Monday, 6 April 2009

More Blogging battles........

Today Deputy Bob Hill presented a "complaints board" appeal regarding an "offensive" fence around a cottage at Trinity.

Thirteen people including 82 year old (former Senator) Dick Shenton assembled at Trinity Parish Hall to hear the officially "open to the public" meeting together with Team Voice and Channel Television. But, although we and CTV could video the visit to the cottage, it was decided (in one of those infamous Jersey instant decisions) that no recording could be made of the "open to the public" proceedings at the Parish Hall.

So, almost as crazy as the Scrutiny Panel "3 day rule" - but in this ruling the entire Media can only show you external video. Ironically, the cottage owners were happy for "The Voice" to video and publish on the internet.

More on this complaints board hearing and the "amazing planning office" will follow soon..............


Anonymous said...

what are scared of ?They have had it all their own way "the Jersey way "for too long.

They are not used to being questioned,their authority and position of power used to be sufficent to keep the population under control.
So very amusing to see the trying to preserve their status quo.

It is so obvious and the people you are paid to serve are a lot smarter than you give them credit for.

voiceforchildren said...

Just left this comment on Connetable Peter Hannings Blog.

Connetable Hanning.

I am horrified that you are a Blogger and you are attempting to gag Bloggers.Your objection to a review board hearing being filmed by a Blogger when the witnesses consented to it being filmed is even more disgraceful knowing you, yourself are a Blogger!!

What a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

So that’s her.

Make up it as they go along and then find it’s contradictory and confusing to impliment. Another fine mess….

Anonymous said...

whats your problem surely you were aloud in the parish hall to listen to the proceedings, why do you need to film as well, is it just to intimidate or humiliate the people taking part

Rob Kent said...

Re "is it just to intimidate or humiliate the people taking part", at 14.27.

That's a rather negative interpretation of it. You could say that if people know they are being filmed and there is a record of the meeting, they are more likely to abide by the law and not do or say anything underhand.

I think what is happening here is symptomatic of a bigger battle that is occurring in society in general, which is the emergence of new technology as a tool of citizenship.

For example, in Britain over the last twenty years the state has increased its powers of surveillance over its citizens to a degree that would have shocked anyone fifty years ago.

You are on CCTV everywhere you go in public, almost literally everywhere. All roadside cameras (town and motorway) are now linked to a central computer that uses number plate recognition to identify the driver and log their every journey. These records are retained. Eborders and chipped passports means that all your external travel is also recorded.

In addition to that, since everything we do these days involves electronic, computerised transactions, we leave a trail of our everyday activities. This applies to all your banking transactions, your phone calls, your emails, your web browsing etc. The providers of these services are, by law, required to keep records of these transactions and make them available to the police on request.

Moving on to the citizen's right to protest, you can now no-longer in this country have a spontaneous demonstration, which you can still do in the US. In Britain, more than four people gathered together is an illegal gathering if it has not been approved by the police and, believe me, the police are using this law routinely. They are also abusing it by dispersing groups of youths who, although boisterous are not breaking any law. Again, believe me that this is routine, in Brighton where I live.

When you do get to protest - or you even attend a public meeting of a protesting group (such as against the Iraq war or the arms trade), the police film you. If you film the police filming you, they take your details and issue with a caution.

So over recent years the State has massively armed itself with new legal powers and the technology of surveillance that allows it to both monitor and control its citizens, even those who are acting peacefully within the law.

But new technology - cheap portable videos, camera phones, email, blogs etc - have now made it possible for citizens to turn the camera back onto the organs of the State and hold them to account. And the State does not like this one little bit: they would like surveillance to be one-sided.

So, in the UK they have passed a law that nobody can take a photo of a policeman or anyone in the armed forces or any public building, and this law is being used daily (see examples here and here.

What this means is that if I see a police officer breaking the law and I film it, I will be arrested. As the above links show, this is happening routinely.

For citizens today there is no leeway in the law: offences are recorded automatically, processed by computer, and fines are electronically dispatched. There is no wriggle room.

And neither should there be for the people we elect and pay to govern and police us. They must be subject to the same transparency and accountability using the same technical means as they both demand of us and use on us.

Consequently, if I am expected to adhere to the law and I am filmed while out shopping, driving, leaving the country, and am monitored while browsing web sites, phoning my friends, emailing business contacts, then so should they be, especially while performing public duties.

In fact, I believe that unless there are extremely good reasons for a session to be in camera, all meetings of public officials should be available live on the Internet via a web cam.

An asymmetry of trust has developed between the State and its citizens. Tony Blair was always banging on about trust, that is, we were expected to trust the police and the government. But the fact is, they don't trust us at all - they treat us as if we were already breaking the law and, like naughty children, need to be constantly monitored.

But when we, as citizens, turn around and ask, Why should we trust you any more than you mistrust us? there is uproar and they want to stop us filming them and stop us revealing information on the Internet.

So to anyone in Jersey who dislikes the idea of VFJ filming public meetings, I would ask you to please consider the asymmetry of power and surveillance that has developed in almost every country in the world and to actually fight for your right to monitor, question, and hold to account public officials.

We want to see the faces and hear the voices of those who govern us. We want to know the reasons for their decisions so that we as reasonable and reasonably informed citizens can decide whether they (put into positions of trust by us) are fulfilling their duty within the law. Openness makes for better government.

I would like to say to the State: you would like our lives to be constantly open to inspection but you want your decisions and movements to be cloaked in secrecy. Given that is your position, why should we trust you?

And I would like to make a contract with the State, that says: you can film, record and monitor me, even though I have done nothing wrong, so long as I can do exactly the same to you.

And then, when our government takes us into an illegal war, or the police kill an unarmed innocent person, or some local council shafts its rate payers by selling off public land in a shady property deal, we, the citizens could examine all of the emails, phone calls, meetings, and CCTV evidence of who met whom and when, we could see what was said and know whether they have broken the law or behaved unethically.

That is why we need people like VFJ, and I think you should support him. The blogs and web sites have become our village green where citizens meet to discuss what is going on. It is a conversation that should be encouraged.