Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Stop! Searchy time!

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Section 44 Stop-and-Search is unlawful, which is good news for photographers everywhere.

Or, at least it would be, if it were likely to change anything - remember that they have also ruled the DNA Database is unlawful, and that's still going strong, ditto the (alleged) illegal wiretapping by Phorm.

One interesting revelation in that story is that the whole of Greater London has been secretly designated for stop-and-search for almost a decade - and that this has been rubber-stamped every 28 days by the Home Secretary. Didn't know that...

Of course, all of this ties in with the ridiculous Threat Level - currently Substantial, ironic given the utter lack of substance to threats. This means that "an attack is a strong possibility", compared with the level below (Moderate) where "an attack is possible, but not likely". Who decides the difference between a "strong possibility" and "possible, but not likely" or even "highly likely"? And how do they justify that there is a "strong possibility", given that there haven't been any successful attacks in the last 1650 days and only three unsuccesful attempts - one ("liquid bombs") which was caught long before? The system is meaningless and arbitrary, and seems to exist only to intimidate the populace.

I'd like to ask Alan Johnson - who, as Home Secretary for more than 28 days, has renewed London's blanket anti-terrorist coverage - what evidence there is of an attack in the next four weeks.

I'm sorry, but "London is a capital city and is therefore a target" just doesn't cut it - every major city of every state has been a potential target since time immemorial, and yet on the vast majority of days nothing happens. Come back when you have specific, credible information. Large cities are targets for the same reason they grow: because there are significant network effects from having lots of people near to each other. Business thrives when there are people to do business with.

To use that to justify anti-terrorism legislation implies that anyone who lives or works in a city is a potential terrorist, and the bigger the city the greater that likelihood.

- KoW

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