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UK to lnstall Wireless Mics on London Streets

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the no-sir-that's-not-at-all-disturbing-no-sir dept.

Privacy 472

johnthorensen writes "Looks like parts of London may be seeing wireless microphones on the street sometime soon. At this point, they're looking to use them to monitor noise ordinance violations - if you call about a repeated disturbance, they'll mount one by your place to monitor noise levels for the next several days. The article also notes that they intend to locate them more permanently outside bars and nightclubs. The microphones apparently communicate via wireless Internet connection, although no real details are given as to the nature of said connection. Are London residents getting the boiled frog treatment?"

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One question before we begin... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466822)

"Boiled frog treatment"? Huh? Elaborate please, O limey one.

Re:One question before we begin... (2)

dan dan the dna man (461768) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466834)

As a Limey myself I have to admit I hadn't the faintest idea what that referred to, Google is similarly unhelpful on this topic.

Re:One question before we begin... (4, Informative)

dan dan the dna man (461768) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466840)

Ah.. enlightenment :

They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger.
But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant, and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late.
The frog's survival instincts are geared towards detecting sudden changes.

Re:One question before we begin... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466857)

This isn't exclusive to frogs, it's a good way to cook humans too, just put them in a nice warm jacuzzi, then slowly turn up the heat until they pass out, boil for 45 minutes, salt to taste.

Re:One question before we begin... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466883)

Here [snopes.com] is what Snopes has to say about this, take it for you will.

Re:One question before we begin... (-1, Redundant)

nagora (177841) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466899)

The frog's survival instincts are geared towards detecting sudden changes.

It might be worth pointing out that this is an urban myth, probably born of some misbegotten YUPPY Powerpoint show in the late 80's.

TWW

Re:One question before we begin... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466918)

Oh man, I read that as, "probably porn of some misbegotten YUPPY Powerpoint show in the late 80's." I was think, where the hell was I for this 80's yuppy Powerpoint porn!?

Re:One question before we begin... (5, Informative)

betelgeuse-4 (745816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466850)

I think they're refering to the saying that if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water it'll leap out, but if you put it in cold water then gradually heat it won't try to escape and you'll boil it. It's the standard /. analogy when anything that could conceivably lead to an Orwellian society appears in the news.

The process is actually more likely to work on a human than a frog, because the human body would do various things to try to cool down once things got a bit hot, whereas the frog could only regulate its temperature by getting out.

Re:One question before we begin... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466882)

The process is actually more likely to work on a human than a frog, because the human body would do various things to try to cool down once things got a bit hot, whereas the frog could only regulate its temperature by getting out.

On the contrary, the human body does various things including indicating to the brain that there's a problem that can be dealt with by climbing out. The frog never gets those indications. If the frog jumps out before it boils you simply heated the water too fast. A human won't be killed by this method unless he is physically prevented from leaving the water.

Re:One question before we begin... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466895)

No, the frog boiling thing is just BS.

Re:One question before we begin... (1)

betelgeuse-4 (745816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466969)

As a frog can't regulate its own temperature it will always try to move to an environment at a suitable temperature, so it will notice the heating, no matter how slow it is (see Snopes [snopes.com] ). In contrast, a significant number of people have been killed by sitting in hot tubs and spas at high temperatures for too long:

"There have been several deaths from extremely hot water (over 110F) in a spa. High temperatures can cause drowsiness, which may lead to unconsciousness, resulting in drowning. Raised body temperature can also lead to heat stroke and death."(From here [securityworld.com] )

Re:One question before we begin... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466965)

Apparently this is a myth. Still, as an analogy, it works quite nicely.

Mods, please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466999)

How on earth can the parent be a troll because he is asking a question that I'm sure quite a lot of people wanted to ask?

And lo and behold, the direct answer to the apparently trollish question has been modded +5Informative. So, what gives?

Seriously, I sometimes get the impression that the lower your IQ the more mod points you get on /....

Deus Ex anyone? (2, Interesting)

lxt (724570) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466823)

Sounds familiar to the concept in Deus Ex - the use of microphones by police forces to pick up (gun) noise...albeit for slightly different purposes (noise management).

1984! (3, Insightful)

rastakid (648791) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466887)

Orwell was right! He was only 21 years ahead of his time.

Re:1984! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466976)

I comlpetely agree: a lot more people should have read (and understood) 1984. this initiative brings many subtle problems:
1) what guarantiees are given about the use of the recorded sounds by the police? for example could they be used as an evidence in different crimes? do we really want to live in a world where all of our images and sounds are monitored?

2) if a citizen asks the police to install a mick in order to capture people doing noise, it means that this is very frequent. Consequently why it is not sufficient to put a policemen hidden around? only few days would be necessary: after people see that when they disturb they are fined, they will stop doing it.

3) if the objective is to find when noises are produced, microphones are overkill: it is only necessary an instrument measuring the intensity of the noises. I suspect instead that this is only the first step: they want to get people used to get sound-monitored.

Francesco

Re:Deus Ex anyone? (2, Informative)

SacredNaCl (545593) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466963)

the use of microphones by police forces to pick up (gun) noise...

St Louis City already has a few of these up and operational for gun noise. They set them up in 3 different positions around hot spots to triangulate where the shot was fired from. It's mostly a deterrant to celebratory gunfire.

Tampering? (3, Interesting)

SteelV (839704) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466824)

How/where will these be located to avoid tampering?

Re:Tampering? (1)

ricky-road-flats (770129) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466833)

How/where will these be located to avoid tampering?

Up on lamp posts and street signs, IIRC.

Re:Tampering? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466841)

I don't think that's good enough. What if some bar owner knows where it is and just puts some sound-wall on that side of his building to redirect sound elsewhere?

Re:Tampering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466930)

And it doesn't really matter where these things are if they are using WEP. WEP keys can be cracked in minutes, I hope they are at least using AES/Rijndael or something similar.

Re:Tampering? (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466891)

The UK authorities seem to manage placing speed cameras where they face minimal damage or tampering (and maximum fine production), Im sure they can provide suitable containers and locations for these things.

"Minimal damage"? Really? (4, Funny)

lxt (724570) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466931)

Don't know about you, but where I live every single speed camera has been subject to repeat arson by people throwing burning tires over them. So, the speed camera authority responded by creating speed cameras which couldn't have said burning rubber thrown on to them.

However, they severly underestimated the talent and intelligence of drunken men - I swear one night I saw a group of people standing on their shoulders, rotating a speed camera around 90 degrees. Nobody in the police actually realised it had been rotated for a few months...

Re:Tampering? (4, Funny)

Steve Cox (207680) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466948)

Hopefully in the same sort of places as these speed cameras [blueyonder.co.uk] :)

Steve...

1984 (4, Insightful)

maelstrom (638) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466826)

I don't think its coincidence that George Orwell was British.

Chicken Little (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466844)

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The sky is falling. Just like it did when they installed surveillance cameras. Oh wait... the sky didn't fall!

Re:Chicken Little (2, Insightful)

maelstrom (638) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466863)

I'm not crying slippery slope, but at what point do you stand up and say this isn't right?

Re:Chicken Little (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12467005)

at what point do you stand up and say this isn't right?

Maybe when they start putting listening devices or cameras in your private homes. Do you have any expectation of privacy in a public place such as on the streets?

Re:Chicken Little (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466868)

the sky didn't fall!
neither did crime

Re:Chicken Little (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466981)

Ok, but that was nevertheless the intent - it wasn't a secret plan to oppress people's rights.

(Of course, arguing from the uselessness point of view is the correct approach...)

Re:1984 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466856)

I don't think its coincidence that George Orwell was British.

As all the aliens laugh, I don't think it's coincidence George Orwell was human.

Re:1984 (0, Troll)

TummyX (84871) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466871)

OMFG that was the most fucking insightful comment I've ever read!!!"L@$$

mod up! mod up!

*sigh*

Re:1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466893)

I don't think its coincidence that George W Bush is American.

Re:1984 (0)

lxt (724570) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466921)

I don't think its coincidence that Hitler was German.

Now mod me up insightful damn it!

Re:1984 (4, Informative)

Sweetshark (696449) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466946)

I don't think its coincidence that Hitler was German. Now mod me up insightful damn it!
Nice try. But Hitler was not german.

Re:1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12467006)

Nice try. He was born mere kilometers from the border. That part of Austria may as well have been Germany -- in fact, it was frequently referred to on turn-of-the-century maps as part of "Greater Germany."

To rephrase the parent ... (1, Troll)

ggvaidya (747058) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466950)

Ah, George Orwell was British! A coincidence? I think not!!!

James Joyce was Irish ... a coincidence? Ah, that's what you think!

Good idea! (3, Interesting)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466830)

This is actually a really good idea. I've had the neighbors call the cops on me for noise violations several times. Nevermind the facts that I had a noise meter monitoring my speakers from a meter away the whole time and I not once broke the law. A little bit of objectivity could keep people from being screwed by prudish neighbors. As long as these microphones are technologically unsuitable to record conversations, this is a great thing.

Re:Good idea! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466915)

Well, part of it is a good idea, the part you mention. However, what is problematic imho is this part:

"The article also notes that they intend to locate them more permanently outside bars and nightclubs. The microphones apparently communicate via wireless Internet connection, although no real details are given as to the nature of said connection."

While this may also be justified if you want to meassure noise levels (and if there is a concrete issue), having to worry about things you talk about on the street being recorded by the authorities certainly isn't something we should take lightly.

Re:Good idea! (1)

SacredNaCl (545593) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466972)

While this may also be justified if you want to meassure noise levels (and if there is a concrete issue), having to worry about things you talk about on the street being recorded by the authorities certainly isn't something we should take lightly.

I could be mistaken, but I believe they got John Gotti by wiring up all of the parking meters on the streets he walked with bugs.

Re:Good idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466973)

Why has everyone assumed these microphones will record everything they pick up? If you're monitoring noise levels, what good does it do? The only relevent data is the noise level. It could be reduced further; the only relevent data is if the noise limits have been breached, and by how much.

I don't think GCHQ are interested in what some drunken twat thinks about Tony Bliar somehow.

Re:Good idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466989)

"Why has everyone assumed these microphones will record everything they pick up? If you're monitoring noise levels, what good does it do?"

I don't think everyone really assumed that. However, how do you know they won't be used for that or won't be used for that in the future?

I think that is what got people worried here, they could be used for bad things and though you might be of the opinion that the benefits of this far outweighs the potential problems, however, you should at least aknowledge these problems and keep an eye on them.

Re:Good idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12467011)

However, how do you know they won't be used for that or won't be used for that in the future?

Because of they're physical design and construction. We don't know what that is yet, but once you know how these microphones are designed it's quite easy to work out what their current & future capabilities will be. It's the same as most CCTV cameras; they only record one low-res b&w frame every coupld of seconds and they're not currently capable of being used to record colour HDTV. If the design changes, I'll be slightly more concerned.

you should at least aknowledge these problems

Sure, I can imagine a theoretical time in the future when these microphones could be used to eavesdrop on political oponents, for example. However to do so would require a massive short-circuiting of current systems E.g. the Polic would suddenly have to start taking direct orders from a government ministry and not a single person involved in the command chain would ever question it. It;s so highly unlikly to happen, I think I can sleep pretty safe in my bed.

Like I said, I don't think GCHQ are interested in what some drunken twat thinks about Tony Bliar somehow.

Westminster wireless network (4, Informative)

stevewrd (870518) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466842)

Westminster council is implementing a wireless network to cover the area, see http://www.etmag.com/publication/magazine/2004-10/ 62.htm [etmag.com] . Noise pollution in cities is considered a major problem in the UK and measures such as this to prevent a minority making life unpleasant for a majority should be welcomed. If you want loud noise, just wear a pair of headphones...

they are for your protection (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466843)


perhaps a bullet between the eyes of a few politicians on both sides of the pond would protect more people than some stupid mic's

still, anyone wanner buy some wireless mics ?, 1 owner slighly worn due to removal from installation

That's right (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466845)

Next time, vote BNP.

Re:That's right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466855)

And then, when they've kicked out all the Pakis and Jews and removed Britain from the EU, then what?

Thank God for natural selection....

I'm a London resident... (4, Insightful)

Hortensia Patel (101296) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466846)

... and to be honest I can't get too worked up about this.

Public streets are just that: public. You don't get to veto who's watching and/or listening to you. If you want to discuss insurrection or your new water-fuelled-engine invention, go somewhere private.

Besides, excessive noise is an infringement of privacy too, in my opinion.

Re:I'm a London resident... (2, Interesting)

rshoger (766169) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466877)

in public space you do assume some level of public time, in that when a moment comes it passes un recorded. The time may be recorded by individuals in whatever medium, but the use of the information gathered about that moment isn't going to be databased under your name and accessible to high level officials and beauracratic institutions. Lists of just names in the hands of political entities is a dangerous thing; politics are volatile and information once benign can come back and do powerful things at later dates. I think it would be important to share the hardware capabilities of these mics. If they aren't sampling at a high enough rate to capture inteligible language, than the fear that these devices will be used in a malicious way is somewhat removed.

Re:I'm a London resident... (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466928)

If they aren't sampling at a high enough rate to capture inteligible language,

Initially. Then a year or so later, change a parameter.

Re:I'm a London resident... (1)

rshoger (766169) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466968)

That's why I feel it is important that the hardware be built in such a way to avoid this and the technical sheets released to the public to ensure this. Releasing the schematics of course brings in the worry of the units being hacked... but I would rather the unit be hacked and the result understood by everyone than a group of 4 people with the teck

Re:I'm a London resident... (1)

Hortensia Patel (101296) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466934)

If they aren't sampling at a high enough rate to capture inteligible language, than the fear that these devices will be used in a malicious way is somewhat removed.

Good point; recording statistical data rather than actual samples ought to address the alleged intent perfectly well.

I did wonder while typing my original post whether the framerate on street CCTV was sufficient to allow lip-reading, in which case the privacy arguments become rather moot.

Re:I'm a London resident... (1)

rshoger (766169) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466975)

It might come in at that rate, but I doubt it would be recorded at that rate because of the storage requirements. But really I doubt it even comes out of the cameras at high enough rates to lip read because that would be a huge amount of bandwith.

Re:I'm a London resident... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466903)

This is bunk, though. In much of Europe there is a culture of playing music in the street that simply doesn't exist in the US or the UK. Instead we protect our "right" to go around in miserable silence, and make ridiculous claims like "excessive noise infringes my privacy" (which it doesn't by even the most hardcore privacy advocate's defition of the word.) I wouldn't be surprised if the RIAA had something to do with it too.

To turn you quote back at you, public streets are just that: public. You shouldn't get to inflict your "I don't like to hear music" position on the rest of the world.

Re:I'm a London resident... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466980)

Once you've developed your fabulous new invention that stops noise directly at the boundary of my property please get back to me. Until that time, kindly think a little bit more. Noise doesn't stay in one place, and it sure as fuck doesn't stay in public places only.

I'm a Londoner as well (4, Insightful)

DancesWithBlowTorch (809750) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466922)

and I have to disagree.

There's a difference between between "public" as in "you can't complain if someone stands next to you in the tube and overhears all of your conversation" and "public" as in "you never know who's watching and listening". London is already tightly packed with CCTV (although I have to object to the "CC". I fail to see what's so closed circuit about wireless cameras that present their pictures on the net, like this one [bbc.co.uk] , very close to where I live). Nevertheless, whenever the police publishes pictures of an "unidentified" mugger, you see that it is actually impossible to identify an unknown person on the pictures. What is possible, however, is to follow certain persons around town as they do their daily work.

To cut it short: London is already quite Orwellian (the Royal Opera [royaloperahouse.org] is right...). We definitely do not need microphones eavesdropping on us. I can already see the first headlines in the metro: "Drug dealers arrested after being overheard by micros!" And everyone will cheer...

Re:I'm a Londoner as well (1)

Hortensia Patel (101296) | more than 9 years ago | (#12467003)

That's a perfectly reasonable point of view.

Part of where I'm coming from - ever since reading Bob Shaw's Other Days, Other Eyes I've been convinced that attempts to hold back the spread of surveillance devices are Canute-like in the extreme. (I think David Brin has also written on the same subject.) Once they're tiny, disposable, wirelessly-networked, absurdly cheap and plausibly deniable, they WILL be everywhere.

Rather than fighting a losing battle against technological inevitability, I think we'd be better off addressing the other end of the issue - let people monitor whatever they like, since there's no way to stop them, but restrict what use can be made of information gained in this way. Make it inadmissible as evidence in court, for example.

It's not an ideal situation, in that the potential for more subtle abuse (employment discrimination, for example) will still exist, but it may be the best we can do.

In Russia .. (0)

RedLaggedTeut (216304) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466947)

If you want to discuss your new water-fuelled-engine invention, go somewhere private.

Well, I heard the Russian embassy offers these private rooms which are protected by all known countermeasures against eavesdropping. Maybe that is what you mean?

a little late: (2, Insightful)

3.09 a hour (812839) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466849)

" if you call about a repeated disturbance, they'll mount one by your place to monitor noise levels for the next several days." Saturday night: End all party (the forth this month to end all) file a noise complaint Monday: Technition installs mic (if your LUCKY, and he installs it on the first workday) Tues-Thurs: nothing recorded on mic Compaired to: Saturday: Police come to noise complaint, tell people to shut it off and go home *note* im a firm beliver in just going over there myself before anyone gets called, its faster than waiting for the police anyway you look at it.

Re:a little late: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466886)

its better just to join the party

1984 here we come (5, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466853)

The first thing this reminded me of was the book 1984, where people are worried that hidden microphones may pick up their anti Big Brother conversations.

Having said that, it might be okay as long as actual sounds are not transmitted, but rather just sound levels (properly encrypted of course). Somehow, I don't have much faith though.

The UK is slowly moving towards a survalance nation. We have more CCTV per person than anyone else in Europe. Of course, violent crime is actually on the rise.

Frankly, I don't really care if my attacker was caught on CCTV, or even brought to justice. What I care about is not being mugged in the first place, feeling safe and protecting my privacy.

Re:1984 here we come (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466896)

Frankly, I don't really care if my attacker was caught on CCTV, or even brought to justice. What I care about is not being mugged in the first place, feeling safe and protecting my privacy.

You're contradicting yourself, fear of justice makes people less likely to commit crimes so you imply that support such cameras. Also, safety and privacy are exclusive in numerous regards.

London (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466902)

Move away. I just did.

Less noise, less pollution, less traffic, less crime, less intrusion, less stress, less expense.

London is a great place to visit for a week. It's a horrible place to live and work, though it's still better than Manchester.

Re:1984 here we come (2, Insightful)

Tjoppen (831002) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466905)

Well, sound is just sound levels sampled at a higher rate.
So after a while they could just go rate = 44.1kHz...

Re:1984 here we come (1)

Zone-MR (631588) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466908)

[quote]Frankly, I don't really care if my attacker was caught on CCTV, or even brought to justice. What I care about is not being mugged in the first place, feeling safe and protecting my privacy.[/quote]
If attackers were usually caught and brought to justice, it'd make you feel safer and reduce the risk of you being mugged in the first place.

Re:1984 here we come (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466955)

"brought to justice". Ha.

Remember the quote "Police, they're never around when you need them". Microphones will be useless for preventing muggings, but a network of them will be great for spying on people the government doesn't like or wants to get rid of. Dr David Kelly, what happened to him? Oh, he's dead before he could talk...

In UK only the law-abiding fear the law (1)

Surur (694693) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466987)


Law enforcement by the judicial system is very weak in the UK. This is more likely to catch the person throwing a once off birthday party than the neighbor across the street with 20 ASBO's against him already, who drives around in a car with false number plates and lives in a council flat on Disability Living Allowance.

Surur

Re:1984 here we come (1)

mpcooke3 (306161) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466943)

i do feel more safe if there is CCTV.

Like on the bus going through peckham when groups of youths from the local youth detention center "enquired" about what type of phone i had. Also outside clubs where fights regularly break out.

I'm not saying we don't need more police or anything like that and i hate the whole ID card scheme but I actually quite like CCTV and brighter lights.

Re:1984 here we come (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466998)

Wouldn't you rather have more police around to actually stop crime instead of a camera to film you getting your head kicked in?

Re:1984 here we come (2, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466956)

"The first thing this reminded me of was the book 1984, where people are worried that hidden microphones may pick up their anti Big Brother conversations."

Erm. I have some problems with that scenario:

1.) The more that is recorded, the more that has to be sifted through and turned useful. Even with decent voice recognition, this is a hell of a lot of work requiring a LOT of processing power (assuming it's even automatic), lots of bandwidth, and LOTs of mics all over the place to actually catch anybody.

2.) There would need to be a LOT of man power to actually follow up on the percieved threats. This wouldn't be so bad except it's very difficult to imagine there wouldn't be far too many false hits.

3.) Once aware of it, would anybody really be dumb enough to say the wrong thing near one of these mics?

Maybe one day Orwellian Big Brother will be feasible in some form, but I really do think it's a lot farther away than installing wireless mics all over the place. This is why I don't get these images in my mind when Slashdot posts stories like this. Oppressive governments have a history of not being easy to maintain. (not to mention that the benefactors of that sort of power aren't pre-disposed to living a long worry-free life.)

Re:1984 here we come (1)

arevos (659374) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466958)

Frankly, I don't really care if my attacker was caught on CCTV, or even brought to justice. What I care about is not being mugged in the first place, feeling safe and protecting my privacy.
This seems a curious thing to say. I take it you believe that jail is not an effective deterrent against crime? What would you suggest in its place?

Re:1984 here we come (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466996)

"This seems a curious thing to say. I take it you believe that jail is not an effective deterrent against crime? What would you suggest in its place?"

Look at it this way, we now have more CCTV than ever, and more voilent crime than ever. That would seem to suggest that CCTV is not a deterrant to voilent crime.

Consider this. Voilent crime has risen. For some reason, people are not more inclined to commit voilent crimes. Some people would suggest that this is because punishment is not as harsh as it used to be (hard labour, death penalty). I would suggest that it is because our society is becomming more disfunctional.

I'm not saying the past was great. However, class divides have gotten bigger. The poor are even more disenfanchised than they used to be. Also, commercialism has made people desire things they don't really need, and they feel very strongly when they can't get them. Thatcherism has also made people selfish. Many Brits also seem to drink too much. Where did the idea of going out to drink, rather than just socialise come from?

Other countries have less crime (of all kinds) than us without having more police, CCTV or microphones.

Privacy is important to. If I put a camera in every room of your house, I could guaruntee that no crime would go unpunished on your property. I bet you wouldn't be too pleased about it though.

Oh, SUPER! (2, Insightful)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466881)

We already rejoice in the most pervasive video surveilance in the world. Now they're going to have the whole bloody island wired for sound as well.

At least they're not touting this as an anti-terrorist measure. I guess that's no longer as credible as it used to be.

Re:Oh, SUPER! (3, Funny)

goldmeer (65554) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466991)

Now they're going to have the whole bloody island wired for sound

You missed the wireless part of "wireless microphones".

WiFi squatters? (3, Insightful)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466894)

One big question about the deployment of such mics: how will they interoperate with other WiFi networks?

If they will interfere or occupy the wrong frequency bands it's a big help to those who have all to fear from the technical achievements of WiFi.

The Brits love being screwed by their government (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466901)

The "stiff upper lip" of which the Brits are so proud means that they
are quite happy to tolerate government oppression. The state is
permitted to levy extremely high taxes and nobody cares. Fuel is $6.5
a gal and almost everything in the shops is badly over priced against
world prices.

The resulting low standard of living is tolerated by the people who
seem resigned to their fate.

The government routinely uses computerized law enforcement such as
speed cameras and OCR for the London congestion tax. If a stolen
british car is driven in London its owner somehow has to prove
innocence. The burdon of proof no longer lies with the state. The
Brits just roll over and accept these injustices.

Boiled frog is an excellent analogy. The average Britain's freedom is
being whittled away one small step at a time and nobody seems to care.

Its hilarious.

Re:The Brits love being screwed by their governmen (3, Insightful)

arevos (659374) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466933)

I take it you're not British. Might I ask if you have any experience living in Britain, or if you're just basing your opinion on second-hand information?

Re:The Brits love being screwed by their governmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466961)

Yup .. not British. I actually have a house in the UK and an appartment in the US and live in both countries on and off so I am in a very good position to compare.

I am very fond of the UK and like many Americans love the British people. They are a warm and caring people with a good sense of justice.

But IMHO they are far too trusting of a governemnt which snips away at their freedom and also creates a very low standard of living. Every Brit knows that goods are over priced. They even call their own country "Rip-Off-Britain", but they just accept the situation and do not question it further.

Let me give an example. They just ran an election where neither party even mentioned the very high cost of gas (petrol). This one tax significantly affects the standard of living of lower income people.

Why would this not be an election issue? Because neither party is prepared to give up the revenue it generates.

Again - nobody seems to care.

Boiled frog.

Re:The Brits love being screwed by their governmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466993)

The cost of goods in shops is nothing to do with the government. Or are you suggesting a mandate for more government interference in the free market, to "correct" the problem? That's pretty hypocritical of you.

Re:The Brits love being screwed by their governmen (1)

denominateur (194939) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466971)

I moved to Britain 8 months ago to study physics. While I must say that the universities are rightly among the best in the world, I and many others feel exactly like the parent poster about Britain, it sucks!

Informative? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466962)

Wow, it's always amazing to see to which lows /. mods can sink.

To mod parent, who is clearly insulting and a flamebait, informative, though parent doesn't offer any information apart from anti-british bs, is really an amazing feed.

You really should be proud of yourselfs!

P.S.: I'm not even british, but this is just sickening.

Re:The Brits love being screwed by their governmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466970)

I am British.
The above poster (American) has got it right.

Re:The Brits love being screwed by their governmen (1)

travellerjohn (772758) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466974)

This got to be a Troll...

The UK government hasnt got around to setting retail prices quite yet...

and they havent introduced anything as oppresive as the Patriot Act either.

Re:The Brits love being screwed by their governmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466983)

I'm British, well, English, this is spot on.

I reckon it's the morons up North that continue to vote in governments like Labour with such Nazis as Blunkett causing all the trouble. Well, it is, just look at the visualisation things they have for which way constiuencies went.

Re:The Brits love being screwed by their governmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466986)

The average Britain's freedom??? You mean there's more than one Britain?!?!

As usual... (0, Offtopic)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466906)

the majority of the slashdot crowd over react say how bad this could be. "Oh no my rights"! Then click refresh.

Westminster is only a little bit of London (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466912)

There are many boroughs in London, Westminster is but one of them.

Re:Westminster is only a little bit of London (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12467015)

If this is a geography lesson for Americans, perhaps you should start with the assetion that England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom aren't just London, too. And some hint as to where Europe is.

Not London resident (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466914)

London residents are called "Londoners". Just a little FYI there, move on.

london is quiet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466927)

i've lived in central london and central new york - and let me tell you, new york is far far noisier.
and it never goes quiet. at least in London theres that 'dead zone' between 3am and 5am

well... (1)

fender_rock (824741) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466940)

microphones seem to be a good idea in detecting when the noise becomes too loud, but how does a microphone tell you whos making all the noise?

Re:well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466979)

but how does a microphone tell you whos making all the noise?
It can't, but for poor bastards like Chris Tucker they are going to know who's speaking...

Eh? (3, Funny)

ickypoo (568859) | more than 9 years ago | (#12466967)

Are they asking for drunken serenades?

Because it sure seems like they are.

Demolition Man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12466982)

"John Spartan, you are fined one credit for a violation of the verbal morality statute."

Big Brother ... (1)

PGC (880972) | more than 9 years ago | (#12467012)

is not only watching you ; from now on he can hear you also .

Balancing of rights and another example (2, Interesting)

iritant (156271) | more than 9 years ago | (#12467016)

While Londoners are using Microphones to handle noise violations, the people of East Palo Alto, California used them for accoustic analysis to determine from which direction the bullets were flying in a particularly gang-ridden neighborhood, and it was reported to have worked. Very few residents complained about their rights being violated.

Now, on the other hand, if London started recording conversations, that would make for a more interesting - and invasive- use. At that point we're heading right for 1984. Of course, London already uses cameras in public places for use as evidence, so their networking infrastructure is already there...

Here's a better idea... (0, Flamebait)

Xarius (691264) | more than 9 years ago | (#12467018)

While this is all well and good, it's useless while our justice system is a pathetic case of slapping on the wrist. People simply aren't afraid of British Prisons. My step-father is a prison officer, and these people have PLAYSTATION TWO's in their cells. Most prisoners will repeat offend without any fear whatsoever of going to prison.

Cut the crap, and make prison the hell-hole it's meant to be, and extend sentences.

Security? (1)

Kinky Bass Junk (880011) | more than 9 years ago | (#12467021)

My first thoughts of this were "how secure would it be?" Would be a crackers dream land if they were high-quality... I can't really warm up to the idea of microphones on the street, regardless of their technical capability; there's just something a little chilling about having people listening to make sure you don't make too much noise.
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