Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Gossip to be a Criminal Offence in Jersey

Amendments to the Jersey Data Protection law are rumbling towards enactment by our elected "representatives”.

The new powers sought by Emma Martins (our Data Protection Commissioner) and her obvious supporters among the Crown Officers – will turn gossips into criminals.
If you hear a juicy bit of tittle-tattle and if it bears some resemblance to information held in somebody’s office or home filing system (whether electronic or not) – then beware! Wait for the knock on the door and the dozen thought police with a warrant to seize your “materials” or “equipment” and march you off to face unlimited fines and up to 5 years in jail IN ADDITION.

Make no mistake, the Jersey public might have been sleeping through Data Law requirements for the past few years but things are about to change and all largely because the raid on Senator Stuart Syvret’s home might have been a balls up!
Stuart might actually have a valid defence under the existing laws and so the Draconian approach to law enforcement is being wheeled out and computers, documents and virtually anything else will be seized soon just upon a suspicion that you might know something that you shouldn’t!

This is just the start of it of course. There is a whole package of measures now being enacted or contemplated under other harmless sounding laws and proposals YET at the same time there is a clamping down – especially within the Scrutiny system – so less and less information is being made public and more and more discussion and information is being concealed under “part B” restrictions on Scrutiny Panel agenda.

Take fishing for example. What could be more harmless than that (except for fish of course)?
Economic Development under the witless Minister Maclean produced a scheme to control the amount of fish that hobby fishermen and others could take and it was labelled as the BAG limits law and was well on its way to approval.
Then a Scrutiny Panel (Deputies Higgins, Labey, Macon, Shona Pitman and Wimberley) spent 3 months scrutinizing it. Yet, never was the subject allowed to be discussed at a Panel meeting open to the public. Except when the Panel was hearing witnesses – the BAG fishing limits matter was always kept well away from public gaze or hearing. More extraordinarily, although the whole BAG issue is dead in the water because Minister Maclean has now withdrawn the proposition – our fearless Scrutiny Panel still insists on discussing the corpse ONLY IN PRIVATE as a Part B matter. What can they possibly be afraid of?

More importantly, if it cannot even discuss dead fish in public what else might OUR absurd and gutless Scrutiny System be up to IN PRIVATE on other matters?

We know that the Chairman’s Chairmens Committee under Senator Shenton has already initiated censorship against bloggers and “citizens media” under cover of a string of silly “protocols”. Now this completely surplus body proposes to further restrict the matters that can be discussed in public during all Scrutiny Panel meetings and has already drawn the veil over much of its own activities.
Proposals to “stream” scrutiny meetings through an official video network (in order to eliminate the bloggers totally) will ensure that all contentious or interesting matters are hidden away, out of public access, under Part B censorship.

Already, Scrutiny Panels are queuing up to put their own accounts of their proceedings and video clips of their own production on “Facebook” so that the control of information might appear to be kept in safe official hands.
Yet, they are also happy to rely upon the private owners of “Facebook” to regulate the system for them – whereas, at the same time they claim that such regulation is not acceptable over mere bloggers sites and citizens media participants!

Our government has realised that Citizens Media via the Internet poses a huge challenge to official control of the media and access to information and knowledge.
The ongoing examination of the “meaning of Media” in Jersey under PPC’s authority should be enough warning in itself. We should all be very afraid.

Yet there are other warning signs too. Just today, Constable Silva Yates – hardly the greatest campaigner for human rights – was heard to protest in the strongest emotional terms at a Health, Social Security and Housing Scrutiny Panel.
After enduring SS Minister Gorst’s pointless ramblings Silva Yates finally blew his top and protested how the Data Protection Law was already preventing him from helping parish residents in need. “I am so depressed and frustrated” he pleaded “I have the money but don’t know where to give it.”

Even Deputy Southern was heard at one point to lament the passing of the Constables discretionary powers to grant help under the old “Parish welfare system!” What ever next?

But the whole question of data storage and who has access to it was not likely to be addressed here or anywhere else in Jersey because the monster is out of control on a world-wide basis. Even the Scrutiny Panels themselves did not seem to have considered their own roles as collectors and distributors of information and who might ultimately determine what data and discussion should be in the public domain and what should not.
If ever there was need for yet another Scrutiny panel it must be to look at scrutiny itself, not only in the context of the Data Laws but also with regard to Freedom of Information and the exchanging of confidential information from one department to another. Senator Syvret could well be followed by more of our elected representatives into criminal court if the scrutiny audit proves incomplete!

However, such issues still only touch the surface of the problem because there are hidden agenda at every corner.

Thus the ever so witless Minister Maclean is keen to promote more gambling in Jersey and recently obtained States Approval for an amazingly inflated and expensive panel of Commissioners to supervise it. The first hidden agenda is that Maclean wants Jersey to follow Guernsey/Alderney and Gibraltar with on-line gambling businesses based here (in spite of EU concerns about yet more off-shore gambling centres being established) because he can smell the profit.
The second hidden agenda is that both Jersey’s Finance sector and the government are too mean to provide the enhanced broad-band internet connections that are necessary in the ever advancing technological world. So allowing the on-line gamblers to establish in Jersey will create the extra capacity at little cost – yippee!

On the other hand, the third agenda is that regulation for such an enhanced internet capacity will also have to be established within the Island rather than relying upon providers and their whims in some far away place.

And that is where we came in because our Jersey government will be enabled to attempt to control the whole thing locally. Any nasty and unpleasant creatures like citizen’s media and free speech will be subject to regulation by an even more powerful and oppressive body composed of our elected "representatives” and their ever present minders. Don’t say you have not been warned.

It’s a good time to learn Chinese…………..

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.


Ian Evans said...

Hahaha, who did'nt see that coming.

Time to get our noses back in the pages of

Bloody Nazi's

GeeGee said...

Bloody Hell - what next?

Guess what I found out today?.....whoops there goes a knock at the door. See you in La Moye folks.

There is going to be a revolution soon!

Pie 'n' Mash Films said...

Just a matter of time before they try to roll this out globally!

Citizen media must unite.

Ahimsa said...

O I will have to remember this little line then. Oh God please place one hand on my shoulder and the other over my mouth!!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Well.well, well. so our present Jersey pollies must be in possesion of some Gestapo handbooks. I wonder how many of them are real Jerseymen (and women) or just blow ins from the UK,USA and pretty well anywhere else. Ok,so I am an exile (self imposed) Jersey man but it still hurts to read about what is happening to my wonderfil home of so long ago.For God's sake,sort it out now or it will be to late.Incidentally, I do seem to recall that as a kid there was a sort of wooden shed on St Cath's breakwater, where one had to display ones catch of the day.Can't recall if there was a fee to pay. Wishing you all the very best of Jersey luck,you are going to need it!!