CCTV: On the uniform

CCTV cameras are to be fitted directly onto traffic wardens and police officers in Renfrewshire, Scotland. This first such use in Scotland.

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CCTV: Taxis

In Peterborough there are plans to force taxi drivers to put CCTV in their taxis, which has not proved popular.

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RIPA: Councils Powers to be Reviewed

It was announced on Thursday 16th April that councils were to be limited in the use of RIPA powers.  Sadly, there is no immediate restriction of the use of RIPA, as many sites have reported, but only a planned review, with the potentail to restrict the laws.

The fact that a review is occur comes after a major investigation in privacy and Surveillance by the House of Lords, which recommended exactly this, on the back of numerous misuses of  RIPA.

But, looking at the transcript of Jaqui Smiths statement, does not bode well for the future. Ms Smith stated, “I .. want to make sure that there is proper oversight of the use of these powers which is why I am considering creating a role for elected councillors in overseeing the way in which local authorities use RIPA techniques.”

In the same speechm she also stated “The government has absolutely no interest in spying on law-abiding people going about their everyday lives“, this statment comes from the Home Secreary of a government that introduced laws to monitor peoples emails, web activity, collect DNA, and fingerprints of innocent people, and created the most comprehensive CCTV survellience state in the world.

The idea that elected councillors, the very ones who allow this activity to occur in their councils, would provide any sort of oversight is ludicrous. Local councillors, on average, take home £4000 a year(that’s four thousand, not fourty thousand), this is hardly a financial incentive to behave responsibly, and councillors are elected with an incredibly low percentage of the public.  In fact the day after the Government stated it was going to review the use of survellience, there was a protest in Peterborough, as councillors were trying to force CCTV inside taxis.

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Select Committee Report into Privacy and Surveillance

Since 2007 the House of Lords select committee on the constitution  has been hearing evidence, and collecting information, about the issues of privacy and surveillance in the UK. This investigation has come under the heading The Impact of Surveillance and Data Collection upon the Privacy of Citizens and their Relationship with the State.

This inquiry, originally Chaired by Lord Holme of Cheltenham (who died in 2008), completed its  report on 21st January 2009.  The report, entitled Surveillance: Citizens and the State Volume I: Report was published on 6th February 2009.

During the investigation into privacy issues, there have been several major incidents relating to data and privacy, which have effected the final report. These include:

Despite all of these problems, the government  has still been pushing for more information sharing, a Centralized Government Database, and monitoring of all emails and internet access.

In addition to the major events highlighted above the House of Lords made a “Call for Evidence” on the subject of privacy and surveillance, in 2007. Numerous bodies responded, including:

Virtually all of the evidence submitted,  and certainly those highlighted above, stated that UK was already, or at risk of, becoming a “surveillance society”, with all the apparatus for a police state, even if that was not the aim of the government.

The report by the House of Lords,  Surveillance: Citizens and the State ,  is clearly against the pernicious use of surveillance, with recommendations  on a range of areas, including:

  • Increase the powers of the ICO
  • Make the public more aware of the data monitoring/collection
  • Enforce encryption in certain areas
  • Restrict the use of the National DNA database
  • Review the use and effectiveness of CCTV
  • Review the use of RIPA

While the report is critical of the government, it is written in a  very diplomatic style, which would be expected from the second house. However far stronger words have come directly from the Chairman of the committee, Lord Goodlad, who stated:

The UK now has more CCTV cameras and a bigger National DNA Database than any other country. There can be no justification for this gradual but incessant creep towards every detail about us being recorded and pored over by the state”

This report, is the most influential report that can be provided to a government, and comes on the back of a year of data loss and data misuse, with numerous reports into privacy and data mis-handling issues. From the ICO reports about privacy  to Government appointed reports of MoD and the HMRC data loss; from the  ECHR cases against the UK, to the House of Lords reports on the Prum Convention.

Every one of these report’s  shows that UK is the most monitored country on earth, clearly states that this bad for the citizens of the UK, or shows the government has failed to secure out personal data. In fact despite the infringements of privacy, the costs to tax payer, and the costs to freedom,  all of the additional surveillance has not really stopped the criminals committing crime, and just limited freedoms of the every day citizien

If the House of Lords report does not effect the government’s stance on survelliance, no amount of information, media reporting, or mild activism will.

Ironically, any form of direct action against the governments surveillance state  is also likely to fail; either because the surveillance already in place would prevent it, or direct action would be counter productive because the government would use it to show how more surveillance was required.

So, if the government does not change tack, what could be the solutions:

  1. Change of Country. With more people leaving the UK than ever before, this seems a common choice
  2. Change of Government. With current polls, this looks likely.

Quotes: CCTV

People clamour for the feeling of safety which cameras give

Assistant Chief Constable of Mersyside Simon Byrne.

New Home for Where is My Data

This site has now been incorporated to the site Where is Your Data?

This blog will still remain here, but lectures, quizzes, tests, and news will be put on the parent site.

Laser Used Against CCTV

Lasers have been looked at defeating CCTV cameras with a vareity of different reports on the results. One of the main reported problems is that laser are too directional, and as such if not pointed directly at the CCTV lens do not work.

Hence people have used an arrary of IR LED lights to resolves the direction issues.

One post report the used of a laser used to defeat CCTV that was activated by a mobile phone, the idea being that laser is fastened into position prior to it being activated –  obvious that assumes that the laser and CCTV camera are both fixed and will not move.

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