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In Australian Town, Public CCTV Off Over Privacy Concerns

timothy posted about a year ago | from the sanity-but-in-such-small-portions dept.

Privacy 160

freddienumber13 writes "The CCTV cameras operated by the local government in the country town of Nowra, NSW (Australia) have been turned off following an order by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal. The local government is crying because it believes that it is losing an effective method in combating crime in public. Locals however are rejoicing that they are no longer being recorded whilst walking down the street."

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160 comments

Yay! (5, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#43632719)

I welcome any and all pushback against monitoring of the public.
Here is related news, not quite the same implications, but a good trend none the less:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/02/22/states-local-governments-join-push-to-turn-off-red-light-cameras/ [foxnews.com]

Re:Yay! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632745)

I'm a little surprised the assuie public had the balls to stop it. Most Australians take whatever their politician tries to shoves up their ass (and for the few that don't like it, they get told they must hate the children or something).

Re:Yay! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632919)

Keep in mind that Australia was settled by prisoners. If there's one thing prisoners are known for, it's sodomy: ass-fucking, ass-to-mouth, etc.

Re:Yay! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632989)

Keep in mind that Australia was settled by prisoners. If there's one thing prisoners are known for, it's sodomy: ass-fucking, ass-to-mouth, etc.

You're not very good at this are you

Re:Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633249)

Actually very little homosexual activities take place in Australian jails (so I'm told) apparently it's more of an American thing. Something to do with the prison population not believing, that forcing another man to have sex with you makes them the gay one.

Re:Yay! (1)

EEPROMS (889169) | about a year ago | (#43633513)

You do realise the English sent 10x more convicts to the USA than to Australia, in fact the worst convicts were sent to the USA.

Re:Yay! (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year ago | (#43633655)

Indeed, the loss of America as a dumping ground for transportees following the American Revolution was the primary motivation behind Australia's settlement.

It's interesting to speculate (since the French apparently had an interest in settling southern Australia, and the Dutch had widespread trade interests in the Asia-Pacific and almost certainly preceded Cook's "discovery" of Australia) on Australia's history had the American colonies not revolted or if the revolution had been crushed.

Re:Yay! (1)

x_t0ken_407 (2716535) | about a year ago | (#43633423)

I'm a little surprised the assuie public had the balls to stop it. Most Australians take whatever their politician tries to shoves up their ass (and for the few that don't like it, they get told they must hate the children or something).

Are you sure you didn't mean to s/Australians/Americans?

Don't get excited -- an exception, not the rule (2)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about a year ago | (#43632769)

Don't get your hopes up. This isn't a trend, this is a statistical outlier. Government monitoring is an easy-to-sell way of politicians "being serious" about solving your problems without actually getting knee-deep in the sludge. Plus this what government wants to do. They do want to monitor you and will use any excuse to increase it.

Don't be fooled or led to believe otherwise.

Re:Don't get excited -- an exception, not the rule (4, Interesting)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43632997)

Unfortunately it looks like a review of a bunch of studies indicates that CCTV usage actually has a positive impact on crime with it being markedly so in the case of car parks it seems. It appears that they're able to legitimately pull out numbers to prove the efficacy so I think the argument must be that the decrease in crime isn't worth the decrease in privacy. Some exceptions could be made, for instance, as it shows a 50% decrease in crime when used in car parks it seems. I imagine that compromises will need to be made and I'd personally rather the increased freedom over the increased safety though I'm aware that other people will not think the same and that it is, ideally, a democracy where I live.

Re:Don't get excited -- an exception, not the rule (5, Insightful)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about a year ago | (#43633013)

Government surveillance isn't about the relationship to surveillance to an increase or decrease in crime, it is about control. It can have a positive or negative correlation. The end goal isn't solving a problem, the end goal is surveillance.

Re:Don't get excited -- an exception, not the rule (4, Insightful)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43633061)

That is an interesting line of thought but without further evidence I am going to conclude that the goal is the stated goal. It may make me a "sheeple" but I find that, by law of probability, I'm usually right about such things when I do it this way.

Re:Don't get excited -- an exception, not the rule (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633097)

I don't see why you'd give the government the benefit of the doubt. There have been an immeasurable number of government abuses of power throughout history, and abuses of power can still be easily spotted in this day and age (including among governments in first world countries).

Re:Don't get excited -- an exception, not the rule (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43633107)

Absolutely and you may well be correct. It's a very valid theory. However, I do better statistically by taking them at face value and with their stated intent. It helps me be correct more often than assuming the worst does.

Re:Don't get excited -- an exception, not the rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633129)

But that is not at all the point. Being often correct is of no relevance if the government is allowed to have powers that they can easily abuse, and that's what you get by taking them at face value; some things just slip right through.

Re:Don't get excited -- an exception, not the rule (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43633659)

That is the point - I get to be correct more often than I would if I jumped on the bandwagon believing every conspiracy theory that is out there.

Re:Well ... (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about a year ago | (#43633151)

Imposing the full burden of "further evidence" is a bit much for me, myself and I to have to bear as a burden to your world view, but despite that unfair burden I'll try to give it the old "college try" and see if a can successful communicate my thoughts so here goes ...

Statistically a fair bulk of violent crime occurs on Friday and Saturday after the hours of 11 PM due to the work week, off days and when alcohol consumptions occurs. For a moment, let's say that alcohol consumption and crime have a very positive correlation (and all of this is statistically known, let's say you trust me).

So why extra cameras and not extra police efforts during the known hours of incident based on probabilities due to statistical occurrence?

Or perhaps politicians realize that results and public acclimation don't have a positive correlation (i.e. doing a good job does not mean anyone notices so why do that?) but that furthering the cause of government supervision is always rewarded via the elite (the class with money, the class with the ability to provide funding).

In such a system (and let us for a moment say that this is our system), what is the political motivation for a politician to take the high road?

But that doesn't involve you --- you do get to help pick the road, because politicians need your approval and you are empowered to weigh that yourself and make your own decision. And -- at least today --- you can even make your decision based on illogical or irrational reasons, because that is your right. But what if it weren't your right?

Re:Well ... (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43633669)

It is my right, I know this. I vote accordingly but I don't tend to jump on the old conspiracy theory bandwagon. Critical thinking would suggest Occam's Razor in this case and that the government really wants to just use them for observation which is bad in and of itself in my opinion. Also your question concerning extra police presence, why would you assume it is either/or and not both?

Re:Don't get excited -- an exception, not the rule (1)

x_t0ken_407 (2716535) | about a year ago | (#43633453)

"It may make me a "sheeple" but I find that, by law of probability, I'm usually right about such things when I do it this way."

And you likely will always be "right" if that's your measure. After all, the one's in control of what you perceive as "evidence" aren't exactly forthcoming. Perhaps some critical thinking is in order? As an [albeit wayyyy arbitrary] example, recall geocentric theory? In any case, hopefully one is not basing his facts on evidence alone while keeping in mind the very evidence one seeks is _completely_ at the whim of those one would seek it from...hopefully.

Re:Don't get excited -- an exception, not the rule (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43633675)

Nah, I've both given it thought and looked at what evidence we have. It's certainly true that the government wishes to control us though I think that this is simply observation. I find that they feel they need to observe us to be above and beyond what I think they should do but I don't think there's some grand conspiracy to control us via Orwellian means. Well not any more than they'd be controlling us in that we may behave differently if we know we're monitored by CCTV though, again, I think their stated intent is just as they claim in this particular instance.

Re:Don't get excited -- an exception, not the rule (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#43633037)

Unfortunately it looks like a review of a bunch of studies indicates that CCTV usage actually has a positive impact on crime with it being markedly so in the case of car parks it seems.

Cite? Lots of those studies miss things like regression to the mean - where the cameras have an initial impact but after a while people just start to compensate like wearing hoodies or they shift the crime to areas without cameras.

Re:Don't get excited -- an exception, not the rule (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43633057)

Re:Don't get excited -- an exception, not the rule (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#43633495)

After reading that, you'd get just as much of a decrease in crime if you simply followed the basic CPTED [wikipedia.org] stuff, and increasing light with random road patrols. In other words, in itself it doesn't cause a dramatic enough of a difference.

Re:Don't get excited -- an exception, not the rule (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43633679)

The point is what I said it was, not what you are wishing it to be.

It appears that they're able to legitimately pull out numbers to prove the efficacy so I think the argument must be that the decrease in crime isn't worth the decrease in privacy.

Re:Don't get excited -- an exception, not the rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633271)

As I see it it's the wrong way round.
I think government should NOT be putting cameras to combat crime. It should subsidise camera costs for businesses to install them instead, and when crimes happen, the business can be requested to submit footage from relevent when a crime has happened close by. Put the power in the hands of the people. This should help people feel safe from big brother abuse and provide police with nearly the same information.
When given a choice of having people who report crimes vs. remote street whistles, I'd pick the people. If you believe laws are being broken and noone is reporting them, there is probebly something wrong with your law.

Re:Don't get excited -- an exception, not the rule (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#43633639)

Car parks are a good example of where it probably is acceptable to most people to have CCTV, with appropriate access controls. The problem is that because it works in car parks some people want it everywhere and they want people monitoring it 24/7.

In the UK we actually have cameras with speakers so the operator can shout at people remotely. While I appreciate my car being safe and having some record of hit-and-run accidents while it is parked I also don't want to live in a society where we have people watching us all the time.

Re:Yay! (1)

LukeWebber (117950) | about a year ago | (#43632903)

I wonder how many of the people who argue against surveillance cameras would be so principled if they were ever to be the victims of violent crime. It's my bet that they'd be the first ones screaming for the footage.
Go ahead and take my picture. I doubt it's worth looking at and there is, in any case, too much video for anybody to bother studying more than a tiny part of it. There really is no use for it other than catching criminals.
It's not that I trust our government, but I do know that they're not a totalitarian regime. And if they were, there's bugger-all we could do about surveillance anyway. As long as the cameras contribute to the crime clearance rates, I'm fine with it. /Australian

Re:Yay! (4, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year ago | (#43632967)

I wonder how many of the people who argue against surveillance cameras would be so principled if they were ever to be the victims of violent crime. It's my bet that they'd be the first ones screaming for the footage.

Even if your bet that that is true about an entire group of people were correct, what exactly is your point? That everyone who isn't a victim of a crime can't have a valid opinion on the subject of surveillance cameras?

"I wonder how many of the people who argue against government surveillance cameras in people's bedrooms would be so principled if they were ever to be the victims of violent crime. It's my bet that they'd be the first ones screaming for the footage."

You might have just been wondering how many of them would be quick to change their tune, but the rest of your comment leads me to believe that that's unlikely.

There really is no use for it other than catching criminals.

Selective harassment is always nice, too. As long as you're not the one affected, who cares?

but I do know that they're not a totalitarian regime.

They do not have to be a totalitarian regime in order for abuse to happen.

As long as the cameras contribute to the crime clearance rates, I'm fine with it. /Australian

Is safety your only concern?

Re:You mean they aren't a totalitarian regime YET (2)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about a year ago | (#43633047)

It's not that I trust our government, but I do know that they're not a totalitarian regime.

Of course they aren't a totalitarian regime because if they were, they would not need your approval. Ask your yourself this: Lets say that all governments wish to be a totalitarian regime, but they have a problem in that they are operating under a democracy and need gain your approval.

Why do their ideas always result in increase surveillance when there are always 763 options at their disposal to reduce crime?

If you go along with ever idea they want to do, you won't long be claiming they aren't a totalitarian regime --- but if they get everything they want, your opinion also will no longer matter either.

Baaaaaaaaaa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633269)

Oh here we go again. Ok Luke. Would you mind if the council installed web cams in all your rooms in your house including toilet bathroom and bedroom? You've nothing to hide right, and we don't want crims to take advantage of those blind spots? Don't worry. You will be monitored by public servants who answer to no one. Yes, Luke, give up all your civil liberties and trust us because it's not as if a government has ever taken advantage of its power over sheep like yourself.

Re:Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633561)

I wonder how many of the people who argue against surveillance cameras would be so principled if they were ever to be the victims of violent crime. It's my bet that they'd be the first ones screaming for the footage.

No, it'd be the police who'd be the first ones asking for footage. Victims of crime are generally not actively investigating the crime against them. Anyhoo there's no conflict of principles here. Barring hypocrisy, such as campaigning against cameras and then complaining that no cameras were installed at the scene of the crime, it's perfectly fine to make use of the thing to be banned.

You anyway have a facile argument that can apply to anything. "I wonder how many of the people who argue against compulsory castration for rapists would be so principled if they were ever to be the victims of rape crime. It's my bet that they'd be the first ones screaming for the castration."

I had a quick thumb through the book or Mormon. Your post is still by far the dumbest thing I've read today, you chubby mare.

Go ahead and take my picture. I doubt it's worth looking at and there is, in any case, too much video for anybody to bother studying more than a tiny part of it. There really is no use for it other than catching criminals.

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear? Technology isn't static, you wizard's sleeve. You think these cameras are hooked up to VHS recorders and will remain that way? The uses of ubiquitous surveillance systems are not limited by your withered imagination, you chump. Everything has to be considered in the context of now and the future.

It's not that I trust our government, but I do know that they're not a totalitarian regime. And if they were, there's bugger-all we could do about surveillance anyway. As long as the cameras contribute to the crime clearance rates, I'm fine with it. /Australian

Fine, then wait until the official press release to inform you that tomorrow at 4pm your country is switching to totalitarianism, at which time the bad guys will don black hats while you scratch your head and wonder how they could have done this in such a short period of time? They didn't you lunkhead! Barring a large external force or ideology entering the picture, such things accrete gradually.

You are a second-rate strumpet.

Re:Yay! (0)

Max_W (812974) | about a year ago | (#43632945)

Sociologists say that the 3rd World War is going on on the roads. More than 1.5 million people will be killed in 2013 in traffic accident. About 10 million wounded.

The theory is that primates are inherently aggressive and need a venue for this aggression. Pacifism ended the battlefields, so it is motorways and roads nowadays.

Some drivers want to violate traffic lights and speed limits no matter what. Cameras are an obstacle to this aggressive impulses.

Re:Yay! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633017)

If that's the kind of analogies they use, then sociologists can go fuck themselves.

Re:Yay! (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#43633043)

Sociologists say that the 3rd World War is going on on the roads. More than 1.5 million people will be killed in 2013 in traffic accident. About 10 million wounded.

Dunno about the rest of the world, but in the US traffic fatalities are down about 50% over the last decade - its been a consistent decline that isn't correlated to traffic cameras.

Re:Yay! (1)

Max_W (812974) | about a year ago | (#43633079)

Mostly to the quick medical response and hardware safety features. Even one traffic accident fatality or trauma is too many. It is absolutely avoidable.

Re:Yay! (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#43633343)

Mostly to the quick medical response and hardware safety features.

Non-fatal injury rates are also down significantly. [dot.gov] From the chart there looks like about 130 injuries per 100M vehicle miles in 2000 to 75 injuries per 100M vehicle miles in 2010.

Even one traffic accident fatality or trauma is too many. It is absolutely avoidable.

Yeah, and Mussolini made the trains run on time too. No thanks.

Re: True that (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about a year ago | (#43633177)

I saw Mad Max, Mad Max II and I've played the entire Carmageddon series. So this is easily validated and the traffic citational records confirm thke social trends, based on automobile, highway statics.

Re:Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632991)

By your reply I am guessing you are an Aussie? If so is the government using facial recognition with this CCTV or are they storing the video feed into data for future use?

Have they been taken down? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632727)

...or just "turned off"?

A Small victory. (5, Interesting)

chr1st1anSoldier (2598085) | about a year ago | (#43632733)

This is a victory for the people. I worked for a CCTV company for over a year and a half. Every move you made and conversation you had was recorded and the management did go back and listen and watch. If you didn't give 110% and say anything that could be remotely offensive to the management, you got called into the office and dealt with. A perfect picture of where we are heading as a nation and as a planet. I will say it again, the CCTV cameras getting turned off is a victory for the people and personal privacy.

Re:A Small victory. (1)

Zeph3r (2914985) | about a year ago | (#43632747)

WOW . . . that place sucks. Could someone post a list of common CCTV cameras with microphones?

Re:A Small victory. (4, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#43632789)

WOW . . . that place sucks. Could someone post a list of common CCTV cameras with microphones?

England.

Re:A Small victory. (5, Insightful)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about a year ago | (#43633005)

Do you know how England got to be that way? Trying to make themselves safe from IRA terrorism. Look for more and more cameras in the US, in other words. Just look how quickly the Boston Marathon bomber idiots were caught thanks to public surveillance. Just as most people thought that porno-scanners in airports were a fine idea because "it made them safe" they'll be fine with more and more cameras.

Re:A Small victory. (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#43633665)

Actually it was mostly due to the privatization of security. The police became less interested in low level crime like shoplifting so business owners started spending more money on CCTV. The police also started requiring any business that needed some kind of license (e.g. to sell alcohol) to also have CCTV covering the street outside.

It soon got to the point where the police wouldn't bother to investigate if there was no CCTV. If it wasn't handed to them on a plate they were not interested and would do everything possible to dissuade you from even reporting the crime. Even local government found that the only way to tackle crime was to install CCTV and pay the police to hire extra staff to monitor it.

The message is clear. If you want security you need CCTV because the police only deal with crimes where private security already did the hard part of their job for them.

Re:A Small victory. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633069)

Bullshit. There are no microphones in widespread use in the UK. I doubt that there are any at all but perhaps someone can provide evidence of at least one that is in use.

Examples (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633259)

http://statismwatch.ca/2009/06/03/uk-schoolkids-protest-cctv-hidden-microphones-in-class/

CCTV in schools with mics.

Code of conduct introduced in 2008 'stops' *councils* (it does not apply to others) using CCTV's with microphones in town centers, after several were caught trying them out. Currently they have *speakers*, the officer will shout at you from the CCTV tower. "Don't cross on the red light", "pick that trash up", "don't park there", "don't pee in that bush"....

It's a real creepy place, the UK, and we voted in Cameron to fix it, but the police fight any changes.

Re:A Small victory. (1)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#43633253)

If you didn't give 110% and say anything that could be remotely offensive to the management, you got called into the office and dealt with.

In many US states, they could be busted, for illegal wiretapping, due to recording audio, without the consent of all parties to the conversation.

Re:A Small victory. (1)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#43633331)

Sucks to be you and that company. If they would do that at my company, I would call THEM into the office and they would be thrown out before they could say lawsuit.

In Belgium (and probably many parts of Europe) it is forbidden to do things like that. e.g. in a bar it would be allowed to have a camera, but not pointed at the till. It can not be used to keep your people into check.

Still not going far enough and I applaud the win against 'the man'.

Time for a quote:
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. -- Franklin

Re:A Small victory. (3, Insightful)

Attila the Bun (952109) | about a year ago | (#43633651)

Time for a quote: They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. -- Franklin

This pithy quote comes up a lot in connection with civil liberties. The trouble is Benjamin Franklin wasn't talking about civil liberties, he was talking about self governance. A moment's thought would show that his words make no sense as a slogan for individual freedoms.

Since the beginning of civilisation we have had laws and people to enforce them: we have given up certain carefully chosen liberties in exchange for the much greater liberty of safety. The idea that safety and liberty of the individual are separate concepts is just wrong. They are both part of the same scale. Our task as citizens of a democracy is to find the most suitable balance.

Turned off, not removed (5, Informative)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year ago | (#43632739)

From the article: "The decision was made after Shoalhaven City Council was found to have breached several clauses of the Privacy and Personal Information Act.

After allegations made by a member of the public, only identified as SF, that the council had used its CCTV cameras to obtain personal information from him, the council was ordered to refrain from any conduct or action in contravention of the act.

The tribunal also ordered the council to render a written apology to SF for the breaches and advise him of any steps to be taken by council to remove the possibility of similar breaches in the future. The cameras are to remain turned off until the decision of the tribunal has been considered."

I wonder what personal info was gathered about the guy, and how.

Re:Turned off, not removed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632785)

knowing Australia at the moment (the nanny country) his lawn probably wasn't regulation height, or his bin wasn't exactly 90 degrees to the curb.

Re:Turned off, not removed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632887)

They vote against honesty. Why the heck are people thinking that they must not be seen in public? Is it really so hard to admit to where you go and what you do? Evil loves dark places. Just as the public wants the light of day cast on all things government it is rational to insist that the government knows all things about citizens and immigrants.

Re:Turned off, not removed (1)

Spikeles (972972) | about a year ago | (#43632915)

The Australian Privacy act [comlaw.gov.au] defines personal information as: personal information means information or an opinion (including information or an opinion forming part of a database), whether true or not, and whether recorded in a material form or not, about an individual whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained, from the information or opinion.

Re:Turned off, not removed (4, Interesting)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#43632935)

Some bits and pieces:

Looks like the City Council [illawarramercury.com.au] has spent two years and about $95,000 fighting resident Adam Bonner in tribunal after it used $150,000 in federal funding to install 18 cameras. One of the article's comments provides insight on why the opposition: CCTV cameras have shown time and time again that they do help immensely in solving crime, but the stats to determine whether they prevent crime are less clear."

An audit report [nsw.gov.au] has found that the council may also intend to stage its own small scale "security theater", by
* "Increase the perception of Nowra’s CBD as a safe place and reduce the fear of crime amongst business operators and the community" but
* "From the available statistics, it appears to be too early to judge if the system acts as a deterrent for potential offenders. Statistics for a longer period of time may identify a trend up or down but at present this is not observable from only a little over a year of compiling data."

Then again... stepping on the "conspiracy theory" tracks (aren't they juicy?):
* it also seems there's a new jail [2st.com.au] in town and some may want to fill it up or else the employment and stimulus money may go down [justiceaction.org.au] .

Re:Turned off, not removed (1)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#43633355)

I wonder what personal info was gathered about the guy, and how.

The how part we know. They used the camera's. The what part I do not want to know as it is irrelevant.
It is irrelevant if he was saying 'good afternoon' to a neighbor. It is irrelevant if he helped an old lady across the street. It is irrelevant if he stabbed his wife. It is irrelevant if he planted a bomb at a random marathon.

As long as there was NO indication and NO judge ordering him to be followed, they should not do that.

I know that in the USofA everything you do out in the open is public and that it is hard for many of the USofA to understand that for the rest of the world privacy does not end at your door. Having privacy is the highest form of liberty. All the rest comes with that.

Not that long ago there were countries where people where turned to spy on their neighbors and I don't think they were regarded as 'free'. Now we do the same and with the same excuse as those countries did: to protect and serve.

Privacy is an essential part of liberty. If you don't have privacy you will not have liberty.

Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it. ~ Learned Hand

Combatting Crime? (3, Insightful)

iCEBaLM (34905) | about a year ago | (#43632753)

Cameras don't combat crime. They don't prevent crime, they don't deter criminals, they don't allow police to stop perpetrators.

They are evidence after the fact, and a really easy way for the government to spy on you.

Re:Combatting Crime? (5, Interesting)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year ago | (#43632791)

Cameras don't combat crime. They don't prevent crime, they don't deter criminals, they don't allow police to stop perpetrators.

They are evidence after the fact, and a really easy way for the government to spy on you.

One night last year I was walking down a street when a car drove past me, the passenger threw a full cup of soda at me (and just missed). A block away I see the car has turned around and is coming toward me, so I whipped out my phone and held it up to record video. Like a vampire seeing a crucifix they stop their approach, then decide to leave down a side road, like the cowards they are. Sometimes, cameras do prevent crime.

Re:Combatting Crime? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633001)

For a camera to be effective:

1. The criminals have to notice the camera.
2. The criminals have to believe the camera is recording them or there is someone watching.
3. The criminals have to believe they will be caught so any video recording can be used to convict them.

Your story had all three. They noticed the camera and knew there was a real person recording them and that their plate could be used to identify them.

CCTV cameras are often unnoticed by criminals. They have their own mythos about how the CCTV system works. And they generally operate as if they are not going to be caught so any CCTV footage doesn't matter.

Re:Combatting Crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633073)

Also people who throw cans are acting on impulse and not planning. If it had been a gang who is involved in crime they would have come and got the smartphone and maybe mangled a few rips as they dont like being filmed.

Re:Combatting Crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633101)

Also people who throw cans are acting on impulse and not planning. If it had been a gang who is involved in crime they would have come and got the smartphone and maybe mangled a few rips as they dont like being filmed.

That's when you have to say to them (before they attack), "Too late, motherfkers! Instant upload, you're all now youtube stars!", and hope they are bright enough to want to not get arrested later.

Re:Combatting Crime? (5, Insightful)

MacTO (1161105) | about a year ago | (#43632815)

I always chuckle at signs that claim the area is protected by video cameras, simply because images of the camera jumping off the wall and performing ninja moves pass through my mind.

On the other hand, they are an investigative tool for after crimes have been committed. How useful they are, I cannot say because I do not entangle myself with the law (as a good guy or a bad guy). What I can say is that they are a product of a free society. For the most part, we don't go around arresting people for suspicious behaviour or the intent to commit crimes. That means that evidence must be collected after the fact, and CCTV is one of the tools for doing so.

As for being a really easy tool for governments to spy on people, maybe you should set your paranoia aside. There is no easy way to sift through the massive quantities of data produced by CCTV cameras, at least at present. If they were interested in spying on people, it would be far easier to have human eyes on the street reporting on the behaviour of people. Even that is excessive in most nations, because the various branches of the government are only interested in select people.

Re:Combatting Crime? (1)

DKlineburg (1074921) | about a year ago | (#43632885)

Having worked with CCTV, I think you are misinformed on the spying. Why it does take someone sitting in front of the camera, it is real easy to track people and get routines of there day.

Re:Combatting Crime? (2)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | about a year ago | (#43632923)

As for being a really easy tool for governments to spy on people, maybe you should set your paranoia aside. There is no easy way to sift through the massive quantities of data produced by CCTV cameras, at least at present.

It isn't necessarily about spying on "people" it is about spying on specific persons of interest. You pick somebody of interest and follow them around. Even worse, CCTV enables retroactive spying on someone - so someone becomes a person of interest and now the people in power can go back through months or even years of camera footage and see everything that person did - great for digging up dirt to blackmail them with.

This scenario works even though the footage is not categorized by the names of the people in the recording, all it takes is a known starting point for the person being retroactively stalked and then you can follow them around from that point onward.

Re:Combatting Crime? (1)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#43633367)

For the most part, we don't go around arresting people for suspicious behaviour or the intent to commit crimes.

Please turn off the tv and start browsing international news.
And nice to say that they don't use it to spy on people, because that is what they were used for in Australia and why they are being turned off.

The invasion of privacy is a given when you have cameraâ(TM)s. That is what they do. They record what I do in my private life without my direct consent.

Have you never seen somebody arrested? Showing that is (to me) a invasion in the privacy of those people, regardless if they are guilty or innocent.

Having people wearing a chip so their location can be determined is also a way to collect evidence after the fact. I hope you don't agree that that would be a good idea. The camera (with the current and future technology) is not that much different.

And perhaps some countries are only interested in a select group of people (e.g. wanted criminals) but that does not mean you must trow everything else out. The solution is many times worse then the problem. Security is a state of mind. The camera's, just like the TSA will change that mind of yours.

What is now seen as the exception, will soon become a standard. If one camera is good, so will be 2. 3 will not be bad and then 300, 300.000, camara's everywhere. And then people will say "hey, they have been here all along." and they will start putting them into your lawns, in your cars till the next step of putting them in your house.

I draw the line at camera number 1.

Re:Combatting Crime? (4, Interesting)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year ago | (#43632849)

Cameras don't combat crime. They don't prevent crime, they don't deter criminals, they don't allow police to stop perpetrators.

It's not unreasonable to argue that it was cameras that prevented the Tsarnaev brothers from carrying out their plan to travel on to New York and plant bombs in Times Square.

Granted, those were mainly private cameras, but public cameras would have done the job too.

My feeling (which I expect to be roundly flamed for, so go ahead if you must) is that camera surveillance in one form or another is pretty much inevitable in public places; and therefore the best way to ensure privacy and civil liberties is not to simply dig in one's heels and demand that the cameras be removed, but rather to figure out how to design cameras that are effective at recording crimes and also as resistant as possible to Big Brother-style abuse.

For example, imagine a law that allows government CCTV cameras, but only if they meet the following design criteria something like the following:

  1. The camera must store video data to a local storage device only -- it's not allowed to transmit video over any network
  2. The camera may not store any video for longer than 14 days. In fact, it is only allowed to contain enough storage space for 14 days' worth of video.
  3. The camera should store the video in an encrypted format. The keys necessary to decrypt the video should be kept by an independent agency and made available to the police only after a judge determines that a crime has been committed that justifies access to the camera's video feed
  4. The camera may not have a network data link faster than 2400 baud. That gives the government the ability to verify that the camera is operating, but no practical ability to access the camera's video stream remotely. If the government wants to review a camera's video, they will have to send someone physically out to the camera to collect its flash storage device. This makes centralized mass-monitoring and mass-data-collection impractical, while still allowing the government to collect specific video evidence after a crime has been committed.

Now I'm sure there are plenty of holes in the above design -- cleverer people than I can come up with something better -- but my point is that civil liberties will be better protected in the long run if we design them into the hardware and into the laws governing the design of said hardware, than if we simply stamp our feet and demand that the government not use a technology which many people perceive (correctly or incorrectly) to be an obvious way to identify and catch criminals.

Re:Combatting Crime? (1)

DKlineburg (1074921) | about a year ago | (#43632901)

This is an interesting take on the subject. I must admit, it it was truly not networked, I would fell more ok with the idea. The biggest abuse comes when you can real time track things across a large region. Having to physically go to a camera to obtain evidence stops the abuse. Yet the biggest help that a camera can offer is still there, after the fact.

Re:Combatting Crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632917)

Add to that what I saw in Italy (Sicily): every camera had a plaque beneath them that stated:
- it's owner
- when it was set up
- how long it is going to be there (when it is going to be reevaluated)
- the purpose it is going to be evaluated by

At least in theory I liked that every camera is evaluated every few years, those who never catch anything are taken off.

Re:Combatting Crime? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year ago | (#43632953)

I would like more CCTVs. Specifically, located in every FBI office. So we'll know why they ignored repeated warnings about Tam Tsarnaev from Russia and Saudi Arabia intelligence.

Re:Combatting Crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633087)

... it was cameras ...

And before that it was land lines as people phoned the police to report sightings of a criminal. We still use the phone to report fires and car crashes as the government isn't interested in using cameras to 'save' us from those dangers.

... design cameras that are effective at recording crimes ...

Cameras in public places record the 'public' and any crimes recorded are incidental to that.

Notice how they record people: Instantly observed from a command centre with no staff on the street to prevent a crime in progress. In truth, there's no-one to watch every camera either, so there's less safety than the technology suggests. As already mentioned on this page, camera surveillance works after the fact where your ideas about limiting real-time surveillance are useful. But why did the government buy real-time surveillance equipment when nobody would be watching them? So they can change their mind. There's even some nice propaganda telling you how a big-brother world will protect you, in a TV show called 'Person of interest'.

My housing estate has cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632993)

I didn't know until I was chatting to the estate super, he said it was cheaper than hiring gate security guards, and had been used to locate a car that was used in a murder (eventually capturing the owner). Cameras can sometimes be useful in catching someone *afterwards*.

The thing is, now I know the cameras are there, it creeps me out. I don't like being watched all the time. It doesn't give me a sense of security, it gives me a sense that creepy control freaks now rule my life. I get letters from the estate management, about driving slower on the entry road, about not swerving around the speed bumps on my bike, about turning my bin right way up, only if its not empty, and so on. Before I use to think these were generic letters sent to everyone, but no, they're individually sent after individually being monitored with the camera!

I'm sure they would have caught the murder a different way (his car plate would have been spotted it was only a matter of time), but the loss of privacy really does make a hell of a difference to the quality of life. I'd be happy if the cameras only pointed to everyone else but me, and I think that's the point. It's fine as long as your not the one being watched with them.

Re:Combatting Crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633033)

They are evidence after the fact, and a really easy way ...

... for the government to 'prove' you acted like a criminal.

You bought only 2.5 litres of petrol and put it in an unmarked metal can and paid with cash! Obviously the actions of an arsonist.

Re:Combatting Crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633291)

CCTV does combat crime. Criminals are repeat offenders by nature. You arent going to stop the first rape/murder from the fucking scum out there, however you are going to stop repeat offences by the knuckle dragging rapist, murdering scum out there.

Capture an offence once, you have the potential to stop the next 15 people being smashed, raped and killed on the streets.

If you are so sactamount about your privacy, live in a society that places privacy above personal security.

Simple

Law Violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632761)

The cops sure hate it when they are prevented from thuggery by inane laws.

Re:Law Violation (3, Insightful)

gmanterry (1141623) | about a year ago | (#43632839)

The cops sure hate it when they are prevented from thuggery by inane laws.

Or when someone records their actions with a camera. This is what bothers me. If the cops can monitor our every move the reciprocal should be true also. Why do they resist being photographed?

Re:Law Violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633039)

Really! I mean, if the cops have nothing to hide, then they have nothing to fear, right?

[posting AC for the obvious reason]

Re:Law Violation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632847)

of course, why do you think they signed up in the first place?

LOCAL government? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#43632773)

The local government is crying because it believes that it is losing an effective method in combating crime in public. Locals however are rejoicing that they are no longer being recorded whilst walking down the street."

WHO runs the "local" government here? Apparently *not* the locals, if "their" local government feels differently than them. Time to hire a different police chief? Time to ELECT a different "local" government?

Re:LOCAL government? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632793)

not how it works down here mate. you have to bend over and take it. You don't get to vote on police chiefs and either of the basically two local governments wants to do the exact same thing.

Re:LOCAL government? (1)

mab (17941) | about a year ago | (#43633095)

Local government doesn't have police in Australia. All police are state government.

Wrong, public is public (1)

BlueCoder (223005) | about a year ago | (#43632795)

If I or my neighbor can walk down the street with a camcorder or place one on my property looking out on the street I see no problem the police also doing so. Public is public. If it is effective I see no reason police can't put cameras up everywhere they could patrol. Furthermore the cameras don't need to be visible or obvious. I would personally place them outside bars and in high crime areas.

What I do object to is that the police are not required to be discrete about information they acquire. They and their employers need to be held accountable for disservice to the public. In other words they should not be able to blackmail or otherwise manipulate people. For example if someone commits adultery they should need a court order/oversight to reveal that information to anyone.

It's like the old days of switchboard operators in small towns that listened on on other peoples business. The police are in a position and have the opportunity to witness very private moments. Like for example a teenage girl in an auto accident resulting in a mutilated face. As private citizens they can do what they want but as police on the job they should be accountable to be discrete.

Re:Wrong, public is public (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632811)

If those public camera's video can be accessed by the public as easily as the police/government, then i see no problem in it. Then we could call out all the police brutality, and shoddy council workmanship.

Add satellite and overhead surveillance into mix? (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about a year ago | (#43632947)

Maybe there are issues of future concern here. New technologies always involve thoughtful consideration of how they change the world, they do need to be considered and not ignored out of hand.

Re:Wrong, public is public (3, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year ago | (#43632977)

Wrong, public is public

And 1 is equal to 1. Who cares? The fact that you're in the public doesn't mean that ubiquitous government surveillance is a good thing or that it's intelligent to desire it.

Re:Wrong, public is public (3, Insightful)

grumpy_old_grandpa (2634187) | about a year ago | (#43633075)

Your argument for total police surveillance of public space is flawed on two points:

1) Your comparison between yours or your neighbour's private recording, and blanket systematic surveillance is not valid. It is not valid because of the difference in scale. When you commit a crime, or a good deed, scale always matters. Kill a person, vs. a million, and you will see very different reactions. Same thing if you give a homeless person a coffee, or feed million hungry.

If we were to allow blanket police surveillance of all public space, with automatic face-detection, and what not of other technologies they deem useful, we'd end up in a 1984 / Kafka world of tyranny. Only from the false positives alone, there would be a prison population dwarfing the US' current for-profit "correctional" facilities.


2) Secondly, you seem to believe that the police can be trusted and uphold the law and code of conduct to the letter. Spend any time searching (YouTube or Google) for police brutality and mistakes, and you will find that the opposite is true. And no, this is not that case of "a few bad apples", it is a natural effect from the abuse and corruption of power.

Any power or privilege will be abused by a not insignificant number of people it is given to. It is unfortunately human nature. The police force is no different, and that is why there is thousands on thousands of videos showing the police acting like thugs all over the place. They cannot be trusted, and we must seek to limit their power, not expand it.

So coming back to the original problem of camera surveillance, the case in the article was a typical example of abuse of power by those who were entrusted with it. Give out more power, and this effect will only multiply. Nor are technological solutions to this social problem adequate or possible; they never are. Instead, we must simply avoid putting up cameras everywhere.


To summarize: All power will be abused. Therefore, we must grant only as little power as possible to any system or person in control, lest they abuse it. That's a basic property of any modern democracy, and the police force is no different.

Getting too easy (2)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year ago | (#43632817)

Technology is only going to make it easier and easier for governments and corporations to spy on us to an ever higher degree. There will always be those governments who are "doing it for our own good" and corporations that just do it for money. So I don't think that we should have to fight our governments and corporations every time that a new idea or abuse of technology pops into their heads. We don't just need laws but an actual constitutional amendment enshrining our Right to privacy. The 4th amendment is pretty good and often interpreted but I think that governments should be extremely limited in their data gathering ability. I don't want license plate readers noting where I am, and I really don't want video recognition systems starting to note where I am and who I'm with. I don't want visa selling information about what I buy.

There is certain information that certain parts of government genuinely need. Say driver's license information. But I think that it should be a jailable offense for any other government or non government person to access that information for any reason outside of checking if I am legally allowed to drive or not. If my power company has my billing information and address then they should only be allowed to access the information for the purpose of billing me or turning my power on. Even if their own marketing department wants a list of customers to send "educational information" they should not have access to that information. Certainly the government or a corporation should not be ever able to sell my information to "trusted third parties." Not only do I not trust those third parties but I Hate them.

One tiny trick I do is to use slight variations of my address with different organizations that I have to deal with Suite 30, Apt 33b, Unit 30 Upper to see who sells my information. Basically they all do. With extended information gathering do you think they won't sell that information.

I am in the grocery store and they are watching me (as in their facial recognition knows its me) and they see me look at Crapios a new cereal that is 110% Sugar. I examine the box to laugh at how crappy it is. Then I get a text with a coupon for crapios, I get home and there are flyers for crapios, And Visa makes a note that I am less credit worthy because people who eat crapios are generally stupid. On my drive home I get 3 speeding tickets and 4 stop sign tickets because the drones and nearly infinite traffic cameras get you each time you go 1mile over the speed limit or don't come to an absolute halt at a stop sign. Having lost my driver's license I decide to leave this stupid country for one with personal privacy protection and print my boarding pass and see another ad for crapios. Then I log into the internet and get no ads for crapios because I have ad-blocking software.

fabrication (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632855)

Nothing in the linked article supports the claim about "locals rejoicing". Maybe most people there are happy about the decision, maybe they're disappointed, maybe they don't care. The claim made about them in the Slashdot summary appears to be unsupported.

What..? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632865)

That's cute, it really is.

What I think you mean (not that it will ever make a difference) is that you resent the that fact law enforcement will record everything that you ever do, in hopes that it will inevitably be used against you (and it will), while anything and everything that you ever record will inherently be tossed out of court on account of the fact that public recordings of government and/or law enforcement officials is an inherently unlawful act.

Welcome to the United States, we hope that you enjoy your convicted and thoroughly enforced time here ;)

Wake up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632877)

I was born and raised in nowra and over the years it's got worse ..... They need to have more CCTV cameras so people can feel safe .... Nowra is worse then most parts of Sydney ,clean it up and reconnect them and add more ... All you people that are against it , would be a different story when something happens to you or your family you will change your mind ... Wake up nowra and clean up the streets .

Who's Going To Pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632905)

After the government's recent acknowledgment that their facial recognition cameras didn't work in Boston (weren't they upgraded a couple of years ago after that video game advertisement prank) and with all the cost cutting going on in Washington how could the government afford to hire enough workers (even at minimum wage) to watch all the cameras. And we certainly don't want to contract this out to private industry - businessmen would need to hire illegals to make their "1%" level of profit. We could require seniors to watch cctv footage to offset social security payments. An "American Watch" type public service program.

Re:Who's Going To Pay (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43633051)

They could stream the content live to the internet. They could stream all of the feeds in an easy to navigate, quick to load, standards-based web site for the world to see. I could see people willingly logging in, on their own time, and monitoring the streets with the intent to notify police if there appears to be anything afoot. I'm not positive but I recall there being some success with a similar program only it was people watching the border between the United States and Mexico though I've never participated or bothered looking into it so my knowledge is only hearsay and fuzzy recollection.

believe it or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43632939)

this is the new trend.
the police state is coming to an end.

Cameras catch police in the act too (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633067)

This story has video of one of the U.S.'s police beating a teenage girl up, and the page has links to others, so cameras will sometimes protect citizens, albeit after the fact. http://jonathanturley.org/2009/09/29/seattle-officer-fired-over-videotaped-beating-of-teenage-girl-in-cell/

prison cameras (0)

locopuyo (1433631) | about a year ago | (#43633081)

This is Australia. It is like turning off the cameras in a prison.

Be consistent (2)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about a year ago | (#43633085)

Are there CCTV cameras in City Hall so the public can make sure there are no crimes happening with their money?

"effective method in combating crime" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633237)

Is it? I hear the claimed Boston bombers couldn't be identified from all CCTV footage they had of them. And both guys were in the database.

And of course the cameras did nothing to prevent the deed from getting done.

In reality the cameras are there for Total Information Awareness. [wikipedia.org]

Advice requested (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633285)

What's the best (most effective, easiest, cheapest) way to destroy/disable one or many CCTV cameras without being caught?
Using a drone to spay black paint on the lens?

Re:Advice requested (2)

JockTroll (996521) | about a year ago | (#43633415)

Shine a blue laser on it, it will kill the sensor. Shoot it with a flobert rifle, the report is very quiet and they're powerful enough for the purpose. Shoot it with a slingshot. Splash it with hydrofluoric acid, which will destroy the lens (however it may backfire badly). The laser is however the best and most effective way, it's smaller than a handheld flashlight and it has good range.

Paranoia People (5, Insightful)

Rangelus (1766356) | about a year ago | (#43633339)

I know people aren't going to see this, and it'll never be modded up, but whatever.

I live in a country that has a high number of CCTV cameras (actually, mostly traffic cameras and webcams and security cameras that the police are allowed to access). I feel they are nothing but good.

Every day the news is full of crimes being shown on camera, and the criminals apprehended. While there isn't a lot of serious violent crime, there is plenty of petty theft and the like here, and the cameras help a lot in catching the perpetrators.

Do I worry about being spied on? No, why would I? The cameras are only in public places, somewhere anyone could film me without my knowledge anyway. I live in a fairly large city, why would anyone be interested in me specifically unless I commit a crime? Even if they were, what could they really find out about me by watching some cameras? The places I visit? That I pick my nose and scratch my balls while walking down the street? All of this is obtainable in other ways.

People, it's PUBLIC. You should have no expectation of privacy in public. The government isn't installing cameras in your shower. They aren't bugging your house. They are putting up cameras to record crimes and help catch criminals. All in public areas where you don't have any privacy anyway.

'Public'? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43633427)

I think that attitude works as long as feel the cameras are watched by people who agree with you.

To people wanting to protest a new power station, or protesting banker bailouts, complaining about a bailout, suddenly they're out of the mainstream and the cameras are used to monitor and arrest them.

The police killed a man at the bank protests, Ian Tomlinson, and the cameras miraculously didn't record any of the details. Do you believe the cameras would prevent crime? Did you believe the cameras would be watched dispassionately by upstanding professionals?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Ian_Tomlinson

"Nick Hardwick, chair of the IPCC, said on 9 April there were no CCTV images of the assault on Tomlinson because there were no CCTV cameras in the area.[87] On 14 April, the Evening Standard wrote that it had discovered at least six CCTV cameras in the area around the assault. After photographs of the cameras were published, the IPCC reversed its position and said its investigators were looking at footage recovered from cameras in Threadneedle Street near the corner of Royal Exchange Passage, where Tomlinson was assaulted.[88]"

IPCC = Police complaints authority, police investigating policemen.

locals? (2)

pbjones (315127) | about a year ago | (#43633379)

a single person complained and took the action. Not a popular decision.

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