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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 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
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?

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