Author Archives: James Baker

Labour kicked out in Calderdale: The inside story

Calderdale CouncilThis week the Liberal Democrat group on Calderdale Council came to the decision to vote out the minority Labour administration, and vote in a minority coalition of the Conservatives and Independent Councillor. Allow me to explain why.

From 2010 we had worked in a fairly successful Coalition with the Labour party. We didn’t shut a single sure start centre or library, we opened up cabinet meetings with a public question time, and we had the highest recycling rate in West Yorkshire.

As that coalition went on it became increasingly apparent Labour wanted to control the Council alone, and to ignore the wishes of the other parties. It was harder and harder to work with them as continued to propose political motions that did little for local people, but did a lot of party point scoring. Finally last year they managed to secure the support of the Conservatives who abstained at the right votes in return for some scrutiny chairs, and Labour got their wish of a minority administration.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 12 Comments

Opinion: We should be ashamed of these emergency surveillance powers

Fingers typing at keyboardIn April the European Court of Justice ruled that the UK’s regime of mass data retention was incompatible with the treaty on fundamental rights, particularly with article 8 that stipulates the right to private and family life, right to protection of personal data and the right to freedom of expression. This was a major victory for many Liberals, civil liberties advocates and privacy campaigners who have fought against the widespread blanket retention of innocent and law-abiding citizen’s data.

The ruling set out 10 principles that new legislation should adhere …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 56 Comments

Opinion: The case for increased surveillance hasn’t been made

At the heart of the draft Communications Bill is a drive to make it easier for a range of officials to access information about people’s communications.  The Home Office maintains that officals need this push-button surveillance in order to help fight emotive crimes such as terrorism and paedophiles.

Despite widespread criticisms of the bill put forward by the Home Office to achieve those ends, most politicians appear to be uncritically accepting their underlying premise – that officials need to be granted more powers to snoop on citizens. Just take for instace Clegg’s statement on the bill:
“They were very clear that …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 3 Comments

The Independent View: Selling our NHS data is not putting us in control of our health records

Back in 2010 there was a wave of optimism amongst civil liberties campaigners, especially those of us concerned with protecting privacy from an over-bearing database state. Not only did the coalition agreement set out a promise to scrap ID cards and its associated population register, there were other promises too: “We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason” and then on page 25 of the coalition agreement the statement that “We will put patients in charge of making decisions about their care, including control of their health records”.

In our briefing document ‘Privacy Under Threat’ …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Tagged and | 25 Comments

The Independent View: The bigger picture on privacy

Amongst the frenzy of the phone hacking scandal Philip Virgo has recalled operation Motorman. This investigation by the Information Commissioner and follow-up report What Price Privacy Now studies and provides details of the illegal trade in personal private information. Rather than being limited to the phone hacking scandal, the report suggests this trade was widespread between newspapers, private investigators and corrupt officials.

This report was presented to the previous government that failed to act upon it and halt the illegal trade in personal information. It is with unfortunate irony that members of that previous government including Lord Prescott …

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The Independent View: action is needed to keep census data confidential

So far Lib Dem voice has seen two opposing points of view on the census, one from Merlene Emerson who explains why she believes the census is important, and another from Simon Beard who explains why as a Quaker he will be objecting to it on the moral grounds of Lockheed Martin’s involvement.

NO2ID appreciates why some people have concerns regarding the involvement of an arms company in the census. However as a single issue campaign our concern is with the immediate privacy threat the census poses to everyone. We have therefore taken it upon …

Posted in The Independent View | Tagged , , and | 14 Comments
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