Monday, February 06, 2006

More big bother for freedom and privacy

UK news from The Times

Britain's "Child Support Agency" exists for one purpose - to chase down absent parents who are not paying for the upkeep of their children. The original intention was to save the government untold millions in benefit payments, but since its inception a few short years ago the agency has been plagued with problems and incompetence. It's draconian pursuit of "offenders" is dictated by numbers, with little concern for individual circumstance and the real welfare of the familiies concerned. It is also claimed that the operations costs more to administer than the the savings made in the collection of maintainance payments.

In the absence of common sense, enter Big Brother. As the above link reveals, government wants to pass legislation that will futher empower this inept department by allowing financial and lifestyle surveillance on virtually everyone on its lists. The danger, as usual, is that you don't need to be a parent, let alone an absent one, to be worried about the implications of this. It is yet another state database, this time directly linked to those in the private sector. Once the system is in place, it will be child's play to extend it to cover all benefit recipients and eventually every taxpayer.

Even those who promote the surveillance society should be concerned. The mismanagement of this department, like that of the agency administering "tax credits", suggests we will experience appalling abuse of the machine by the legion of incompetent beaurocrats in charge of it.

Across the Atlantic, here are some other good reads. "The Pestilent President" is a virtual epic. "The Tyranny that follows Economic Collapse" is insightful. Both are from OpEd News - for a full headline listing see the daily feed now published here on the left.


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