WRITTEN ON December 8th, 2008 BY William Heath AND STORED IN Foundation of Trust, Government Procurement, Identity, What do we want?

In a week that has seen the launch of the wonderful Us Now film and fallout from the Damian Green arrest it’s fair to wonder:

How will the porous information-sharing made possible by the internet affect those in power?

To put it differently:

As we increasingly get our act together by self-organising, how are we going to coexist happily with the legacy of coercive control freaks?

The latest leak to come through Phil “hardest man in NGO-world” Booth takes us deep into the power and control-crazed vision of group-think-world. Behing the mind-guards lurks a fearful and paranoid community whose arrogant power seems to run unchecked by reality, and therefore somehow impotent.

It’s the Home Office/IPS non-disclosure agreement. The Benighted System’s anti-leaks provisions are already leaked to Wikileaks.

For years I told suppliers to think very carefully before taking on the business and political risk of dealing with people who didn’t know what they were doing and were wilfully blind to how unpopular it would be. I should have added: the suppliers should also expect to be treated with contempt, corporately and as individuals.

There’s a dark humour in this. The more the control model fails, the more desperate the attempts to exert more control. It’s well worth a read, and it does make for desperate reading.

If a court requires disclosure about the Benighted Scheme (think BAe/Saudi Arabia, illegal immigrant security guards in Home Office etc) suppliers are required by the NDA to be as uncooperative as possible with the request. Instead they must co-operate with Home Office/IPS agencies to challenge the validity of any requirement to disclose. This sums up the Home Office’s open government philosophy.

The Home Office will pick up half the tab of the legal challenge. Who cares? It’s only taxpayers money, and what better activity to spend it on than contesting legalistic do-gooders trying to be open about the Benighted Scheme?

Company premises, and the premises of individuals working for the companies, can be searched without warrant on the sayso of the Home Secretary. Who cares? These are but filthy profit-grubbing private sector people, barely worth getting a proper pension. They take the generous patronage of the Home Office IPS, and can expect to forego some basic rights for 25 years.

When I’m really gobsmacked by the ways of the world, and trying to react constructively to it I find a Sunday morning with the local Quakers helps calm me down. These words form 1919 were helpful today:

Evils which have struck their roots deep in the fabric of human society are often accepted, even by the best minds, as part of the providential ordering of life. They lurk unsuspected in the system of things until men of keen vision and heroic heart drag them into the light, or until their insolent power visibly threatens human welfare.

Let’s drag these secretive, disrespectful and probably illegal practices into the light. I hereby give an Ideal Government “men of keen vision and heroic heart” award to
– Phil Booth of No2ID, who is far smarter than his critics in government have ever considered, and also far more constructive. (And funnier)
– Ross Anderson of FIPR. Yes, you can be cantankerous, but it’s a pleasure working with you sir.
– all the FIPR posse working on an imminent report for JRRT: Terri, Angela, Ian, Philip
– Becky Hogge, not merely to show than the masculine can be taken to include the feminine in this quote but mainly for a wonderful stint at Open Rights Group
– Kim Cameron, Stefan Brands, Caspar Bowden, Jerry Fishenden, now all at Microsoft but all thinking globally
– Jeff Jonas and select IBM colleagues ditto; Robin Wilton and select Sun colleagues ditto
– David Davies, Clare Short and all politicians who are taking this stuff seriously
– Henry Porter, Simon Jenkins and all other journalists ditto
– everyone at the Reg except for that chippy nitwit whose name I’ve forgotten
– the officials inside Whitehall who are concerned but should not be named
– the Wikileaks team
– everyone who helps or supports FIPR, ORG, No2ID, ARCH, Liberty Alliance
– Doc and the new VRM colleagues working to deliver a more constructive approach which empowers humans to deal with the organisations’ big machines

IdealGov ethnographers: feel free to nominate more!

Hey! We’re a posse! What a wonderful group to hang out with. It’s so invigorating and exciting to be trying to bring constructive change to something so sinister and stupid. We’ll get through this. And remember: the people throwing up this sort of dismal rubbish may be our foes today but they’l be our friends tomorrow. Each one is (as Bazza O’Bazzer’s critics would never call him) a child o’ God.

But it’s going to be difficult for a bit.

11 Responses to “Reflections on the Wikileak of the Benighted Scheme’s NDA”

David Moss wrote on December 8th, 2008 2:27 am :

Sir James Crosby

David Moss wrote on December 8th, 2008 2:29 am :

David Winnick MP

David Moss wrote on December 8th, 2008 2:29 am :

Martyn Thomas

David Moss wrote on December 8th, 2008 2:31 am :

Shami Chakrabarti

David Moss wrote on December 8th, 2008 2:32 am :

Simon Jenkins (I would ask you to withdraw yournomination of him as I would like to nominate him)

David Moss wrote on December 8th, 2008 2:32 am :

Richard Ingrams
William Cobbett
John Wilkes

David Moss wrote on December 8th, 2008 3:47 pm :

Here is Simon Jenkins in full flow: He was a dangerous man – David Blunkett, the demagogic face of Blairism, was the worst Home Secretary of modern times.

Mr Jenkins is now Chairman of the National Trust.

What would Tony Blair or Gordon Brown give for that title? And how far they are from ever earning it!

Richard S wrote on December 9th, 2008 1:45 am :

Rory Bremner: If only NuLabour had taken his “Beyond Iraq and a Hard Place”… seriously before invading Iraq; If only they’d taken seriously his satire before invading Afghanistan.

Often, satire seems the only serious opposition to the current government: Makes most articles by “serious,” “expert” (fawning) journalists look like a joke.

David Moss wrote on December 9th, 2008 3:53 pm :

Something wrong with the list above – not enough Davises!
How about Sir Howard Davies?
And Simon Davies?

Ideal Gov administrator wrote on December 9th, 2008 7:41 pm :

Jeff writes:

One of my heroes is Tim Edgar. He worked for ACLU and then went to work in our intelligence organization at the ODNI – in their privacy and civil liberties office. This takes guts. This is a form of cross-polination between intrl and privacy. and thus a good thing.

Hurrah. Hi Tim! Thanks Jeff.

David Moss wrote on December 10th, 2008 8:04 pm :

Simon Heffer gets in on the act in today’s Telegraph with ‘John Milton was a poet and a freedom fighter’ where he proposes the following list:

Enoch Powell
Tony Benn

Some highlights:

In this, [Milton] started a tradition that carried on through Wilkes, Paine, Cobbett, Mill, Bright and, in our times, to Enoch Powell and Tony Benn. It is a strand of Englishness that … makes the crucial distinction between licence and liberty; and makes the simple demand that the state leave the individual alone to make his own mistakes and regulate his own existence. By the time of Milton’s death in 1674, his political creed seemed to have run aground in wholesale failure: yet he had sown the seeds of a wider movement towards liberty that would flower hundreds of years after him …

It is his later pamphlets, though, that set up the struggle for English liberty that we now, to our shock, appear after all to be losing. The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates argued “that it is lawful, and hath been held so through all ages, for any, who have the power, to call to account a tyrant, or wicked king, and after due conviction to depose, and put him to death” … They established the general principle that the people were sovereign … and demolished the case for the divine right of kings in a way that only a religious zealot could do. His later argument for republicanism in The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth merely set the parameters for what became our constitutional monarchy.

Milton’s influence on our world has been immense. We use his words every day. We quote him … But, above all, we continue to imbibe his doctrine, and to believe in its rightfulness. In that sense, he does live at this hour, however much Mr Brown’s police state tries to deny him.