Monday, 5 January 2009

A roadmap to our souls

Join the dots?

Two British missionaries have been sentenced to one year in prison with hard labour after pleading guilty to sedition charges in a Gambian court. David Fulton, 60, a former army major, and his wife Fiona, 46, were arrested last month at their home outside the west African country's capital after sending an email to individuals and groups allegedly criticising Gambia's government. The couple, who have spent 12 years in Gambia, pleading guilty on Christmas Eve to making seditious comments 'with intent to bring hatred or contempt against the president or the government'.

(The Guardian, 30 December)

The private sector will be asked to manage and run a communications database that will keep track of everyone's calls, emails, texts and internet use under a key option contained in a consultation paper to be published next month by Jacqui Smith, the home secretary.

(The Guardian, 31 December)

I'm not saying you can draw a straight line from spying on people's mails to locking them up for criticising the government - though I find myself in agreement with former director of public prosecutions Sir Ken MacDonald:

It is a process which can save lives and bring criminals to justice. But no other country is considering such a drastic step. This database would be an unimaginable hell-house of personal private information. It would be a complete readout of every citizen's life in the most intimate and demeaning detail. No government of any colour is to be trusted with such a roadmap to our souls.

Looks like 'Nanny' Smith is keen to show she can be just as paternalist as 'Parson' Brown.

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