“Alternative arrangements for the Irish border” is a euphemism for red tape and mass surveillance

The fabled “alternative arrangements” for the Irish border have come to prominence again, following the announcement from Prime Minister Theresa May that the government would “be under a legal obligation to seek to conclude alternative arrangements” to the Irish backstop by the end of 2020. Quite what “a legal obligation to seek” something actually means is unclear. What is also unclear is what these “alternative arrangements” might actually mean in practice. Disgracefully, the British government has forced customs experts, and …

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Game of Thrones vs real life: 5 ways fact is worse than fiction

Guest blog by Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research, Amnesty International The long-awaited fifth season of Game of Thrones begins on Sunday 12 April. Filmed in Northern Ireland (and elsewhere) and broadcast in 170 countries, the show shocks viewers and generates controversy with graphic violence, especially against women. Yet many aspects of real life around the world today are worse than the mythical Game of Thrones world of Westeros. [spoiler alert: reveals plot lines up to the end of season 2!] …

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Democracy is fine, but ‘quis custodiet ipsos custodes’ in Northern Ireland?

reminded us some time ago, that the defining features of a functioning democracy extend beyond free and fair elections. The increasingly kleptocratic regime in Turkey is a perfect example of a democracy sliding away from the tenets of liberal democracy on the basis of a ruler’s belief that winning elections provides him with the unfettered right to rule. Egypt, Iran and Syria to varying degrees provide similar case studies. In his recent book How We Invented Freedom & Why It Matters Daniel Hannan …

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“Sleepwalking to a surveillance society.” Anyone awake?

Big Daddy or Big Brother? Where does the balance lie between protecting society and oppressive snooping? The one thing we can be sure of is that technology keeps moving the goal posts and the authorities race to keep up. “We are sleep walking into a surveillance society” said Chris Graham when he took over as Information Commissioner last year. Since then he’s given a new edge to the job, the latest example being a new report into continuing  “ function …

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