CML Doc 11: 11 Jan 2009 Proposal for a Research and Briefings Team by HP

CML Doc 11: 11 Jan 2009 Proposal for a Research and Briefings Team by HP

Convention on Modern Liberty Research Team:

A vital part of the PR operation and of our briefing of speakers is going to be the research team. It is clear to me that in our dealings with the media we need facts, clear arguments and easy-to-explain concepts.  So we will require the following:

-           A clear account of the laws and secondary legislation responsible for the attack on rights, liberty and privacy: much of the work has been done for the new Guardian web site by Emily Butselaar, yet we need to add crucial secondary legislation and show how this works in the slipstream of vaguely drafted primary legislation to curtail freedom.

-          A list of individual cases of people who have suffered from arbitrary action as a result of these laws in the last two years. This is aimed to disprove the argument that if you have done nothing wrong/ got nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. It would act as an easy-to-read primer for all speakers and might easily ’sell’ into one of the papers as a feature in the run up to Convention.

-          A paper that answers the question: What is the database state? It will show how the interlocking databases of the Transformational Government programme will share information about the individual, horizontally and vertically and with foreign agencies. The totality of surveillance and monitoring will be described – this will include the 53 pieces of information required before you travel abroad, ANPR, ID verifications, CCTV systems, police hacking into computers, the government Communications data bill. The paper will touch on every part of the surveillance super structure but it will not be obsessively comprehensive. The ideal is two sides of compact facts that people can remember: short but long on research.

-          An estimate of the money that has been spent or will be spent on ID cards, the communications data bill, ANPR network, National Health database, children database, the merging of databases and shared services under transformational government. What we are aiming for is an itemised bill to the taxpayer and a conclusion that suggests that in these straitened times the money could be spent much better.

-          A good list of academics and their research which supports our cause. There are many academics who have done research on databases, CCTV psychological studies about privacy and so forth, and we need to lay our hands on their work, boil down its conclusions and involve them in our media strategy. It’s important that we can field proper academics in the run-up to the convention, and not just opinionated journalists.

-          An operation to debrief those who really know what’s going on. There are very few people in this country who have the whole picture in their heads – maybe no more than dozen. I would include in their number Phil Booth and Guy Herbert of No2ID, the people at Liberty, Simon Davies at Privacy International, Tony Bunyan of Statewatch and my Guardian researcher Hannah Lease. As well as relying on them for guidance, we need to debrief them and try and fix this picture in our heads and make it live in a short document; in other words a snapshot of the whole programmatic attack on rights, liberty and privacy. A very hard task but I think it is important that this rare knowledge is somehow captured.

-          Publicity gimmicks.  For instance the government’s form-filling bureaucratic tyranny. I want to acquire and publish examples of all the new forms in our lives. Section 44 Stop and search form.  Form 27 from the Violent Crime Reduction Act. Form 696 required by the police by all promoters of live events in London. The form each of us will fill in before travelling abroad. Again, I think we could sell this into one of the papers as a feature.

-          A survey of our legislators – the most authoritarian and the most liberal in both the main parties.