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Government Privacy

UK Plans To Link Criminal Records To ID Cards 359

Death Metal writes with this excerpt from about the UK's national ID card scheme: "Privacy advocates have reacted angrily to reports that the government plans to link national identity records to criminal records for background checks on people who work with children and vulnerable people. Up to 11 million such workers could be affected immediately if the plan goes ahead. Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of privacy advocates NO2ID, said the move was consistent with the various forms of coercion strategy to create so-called volunteers for national ID cards. 'Biometrics are part of the search for clean, unique identifiers,' Phil Booth said. He said the idea was patently ridiculous when the Home Office was planning to allow high street shops and the Post Office to take fingerprints for the ID card."
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UK Plans To Link Criminal Records To ID Cards

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  • by JustOK ( 667959 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @04:53AM (#29282713) Journal

    odds on data being left on the tube first.

  • They will sell it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damburger ( 981828 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @04:55AM (#29282723)

    Just like they sold the DVLA database to car buying/selling services (with fucking annoying adverts) where you can text a registration number to a number and get a car history/valuation from it.

    You pay the DVLA for them to process data on your vehicle so you can legally drive it. Then the government sells it to a private corporation, which sells it back to the people who paid for it in the first place for a profit.

    As it will be for the ID card database. The government will not be able to resist selling access to it, and every business that can pay will know your criminal history. In a society that is trying to criminalise littering and file sharing, that is not a pleasant prospect.

  • hey, UK (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @04:56AM (#29282725)

    Stop this shit. You're embarrassing yourselves and setting a bad example for other countries.

  • by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @05:10AM (#29282767)
    Every time you have contact with the governments your name will land in a database to properly assign the bit of info to the correct person. Tax ? You are in the tax database. Crime ? You are in some police DB (print,possibly DNA, photo etc...). Identity ? You are in birth certificate, death certificate at the end. The alternative of not being in those database, is possibly to be mismatched to somebody else. So people get their panties in a knot when the government try to do a proper job to make sure they have identified the correct persons, but when they refuse them the tool to do so, and error happens, they get their panties in a bunch and accuse the government to be unprofessional, doing a bad job, then possibly suggest a private entity which will have possibly worst privacy or less oversight. Sure government should not willy-nilly be able to use or abuse such data, but it is the abuse which should be reprimanded. Not the normal usage. And the linking above, do not sound abusive. We call it here around a background check and it is done by checking your judicial database for sex offense.
  • Re:hey, UK (Score:4, Insightful)

    by damburger ( 981828 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @05:11AM (#29282773)
    Yes, it is a shame on us that we elected to power such people as Queen Elizabeth II, Gordon Brown and Lord Mandelson. Oh, hang on a moment...
  • SOP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spad ( 470073 ) <slashdot AT spad DOT co DOT uk> on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @05:15AM (#29282793) Homepage

    The claim that they will be used for "background checks on people who work with children and vulnerable people" as just an extension of the earlier plans to issue the cards to foreigners, i.e. a way to try and make the deployment of the cards acceptable to the public by initially issuing them to disliked groups (Paedophiles, Immigrants & Criminals) so that by the time they get to the rest of society it's too late to do anything about it.

  • by weber ( 36246 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @05:16AM (#29282799)

    I'm all for privacy so don't get me wrong... But what is the point of having a criminal record system if the information is not easily available? A criminal record is a public thing, and it's relevant that a person can be matched to it.

  • by Lord Bitman ( 95493 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @05:24AM (#29282837) Homepage

    Anyone who "thinks of the children" when writing or promoting legislation will be deported to the moon.

  • Re:hey, UK (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CmdrGravy ( 645153 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @05:28AM (#29282863) Homepage

    Well I have no problem with her at all, especially not compared with the sort of craven slime crawling toadies we seem so happy to elect; Mr Brown, Mr Blair, Mr Mandelson, Mrs Jaquie Smith, Mrs Harriet Harman etc etc.


  • I'm all for it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stachel ( 718095 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @05:34AM (#29282887)

    In fact, why not take it a step further? Why limit the use of this system to the protecting only of children and vulnerable people?

    I propose a system where offenders are clearly marked using clean, unique identifiers, worn in a visible place. For example, on their lapels or coats. By marking people this way, it will be easy to pick them out to disallow access to certain areas and to provide for continuous easy monitoring of their ways.

    Distinctions could be made between sex offenders, thieves, previously convicted enemies of the state, etcetera, by using a colour-coding system of sorts.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @05:38AM (#29282899)

    How would an ID card show that you own a car?

    Given that you would need an expensive biometric reader to test whether the ID card which is being shown to you is actually owned by the person stood in front of you, how would you be able to verify an identity any better than a driver's license or passport, or even a gas bill.

  • by LKM ( 227954 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @05:46AM (#29282929) Homepage
    Is this really an actual problem that needs to be solved? I've never bought or sold a car, but many of my friends have bought or sold used cars, and I've never heard of anyone accidentally buying a car the seller didn't own. What are the statistics on this? Is it really worth going after this problem by giving up privacy? And if it is, does giving up privacy actually solve the problem in any way?
  • Re:hey, UK (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FourthAge ( 1377519 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @05:50AM (#29282943) Journal

    Indeed. With New Labour and their friends in the "conservative" party, and all those unelected lawmakers from the European Union, the Queen is really the least of our worries.

    Her presence also means that we can criticise the Government without unpatriotically criticising Britain itself. This may not seem important, but there are people in some republics who think it is unpatriotic to criticise the President, and this can cause problems.

  • by FinchWorld ( 845331 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @05:53AM (#29282965) Homepage

    Really? ID cards are unpopular, they want to be elected, and oddly, they oppose it, funny that.

    I've seen enough elections to know whilst they oppose it now, they'll love it if they get into power, lest the plebs think they matter.

  • by kazade84 ( 1078337 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @05:56AM (#29282981)

    That's true. But it's pretty much a given that the Torys will get in next time anyway. A few seats for the Pirate Party will reinforce that policy, (if the Conservatives have a change of heart for example). A party doesn't have to win to have influence on government decisions (look at the Green Party or Lib Dems).

  • The Home Office has announced new security measures for identity cards.

    "The biometrics, chip and PIN, RFID transponder, fingerprint-reader, real-time spectroscopic DNA analyser and two-way radio that demands 'papers please!' in a cod-German accent inexplicably failed to completely eliminate crime or identity fraud or stop terrorism," said Home Secretary For Life Jacqui Smith, "so we're getting back to the basics of PFI-funded governmental identity management: magic beans, pixie dust and snake oil []. EDS Capita Goatse's experience in these areas is unparalleled."

    Identification procedures have duly been enhanced. Magic beans are squashed into the paper driving licence, producing a pixie-dust effect when inspected by the police. Day-to-day purchases are made smoother by the snake oil, with the pixie-dust glow authenticating the transaction. Frequenters of brothels will be able to require the prostitute to wave her identity card at them and be reassured by the pixie-dust glitter certifying her bona fides as a legal resident.

    The requirements for getting a bank account -- a retinal scan, hair clippings, 250 millilitres of blood and three documents for every address change since twenty years before your birth -- remain unchanged.

    The new identity card weighs thirty-five kilograms. All UK residents must carry it everywhere at all times and produce it on demand of council bin inspectors or any higher official.

  • Re:hey, UK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ma8thew ( 861741 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @06:04AM (#29283027)
    No shit, because we don't elect the Prime Minister. We elect the government.
  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @06:04AM (#29283029)
    Tories and Lib Dem will still keep the database, just scrap the card.

    We have no privacy laws in the UK, but I have a right under of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (now the European Charter of Human Rights ) against "arbitrary interference with his privacy... nor attacks upon his honour and reputation." Criminals have their biometric data recorded so they can be easily identified if they reoffend, making it taking the data a deterrant. I am not a criminal, I have no PNC-held data, and I pass the Enhanced CRB check for working with children and vulnerable adults (working in a Special School, for fuck's sake) every time I am required to take it, which is currently two years where I work. I've also worked in three other schools prior to this current posting, in a different borough.

    I object to being treated like a criminal, and I object to having my privacy being invaded. I don't have store discount cards for this very reason; What I buy is my own business. If people want to find that information out, they can pay me for it, not tie me in with store-specific loyalty schemes.
  • Re:hey, UK (Score:2, Insightful)

    by damburger ( 981828 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @06:05AM (#29283035)
    Nope, the government is appointed by the PM, who is appointed by the party. In the most recent case, this was done without the involvement of the electorate at all. You fail politics.
  • by stupid_is ( 716292 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @06:07AM (#29283043) Homepage

    Whatever a politician says is, as it always has been, a lie.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @06:09AM (#29283053)

    It's great that all you need to get points on /. is to repeat sufficiently mindless and cynical cliches.

    No need to consider that political parties as well as people can change, that politicians might just do what they say and occasionally adopt a standpoint out of principle.

    No, just stick to the old "they're all liars and swindlers" line. Then nothing's your fault, there's no need even to vote, and you are absolved of all responsibility for anything that happens. Just moan about it for /. points.

  • by master_p ( 608214 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @06:18AM (#29283099)

    The Id card as proposed by the UK government is not a simple reference document, but it allows connection with any means of electronic media, including computer databases, of course. This opens a huge can of worms: forming a resistance movement against an authoritative power will become very difficult, or even impossible.

    Here is an example: suppose that you are interested in the preservation of the environment and the climate change; you don't want to sit on your couch all day, and the next G7 climate change meeting is not far from your country. You take a holiday, and then riding the first plane to the city where the climate change meeting takes place, you participate in the rallies against G7 policies regarding the climate. Sooner or later, you are part of a street battle with the local police that wants you not to rally at all. They arrest you, they get your picture and send it to the London's police department along your ID card data. They open a record for you in the UK criminal database as a possible "environmental terrorist".

    You then return home, only to find that you have been fired. Although it hurts your feelings, you try another job. But without luck...employee after employee connect to the UK's criminal database using your Id card only to find out that you are a "terrorist". You are essentially finished...

  • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @06:20AM (#29283111)
    True, but the green party have quite a bit of extra baggage i.e. their opposition to nuclear power in a world facing a potentially lethal energy shortfall.
  • by CaptainOfSpray ( 1229754 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @06:26AM (#29283131)
    KÃre vÃn, you are comparing a country where 64% of managers have engineering or technology degrees, where the customary approach to selecting options is to gather measurable facts and do some calculations based on those facts, with a country where 38% of managers have no formal qualifications at all (not even basic school leaver certificate), and almost all options are selected by dogma or whim.

    Sweden is not perfect - the same id number has been allocated to a new born baby as is already in use by someone over a hundred years old (that's fun for the old lady when she gets called to the doctor for a post-natal checkup!). But in general it works because (a) most government and commercial business is run mostly on rational processes (b) the freedom of information laws and privacy laws have teeth. Most government naughtiness gets caught out.

    Britain is by comparison chaotic and irrational. Most of us like it that way because we can get on with our lives without any central or local government snoop knowing enough about us to interfere (and believe me, they would if they could - just look at the frequency of local councils using terror laws to combat littering!). Our real objection to ID cards is just this - we don't want to be ordered around by petty jumped-up know-it-all officials.
  • Re:hey, UK (Score:2, Insightful)

    by damburger ( 981828 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @06:27AM (#29283137)
    You've basically just admitted we don't elect the government, you ignorant twat. The idea that such an convoluted route represents democratic election of the government is self-evidently horse shit.
  • by mrrudge ( 1120279 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @06:32AM (#29283151) Homepage
    Ah Sweden. This is a discussion I ( English ) have with my gf ( Swedish ) often, and I think it's important to realise that Sweden is almost alone in having a paternal socialist government which is largely fair. In my experience a Swedish approach to living in England often results in frustration and genuine shock that people could live like this.

    In England, personal information is very likely to be abused or used for profit by people who are effectively above the law, and it's unlikely that this information will have any positive effect on society, so people are naturally cautious as to plans like this, they feel ( correctly in my opinion ) that it's a loss of power for no gain. These laws tend to have clauses which exonerate the ruling classes, a lack of transparency which inspires contempt and a high likelihood that the data will be stored ( and used ) incorrectly.

    England does not work. It's run by self-serving and generally unaccountable people who believe they are superior to large sections of the population, an opinion based largely on birthright. The class system I imagine was useful in an empire context where everyone knowing their place resulted in the entirety of the country ( questionably ) achieving greatness, but it is now almost impossible to dissolve, as this would require a reduction in power for a group of people who's entirety is based around not doing so.

    You're right to say that in Sweden this would not be a problem, and is a good idea. In England not so.
  • by bakuun ( 976228 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @06:36AM (#29283169)
    So you're worried that if you get arrested abroad, that information will be available to police authorities in your home country? Why? In my opinion, that's how it should be.

    The example you give is hardly something we would want, of course. The problem, however, is not with the data integration - it is with (1) you getting in a "street battle", (2) the police terming you an "environmental terrorist" and (3) your employer firing you on unreasonable grounds (unless you're working in an area where such things actually matter).

    Police shouldn't try arresting peaceful demonstrators (because you were peaceful in that battle, weren't you?), said demonstrators shouldn't be termed terrorists and they shouldn't be fired. Those are the real problems in your story.

  • by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @07:09AM (#29283311)

    Erm... I did their test. They're rich nutters who don't "believe" in climate change, want to abolish the minimum wage, would like to see some proper poverty, and want the British crime rate to match the American one.

    More seriously, I don't see how their economic policies are in any way sustainable. They appear to encourage exploitation of workers, resources and the environment/land.

    The current system sucks, but we can do better than this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @07:32AM (#29283411)

    The "If you have nothing to hide" lobby are missing an important point. We don't live in a full democracy. If we did, there would be no problem.

    The difficulty lies in the fact that we have a tiered democracy (don't call it 'representative', it isn't.) We vote only for the people who will take the actual decisions; we have no say over the legislation itself. That system allows rich individuals and organisations to influence our 'representatives' far more effectively than our puny vote does.

    In such a flawed system the only thing preventing our MPs from going completely off track, is the notion that should they go too far, they will have a riot on their hands and they would run the real risk of suffering retribution. The sheer numbers of the people who might be involved in such a reaction ensure that the state is kept responsive to the people's needs. Back in the eighties UK, the poll tax was abandoned only after extensive rioting in the streets, not because of polite letters sent to MPs.

    Step forward Big Brother. With the technology available today, it is possible for fewer and fewer people to keep tabs on the population at large and identify malcontents before they have an opportunity to act.

    In a world where protesters have to ask the police for permission to protest, where a person's location can be identified through the mobile phone records and the national motorway vehicle identification database, where email headers and phone traffic data is routinely held and scrutinised, the ability to mount an effective protest is rapidly diminishing.

    Yes, I do want to retain the ability to riot (legal or not) because if we as a citizenry ever loose that ability, we might as well also give up the vote, because we will surely have lost any say in the running of this country.

    There is every reason to avoid yet more databases.

  • Re:hey, UK (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thisnamestoolong ( 1584383 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @07:49AM (#29283467)
    There are some mods on this site who can't tell the difference between flames and opposing viewpoints. I am going to chalk it up to watching too much Fox News.
  • Re:hey, UK (Score:3, Insightful)

    by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @07:58AM (#29283519)

    What's warped about it. This vote was carried out in the exact same way all other UK parliamentary elections were carried out.

  • by blackest_k ( 761565 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:00AM (#29283531) Homepage Journal

    If Gordon Brown is as unpopular as he is painted then the winner to the greater or lesser extent will be the conservative party.

    The conservative party will not need your vote to win but the pirate party needs every vote it can get to stand a chance of being seen as a significant interest group.

  • by Brass Cannon ( 882254 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:09AM (#29283595)
    The problem I have with your argument is its initial premise.

    "How is a government supposed to do everything it needs to do if it cannot accurately keep track of its citizens?"

    Once that statement is accepted, everything you say follows logically. But recheck your initial assumption. What exactly does government "need" to do? I am not asking what is your government currently doing. I ask what does it absolutely need to do. Detecting tax & benefit fraud for instance. If people relied on government for less benefits they would probably pay less taxes. There, I just reduced what your government needs to do by two things.

    I don't live in the UK or Sweden so I don't know everything your government is currently handling. I would be willing to bet that there are many things that your government is doing that could easily be handled better by private industry.

    Of course the government needs a way to quickly and easily identify people... It's doing so much for so many. Having the national ID will allow it do do even more, leading to ever increasing levels of information to be collected about you along with new and interesting ways for it to be used.

    Despite the current economic conditions, times are relatively good now. Goods and services are readily available and the national ID is needed to better dole them out. How will the national id be used when / if times are worse?

    I am from the US and we have our own national id legislation. What you have now, we will have soon.

    Privacy and anonymity don't scare me, efficient governments do.
  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:13AM (#29283629)

    Libertarianism is a recipe for fail.

    We see over and over again that "the market" brings poverty and misery to millions, yet libertarians still worship it like some sort of god.

    The world does not work by magic, human nature is selfish and abusive. Libertarianism would result, very quickly, in an effective return to feudalism and serfdom.

  • by boethius78 ( 1002975 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:34AM (#29283795)

    [The] Conservatives ... [are] simply New Labour with different people.

    Erm... what? You mean New Labour were Tories before the Tories thought of it? I'm not a major fan of either party, but the main problem the Conservatives have had recently is that they couldn't differentiate themselves from New Labour because Blair nicked all their good policies and then ran them through the spin machine. New Labour's spin doctors were better (i.e. sleazier and more underhanded), so they won the votes. Either way, I'm probably voting PPUK next time around.

  • by pjt33 ( 739471 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @09:07AM (#29284207)

    The title is grossly misleading. It's not about adding a national_id_number field to the criminal record database: it's about forcing everyone who applies for a certificate that they don't have a criminal record to also apply for entry into a "voluntary" database which aggregates far more data than ever previously stored about British citizens.

    Once you're in you can't get out, and you become subject to a $1500 fine if you, for example, fail to update the database when you move house.

    Moreover, something like 20% of the population need this certificate. Work with children (teacher, nurse, doctor, bus driver)? You need it. Do voluntary work with children (Boy Scout leader)? You need it.

    So suddenly the government has several million people signed up and points at them to say, "Look! We told you people wanted to be in our database! Now we're going to make it compulsory."


  • by FourthAge ( 1377519 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @09:08AM (#29284221) Journal

    The alternative to a distributed system like a free market is a centralised system like a Government, which takes a large proportion of our earnings and then wastes them. There is nothing magical about this: distributed is better than centralised.

    (Minarchist) libertarians believe in the rule of law and would not dismantle laws that truly exist for the protection of ordinary people, rather than existing simply to keep them out of work and dependent on the state (e.g. the benefit system and minimum wage).

    Like it or not, free market Capitalism built Western civilisation. We have advanced technology and a transport infrastructure because somebody wanted to get rich. Money is a good thing: one of mankind's greatest inventions in fact.

  • by Brass Cannon ( 882254 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @09:17AM (#29284335)
    Why not do away with SS & taxes altogether? Is that so insane? People assume that if the government were not doing something that it would not get done. Things that need to be done will be done. I am simply saying that government is not always the best one to do it.

    As far as taxes go.

    Last year the federal government received $1.1 trillion in revenue from personal income tax.

    The budget submitted by President Obama for 2010 is $3.6 trillion.

    If you eliminated the personal income tax the federal budget would have to shrink to $2.5 trillion.

    What year, you ask, was the federal budget last at $2.5 trillion?

    Why that was way back in 2004. ($2.4 trillion actually but what's $100 Billion between friends?)

    Does anyone seriously think that the size and scope of the federal government was too small back in 2004? No more personal income tax means less reason to track people personally. Not no reason of course, there is always a reason for governments to track their citizens, I am just saying the less the better.

    As far as your thought that government is not motivated by money... I think that's naive. They are both equally motivated by money. At least with industry, you can vote it away with your money quicker than you can an administration. Most new businesses fail within the first year. They have to actually bring value to make it longer than that. Not so with governments.

    And I would not want to pay taxes in my country either but I bet they are still lower than yours.

    Strange, I assume that you think your government will be more efficient with the national ID card and mine less efficient without it. Do you think as government becomes more efficient your taxes will go down? USA mean personal income tax <30%, UK personal income tax - mid 30's, Sweden approaches 50%.

    I prefer slower progress & inefficient government to outrageously high taxes.
  • Re:hey, UK (Score:3, Insightful)

    by damburger ( 981828 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @09:29AM (#29284469)
    You are talking about what does happen, I am talking about what would happen if we lived in a democracy
  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @10:00AM (#29284835) Journal

    I did their test and I score 80%. I failed on their racist/extremist stuff, coming from a country crippled by those fascists/extremists, I still have difficulties to accept Hitler's fans promoting their agenda on my doorstep after the ravage they have done to the whole Europe.

    So you don't believe in free speech when the groups exercising it are advocating for something that most would find offensive?

    I rather like the old quote: I may not agree with what you have to say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

  • by selven ( 1556643 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @10:49AM (#29285535)

    if you do have a criminal background, you should be discouraged against

    I disagree with this. How can criminals become productive members of society if they get ostracized?

  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gma i l .com> on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @11:57AM (#29286665) Journal
    There's nothing big companies can do to stop the competition? Ever heard of vendor lock-in? Read about net neutrality issues? With less regulation it can only get worse - the AT&T/iPhone clusterfuck is a prime example. That's not the result of regulation, that's all between Apple and AT&T, and could still happen if the companies were located in Somalia. Look at how Microsoft deals with PC vendors. Those are the kinds of deals you would see everywhere as bigger companies crush smaller ones and competition decreases, possibly to the point of monopolies forming. Voting with your dollars only works when there's proper competition - otherwise you end up in a "Douche & Turd" situation you should be familiar with given your political leanings.

    IP is another issue, clearly there are a lot of problems in that area, but small companies have a lot more to lose from insufficient IP protection than large ones, again because they are at a disadvantage to larger companies, especially in a free-for-all. Startup X invents breakthrough technology (let's say a practical hologram projector) and starts having it manufactured, Megacorp Y reverse-engineers and re-implements it without paying Startup X more than the cost of the units they needed for reverse-engineering, and sells it with their brand name, marketing muscle, economy of scale and possibly vendor lock-in behind it. Startup X is SOL and the engineers get jobs working on more tangible, hard-to-steal things. If Startup X had a patent on the technology for say, 5 years from the date of application things would be very different. Sure Startup X could say "no reverse-engineering" in their EULA, but it would be either impossible or very invasive to businesses to prove that Megacorp Y didn't just happen to develop the tech around the same time. Insufficient IP protection can be just as bad as too much protection. Even a big FOSS user and DIYer like me knows that sometimes it takes fucktons of money to innovate new technologies, and if there isn't some assurance of a return on investment, it's just not going to happen - at least not until it becomes affordable for hobbyists, which would greatly slow technological advancement. I'm all for reasonable IP protection, but what we're seeing today is nowhere near reasonable.
  • by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @12:15PM (#29286907) Homepage
    That just happened in November here in the US.
  • by turgid ( 580780 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @02:53PM (#29289385) Journal

    People on welfare have all the spare minutes in the world. Why aren't they bettering themselves?

    People on "welfare" include the badly mentally and physically disabled, the sick, the dying, the frail, etc.

    Not everyone is a capitalist powerhouse able to toil relentlessly for 14 hours a day, 6 days a week for a pittance to put a manky, dilapidated roof over their head and moldy bread in their mouth.

    At least in a civillised country, these people will be fed, housed, clothed and probably cared for medically at some reasonable minimum level.

    Thankfully, we all don't aspire to being American. You can keep your Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. I hope you enjoy it.

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:20AM (#29298535) Journal

    As I noted, not everyone has such an extreme view of freedom of expression.


    I'm not suggesting stifling the politically correct, but I suggest that stifling some of the dangerous is ok.

    What happens when our fearless political leaders aren't as reasonable as you? We've got pandering politicians who are willing to attack video games if they think it will help them win re-election. You actually think they should have the power to regulate speech and decide that's "dangerous" or "reasonable"? Are you insane?

    In most European countries, the moderate limits to freedom of expression are sensible and work well

    No, they aren't sensible. They are grounded in fear.

    Their abuse of the legal system and use of spies to infiltrate governments that have investigated these things threaten society.

    People/organizations who repeatedly abuse the legal system can be denied access to it. Infiltrating the Government is already a crime. Neither of those things relates to free speech, which is the topic of this discussion. If I want to stand on a street corner and tell anyone who will listen that disembodied alien souls are the source of our unhappiness and psychiatrists are the devil incarnate who the hell are you to muzzle me?

    I despise Scientology and the KKK but I'll be marching right alongside them if my Government ever attempts to silence them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 03, 2009 @04:05PM (#29303941)

    One of the things that I see as a major problem with the censorship of "hate" speech is that the act of censoring does a couple of things. It may well stop some people hearing it and taking up that view[1], but it also does nothing but vindicate the censored.

    If I were to use freedom of speech to advocate something dumb, like that there is an invisible space wizard that created the universe and is watching over us all, and you as the government were to ban what I was trying to say, my reaction would be "why are you censoring me?" It must be because I am either correct, or my point of view is so unsettling to you that you cannot come up with a valid response even if I am wrong.

    And censorship won't "kill" a point of view - it'll just move out of your line of sight, but now it has extra clout with the speaker and any listeners, as it is an illegal point of view, and illegal for some reason.

    Not so long ago I heard of a debate that was happening at Oxford uni about freedom of speech. The BNP were (ironically) told they could not attend. The BNP are nothing but a bunch of fucking idiots and racists, but for them to be told "no" does nothing at all to undermine their views. The way to deal with hate-spewing bodies is to listen to them, then explain what is wrong with their points of view using logic and reason.

    BTW - was watching South Park the other day, and it dawned on me that Nick Griffin is what Eric Cartman would grow up to be if he were real! The episode that triggered this flash of inspiration was the one where South Park is over run by hippies, and Cartman is rounding them up.

    [1] Bonus points for spotting the parallels with security through obscurity.

Love may laugh at locksmiths, but he has a profound respect for money bags. -- Sidney Paternoster, "The Folly of the Wise"