fly-blown taiga (Norwich).

    I, for one, will not submit any complaints about the laws but will continue to pay cash for my tinfoil millinery.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @07:10AM (#32784620) Homepage

    Let's be clear on this: the majority just love their tyranny. For the small minded (you don't have to look far to find them) it's just so much fun to think up things that other people shouldn't be allowed to do.

    A Freedom/Repeal bill is great in principle, but it'll never happen in practice. Quite apart from the problem that any repeals will pilloried as Soft On Something, the coalition have very different ideas on what the little people should be free to do: Cons tend to be pro freedom to smoke tobacco and anti freedom to smoke cannabis, and the Dems are t'other way around, for example.

  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @07:17AM (#32784652)
    Although it's possible they may review it, the bill won't be scrapped. Before the election, I emailed my local Conservative MP (Nick Soames) about the Digital Economy Bill. Here's the response:

    Thank you for your email of the 8th April about the Digital Economy Act. I share your concern about this piece of legislation and I want to make clear the approach that my Party has taken.

    As you will be aware the Bill received Royal Assent yesterday.

    Britain has been made to wait too long for legislation updating the regulatory environment for the digital and creative industries. I regret that once the Government got around to considering these issues, it did not allocate sufficient time in the House of Commons for proper legislative scrutiny. It says a great deal about the Government's support for the creative industries that despite considering many of these issues as far back as 2006 they only just brought this piece of legislation forward.

    My Party took the decision to seek to remove those clauses of the Digital Economy Bill that we did not support or feel received proper legislative scrutiny, while supporting the Bill as a whole. Rejecting the Bill would have been an unacceptable set-back for the important measures it contains.

    We supported the Bill's efforts to tackle online copyright infringement. This is an extremely serious issue that costs the creative industries hundreds of millions of pounds each year. We want to make sure that Britain has the most favourable intellectual property framework in the world for innovators, digital content creators and high tech businesses.

    The measures in the Bill aimed at tackling online copyright infringement received robust scrutiny in the House of Lords. My Party was concerned about the lack of Parliamentary oversight of the original clauses and as such the Act now has a super-affirmative resolution in it. This means Parliament will debate any order that the Secretary of State lays that would allow people to be disconnected. These measures can also not be introduced for 12 months [ie 12 months after it became law]. This means that we are by no means rushing in to these decisions and that the next Parliament will be able to consider them beforehand.

    The measures in the Act designed to tackle illegal peer to peer file sharing set up a proportionate regime that would, only following public consultation, repeated warnings and due process, lead to people having their internet connection temporarily suspended. It will not, as many have suggested, lead to people being disconnected without an appeal. Even if people are disconnected they will be able to sign up to another ISP immediately without penalty.

    While I have no doubt that these measures could have been improved if the Government had allocated time for this Bill to be debated in Committee, blocking these measures in their entirety would have risked hundreds of thousands of jobs in the TV, film, music and sports industries and was therefore not something we were willing to do.

    Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact me.

    Yours sincerely,

    Nicholas Soames


    Fun fact: Nick Soames is Winston Churchill's grandson.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xest (935314)

      When exactly was that written and received? It sounds like you got it before the Tories were forced to compromise into a coalition government and compromise they must to keep it afloat.

      It's a different game now, the Tories didn't get the majority they wanted, they don't have sole control of the countries law books, they have to accept the Lib Dems viewpoint too.

      So the real question isn't whether the Tories will keep the DEA- we know they would have, it's whether the coalition government which is a very diff

  • Is the extreme pornography law.

    I should not be penalised for having pictures of a simulated act between two consenting adults.

    I also think the 'anti-lolicon' law should be scrapped. I disliked lolicon but it's utterly wrong that I could draw two stick people having sex, label one of them as being 17 and end up in jail (with all the fun treatment you get for being labelled a nonce).
  • Repeal The Treaty of Paris of 1783, the Treaty of London of 1794 and The Treaty of Ghent.

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