January 21, 2006

I shouldn't listen to Any Questions and the News on a Saturday...

...Because I spot and get irate about things. First, the funny story:

Prison for Red Bull binge driver

"Drivers have been warned about caffeine excess after a man was jailed for leading police on a 50-mile car chase after drinking 20 cans of Red Bull.

Peter Edwards, 48, from King's Lynn, was jailed for four months on Friday after Norwich Crown Court heard he was pursued across Cambs and Norfolk. His car was seen "swerving from side to side" across the A10, the court heard. The AA motoring group said too much caffeine can affect the way you drive.... "

Read the rest of the story using the link above.

Next the ethical debate:

"DNA profiles of 24,000 juveniles who have never been cautioned, charged or convicted of an offence are stored on the UK database, an MP has revealed.

Grant Shapps, who represents Welwyn Hatfield, is to launch a campaign to get the details erased from records. The Conservative MP fears a huge juvenile database - though not illegal - is being created by "stealth". Suspects who are arrested over any imprisonable offence can have their DNA held even if they are acquitted..."

When I heard about that story on the news, and how Shapps wants the database to be erased I was fuming. I have recently had my car stolen (as many of you may know) and the police suspect that it was juveniles who commited the act. However, our legal system as it stands is still very unwilling to punish juveniles unless there is exceedingly good evidence and even when there is good evidence, the punishments that juveniles recieve often do not fit the crimes they have committed. I am FOR anything that helps us catch criminals (except ID Cards) and, as science and, although this sounds silly, TV has shown, genetic proof that someone has either committed a crime or was involved in some way is a fantastic tool for the police to have and is solid evidence towards convicting somebody.

As far as I'm aware, a secure genetic database with safeguards designed around access poses little threat to honest people in the community. Even if your details have been put on the system in the past (I know the police have my fingerprints from when a friends house was broken into) they should only need to be referenced again should you be involved in something. So keep them I say, and I say be e-mailing my thoughts to Grant Shapps I think.

And to finish, another interesting debate:

Should Google hand over search records to the US Government?

I for one say NO!!!! I'm no legal expert but as far as I'm aware court orders should be used for these kind of requests and as such each order should be limited in scope. Rather than gathering a whole load of data and fishing through it to see if someone did something illegal I believe that the government (and, more accurately the justice system) should:

  • begin with a reason (Bob might have looked for child porn)

  • get a court to approve a request for info

  • give request (Did Bob look for child porn?) to google, or any search engine company

  • find the answer

  • arrest and prosecute Bob

Or is my understanding of the United States justice system incorrect? It annoys me that Yahoo and MSN have given in so readily, and provided information that, in my opinon, and the opinion of many on the forum linked to in the above subheading, is out of the government perview.

UPDATE: 15:40 hours Thanks to The Register's accurate reporting of the issue I'm still inclined to disagree with the US DoJ's fishing expodition and inclinded to agree with Google's stance on not revealing information. However, I disagree on Google's reasons why. Instead of saying "It's doing what is in it's users best interests" Google is refusing as to protect "commercially sensitive information". Still, as long as it makes the DoJ work for their information, I'm happy.

Anyway, post your thoughts below! :)