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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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RE: V For Vendetta
By Reclaimer77 on 5/11/2008 12:21:22 PM , Rating: 0
Yes but whats ironic is that V For Vendetta was meant to be an allegory of the United States. I stop short at calling it pro terrorist and anti American. But the undertones are not subtle at all in the film.

Ironic that they choose England for the setting. Given this DT article and all.

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.

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