William Waites on Wed, 21 May 2014 19:50:26 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Surveillance in Scotland -- More of the Same

	     Surveillance in Scotland -- More of the Same

                                                   Edinburgh, May 2014

There  is a  petition  [1]  in front  of  the  Scottish Parliament  to
conditionally  grant  Edward  Snowden asylum  should  Scotland  become
independent. This  presented an interesting opportunity  yesterday for
the parliament --  or individual politicians -- to take  a position on
what is  probably the most  significant issue of this  generation: the
transformation of society through  ubiquitous surveillance. This topic
has been  conspicuous by its  absence from the independence  debate so
far and the parliament missed its chance.

Several of the MSPs on the committee were sympathetic to the idea, but
the discussion soon degenerated into the technicalities of extradition
and missed the  point. They chose to focus on  the Scottish Government
Whitepaper  says  that  it  intends to  maintain  current  extradition
arrangements [2] and so the actual  taking up of an asylum offer might
be unlikely, and in any case would  have to wait until 2016. The point
that the gesture itself would be significant was largely ignored.

What could be  the reason for this? The whitepaper  also says that the
organisation  of  the  security  and  intelligence  services  will  be
primarily done with guidance from the UK. Given the level of overreach
and probable illegality  [3] that has been engaged in  by the UK, this
is a poor model for an independent Scotland to copy.

If one  were feeling  cynical and  disillusioned with  politicians, it
almost seems as though the apparently sympathetic words by some of the
committee members may  have been designed to create  the impression of
responsiveness to a petitioner who  brought a serious public grievance
before them, along with something concrete that they could do about it
whilst doing nothing about it.

There was  never any intention of  doing anything about it  because --
and I  hope that  I am  wrong about this  -- one  thing that  both the
Scottish and  the UK governments  agree upon  is that the  citizens of
Scotland will remain under constant surveillance no matter the outcome
of the vote on September 18th.

[1] http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/asyluminscotlandforedwardsnowden
[2] http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/11/9348/11
[3] http://kingsreview.co.uk/magazine/blog/2014/05/21/2014-the-return-of-big-brother/

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