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Scotland Yard Confirms It's Using Facial Recognition Tech

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the you-guys-are-a-riot dept.

Privacy 85

nonprofiteer writes "Scotland Yard confirms that it's using facial recognition technology to identify rioters in London. 'A law enforcement official, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said that facial recognition is one of many tools police are using to hunt suspects still at large.' Meanwhile, the vigilante group trying an amateur stab applying facial recognition to the riot photos abandoned the project because the results sucked. This is the big test of the surveillance state that London has become. Are all those cameras effective, or just taking a toll on privacy without bringing added security?"

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"on condition of anonymity" (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 3 years ago | (#37067934)

Nope!

"We want to see who is doing a great job at enforcing the peace! Better law enforcement through publicity! We need his name and picture! After all, he has nothing to hide right? Right?"

Re:"on condition of anonymity" (4, Insightful)

JosKarith (757063) | about 3 years ago | (#37068004)

You're being an agent provocateur here but it has to be said that this is a trend in the UK security services - they want the right to monitor everything you do but a notoriously camera-shy themselves. I guess it's similar to how nobody is more paranoid about their posessions being taken than a thief.
Personally I think that an always-on camera wirelessly streaming to a backup server should be standard equipment for the police. It would eliminate a level of "He said,she said" in coourt cases. But I guess the police don't like the idea because at the moment if it's your word against an officer the officer's word has precedence so they feel they don't need it.

Re:"on condition of anonymity" (1)

lpp (115405) | about 3 years ago | (#37068046)

You're being an agent provocateur here but it has to be said that this is a trend in the UK security services - they want the right to monitor everything you do but a notoriously camera-shy themselves. I guess it's similar to how nobody is more paranoid about their posessions being taken than a thief.

Personally I think that an always-on camera wirelessly streaming to a backup server should be standard equipment for the police. It would eliminate a level of "He said,she said" in coourt cases. But I guess the police don't like the idea because at the moment if it's your word against an officer the officer's word has precedence so they feel they don't need it.

Then it seems as though we need a consumer grade model is in order. As always it comes down to money though. I wonder how well it would sell.

Re:"on condition of anonymity" (1)

JosKarith (757063) | about 3 years ago | (#37068124)

TBH if my protesting days weren't behind me this is exatly what I'd do. That way if anything happened I would have footage of everything without running into the police's lovely habit of grabbing cameras. Do you think Simon Harwood would have ever been brought to book if private individuals hadn't been filming it?

Re:"on condition of anonymity" (4, Informative)

onkelonkel (560274) | about 3 years ago | (#37068354)

Reference the Robert Dziekanski case. The 4 cops tasered this poor bastard 5 times, sat on him till he was dead, wouldn't take the cuffs off when the paramedics finally showed up. The cops lied and lied and lied some more, even though there was video clearly showing what happened.Without the video they would have gotten away with it.

Re:"on condition of anonymity" (1)

aepervius (535155) | about 3 years ago | (#37071566)

"The cops lied and lied and lied some more, even though there was video clearly showing what happened.Without the video they would have gotten away with it."

They are, at the moment, free. The public paid soem compensation to the mother. Unless the newest commission slap on the finger of the cops, they *effectively* got away with it.

Re:"on condition of anonymity" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37071670)

They did get away with it. We can only hope some vigilante justice will some day catch up to them, but I for one am not holding my breath.

Re:"on condition of anonymity" (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 years ago | (#37068448)

Do you think Simon Harwood would have ever been brought to book

I wasn't aware he had been.

Re:"on condition of anonymity" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37071006)

With smartphones, this capability is already available. See Gandicam for an example: http://www.gandhicam.org/

Re:trend in ... security services (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 3 years ago | (#37068158)

Yes, you read my tone mostly right - I put things in quotes that are a dramatically amplified version of a serious point.

Not only are security forces camera shy, if you *do* get your own footage for your protection they then push even harder and game the system to make that an adjunct crime.

Re:trend in ... security services (3, Interesting)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 3 years ago | (#37068782)

Because of this I have often wondered if I were to print up a bumper sticker and stick it to the bumper and just below the driver's side window that states "By approaching this vehicle you agree to audio and video recording". It basically becomes a EULA but similar signs exist places that have video surveillance (the "this premisses is under 24 hour video surveillance" signs).I think one could argue that in a 2 party consent state that since those signs are legal the warning sticker on your vehicle would also be legal since they were informed that they might be recorded. This would also be similar to the recording stating that this call may be recorded for quality reasons when you call a customer service number. Now I am not a lawyer so I don't have any idea how this would pan out but it seems logical to me.

A vehicle seems like an ideal place for a personal recording device as there would be ample power and it could be hardened against authority oopses. It would also provide a number of good mounting positions for multiple cameras and mics.

Re:trend in ... security services (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 3 years ago | (#37069954)

A vehicle seems like an ideal place for a personal recording device as there would be ample power and it could be hardened against authority oopses. It would also provide a number of good mounting positions for multiple cameras and mics.

Just make sure you turn it all off if you're driving home after a few hours at the bar...or other instances where you do not want to gather evidence on yourself.

Re:trend in ... security services (1)

JosKarith (757063) | about 3 years ago | (#37068982)

Oh, I totally agree. The law has to cut both ways, and with public confidence in the police (up until the riots) at an all-time low something had to be done. Unfortunately this is all part of the backlash of 9/11 and 7/7 - in the wake of those events the security forces launched a huge grab for power that was given to them by a frightened populace and is only now being questioned.
The biggest repercussion of the riots? Personally I believe it is this - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14459127 [bbc.co.uk] - the Police were handed a mandate to use rubber bullets on the mainland for the first time. Although they weren't actually used that barrier has been breached and it's now easier for the subject to be raised next time.
It's very easy to hand power over to authorities, much harder to roll it back. Beware the trap of legislation passed in fear or anger that would be unacceptable to cooler heads.

Re:"on condition of anonymity" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37068106)

enforcing the peace

Did you choose this phrase intentionally? It's not from 1984, FAFAIK, but it smells as doublespeak nonetheless. It's not exactly new either: 'pacify' comes from the Roman 'pacificare', which means 'subjugate'.

Re:"on condition of anonymity" (2)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 3 years ago | (#37068468)

"We want to see who is doing a great job at enforcing the peace! Better law enforcement through publicity! We need his name and picture! After all, he has nothing to hide right? Right?"

He doesn't want to hide from the public, but rather from his colleagues (maybe he is not actually allowed to share this detail with the public, so he must remain anonymous to avoid reprisals from within the force)

Ronald Regan (2)

mfh (56) | about 3 years ago | (#37067982)

Ronald Regan is sought for questioning.

Re:Ronald Regan (1)

mfh (56) | about 3 years ago | (#37067998)

Ronald Reagan also.

Re:Ronald Regan (1)

tom17 (659054) | about 3 years ago | (#37068136)

So is that ghost from Scream.

Re:Ronald Regan (1)

mfh (56) | about 3 years ago | (#37068290)

And these four guys [imgur.com] .

Re:Ronald Regan (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 3 years ago | (#37068666)

I'm just waiting for some clever thing at the Yard to see pictures of rioters in Guy Fawkes masks and uncover the sinister conspiracy between the rioters and Anonymous.

It'll turn out that hundreds of shops and homes were looted and burnt out for the lulz.

For Your Protection (0)

kurt555gs (309278) | about 3 years ago | (#37068016)

They need to broadcast V for Vendetta on every TV in the UK.

Do they need to? (1)

swb (14022) | about 3 years ago | (#37068360)

Guy Fawkes is real part of their history.

Re:For Your Protection (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | about 3 years ago | (#37068394)

They need to broadcast V for Vendetta on every TV in the UK.

Yes, that would certainly calm things down. [/sarcasm]

Re:For Your Protection (4, Insightful)

mfh (56) | about 3 years ago | (#37068538)

Yes, that would certainly calm things down. [/sarcasm]

I'm pretty tired of hearing these riots being referred to as being anything remotely like V for Vendetta. These are young people, disenfranchised people without jobs or educations, robbing stores and beating people up and stealing their stuff. None of them are attacking the government directly for political reasons. They are hurting their own people; it's a social implosion and it's fucking sad.

Re:For Your Protection (2)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | about 3 years ago | (#37068872)

Yes, that would certainly calm things down. [/sarcasm]

I'm pretty tired of hearing these riots being referred to as being anything remotely like V for Vendetta. These are young people, disenfranchised people without jobs or educations, robbing stores and beating people up and stealing their stuff. None of them are attacking the government directly for political reasons. They are hurting their own people; it's a social implosion and it's fucking sad.

I totally agree with you. While I certainly don't think V for Vendetta is the new New testament as many seem to, I do find the overall moral of the movie to be interesting. And I found it to be a fairly entertaining movie. However, none of the "protesters" in the end were violent or destructive in any way, this is certainly not what is happening in the UK right now. In fact, as I recall, they mildly addressed that people would take advantage of a situation, but seriously downplayed that fact. The problem is, is that many of these animals that are out looting and burning would probably feel that V for Vendetta would be some kind of justification for their stupidity.

Re:For Your Protection (1)

Shimbo (100005) | about 3 years ago | (#37070052)

These are young people, disenfranchised people without jobs or educations, robbing stores and beating people up and stealing their stuff.

You're probably largely correct but they are not all young, or unemployed or uneducated.

Re:For Your Protection (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about 3 years ago | (#37072416)

from the graphic novel:

Evey: All this riot and uproar, V... is this Anarchy? Is this the Land of Do-As-You-Please?
V: No. This is only the land of take-what-you-want. Anarchy means "without leaders", not "without order". With anarchy comes an age of ordnung, of true order, which is to say voluntary order... this age of ordnung will begin when the mad and incoherent cycle of verwirrung that these bulletins reveal has run its course... This is not anarchy, Eve. This is chaos.

Re:For Your Protection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37077254)

How is a 30 year old stealing diapers for his kids a youth? You are just attempting to push it onto one demographic so you can point the finger and blame them.

As long as they don't touch social networks.... (2)

madhatter256 (443326) | about 3 years ago | (#37068072)

As long as law enforcement doesn't take down social networks... People in London have been using it to protect themselves and communicate with each other from the yobs running around.

Use of this technology was inevitable and people can always argue about the "big brother" feeling with these cameras and technology, but in the end it dOesn't affect normal, law-aBiding citizEns except for Yobs.

Re:As long as they don't touch social networks.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37068160)

Bring Your Own Beer... Extra Yeast?

Re:As long as they don't touch social networks.... (1, Funny)

Bob-taro (996889) | about 3 years ago | (#37068206)

As long as law enforcement doesn't take down social networks... People in London have been using it to protect themselves and communicate with each other from the yobs running around.

Use of this technology was inevitable and people can always argue about the "big brother" feeling with these cameras and technology, but in the end it dOesn't affect normal, law-aBiding citizEns except for Yobs.

Odd -- I feel an unaccountable desire to agree with you...

Uh? (3, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about 3 years ago | (#37068086)

This is the big test of the surveillance state that London has become. Are all those cameras effective, or just taking a toll on privacy without bringing added security?"

OK, firstly, London is a city not a state. But it's the second part of this sentence I have problems with. There are two possibilities. One is that the cameras are effective and allow their owners to identify people. Note that most CCTV cameras in the UK are privately owned, they aren't a part of some kind of government super network. But imagining they were, this could pose a privacy problem.

The second possibility is that they don't work reliably and you usually can't identify people due to hoods, baseball caps, or low quality images, in which case they aren't a privacy problem.

I don't see any way cameras can be both ineffective and a privacy problem simultaneously. If they don't work then they are, at best, an expensive placebo.

Judging from the quality of pictures put up by the Met, I'd imagine they're good enough to provide evidence in court if you already have an idea of who it is, but they probably aren't good enough to reliably identify you out of millions of possibilities, even assuming facial recognition tech was really good. There might be a few successes but most images are of too low quality or the intruders too well disguised for it to have any impact.

Re:Uh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37068246)

OK, firstly, London is a city not a state.

http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/state?region=us

One can say "state" when referring to a city, as one can refer to its (London's) status as a government entity. The term does not need to refer to a wide expanse of territory containing multiple cities. See the above definition.

Geography fail (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 years ago | (#37068638)

Except London isn't a region. The nearest UK (or rather, English) equivalent of a US state is called a county. London isn't one of those, either.

P.S. the example you didn't link to gives two examples of European states - Italy and Germany. Not Berlin and Rome. It also mentions Bavaria - not Munich.

Fail.

Re:Geography fail (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 3 years ago | (#37071482)

The Greater London Authority has similar powers to county councils elsewhere in England, and London has Borough councils (+ 2 city councils). However, US states have much more powers than an English county council. Their powers are equivalent to either the UK government itself (vs those powers held by the EU) or the country level governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Re:Uh? (1)

Bob-taro (996889) | about 3 years ago | (#37068310)

I don't see any way cameras can be both ineffective and a privacy problem simultaneously. If they don't work then they are, at best, an expensive placebo.

I think you mean "at worst". Anyway, I see your point, but there may be some room for cameras to be both ineffective and a privacy concern. They may be ineffective because as you say the "bad guys" wear hoods, caps, and in other ways try to avoid the cameras, but they may still be able to provide identifiable images of the law-abiding public in general.

Have you seen... (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | about 3 years ago | (#37068326)

this man [blogspot.com] ? If so, call our tipster hotline at 1-888-4-unmask. Think of the children!

Yesssss... using facial recognition on people wearing hoodies, masks, and bandannas covering everything but their eyes. Somehow, that makes perfect governmental sense.

Re:Have you seen... (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 3 years ago | (#37070192)

"Yesssss... using facial recognition on people wearing hoodies, masks, and bandannas covering everything but their eyes. Somehow, that makes perfect governmental sense."

There are _many_ cameras. You just follow them n the recordings on their way to or from the crime until you come to a camera where he has removed or not yet put on the mask.

Re:Uh? (3, Insightful)

ftobin (48814) | about 3 years ago | (#37068494)

I don't see any way cameras can be both ineffective and a privacy problem simultaneously.

You're assuming a singular individual. They could be ineffective against one segment of the population, but a privacy problem for another. In particular, they would be ineffective against suspects who know enough to use caps to evade the recognition, but a privacy problem for ordinary citizens who do not use caps.

Re:Uh? (2)

Spad (470073) | about 3 years ago | (#37069136)

...ordinary citizens who do not use caps

I'm not sure that the use of hats is quite as specialised a field as you make out.

Re:Uh? (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about 3 years ago | (#37069184)

...but a privacy problem for ordinary citizens who do not use caps.

Sure, but this sword cuts both ways. If (big if) Britain did somehow become an oppressive police state overnight and ordinary citizens needed to protect themselves from it, they'd just start wearing baseball caps. You can't realistically stop anyone from doing that given they fit inside a pocket. Apparatus of oppression dismantled, just like that.

But contrary to frequent Slashdot fantasty, the UK is the exact opposite of a police state. It has a police force stretched so thin it took days to build up a big enough force to stop the riots, and water cannons had to be imported as there were none on the mainland. Despite that the police budget is going to be cut dramatically in the near future. The riot was triggered by (but not caused by) a special division of the police shooting someone who seems to have been a violent gangster .... note that normal police such as those quelling the riots don't have guns and so anytime someone is shot by the police it triggers a massive investigation, press coverage etc.

As a British citizen living abroad, I worry that we're going to see the exact opposite of a police state develop ..... rather, a state so enfeebled by huge budget cuts it can't even oppress those most deserving of it, let alone (largely hypothetical) political dissidents.

Re:Uh? (1)

trust_jmh (651322) | about 3 years ago | (#37069542)

This is the big test of the surveillance state that London has become. Are all those cameras effective, or just taking a toll on privacy without bringing added security?"

OK, firstly, London is a city not a state.

"surveillance state" It is unambiguous enough in this sentence not to need hyphenating.

But it's the second part of this sentence I have problems with. There are two possibilities.

No. Privacy has more scope than just being/not-being identified.

Re:Uh? (1)

Translation Error (1176675) | about 3 years ago | (#37071970)

I don't see any way cameras can be both ineffective and a privacy problem simultaneously. If they don't work then they are, at best, an expensive placebo.

Easily: false positives.

Re:Uh? (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 3 years ago | (#37072008)

It is reasonable to expect cameras, software, and related equipment to steadily improve. There are no intrinsic barriers to this becoming highly effective technology EVEN IF IT'S ONLY MODERATELY EFFECTIVE NOW.
UAVs were once less effective than manned Forward Air Controllers. Now they can loiter over a battlespace 24/7 in rotation and provide constant combat surveillance. IED teams can be tracked from where they assemble to their IED placement location and dealt with.

Re:Uh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37073848)

"Surveillance State" is a phrase, not a literal description.

I don't wear hoods or baseball caps. Maybe I'll start dressing like a damn thug and carrying electronic counter measures just so I can get some privacy.

My face... (2)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | about 3 years ago | (#37068126)

I'm glad the police can use this technology THIS TIME- although it is quite scary that it is progressing so much (and who knows when it will be used for less approvable scenarios). What the police have today corporations and criminals will have tomorrow (or is it the other way around). You can't escape it either. I stay away from Facebook and the like- but the fact that I'm a hot sexy beast means other people take photos of me and post it online. Even though I actively stay away from Facebook and other sites that catalogue my life- I'm still exposed via others.

I PREDICTED THIS (2)

improfane (855034) | about 3 years ago | (#37068130)

I predicted this a while back [slashdot.org] .

Just remember, if you have strong views and opinions. Then you post about them on your Facebook. You are a ridiculously easy target to find. They are catalogued forever and for the rest of your life. If political correctness changes (and it will) then you could find yourself in a situation where you have done things that now the general public believes is abhorable. You are suddenly the target.

Just go to YourOpenBook.org [youropenbook.org] and search

  • not racist but
  • boss
  • slept with
  • laid
  • the prophet

Incriminating huh? I can find people of any faith/religion or political motivation or even recent transgressions. Who they've slept with, what they believe etc. Whether or not they hate their boss. Ironically you need to execute Javascript from Facebook.com so they could in theory track your searches. So now we can track the people who are looking for people to persecute and we can use it to persecute. Nothing can possibly go wrong!
What's to stop someone from searching for your minority opinion and silencing you?

If that's not enough, there are plenty of reasons [slashdot.org] why you should quit.

I was curious but found some funny ones (1)

improfane (855034) | about 3 years ago | (#37068218)

"Last night is slept with my boss's daughter...im such a lucky bustard " (female)

"4# I slept with my bestfriends girlfriend cos I wanted to get one over on him :) " (male)

"OMG! X X has just admitted that she has slept with a vicar! What a disgrace!!! " (female)

"wen u kod me a hure(bitch) u 4gt that the last tym i slept with ur father thats wen he sprayd the sour u in ma womb...watch ur mouth... " (male)

The last one confuses me. I am guessing that some of these are just rumours but that doesn't mean people won't believe them. I believe the Google CEO was right about kids having to change their names...

Re:I PREDICTED THIS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37074036)

I predicted this a while back.

I read that little linked post. I don't see how you can claim it as a prediction.

PS: if you use this in your dissertation or thesis please at least link to me here.

When I read this, it occurred to me that you may be a little full of yourself. For some reason, I think that anything I might have to say to you will be discarded or openly rejected in favor of your own version of reality.

Is it really "taking a toll on privacy"? (2)

Absolut187 (816431) | about 3 years ago | (#37068142)

How is it "taking a toll on privacy" to collect data on people's behavior IN PUBLIC PLACES?
And when they catch someone doing something illegal - e.g. rioting, murder, mayhem - how is it any worse - from a "privacy" perspective - to use facial recognition to determine the person's identity?
Isn't the summary just knee-jerk anti-authority hype?

Re:Is it really "taking a toll on privacy"? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37068272)

How is it "taking a toll on privacy" to collect data on people's behavior IN PUBLIC PLACES?

It also records the times when you entered and left private property. They can follow a person from the time he/she left his/her appartment all the way while they travel to their favourite sex-shop.
Not a big deal perhaps, unless you live next to the camera operator and he/she has a grudge against you for some reason.

Also, try to collect data on a policemans behavior in public places and you will see how public it really is.

Re:Is it really "taking a toll on privacy"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37080648)

They can't do that easily. Most CCTV in the UK is privately owned and not connected to anything other than a video recorder. To follow someone from their home to the sex shop they would need to get the tapes from all the CCTV systems on route, and realistically most people don't have a CCTV camera pointing at their front door or even anywhere near their homes (people who live above shops may be an exception here).

Re:Is it really "taking a toll on privacy"? (2)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about 3 years ago | (#37068280)

Because people actually live in public places. Stalking is an invasion while just walking behind somebody for a short while is not. Seeing someone in public is something totally different than collecting every public presence and store the data. Always-on cameras ARE an invasion to privacy.

search warrant (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about 3 years ago | (#37074572)

Just like search warrants. The only question is how to regulate it, not whether to use it or not.

Re:Is it really "taking a toll on privacy"? (3, Insightful)

rufty_tufty (888596) | about 3 years ago | (#37068424)

Easy, because this is a complex issue. To over simplify:
Most people seem to have no problem with using all the technology at their disposal to catch these rioters. This includes CCTV, face recognition etc.
Next time there is a problem they can say "well we used this technology before." Then you get feature creep where they use it for every crime. Then they use it for suspicion of a crime. Next thing it's police principle to pull people over because the face recognition software thought they looked like someone who dropped a piece of litter three months back.
You might even argue this is acceptable, but the worry for me is how do I defend against the accusation? I have no evidence for my innocence except the CCTV that I have access to. It might be public CCTV cameras but if only the police have access then you can imagine a corrupt officer could frame trouble makers with relative ease. Or at least select amoungst the guilty to target his favourite pressure group.
You might be fine with all of this and say I'm worrying over nothing and I might be, but the only thing that would make me 100% comfortable with this is if the public CCTV cameras' records were publicly available so that we all could defend ourselves. more than that I'd want access to CCTV of the police investigating their case against me.
But I don't see any of that happening.
So do I have a problem with this at the moment? No. But as the old saying goes, first they came after the Jews, but I wasn't a Jew so did nothing; then they came after the gays, etc.. Then they came after me and there was no-one left. You have to stop these things before they get to the point whereby they come after you.
What has worried me about these riots if what happens if we in the UK ever had to violently overthrow a corrupt government? What happens if democracy stops working. If I understand the US, then the second amendment was partially intended to allow the citizens to get rid of a corrupt government; too many of these tools that are only in the hand of the government is a worrying scenario.

Re:Is it really "taking a toll on privacy"? (1)

improfane (855034) | about 3 years ago | (#37068676)

Unfortunately I've used all my mod points. Your post is spot on.

Our government *is* corrupt. Case in point; the Digital Economies Bill and Peter Mandelson.

Re:Is it really "taking a toll on privacy"? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#37068832)

Yes, cameras are just like hauling people off and gassing them.

It's an appeal to emotion fallacy to make the slippery slope fallacy seem legit.
If you need to overthrown the government, then you do it in mass. Cameras can't STOP you, then can only be used to find out you did it, and if you change the government, then who cares what's on 'tape'?

Re:Is it really "taking a toll on privacy"? (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about 3 years ago | (#37069094)

You might be fine with all of this and say I'm worrying over nothing and I might be, but the only thing that would make me 100% comfortable with this is if the public CCTV cameras' records were publicly available so that we all could defend ourselves.

Fortunately, they are (kind of). I don't remember the name of the show (anyone know?) but some years ago there was a comedy series that involved the creator going in to shops, stores, etc and making a fool of himself. The astonished onlookers reactions were being recorded by CCTV but otherwise there were no cameras. Then the TV company used data protection laws to claim the footage of themselves and turned it into a TV show. I don't think it lasted very long after the novelty wore off, but it made the principle clear - you can request CCTV of yourself. I think it may be gated on having some kind of reason or maybe you have to pay a small fee to compensate the owner for their time.

CCTV, facial recognition, these things are complex issues. The limits of state power are something that have been debated for thousands of years. The people in Parliament are not stupid and recognize that government power has benefits and costs, they weigh it up when they pass laws as they know they too will be subject to those very same laws they passed. Politicians dislike being hoisted by their own petard, so that acts as one of many brakes on abuses of power.

Re:Is it really "taking a toll on privacy"? (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 3 years ago | (#37074100)

Benefits to who and costs to who? Frequently those are differing "who"'s with differing amounts of political power.

Don't expect this to self-correct without a lot of public pressure. Even that might be optimistic.

I don't really know about Britain, but in the US we seem to have been on a one-way trip towards a dictatorship since Nixon. What Nixon got impeached for wouldn't even make headlines today.

Re:Is it really "taking a toll on privacy"? (1)

JosKarith (757063) | about 3 years ago | (#37069098)

In theory you can submit a FOI request for footage of an incident, or of a certain time. In practice the footage is "unavailable" or "destroyed" just before you made the request.
Mark Thomas did a series of programs on this - he'd take a Morris dancing team and get them to dance up and down in front of a building with CCTV for an hour, then put in a FOI request a week or so later. The number of cases where they "couldn't find the particular piece of footage" was shocking.

Re:Is it really "taking a toll on privacy"? (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | about 3 years ago | (#37073960)

"But I don't see any of that happening."

First of all: In the U.S. for sure, and I assume also in UK, every criminal defendant has a right to be confronted with the evidence against him. So an erroneous facial recognition decision could be challenged at trial, before a jury of your peers.

Second: Rather than comparing the camera system to a hypothetical dystopian vision for the camera system, let's compare it to the justice system we have had for the previous 100,000+ years since we evolved. In the old system, people were and still are frequently sent to prison or executed based on nothing but the testimony of another human being. Unfortunately, people lie. People have horrible memories. Frankly, I'd prefer to be on camera if I'm accused of a crime.

Consider the case of Louis Gonzalez: Falsely accused of rape by an ex-wife, he was lucky enough to be exonerated by a video camera at a bank that he just happened to withdraw money from at the time of the (fake) attack.
http://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&q=divorce+rape+camera+bank&oq=divorce+rape+camera+bank&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=858l10421l0l11965l24l21l0l9l3l1l265l1903l3.5.4l12#sclient=psy&hl=en&source=hp&q=Louis+Gonzalez+rape+bank+video&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.&fp=7512599086c5bd64&biw=1024&bih=659 [google.com]

Re:Is it really "taking a toll on privacy"? (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about 3 years ago | (#37074610)

Many of your concerns can be addressed by having CCTV data not running directly to police, rather handled by court (like search warrants) or a similar independent institution, where citizens can have a right to access all the recordings where they are present.

Re:Is it really "taking a toll on privacy"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37068640)

Because of the collecting?

Oops (1)

SydShamino (547793) | about 3 years ago | (#37068144)

Clearly the rioters forgot to wear their Guy Fawkes masks.

Re:Oops (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37068472)

Now I'm curious as to how many Guy Fawkes masks were looted during the riots. How does it compare to the amount of jewelry, electronics, alcohol, food, and diapers and formula?

Let Facebook do it! (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 years ago | (#37068216)

If you make a Facebook account and upload a pic of a rioter who is also on Facebook, wouldn't they be auto-tagged?

From Hell's gate I stab at thee (1)

HangingChad (677530) | about 3 years ago | (#37068226)

May I present the latest in facial recognition software defense [amazon.com] . The $0.25 solution.

Re:From Hell's gate I stab at thee (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 3 years ago | (#37069126)

I present a comparably cheap [amazon.com] but better solution as it allows you to both hide and distort facial features. Another option would be to use a paper mask as you could put what ever face you wanted on it and frame someone else since we all know pictures never lie.

Surveillance state (3, Insightful)

Fuzzums (250400) | about 3 years ago | (#37068366)

Well. One thing 5000 cameras DIDN'T do is stop people from looting.

Re:Surveillance state (4, Insightful)

MadKeithV (102058) | about 3 years ago | (#37068750)

Well. One thing 5000 cameras DIDN'T do is stop people from looting.

Next time they should obviously begin by looting the cameras.

Re:Surveillance state (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37070896)

This.

Re:Surveillance state (0)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 3 years ago | (#37068814)

Yup, so I call the cameras, etc. "failed". The idea of security is to prevent something from happening - not cleaning up the mess after it happened.

Re:Surveillance state (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 3 years ago | (#37069206)

Yup, so I call the cameras, etc. "failed". The idea of security is to prevent something from happening - not cleaning up the mess after it happened.

Right, so logging is completely useless on websites and triggers are completely useless on databases and checksums are completely useless on files?

After all none of these things would prevent someone busting into your site or using it inappropriately. They sure as hell might help you figure out when the breakin occurred though, figure out what was touched, which route the attacker took to get in and possibly reveal enough information to find the attacker was and prove it in court.

It's called security in depth. I'm sure most CCTV is used after the fact but it's blatantly obvious it serves an important role.

Re:Surveillance state (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 3 years ago | (#37069130)

Well. One thing 5000 cameras DIDN'T do is stop people from looting.

No, but I bet they let the police know where trouble was occurring and more rapidly respond to it. I also bet that when they did arrest people the CCTV footage would make for very strong evidence that could secure a conviction.

Re:Surveillance state (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 3 years ago | (#37072376)

That's a job for overwhelming physical force to interdict and disrupt the mob BEFORE it gets momentum.

This is an entertaining demonstration that government will NOT protect honest citizens. The three men were killed with a car while trying to peacefully protect their area from rioters, or the fellow who just died in hospital after being beaten for trying to stop rioters setting fire to rubbish bins, are what you get when rioting is seen as acceptable by government.

Rioters should be met with overwhelming less-lethal force including plastic bullets, tear gas, water cannon, and every "less-lethal" asset available. I don't care if some die because they are bad humans, but killing them "accidentally" is a wiser political choice.

I demand the government keep me, as a good citizen, safe from the bad citizens and don't give a shit what is done to looters. I don't loot, so no problem.

hackers claim scotlard is a bunch a losers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37068392)

then he promptly puts some puddy on and make up and looks just like hte guy scotland yard said uses facial recognition.
muhaha is it true?

Don't see anything wrong this (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 3 years ago | (#37068600)

I expect the police have a large collection of mugshots to work off, and lots of high and low quality pictures of looters in action, plus random pics taken in and around the time of the crimes. So why not cross reference one set of pics to the other and see what matches come up? It might certainly provide leads that let them track someone done. They'd still have to prove it in court of course.

The do waht cameras do (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#37068772)

Take images of something so people can look at it after the fact.

The value of the cameras will be prosecution.

Cameras aren't an issue. Who they are implanted, the laws, and the response people can make against them are.

Optional Surveillance state (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37068846)

Anyone want to take a bet that Facebook is the best facial recognition vendor for governments...

Obviously not contributing to security (1)

eth1 (94901) | about 3 years ago | (#37069830)

Are all those cameras effective, or just taking a toll on privacy without bringing added security?

Well, they didn't prevent the rioting and looting, so they obviously weren't contributing to security, just enabling punishment after the fact.

The only way to get security is to take the responsibility on yourself - this sort of thing probably wouldn't get far in my neighborhood, because my neighbors and I are willing (and able) to to protect ourselves (we'd be in our front yards with rifles & shotguns, most likely).

Re:Obviously not contributing to security (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 3 years ago | (#37072408)

The NRA has documented the effectiveness of armed citizens in LA when the beasts rioted.

If you have to, prepare expedient firing positions and have some cover handy so you won't be a standing target. Conduct military operations professionally and you will take fewer losses.

Why Are They Rioting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37070422)

"Scotland Yard confirms that it's using facial recognition technology to identify rioters in London."

And they wonder why everybody in London is rioting.

With TSA people sliding their hands down our children's pants, I am amazed that we in the U.S. haven't smashed every pane of glass in every airport in the country.

2nd Cameron Proposal (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 3 years ago | (#37070534)

Make the sale and possession of hooded shirts illegal.

pray. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37071432)

This is the beginning of the end of the UK as we know it today.

This will spread to the US and it will be bloody.

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