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Group accuses British of abusing terror surveillance laws

By David Edwards
Tuesday, June 24, 2008 7:20 EDT
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A group of government authorities in Britain has criticized the local government councils using terror surveillance laws to spy on ordinary citizens for “trivial” offenses.

The following excerpts are from the British newspaper, The Inquirer:

“Locally-elected councils are spying on people and then rapping them for things like dropping litter or letting their dog poo on the pavement. Sir Simon Milton, chairman of the Local Government Association, said in a letter sent to every council in England that people were starting to wonder if officials were beginning to abuse their power.”

“Only last week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that surveillance technology was bringing liberty to the British people by making them feel safer from the terrorist bogeyman. But petty officials used surveillance powers to check the phone and email records of nearly 1,000 people last year.”

“Poole Council in Dorset spied on a family for two weeks, even tailing their car, just to see if they had lied on their school application form.”

“Northampton council used anti-terrorist laws to film people who didn’t clean their dog’s doo-doo off the pavement. Posters in South London warn people they are being watched in case they drop cigarette buts on the floor. Even those surveillance instruments councils have put in without the help of anti-terror laws make Britain into a laughing stock.”

Former British MP and champion of civil liberties, David Davis, made the following comments toThe Guardian:

“The abuse of local powers has followed the example of central government. The government’s fixation with ever-longer periods of pre-charge detention, its obsession with intrusive ID cards and its accumulation of the largest DNA database in the world, has undermined our liberty and privacy, but failed to make us any safer.”

“Gordon Brown has gagged his ministers from participating in any public debate on these issues during the byelection, which I am fighting against the relentless assault on British liberty. Today I issued a challenge to every cabinet minister, inviting each one to come and debate with me these vital national issues. I won’t hold my breath. This is not a government with the courage of its convictions.”

This video is from ITV, broadcast June 24, 2008.



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David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
 
 
 
 
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