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Surveillance operators monitor CCTV feeds in London.  (Source: The Guardian)
Rights groups outraged

Hot off the heels of news indicating that widespread civic CCTV deployment has little meaningful impact on crime, new reports indicate that local UK governments are using CCTV to prosecute petty crimes, including cases of littering, the misuse of a disabled parking passes, and dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets in public.

According to the BBC, local authorities have abused the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) more than 100 times in the past 12 months, based off of interviews with 46 out of the 468 local governments in the UK.

In one of the more infamous examples, a government council admitted that it invoked RIPA in order to track a family that it suspected was living outside of a school’s admissions area. James Welch, legal director for rights group Liberty, called the abuse a “ridiculously disproportionate use of RIPA,” noting that it would “undermine public trust in necessary and lawful surveillance.”

RIPA was passed in 2000, in response to a rapidly-growing usage of the internet and strong encryption. The law both allowed and governed the use of surveillance, interception, and “covert human intelligence sources” in efforts to combat crime and terrorism.

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti compared the government’s current scandal with CCTV to using a sledgehammer to crack nuts. Her group, as well as others such as Privacy International, called for a complete, “root and branch” review of the country’s surveillance and privacy laws.

Accusations against local governments are compounded by a number of recently-arising facts, including one that found that only 3% of street robberies in London are solved with CCTV-gathered images – despite the UK’s highest per-capita deployment of surveillance cameras in the world. One such report, published in The Guardian, attributes their lack of use to police investigator laziness and citizens’ lack of fear due to the fact that they think that the “cameras are not working.” Police departments attributed it to a lack of meaningful collaboration, and have since called on work to produce a national database of offenders.

“There are strict rules to protect people from unnecessary intrusion,” said Local Government Association chairman Sir Simon Milton. “Whenever a council applies to use these powers they must prove that it is both necessary and proportionate to the crime being investigated.”

Chakrabarti was not satisfied, however: “There are better ways to achieve the objectives without using counter-terrorism laws,” she said.

“You can care about serious crime and terrorism without throwing away our personal privacy with a snoopers' charter.”





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V For Vendetta
By SkeeterLDR2004 on 5/10/2008 9:15:05 AM , Rating: 5
That movie seems like a (somewhat) accurate depiction of the future. It all starts with people allowing their executives and legislators to pass vague laws regarding surveillance. Once a vague law is challenged in the courts, its too easy for the judicial system to expand the powers of the executives well beyond their original presumes boundaries.

Unless terrorism completely disappears forever, I expect that we'll continue to see a slide of all western nations towards fascism.




RE: V For Vendetta
By jonrem on 5/10/2008 12:25:08 PM , Rating: 5
Exactly. What's truly scary is peoples' willingness to give away their rights and liberties so readily.


RE: V For Vendetta
By BladeVenom on 5/10/2008 12:43:19 PM , Rating: 5
If you think it sounds like V, read 1984 by George Orwell.


RE: V For Vendetta
By wordsworm on 5/10/2008 1:40:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you think it sounds like V, read 1984 by George Orwell.


One key point could be the fact that in 1984 the webcams were inside people's homes regardless of whether or not they wanted them there. If it's a webcam instead of the eyes of a curious neighbor or a policeman, as far as I can tell the device is a lot cheaper than hiring police to look to see who doesn't pick up poop after their dogs.


RE: V For Vendetta
By BladeVenom on 5/10/2008 3:17:31 PM , Rating: 4
It's rarely solving crimes. It's not even the money; the bigger issue is that it's not worth the loss of privacy and potential for abuse just to catch a dog pooping.


RE: V For Vendetta
By wordsworm on 5/10/08, Rating: 0
RE: V For Vendetta
By mrteddyears on 5/12/2008 4:24:19 AM , Rating: 4
I think you are talking pap in the UK we have been installing cameras that monitor people’s houses and movements for many years. The UK is so close to a 1984 type of culture it’s not funny.

A man was recently prosecuted for having a bin lid open four inches to high.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cumbria/7365218... and the government are investing billions of £’s in a car monitoring system that utilises GPS to track you and fine you if you speed.

Welcome to the Peoples Republic Of Europe !!!!


RE: V For Vendetta
By theapparition on 5/12/2008 7:46:59 AM , Rating: 1
Once again, that's outside the home, not inside. Once your outside, that's public, and there should be no expectation of privacy.

On the "bin case", the family was given repeated warnings, and his refusal to pay a modest fine led to his criminal arrest. Sorry, don't see anything wrong here. While I think the ordinace is strict, there are laws and you have to follow them. You can't pick and chose the ones you like. If you don't like the local laws, move. Or better yet, become active in your local government to change the laws. Too often, we complain about the laws and do nothing about them.

As a side note, I completely understand why this ordinance is in place. To be quite honest, I wish they would fine my neighboors for trying to put too much trash in the bin. I live in a semi-secluded area and still find neighbors trash that has blown into my yard.


RE: V For Vendetta
By mrteddyears on 5/12/2008 9:11:43 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry to say I disagree with most of your comments but I take on board the make a difference statement. Me I used my vote against the idiots we have in power and so did most of the UK. Hence the reason they won’t be around much longer, but come on the bin thing is a bit petty.


RE: V For Vendetta
By theapparition on 5/12/2008 9:23:53 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
but come on the bin thing is a bit petty.

Of course it's petty! Don't disagree in the slightest.

So is jaywalking, spitting on the sidewalk or failure to properly mow your lawn. All of those are petty offences, but I still think they should be enforced. It's about keeping the neighborhood safe, clean and respectful.

Once again, if they had been given a heafty fine first, then I might have issue. Instead, they were repeatedly warned, and still refused to comply. Then, once fined, they refused to pay. Don't see anything wrong with how it was handled.


RE: V For Vendetta
By Drexial on 5/12/2008 9:52:42 AM , Rating: 1
I think most people miss the point that just having the cam isn't fascism. But its a damn major stepping stone. The only reason people are comfortable is because they agree with the laws in place. But once religion, dress, social manors are restricted and regulated. Once they piss in your pot. But why wait for that. Why allow them the tools for this now. Cause it's just one more step they have for leverage when the shit does hit the fan.

Instead of spending MILLIONS on cameras that are clearly not working. Why not invest in school systems and enforcing the importance of guidance councilors. These are the people in place that can prevent crimes from happening. It seems like they would have just as much of an effect as these cameras have had.

I'd like to maintain my disdain of the political system without something else going up that would remove that right.

What if 5 years down the road they decide that every person is catholic and MUST be in church every sunday. If you are not, you will be detained. Now say you are even a catholic yourself. But were running 10 minutes late. think they will listen to excuses? do they now?

now of course this is taking it to extremes. But isn't spending millions on cameras also extreme?


RE: V For Vendetta
By Gul Westfale on 5/10/2008 8:47:23 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
accurate depiction of the future


you mean present, right?


RE: V For Vendetta
By Reclaimer77 on 5/11/08, Rating: 0
RE: V For Vendetta
By Gul Westfale on 5/11/2008 6:42:35 PM , Rating: 2
so you equate anti-fascism with being anti-american? interesting... might you be a neocon, then?


RE: V For Vendetta
By Reclaimer77 on 5/11/08, Rating: 0
RE: V For Vendetta
By Gul Westfale on 5/11/2008 9:16:05 PM , Rating: 3
you cannot fight evil by becoming evil yourself, it defeats the whole purpose. that is the point of books like 1984 and animal farm... and V isn't far off, either.


RE: V For Vendetta
By Drexial on 5/12/2008 11:37:22 AM , Rating: 2
It was based on a comic from the 80s written in Britin. Nothing ironic about it. It was set the same way. the mask he uses is an interpretation of Guy Fawkes, which is British history. Guy Fawkes was a religious extremist who had a half-wit plan to blow up the house of parliament.

The movie was only loosely modified to imply US involvement as well.


RE: V For Vendetta
By TheDoc9 on 5/12/2008 12:20:14 PM , Rating: 2
I got the impression from the movie that the we didn't know what was going on in the U.S. because the government was controlling the news completely. And the U.S. was trying to help at one point by sending aid and the british government twisted it into some kind of good will barter to get help to the U.S. The movie was about the british, you just didn't know what was going on in the rest of the world and you couldn't take anything they said on the government news for truth.


bravo
By wordsworm on 5/10/2008 9:49:27 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
CCTV to prosecute petty crimes, including cases of littering, the misuse of a disabled parking passes, and dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets in public.


I'd welcome such great service in my neighborhood. It's about time that folks respect handicap space, that dog owners pick up after their animals, not to mention littering. All of these things have consequences for neighborhoods and are committed by folks who have little or no concern.

I welcomed traffic cams and as many cams as the government can throw around to watch the public. Sure it's a bit 1984, but it's also got the possible virtue of making laws effective. Even in the case where the kids were going to a school they weren't supposed to, it was a matter of securing the rules against abuse. Bravo to the UK.

What I wouldn't like about it is where these cams are abused to the point of corporations going after employees because they saw them going down the street topless at Mardi Gras. Also, I'm into the anti-drug-war 'movement,' and the last thing I want is to get caught with some green between my lips.




RE: bravo
By Gerbilhamster on 5/10/2008 4:38:59 PM , Rating: 2
But that doesn't tackle the fundamental fact that these people have no respect for the people around them. We need to address the root cause of these anti-social tendancies not slap them on the wrist after-the-fact.


RE: bravo
By exploderator on 5/11/2008 1:04:16 AM , Rating: 5
If you don't want your neighbours to do impolite and antisocial things, then ask them not to these things YOURSELF .

Don't steal my money for taxes to hire ARMED THUGS to do it for you.

FvCKING DISGUSTING. You deserve the facist police state you pay for. I refuse it.

And BTW, you can count on me to be a polite neighbour. I take responsibility for myself. And I will call you personally to task if you're a twat.


RE: bravo
By wordsworm on 5/12/2008 10:40:01 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
And BTW, you can count on me to be a polite neighbour. I take responsibility for myself. And I will call you personally to task if you're a twat.


Yeah, so when you step in dog poop, you can take it to a lab and all the other dogs in your neighborhood to identify the dog that laid that poop. Then you can go next door and politely ask your neighbor to pick up after his/her/their dog. Maybe in England they could allow everyone to access the video records so that you can just watch the culprit in action and send them a polite little fine of £50. No thug is required.


RE: bravo
By feraltoad on 5/11/2008 1:40:46 AM , Rating: 2
Redlight cameras do not increase safety. In fact, exactly the opposite; they increase accidents. They are only cash cows for cities. Just like when a cop advises you he really "cares about safety" and hands you a fat speeding ticket for $150 on a lonely stretch of highway with no one in sight. Oh well, serve and taze...I mean beat..I mean protect.


RE: bravo
By wordsworm on 5/12/2008 10:45:18 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Just like when a cop advises you he really "cares about safety" and hands you a fat speeding ticket for $150 on a lonely stretch of highway with no one in sight. Oh well, serve and taze...I mean beat..I mean protect.


Yeah, and what if you have passengers? Your act of speeding puts everyone at risk. Good for the pig... I mean police officer.


RE: bravo
By feraltoad on 5/14/2008 10:44:24 PM , Rating: 2
I think everyone would agree static speed limits are unreasonable for the changing conditions of the road. Next time you go 10 mph over the speed limit so you don't get ran down on the highway or because the limit doesn't seem reasonable considering current conditions I hope you think about how badly you deserve a ticket at that moment. The act of driving puts everyone at risk. Perhaps, no one should have a car.

I was commenting that their concern seems disingenuous considering their actions are generally ineffective, and at times opposite, in achieving their stated goals.


RE: bravo
By derwin on 5/11/2008 4:49:32 AM , Rating: 1
how about instead of installing cameras to catch people littering, misusing handicapped spots and pet owners leaving crap on the ground, we use this same new mantra of invasion of privacy to monitor a) our government officials - god knows they commit more crimes than their citizenery combined, and b) corporate executive, especially of "public" companies, so we cannot have another enron or worldCom scandal. I for one would much rather see my tax dollars spend on such things than making sure I don't step in literal shit - I'm more concerned about the figurative kind.


No privacy in public...omfg
By pmcjury on 5/10/2008 4:23:29 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone that thinks there actions while walking down the street are private your nuts. The difference now is the police acting the information that lots of people see. How often do you see someone litter, or do it your self. Realisticlly the oly way someone is going to stop is if they get caught. If you get slapped with a 500$ fine for dropping your empty can out the window i bet it will be the last time you do it

Let them start at the bottom of the line for crime. In force the little laws, and the big laws will actually become easier to enforce




RE: No privacy in public...omfg
By nunya on 5/10/2008 6:51:37 PM , Rating: 2
Amen.


RE: No privacy in public...omfg
By exploderator on 5/11/2008 1:11:31 AM , Rating: 5
Basically same comment as I made above:

Don't steal my money to buy your social etiquette at the point of a hired gun.

YOU MANIACS

Indeed, the more you demand compliance by force, and the more you teach this as the dominant social mechanism, the more violence you will call upon yourselves.

THIS IS MADNESS

Do you folks have no clue why a police state is a bad thing?

Have you no sense of history? No determination to anything kinder and saner?


RE: No privacy in public...omfg
By Mithan on 5/11/2008 2:41:43 AM , Rating: 2
People are generally stupid.

In other words, no, your average person today doesn't know why a police state is bad. They found history to be "boring" and for losers.


RE: No privacy in public...omfg
By Ringold on 5/11/2008 4:21:00 AM , Rating: 1
Okay, you two intellectual heavy weights point out a society, nation or empire that fell because littering on public grounds was enforced.

If you two nuts think cameras in public areas constitutes a nasty police state, I'd suggest, perhaps, a look at France's attempt to replicate America's revolution as an example of a state that goes too far. The USSR wouldn't be a bad start, either. Tibet, perhaps?

There's this location that exists between anarchy and Soviet Russia. It's called a middle ground. It's where most of us live. It's worked quite well for the last couple hundred years, except when the masses lose their mind -- but that's rather unavoidable. It's happy here, in this middle ground. Join us. :P


RE: No privacy in public...omfg
By derwin on 5/11/2008 4:57:41 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Okay, you two intellectual heavy weights point out a society, nation or empire that fell because littering on public grounds was enforced.


No offense, but this is the most mindless point I have ever read.

The point is not that littering laws are being enforced. The point is that this is already sliding down the slippery slope of broader and broader governmental power. The cameras where not intended for such things. They were intended to solve murders, muggings, and to stop terrorism, not to bother people with near sensless criminality. What happens when these are used to arrest free speach zone violators? I'm not sure if such a thing exists in the UK, but imagine the possibilities of the laws these could be used to enforce that don't fall under tha categories of petty and clear cut.

I am not saying this is a guaruntee (sp??) that things will fall down that slippery slope, but like many other steep cliffs, I for one do not even care to lean over to see the bottom - I know where this road COULD go, and I feel the best way to avoid falling down that cliff is to not stand near it.


RE: No privacy in public...omfg
By exploderator on 5/11/2008 2:55:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
point out a society, nation or empire that fell because littering on public grounds was enforced


Point is that many countries have fallen by becoming too violent, too police heavy, to militant. Too much reliance on enforcement by force using police and tazers and guns handcuffs and jails... It leads to an endless cycle of escalating violence, that ends with societal breakdown.

You advocate ENFORCING litter, dog-poop and similar ettiquet laws by force. Hiring that many police people, erecting that size a justice system, you create a MONSTER!

At the same time, you train people to accept violent physical force as the predominant, first-and-best chioce method for achieving any goal. You teach that the right way to achieve any goal is through forced compliance.

I choose negotiation. I choose freedom. I ask that you talk to me, in fairness, and in goodness and compassion we will find our own right solutions to our problems.

I abhor the idea that the only way for us to get along is to have a goon with a gun stand behind us and threaten death for bad behaviour and non-compliance.

I never heard where litter or dog-poop really justified that kind of response.


RE: No privacy in public...omfg
By wordsworm on 5/12/2008 11:04:21 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
At the same time, you train people to accept violent physical force as the predominant, first-and-best chioce method for achieving any goal. You teach that the right way to achieve any goal is through forced compliance.


Are you talking about the Iraqi war or the war on drugs?

quote:
You advocate ENFORCING litter, dog-poop and similar ettiquet laws by force. Hiring that many police people, erecting that size a justice system, you create a MONSTER!


Singapore is a great little country. If everybody littered, it would be covered with it.

quote:
I choose freedom.
There are two kinds of freedoms: freedoms to, and freedoms from. Freedom to litter versus freedom from litter. I'll gladly give up the freedom to litter in exchange for the freedom from litter.

As far as the goon with the gun, I don't think the city usually uses that level of enforcement when it hands out fines like that. Nor do I think the webcams are armed. Hmmm... maybe if they got SWORDS cams to look out for litter bugs that would change everything.


RE: No privacy in public...omfg
By OndrejSc on 5/12/2008 4:08:45 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
THIS IS MADNESS


Madness? This is Sparta!


no bill of rights
By GlassHouse69 on 5/11/2008 1:46:16 AM , Rating: 2
there is a reason why there exists the USA. that country has no bill of rights, no freedom of speech, and no freedom for travel.

people act as if its the hip version of America.




RE: no bill of rights
By Drexial on 5/12/2008 9:46:16 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know what part of rural america you live in. But these are popping up ALL over the US in cities. I didn't even know they were doing it in my city till I saw a globe with blue flashing a light on telephone polls.


Bigbrother
By Anonimous on 5/10/2008 8:43:30 AM , Rating: 2
sees you!




Revenue Enhancement
By 1prophet on 5/10/2008 10:09:55 AM , Rating: 2
Need to justify the costs for the cameras somehow since they aren't really solving too many criminal cases.




Good Work
By joker380 on 5/12/2008 1:10:18 PM , Rating: 2
They should do this in NEW YORK. Within a month the city will be clean and not to mention the city will get much needed money. They passed the law about year or two back that you cant drink any beverages on the subway as people tend to spill it put it under the seat and all that stuff and i still see people doing that becuase they are not fined. They should have a camera on subway and that way you can send ticked to their home.




By MekhongKurt on 5/19/2008 3:50:37 AM , Rating: 2
I have to agree it's unacceptable to use anti-terrorism laws to go after some minor offender.

By the way, many years ago I worked awhile as a policeman in a very small town in Texas, and a much longer while in a private security patrol company working closely with local police in a rather large city. So, I'm not exactly anti-cop.

The cameras themselves are less problematic (for me, anyway) -- in public settings -- than are abuses of laws. Yes, if someone's trying to sneak his kid into a school whose zone doesn't include his home, sure, that's wrong. But don't go after him as if he's a terrorist , for heaven's sake.

Here in Bangkok the police have been using more and more cameras, and while deployment of the devices has sparked considerable controversy, there's a rather large group who feel as long as the cameras are used for their intended purposes, then fine.

I don't know about in Britain, but in my home country (and here) I'd sure like to see genuinely strong laws aimed at abusers, especially police.

Of course, one rationale for the cameras here is highly controversial: sending officers out with cameras to photograph drivers violating traffic laws. Officialdom's defense is if a driver is mailed a ticket, then he or she won't have to go through the unpleasant routine of an officer demanding a bribe, which is extremely widespread here. But some people distrust the police to stay within bounds. (And there's considerable reason for such distrust.)

Some observers have expressed displeasure at the notion of goons with guns -- police -- enforcing anti-litter laws and the like.

When I was a policeman, not once did I have occasion to have my weapon out. Not once. In my security work, yes, I sometimes did, but it sure wasn't to tell someone to shut the rubbish bin or other minor infractions. (And I never fired my gun in nearly 10 years, not on duty, except when I had to go to the range for semi-annual re-qualification.)

Some police operate under pretty strict rules, and while yes, some cops do ignore them, they could find themselves in deep trouble. Just look at the several high-profile cases in the U.S. in recent years. I'm sure there must be similar protective restraints in some countries, not just the U.S.

I know, I know -- "Who guards the guardians?" There are ways, in some jurisdictions, that even we, the ordinary folks, can play our own small parts in keeping honest cops honest. And we can push our governments to crackdown on abuses -- hard.

Now, if someone starts placing a surveillance system in my home , then that's a different kettle of fish entirely!




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