Written by: Mark Chapman

Written by: David Elston

Written by: David Elston

Written by: David Elston

Written by: David Elston

Written by: Danfox Davies

Written by: Danfox Davies

Written by: Danfox Davies

Written by: Mark Chapman

Written by: Loz Kaye

Written by: Andy Halsall

Written by: Adrian Short

Written by: Loz Kaye

Written by: Loz Kaye

Written by: Andy Halsall

Written by: Andy Halsall

Danfox Davies : The Genetic Grinch Scenario

(or How Gene Patent Trolls Stole Your Food)

This article is made of a few different parts. The first is a hypothetical dystopian scenario, but one very much rooted in our lives and perfectly possible trajectories of trends. Company names and product names mentioned are used only as EXAMPLES in that part of the article, and no bias or prediction of actual corporate actions or combinations is intended. The fact that I have to say this makes some of my point for me.

The second deals with the present in the USA, and places the reader in the position of an American plains arable farmer, finishing with a mild dipping of toes into conspiracy conjecture.

The third compares the direction of the GMO food industry with that of pharmaceutical firms and puts it against the backdrop of TTIP/TPP/TISA negotiation.

The fourth explains more reasons why banning GMOs will not help.

The fifth is to say you should decide what you CAN do, and makes suggestions.

YOU WOULDN'T STEAL A LUNCH

Loz Kaye : A Question of Surveillance , Trust and Democracy

We are facing crunch time on mass surveillance. For years the Snoopers' Charter agenda has been pushed by politicians of various stripes, first as the Intercept Modernisation programme, then the Communications Data Bill. Now we are facing it again with a proposed Investigatory Powers Bill. However this time it has been set as a key priority by a majority Tory government cocky from an unexpected election victory. We have just months to head off a major defeat under very difficult political conditions.

Even so, all the expert advice on surveillance is pointing in the opposite direction at the moment. Court rulings have found both operation and legislation itself unlawful. Reports commissioned by parliament and the man formerly known as Deputy Prime Minister are calling for a root and branch reform of intercept legislation to properly balance privacy and security.

Andy Halsall : Let's make being 'Wrong on Rights' unelectable

When it comes to the clash between surveillance and civil liberties, it seems the fight is still very much on. It's a war we have to win and with the General Election looming, making the case that mass surveillance and privacy should be important issues for voters is pretty vital.

Happily, on that score, there have been a number of developments that might just help us move the debate forward.

On Monday, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Europe’s top rights body published a report that shows that it believes mass surveillance is a significant threat to human rights.  That's good news for anyone hoping to see a rolling back of the surveillance state.

The report recognises what the Pirate Party and others have been saying for years about the threat of mass surveillance. Like us, it did not shy away from discussing the disclosures made by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden:

“The disclosures have provided compelling evidence of the existence of far-reaching, technologically advanced systems put in place by US intelligence services and their partners in certain Council of Europe member states to collect, store and analyse communication data, including content, location and other metadata, on a massive scale”

Mark Chapman : Secret Courts - A silent start

Lady Justice - Old BaileyUnremarked upon, a mere footnote in the newspapers, but Justice took a significant step backwards this week with the start of a trial that will be held, at least in part, 'in secret'. The trial of Erol Incedal at the Old Bailey will - according to the judge - "have some unusual features. The usual way that justice is administered is in public. Some of this trial will be conducted in that way. However there will be other sessions of this trial that will be conducted in private. The public will not be able to attend these".

Not just the public, but journalists as well will be restricted from certain sections of the trial, so that the contents disclosed will never be public. Furthermore, the public will not be given an outline of what it is that is being discussed in secret, or any reasons why it must be secret.

That this has come about at all is as a consequence of the bill passed by the Coalition government last year. At the time there was a fair amount of media comment on it and the Lib Dem MPs defied the vote of members at their conference in voting for the bill. Now however, reporting a case which is affected, and there is silence - merely a footnote at the end of the standard court report. It seems as though the battle has already been lost, and the media have moved on.

Just because the media move on, however, doesn't mean that we should. The principle and practice of secret courts are dangerous and should be challenged wherever and whenever possible. We should take the time to understand the Justice that is being done in our name, and seeking to ensure that it is, above all, Just.

There are 2 major issues with the existence of secret courts. Firstly, it removes one of the fundamental tenets of the right to a fair trial - that the trial be conducted in public. As recently as 2011 in a landmark hearing (Al Rawi) the Supreme Court of the UK upheld the principle of open justice. The removal of this openness means that the accused can either never hear evidence which helps to convict them, removing them of the ability to accurately refute that evidence; or alternatively it means that they too are restricted from talking about certain aspects of the trial in public meaning that even if found to be innocent, they have restrictions placed on their freedom of speech.

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