The first Carnival on Modern Liberty


4:30 pm - January 25th 2009

by James Graham    


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CarnivalWelcome to the first edition of the Carnival on Modern Liberty. This has been an interesting week to begin this carnival. We’ve had the rise and fall of the government’s latest attempt to exempt MPs’ expenses from the Freedom of Information Act, the inauguration of President Barack Obama and the launch of the Guardian’s new Liberty Central. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…

Winning the Right to Know

Is freedom of information a civil liberties issue? We could debate that for hours, but as (my, ahem, boss) Peter Facey says in Yes, Democracy Works (Comment is Free):

…a significant swath of the establishment fears and distrusts the public, treating us as compliant subjects rather than citizens. We are regarded as a problem to be controlled and managed and our fundamental rights and freedoms are paid lip service but considered ultimately to be an inconvenience. The impulse which has lead us to a national identity database, identity cards, the DNA database, photographers being detained for taking pictures in the street, parents being spied on to check if they live in the appropriate school catchment area, the drive to marginalise trial by duty and hold inquests in secret and suspending/habeas corpus, is the same impulse that assumes the public is neither entitled nor interested in knowing how MPs spend their expenses.

The plan to exempt MPs’ expenses from the Freedom on Information Act caused an uproar. The Campaign for Freedom of Information, Unlock Democracy and mySociety moved swiftly.

The move was opposed by Girl with a One Track Mind, Virtual Lancaster, Scunner Nation, Iain Dale, Open…, SpyBlog, davblog, ecomonkey, COPE, The Northern Light, Jason Kitcat, Rhetorically Speaking, Little Man in a Toque, Mush Kush, Duncan’s Blog and literally thousands of others.

And we won! At least for the time being. The Wardman Wire features a roundup to pay credit to the MPs who publically came out against the move – is your MP on the list?

On that inauguration

Meanwhile, over in the States, there is the small matter of Obama’s presidency. His first acts? Removing Bush’s restrictions on the US’s Freedom of Information Act (yes, they have one too) and shutting down Guantanamo Bay.

Mark Littlewood outlines the difficulties in closing Guantanamo and what happens next. Regardless of the practicalities however, Ken Gude argues that the symbolism of closing the detention centre will save American lives.

Tom Griffin notes Obama’s taste for quoting Thomas Paine and hopes that some of the English revolutionary’s zeal will come back to this side of the Atlantic as well.

Take Action

Protect Data Protection: NO2ID are launching a new campaign against the data sharing clauses in the Coroners and Justice Bill. As Program Your Mind says:

…the state has the power to watch you if it has sufficient belief that to do so would prevent a crime that would threaten the security of the UK, or the welfare of children, but no more than this. The new Coroners and Justice bill contains clauses that will blow this out of the water, completely destroy such boundaries to our civil liberties and allow the government to effectively become the managers of our personal data.

(Other Hat Tips: UK Liberty, Henry Porter)

(Of course, while these provisions are of course bad news, let’s not forget that the Coroners and Justice Bill is also seeking to allow for certain inquests to be held in secret on the vague grounds of “national security” – a less techie friendly issue perhaps, but still important nonetheless.)

Scrap 696: Sunny Hundal writes at Liberty Central about the nonsense that is the Metropolitan Police’s new Form 696 and its impact on the live music scene.

The Guardian’s Liberty Central, as well as providing a portal for civil liberty-related articles on Comment is Free, includes Liberty Clinic (an advice service in association with Liberty), a database of civil liberty related legislation and a noticeboard of upcoming events.

Food for Thought

Outraged that your masterpiece isn’t listed here? DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! If you would like your articles mentioned on the Carnival on Modern Liberty, submit them via this page.

The next edition of the Carnival on Modern Liberty will be next Friday on Our Kingdom.

Special thanks to the following for helping to promote the Carnival: The Daily Maybe, Stephen Glenn’s Linlithgow Journal, OurKingdom, LabourHome, Lib Dem Voice, Quaequam Blog! (yay me!), Yorksher Gob and Liberal England

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About the author
James is an occasional contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He blogs at: Quaequam Blog!
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Our democracy ,Westminster

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Reader comments


1. douglas clark

James Graham,

Your boss Peter Facey is a cool dude!

Heading up a CiF post with an Alan Moore quote.

People should not be afraid of their government, governments should be afraid of their people.

That’ll tell ’em.

Thanks for the round up.

You’re welcome!

Nice logo too.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. James Graham

    Carnival on Modern Liberty #1 is finally published – sorry for the wait. http://tinyurl.com/db2xp5

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