Welcome to HM Open Prison United Kingdom

Anti-terrorism laws were used to carry out surveillance on a family that wanted to get their 3-year-old into a certain school. The local council tracked them for a fortnight to make sure they lived in the right catchment area.

No, really.

The title was stolen from a comment by Steve Woods on the post about this in The Register. This story is also on the BBC website and a fair number of newspapers.

In a followup BBC article about an interview with the family:

The council has defended its actions, carried out under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).
The council admitted using RIPA laws, which were designed to track criminals and terrorists, on six occasions in total

You may have a problem with intrusive cameras (Well, if you don’t, you should have, if you put any value on personal liberty) but RIPA ups the game quite a bit from them. There’s a very balanced BBC piece on it which, in itself, should put the fear of Odin in you.

It’s not as if this sort of thing should be a surprise. An “anonymous coward” commented on the Register post:

WE were warned at the time that such powers would inevitably be used for trivial matters. The reason is the same as the answer to “why do dogs lick their balls ?” [1]

[1] Because they can.

1 thought on “Welcome to HM Open Prison United Kingdom

  1. There are so many things wrong with this. WOW.

    First of all (and this is a serious problem on both sides of the Atlantic) why is it desirable to get your child in to a particular school? Why isn’t her/his local school up to standard? This is a class/race/cultural problem that is tricky to deal with, which has undoubtedly caused education establishments on both sides of the Pond to engage in much hand-wringing and little action. After all, they might offend somebody.

    Second, how is it that the U.K. has become one continuous installation of CCTV cameras? Where were its citizens when this was going on? Mind you, there are places in the U.S. that are straining to catch up. Far too many people have been fooled into thinking that sacrificing enough liberty can ensure security. The U.S. patriot/icon Benjamin Franklin, I believe, said something on the order of “Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.” (I expect, if I’ve got the quote wrong, that another commenter will correct me.)

    He was right. There is no right more valuable than liberty.

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