Monday, 25 April 2016

European Convention on Human Rights

I was shocked when Cameron was saying we need a new Bill of Rights to replace this, and then this week was more shocked when I hear Theresa May wants us out of the ECHR.

If Government, or MPs, want to reduce or remove human rights to get around what they want to do, it says a heck of a lot about what they want to do!

But I have to say that when someone like Patrick Stewart steps in and does something like this, it really shows the problem so well. This is gold. Life of Brian classic, but a serious point. Very serious.

16 comments:

  1. I cannot see the Emperor's clothes here. Are we supposed to sagely nod along as we remember the appalling torture and unfair trials which were rife in Britain prior to the HRA 1998?

    No mention of whether the buck should ultimately stop with a parliament we elect (and can throw-out every few years) rather than a bunch of distant judges we can't.

    *Any* single disagreement (like your current one) with the current government can always be hypothetically resolved by constructing a dictatorship which agrees with you on that issue and overrules the government. But don't forget that it's the "right to privacy" which gave us the cretinous "cookie directive"...

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    1. The cookie directive was just plane stupid. It is not that it is a right to privacy that was the issue - some means not to be tracked may be what people want and have a right to. There were/are protocol and settings changes that make it easy for anyone to exercise that right. The issue with the cookie directive was its implementation which was so stupid and everyone could see that. Now we are just as tracked but have annoying cookie popups everywhere as well. Not the way to achieve the objective at all.

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    2. > The cookie directive was just plane stupid

      I'll go out on a limb here, and say that the amendment to the ePrivacy directive to deal with tracking cookies was not stupid, in terms of what it was intending to do. Trying to protect people from having tracking devices put onto their equipment without their consent seems pretty sensible to me. The manner in which it was done certainly had far-reaching, and sadly predictable, implications, so I am not arguing it was perfect, but the underlying sentiment was one with which most people would agree, I think?

      (And, indeed, some people to this day are arguing that limits should be put on the extent to which people can interfere with other's equipment for tracking and monitoring purposes...)

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    3. Indeed. Though "interfering" with equipment is simply not the case with cookies, cached web pages, web browsing history, or any of the other normal and configurable operations of a web browser people choose to use, IMHO. Browsers have controls on the way cookies are used (if at all) and other such features. People are fully in control of these if they wish to be. The browsers are what do the work of storing things, not the web site, and maybe there is an argument that the browsers should make that clearer in some way - but many do. Indeed, private browsing or incognito browsing is usually a pretty obvious feature.

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    4. >>No mention of whether the buck should ultimately stop with a parliament we elect (and can throw-out every few years) rather than a bunch of distant judges we can't.

      The buck does stop with Parliament. The Courts interpret the laws parliament passes. Parliament agreed to the ECtHR.

      Are you perhaps suggesting that the government should now be bound by law?

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    5. Indeed, parliament could decide to take Uk our of ECHR (assuming we are by then out of EU). One has to ask them which of the human rights in the ECHR they wish to break exactly, and why? If they don't want to break any, no reason to leave. If they do, then even more reason to stay in as we have a government that does not respect basic human rights.

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    6. > ask them which of the human rights they wish to break exactly, and why?

      Absolutely spot on.

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    7. I wonder if the authors actually understood the function of cookies in this context, or the fact the users already have a choice which (if any) to accept and for how long? Now, if they'd set rules and required consent for particular tracking or data sharing, that would make sense, but mandating "This site uses cookies (Y/N?)" everywhere just made them look stupid and wasted all our time.

      I have mixed feelings about ECHR - it certainly has flaws, but would any replacement from Ms May improve anything? Pretty unlikely.

      It also worries me that bringing up the ECHR now risks confusing it with the separate question of EU membership, making people think they need to vote to keep one to have the other. Cynically, I wouldn't put it past Call-Me-Dave to have intended precisely that...

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    8. "If they don't want to break any, no reason to leave."

      That's *exactly* the same argument as "If you've done nothing wrong, you've nothing to fear".

      It's nothing more than a nasty way of casting people arguing for liberty as people who must inevitably want to misbehave.

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    9. I am not sure that follows. There are two possibilities: either the court is not applying the principles correctly or the principles are wrong. Both can be addressed within the EU and should be to improve the process.

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    10. > I wonder if the authors actually understood the function of cookies in this context

      Probably. See, for example, recital 66 to directive 2009/136/EC:

      "Third parties may wish to store information on the equip­ment of a user, or gain access to information already stored, for a number of purposes, ranging from the legiti­mate (such as certain types of cookies) to those involving unwarranted intrusion into the private sphere (such as spy­ ware or viruses). It is therefore of paramount importance that users be provided with clear and comprehensive infor­mation when engaging in any activity which could result in such storage or gaining of access. The methods of pro­viding information and offering the right to refuse should be as user-friendly as possible. Exceptions to the obligation to provide information and offer the right to refuse should be limited to those situations where the technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user. Where it is technically possible and effective, in accordance with the relevant provisions of Directive 95/46/EC, the user’s consent to processing may be expressed by using the appropriate settings of a browser or other application. The enforcement of these require­ments should be made more effective by way of enhanced powers granted to the relevant national authorities."

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    11. That looks more like a "no" to me - where they say "store information on the equipment of a user", it is actually "ask the user's software to store a piece of information, which it can be configured to ignore or restrict".

      On the other hand, the later part, "the user’s consent to processing may be expressed by using the appropriate settings of a browser", makes a lot more sense - but does seem to negate the entire "need" to stick a pointless consent box on almost every website online.

      Taken literally, the "store or gain access to information on someone’s device" bit which ICO highlight in their guidance would also appear to cover the browser cache (since that can be used to implement a cookie-equivalent). At which point, websites would have to ask the visitor's permission to be viewed at all, unless they have caching disabled... (Silly, perhaps, but try distinguishing between the browser's cache and its cookie store - both of which act to store data provided by the server, in a way configured by the user in conjunction with the server's response headers...)

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  2. If Theresa May wants out of the ECHR, I want in! Since her idea of rights seems to be to spy on everyone, I don't truth a single word this snake says.

    A vile, ignorant person. When was the last half decent Home Secretary we had?

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    1. Roy Jenkins was a pretty decent chap, he was Home Secretary. Was Ken Clarke ever Home Secretary, I quite like him.

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  3. This is what happens when not enough people vote you end up with a Tory government who do not care about the people, U still will be voting to leave the EU

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  4. Well done Patrick Stewart for the clip. And I spotted the Humphrey character long before the credits.

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