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UK Has Become a "Surveillance Society"

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the gotta-keep-us-safe-from-the-bogeyman dept.

291

cultrhetor writes "In a story released by the BBC, Richard Thomas, the information commissioner for Great Britain, says that fears of the nation's 'sleep-walk into a surveillance society' have become reality. Surveillance ranges from data monitoring (credit cards, mobiles, and loyalty card information), US security agencies monitoring telecommunications traffic, to key stroke logging at work. From the article, the report 'predicts that by 2016 shoppers could be scanned as they enter stores, schools could bring in cards allowing parents to monitor what their children eat, and jobs may be refused to applicants who are seen as a health risk.' The report's co-author, Dr. David Murakami-Wood, told BBC News that, compared to other Western nations, Britain was the 'most surveilled country.' He goes on to note: 'We really do have a society which is premised both on state secrecy and the state not giving up its supposed right to keep information under control while, at the same time, wanting to know as much as it can about us.'"

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That's a whole lot of cameras (2, Interesting)

Zarniwoop_Editor (791568) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718049)

FTA
There are up to 4.2m CCTV cameras in Britain - about one for every 14 people.

With that many cameras one can imagine it must be fairly difficult to venture out in public without being "ON CAMERA".
I'm really not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand it might prevent some crime, on the other it certainly makes one feel like their privacy is in doubt. I guess it's only gonna be a real problem when they start installing them in your home.

Re:That's a whole lot of cameras (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718083)

It doesn't matter how many cameras there are. We all feel safe because we know that Chairman Blair would never abuse the power.

Re:That's a whole lot of cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718235)

I hope you're being funny.

Re:That's a whole lot of cameras (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718501)

Chairman Brown
I hope you're being funny.

The "Chairman" would be the clue that, yes, he is being funny.

Re:That's a whole lot of cameras (1)

agentkgb1984 (1001576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718093)

1 for every 14? That's creepy no matter where they are.

Cameras do not prevent crimes. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718115)

Cameras merely make a record so that it is possible that the criminal may be identified later.

Re:Cameras do not prevent crimes. (1)

hclyff (925743) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718211)

Fear of being recorded and punished is sometimes prevention itself.

Re:Cameras do not prevent crimes. (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718363)

Cameras merely make a record so that it is possible that the criminal may be identified later.

It's the record that is the problem. How long is it kept? If you're running for office 20 years down the line or applying for a job, would you want it to come out that you were speeding at 100mph/kissing a person of the wrong race or gender/talking to someone who ended up being arrested for terrorist 5 years later/etc? If there's a sunset law on the footage, that anything not involved in a criminal investigation is subject to mandatory destruction after three months, I'd have less of a problem with CCTV cameras. And no recording of voice - that's a bit too intrusive and creepy and isn't needed to detect crimes of violence for the most part.

-b.

Re:Cameras do not prevent crimes. (1)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718387)

Sooo, lemme summarize:

1. You may not carry weapons or defend yourself properly.
2. A criminal assaults you and if he's in a bad mood, he'll kill you, too.
3. The police cleans up your body.
4. The crime's on camera, but you're still dead.

But, you say, criminals will be discouraged from committing crimes if they're monitored.

First an observation: they're not monitoring criminals, they're monitoring you. And you aren't a criminal, so why are they monitoring you?

1. Criminals commit crimes even if they're monitored. Popular example: watch C.O.P.S. and see how many criminals are "caught on tape" burglarizing a gas station or a convenience store.
2. Crimes will become more violent. If they have less time to elicit money from you, they will go faster for the kill.
3. Police will do a worse job, because "now the crime are on camera and will discourage criminals from committing crimes."
4. You're still dead.

Re:Cameras do not prevent crimes. (1)

Conor Turton (639827) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718465)

1. Yes you can defend yourself with reasonable force. There have been a few people who have shot burglars and not been charged. 2. Extremely rare. Certainly so rare that it still makes headline news.

Re:Cameras do not prevent crimes. (1)

RealSurreal (620564) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718475)

Wow! I can barely see the gaps in your logic. If only it had been recorded on CCTV so we could watch in slo-mo as you go completely off track.

Re:Cameras do not prevent crimes. (1)

h2g2bob (948006) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718521)

"You may not carry weapons." - well I'm glad about that. The UK has a long history of not having weapons in civilian life (even the police don't normally have weapons with them). I don't see that contries with weapons are safer.

On the issue of time, most CCTV footage is only arround for a few weeks, if that. Plus the camera has to work and have film in it, which seems to be a struggle for many camera operators.

The main reason for CCTV footage is to provide evidence that a crime was commited, rather than discoraging you from going on a killing spree. But a lot of the time this evidence is insufficient to prove something in court, so there's not a lot of point.

Re:Cameras do not prevent crimes. (1)

Stormx2 (1003260) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718555)

Its an entirely different situation in the UK. I mean, cameras DO help. The arguements "You're still dead" means nothing. Thats a horrible point to put across, because you are saying that no lessons can be learnt from murders. They can, and clearly they are being learnt. What theory do you put forward, why would we be putting cameras up if they didn't help catch criminals?

Re:Cameras do not prevent crimes. (1)

Virgil Tibbs (999791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718957)

cameras tend to be glorified webcams - crap resolution - 2fps

identifieing criminals from them tends to be a joke

they are generally used for being certain that a crime took place, who was witnesses, what clothes etc

from cctv it is very difficult to identify induvidual people unless you already have some idea who they are

Re:That's a whole lot of cameras (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718453)

On the one hand it might prevent some crime, on the other it certainly makes one feel like their privacy is in doubt.

Yeah, if there's one place I'm concerned about privacy, it's when I'm out in public.

Re:That's a whole lot of cameras (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718735)

When you find a way to survive without ever leaving the house, let us know.

Re:That's a whole lot of cameras (2, Insightful)

mrogers (85392) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718763)

Yeah, if there's one place I'm concerned about privacy, it's when I'm out in public.
So you wouldn't mind if a masked man followed you everywhere, every day, from the moment you left your house to the moment you returned, and made regular and detailed reports about your activities to unspecified people? Because personally I'd feel extremely intimidated and invaded by that situation. Unfortunately it's easy to forget that you're being treated that way by CCTV, because the cameras are relatively unobtrusive.

I'd like to see a law requiring every CCTV camera to have a large screen attached, displaying what the camera is picking up - can you imagine the result being anything less than a public backlash against cameras? And yet the cameras would still be providing the same 'protection' they're supposedly providing now.

You have privacy in public when anonymous (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718919)

Yeah, if there's one place I'm concerned about privacy, it's when I'm out in public.

Your sentence may sound cute, but it's naive.

When we're out in public, we do still have a *large* amount of privacy through being anonymous, at least in medium size cities and up. You can walk into a lingerie shop and ask the salesgirl for kinky underwear saying "It's a present for my wife" without everyone looking at you because they know you're not married. It's a sort of "virtual privacy", and it holds with respect to the government too. Your life is still yours and not in the public eye.

That "virtual privacy" changes dramatically with regard to those in authority when there are cameras everywhere, and "odd behaviour" gets noted down on your file. You may think that that doesn't matter, since they're not going to pull you in for buying kinky underwear, but all these things add up. If they're looking for a serial killer of hookers who's trademark is a fondness for lingerie and who *might* live in your area, then all of a sudden you're on the suspects list.

Maybe you're just too young to know how the world works yet. Well, you'll wake up one day and discover just how nasty a place it can be when someone has power over you. And one of the few protections we have against that is our privacy.

Don't knock it.

What I'm worried about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718459)

  • The national network of number plate recognition cameras which mean almost every journey in the UK is recorded. An IEE Article on the Technology behind the system [iee.org] . This was brought in with no public debate, and no clear controls on access to the data collected.
  • My local councillor, posting on Slashdot thought we "have public access to the CCTV pictures" [slashdot.org] he has since educated himself significantly on the subject, for which I congratulate him - but he was an example of how those responsible for bringing in intrusive schemes can be ignorant of what they were doing.
  • The deployment of cameras outside of any democratic oversight / control with those running the cameras ignoring policies agreed by elected representatives
  • Convergence of public and private surveillance and databases into a single mammoth system. eg. Petrol stations feeding data to the police [londonclasswar.org] on traffic movements, supermarkets installing RFID Radar [bbc.co.uk] (Can they read your passport when its in your car, or see what you've bought from other shops as you drive in?), and medical records being potentially made widely available on a new national system.
  • I'm worried that the State won't be able to keep data in such a converged system accurate, and I don't like the idea of having all my eggs in one basket - all my interactions with the state (ability to drive (driving licence), travel (passport), move freely (face recognition on CCTV in shops, town centres, railway stations) could be affected by a single error.
  • The UK Government will no doubt share all this data with at least the USA and no doubt other states too. Arriving in the USA is an intimidating enough experience enough as it is.
I'm not a luddite - I'm all for using new technology to deter crime, and catch criminals and making our lives easier; but we need democratic controls and an awareness of what it is we're stepping into.
  • Individuals should control which groups of people should have what level of access to their medical records.
  • Querying the national traffic monitoring system to find out where a car's been should be treated at least as seriously as getting a search warrent for searching a house.
  • An individual's interactions with the state should be compartmentalised unless there's a good reason for not doing so eg. restricting a convicted football hooligan from travelling to a competition, or banning a criminal who used a car in the crime for driving.

Re:That's a whole lot of cameras (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718525)

In large US cities, its the same way.

Now currently they arent all interconnected, but it wouldnt be hard to take that 'extra step'.

And it doesnt really prevent crime. thats just marketing to get you to accept the invasion. It might help to id the person that mugged you later, but they wont stop just because it might be recorded.

Re:That's a whole lot of cameras (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718757)

I believe that statistics show that in the UK the presence of CCTV does in fact reduce crime in the surveilled area. However, rather than prevent it entirely it merely displaces it to places which don't have CCTV.

Re:That's a whole lot of cameras (1)

mrogers (85392) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718787)

So eventually there's going to be one dark doorway behind a skip in a narrow street in Chipping Sodbury where all the crime happens?

Re:That's a whole lot of cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718573)

And that's not including all those people with camera-enabled mobile phones taking photos! Better get out the tin foil hats!

Seriously, I don't see this as a problem. I live in London, where every six months or so, you read the standard story talking about how a person is caught on camera around 300 times a day. Yes, ok, well, who cares - I choose to live here. It would seem to me, that if CCTV aids in cutting (or solving) crimes, helps to stop another terrorist attack (7/7), or simply causes people to think twice, it's not a bad thing. As well, it also places scrutiny on the various enforcement agencies (police, et. al.) and Government (Charles de Menezes, for example).

Quite honestly, I feel much safer knowing that the cameras are out there. People, generally speaking, don't like taking responsibility for their own actions, and this is a way to help them to do so.

Re:That's a whole lot of cameras (1)

Hogwash McFly (678207) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718657)

and Government (Charles de Menezes, for example).

Yeah, that worked really well. [wikipedia.org]

Re:That's a whole lot of cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718777)

Keep sucking that government teat.

Re:That's a whole lot of cameras (1)

cruachan (113813) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718651)

I think the important point is that all this CCTV is generally owned and monitored by a *lot* of different organisations. Shops, clubs, pubs, malls etc all monitor there own little bit. True there are a police and council cameras too, but they are limited to a small % of coverage in city centres and traffic cameras on main commuter routes. So although if you wander around a city centre you're probably on camera most of the time, in practice the monitoring is so widely spread that it's difficult to say you are actually being watched in any meaningful way.

This is reflected by the fact that when there is a major incident it takes days if not weeks for the police to assemble footage tracking those concerned from all the different sources and indeed they often end up appealing for people with CCTV footage to come forward - there's not even a central list of who hass the CCTV.

IMHO the danger point is not cameras but the central control and access to information.

Re:That's a whole lot of cameras (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718783)

Yeah it is, and it's a figure I've thought about a lot since I keep seeing it in the news. I don't believe it's the number of CCTV cameras covering public spaces, the traditional 'Big Brother' depiction. Just how many of this 4.2m are on private ground - in office buildings, pointing at warehouse entrances, in newsagents... not under the direct control of the police or the council. I think it's a fair proportion. Wish I could find some hard figures though.

What the future holds for Britain (1)

Mr_Toph (843301) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718059)

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November... It's that time of year. Anyone remember the backstory from "V for Vendetta"?

Re:What the future holds for Britain (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718215)

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November... It's that time of year.

Ah yes, Guy (aka Guido) Fawkes [wikipedia.org] , the only honest man to set foot in the Houses of Parliament... (He tried to blow them up in 1606.)

-b.

Re:What the future holds for Britain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718269)

Ah, so that's why it sounds like Basra outside at the moment.

Re:What the future holds for Britain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718345)

Either that or your in Basra? Me, I'm just happy that with the "war on terror", our crap government lets millions of us set off explosives all weekend. Fireworks are for children and simpletons, I'm reminded of Baldricks poetry.

Re:What the future holds for Britain (1)

CmSpuD (995334) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718395)

I personally quite like fireworks, and I'm far from being a child, though maybe a simpleton. Shiny colours and loud noises are brilliant, quit killing your inner child ;D

Remember remember (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718293)

the fifth of November. The night of gunpowder treason and plot.

I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should even be forgot. ...

"We've had a string of embezzlers, frauds, liars and lunatics making a string of catastrophic decisions. This is a plain fact.

But who elected them? It was YOU! You who appointed these people! You who gave them the power to make decisions for you! While I'll admit that anyone can make a mistake once, to go on making the same lethal errors century after century seems to me nothing short of deliberate.

You have encouraged these malicious incompetents, who have made your working life a shambles. You have accepted without question their senseless orders. [...] All you had to say was "NO." "

(taken from V for Vendetta by Alan Moore + David Lloyd. Get the comic book, it's even cooler than the movie.)

Re:Remember remember (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718511)

Get the comic book, it's even cooler than the movie.

I've had toenail clippings that were even cooler than that movie.

Re:What the future holds for Britain (1)

JcMorin (930466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718707)

This movie is not that far from the reality. Maybe 9/11 [google.com] was just the "terrorism" they needed to enforce [slashdot.org] their laws!

Hey Fark! (2, Funny)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718089)

Can we borrow your "obvious" tag?

Funny (3, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718101)

It doesn't feel any different. I know we've solved quite a few 20+ year old crimes using DNA, and we found out quite a lot about the July 7th bombers from CCTV. A friend whose car was damaged in a hit and run incident a few months ago managed to find out which insurance company to claim against because of cameras on the road - that wouldn't have been possible if she's just hoped the guy had decided to turn himself in.

Still, I'm sure there's a downside to this technology, otherwise why the fuck would people keep going on and on and on and on about it all the time, as if the presence of cameras somehow stops them from going about their lawful business.

Re:Funny (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718161)

I think that your viewpoint is pretty typical of people actually who are in the UK, I am and it doesn't really bother me. A lot of Americans (who will be modding you down right about now) cannot understand how anyone could be happy in this situation because they have a tradition of being suspicious of government and put the right to privacy above many other benifits which might come from this kind of thing...

I'm not saying that any one view is better than another, although for my own part I think that it might help reduce crime by increasing the probability of getting caught and thus changing the pay-off matrix for the criminals, and up to a point it doesn't bother me (which I don't belive we will end up in as the slippery slope arguement tells us)... I actually think that the level that it could go up to is pretty high and I wouldn't be that bothered.

Re:Funny (4, Interesting)

Poppler (822173) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718321)

for my own part I think that it might help reduce crime by increasing the probability of getting caught and thus changing the pay-off matrix for the criminals
It doesn't.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/2192911.stm [bbc.co.uk]
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/leicestershire/ 4294693.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Of coarse, it's your country, and it's none of my business that you let your government monitor you. Just don't let them fool you into thinking it's useful for deterring crime. Violent crime in particular is often not a rational act; most criminals are not putting the risk and reward through an algorithm to determine whether or not they should commit the crime.

Re:Funny (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718993)

> Just don't let them fool you into thinking it's useful for deterring crime. Violent crime in particular is often not a rational
> act; most criminals are not putting the risk and reward through an algorithm to determine whether or not they should commit the
> crime.

Violent crime is largely caused by people acting under the effect of alcohol. If the victim is also under the effects of alcohol, or didn't see the attacker coming, or is otherwise incapable of giving a good enough description etc then it's fairly unlikely the criminal will be caught. If it's all caught on camera then it's trivial to circulate a photo of him to police forces, local newspapers etc.

The thought processes of criminals is not very important to me, just that they have a much higher likelihood of getting caught if they commit a crime in front of a camera. So I'm not worried if it deters criminals - just that it makes detecting them much easier.

Re:Funny (1)

flossie (135232) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718381)

I think that your viewpoint is pretty typical of people actually who are in the UK, I am and it doesn't really bother me. A lot of Americans (who will be modding you down right about now) cannot understand how anyone could be happy in this situation because they have a tradition of being suspicious of government and put the right to privacy above many other benifits which might come from this kind of thing...

And similarly, if you talk to many Chinese people you will discover many of them see nothing wrong with their government censoring the internet and preventing freedom of speech for the good of the country.

There are none so blind as those who choose not to see. Isn't it just all so much easier just to go along with the wishes of those in power? I think so. I don't really have a problem with CCTV either.

Now the National Identity Register and National DNA Database - they scare me. I'll fight against those!

Re:Funny (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718577)

> And similarly, if you talk to many Chinese people you will discover many of them see nothing wrong with their government
> censoring the internet and preventing freedom of speech for the good of the country.

Sure. But in this case, there's no argument against CCTV cameras. It's not like they cause crime. You just hear about `surveillance society`, but if that means people can watch what you do in the street then that's true whether there's a camera there or not. So fucking what? Just get on with your life. If you're not breaking the law, what's it to you? It's just that with cameras (and, more importantly, storage of data captured by cameras) there's some chance to work backwards from a report of a crime to pictures of the people committing the crime. You could see, for instance, the registration number of a car involved in a bank robbery, and work backwards and see where the car came from.

So that's the upside of cameras. The only downside that I can see is you have to put up with people whinging about a `surveillance society` without defining what that is, and what's wrong with it.

> Now the National Identity Register and National DNA Database - they scare me. I'll fight against those!

> Isn't it just all so much easier just to go along with the wishes of those in power?

CCTV isn't being imposed on people by `those in power` - or are you talking about China again? I'm not aware of a backlash against CCTV in the UK, other than by people who make complaining about the use of technology to solve crime something of a lifestyle choice. Didn't we get all this about fingerprints too?

> Now the National Identity Register and National DNA Database - they scare me. I'll fight against
> those!

Why? Something to hide? Remind me of the downside again?

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718759)

Why? Something to hide?

Cunt.

Re:Funny (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718823)

OK Mr "Nothing to hide" What's your full name and address, how much do you earn and how much tax do you pay on it? Post all that here on slashdot please, after all you've nothing to hide, right?

Also would you support mandatory CCTV and microphones placed in peoples houses; that'd make terrorist plots almost impossible to hatch at home, You won't mind a CCTV camera placed in your bathroom will you? You've got nothing to hide.

Re:Funny (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718937)

> OK Mr "Nothing to hide" What's your full name and address, how much do you earn and how much tax do you pay on it? Post all that
> here on slashdot please, after all you've nothing to hide, right?

That's none of any Slashdot reader's business. I have the right to post it, but I choose not to, because I don't believe I can gain from doing so - I can only lose out. My location on the street etc is anyone's business who takes the effort to watch me. And if they get up in my face without good reason there are laws that can be employed to prevent/punish them. And CCTV cameras don't reveal that information to people watching me through them, so it's a pretty weak attempt at an analogy.

> Also would you support mandatory CCTV and microphones placed in peoples houses; that'd make terrorist plots almost impossible to
> hatch at home, You won't mind a CCTV camera placed in your bathroom will you? You've got nothing to hide.

What I do in my house is no-one's business but my own. There's no public interest for it to happen. I'm not sure about the US but in the EU we have the right to privacy and so on which would make such intrusions illegal. It's completely different once you step outside, because it's a public space. I don't believe people's phones should be tapped without good reason, but enough people seem to be not bothered sharing their phone conversations with people on buses, trains, pubs etc.

Re:Funny (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718983)

Why weren't you at work on Tuesday Mr. Smith? What were you doing in that part of town? There are some very curious charges associated with your ident chip, is there some reason you are spending your money on those things? The problem is that it sets the stage for questions like that. Yeah, it's a slippery slope argument, but it simply isn't a slope that some people are interested in standing on -- they don't believe the benefits are worth the risks.

I don't really have anything to hide, but I'm *not* breaking the law, so you don't really have any reason to watch me.

Re:Funny (1)

flossie (135232) | more than 7 years ago | (#16719019)

The only downside that I can see is you have to put up with people whinging about a `surveillance society` without defining what that is, and what's wrong with it.
"Surveillance Society" is defined in great detail in the report which led to the article which started this discussion: The Information Commissioner's "A Report on the Surveillance Society" [ico.gov.uk] .

In this context, surveillance is not just about cameras. They are not even the most important aspect. Unfortunately they are the most visually obvious signs and so the media tend to concentrate on them rather than the underlying framework. The surveillance society is about the database state - the detailed picture of our lives that is assembled by the state, ostensibly in the name of efficiency and serving us better, but often acting in a manner that reduces personal privacy and basic freedoms.

Now the National Identity Register and National DNA Database - they scare me. I'll fight against those!
Why? Something to hide? Remind me of the downside again?

The Identity Cards Act requires each of us to notify the authorities of our whereabouts on pain of a 1000 pound fine - why should this be necessary? Why should people escaping domestic violence have to update a central database, to which many thousands of people will have access, when they are trying to hide?

The National Identity Register will record every visit to a clinic. Why should petty officials be able to find out if their neighbour has had an abortion?

A DNA database could potentially allow those with access to know whether we are increased likelihood of suffering from particular diseases later in life, some of which we may not yet even know are genetic and from which you yourself might be at increased risk. There are no safeguards in place to prevent employers or insurance companies from discriminating against such bad risks. Once information is out in the open, there is no way to recover it.

It is extremely foolish to even consider collecting all this information into one central, vulnerable, database when there hasn't been even the slightest thought about who should have access and what rights individuals should retain over the processing of their data.

Re:Funny (1)

quintessencesluglord (652360) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718515)

I don't think that is a fair assessment. I <i>could</i> be a bit more tolerant of some types of monitoring if there was more transparency to those doing the monitoring. As it is, those in power demand secrecy for every minutia of their dealings under the guise of important business while demanding outrageous amounts of personal information from the public, and not even being held accountable for when they abuse or are careless with that information.

I don't think it is too much to ask to do a cost/benefit analysis before imposing on someone's privacy. And even then, the bigger question of why this is needed goes unanswered, and justifications are thrown out after-the-fact when they may not even be useful at all.

Re:Funny (1)

BalanceOfJudgement (962905) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718887)

I'm not saying that any one view is better than another, although for my own part I think that it might help reduce crime by increasing the probability of getting caught and thus changing the pay-off matrix for the criminals
Here's another way to look at it, which it doesn't seem like anyone has really considered..

If the only way your populace obeys the law is because they know they might get caught.. what does that say about your society? What does a society really have to offer, that can only control its people through intimidation?

Despite my moniker, I am not actually making such a judgement about life in Britain - that is for you Brits to decide [I am American, and am equally dismayed by my own government's desire to now prohibit all travel except by the DHS's approval]. I merely think it valuable for you all to consider the thought.

Re:Funny (1)

weteko (1022621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718201)

Word! It's not like I care if people are watching me - it might even be better than not being video recorded in the first place! Just think how all these big brothery gadgets will be to your own benefit when someone accuses you for a crime you actually did not commit. Just demand the video tape/credit card statement/whatever from [wherever you was] and go "I'm sorry. I did not kill that man. I was busy getting hammered at the pub. See?" . For all I care put all those cameras up as live web feeds.

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718451)

For all I care put all those cameras up as live web feeds.
Some of them are. The robbers of a jewellery store in Liverpool were recently caught because someone in the USA who happened to be browsing the page at the time saw them and phoned the local police.

On the whole I'm not a fan of cameras however, at least not in the vast numbers we have. They are used as cheap substitutes for actual police on the ground, despite it being proven their effect on cutting crime is minimal to non-existent, and accordingly we've seen a steady rise in violent crime. We also have weak data protection laws so the issue of indefinetely retained surveillance footage is a problem.

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718221)

Still, I'm sure there's a downside to this technology, otherwise why the fuck would people keep going on and on and on and on about it all the time, as if the presence of cameras somehow stops them from going about their lawful business.

You're a retard.

'Smith!' screamed the shrewish voice from the telescreen. '6079 Smith W.! Yes, you! Bend lower, please! You can do better than that. You're not trying. Lower, please! That's better, comrade. Now stand at ease, the whole squad, and watch me.'

Re:Funny (1)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718227)

No, the camers don't stop people going about their lawful business.

On the other hand, Britain is (yet again) running out of space in its jails. So either the cameras are not having any effect on the crime rate, or else a lot of people are being imprisoned for trivial offences for which they would not have been imprisoned in the past. In the first case they are a waste of money, and in the second case they are having the effect of criminalizing a large proportion of the population.

Re:Funny (1)

weteko (1022621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718253)

In Malmö, Sweden they have been using cameras for 5 years now. The studies have shown that they have not helped to solve a single crime. All it has led to is a lil' privacy debate. I'd post a link if I could find an article that was not in swedish.

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718517)

I know we've solved quite a few 20+ year old crimes using DNA

Yeah, rather amazing that, they take a semen and/or blood sample from some guy and... Wow! it just happens to match this semen and/or blood stain they just found on the little girl's dress. What a lucky coincidence! Quick, get the press release out fast, we wanna look good in time for the morning paper!

Still, I'm sure there's a downside to this technology, otherwise why the fuck would people keep going on and on and on and on about it all the time, as if the presence of cameras somehow stops them from going about their lawful business.

Like having the CCTV footage mysteriously disappear when your family tries to figure out what really happened when the cops shoot you 5-8 times trying to catch a train? [blogspot.com] (only to reappear later once it's determined that the cops were hiding it after all [bbc.co.uk] .)

Hey, maybe over on your side of the puddle they're not all out to get you. Over here with corrupt crime labs, prosecutors that hide DNA evidence when they would have exonerated the suspect, and overly racist cops, most smart people here have figured out to maintain a sense of scepticism when dealing with them.

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718535)

Just because it's not currently being abused does not mean it is a good thing long-term. There is a ridiculously large potential for abuse of the surveillance. Do you really trust your government that much?

Obligatory 1984 quote that's strikingly applicable:
The ruling groups were always infected to some extent by liberal ideas, and were content to leave loose ends everywhere, to regard only the overt act and to be uninterested in what their subjects were thinking. Even the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages was tolerant by modern standards. Part of the reason for this was that in the past no government had the power to keep its citizens under constant surveillance.

[...]

Every citizen, or at least every citizen important enough to be worth watching, could be kept for twenty-four hours a day under the eyes of the police and in the sound of official propaganda, with all other channels of communication closed. The possibility of enforcing not only complete obedience to the will of the State, but complete uniformity of opinion on all subjects, now existed for the first time.

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718803)

> It doesn't feel any different. I know we've solved quite a few 20+ year old crimes using DNA, and we found out quite a lot about the July 7th bombers from CCTV.

Gosh. Great.

Now the entire world can watch terrorism in multi-angle TV. Can't wait for the special features on the Director's Cut DVD.

Re:Funny (1)

ElephanTS (624421) | more than 7 years ago | (#16719009)

we found out quite a lot about the July 7th bombers from CCTV

The main evidence used to posthumously charge the 4 men was the Luton station still. This frame has been quite obviously photoshopped. I know I'll be modded into oblivion for questioning this but I feel I should point it out because it bothers me a great deal. The CCTV system of the bus that exploded in Tavistock Square was uncharacteristically not working that day too.

http://www.julyseventh.co.uk/7-7-cctv-evidence.htm l [julyseventh.co.uk]

keylogging *shudder* (2, Funny)

arun_s (877518) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718113)

key stroke information used to gauge work rates
All characters in this post painstakingly copy-pasted using mouse :(
God I hate draconian surveillance

Re:keylogging *shudder* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718595)

Good thing my keylogger also grabs screenshots, mouse clicks, and clipboard data. :)

Won't be long... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718123)

A back to nature movement will rise up to smash all those cameras so people can walk around naked in public again.

I wouldn't mind so much (1)

dettifoss (204819) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718125)

...about the cameras if only I was a little more photogenic :(

The list of the countries (3, Informative)

eMago (267564) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718157)

The "privacy rating" list of the 36 countries mentionted in the article can be found here: http://www.privacyinternational.org/survey/phr2005 /phrtable.pdf [privacyinternational.org]

As it seems, the quite bureaucratic Germany has learned from its history (three police states in a century: the Second Empire with the Prussian secret police, Nazi Germany with the GESTAPO/SD/SS and socialist Eastern Germany with the STASI), however privacy is eroding there nearly as quickly as anywhere else.

Where will this (cultural?) trend in the western world lead to and where will it end? I think the older Germans know and perhaps some already prepare for the next autocracy/surveillance society.

Democracy vs. Absolutist state (0, Flamebait)

cucucu (953756) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718165)

Still it is interesting to pinpoint the difference between a democracy and an absolutist dictatorship (China, Iran, N. Korea, Cuba, Syria, ...).

Democracies do surveillance, perhaps more than they should or need.
Dictatorships do censorship, political prosecution and incarceration, banning, executions opponents etc.

So if you are being surveyed you can think of yourself as lucky.

Re:Democracy vs. Absolutist state (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718285)

Your eyes are firmly closed. Bush signed the patriot-act2 which is an exact translation of the `ermachtigungs gesatz,' the law that put Hitler in absolute power. He also signed away Habeus Corpus and other important parts of the constitution. And the "censorship, political prosecution and incarceration, banning, executions opponents etc." is already there. The USA _is_ a dictatorship, and the UK is following suit very quickly. The surveying is just another symptom of the fact "big brother" has become very powerful, and you try to tell us we're lucky...

Re:Democracy vs. Absolutist state (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718297)

Democracies do surveillance, perhaps more than they should or need.

Dictatorships do censorship, political prosecution and incarceration, banning, executions opponents etc.

So if you are being surveyed you can think of yourself as lucky.

No. Dictatorships do both. The STASI, for example, had some of the most extensive files on E. Germany's citizens of any agency. Secondly, a surveillance society sets up a framework and a culture (we're used to being spied upon) that can easily and quickly be abused by a dictatorship if it should come into power.

Lastly, there are different kinds of dictatorships. There's the hard kind that'll shoot you for any deviation from the rules. And there's the softly creeping matriarchal kind that will simply hit you with fines, send you to sensitivity training, and ban anything dangerous and exciting for your own good, of course. Governments learn from past mistakes, too, and the next dictatorship won't be like previous ones. It may even be gradually put in place with the best of intentions.

Cheers,

-b.

Re:Democracy vs. Absolutist state (1)

little1973 (467075) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718531)

You can even say that today, democracy is nothing more than a dictatorship where you can change the dictator in every four year. During that time you can't do anything against those who are in power. Unless they give up their power willingly you have to stage a revolution if you want a change. Simple protests are futile.

So, what do you call a system where you can't force those who are in power to leave without bloodshed? A dictatorship.

Re:Democracy vs. Absolutist state (1)

BalanceOfJudgement (962905) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718921)

It may even be gradually put in place with the best of intentions.
And most likely with roaring cheers from an ebullient crowd.

Re:Democracy vs. Absolutist state (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#16719025)

And most likely with roaring cheers from an ebullient crowd.

Sadly, yes. Fortunately, those same crowds will be cheering in another 20 years when we string up the dictators by their pinkie toes and set 'em on fire.

-b.

Re:Democracy vs. Absolutist state (1)

boarder8925 (714555) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718917)

So if you are being surveyed you can think of yourself as lucky.
You're saying that we should be happy with having my public movements tracked by the government?

You, sir, are a dumbass. Thinking like that is what will eventually make the UK, U.S., and other once-half-free countries into fascist nations. The government just loves it when the citizenry goes along with their latest and greatest draconian measures.

Re:Democracy vs. Absolutist state (1)

cucucu (953756) | more than 7 years ago | (#16719017)

I didn't say you should be happy with nothing, I just said your are lucky.
And I will explain why are you lucky.

I don't know where you live but if you live in the U.S. or U.K. then part of your tax money is being used by the government to pay to someone to read your slashdot post.
If you lived in China, Iran, or the countries mentioned in your previous post, your tax money would be used to imprison you without being granted the right to call your wife
That you are not taken from your bed at night for a post I called luck.
That your government could do more to respect your rights and privacy is probably right too.
That's all.

And please don't call me sir, specially if you are going to call me dumbass right afterwards.

One of many problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718199)

Where to start? Central medical record database, [out-law.com] immigration, hyper-inflated property... No way back but there's still a way out.

Immigrants will be left to fund public sector pensions, everyone else will be long-gone.

2006 and 2016 (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718247)

Two appendices purport to give glimpses into life in britain in 2006 and 2016. The 2016 scenario reminds me of the later simulations in A Mind Forever Voyaging


In residential areas, public area CCTV has almost entirely
become Open-Circuit Television (OCTV). All under 18s are currently barred from
entering or leaving the Estate from 6pm until 6am. For Sara, this means that to see
her best friend, Aleesha, outside school hours, one of them has to risk an encounter
with the estate's Community Wardens, who are armed with tazers and tend to shot
first and ask questions later.

Summary incorrect (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718283)

>Richard Thomas, the information commissioner for Great Britain, says that fears of the nation's 'sleep-walk into a surveillance society'

That is not true. I heard his comments, both last year and this year.

Last year he said

"I think we are sleep-walk into a surveillance society"

this year he said

"We have sleep-walked into a surveillance society"

He never said 'fear'

He wants a debate as to whether or not this is something we want.

Don't put words into his mouth to make your subjects sound interesting.

Terrorstorm DVD (2, Interesting)

LM741N (258038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718343)

Search Amazon for the Terrorstorm DVD by Alex Jones. One section of the video has some excellent pictures of the camera systems in use in Britain. On a more general note about the video, it is an excellent documentary about the rise in state sponsored terrorism. Last I checked it was #21 in popularity for Amazon DVD's. Alternatively, you can find it on Google video or at www.infowars.com.

Change (2, Informative)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718351)

Why not try to make a change? Tomorrow is the 5th of November, after all.

One Englishmen I know maintains (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718355)

that this all is very necessary to catch the bad guys and if you have nothing to hide, what's the problem?

He's planning to move to America next year because he can't take the high taxes and cost of living anymore, among other things. I wonder if he ever connected the two. (Remember all those new surcharges to fly these days after 9/11 to pay for the federalization of the security workforce and multiply that throughout an entire society.)

Re:One Englishmen I know maintains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718455)

Ask him if he would like it if the state legislated forcing him to remove the curtains from his bedroom window.

Re:One Englishmen I know maintains (1)

kinnell (607819) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718705)

he can't take the high taxes and cost of living anymore, among other things. I wonder if he ever connected the two


In Germany they pay close to twice as much tax as Britain, yet the cost of living is considerably lower. What connection are you expecting him to make?

crimes we didn't know existed (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718361)

From the article:

Have Your Say...
  If it prevents criminal behaviour or improves its detection I'm all for it.
Mark Jones, Plymouth


Diversity in a free market of countries (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718373)

The World is a free market of countries to live in. I say let the UK try a surveillance society if they want. If a country has rules that no one likes they just end up with an empty country and a government that doesn't govern anyone. Only if your country starts requiring a clearance to leave should you worry.

Re:Diversity in a free market of countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718407)

The result is that there is anything but a 'free' market of countries.

Pretty spooky, but (1)

Stephen Tennant (936097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718439)

at the same time, the perfect place to go if you needed an alibi.

Excuse me, this already goes on in the U.S. (1)

BeeBeard (999187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718457)

This part of the article/summary caught my eye:

...and jobs may be refused to applicants who are seen as a health risk.


I don't know if I'm helping to dismantle the vapid Orwellian scare tactics that the article has adopted or if I'm just adding to them by pointing this out. The work climate and employment laws in the U.K. may differ from those of the U.S., but in the United States, this already happens.

The Americans With Disabilities Act proscribes discrimination against disabled Americans and imposes a burden upon employers to make reasonable accommodations for the disabled. Now let's say I'm a very pragmatic employer, and I know that under workers' compensation schemes, if I hire an-already disabled worker and that person injures themselves further and gets even more disabled, then I'm really, really paying serious money because of it. For example, let's say I run a factory that presses steel girders, and I chance hiring Joe, who only has one eye. Well, Joe isn't a lucky guy. Three months down the line, he has an accident at my factory that costs him the only eye he has left. It's an injury to one eye--if I had hired someone who had two good eyes to start with, I'd be paying much, much less in workers compensation to that person than I would to Joe, who is now completely blind. So what I do is, despite the ADA, I just find every legal excuse in the world to not hire Joe.

That's just how we Yanks play the game. The U.K. was the home to the Industrial Revolution and probably has a far richer history of workers' compensation than the U.S. The rules of the hiring game and how it's played are undoubtedly the same. Don't want to burst anybody's fortune-telling bubble, but we already do most of what the article has predicted.

Excellent! (1)

Durrok (912509) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718479)

With Oceania allied with Eurasia we will be able to defeat Eastasia with ease! Quick, time for our two minutes of hate!

Slippery Slopes (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718481)

To defend against allegations that one's policies will lead eventually to an untenable moral outrage, it is not enough to call these arguments "a slippery slope." Some slopes are slippery. A better tactic is to argue that there are in fact boundaries to your proposals-- bright lines that cannot accidentally be crossed by the unwary.

But this defense of surveillance does not give me any comfort.

Graham Gerrard from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said there were safeguards against the abuse of surveillance by officers.

"The police use of surveillance is probably the most regulated of any group in society," he told the BBC.

"Richard Thomas was particularly concerned about unseen, uncontrolled or excessive surveillance. Well, any of the police surveillance that is unseen is in fact controlled and has to be proportionate otherwise it would never get authorised."


"Proportionate" is a slippery slope.

Denied Jobs due to health risk.. just a start. (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718489)

Take that one step farther, and you might get denied purely due to your spending habits or your friends. "we dont approve of those books you buy" or "well, we see you have friends that live in the wrong side of town, and you visit them often"

Dont forget insurance rates going up "we see you drive often in a higher crime area then you live, so we will be rasing your rate to compensate"

Re:Denied Jobs due to health risk.. just a start. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16719003)

This already happens by, you guessed it, a company's HR dept googling a prospective employees past Internet activities. No government or CCTV involved. Bring out the tin foil hats - everyone is out to get everyone! ;-)

School (1)

Stormx2 (1003260) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718527)

"schools could bring in cards allowing parents to monitor what their children eat". My school already does that. We were all given a card, which took about a day worth of lessons away getting all the pictures taken for "authentification". When we pay, the picture comes up on the brand new expensive tills.

Too bad it doesn't work. It means that people can't put their money together to buy a packet of crisps and share it, etc. But the big problem is if someone's forgotten their card and want to pay with someone elses. Well thats the point, there isn't a problem. I'd say about 75% of the time you go right through, no problem. And if not, you just go to another one of the staff.

They hold all the data but don't share it. Theres a £5 charge for a new card (Thats over $10, I think). This is from a school where we they can't afford good staff. It has got its head stuck up its own ass...

Cultural Differences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718539)

Sure, it's ironic given that the brits wrote 1984, but in my experience what we are witnessing here is fundamental cultural difference in the perception of government. The British, specifically the English, have a tendency to trust their government and its wisdom much more than critizens of the United States where compliance is driven more by apathy than an actual respect. You will find, for instance, no real parallel in Western Europe for North American libertarianism. Even if they hate the current administration, Europeans are more likely to believe their government can be fixed to operate sagaciously.

Re:Cultural Differences (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718587)

Sure, it's ironic given that the brits wrote 1984,

No: one Brit - George Orwell/Eric Blair - wrote 1984. Perhaps he knew his countrymen all too well and realized that a surveillance society was a possibility or inevitability in Britain.

-b.

Re:Cultural Differences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718701)

Orwell wrote 1984 about the future of britian, so how the hell is that ironic.

UK no longer a democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718579)

The majority of citizens here are strongly opposed to how to government is misusing our hard earned money to rob us of our last freedoms, seize even more control, oppress us, and spy on us. People's opinions do not matter anymore and the UK has become exactly what a democracy is NOT about: a totalitarian police state.

Hopefully people is the US will speak out and make the right decisions when election time comes around and not let the same things happen there.

What do people want? (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718593)

On the one side there is an outcry from some that this attacks the privacy and on the other side people are uploading their most shamefule pictures and moviemoments to show the world.

One used to say: 'Give me freedom or give me death' Now people seem to say: 'I don't want to die, no matter how I am forced to live.'

Oh well, I am off watching Big Brother.

it's a slow but steady process (1)

n1ckgb (1022813) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718663)

What scares me is that we are in a slow process that is eroding our traditional freedoms and safeguards bit by bit, and most people don't notice. They also don't consider the long term implications of what is happening. Last year, the UK government wanted to pass a law that would allow "terror suspects" to be imprisoned indefinitely with the approval of the Home Secretary, without charge. The suspect would not have been entitled to legal representation, or to hear the evidence against him/her. In other words, a politician could theoretically lock someone up for ever. Fortunately, in this particular case, the measure was watered down significantly before it became law and there is now a time limit (maybe 1 month?). What is going to happen with all the data that will be available? All the data from number plate and facial recognition, credit cards purchases, web browsing history and phone records, travel arrangements etc. It will be too much for human staff at the security services to process and sort, so how long before the job is done by computer (if it isn't already)? How long for instance before certin individuals are selected for extra searchs every time they pass through an airport, because some pattern-matching software running at GCHQ decides they are a risk? Will there be any right to appeal, and indeed who will you appeal to?

REMEMBER, REMEMBER...the fifth of November (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718739)

Guy Fawkes & the Gunpowder Plot
Words of "Remember Remember" refer to Guy Fawkes with origins in 17th century English history. On the 5th November 1605 Guy Fawkes was caught in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament with several dozen barrels of gunpowder. Guy Fawkes was subsequently tried as a traitor with his co-conspirators for plotting against the government. He was tried by Judge Popham who came to London specifically for the trial from his country manor Littlecote House in Hungerford, Gloucestershire. Fawkes was sentenced to death and the form of the execution was one of the most horrendous ever practised (hung ,drawn and quartered) which reflected the serious nature of the crime of treason.

The Tradition begins...
The following year in 1606 it became an annual custom for the King and Parliament to commission a sermon to commemorate the event. Lancelot Andrewes delivered the first of many Gunpowder Plot Sermons. This practice, together with the nursery rhyme, ensured that this crime would never be forgotten! Hence the words " Remember , remember the 5th of November" The poem is sometimes referred to as 'Please to remember the fifth of November'. It serves as a warning to each new generation that treason will never be forgotten. In England the 5th of November is still commemorated each year with fireworks and bonfires culminating with the burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes (the guy). The 'guys' are made by children by filling old clothes with crumpled newspapers to look like a man. Tradition allows British children to display their 'guys' to passers-by and asking for " A penny for the guy".

U.S. not far behind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718771)

With things like cameras on top police cars that scan license plates and keep track of where you are, being installed in the U.S. We aren't all that far off.. It's seems most people don't care if they live in a digital prison as long as it's in the name of safety... Personally I think it's BS, but other than going and living in the woods I'm not sure what else to do..

Watching Yourself (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718815)

The real point of CCTV and similiar Surveillance is not to monitor or provide evidence for investigation; it is to change behaviour.

When you think you are being watched, you watch yourself. You don't do things you might otherwise do.

To take a flippant example, say you were on an empty street. You might choose to skip down the street for fun, knowing there is noone else around to chatise you for silly behaviour.
If there is a camera on the street (which you can never know is in use or not), or even if you think there might be a camera on the street, you won't do it.

Take this principal and extrapolate it to all social behaviour; the result of all this surveillance is to produce an overwhelming conformity and predictability in the social behaviour of a population.
And never underestimate the importance of predictability to the powerful.

By far, the most excellent quote (1)

Lactoso (853587) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718923)

"We really do have a society which is premised both on state secrecy and the state not giving up its supposed right to keep information under control while, at the same time, wanting to know as much as it can about us."

It's not often that the most excellent quote from the article is included in the /. summary of said article.

BTW, WTF is a 'London Oyster Card'?!

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