Saturday, 13 November 2010

Big Brother is here

Big Brother society is bigger than ever: New technology is ‘undermining privacy by stealth’

By Jack Doyle
Last updated at 12:10 PM on 12th November 2010

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Growing use: CCTV cameras are being use in more private areas as well as in schools to monitor teacher performance

Growing use: CCTV cameras are being use in more private areas as well as in schools to monitor teacher performance

The march of Britain’s ‘Surveillance Society’ was exposed last night in a devastating report.

Experts warned that a raft of new technologies were intruding ever further into private lives.

And legal protections were struggling to keep up with the ‘Big Brother’ onslaught, the Surveillance Studies Network said.

The academics praised the Coalition for ditching ID cards and some state databases but they identified a string of threats including:

* Social networking sites that have ‘exponentially’ increased their holdings of personal data
* Body scanners at airports that invite ‘voyeuristic opportunism’
* Automatic numberplate recognition cameras
* CCTV cameras in schools that measure teacher performance
* Aerial police drones that are ‘more pervasive than CCTV’
* GPS devices that can track the movements of staff such as cleaners to within a few yards
* Software that allows users to track their friends but which could be hacked by outsiders
* Databases that sort individuals by their ethnicity or social class.

The network’s last report – in 2006 – warned that Britain was sleepwalking into a surveillance society.

Yesterday it raised the alarm over surreptitious and unaccountable surveillance practices and weak legal protections.


* Blimping useless! Weather defeats the £80,000 police surveillance balloon

‘Much surveillance also goes beyond the limits of what is tolerable in a society based on the rule of law and human rights, one of which is the right to privacy, the report said.

‘Some technologies have gone from being a subject of speculation to being in mainstream use in many different areas.
WiFi snoops.jpg
CCTV schools.jpg

Car Checks.jpg
Council spies.jpg

‘Given the relatively low level of public and political understanding of technologies such as databases, it is too easy for functions to creep surreptitiously without exposure to widespread comment, debate, or procedures for deciding on the acceptability and accountability or uses.’

The network said that numberplate cameras were first sold as a crime fighting tool that would allow police to track serious criminals.

Now however they are being used to follow political protesters and hand out fines for minor parking and traffic infringements.

The network called for compensation for individuals placed under unlawful police surveillance and a requirement that those being watched are told afterwards.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said: ‘Many of the new laws that come into force every year in the UK have implications for privacy at their heart.

‘My concern is that after they are enacted there is no one looking back to see whether they are being used as intended, or whether the new powers were indeed justified in practice.
Surveillance: The report said unmanned aerial police drones, originally used by the military, present 'significant' privacy problems and are 'more pervasive than CCTV'.

Surveillance: The report said unmanned aerial police drones, originally used by the military, present 'significant' privacy problems and are 'more pervasive than CCTV'.

‘One example of this is the use of covert CCTV surveillance by local councils to monitor parents in school catchment area disputes under powers designed to assist in crime prevention and detection.’

A Government spokesman said: ‘The new government believes there has been too much intrusion into the private lives of people in this country.

‘We have put civil liberties at the heart of our policies and our first piece of legislation was to scrap ID cards.

‘We are committed to rolling back big government and state intrusion.’

Read more:

Big Brother Britain has grown out of all proportion
Britain’s surveillance culture has been expanded out of all proportion to any threats we face – and it’s getting worse, says Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch and former chief of staff to David Cameron.
Britons are already the most-watched citizens in the democratic world because of an array of systems including CCTV
Britons are already the most-watched citizens in the democratic world because of an array of systems including CCTV Photo: PSL IMAGES
By Alex Deane 8:00AM GMT 12 Nov 2010

Even when Thatcher’s ministers were being pulled from the rubble of the Grand Hotel in Brighton, we never allowed threats to distort our way of life. Now, we let accusations of dog fouling and fiddling school catchment areas to justify unprecedented snooping. We face the prospect of improving technology allowing the state to monitor us in every moment of our lives.

DNA profiles of over a million innocent people are still on the national database, and despite all promises to the contrary such records are still being added.

Local councils authorise themselves to mount covert surveillance of residents under powers meant for serious crimes and terrorism – to catch people putting bins out at the wrong time, for dog fouling, breaking the smoking ban, littering, noise nuisance. It’s entirely out of proportion; the cure is worse than the disease. Innocent victims have no right to know that they were watched, so it’s not scaremongering, but simply stating the obvious, to say it could have happened to you.

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Council-run CCTV cameras have trebled in the last ten years. We’re the only country that’s gone so far down this path: the Shetland Islands have more CCTV cameras than San Francisco’s Police Department. The capture and retention of the images of innocent people without their consent is now de rigueur. ‘Nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ we’re told – but the reverse should apply in a free society. If you have done nothing wrong, why should the state record your whereabouts and what you’re doing?

CCTV is being used on a routine basis to monitor and identify peaceful people exercising democratic rights to protest – exercising their freedom of assembly, speech, movement. Automatic Number Plate Recognition takes up to 14 million photographs of vehicles and their occupants each day. The Intercept Modernisation Programme, under which the details of all telephone records and emails are recorded, was too much even for Labour, but the Government plans to continue with it.

Many children have their fingerprints taken in school for registration purposes or in order to get school dinners or library books. Schools are beginning to use facial recognition technology instead of a register.

Our research revealed that 2.6 million households have had microchips installed in their dustbins (and none of them had been told about it). ‘Pay as you throw’ schemes have been banned but chips continue to be installed ‘to encourage recycling’ – it’s the same technology and can be switched to other uses, and it is equally intrusive.

We are building up data sets of personal information which is valuable and open to future abuse, especially given the rapid development of facial mapping. Only a fool would presume that all people in power in future times will be benign.

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1 comment:

extant said...

I cant stand it mate,I find it intoxicating, Newport Stasi Council is using R.I.P.A agaisnt me and Caerphilly Stasi HQ Council is constantly aggravating by serving injunctions and restraining orders on me. I cant take it no more.

I walk out of my Home 8am, I have a cnt with a Camera taking photos of me from the biggest fkn teloscopic lense you have ever seen in your life; the bst was lucky I was tired and handnt switched my aggresion on..Then I get up the next morning I have a fkn green mondeo parked outsode my house, less than an hour later, my Mrs comes up the garage to drop me food off, and says, "That same Green Mondeo is now outside the garage gates"; 1o fkn miles away !!At least 3 times a week I have as you know got Police Helecopters hovering over my Property, which by the way is in the middle of nowhere.

They will not leave me alone. They have just changed an internal Policy today, because the restraining order they served on me was defective. So a copper arrests you and think , "oh fk, it isnt an offence, I know lets change the Law so we are not prosecuted under the Human rights legislation", serious, I can show all the evidence of what their latest stunt is.

I cant fkn stand no more of it, my mind is seriously going..