This week Big Brother Watch celebrated our official launch in Central London. 150 people from across politics, the media, civil liberties and beyond, gathered in the elegant surroundings of Vanilla to listen to two titans of privacy and freedom – David Davis MP and Tony Benn – welcome Big Brother Watch to the growing number of groups dedicated to defending liberty in the UK.
The speeches are now available to view on our YouTube channel or you can go to them directly by clicking on the links below. A more complete round-up of the night is available on our blog and it was also covered by the Evening Standard, Standpoint, Burning our Money and on several other blogs and websites.
Speech by David Davis MP
Speech by Tony Benn
Speech by Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch
Coming Up – An Unwarranted Intrusion
Now that Big Brother Watch is officially launched, we intend to be involved with far more events discussing the need to fight intrusions on our privacy, particularly as the country approaches a general election. Next on the list we are pleased to announce an event we are hosting with The Centre for Policy Studies on the accumulation of entry powers by the state.
23rd February 2010 – 6.15 for 6.30pm – 55 Tufton Street, SW1, London
• Dominic Grieve QC MP – Shadow Secretary of State for Justice
• Henry Porter – Novelist and Columnist
• Harry Snook – Author, Crossing the Threshold: 266 ways the State can enter your home
• Alex Deane, Director – Big Brother Watch
Chaired by Jill Kirby – Director, Centre for Policy Studies
As we reported in the first newsletter of the year, research from Big Brother Watch revealed that there are nearly 15,000 officers in local councils nationwide who can enter private property without requiring a warrant or police officer escort. This report built upon the 2006 Centre for Policy Studies pamphlet Crossing the Threshold by Harry Snook, which detailed the number of ways the State can enter a private home as of right – there were 266 distinct powers of entry then, and 1,043 now.
Our panel of speakers will discuss the implications of this for civil liberties and whether action is needed to rebalance power in the relationship between the state and the citizen.
The event will be held on Tuesday 23 February at 6.15 for 6.30pm, at 55 Tufton Street, SW1. Please email [email protected] or ring 020 7222 4488 if you would like to attend.
We have seen a tremendous upsurge in the number of stickers being requested and pictures being sent in; so much so that we have now given the gallery a major revamp. Our favourite picture from this week is on the right (a worryingly Orwellian piece of advertising from the Metropolitan Police sent in by anon).
If you want your image featured either on the blog (like this one) or in the newsletter, request your free stickers by emailing [email protected] and send us your photos to the same address.
Blogs of the Week
ANPR cameras are being used to target innocent motorists - sensational documents leaked to the Independent on Sunday reveal that Automatic Number-Plate Recognition cameras are being used by certain police forces to target members of the public in order to meet government performance targets and raise revenue. A national scandal largely ignored.
Body scanners – an expensive waste of time? - Austrian physicist smuggles a metal knife, a detonator, and a large quantity of crystal explosives through a new full-body scanner to prove that not only are these new machines unnecessarily intrusive, they also don’t work.
Man arrested under terrorism act for Twitter joke - man planning Dublin trip ‘tweets’ empty threat upon hearing an aiport has closed due to snow. Police arrest him and he is subsequently suspended from his job. Do we really think Al Qaeda would announce their next target on Twitter…anyone?
WATCH – Alex Deane interviewed by BBC Politics Show South East about the Big Brother Watch CCTV report ‘Big Brother Is Watching’.
Daily Telegraph – Magistrates’ details sent to prisoners
Alex Deane, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “This kind of error is unforgivably stupid. Not only is it irresponsible, but there’s no conceivable excuse for this kind of administrative incompetence.
“Even worse, it makes it less likely that people will serve as magistrates in the future.”
Independent – Magistrates’ information sent to jail workshop
Evening Standard – Big Benn feels the long arm of the law
BBC Radio Newcastle – Alex Deane interviewed by John Harle
Daily Telegraph – Airport body scanners could ‘breach human rights’
Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, said: “The EHRC is completely right to question the use of full-body scanners in airports.
“They are another intrusion into our privacy in the name of protection, yet we know that they are not fail-safe and could see airport authorities becoming reliant on a deeply flawed method of detection.”
Press and Journal – Concern over use of body scanners
BBC News – Body scanners risk right to privacy, says UK watchdog
Sky News – Watchdog Warns About Airport Body Scanners
Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, added: “The EHRC is completely right to question the use of full-body scanners in airports. We know that they are not fail-safe and could see airport authorities becoming reliant on a deeply flawed method of detection.
Surrey Mirror – Council staff’s power of entry
Romford Recorder – Surprise of Town Hall entry powers
Four Ways to Help Big Brother Watch
1. Forward this newsletter to a friend to let them know about our work, and encourage them to sign up to the mailing list
2. Please do send us your own examples of the Big Brother state or any stories you have seen in your local paper – our contact details are available here
3. Donate to the campaign here
4. Join our facebook group, subscribe to our YouTube channel or sign up to our twitter feed