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CCTV - The Fifth Utility

CmdrTaco posted more than 13 years ago | from the stuff-to-read dept.

Privacy 282

An anonymous reader sent in a solid story discussing the fifth utility, or, the closed caption surveliance systems in Britain. Lots of background information on encryption and privacy issues. But in the end, a very good story covering a lot of issues that might be second nature to many readers of this site, but maybe not to the average newspaper reader.

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Re:CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#289609)

From America looking out, foreign customs seem just as, er, foreign.
Yes, guns are dangerous. That's why we demanded the right to keep them -- we had to start a little revolt a while back you might remember (happy Patriot's Day eve), and the only way to ensure that the govt doesn't put us in that situation again is to make sure that the scales stay balanced. To butcher Ayn Rand, how can I delegate to the government the ability to bear arms if /I/ don't have that right?

I think other countries mistake our drug/alcohol policies for puritanical religious views. If that were the case, I wouldn't defend them as I am atheist. Many USians view on drugs & alcohol are that while they may or may not be intrinsically bad in a closed environment, in the real world they can and are major problems for those people who can't handle their chemicals. Are we supposed to allow blanket permission, and then when it fucks someone up (sometimes for life) tell them sorry & point them to rehab? I'd rather we do everything in our power to prevent drugs from ruining those people's lives in the first place. If to do this I have to sacrifice the entertainment of those who /can/ handle their stuff, well, sorry, but there's a greater need.

Anyway, believe it or not, if you walk down the street smoking a joint in the US, you most likely will not end up in jail that night unless you're stupid about it. But we don't tolerate cameras and mj sniffers on every corner for our protection...

So if I don't subscribe to CCTV... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#289610)

Will all the videos of me just have a big smiley yellow face with "Anonymous Coward" printed underneath it as I walk in front of the cameras?

TV tuner cards (1)

Isaac-Lew (623) | more than 13 years ago | (#289611)

In the UK, if you have a TV card in your PC, does it count as a television?

Re:CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences. (2)

AndyS (655) | more than 13 years ago | (#289613)

This reads to me like a troll, but I'll bite anyway I actually have (relatively) little problem with CCTV, but "honest politicians"? What a joke! PPP (large interests pushing the government to pick the absolute worst option for financing the London Underground), Tobacco's exemption from Formula 1 Racing, The changes in the copyright law that are like the DCMA but without even the token "fair use" comments in the bill, as well as people like Geoffrey Robinson who appears to have monied many members of parliament... and so on. The government might not quite be to the legalised influence buying position that's tolerated in America, but it's hardly perfect. And the police - well, they're humans too, and they mess up - unless you missed the huge number of bad convictions and the many miscarriages of justice. The worst part is that British law (generally) used to be designed to be incorruptible. With the (seemingly heralded) removal of double jeopardy laws and the slippery slope trodden by RIP, it looks like we may be heading in a position which would scare a lot of people.

You are exactly what he is talking about! (2)

Sanity (1431) | more than 13 years ago | (#289619)

So essentially your response to this is that the British government, unlike every other government on the planet, is completely trustworthy because Gordon Brown is a salt-of-the-earth kinda guy, and the British police are flawless?

Is this the same government which pays for a security service (MI6) which has the capability of censoring any information regarding how they spend the taxpayers money. Are these the same police who, on several occasions, framed innocent people for the purposes of providing sacraficial lambs after a number of IRA terrorist attacks in the 70s? Are these the same police who are virtually invisible on the streets of London until after a crime has been committed (which they see on their beloved CCTV)?

The article is right, the British have no experience of totalitarian government, and as a result people like you think that it could never happen in Britain. I am sure that totalitarian government was probably the last thing on the German's minds in the 1920s too. The main difference is that Hitler never came close to the surveillance capabilities that the British government now have.

Note: And before you dismiss me as a dumb yank who knows nothing, I spent 6 years living in the UK (4 in Scotland, 2 in London), and originate from Dublin, Ireland. I even went through 6 months of police training in Scotland before deciding that the police wasn't for me.

--

Is that so clever? (2)

Sanity (1431) | more than 13 years ago | (#289620)

I am not sure that abusing a law designed to protect the public interest is really all that funny.

--

huh (2)

Sanity (1431) | more than 13 years ago | (#289621)

Er, if you actually read the sentences you quote from my post you will see that I am Irish.

--

crying wolf (2)

Sanity (1431) | more than 13 years ago | (#289622)

The point is that if the government creates a good law, then by-all-means, use it the way it was intended, but don't provide ammunition for those who would prevent such laws in the future by abusing them. How does using the Data Protection Act to force a fast-food chain to hand over CCTV footage of you achieve anything other than pissing people off?

--

perfect government (3)

Sanity (1431) | more than 13 years ago | (#289623)

It is the freedom not to be forced to trust your government.

--

"No expectation of privacy" bullshit (1)

AxelBoldt (1490) | more than 13 years ago | (#289624)

All you need to protect privacy is to have it anchored in your constitution. Simply make sure that everyone who stores personal information can do so only after having obtained consent. All the technical gimmicks are then pointless, because they couldn't be legally used.

The obsession with "expectation of privacy" in the US comes from the fact that the Supreme Court has construed its right to privacy too narrow: you only have a right to privacy if you believe that you are currently private. In a world full of CCTV's, the right to privacy therefore is history. This is no issue for countries with properly protected privacy rights.

--

Re:What a troll. (or, why you should be afraid.) (2)

luge (4808) | more than 13 years ago | (#289644)

Of course. But if you are going to twist them to prove whatever you want to, at least start with the right ones.

What a troll. (or, why you should be afraid.) (5)

luge (4808) | more than 13 years ago | (#289648)

The fair, brotherly cops and respectable politicians are the source of enough institutional racism that the UN is getting involved. [cnn.com] Your government has investigated the cops [usnews.com] and found them guilty of pervasive racial bias. Heck, your own officers [www.bpa.cc] don't even believe that their fellow cops are fair or brotherly.

BTW, the rate of church attendance is more like 44% in the US and 27% in the UK. [umich.edu] The University of Michigan has one of the most respected social sciences/statistics departments in the world, so please don't come back here claiming otherwise.

And as far as New Labour and the "Third Way" being responsive to the people... well, it's about as believable as hearing the same thing from Clinton. It is true that the British government isn't bought and sold as brazenly as ours is, but it is just as responsive as any other government when dollars (or pounds, as the case may be) are at issue. [frontlineonline.com] When those businesses want to start invading your privacy more brazenly, you can be sure that MI5 will be there to help out. [sunday-times.co.uk]

In conclusion- either you are a damn good troll or you are pretty deluded about the society you live in. Hope it is the latter... it is never too late to learn.

~luge

"TV License" (2)

FFFish (7567) | more than 13 years ago | (#289653)

Would some kind Brit please explain the whys and wherefores of "Television Licensing?" Does it include televisions that aren't connected to cable? Televisions that are used only to watch videotapes, and never pull signal from the radiowaves? How about those 2" LCD televisions? Mega-sized ones? Are there different classes and payment schedules? And how long are you incarcerated if you're found without a license?

It's such an alien concept, for a Canadian who's used to getting several free, high-quality channels in almost any part of the country...


--

Re:"TV License" (2)

FFFish (7567) | more than 13 years ago | (#289654)

I live in the Okanagan, BC, and get BCTV, CHBC, and some French channel. Worth noting that BCTV and CHBC are now owned by the same mothercompany.

Canada collects a fee (we call it income tax) that pays for the signals broadcast over the airwaves (ie. CBC). But you knew this.

What I don't grok is why Britain expends a whole lotta resources demanding TV licenses and enforcing those licenses, when they've already got a tax system in place.

Let's hear it from a real Limey.


--

not closed caption (1)

eht (8912) | more than 13 years ago | (#289658)

cctv is closed circuit television, as per
everything2 [everything2.com]

Privacy (2)

winterstorm (13189) | more than 13 years ago | (#289663)

People who desire their privacy are not maniacs.

Re:Why is everyone so angry? (1)

HeghmoH (13204) | more than 13 years ago | (#289664)

The trouble is, it's not a matter of whether I'm doing anything wrong. It's when I've done something illegal that I have something to fear. Illegal and wrong match up pretty badly. Totalitarian states typically make so many pointless, useless, and weird laws that everybody has broken at least one of them, and the Western democracies are picking up on that. You don't have to be a murderer or even a pickpocket to be targetted by these guys; you just have to be disliked by City Hall, or even just the night shift manager at the monitoring facility.

Re:No. (1)

Grey (14278) | more than 13 years ago | (#289665)

There have never been slaves on British soil.

America was only free if you were a white man of property.

Complete false, the Romans had slaves. The British had slave during the 1700s, they had serfs. They had indetured servitude until the late 1800s which is slavery except it doesn't count your children.

The same was true of the Greate Britian at the same time, and her colonies. In canada the equivelent of a green card is still called Landed immergrent status, because you didn't get the right to vote until you had land. IN the US any none enslaved man had the right to vore from day one, many years before the any common wealth contry.

Re:Eh? (1)

Grey (14278) | more than 13 years ago | (#289666)

Ahh the police aren't watching you, so its ok then? It a contraced private company so that's better? I think that it's worse esp, since now you have a company that isn't even marginally beholden to the public like the goverment is. Also that is the case now, imagent in 10-15 years when there are 10x time as many cammers, networked with some ok AI behind them. Also part of my argument is that they can be used by the goverment for harrasment which well it doesn't matter who is watch and the more the worse it it.

As for people who want to be watched, Jefferson, Franklin, and Volare. They are will to give up freedom for safty and so they will get neither, and neither will any one else!!! Plus I doubt that the cameras will actually help, they don't in toronto, ca lots of muggings happen infront of the security cammeras at night, the police are overworked, and spread thing if they not there they are not going to help.

Also their was a time when the drug laws wern't dracona in the US that time was the 1970s, it changed in one goverment, under Ronald Regan, and just think the US govement is optimised to get nothing done. Also you are relying on the police being nice to you which is not the case if your a poltical dissident, just the opposite actually.

Re:CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences. (2)

Grey (14278) | more than 13 years ago | (#289668)

Just remember, these cameras are not used to spy, and never will be. They are used by the police, who are famous around the world for fairness and correct, brotherly behaviour.

CCTV is an excellent criminal deterrance.

They may befamous in the last 100 years or so for their brotherly behaviour. But not though recorded history. Try reading a little history what it was like for Trade Unionist in the 1800s or people of other relgions in th 1700s, and say that agin. In fact though most of British History the police have been used as an oppresive force, just becuase they are not lately doesn't negate this fact, or mean they won't again, see the police in the US during the '60s.

and in closeing the obligitory reference to Tomas Jefferson, Frankeln and Voltare.

Those who would give up libertry for freedom will get neither.

Re:Eh? (2)

Grey (14278) | more than 13 years ago | (#289669)

The right not to have the police following you around all the time, waiting for you so commite some crime so they can arrest you. This may seam a little odd to you since the police are such nice fellows at the moment in england. (Or at least aren't after you) But as a tool of an oppresive goverment CCTVs every where are great, they can follow anyone and every one and take notes. Check out what happen to Jim Bel [about.com] http://civilliberty.about.com/newsissues/civillibe rty/library/weekly/aa041101a.htm esentually the policy state of the IS decided they didn't like what he wrote and investgated until they could arrest him on a trumpted up charge.

Ubiquitous camars give more power to the police which is allmost allway though out history a bad think for people.

As a right how about the right to be free of police harrasment? But then lots of people have the opion that if you have done nothing wrong then you have nothing to hide. Please make sure that your havn't done any of the following.

  • used or posesed any illegal drugs
  • broken trafic laws
  • Payed all you taxes (including on mail orders)
  • Informed the police about all knowen felloies (Its a crime not to here in the US
  • never been involed in a physical altercation
  • Always put the correct Identfication on offical forms
  • ...
If you can say yes to the whole list then you ahead of 99% of the general public in any country.

Re:CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences. (2)

Mike Schiraldi (18296) | more than 13 years ago | (#289672)

All this means that our government is much less scary. We can trust it to set up CCTV systems and not use them to spy, but only to deter criminals.

Neat! I've got this great new technology that scans internet traffic, but don't worry, it won't be used to spy, just to deter criminals. Like people who trade MP3s, or DeCSS, or sell items from 1940s-Germany.

And i've got this new device to put in cars - it calls the cops when you go above the speed limit. But don't worry, only criminals have any reason to be afraid.

And we're going to institute a new program in bars, to make sure nobody under 21 is drinking. If they are, the authorities are notified immediately. But don't worry, non-criminals like ourselves have nothing to fear.

--

Re:CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences. (1)

skryche (26871) | more than 13 years ago | (#289684)

However, in Britain we have a more socialist, left wing government, one that is not friendly to business or private interests.

Yikes. Don't you ever watch any Mark Thomas? Big business looks pretty cozy with the British government to me.

They are used by the police, who are famous around the world for fairness and correct, brotherly behaviour.

Now I think you must be trolling. Police do what their bosses tell them, whether its nice or not so nice.

Mark Thomas (1)

Nodatadj (28279) | more than 13 years ago | (#289685)

UK counter culture comedian MArk Thomas did a show on CCTV, and he discovered that the Data Protection Act means that you (the public) can demand by law any CCTV footage that contains you. And if the company or council or whoever has the CCTV camera doesn't, you can report them and they get in trouble. It doesn't mean very much, but it does mean that the company has to go through the hassle of checking all their CCTV footage to make sure that you're not on it, or they get a large fine.

On the show he took a bunch of morris dancers to the town that has the most CCTV cameras per capita, and made them dance in front of the cameras for a few hours. Then he sent the council his 10pounds (thats the charge for this "service") and a letter and some photos of the morris dancers and asked for the copies of any footage. The council replied that they couldn't identify anyone in the videos, so he filed a complaint, and I think they got fined (but I don't remember).

He also had a competition running for whoever could make the best movie/short film only using footage from these CCTV cameras.

Closed Circuit, not Caption (2)

s390 (33540) | more than 13 years ago | (#289689)

what CC means on your TV isn't what it means in surveillance.

Fight Back? (1)

metacosm (45796) | more than 13 years ago | (#289695)

If this is a real issue -- the public has a right to fight it. Couldn't a laser pointer/something more powerful really damage a camera? There has to be a way to damage them -- and if the public has an outcry and fights them, they will go away. I think the _real_ issue is the public WANTS them!

Re:Typical British Self Promotion (1)

growler66 (52493) | more than 13 years ago | (#289696)

Uh oh, someone else who's been watching too many American films. The British did indeed crack Enigma. The US however were a little slow to take up how useful this was and repeatedly ignored Enigma decodes loosing a lot of shipping to German U boats as a result. I sugest you do a review of your WWII history :-p

Re:TLA???? License for a TV? (1)

growler66 (52493) | more than 13 years ago | (#289697)

I prefer the tax to the adverts :-)

Re:Typical British Self Promotion (1)

growler66 (52493) | more than 13 years ago | (#289698)

All I can remember is that the ship supporting the operation was the HMS Bulldog :-) I seem to remember that it happened before the US got round to joining in with the war, but I cant be sure.

Re:They didn't crack crap (1)

growler66 (52493) | more than 13 years ago | (#289699)

Actualy I think you'll find they had the basics worked out by the time they got hold of one of the enigma machines... before that only a small number of messages could be decoded, and they took a long time.

Re:Why is everyone so angry? (1)

growler66 (52493) | more than 13 years ago | (#289700)

And? I still dont see the problem. The only people who have anything to fear from these systems is the criminals, and I fail to see how that can be a bad thing.

Re:TLA???? License for a TV? (2)

growler66 (52493) | more than 13 years ago | (#289704)

Ah, but we dont have to suffer adverts on the BBC TV chans, or radio stations. After seeing how American cable TV is I'm damn glad we pay not to suffer things like that.

Why? (2)

growler66 (52493) | more than 13 years ago | (#289705)

I have heard several arguements like this before, and from reading the comments I see that a lot of people belive that CCTV is evil (or something like that).

CCTV is not some massive invasion of privicy. I cant walk down to my local pub without being 'seen' by the CCTV systems, but lets face it, do I care if Dave at GCHQ knows I've gone down the pub? Personaly I rather like the fact that the two guys that then jump me for my cash also get caught on camera. Dont take this as meaning Britain has a massive crime rate, because it doesnt, I've never been mugged and I suspect this is partly down to CCTV as mugging someone in front of a camera is hardly a great idea.

If the cameras were pointed into your house, or fitted in your bathroom I could see the problem, but they're not. They're in public places covering parks, major shopping areas, etc, not often do you see them in residential areas unless the area has a crime problem.

Much of the security network that's in place is due to the problem the UK has with the IRA. When a terrorist group spends most of it's free time blowing up chunks of your major cities you tend to get a little parrinoid about it. Anywhere that is likely to be bombed is covered with CCTV equiptment. Anyone who's been to London may have noticed the lack of any litter bins on the London Underground, they've all been removed as they were too easy a place to put bombs.

I'd far rather the police know I go to the Elm Tree for 3 pints of bitter every Thursday, have an email address for my dog and make mobile phone calls to people less than 2 metres away from me, than to find myself vapourised when a terrorist group decides my road would look nicer as a crater and no one notices them [plan to] leave a large quantity of Semtex lying arround.

If I'm not making much sense I appologise, it's 0200 and I've had a hard day :-p

Re:You are exactly what he is talking about! (2)

barracg8 (61682) | more than 13 years ago | (#289710)

  • Note: And before you dismiss me as a dumb yank who knows nothing, I spent 6 years living in the UK (4 in Scotland, 2 in London), and originate from Dublin, Ireland. I even went through 6 months of police training in Scotland before deciding that the police wasn't for me.
The original post was about cultural differences. Do you not think that the fact that you were (by the sound of your post) born and brought up in the US may contribute to the fact that you feel this way?

Eg, I am english, and I believe in gun control. If I had been brought up in the states I would probably believe in the right to bear arms. But I wasn't so I don't.

I am not trying to say you are right or wrong - just that people in this country are different.

Re:Why? (2)

barracg8 (61682) | more than 13 years ago | (#289711)

  • but lets face it, do I care if Dave at GCHQ knows I've gone down the pub?
Lets face it, does Dave at GCHQ care if you've gone down the pub?

It seems that using CCTV to spy on the general public would be both amazingly man-hour intensive and amazingly dull and pointless, as exercise for GCHQ/CESG/NSA.

Re:Eh? (2)

barracg8 (61682) | more than 13 years ago | (#289712)

  • Ahh the police aren't watching you, so its ok then? It a contraced private company so that's better? I think that it's worse esp, since now you have a company that isn't even marginally beholden to the public like the goverment is.
Whoa - this paranoia is going to kill you, I'd hate to have your blood preasure. Now lets slowly put down the crack pipe and talk about this rationally.

CCTV was fitted in an area I used to live in. Not a high crime area - cameras were really fitted for the peace of mind of the elderly (who made up a large slice of the population), but street violence was halved over the first year. The cameras were paid for and fitted by the local council. A friend of a friend was hired as an operator - a bored 17year old kid, working for minimum wage (well, this is before a minimum wage was enforced, but you get the idea). He would go along and sit there, bored out of his little mind, twiddling the joysticks or reading a magazine, just sitting it out. He said that there were only staff rostered to man the cameras half of the time, due to costs.

Okay, so the guys as CESG monitor our comunications. So what? The guys at NSA are monitoring yours - it's all the same thing. Be serious - beyond echelon, there is no great government conspiracy - and the man-hours it would take to spy on the general population with these cameras would be a poor way for the spooks to spend their time.

Re:Is that so clever? (3)

barracg8 (61682) | more than 13 years ago | (#289715)

  • Is that so clever?
Yes it is - using humor and entertainment to put across a serious and definitely non-mainstream political agenda is a very good idea.

Mark Thomas would not get the audience and the platform to speak from if he did not play around and do silly stuff like this. But at the same time he demonstrated the power of the DPA, for example forcing a government department to hand over all the emails on their systems mentioning his name. He exposed a minister requesting a civil servant try to dig up dirt on him (MT). Not exactly the way you would expect a government ministry to spend taxpayers money - launching smear campaigns against stand-up comics.

infotainment has its place.

Re:Eh? (4)

barracg8 (61682) | more than 13 years ago | (#289716)

  • The right not to have the police following you around all the time, waiting for you so commite some crime so they can arrest you.
First of all, the police are not watching you - for the simple reason that it would cost too much. Councils contract private security companies to staff CCTV systems, since the police are already over streached - and the CCTV operators will only bother calling the police if they see a crime in progress.

Secondly, some people do want to be watched. For example, I heard of a pilot scheme in one city in the UK, where there is a phone number that a single woman walking home alone at night can ring. She can leave her description, a time, and roughly what route she will be following. Now, rather than walking home alone in the dark afraid of being attacked, every time she turns a corner she will be greeted by the sight of a CCTV camera turning to focus in on her. Having a big brother to watch over you is not always a bad thing.

  • used or posesed any illegal drugs
To quote the subject at the top of this thread, "CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences." Please bear in mind, that in this country, if you are caught smuggling 5 grams of pot into the country it is assumed to be for personal use and you will be given a £70 on the spot fine. Compare that to the US view on drugs smuggling. Cultural differences.

Re:CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences. (5)

barracg8 (61682) | more than 13 years ago | (#289717)

  • Don't you ever watch any Mark Thomas?
Note for non-Brits:
Mark Thomas is a politically motivated comedian-slash-borderline-terrorist (that's meant as a compliment) and probably one of the biggest pains in the government's ass.

One thing that he had great fun playing with in his recent series, (not what prev. poster was talking about, but relevant to CCTV), was the Data Protection Act.

This is a wonderful piece of UK legislation, which allows you to demand any company/organization which holds information about you to give you a copy (with certain exclusions ie some government agencies). So you can walk into MacDonalds, fill out a form while you eat your burger, giving the time, date, a description of yourself, the clothes you are wearing, etc, then hand it in before you leave forcing them to send you a copy of the footage of you sitting there filling out the form.

:-)

This is all wonderfully silly.

D'oh! (2)

schmaltz (70977) | more than 13 years ago | (#289721)

CCTV stands for "Closed-Circuit TV", not "closed caption." It means the signal is generally carried by wire to a monitor or video switcher (although sometimes sent via short-range broadcast), where it is viewed by a Watcher (rent-a-cop etc.)

Re:crying wolf (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 13 years ago | (#289728)

Perhaps it makes the pissed off people question the point of the CCTV in first place. After all, if the cameras weren't there they wouldn't have to worry about fulfilling DPA for CCTV footage...

Cameras for years and you still have bad areas (1)

Rares Marian (83629) | more than 13 years ago | (#289730)

Your argument would hold water if the cameras were being placed in peoples homes, or something outrageous like that. But they aren't.

Being videotaped in public gives people information which is private. By putting it in the database they can correlate where I go Saturday nights, when I leave, what I take with me, where I stop to buy champagne for a private party.

There is no reason to have cameras on streets or driveways. There is nothing to steal on the street. Hey, criminal put that burnt out cigarette back on the ground it's not yours.

In fact, with a camera on MY driveway, the information on it should BE mine.

With cameras on streets, the information should belong to that neighborhood.

There is aboslutely no reason for centralization of all the information.

--What will you do when your next generation sees --them as normal as furniture. And the next have --no innate fear of them and completely ignore --them?

-That is the situation now. CCTV cameras have been -used here for years, to great effect.

You didn't understand my question. What will you do when your next generation doesn't give a damn about the cameras and starts commiting crimes in broad daylight. Chaos is a matter of power. If people don't care anymore your police will helpless to stop them.

The system even has a computer face recognition system that can highlight known criminals and also pinpoint suspicious behaviours completely autonimously. This saves manpower and cuts crime.

As long as criminals give a damn.

Saving manpower is a savings in conscience. Conscience cannot exist without awareness. There's a difference between having a cop watch you and having a cop watching a camera. You can talk to the cop. The camera will not relay your message nor its potential to cause people to reconsider their actions.

CCTV cameras are welcomed by the populace.

And? Oh I'm sorry is there something else you had to say about this? Oh you didn't I see...

I arrest my case.
It has been quietly and successfully used here for many years now.

Why quietly? What are you afraid of? Criticism?

Re:Not really. (1)

Rares Marian (83629) | more than 13 years ago | (#289731)

No, I swear I have never been caught trolling on CCTV.

Cameras: UnusualDeterrentFurniture=Irrelevant (2)

Rares Marian (83629) | more than 13 years ago | (#289733)

The argument would be irrelevant not redundant you troll. But just for the fun of it I'll respond.

Two truths in symmetry:

There can be no ownership without freedom (DeCCS/DVD is a perfect exaple.)

Likewise there can be no freedom without ownership. Jack Valenti himself stated that privacy is a matter of property.

It's why people own land. Did they make the land? No

The liberty to be alone is what is missing. If you cannot be alone you have no safety nor freedom to speak of.

Tell me what is the difference between a prison and the outside world if you're always watched?

What is the difference between a prisoner with a tracking bracelet and cameras everywhere?

Why bother maintaining pride, integrity, and character if your life is to be constantly judged at all times according to the stinking broth of the collective court of pubic opinion?

If steal something in front of cameras available everywhere am I truly caught or am I just going to be given a different place to continue stealing?

Remember society is recycled every 30 years (the average population doubling rate).

You claim Americans see the cameras as being foreign and unusual. I claim you see them as being external as well though in a positive light.

What will you do when your next generation sees them as normal as furniture. And the next have no innate fear of them and completely ignore them?

Sir Churchill would be disgusted I'm quite sure of it.

Closed captioned? (1)

kimihia (84738) | more than 13 years ago | (#289734)

Closed captioned?

Closed circuit!

Someone been watching too many tv programs closed captioned for the thinking impaired?

Re:Transparent Society (2)

shaper (88544) | more than 13 years ago | (#289735)

Make sure that we can watch our leaders and police as easily as they can watch us.

And this is, I think, the key point. Even with my rabid distrust of any government, I would be willing to at least consider allowing such surveillance if my government had to be under my constant surveillance as well.

Unfortunately, that's not how it will ever work. Like every other conversation about government and the governed, it is a basic matter of balance of power. The side that has the greater ability to gather information has more power than the other side and will never willingly give up that advantage. And as far as I know, it has never been the case that citizens in any country have won out in this balance of power, so we are always talking about government surveillance of citizens, not the other way around.

It would be a happy day if we were discussing the constant erosion of some government's operational privacy.

DPA in the USA!!! (1)

Ded Mike (89353) | more than 13 years ago | (#289736)

Yes!!!

But since the Korporations now own our gubbamint here in the good ol' Korporate States of Amerika, served by their Republikan butt-servants, the Kompassionate Konservative Koalition (Keystone Kops Klavern), here in KorpAmerika, we'll never see it. Of course, data that refers to us and can damage our privacy and rights (including our right to life!) doesn't belong to us, the sheeple of the KSA!!! That's only fair. Corporations are MUCH more trustworthy than gubbamint...besides, they can sell the data to the gubbamint and make a tidy profit, never worrying or being responsible for the accuracy of the data!!!!

*sigh* at least we can be happy God and Jesus (and LRH!) are on our side!!! and that one day, everyone in the world will live under our glorious rule!!!

Mark Thomas sounds like Michael Moore (1)

Ded Mike (89353) | more than 13 years ago | (#289737)

...OUR resident curmudgeon.
More info at: http://www.dogeatdogfilms.com/middlepage.html
Sounds like something Mike would do for one of HIS TV shows...
I still want the DPA here in the KSA...at least it would be a start!

Re:"TV License" (2)

BenHmm (90784) | more than 13 years ago | (#289741)

sure, well, the license is obligatory for anyone who runs any TV. It's actually tied to the building/apartment/office, and, yes, you have to have one even if you promise to watch only Sky.

It is a government collected levy and goes entirely to pay for the BBC. Even if you only watch commercial channels this still counts.

This isn't odd: you must remember that the UK is actually quite small geographically: terrestrial broadcast covers the entire country, cable is pretty rare (at least in uptake) and satellite is commercial and subscription based. Everyone can get the BBC, so it's easier and cheaper to enforce it this way. Even cable carries BBC1 and 2 and the cable-only News24, Parliament, Knowledge and UKGold.

It must also be remembered that the LF pays for BBC radio (which is very extensive, with 5 national stations and hundreds of regional ones, the blessed World Service and (controversially) the BBC's websites.

It costs about £100, and you get £3 off if you are legally blind. (honestly) Don't pay and you get a £1000 fine.

IMHO, it's not so bad. The BBC is mostly good on tv - it's commercial free for a start. But it really makes the LF worthwhile with news.bbc.co.uk and the World Service. I'd pay for that alone if I had to.

Oh, and Test Match Special - but you'd never understand that, old chap.

Re:Eh? (3)

BenHmm (90784) | more than 13 years ago | (#289742)

the liberty to *not*get*caught*

:-)

Re:TLA???? License for a TV? (1)

JJC (96049) | more than 13 years ago | (#289749)

It's like having a subscription to the Playboy channel and bitching about the subscription charges being like tax... nobody is forcing you to pay for porn, it's your choice.

Kinda, except that you can't choose to watch only commercial TV and not pay the license fee. I still don't understand the logic behind that.

I don't understand :-( (2)

JJC (96049) | more than 13 years ago | (#289762)

Okay, I admit it, I'm a dumb Brit who finds security cameras mildly re-assuring. I don't care if I'm being watched or that the goverment can read my e-mail. Can someone please explain to me why the hell I should care?

The primary arguments for privacy seem to be that if the goverment went bad all of a sudden we'd be fucked and that I could be accused of some crime I didn't commit. First of all, if the goverment ever went bad (ie became undemocratic) then I don't think it would take them more than a week to set up whatever surveillance they wanted, no matter what their starting point. Maybe I'm being naive and ignoring history, but I find it hard to even consider this possibility because I just can't see how, in this time, in this part of the world, our goverment could be displaced or changed to something undemocratic. Secondly, I trust in the legal system. If I am ever wrongly accused then I trust in the courts to decide that I'm not guilty. There are, of course, miscarriages of justice, but it seems to me that the fact of the surveillance would not make any difference to the number of times this occured (except that it could instantly disprove many accusations). I think that the issue of privacy also brings up the question "should we break the law if we disagree with it" which is I think an interesting question, and one which I admit, has been bothering me for a while now.

Of course, it seems that in this forum, I'm in a distinct minority in holding these views, and I just don't understand why. Why is it that politicians let these things happen if they're so bad? So please, dispute my points, because I've looked and I still don't feel I've read a persuasive argument about this.

Big brother is watching you (2)

browser_war_pow (100778) | more than 13 years ago | (#289765)

Just think, now parents in Britain with sons in MI5 and MI6 can tell their little kids that "Big Brother is watching you!"

Re:CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences. (1)

baba (105606) | more than 13 years ago | (#289766)

Wow! Just amazing...

What to highlight:

It is Old Testament values and paranoia (America) versus modern rationalism (Britain).

And this drivel deserves 5/insightfull rating?

Re:CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences. (1)

baba (105606) | more than 13 years ago | (#289767)

Thanks for the clarification. No jest.

Re:No. (1)

baba (105606) | more than 13 years ago | (#289768)

I'm realy enjoying this now. You're almost funny.

There have never been slaves on British soil.

That right! It's much cheaper to abuse the poor bastards right in their own bloody lands. And cleaner, too.

Re:CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences. (1)

baba (105606) | more than 13 years ago | (#289769)

Now I was convinced that it was the socialists doing the dirty deed. The original poster seems to have an amazing ability to attract support from many quarters. Very educational.

Re:TLA???? License for TV is good idea? (1)

hoss10 (108367) | more than 13 years ago | (#289770)

When my flatmates and I were caught for not having a TV license recently
I decided to get rid of the TV instead of paying.

Life without TV is so much more fulfilling.
Try it for a couple of months -
I didn't think I could stick it

-----

The jedi thing (1)

superpeach (110218) | more than 13 years ago | (#289773)

> The communications of UK citizens can now be
> trawled by GCHQ to investigate any "large number
> of persons in pursuit of a common purpose"

I wonder if they got bored yet of reading the email thats been going round over here (in the UK) telling people to put their religeon down as Jedi [slashdot.org] on the census.
(i know the link is about NZ, but its the same thing - except we cant be fined for incorrectly answering the question about religeon as it says so on the form)

Paranoia, Reality, and Conspiracy Theories (1)

sl3xd (111641) | more than 13 years ago | (#289775)

I really don't think this is too big of a deal in many ways; the difference here seems to be that there is one large, centralized network of cameras. This in contrast to each department store, library, convenience store, etc having their own seperate camera system.

Were it a buisiness handling such a centralized system of surveylence, I would be terrified; the information would be sold to anybody ready to offer a few monetary units.

With a government controlling such a system, it is slightly less fearful, as the government usually doesn't exist to skin their citizens and take all their money; but rather to serve the people that it governs.

Americans are typically very distrustful of their government; I have not yet heard of an English or German version of the 'X-Files' (of course, I do have my head at a terminal, and not TV). Americans tend to not want anybody to know anything about them - unless they give their express permission.

Americans can be so paranoid as to believe that there is a secret hegemony that is really running things, and a similar camera system has been built into each TV for over 50 years. And the U.S. Government, which has been incapable of keeping nuclear secrets from China, hiding various political scandals, and of keeping units and measures straight (US/Imperial vs Metrics), is capable of hiding a conspiracy involving beings from another world.

The fact that most of these stories involve being heavily intoxicated before abduction, and forced human procreative activities during their absence seem to be more an excuse for sleeping with somebody when they were drunk.

From an American point of view, such a camera system is *Proof* that the government is 'out to get you'. Even if the benefits clearly outweigh the costs, there will always be mistrust and protests agsinst government survelience of any kind.

Personally, I've lived in a city where there are cameras everywhere - about every 50 m on each side of the street. I never found it bothersome in any way. Sure, a bored police officer can say 'hey, that man bought a Pepsi instead of his usual Coke!' - So what? If a corporation were to get hold of that data - say PepsiCo, then I would surely receive email/postal mail about Pepsi, and some ad executive would acclaim that the ad campaign must be working.

But it's called 'Generation Y' for a reason - the generation has seen so many advertisements before they leave elementary school- let alone are gainfully employed, that ads are always treated as a corporate boast.

With a government-operated system, the raw amount of data is so huge that it could take days before a criminal could be spotted and tracked to a particular location.

Facial recognition is currently poor at best: Why do you think high-security situations use fingerprint-scans or retinal scans -- even in an area that facial scan would prove sufficient? It's because facial recognition isn't that great.

Even handwriting recognition is only 95% accurate - and that is with a somewhat limited set of variability. But the human face? Waaay too much to process; it might work somewhat well if the search was limited to each state's 'most wanted' list, but would be an utter failure to track individual citizens.

Re:CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences. (1)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 13 years ago | (#289784)

Wait, is this the same government that until quite recently had a "House of Lords"? British police are famous for brotherly behavior? Is this the bizarro world we're talking about?

About the U.S. drinking age - didn't Blair recent make some moves to make it harder for teens to drink? Right before his son was caught drinking?

I agree with quite a bit of this letter - these cams are not a big deal. And American needs gun control (more like Japan, not England). But the U.S. government is the world model for freedom and democracy. This was sheer idiocy.

question (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 13 years ago | (#289785)

Ok so you sign up for a license when you buy a tv or anything capable of receiving tv signals (tv card). What about if you buy a tv second hand, or find one sitting out for the garbage? What if you were to buy parts and build a tv from scratch?

Sorry but stuff like that has always bothered me.

TLA???? License for a TV? (3)

BiggestPOS (139071) | more than 13 years ago | (#289789)

Does this sound odd to everyone else outside of England? To me it sounds insane. Like issuing a license to own a computer, or a phone. Please tell me the British government doesn't require a license for a fucking toilet, cause that would suck.

CCTV? (1)

[wy1d] (166365) | more than 13 years ago | (#289797)

Last time I checked, CCTV stood for Closed Circuit TeleVision..... Unless these people have hearing issues....

Re:TLA???? License for a TV? (1)

issachar (170323) | more than 13 years ago | (#289798)

actually yes, Britain does issue licenses for having a TV, but it's more like a fee really.

The reason they do it is that the fees pay (at least in part) for the BBC, that way, if you don't watch TV, you don't pay. It beats taking it out of tax revenue, but frankly I think that technology has pretty much made this a stupid idea.

Think user-fee.

Re:Typical British Self Promotion (1)

issachar (170323) | more than 13 years ago | (#289799)

actually, U571 aside, the Brits were primarily responsible for cracking the enigma code. So, it's not self-promotion, it's just a statement of fact.

Yes they did have help, but most of the work was done by the Brits.

Incidentally, I think that snatching of the enigma machine that was loosely portrayed in U571, was actually done by a Canadian. (Thought I think he was under British command at the time). Anyone know for sure?

Re:"TV License" (1)

issachar (170323) | more than 13 years ago | (#289800)

Said it elsewhere, but I'll say it again here.

The Brits collect a fee, (they call it a license) that pays for the signals broadcast over the airwaves. (i.e. the BBC).

No exceptions. I have no idea how it works, but I've heard they have equipment that can tell if you've got an operational TV (power switched on) inside your house, from a van parked outside.

Oh, incidentally, where do you live, I live in BC, and I get exactly one channel in medocre quality off the airwaves. (CBC).

tv broadcasting in Canada (1)

issachar (170323) | more than 13 years ago | (#289801)

I am a real limey. Proud dual citizen.

Although apparently I need to get a bigger antena. I also live in the Okanagan, but I've only been able to get CHBC (which is modified CBC for people who don't know). Could be something to do with being up against the mountains in Glenrosa. Thanks for the info though, I'll try a bigger antena the next time I get ticked with shaw and cancel my cable service.

Thanks.

btw- I don't agree with the British system, but someone asked. But there are better explanations up now, so read one of those.

...

Why is everyone so angry? (1)

Teflon Coating (177969) | more than 13 years ago | (#289810)

These camera's aren't focused inside peoples apartments and such, rather they are watching streets and sidewalks. Last time i checked these were public areas. People don't get angry when they see someone walking on "their" sidewalk. If you're not doing anything wrong then why are you so afraid of them? What rights are they taking away if it's a public area?

Re:CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences. (1)

Teflon Coating (177969) | more than 13 years ago | (#289811)

While it may be true that 70% of Americans go to church a week how many go just because their parents did? Many go to churches that are suited for them so that they can get their "religion" as fast as they can and then feel like they're Christans. These people aren't really religious, they just go because they think that they can go to church once a week and live a completly different life. People who i go to school with talk about how they went to church and then they got wasted later that night and had sex with someone they didn't know. Also i dispute the fact that 70% of Americans go to church once a week. Today our church was almost filled with around 500, it is usually 350. This happens at most churches in America during Christmas and Easter. Also a large percentage don't even go to Church on those days. No one on my mothers side of the family has went to church in the past 15 years. Many people that i know don't go to church or just go twice a year. What about the other religions? Probably 70% of Americans don't go to church on a weekly basis and a large number of the ones that do go don't take it seriously. Many liberal churches don't even belive most of the bible but they were probably included as being a "church." I would like you to reply with where you found this information as it seems a bit sketchy to me. I belive the British numbers as i have heard first hand accounts of the large percentage that don't go. I would rather have the true Christians rather than have ones that just want to fake it so that they feel okay.

Re:TV tuner cards (2)

BrianW (180468) | more than 13 years ago | (#289814)

In the UK, if you have a TV card in your PC, does it count as a television?

Yes.

Anything that demodulates TV signals counts (VCRs, TV tuners, etc). But you only need one licence per household

Re:Typical British Self Promotion (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 13 years ago | (#289818)

Two Polish mathematicians managed to optimise the process to make it workable (namely the 2-dimensional searching techniques). The principles were born in an English brain, but the English weren't too proud to accept improvements.

FP.
--

Mirror page 1 (2)

//violentmac (186176) | more than 13 years ago | (#289820)

Privacy is dead. We are watched by 1.5m closed-circuit television cameras, more per head of population than any country on Earth. Our government, police and intelligence services have more legal powers to poke around in our private lives than those of communist China. And thanks to new technologies from mobile phones to the internet, they can use those powers to find out where we are, whom we talk or send e-mails to, and what websites we click on. According to most experts in the field, a police state with powers of control and surveillance beyond the wildest dreams of Hitler or Stalin could now be established in Britain within 24 hours. And guess what: MI5 probably read this article before you did. It was delivered by e-mail, a hopelessly insecure system. It is full of the sort of security-sensitive words the spooks look out for, and, as I shall explain, I seem to be an MI5 target.

But the weirdest thing of all is that we really don't care. To take an example that may sound trivial but isn't, the Television Licensing Authority is currently running an advertising campaign boasting of its ability to invade our privacy. Hoardings show a local street sign with the caption that declares, four people in this street don't have a TV licence and the TLA knows who they are.

Duncan Bennett, a systems administrator with the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, knows exactly what this means. He hasn't had a TV in 10 years and yet, annually, he gets threatening letters from the TLA. He has now discovered that, with no evidence against him whatsoever, they can get a warrant - always automatically granted - to break into and search his house. He is assumed to be guilty until proven innocent, a terrible inversion of ancient common-law tradition. He has struggled to find anybody willing to take up his campaign on the issue. Bennett is not suspected of drug-trafficking, terrorism or subversion. He is suspected of having a TV without a licence. Only in Britain would such an abuse of power - or even such advertisements - be tolerated.

We seem to have such fear of crime, and such a mute acceptance of the seizure of power by the authorities, that we are actually comforted by the thought that we are being watched all the time. This, in the current climate of paranoia and high technology, is dangerous. Our right to live a law-abiding life without interference is now utterly compromised. The Englishman's home is no longer his castle, it is his virtual interrogation cell.

How did we get here? The story begins in a bedroom in Cheltenham in 1969. James Ellis, an employee of the Government Communications Headquarters, Britain's global listening post, had been working on the problem of coding, more accurately known as encryption. Thanks to our cracking of the German Enigma code during the second world war, the British were regarded as world masters of this art. Since then, GCHQ had been working closely with the American National Security Agency (NSA) to ensure that the good guys - us - would always be able to crack or write codes more successfully than the bad guys - primarily the Soviets.

In his bedroom, Ellis had an idea for a system of encryption that would be utterly unbreakable. But his system was so completely at odds with prevailing wisdom that it was at once rejected by almost everybody in the code business. Ellis died in 1997, professionally anonymous to the last, and just a month before his brilliance was generally recognised when GCHQ finally published his papers on their website.

Until then, everybody thought the first man to have this idea was an American named Whitfield Diffie. In 1975, Diffie had independently experienced the same eureka moment as Ellis, but his insight was made public. At that moment, both GCHQ and NSA, not to mention every other security and intelligence service on the planet, suffered a crisis from which they have yet to recover, and the issue of individual privacy leapt to the top of the political agenda, where, almost everywhere except in Britain, it remains.

The Ellis/Diffie invention was what is now called public key cryptography (PKC). It is the most powerful coding system that has ever been devised. It's what you use if you bank or buy on the internet. You don't know you're using it: your computer does it for you. It offers everybody the power to communicate in unbreakable codes. As a result, it's easily the worst thing that has ever happened to the spooks and the police. Beside this, Kim Philby was a minor hiccough.

This is how it works. Normally, if one spook wants to send a coded message to another, he does so in a code that can be unlocked by a key - a string of numbers - known to both of them. The problem is, they have somehow to give each other the key. Diplomats going through customs handcuffed to briefcases are one way of passing on keys. But you can mug a diplomat and, as the British showed when they seized a German Enigma machine, you can intercept keys transmitted by any other means. Either way, the spooks lose their secrecy.

In PKC, one party makes his key completely public; anybody can have it.

This public code allows anybody to encode their message and send it. But the public key can only encrypt the message, it cannot decrypt it. Only the secret key possessed by the recipient can unscramble the message. As long as he keeps his key secret - an easy task, because he need never share it with anyone else - then his code is unbreakable.

The one flaw in this might be the use of supercomputers simply to run through all possible key combinations - a so-called "brute force" attack. Keys are just sequences of numbers, after all. But now that more powerful personal computers and software accept much longer keys, it would take billions of years for a brute-force attack to succeed. Rumour has it - there are only ever rumours in this area - that the NSA has spent $5 billion trying to crack the strongest contemporary codes and failed.

Since both the NSA and GCHQ are founded on the principle that they should be able to read any communication anywhere in the world, this is their worst nightmare. Since 1975 they have been battling to find ways of ensuring they can still eavesdrop on anything. And, because Diffie's trick was already out there among the nerds and hackers of the world, this battle had to take place in public. Essentially, both the British and American security services wanted copies of all keys to be lodged with government agencies - so-called "key escrow" - or, as in the system we now have in Britain, they wanted to be able to demand the surrender of keys.

But the libertarian nerds, known in this field as "cypherpunks", fought back in the name of freedom from the all-seeing eyes of Big Brother government. In the United States they have had some success, thanks to the native distrust of government; in Britain they have had almost none.

After the collapse of communism in 1989, this issue became even more urgent. The primary targets of the security services were no longer the Soviets. Now they were organised criminals, drug traffickers and terrorists. This meant they wanted to watch their own citizens rather than just foreign spooks. The possibility of the high-tech, constant-surveillance Big Brother state was threatening to become a reality.

PKC had become much more than a brilliant mathematical trick: it was now the centre of a bitter philosophical and political debate about the privacy of the individual. This has now spilt over into just about every area of public policy. Before PKC, the spooks could watch and never explain anything. After PKC, they had to come out and argue their case.

The big questions are obvious. How much should the government be able to find out about me and the things I do? Should it be able to read all my private messages, my bank accounts, my health records? Do I have any right to privacy at all, or does the public interest in the possibility that I might be a terrorist, paedophile, criminal or spy overrule all other considerations?

Cryptography was only the beginning of this debate. Technology - whether in the form of computers, mobile phones, credit cards, store cards or closed-circuit television cameras with sophisticated face recognition systems - means that people can now, if they like, know almost everything about anybody.

We all leave an electronic trail wherever we go, whatever we do. This trail is impossible for the individual to eradicate or control.

Much of this trail may seem innocent - what you buy at Tesco using your loyalty card is hardly likely to be a sensitive matter. But the point about computer memory and processing power is that it is expanding at a rate few of us can begin to understand. As a result, thanks to those loyalty cards, it is perfectly possible to trawl through everything you have ever bought at Tesco, and that can produce a startlingly detailed picture of your life.

"I'm not embarrassed about my shopping," says Ian Brown, a researcher into mobile multimedia security at University College, London, "but the insidious nature of this is that it's not the day-by-day information, it's knowing about all your grocery for the last five years. It's amazing how much you can tell about someone from the pattern of their buying." Furthermore, information breeds information. Once I know one thing about you, I can generally find out another. Using a technique known as 'social engineering' - essentially a simple con trick - armed with a few details like your date of birth and post code, I can easily convince some lowly clerk on the phone that I am you and seduce him into parting with more sensitive material.

When you add into that mix internet usage and e-mails - neither of which are remotely secure unless you go out of your way to make sure they are - it becomes easy to build up staggeringly detailed pictures of the lives and habits of almost anybody. Indeed, there is an automated global system code-named Echelon, operated by the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which is believed to intercept up to 3 billion communications a day, trawling through them for sensitive words that might indicate a security threat - it may well pick up this article in transit. Some claim that 90% of internet traffic is scanned by Echelon. The exact figures are unknown, because the system is top secret. Indeed, Britain, alone among these countries, does not even admit it exists. Simon Davies, head of the pressure group Privacy International and a self-confessed cypherpunk, describes Echelon as "black-helicopter, Mulder-and-Scully stuff". As in The X Files, the truth is out there, but so is somebody who doesn't want you to know.

Even by just collating all the addresses of your e-mail correspondents, the security services can construct "friendship trees", patterns of association that, whether you are guilty or not, may connect you to terrorists or criminals.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are the final turn of the screw. There are now 1.5m of these operating in Britain, and some, as in the London borough of Newham, use facial recognition software that automatically identifies target individuals. Some of these cameras are visible, but many, in pubs and clubs, are not. In time, it is thought these cameras will be linked in a nationwide web. They will become, as Dr Stephen Graham of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne has suggested, the "fifth utility", after telephones, water, gas and electricity. "These networks," he writes, "have long since merged and extended to become technologically standardised, multipurpose, nationally regulated utilities, with virtually universal coverage. I would argue that CCTV looks set to follow a similar pattern of development over the next 20 years, to become a kind of fifth utility."

"We have far more of these cameras that any other country," Graham tells me, "though Germany and the US are now catching up. Why? Well, I suppose we have fewer constitutional and political fears about invasions of privacy.

We have a huge fear of crime and we have no totalitarian past like almost all the other countries in Europe."

Graham believes the key to the future, networked power of CCTV is automation. "The key to the limitations of their use was the human operator, who just got bored. Soon, software will be able to do all that, and then the power will be in the hands of the software writers to decide what is abnormal behaviour. It will all be hidden - there will be no accountability."

And, in their book The Maximum Surveillance Society: The Rise of CCTV, the academics Clive Norris and Gary Armstrong write: "The architecture of the maximum surveillance society is now in place." Their point is that the hardware of CCTV is so firmly in position that enabling it to watch everybody all the time is now merely a software problem.

Meanwhile, other surveillance technologies are springing up all the time. Police in the US, and some private agencies here, now have machines - called IMSI catchers - in their cars that fool your mobile phone into thinking they are base stations on your network. They can even tell your phone not to use any form of encryption. So they can listen to every mobile call you make. In addition, all big companies in the City of London routinely have to attach devices to their windows to prevent sensitive meetings being overheard through remote sensors that pick up voices from vibrations of the glass. Or there are Van Eck devices, which can read everything on your computer screen from a street away from your house. It is rumoured that one of these machines has been refined to the point where it can pick out one computer screen at the top of Canary Wharf from street level. Or tiny airborne devices the size of butterflies are being developed that can watch every move you make. And so on and so on. "It is plausible," writes Bruce Schneier, an American security consultant, in his book Secrets & Lies, "that we could soon be living in a world without expectation of privacy, anywhere or at any time."

Soon, some have suggested, we shall have to record our entire lives on audio and video just to establish an alibi, in case we are implicated in a crime. Indeed, not to make such a recording may one day be treated as a cause for suspicion.

Do we care? In Britain, apparently not. We accept CCTV cameras out of fear of crime, and as a result we have more than any other nation in the world. Meanwhile, a study by the Economic and Social Research Council's Virtual Society programme has found that employees do not regard surveillance systems in the workplace as invasions of privacy. And finally, in the form of last year's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIP), we now have, according to many observers, the most invasive legal apparatus anywhere in the world. China, it has been pointed out, has nothing as draconian as this on its statute book. It has been described by the constitutionalist Anthony Barnett as "the most pernicious invasion of privacy ever imposed by a democratic state". Among other things, the act ensures that all internet and mobile-phone communications will potentially be interceptible by the police and security services. Furthermore, even if you are not suspected of any crime, you can be imprisoned for two years if you fail to disclose a computer password. The communications of UK citizens can now be trawled by GCHQ to investigate any "large number of persons in pursuit of a common purpose".

THE SURVEILLANCE TRAP [slashdot.org] | YOUR WHOLE LIFE LAID BARE [slashdot.org]

Re:Fight Back? (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 13 years ago | (#289827)

Might as well use spray paint.....there going to study the tape and eventually see you grinning like a fool, pointing a laser as the camera dies....

Jaysyn

Re:CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences. (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 13 years ago | (#289828)

Heh...I don't know 70 people who go to church...

Jaysyn

Re:Paranoia, Reality, and Conspiracy Theories (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 13 years ago | (#289829)

"Facial recognition is currently poor at best: Why do you think high-security situations use fingerprint-scans or retinal scans -- even in an area that facial scan would prove sufficient? It's because facial recognition isn't that great."

Tell that to the people who went to the last SuperBowl over in Tampa....they we're using that facial imaging on everyone who walked in the door. Don't know if they caught anyone or not, but the ACLU raised a big stink about it.

Jaysyn

Re:CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences. (1)

wanderung (221424) | more than 13 years ago | (#289835)

It must be because America is so religious. 70% of Americans go to Church once a week, compared to 2.5% of Britains. This almost wholly explains the different attitudes in each country towards self defense, rehabillitation and crime deterrance. It is Old Testament values and paranoia (America) versus modern rationalism (Britain).

All that so called rationalism (and all those cameras and gun control) has produced the second most crime-ridden nations [news.com.au] in the world. So much for your Socialist/Fascist utopia.

In hindsight we probably shouldn't have rescued the UK from Hitler in the first place, since it turned out to be a waste of time. You're voluntarily turning your country into a modern day Nazi Germany.

From the article:

We have a huge fear of crime and we have no totalitarian past like almost all the other countries in Europe."

Well that seems about to change. The UK seems hell bent on proving Orwell right, although he was off by a few years.

The shape of things to come. (2)

Kasreyn (233624) | more than 13 years ago | (#289844)

And? I still dont see the problem. The only people who have anything to fear from these systems is the criminals, and I fail to see how that can be a bad thing.

Criminals, ah, ok. Then it's all well and good. You therefore won't mind, of course, when added legislation describes the things YOU do as criminal, and the monitoring cameras gather evidence on you doing it before the fact, will you? By your own words, this will be perfectly all right, since god knows only true criminals are EVER accused of being criminals, and their privacy violated.

Give me a break. No government is all-wise and simon pure. They should not be wielding this kind of power, at least not without severe checks on their ability to use it, and monitoring of THEM (the monitors) available for public scrutiny.

But the way this will enter private lives will be very simple: Subtle threatening and social pressure. "What, you don't have a telescreen in your house?! You must be one of those terrorist hackers!" (shun shun shun shun shun). And eventually, NOT having a telescreen in your home will be declared illegal, once the situation is ready for that. More and more, I see citizens of supposedly democratic nations sitting idly by and letting their governments usurp powers they should not have, and these "law enforcement" agencies get away with it through subtle threats, claiming that the only people who need to fear this are the bad guys. Well, let me tell you, in an authoritarian government one of the main goals is to make it impossible for ordinary citizens to avoid breaking the law, so the police forces will always have an excuse for anything they do.

Privacy is doubleplusungoodthinkful, Winston.

-Kasreyn

CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences. (1)

Kiss the Blade (238661) | more than 13 years ago | (#289845)

I am fed up of hearing boring privacy maniacs with a political axe to grind and ulterior motives banging on about what a 'threat' CCTV camera systems are. They are no such thing.

I live in the UK, in Scotland. I am well aware that my country has a huge rate of camera penetration throughout city centres and streets. However, it is only foreigners, americans and the like, who find this unusual.

It is a cultural issue, not an issue of privacy at all. Americans view their government with fear, and quite rightly, given its history and abuses. However, in Britain we have a more socialist, left wing government, one that is not friendly to business or private interests. Out government is trusted by the people because it composed of ordinary people, people like Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Dennis Skinner, the Beast of Bolsover. Both these men are very powerful and respected, and both come from working class backgrounds. All our politicians are men, and women, of the people. This is different from American politicians, who need hundreds of millions of dollars to run for office, and so are in the backpockets of all sorts of interest groups. Our politicians need no money to run for office.

All this means that our government is much less scary. We can trust it to set up CCTV systems and not use them to spy, but only to deter criminals.

Like I said, this issue is cultural only. We in Britain think it is crazy that americans cannot drink until they are 21 years old, and are free to buy guns and carry them around with them - an act, surely, of inherent danger. I would far rather face cameras in the street than guns, but each to his own.

It must be because America is so religious. 70% of Americans go to Church once a week, compared to 2.5% of Britains. This almost wholly explains the different attitudes in each country towards self defense, rehabillitation and crime deterrance. It is Old Testament values and paranoia (America) versus modern rationalism (Britain).

Just remember, these cameras are not used to spy, and never will be. They are used by the police, who are famous around the world for fairness and correct, brotherly behaviour.

CCTV is an excellent criminal deterrance.

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.

No. (1)

Kiss the Blade (238661) | more than 13 years ago | (#289846)

America revolted for tax reasons. Any idea that it did so for reasons of liberty and freedom are absurd, especially when it has a truly dreadful record of human rights abuses itself.

There have never been slaves on British soil.

America was only free if you were a white man of property.

Imagine if there had been no revolution in america. Slavery would have been outlawed 60 years earlier, without a fuss. Race relations would have been much improved in your country. It would not be infected by religious maniacs as it is. Prohibition and the like would never have happened. People wouldn't be getting electrocuted to death in a country with a law against 'cruel and unusual punishments'.

America would be much improved. Sort of like a better, bigger Canada.

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.

Eh? (2)

Kiss the Blade (238661) | more than 13 years ago | (#289847)

Please explain what liberty I am giving up. CCTV cameras do not infringe any liberties, so your argument is redundant.

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.

Not really. (2)

Kiss the Blade (238661) | more than 13 years ago | (#289848)

The liberty to be alone is what is missing. If you cannot be alone you have no safety nor freedom to speak of.

CCTV cameras do not affect this liberty. CCTV cameras are only put in public places. You don't have the right to be alone in your local highstreet, supermarket or motorway, where the vast majority of these cameras are placed.

Your argument would hold water if the cameras were being placed in peoples homes, or something outrageous like that. But they aren't.

Why bother maintaining pride, integrity, and character if your life is to be constantly judged at all times according to the stinking broth of the collective court of pubic opinion?

That it what the 'Closed Circuit' part of CCTV means. The camera data is readily accessible to everyone through the data protection act, but the fact remains that they are used publically only.

What will you do when your next generation sees them as normal as furniture. And the next have no innate fear of them and completely ignore them?

That is the situation now. CCTV cameras have been used here for years, to great effect. My local city, Glasgow, has seen a huge crime rate decrease in the city centre thanks to the use of CCTV. The system even has a computer face recognition system that can highlight known criminals and also pinpoint suspicious behaviours completely autonimously. This saves manpower and cuts crime.

CCTV cameras are welcomed by the populace. If I am walking through a bad area at night, I feel much better about it if there is a decent CCTV system in place.

In the end, these systems are just another legitimate policing tool. If you don't think the police force is trustworty enough to handle them responsibly, think of all the powers they already have, and be scared. CCTV is not some big brotherish, revolutionary concept. It has been quietly and successfully used here for many years now.

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.

Re:CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences. (2)

Kiss the Blade (238661) | more than 13 years ago | (#289849)

Funny you should mention the House of Lords. I think it highlights the difference in attitude very well indeed.

The House of Lords was a truly excellent institution. It served the function of scrutinising legislation passed by the House of Commons. It was composed of normal people, or at least people a lot more normal than politicians tend to be. People who have careers and then subsume themselves into the Lord's at age 80 or so. It acted as a resevoir of common sense, and a bastion of conservatism (note the small 'c'). The fact is that it did its job very well indeed, and for a very cheap price.

The difference in attitude I am talking about is that principles should not get in the way of good government, and that good government should be above principles if said principles get in the way of good government. In other words, a certain degree of expediency.

Noone has ever made a case for the House of Lords being bad at what it did, for there is no case to be made.

The simple fact is that it was replaced by a system much worse, and even less democratic, that of an Upper House chosen entirely by the government, and shorn of independence. This is why the government of Blair is so dangerous, IMO - because it is willing to throw the constitution into the air without regard as to where the pieces fall.

This difference is fudamental.

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.

Re:"TV License" (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 13 years ago | (#289851)

...because if it came out of Income Tax, it would be funded by the government. That would mean that the BBC would have to go to the government on a regular basis to beg for money to cover its budget, and compete with services like healthcare and transportation.

There are two things you definitely do not want a government to do, whether you stand on the left or right. The first is force everyone to subsidise a luxury service, and television ultimately is. The other is to make a substantial element of the media answerable to government, and at risk of losing any semblance of impartiality in order to placate a hostile government.

So Britain chooses to keep the TV licence fee. Only TV owners need to pay it, so it's a voluntary tax - don't want to pay it, don't watch TV. It keeps the BBC healthy, both financially (Birt reforms notwithstanding), and ideologically (generally pisses off both major political parties so it has to be doing something right!)

Personally, I support it, not because it's perfect, but because the alternatives are, IMO, worse. I'm currently suffering US TV, and miss the innovation and intelligence the BBC offers - even though 2 and half years ago when I left it was at its Birtian worst. Even the better alternatives, such as Channel 4, would arguably be poorer for lack of a quality BBC competitor. The only objection I have is that the licence fee, at around USD160/pa, is expensive.
--

Re:CCTV is a reflection of cultural differences. (1)

Tangfan (254054) | more than 13 years ago | (#289856)

Christ I wish I had karma! And thank you a thousand, million times, luge! I was screaming as I read Kiss_the_Blade's depressingly deluded post... I am quite curious where he got his statistics, too (maybe from Here [inmybutt.com] ?). And the quite random connection between violence, the US government, and the portrayal of Americans as religious fanatics smacks oh so much of fresh, steaming FUD more than actual logical thought. Old Testament paranoia... that sounds silly even to an 'devout' atheist such as I. But I troll myself, and digress. The IDEA that the British government somehow represents the people more fairly than any other democracy is to me laughable. Simply ignoring the issue of cameras, the British government has a long history of doing exactly anything but representing the people (*cough*American Revolution*cough*). And although it is somewhat unfair to discuss issues far in the past, today's government is a descendent of that government and certainly hasn't shed all of its values yet. I'm going to stop now, because if I go further I need to dredge up sources to support myself, and I am far too damn lazy to do that. And it's dessert time, too.

Hmm... (1)

Scoria (264473) | more than 13 years ago | (#289860)

CCTV = Closed Circuit Television...

... not closed caption.

Re:TLA???? License for a TV? (4)

xDe (264660) | more than 13 years ago | (#289861)

What if you don't want to watch BBC? Why doesn't BBC just run a subscription model like HBO or use advertisements?

Yep, this is how new channels are funded. But the license fee is a historical artefact... when it began, the BBC was the only channel. If you bought a TV, you were going to watch the BBC on it because there was nothing else to use it for, so it made sense for the license fee (read as 'subscription fee') to be compulsory for anyone who bought a TV.
Why not use adverts? Firstly, because people don't like watching ads and complain at every suggestion that the BBC should be funded this way. Secondly, the BBC historically has the aim of producing quality public service broadcasting, which would be compromised by the need to pursue advertising revenue. (Of course, the extent to which the BBC achieves this is debatable, but that's the theory.)
Why not subscription? Well, the license fee is effectively a subscription. The only problem with this interpretation, as you say, is that you are forced to pay wether you want to watch the BBC or not - but in practice the number of people who own a TV without ever using a BBC service is extremely small (I'd be very surprised if it was as high as 1 percent). Not really fair on that small number, of course, but the license has been in place for fifty-odd years now; people are just used to it.
In short, the license fee is a typically British solution of the form, 'it's only slightly broken so don't bother fixing it'.

sonic boom (2)

deran9ed (300694) | more than 13 years ago | (#289864)

When you add into that mix internet usage and e-mails - neither of which are remotely secure unless you go out of your way to make sure they are - it becomes easy to build up staggeringly detailed pictures of the lives and habits of almost anybody.
One of the things I think many people often forget, or may not even realize, is that emails can also get you into legal trouble. PGP should not only be used to encrypt data, but many should use it to ensure that they are the persons sending out their own email, to protect themselves should a situation arise.

Sure reading through someone's email "may" give someone insights into their habits, but so can cookies, so that statement I guess was thrown into the story to make it jucier I guess.

Indeed, there is an automated global system code-named Echelon, operated by the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which is believed to intercept up to 3 billion communications a day, trawling through them for sensitive words that might indicate a security threat - it may well pick up this article in transit. Some claim that 90% of internet traffic is scanned by Echelon. The exact figures are unknown, because the system is top secret. Indeed, Britain, alone among these countries, does not even admit it exists. Simon Davies, head of the pressure group Privacy International and a self-confessed cypherpunk, describes Echelon as "black-helicopter" Mulder-and-Scully stuff". As in The X Files, the truth is out there, but so is somebody who doesn't want you to know.
If someone is extremely concerned or paranoid about these things, then one method to avoid them is to halt using digital communications. Sure we all use things digital to facilitate our lives but its not a neccessity and no one is going to die from not using the Internet or digital related equipment.

For those who are concerned with ECHELON or others, then encryption is the only route to go unless you plan on reverting to morse code or something.

Even by just collating all the addresses of your e-mail correspondents, the security services can construct "friendship trees", patterns of association that, whether you are guilty or not, may connect you to terrorists or criminals.
Thats sort of a dumb comment to make. Being a member of a mailing list with some bad apples would not constitute you being a bad apple. Thats like saying because a criminal lives on your block you too may have criminal tendencies. Thats again something I see that was probably added to spice up the article.

"We have far more of these cameras that any other country," Graham tells me, "though Germany and the US are now catching up. Why? Well, I suppose we have fewer constitutional and political fears about invasions of privacy.

We have a huge fear of crime and we have no totalitarian past like almost all the other countries in Europe."
Well instead of whining about it, all the people who are concerned have whats called voting power, and if nothing is done other than bitch, then what could you expect.

I've read studies which stated that these cameras haven't even lowered the crime rate anyways, so who's fooling whom over in the UK.

And I will restate this from a prior post, installing more cameras might deter crime, but it won't stop it, its only a matter of time if it hasn't happened yet, that criminals will just get sneakier. All it would take is one smart criminal creating a nice EMP [antioffline.com] weapon and zap all those little monitors' insides.

G.I.T.S. [antioffline.com]

Re:sonic boom (2)

deran9ed (300694) | more than 13 years ago | (#289865)

You criticise the article for things it doesn't say and accuse them of making things 'juicy' without denying the validity of the points made. Have you considered a career in politics?

Who the hell denied anything? You should re-read my first paragraph stating the need to use crypto dumb ass. Secondly as I stated instead of people only bitching about things... Don't they have the power to vote, I doubt politicians in the UK have oh so disgracefully taken those rights away from the people.

uhm no (2)

deran9ed (300694) | more than 13 years ago | (#289866)

You criticise the article for things it doesn't say and accuse them of making things 'juicy' without denying the validity of the points made.

What part did I make up about the article saying when everything I copied was related to the article with my own comments? The subject of PGP is something I wanted to say since I'm entitled to my opinion I think thats what this forum was for.

Well instead of whining about it, all the people who are concerned have whats called voting power, and if nothing is done other than bitch, then what could you expect.

Maybe your misconstruing what I've said which is your own problem, as the only thing thats off key in my post would be the PGP section which again is my own damn opinion.

patterns of association that, whether you are guilty or not, may connect you to terrorists or criminals.

Thats sort of a dumb comment to make. Being a member of a mailing list with some bad apples would not constitute you being a bad apple.

Reading comprehension not a strong point for you?
What I mean by this is by this author saying this would be a broad comment as Im sure that the government their would not arrest or consider someone a criminal because a criminal lives on their street. If this person has had his own problem so be it, but to make a broad statment like this is utter bullshit.

Keep waiting for an apology

Re:Feigning incredulity will not help you now. (2)

deran9ed (300694) | more than 13 years ago | (#289867)

When the US apologizes then maybe I'll consider it.

Re:TLA???? License for a TV? (1)

glrotate (300695) | more than 13 years ago | (#289868)

Oh, and yanks are also the fattest people on Earth - another fact, BTW.

An unfortunate consequence of having the best food in the world. Why would one want to eat any more than the minimum requirements of English cuisine? :)

This isn't only in Britain (1)

bnoji (305180) | more than 13 years ago | (#289872)

Within the last week or so, they've started the same type of surveillance in the city of Wilmington. They want to make the city seem safe again.

Re:TLA???? License for a TV? (1)

UltraBot2K1 (320256) | more than 13 years ago | (#289877)

I'm not so sure it would be a bad idea to require a liscense to own a computer. If you think this sounds crazy, go work in support for a while, and listen to some of the idiots you get calling you because their 48x cupholder snapped off. At least if a liscense were required, it would force people to actually LEARN something about their computer and how it works instead of just blindly clicking on things and hoping for the best.

Well... (1)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 13 years ago | (#289878)

If this has you so freakin' paranoid, MOVE SOMEWHERE ELSE! It's really that simple...

April fools? (1)

nuclearcamel (412533) | more than 13 years ago | (#289879)

I noticed the article is dated April 1st... This isn't a joke is it?

Yup, let's all become Amish.... (1)

EvilStein (414640) | more than 13 years ago | (#289881)

Wait, they get spied on too.
How else would the cops know that Jebadiah was selling crack cocaine at school again?
That TV licensing stuff is strange. I've actually never heard of it. What do they consider a TV? Would they consider a PC with a TV/FM video capture card and a VCR plugged into it to be a "TV?"
See? The things that I miss by not owning one of them new-fangled TV things.

Re:"TV License" (2)

ihatefood (443493) | more than 13 years ago | (#289890)

By the way, before anyone mentions them, "TV Detector Vans" are a hilarious disinformation campaign. While it is theoretically possible to detect a TV in use, although pretty hard to nail down the right apartment in a tower block I should think, they don't spend any money on such ridiculous devices because they don't need to. Why drive around every street in the country with a van full of electronics if only 1% or so of the households don't have a license, and they obviously know perfectly well which these are. Then they harass them, looking in their windows and knocking on their doors - it's well known. The other way they find out is when you buy a TV, because you are automatically reported to the licensing agency. Even if that TV is in the attic and doesn't work, you must pay the license unless you trash it. Licenses for TVs are a mad scheme. If 99% of the population uses a service, why not fund it of general taxation? Then you wouldn't need these ridiculous ads about fictional detector vans - har de har.
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