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Spy Drones Take to the Sky in the UK

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the shoo-fly dept.

Privacy 529

Novotny writes to tell us The Guardian is reporting that the UK's has launched a new breed of police 'spy drone'. Originally used in military applications, these drones are being put into use as a senior police officer warns the surveillance society in the UK is eroding civil liberties. In the UK, there are an estimated 4.2 million surveillance cameras already, and you are on average photographed 300 times a day going about your business. Is there any evidence to suggest that this increasingly Orwellian society is actually any safer?"

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529 comments

Wait... (3, Funny)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210457)

You're telling me that technologies once developed by the military and/or used for military applications have started being used for other applications as they become more affordable, manageable, and available.

And that governments, law enforcement entities, and municipalities have increasing access to and leverage technologies to become more effective at the jobs with which they are charged by the public?

O, the humanity.

Re:Wait... (5, Insightful)

246o1 (914193) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210529)

Who claimed that these technologies have made the police better at their jobs? And who claimed that "the public" tells the police what to do?

There are several degrees of separation between the public and control of the police, and that vast gulf is no good for society, on the whole.

Re:Wait... (3, Insightful)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210841)

"Who claimed that these technologies have made the police better at their jobs?"

That depends which "technologies" you are talking about. Radar (anotehr ex-military technology) has certainly helped the police enforce speed limits more effectively (god darn it!). DNA / Fingerprints have certainly been used in A LOT of criminal prosecutions, as have CCTV cameras. So yes I think most people would claim they have made the police better at their jobs.

Now, doughnut shops on the other hand...

"And who claimed that "the public" tells the police what to do?"

Umm, most people do, with the possible exception of Will Smith and those nutters who wear tin-foil hats. The government, i.e. the "public authority" employ and therefore command the police. At least that is the way every western democracy works, if however you are in fact Chinese or posting through a inter dimensional time-portal from 1950's USSR then your question is probably valid.

Re:Wait... (3, Funny)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#19211047)

"Now, doughnut shops on the other hand..."

It's all the downsides to transfat. Everyone knows the finest doughnuts make ample use of shortening.

Where is our military technology now that can't make a tasty doughnut that won't take 3 weeks off my life each?

Re:Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210553)

"..is reporting that the UK's.." and it is not just one U.Kingdom, but Kingdoms..

grammar! I was about to say this article was Zonked, but it seems to been Scuttled..

Re:Wait... (4, Insightful)

apparently (756613) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210789)

And that governments, law enforcement entities, and municipalities have increasing access to and leverage technologies to become more effective at the jobs with which they are charged by the public?

Britain's increased surveillance measures sure did prevent the London bombings in 2005, now didn't they? The bigger point you seem to be missing is that though the public wants their law enforcement to be effective, they wish to limit this effectiveness from intruding on their private lives.

Note to governments: (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210791)

I don't want a maximally efficient government. I like the fact that no one can push a button, and find out what I have eaten in the last two weeks.

If I'm in a Western Democracy that is reasonably well-off and free-market oriented, I like my government to be small, with little insight into what I'm doing or how I'm doing it. As a matter of fact, I'd like my government to be on permanent vacation, and only convene during emergencies. Law enforcement can be efficient and on the job, but should not make me do its surveillance job, nor should it rely on technology to do the peacekeeping (which includes rounds on foot).

That's my creed, and I'm sticking to it. I just wish there were a party for me.

Re:Note to governments: (3)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19211063)

If I'm in a Western Democracy that is reasonably well-off and free-market oriented, I like my government to be small, with little insight into what I'm doing or how I'm doing it. As a matter of fact, I'd like my government to be on permanent vacation, and only convene during emergencies. Law enforcement can be efficient and on the job, but should not make me do its surveillance job, nor should it rely on technology to do the peacekeeping (which includes rounds on foot).
So your model for security against government oppression is 'security through obscurity"?

I'd much rather that my right to privacy was explicitly safeguarded through vigilant defense against over-reaching monitoring of private activity. A state that has theoretical ability to wield overwhelming power against the individual is a problem, even if the state lacks the resources to do so in a large-scale manner. When someone in government chooses a target, the state can bring its limited resources to bear. I'd like to make sure that citizens are not targeted inappropriately.

Then again, I'm dreaming -- so a hamstrung government might be the best we can hope for.

Re:Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19211011)

to become more effective at the jobs with which they are charged by the public?

I think the public asked to be made safer, not to have the government spend millions of dollars on cameras that yell at the thugs while they're ripping the camera off the wall.

In other words, the government is failing at becoming more effective, as was your comment.

Is there any evidence that's what this is about? (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210487)

I mean really, does anyone think that making people safer is the actual purpose of these programs? I know, I know, never ascribe to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity, but millions of cameras, everyone photographed hundreds of times a day... Come on, who can believe that is about anything but control of society.

Re:Is there any evidence that's what this is about (2, Insightful)

hansoloaf (668609) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210525)

What's scary is the apparent passivity among the denizens of UK regarding this. I have not read anything about a mass protest, organized groups to put in elected officials opposed to this, etc. Seems the majority of the people over there are resigned to this type of watching. Shows that it will probably happen over here too as well as we copy from the Brits.

Re:Is there any evidence that's what this is about (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210859)

Why would you have mass-protests for police entities procuring increasingly more technologically sophisticated equipment to do their jobs more effectively? In any society, whether it is free or not, I fail to see how this is surprising. And in a free (or quasi-free, or however you want to frame it) society, I fail to see how this is surprising, or even wrong.

Telephones make the job of law enforcement easier. Should we protest or prohibit their use of telephones?

Computers make the job of law enforcement easier. Should we protest or prohibit their use of computers?

Vehicles make the job of law enforcement easier. Should we protest or prohibit their use of vehicles?

Helicopters make the job of law enforcement easier. Should we protest or prohibit their use of helicopters?

Remote controlled robots make the job of law enforcement easier. Should we protest or prohibit their use of remote controlled robots?

It's not about the tools; it's about the laws that govern their use. Why is a drone a problem? Cameras in public spaces? Because it makes law enforcement "too" aware? I'll accept that argument, but you'll have to make it a cogent and relevant one...

Re:Is there any evidence that's what this is about (4, Informative)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210591)

everyone photographed hundreds of times a day

What they didn't mention is that with all those video cameras each frame counts as an individual photograph, so standing in view of a 30fps camera for 4 seconds counts as 120 individual photographs. Not as scary once you do the math.

Re:Is there any evidence that's what this is about (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210821)

In the 7 minute walk from home to the tube station down the road, I've counted about 20 cameras that I walk through. So thats already 40 caputures a day accounted for in just 14 minutes of my daily life.

I live in London, where there are probably more cameras than most cities, but I certainly find the number of camera alarming and unsettling - it's never clear who runs the cameras, for what purpose and where the data ends up and for how long. I've also seen some pretty bad behaviour in front of CCTV cameras; I always think that if I were attacked, the grainy CCTV pictures shown on Crime Watch [wikipedia.org] or in the paper would be of little comfort.

Re:Is there any evidence that's what this is about (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210849)

so standing in view of a 30fps camera for 4 seconds counts as 120 individual photographs

Well, this is the UK we're talking about, so that would be a 25fps camera, hence only 100 photographs....

Re:Is there any evidence that's what this is about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210957)

True, but UK cameras have more horizontal lines. So these photographs would be of a better quality.

Re:Is there any evidence that's what this is about (4, Interesting)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210979)

Whoa, who modded me informative, I was just being sarcastic and trying to spark some debate into how the number of photographs or times a camera sees you can be accurately quantified. What does "300 photographs" mean? Walk past 300 individual running video cameras or actually get your photo snapped 300 times? Can you be accurately identified from each of these "photographs"?

It's ok though, all the moderaters have to do is mod my last comment [slashdot.org] up +5 funny, and then this one +5 informative. Yes I get oodles of karma but it's the integrity of the discussion on slashdot that matters.

Re:Is there any evidence that's what this is about (1)

BeerCat (685972) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210989)

everyone photographed hundreds of times a day

What they didn't mention is that with all those video cameras each frame counts as an individual photograph, so standing in view of a 30fps camera for 4 seconds counts as 120 individual photographs. Not as scary once you do the math.


Err, no. With, on average, one camera per 14 people (and far, far more in the big cities), it is more like "everyone caught on camera hundreds of times per day"

Re:Is there any evidence that's what this is about (1, Interesting)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210603)

Yeah, law enforcement aren't looking for ways to better do their jobs...it's all about a much higher level plot - one that might not even be known by the front line or even higher ranking police officials - to "control society".

And I know the connotation in which you meant that, but that's exactly what law enforcement is, in case you hadn't noticed: the control of society.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau explained in the 1762 The Social Contract Or Principles Of Political Right that "laws" are "the rules the members of a society create to balance the right of the individual to self-determination with the needs of society as a whole". Laws are "rules that mandate or prohibit certain behavior in society."

Since law enforcement is mandated to do what its name implies, is it any surprise that tools, whether they be telephones, computers, the internet, databases, night vision optical equipment, cameras, planes, helicopters, cars, trucks, weapons, office buildings, recording devices, radios, and so on are all adopted by this community?

Technology is a force multiplier for law enforcement just as it is for the general populace or an individual. No, a group of citizens is not likely to operate drone aircraft. Nor are they likely to maintain vehicle fleets or any manner of other things accepted for the execution of law enforcement.

Come on, spun. ;-)

Re:Is there any evidence that's what this is about (1, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210889)

What is law really for, who does it really protect, and who pays the cost? I'm sure you know the quote, "The law, in it's majestic fairness, forbids the rich as well as the poor from sleeping under a bridge." The law exists to serve the rich. A stable society serves the status quo. Property laws do not help those who own no property.

I'm not blaming law enforcement. It's the wealthy that are implementing these policies, law enforcement are only trying to do their job, just as you say. Their job is to protect the rights of the rich, and incidentally (and only so long as it also serves the interests of the rich), the rest of us.

Re:Is there any evidence that's what this is about (4, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19211059)

I appreciate your healthy cynicism, but a stable society benefits all members. You argue, with some success, that the "rich" are somehow better protected or afforded more rights, but that is more a function of the fact that their possessions themselves often afford them a better lot in life notwithstanding specific "law" that that effect.

I think you're making connections that are a little too tenuous. If lawmakers are generally "wealthy" (in comparison with the rest of the population), then, sure, it's a true statement that the "wealthy" are implementing these policies. But it's not because they're wealthy. And this notion that there is a silent plot by the "wealthy" to constantly control the "sheep" of society via any means they can - such as drone aircraft used by law enforcement - is a little too much of a stretch for me, and for most people.

Yes, there are people with power and wealth who want to protect what they have. Society will be friendlier to the "rich" because everything is by nature "friendlier" for the rich. But it's not as direct a plot as you imagine by the ultra-rich to "control" society to their own benefit. That a stable societal structure benefits the "rich" is incidental, not causative. I won't disagree that the rich have things easier. But unless you believe in punishing the rich or in true communist/socialist ideals, wealth redistribution, and so on, I don't see how that reality will - or even should - change.

The #1 rule of being in public (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210887)

In public, you have no right to privacy.

I'd be ticked if they were putting cameras in people's homes without a warrant related to a specific investigation. But seriously, what you do in public is *public*. Hellooo.

I dunno why people feel they have an inherent right to privacy on a public street. I think that governments have every right to put cameras out in public places if they so choose.

And yes, I do think this is about making the public safer. Tracking criminals and terrorists so that they can't as easily get away from law enforcement. Providing documentary evidence of crimes committed in public spaces instead of relying on unreliable eye-witness testimony, so that prosecutions can be obtained and criminals sent to jail instead of back on the street committing more crimes.

We've already seen, in society, how putting cameras in banks and stores has helped to identify and convict criminals. It's hard to tell a court that you didn't do it when they've got you on camera shooting the clerk in the face with your gun and grabbing the money out of the cash register. This is an extension of that.

Cameras might not prevent crimes, directly. But getting an arrest and a conviction can prevent future crimes by the same person.

Re:Is there any evidence that's what this is about (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210949)

I was in London a while back, and the cameras in the underground stations did make me feel safer. Other than that, I did not really notice the cameras. There is nothing I really do out in public that I care whether I am being filmed or not. But if somebody tries to mug me, breaks into my car, causes an auto accident, etc..., then the cameras would come in handy.

I know a lot of slashdotters seem paranoid about this kind of stuff, but the truth is if the government/police/"the man" wants to screw you over, he doesn't need an elaborate camera system. It is a lot easier just to fabricate charges or plant evidence or whatever. If the powers that be want to screw you, then you are pretty much screwed.

Re:Is there any evidence that's what this is about (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210987)



Let's put a few things in perspective.
a.) outside of society there is chaos. society, as in social liberties, freedom pursuit of happiness did not evolve until some people decided we need to put in controls.

b.) those who are most active (not verbally) in society generally are the ones who impact society and said controls more. So stop acting like this is a new thing its just new technology. Once it was the census, then finger printing. Its just a new technology that is doing what we have always done enforce those controls that keep us from anarchy.

So all that being said instead of crying fowl just because people are using cameras how about getting from around your computer and start doing something active to play apart in how this new technology is used to enforce those controls. Shouting wolf only encourages panic.

I love this bit (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210495)

FTFA:

"However, senior officers in Merseyside, who are trialling the drone, said they did not believe it was the next phase in creating a Big Brother society.

"Assistant chief constable Simon Byrne said: "People clamour for the feeling of safety which cameras give."

This is such a beautiful use of the English language that I can't help but admire it.

The people who have already been brainwashed into believing that a surveillance society is a safe society will have their warm feelings of safety reinforced by this statement, even though in no logical way can it be conceived to be a statement that it will actually make anyone safer.

The people who have not are the only ones who will read between the lines.

Thus this is a brilliant way to say something to the media without actually saying anything, and what's more, without compromising their goal of having a camera covering every square inch of the nation. The media goes away happy with a sound bite, the sheeple go away happy after listening to the sound bite, and life progresses as "normal". Which is to say, straight down the toilet.

*shrug* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210773)

The sheeple outnumber me. Who am I to tell them what they should want?

It sucks that what the majority wants is different than what I want. Perhaps what I want is right, and what they want is wrong. Perhaps the whole universe is broken because of this. Perhaps my rants are the most justified rants in all of recorded history. But it doesn't matter.

I am outvoted.

Re:*shrug* (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210951)

"The sheeple outnumber me. Who am I to tell them what they should want?

It sucks that what the majority wants is different than what I want. Perhaps what I want is right, and what they want is wrong. Perhaps the whole universe is broken because of this. Perhaps my rants are the most justified rants in all of recorded history. But it doesn't matter.

I am outvoted."


You are a citizen. It is your duty to make your government work for the people. Being out-voted is a temporary situation that can be easily overcome with the proper marketing. (Feel free to rant about the political manipulation of the press though.) Soap, Ballot, Jury, Ammo... Use your four boxes wisely.

-Rick

Re:I love this bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210833)

God damn it, if I have to hear the word sheeple one more time...

Safety? You want to talk about safety? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210497)

> Is there any evidence to suggest that this increasingly Orwellian society is actually any safer?

Have you heard of any rampaging Jew attacks in London lately? No? I thought not.

Carry on.

Re:Safety? You want to talk about safety? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210653)

Funny? Yes, but Insightful?

Re:Safety? You want to talk about safety? (5, Insightful)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210701)

Or bears for that matter. In fact, in my hand I hold a rock that prevents tigers from attacking! Don't believe me? Have you seen a tiger attacking lately?

Re:Safety? You want to talk about safety? (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#19211041)

Lisa, I would like to buy your rock ...

Re:Safety? You want to talk about safety? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210913)

> Have you heard of any rampaging Jew attacks in London lately? No? I thought not.

That's just it. I'd feel safer if rampaging Jews were attacked or at least arrested ;-)

Attacks in London (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19211093)

Have you heard of any rampaging Jew attacks in London lately? No? I thought not.

Have you heard of any rampaging Muslim attacks in London lately?

Oh wait. Yes, you have. [wikipedia.org]

Carry on.

To quote a recent movie... (5, Informative)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210503)

"ENGLAND PREVAILS!" (V for Vendetta [imdb.com] in case you're curious...)

Re:To quote a recent movie... (1)

hercubus (755805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210717)

_excellent_ quote, but you're too brief. the full being:

Good guys win, bad guys lose, and, as always, England prevails!
(quote take from google books query)

Re:To quote a recent movie... (1)

autocracy (192714) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210921)

Brevity ... is wit.

Let me be the first (2, Insightful)

packetmon (977047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210521)

To say... I pity you guys/gals in England. And I thought we had a police state here in the United States. At least we keep ours under differing names (TIA/ONI/DCS1000+2000+3000+4000) and flush the minds of the people with news on Bratney, Lindsay, Paris, etc. to keep them dumb. You guys get no break.

Re:Let me be the first (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210651)

> To say... I pity you guys/gals in England. And I thought we had a police state here in the United States.

Don't worry, UAVs are also being used to keep the American [slashdot.org] civilian population in line, too.

Whenever a controversial law is proposed, and its supporters, when confronted with an egregious abuse it would permit, use a phrase along the lines of 'Perhaps in theory, but the law would never be applied in that way' - they're lying. They intend to use the law that way as early and as often as possible.

- Slashdotter meringuoid [slashdot.org] , in 2005

Re:Let me be the first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210781)

Wait! Do you know the latest on Paris, Please I have to know.......

Greaat morning read... (1)

Spectreguy (1103741) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210527)

I suddenly felt as though Half Life 2 could one day be a possible future, whirling observer bots and all!

300 Times per day = 12 seconds of film (1)

mallardtheduck (760315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210533)

Note that being photgraphed 300 times per day amounts to being within range of a security camera for ~12 seconds (camera at ~25fps).
Seeing as it could take about that time to walk past a camera, it doesn't sound like very much surveilance at all.

Re:300 Times per day = 12 seconds of film (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210623)

That's today, tomorrow its 13, then 14..

They have to start somewhere, get you used to the idea then slowly expand it as technology improves.

Re:300 Times per day = 12 seconds of film (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210691)

Note that being photgraphed 300 times per day amounts to being within range of a security camera for ~12 seconds (camera at ~25fps).
Seeing as it could take about that time to walk past a camera, it doesn't sound like very much surveilance at all.


Oh, well I guess that makes it alright then.

Re:300 Times per day = 12 seconds of film (1)

!coward (168942) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210735)

I didn't read 'photographed 300 times per day' the way you did. I seriously doubt they're counting every single frame they get of one person on one camera on a single 'encounter'.. I read 300 times by separate cameras, in different locations.

Your reasoning, while valid, by leading to the conclusion that you yourself drew (not much of a survailance scheme) kinda falls flat on its ass when you take into account that, clearly, the intention behind that sentence was to reinforce the notion of widespread CCTV cameras throughout the UK.

Re:300 Times per day = 12 seconds of film (1)

Infoport (935541) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210845)

that is rather naive.
Many or most of those "cameras" are supplying a video feed, from which still photos may be taken. It actually amounts to being in view of a camera for an extended period of time, during which the camera either takes time-delayed photos, or during which an operator views you and chooses whether to take a still-picture or not (either of which probably "counts" as being parts of the 300 per day)
It should be noted that the "military" drones were seen as being especially useful in crowd situations, and have previously been used to watch people gathered to protest or rally, under the guise of preventing violence within crowd situations. (search Slashdot, there have been stories from months or or year back regarding drones to watch political or activist rallies, to "prevent violence")
Drone cameras moved into surveillence of civilians WAAY prior to this.

1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210535)

Big Brother is watching you.

Re:1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210867)

No. Big Brother is taping you. Not so many cares to watch it all.

Video of it in action (2, Informative)

Maddog Batty (112434) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210539)

Not very exciting but the Beeb has a video here [bbc.co.uk]

Shouldn't the question be (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210551)

Who is it making it safer for?

gah (2, Interesting)

Travelsonic (870859) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210559)

Is there any evidence to suggest that this increasingly Orwellian society is actually any safer?"

It seems any safety increase s dubious at best. I know for a fact it would not make me feel safer, it would give me that creepy feeling, the Bugs Bunny "Ever got the feeling yous was being... watched?" (minus the looney part of it) feeling.


I think there should seriously be a council or something that actually looks into whether technologies that are slated for implementation will actually have the desired effect, or if it is not true.

Load it up with a laser... (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210561)

What would be cool is to have it loaded up with a laser. Then when some thugs are kicking the crap out of someone or robbing them, send it after them. Zap, zap... would be cool to see that. And when they run out of CCD range, this thing could follow them.

But unfortunately, like anything else there are good ways to use technology, and there are bad ones. I could also see it carry a nerve gas agent for crowd control on a protest of an unpopular government move.

Re:Load it up with a laser... (1)

VoidCrow (836595) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210749)

So, what's the laser going to do? Nice sound effect, by the way.

Re:Load it up with a laser... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210969)

> I could also see it carry a nerve gas agent for crowd control
> on a protest of an unpopular government move.

Since the UK government doesn't make any popular or sensible moves, you can call it what it is; "genocide".

Its alright (2, Insightful)

UPZ (947916) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210565)

UK is a democracy. If this is what the Brits desire, then theres no problem.

Re:Its alright (1)

Cemu (968469) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210713)

The US is also a democracy but I have one word for you... Iraq. Think about it.

Re:Its alright (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210755)

True democracies don't do well because the masses are idiots and politicians pray on said idiots. After all in a democracy it only matters that 51% support something while the rest can go screw themselves (or revolt more likely).

Re:Its alright (1)

Saint V Flux (915378) | more than 7 years ago | (#19211083)

....or as Thomas Jefferson said "A total democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine".

Lets say that people in the UK actually were allowed to vote on this (though I doubt it) - just because 50.0001% of people want it does not mean that everyone wants it.

drones (1)

flynt (248848) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210573)

But are they pilotless drones? [sfgate.com]

Read Theodore Dalrymple (5, Interesting)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210581)

Read anything by Theodore Dalrymple - he's published in "City Journal", and has a number of books out (e.g., "Life at the Bottom").

His observation is that dysfunction grows to consume all the money made available to combat it. Filming people isn't going to fix anything. Holding them accountable will.

Oh and also, the last time I was in the UK, I was struck by all the kids wearing hoodies.

Re:Read Theodore Dalrymple (2, Interesting)

GotenXiao (863190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210785)

I wear a hoodie. Granted, it's black, and has "NINJ4" on the front in big white letters, but it's still a hoodie ;)

But yes, there is an abundance of chavs [urbandictionary.com] in the UK.

(The hoodie in question. [megagear.com] Exceptionally comfortable, very warm, mostly rainproof.)

Re:Read Theodore Dalrymple (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210995)

> Oh and also, the last time I was in the UK, I was struck by all the kids wearing hoodies.

Wow, all of them? Did it hurt?

The sheep... (1)

Recovering Hater (833107) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210599)

...are comfortable being led. Welcome to City 17.

Reload, Dr Freeman! (1)

simonwalton (843796) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210707)

I personally will be giving them a whack with my crowbar when they come near me.

City 17? (1)

Mystery00 (1100379) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210601)

Sounds like city 17 is becoming a reality.... flying drone cameras, and after that drones with blades that fly around "saving" the public.

Safety. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210605)

Any safer? Who knows! If it contributed to preventing the 7/7 train bombings would you say it was?

Alarm bells. (1, Insightful)

u-bend (1095729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210633)

The obvious Ben Franklin quotation comes to mind:
"Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security"
That really sums up what's happening on both sides of the ocean. While I disagree that this is (solely) a sinister plot of an overweening government to control of its populace, this seems as often as not to be the end effect in scenarios like this. People are smart individually, but in scared groups they often make terrible decisions, which is why there's a lot of sheepish head-scratching on Capitol Hill here in the States about the fervent support that was given on both sides of the aisle for the Iraq debacle. The scariest thing about the current group of leaders is that they don't seem to have read their history properly.

Re:Alarm bells. (1)

u-bend (1095729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210871)

"...to control its populace," I should have said, not "of its populace." Here's the other quotation I was looking for, from MIB, about how humans behave in packs:
Kay: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.

I used to be infavour (1)

Timberwolf0122 (872207) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210635)

You know you feel safe when the camera can see you, should you be attacked then help is on it's way... but then the more I thought about it the more I became concerned.

I know the old arguement of 'if you've done nothing wrong, you've nothing to hide' but who defines what is wrong? Howmany commuters would like the police to know how fast and on what road your were driving? I wouldn't, I speed because it is not that dangerous (92% of accidents in the UK are NOT deu to excess speed, yet this warrents thousands of speed cameras). CCTV everywhere smacks of the former soviet union and East Germany befor the wall came down, this is not what the Constitution of the UK is about.

Kind of glad I moved state side!

Re:I used to be infavour (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210869)

> this is not what the Constitution of the UK is about.

What constitution is that, the magna carta [wikipedia.org] ?

The UK is a police state rapidly dropping all pretense that it isn't.

V for Vendetta (1)

TimeElf1 (781120) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210643)

I guess V for Vendetta is getting a bit closer to real life now.

Orwell (0)

zymano (581466) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210661)

What crap. Do you think Orwell had to deal with the crime rate of today's age. NO.

We have big problems here in the U.S.

We need cameras and need build fences and walls around crime zones and ID tags for everyone.

If it brings crime down then it's all good.

Re:Orwell (1)

securityfolk (906041) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210743)

You say we have more crimes but, in reality, the more laws (valid or not) you have, the more criminals you have. What if they start arresting folk for Intellectual Property violations, when the patents haven't been settled? What if people who download bittorrents become the 2nd largest populace in US prisions?

Re:Orwell (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210817)

You know crime rates were much higher in his day, right? And your likelyhood of dieing by violence in his day was something like 10x as large.
We have it easy today.

Re:Orwell (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210851)

The US crime rate has been on a decrease for the past decade, it is now at the lowest level since the 60s. The UK on the other hand has had a constantly increasing crime rate in that time period asfaik. Interestingly enough the two countries have equal crime rates in general although the UK has a higher rate for robberies (and the like) while the US leans towards homicides.

So first of all, don't talk about stuff you don't even have the faintest idea about. Second of all, no the US doesn't have bigger problems.

Re:Orwell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210961)

No, we need Judge Dredd.

DREEEEEEEDD!

Re:Orwell (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210993)

So why not spend the same money on fighting the *causes* of crime, instead of treating just the symptoms ? Oh I know, that would be too hard. Much easier just to spy on people, and keep sending them to the overflowing court/prison system.

Add compulsory reporting (4, Informative)

Misch (158807) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210669)

Is there any evidence to suggest that this increasingly Orwellian society is actually any safer?

The UK is adding laws requiring compulsory reporting of people who might be criminals. [bbc.co.uk]

It really is falling into order, comrade. This is doubleplusungood.

Safety Vs. Freedom (1)

jeremiahbell (522050) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210679)

There are two directions in human government - complete anarchy which is unachieveable, we only have governance even among friends, and complete control of human lives - which has also been unachieveable. The USSR did not have a drug problem, or a crime problem in general because of totalitarian control, the US and other countries with less control do have a greater crime problem. Our crime can be attributed to a number of things, such as lack of cohesion with the number of clashing cultures in our country, but the crime, caused by whatever roots, is allowed by less control, by our pendulum being closer to the left (lack of control vs. control, not Demo vs. Repub). This mass tracking of citizens moves the pendulum to the right, giving the government more control. Yes, this will bring more safety but at the cost of freedom. I do not judge a new initiative or action by governments on whether or not it gives safety, but by whether or not it promotes the level of freedom that is right, and our differences of our view of the correct level we'll have to work out (democracy and republicanism).

Cameras help those in charge, not the people (4, Interesting)

pytheron (443963) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210697)

"Assistant chief constable Simon Byrne said: "People clamour for the feeling of safety which cameras give."
If you have ever been in the unfortunate position of having to request some evidence from these cameras, good luck. Not just myself, but quite a few others I know have had on occasion complaints against police officers being over-zealous. Not surprisingly, when you request footage of the period in question, the "tape" (are they even still used ?) is missing, the camera was pointing the wrong way, it was turned off (even if there are 30 of them, which there are in my town center) or some other stock reply is given.

The police have even learnt a good trick to assault you based on these cameras. I had one WPC ask me what was going on after a disturbance that I was not part of. I explained. She said 'pardon?'. So, naturally, I lean in a bit closer so she can hear. Wham ! She lays into me. On camera, it looks like I'm about to attack her by leaning in. *sigh*.

Cameras are solely in the UK to allow police to avoid doing real police work and provide a deterring presence, and to allow them to employ nefarious tactics against the criminal public. Don't ever be under the illusion that they are there for you, the taxpayer.

We didn't get surveillance by democratic process (3, Interesting)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210705)

We never voted for those cameras in the UK, they were installed by default, without public agreement.

All the major UK parties have "Law and Order" as a plank of their manifestos, so it's not as if we ever had a choice of any kind that would allow even an implicit anti-surveillance vote to be made. What's more, not voting at all will always return one of these parties to power given the way that the voting system is rigged, so democracy is really just a figment of the imagination here in that respect.

And just try challanging it ... you'd be begging for being tagged with a label of "terrorist" or "anarchist" here, favourite words of those in Parliament, and of course happily supported by the media.

I'm not sure where all this is leading, but a civil war in a few decades' time wouldn't surprise me at all. It won't be labelled as civil unrest though ... it'll be branded "terrorist action", guaranteed.

Re:We didn't get surveillance by democratic proces (2, Informative)

Tim Ward (514198) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210897)

We never voted for those cameras in the UK

They might not have done round your way, but they do round here. We lose votes every time we don't install enough new cameras fast enough in my council.

even with a vote the result would be the same (1)

joggle (594025) | more than 7 years ago | (#19211025)

In the UK it seems the majority of people favor the high saturation of security cameras. So even if there were a vote there would still be cameras everywhere. What you guys need is some huge scandal involving the police abusing the system for the political gain of someone or through some other type of corruption. I'm sure papers like The Guardian would pick up on it and people would start to change their views on this. Then again there have been proven, systematic abuses of the Patriot Act by the FBI here in the US and most people don't seem to be too concerned about it (but we don't have The Guardian and like papers either). The abuses haven't lead to anyone being sent to jail as far as I've read which may be part of the reason it isn't on most people's radar.

sure there is evidence (0)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210719)

9/11 didn't happen to them. If only we'd had more cameras!

Any evidence? (-1, Flamebait)

SengirV (203400) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210723)

Is there any evidence to suggest that this increasingly Orwellian society is actually any safer?

Sorry no. You see, once you disarm your law abiding citizens, the criminals and government(is there a distinction at this point?) have free reign.

Predictable (1)

rumith (983060) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210725)

I think that what happens now in the UK and might soon become normal among other Western nations could be predicted quite a while ago. Look, now that the most powerful enemy of the West is no more, and the Western countries control pretty much of the rest of the world [think colonies], what would be the next logical step for a Western power such as Britain? Right, establish control on its own population.

Good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19210729)

In all fairness this drone will be less noisy than the sometimes nightly drone of police helicopters. Being kept awake for a week by circling helicopters because of kids joyriding is something I can do with scratching off my "Why the fuck am I still living in this shithole country" list.

I used to think being photographed was bad (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210751)

but then I became a pr0n star....

Brazil (2, Insightful)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210765)

Can anyone give me a real reason for NOT having cameras in public places instead of screaming "Orwellian" or "1984" all the time?

Possibly effective (3, Informative)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210799)

Early studies seem to suggest that crime isn't reduced (BBC [bbc.co.uk] and NYCLU [nyclu.org] ).

A comprehensive British study, published in 2002, found that the presence of closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance had little or no effect on crime in public transportation or city centers, and had no effect on violent crimes.3 Researchers examined twenty-two controlled and peer-reviewed scientific studies that analyzed the use of surveillance cameras in British and North-American cities. Of the five studies conducted in American cities, including two in New York City, not one found a reduction in crime attributable to video surveillance.4


In a more recent study [aic.gov.au] , it seemed to help deter crime.

A review (Welsh & Farrington 2006) of high quality evaluations of the effectiveness of CCTV as a crime prevention measure concluded that there was an overall eight percent reduction in crime in the experimental areas where CCTV was installed compared with a nine percent increase in crime in the control areas. The review included evaluations of 19 sites in the UK and the USA. Other findings from this meta-analysis concluded that CCTV interventions were more successful in car parks than in other settings such as city centres or housing estates, and that CCTV interventions were generally more successful in the UK than in the USA.

Now here's something you don't read every day (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210857)

If you haven't RTFA, do so.

It's a beautiful bit of self-contradiction. The best bit is:

The spy plane was launched as a senior police officer warned the surveillance society in the UK is eroding civil liberties.

Well, nobody's forcing you to deploy these, Mr. Senior Police Officer.

UK + CCTV = front page (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210865)

Woo, so the UK police are using unmanned choppers to spy on me, is that like the manned choppers also fitted with cameras which buzz my area every Friday & Saturday night? Once again I'll ask anyone complaining about civil liberties - what exactly is being lost here? I would imagine that it's not for peering into homes, there would be much rumpus if the police did try to use such evidence in court (I've never heard of it), and if that's really such a worry, well, close your curtains. And remember that people could also peer into your house from the ground.

England only? Nuh uh. USA gets Blackwater Blimps. (1)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210879)

http://www.blackwaterusa.com/airship/ [blackwaterusa.com]

Coming soon to a police state near you.

The real safety issue ... (1)

Tim Ward (514198) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210923)

... is how to arrange that one of these things doesn't fly into me??

I'm not worried about police choppers, because they're big enough to see, and they have a pilot on board who is just as keen on staying alive as I am (and on a really good day ATC will tell me where they are, although one doesn't want to rely on that).

But toy planes, being flown around by someone safely on the ground who probably doesn't even have a pilot's licence?? Have they even passed the Air Law exam??

Wow... (1)

kjzk (1097265) | more than 7 years ago | (#19210935)

All I have to say is once these hit the U.S., I'm out of here.

Re:Wow... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19211081)

Where to next? And after that?

Safer for the cameras (1)

losethisurl (980326) | more than 7 years ago | (#19211007)

I have to wonder what happens to areas out of camera shot. Anyone looking to involve themselves in law-breaking would simply need to do so where the lens isn't aimed. Sounds like motivation to re-locate to me, nothing more. Further... Who do you think decides where to aim the lenses, no chance for bias there... right?

The balance isn't really compromised yet (1)

skeldoy (831110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19211073)

People are sheep; they do not care if they are filmed every yard of the walk to work. The illusion of security is far more powerful than the need for freedom. But just wait until there is a real "thought police"; the soviet union managed for a while, but the censorship and punishment of people who vented frustration with the system, torrented a massive dislike for the system. I do not think people right now feel that they need their civil liberties, but that time may come. Given the very complicated electoral process, it may be very hard to get a member of parliment willing to sacrifice his relationship with the ministry of internal affairs for a "not existing problem" (in the public opinion). So I would expect this to keep on going more and more until the police actually targets "thoughtcrime" perpetrators.

NorCal, Same Issue (0, Troll)

Bellum Aeternus (891584) | more than 7 years ago | (#19211087)

The new last night covered a story about American Spy Planes flying over Norther California and Silicon Valley. The military said that they're just running tests. I don't believe them. Seems like for all the attention the UK is getting about this, here in the US we're getting the same treatment. Seems Orwell was off by about two and half decades.
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