Friday, 11 April 2008

Surveillance Legislation: There's Always A Catchment

Consider me distinctly unsurprised by the revelations that surveillance powers supposedly for the protection of the public against terrorism and serious crime were abused.

I am somewhat incredulous that, of all things, the perpetrators of this abuse of power were a borough council, using recent information-gathering legislation to spy on a couple for the purpose of establishing whether their children are eligible for entry into a popular school.

This case illustrates something that should really be pretty damn obvious, specifically that powers like this will be applied to matters well outside the stated scope of the legislation once they are granted. This particular instance is so obviously disproportionate that it has attracted national attention. It demonstrates exactly why the kind of legislation (of which RIPA was one example) campaigned against by the likes of NO2ID and Liberty, and of course opposed by LPUK, is so dangerous. Mission creep.

At the same time as providing a good example of the dangers of New Labour's surveillance legislation*, as Longrider points out the Poole spying travesty also illustrates how damaging our state school system is. It has long been the case that housing in the catchment area of a highly regarded school like Lilliput CoE First School is prized, and some parents will go to great, even fraudulent lengths to get their children into one state school over another. This in itself perpetuates the divisions between 'good' and 'sink' state schools. Forget moaning about 'privileged' private schools, this is the real inherent travesty in our education system.

* The council in Poole is Conservative-, not Labour-controlled. Not that that fact makes the legislation this post is concerned with any less flawed.

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