Nov 10

Police facial recognition cameras track our every movement

*****

H/t reader squodgy.

“In UK we now have ‘smart motorways” with number plate AND facial recognition cameras.
The benefit for crime investigation is indisputable.
The ability to monitor individuals and invade privacy is dubious at best and downright offensive at worst.
Soon, everyone will be wearing ANONYMOUS masks just to go to the mall.
I already insist on lowering my sun visor permanently, coz I just feel this surveillance is intrusive and protest accordingly.”

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Jun 16

uk-scan-surveillance-nwo-big-brother
UK police used facial recognition technology to scan the faces of 100,000 concertgoers in Leicestireshire over the weekend

Facial Recognition-Fest: UK Police Scan 100,000 Concertgoers (Common Dreams, June 16, 2015):

Just in time for facial recognition technology to lose its few privacy allies in the U.S., police in the U.K. demonstrated just what that kind of mass surveillance of the public might look like in reality.

Over the weekend, Leicestireshire police planted a series of “strategically placed cameras” throughout the grounds of an outdoor concert—ironically called the Download Festival—to scan the faces of more than 100,000 people and match them against a database of wanted criminals across Europe.

Continue reading »

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Apr 25

Meet AISight – The Artificial Intelligence Software Being Installed on CCTV Networks Globally (Liberty Blitzkrieg, April 24, 2014):

If you thought that CCTV cameras tracking your every move in public was bad enough, you’re going to just love AISight (pronounced “eyesight” of course). The invention of a Houston, Texas based company called BRS Labs (which stands for Behavioral Recognition Systems) is headed by former secret service special agent John Frazzini, and this Orwellian surveillance platform brings artificial intelligence to all of those creepy cameras that have been installed everywhere around you.

Apparently, this system is currently being installed in Boston, and has already been implemented in Chicago and Washington. In the event you live in these cities, I bet you’ve never heard of AISight, and more importantly, I bet there’s been little to no public debate.

The most disturbing part about this platform is that this artificial intelligence defines what is “normal” behavior and anything that falls outside of that narrow band can be flagged for “pre crime” potential. Ultimately, if these things are allowed to proliferate, it will condition humans to behave like zombie automatons fearful that anything interesting or creative might be viewed as criminal. Continue reading »

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Aug 25

Smashing State Surveillance: Group Breaks CCTV Cameras on the Street (Alternet, Aug 19, 2013):

A group of German anarchists have inspired other radicals to take a direct action approach to surveillance cameras: smash them.

As Salon’s Natasha Lennard notes, the practice has now migrated to the U.S. It’s a brash approach to the surveillance state.

Continue reading »

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May 27


Seattle Police Deploy Crime Prediction Software City-Wide (Secrets Of The Fed, May 24, 2013):

After initial testing in two precincts, The Seattle Police Department and Mayor Mike McGinn announced last week that they will now deploy their “Predictive Policing” software to all five precincts.

The federally-funded cloud-based crime prediction software known as PREDPOL, uses mathematical algorithms similar to ones used in earthquake prediction to predict when and where a future crime is most likely to take place down to a 500-square foot area. The program combines five years’ worth of past crime data with sociological information about criminal behavior.

“We’ve had anecdotal successes with the pilot project in East and Southwest Precincts, so we’re expanding Predictive Policing citywide,” said Mayor McGinn

Continue reading »

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Feb 18


YouTube Added: 16.02.2013

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Feb 08

Activists in Berlin are teaming up to trash surveillance cameras. Points are given, with bonus scores for the most innovative modes of destruction


YouTube

Protesters from the group Camover in Germany destroy CCTV cameras. The vigilante group wants to see all surveillance cameras removed from public spaces, and are taking matters into their own hands, by taking down as many cameras as possible ahead of February’s European Police Congress

Game to destroy CCTV cameras: vandalism or valid protest? (Guardian, Jan 25, 2013):

As a youth in a ski mask marches down a Berlin U-Bahn train, dressed head-to-toe in black, commuters may feel their only protection is the ceiling-mounted CCTV camera nearby. But he is not interested in stealing wallets or iPhones – he is after the camera itself. This is Camover, a new game being played across Berlin, which sees participants trashing cameras in protest against the rise in close-circuit television across Germany.

The game is real-life Grand Theft Auto for those tired of being watched by the authorities in Berlin; points are awarded for the number of cameras destroyed and bonus scores are given for particularly imaginative modes of destruction. Axes, ropes and pitchforks are all encouraged.

Continue reading »

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Oct 10

Big Brother Invades Our Classrooms (Salon, Oct 8, 2012):

Schools across the country are adopting frightening new methods to monitor their students in school and out

The digital tracking and surveillance of school-aged kids has been growing.

Much attention has been given to the phenomenon of corporate tracking of kids’ online activities, activities that violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  The law, originally adopted in 1998, requires Web sites aimed at kids to get parental consent befoSre gathering information about those users who are under 13 years.  Many companies, including a Disney subsidiary, have violated it. Corporate marketing interests, most notably Facebook, are fighting proposed revisions to COPPA.

A second front in the tracking of young people has gotten far less attention. Schools across the country are adopting a variety of different tools to monitor students both in school and outside school. Among these tools are RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags embedded in school ID cards, GPS tracking software in computers, and even CCTV video camera systems. According to school authorities, these tools are being adopted not to simply increase security, but to prevent truancy, cut down on theft and even improve students’ eating habits.

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The RFID tag system popularly known as “Tag and Track” is being sold to schools system across the country by a variety of vendors, including AIM Truancy Solutions, ID Card Group and DataCard.

In general, these systems consist of a school photo ID card affixed to a lanyard that is worn around the student’s neck. The ID has a RFID chip embedded in it. The tag includes a digit number assigned to each student. As a student enters the school or pass beneath a doorway equipped with an RFID reader, the tag ID is read, recorded and sent to a server in the school’s administrative office. The captured data not only provides an attendance list (sent to the teacher’s PDA), but tracks the student’s movement throughout the day. Continue reading »

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Sep 09

EU funding ‘Orwellian’ artificial intelligence plan to monitor public for “abnormal behaviour” (Telegraph, Sep 19, 2009):

The European Union is spending millions of pounds developing “Orwellian” technologies designed to scour the internet and CCTV images for “abnormal behaviour”.

A five-year research programme, called Project Indect, aims to develop computer programmes which act as “agents” to monitor and process information from web sites, discussion forums, file servers, peer-to-peer networks and even individual computers.

Its main objectives include the “automatic detection of threats and abnormal behaviour or violence”.

Project Indect, which received nearly £10 million in funding from the European Union, involves the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and computer scientists at York University, in addition to colleagues in nine other European countries.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of human rights group Liberty, described the introduction of such mass surveillance techniques as a “sinister step” for any country, adding that it was “positively chilling” on a European scale.

The Indect research, which began this year, comes as the EU is pressing ahead with an expansion of its role in fighting crime, terrorism and managing migration, increasing its budget in these areas by 13.5% to nearly £900 million.

Continue reading »

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Nov 14

For your information.

The elitists vs. the people.



YouTube Added: 13.11.2011

For more information: Thrive

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Mar 05

Related info:

Big Brother Town Halls Squander £315 Million On CCTV

Big Brother UK: CCTV Cameras ‘Help Solve 6 Crimes a Day’

EU Tells Britain to Justify Fingerprinting Children in Schools Without Parental Consent

Big Brother Britain Has Grown Out of All Proportion


Research shows 1.85m machines across Britain, most of them indoors and privately operated


A familiar sight: a poster on a block of flats warning of CCTV surveillance. Photograph: Susan Swindells for the Guardian

The UK is being watched by a network of 1.85m CCTV cameras, the vast majority of which are run by private companies, according to the only large-scale audit of surveillance cameras ever conducted.

The study, which involved police community support officers (PCSOs) physically counting virtually every camera in Cheshire, provides the first reliable estimate of how saturated with CCTV the UK has become.

Details of the research come in the week that a government consultation document proposed a voluntary code of practice for public CCTV systems, but left private cameras largely unregulated.

It has taken more than two years for Cheshire PCSOs to interview the owners of every premises in the county. During the ongoing project they counted 12,333 cameras, according to an account of the research published in the magazine CCTV Image.

Continue reading »

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Dec 30


Surveillance state: Campaigners have said money could have been spent on schools and hospitals

Councils have spent £315million on spy cameras – despite slashing jobs and public services.

Their commitment to keep the streets under surveillence seems undiminished by the cuts being made to bring the nation’s finances back into check.

A survey of 336 councils shows why Britain has been dubbed the ‘big brother’ capital of the world.

They spent a total of £314,835,170 on installing and operating CCTV cameras from 2007 to 2010.

Campaigners for civil liberties branded the findings ‘scandalous’ and said the money would have been better spent on schools, hospitals and other vital services.

Continue reading »

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Dec 28

Britain’s largest force solves six crimes every day by identifying suspects from CCTV, according to a senior officer.

Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville said Scotland Yard has revolutionised the use of CCTV by treating it like DNA or fingerprints.

The officer, who heads the Met’s identification unit, said the number of suspects identified by his team has risen by a quarter to 2,512.

The majority of suspected villains are named by officers and informants but some are passed on for public appeals.

He said: “The key to our success is that images, unidentified images, are treated as a forensic discipline. They are treated like fingerprints and DNA. When we get them we make sure that every effort is made to identify them.

“It is not the technology, it is more about managing it in a way that produces the best results. That is why we have got police forces from around the world coming to see how we do it. We had officers from Sweden and Holland over in the last week.”

The Met identified 2,512 wanted people in 2010, compared with 1,970 the previous year. The figures included four suspected murderers, 23 rapists and sex attackers and five wanted gunmen.

Continue reading »

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Nov 13

Britain’s surveillance culture has been expanded out of all proportion to any threats we face – and it’s getting worse, says Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch and former chief of staff to David Cameron.


Britons are already the most-watched citizens in the democratic world because of an array of systems including CCTV Photo: PSL IMAGES

Even when Thatcher’s ministers were being pulled from the rubble of the Grand Hotel in Brighton, we never allowed threats to distort our way of life. Now, we let accusations of dog fouling and fiddling school catchment areas to justify unprecedented snooping. We face the prospect of improving technology allowing the state to monitor us in every moment of our lives.

DNA profiles of over a million innocent people are still on the national database, and despite all promises to the contrary such records are still being added.

Local councils authorise themselves to mount covert surveillance of residents under powers meant for serious crimes and terrorism – to catch people putting bins out at the wrong time, for dog fouling, breaking the smoking ban, littering, noise nuisance. It’s entirely out of proportion; the cure is worse than the disease. Innocent victims have no right to know that they were watched, so it’s not scaremongering, but simply stating the obvious, to say it could have happened to you.

Council-run CCTV cameras have trebled in the last ten years. We’re the only country that’s gone so far down this path: the Shetland Islands have more CCTV cameras than San Francisco’s Police Department. The capture and retention of the images of innocent people without their consent is now de rigueur. ‘Nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ we’re told – but the reverse should apply in a free society. If you have done nothing wrong, why should the state record your whereabouts and what you’re doing?

Continue reading »

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Sep 24

The ‘intelligent’ CCTV camera that works like a human eye to scan a crowd for potential trouble

new-intelligent-cctv-camera-scans-people-like-a-human-eye
The Smart Eyes system can focus on areas of action which differ from the norm or which have been flagged up as being potential trouble


Separating jubilant fans from scuffling hooligans at a football match is difficult even for the most experienced security personnel.

And  constantly scanning live CCTV footage looking for trouble can be tiring.

But a new ‘intelligent’ CCTV camera that works just like the human eye promises to be able to spot trouble in large crowds.

The Smart Eyes device records and analyses a scene in real time and flags up anything that is out of the ordinary to a human operator.

Just like the human eye Smart Eyes is able to distinguish different objects, even if they are moving on front of a busy background.

‘That is invaluable for video surveillance of public buildings or places’, said Dr. Martina Kolesnik, research scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology, which developed the system.

‘In certain circumstances the capabilities of a human observer are limited.

‘Ask someone to keep an eye on a certain stand in a football stadium and they are bound to miss many details.

‘That same person can only carefully monitor certain sections of the whole area and will quickly get tired. That’s where Smart Eyes clearly comes into its own.

Continue reading »

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Jul 07

Schools are being turned into “prisons” as children are subjected to increasingly sophisticated surveillance and security measures, according to a report.

big-brother-cctv-turning-schools-into-prisons
One pupil complained that his school was being turned into a “prison” because of the use of CCTV and other security measures Photo: PA

Researchers found the widespread use of CCTV, ID cards, electronic registration systems, fob-controlled gates and fingerprint technology as schools attempt to crackdown on troublemakers.

Staff at one comprehensive patrolled corridors and playgrounds with radios to make sure children behaved at lunchtimes, while teachers at a private school used technology to spy on children’s computer and internet use.

Researchers suggested that the sheer scale of surveillance was fuelling paranoia among many pupils.

According to the report, children at an all-girls’ secondary school claimed that “voyeuristic” cameras could be used to monitor them in changing rooms and toilets.

The conclusions, in a study by Hull University, come amid growing concerns over a rise in the use of surveillance techniques in schools.

As many as 85 per cent of teachers have reported the use of CCTV in their schools and one-in-10 admitted cameras were even trained on toilets.

This comes despite claims in another report that the collection of CCTV images or other biometric information could contravene the Data Protection Act. Continue reading »

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Feb 22

The UK is broke, …

Britain At Risk Of Worse Government Debt Crisis Than Greece

… but there is always more than enough taxpayer money left for corporate pals, Big Brother and the New World Order.


The Government is funding new research aimed at getting permission to fly drones anywhere in Britain, in a move which could benefit defence companies BAE Systems, EADS and Thales but inflame civil liberty concerns.

Police aerial surveillance drone
Eye in the sky: a Merseyside police officer tests a remote control helicopter Photo: John Giles/PA Wire

The use of unmanned aircraft for surveillance hit the headlines last week, after Merseyside Police had to ground their drone when it was discovered they were using it without a licence.

But a government-funded European group is pushing ahead with work aimed at showing that drones, known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), can safely be used in civil airspace. Drones cannot be flown outside regulated areas at present because they are controlled remotely and do not have the ability to “see”.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) must be satisfied the aircraft has the same ability as a piloted plane to spot unexpected obstacles and take action to avoid them, before they will be let loose above Britain. The CAA also restricts the use of drones for surveillance because of concerns about invasion of privacy.

The European Defence Agency has hired aerospace and defence group EADS to research how communication via satellites can be used “for the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into European airspace”, with the goal of starting demonstration missions next year.

The study aims to show that satellites are reliable enough to allow uninterrupted communication between the drone and the person piloting it remotely, giving the aircraft an adequate “sense and avoid” capability to make it safe to fly in built-up areas and to share the sky with other planes.

Drones are of interest to the military and the police as surveillance tools, and could be used by immigration authorities for patrolling Britain’s coastline. But concerns have been raised because the UK is already one of the most “watched” countries in Europe, with the proliferation of CCTV cameras. Continue reading »

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Feb 17

Lock up your kids and lock down your PC’s

internet-censorship

France yesterday put in its bid for an unlikely prize, becoming the first western country to make even Australia look liberal when it comes to state powers of internet censorship.

In the teeth of fierce opposition both inside and outside parliament, the National Assembly approved, by 312 votes to 214 against, a first reading of a bill on Internal Security – the quaintly titled “LOPPSI 2”.

LOPPSI – otherwise known as Loi d’Orientation et de Programmation pour la SÈcuritÈ IntÈrieure (pdf)- is a ragbag of measures designed to make France a safer place. Like similar UK legislation – most notably the various Criminal Justice acts brought in over the last decade – LOPPSI brings together a number of apparently unrelated proposals which would severely restrict individual rights in all walks of life.

Last week, for instance, the Assembly agreed to include within the new law a measure that would allow Prefects to sign off on a curfew for children aged under 13, out unaccompanied between the hours of 11 pm and 6 am.

The bill also includes measures that would increase police spend on “security”, create additional penalties for counterfeiting and ID theft, increase CCTV surveillance, and widen access to the Police DNA database.

However, it is in the online area that some of the most radical proposals are to be found, with the criminalisation of online ID theft, provision for the police to tap online connections in the course of investigations, and most controversially of all, allowing the state to order ISPs to block (filter) specific internet URLs according to ministerial diktat.

It has also been suggested that the state should have the right to plant covert trojans to monitor individual PC usage.

Whilst the latter measures are put forward on the grounds of child protection, critics have been quick to point out that, in the absence of any judicial oversight mechanism, this is a power just waiting to be abused. Continue reading »

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Feb 11

drones-will-kill-us-all

Police forces all over the UK will soon be able to draw on unmanned aircraft from a national fleet, according to Home Office plans. Last month it was revealed that modified military aircraft drones will carry out surveillance on everyone from protesters and antisocial motorists to fly-tippers, and will be in place in time for the 2012 Olympics.

Surveillance is only the start, however. Military drones quickly moved from reconnaissance to strike, and if the British police follow suit, their drones could be armed — but with non-lethal weapons rather than Hellfire missiles.

The flying robot fleet will range from miniature tactical craft such as the miniature AirRobot being tested by Essex police, to BAE System’s new HERTI drone as flown in Afghanistan. The drones are cheaper than police helicopters — some of which will be retired — and are as wide as 12m in the case of HERTI.

Watching events on the ground without being able to act is frustrating. Targets often got away before an unarmed drone could summon assistance. In fact, in 2000 it was reported that an airborne drone spotted Osama bin Laden but could do nothing but watch him escape. So the RAF has been carrying out missions in Afghanistan with missile-armed Reapers since 2007. From the ground these just look like regular aircraft.

The police have already had a similar experience with CCTV. As well as observing, some of these are now equipped with speakers. Pioneered in Middleborough, the talking CCTV allows an operator to tell off anyone engaging in vandalism, graffiti or littering.

Unmanned aircraft can also be fitted with speakers, such as the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), which could not only warn fly tippers that they were breaking the law but also be loud enough to drive them away.

The LRAD is a highly directional speaker made of a flat array of piezoelectric transducers, producing intense beam of sound in a 30-degree cone. It can be used as a loudhailer, or deafen the target with a jarring, discordant noise. Some ships now carry LRAD as an anti-pirate measure: It was used to drive off an attack on the Seabourn Spirit off Somalia in 2005.

LRAD makers American Technology prefer to call its product a device rather than a weapon, and use terms such as “deterrent tones” and “influencing behaviour.” Police in the US have already adopted a vehicle-mounted LRAD for crowd control, breaking up protests at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh last year, although there have been warnings about the risk of hearing damage.

The LRAD has been tested on the Austrian S-100 unmanned helicopter, and the technology is ready if there is a police requirement.

But rather than just driving them away, a police drone should be able to stop fleeing criminals in their tracks. Helicopters already mount powerful searchlights, and strobe lighting capabilities can turn such systems into effective nonlethal weapons. High-intensity strobes can cause dizziness, disorientation and loss of balance making it virtually impossible to run away.

This effect was first harnessed in the “Photic Driver” made by British company Allen International in 1973. However, it has taken improvement in lighting technology (such as fast-switching Xenon lights) and an understanding of the physiology involved to make such weapons practical.

A “light based personnel immobilisation device” developed by Peak Beam Systems Inc has been successfully tested by the US military, and work to mount it on an unmanned helicopter in the States is under way.

This sort of light would be too dangerous for a manned aircraft because of the crew being affected. But an unmanned “strober” could be a literal crime stopper, and something we could see deployed within the next couple of years.

Even the smallest drones could be used for tactical police operations. As far back as 1972 the Home Office looked at model aircraft as an alternative to rubber bullets, literally flying them into rioters to knock them off their feet.

French company Tecknisolar Seni has demonstrated a portable drone armed with a double-barrelled 44mm Flash-Ball gun. Used by French special police units, the one-kilo Flash-Ball resembles a large calibre handgun and fires non-lethal rounds, including tear gas and rubber impact rounds to bring down a suspect without permanent damage — “the same effect as the punch of a champion boxer,” claim makers Verney-Carron.

However, last year there were questions over the use of Flash-Ball rounds by French police. Like other impact rounds, the Flash-Ball is meant to be aimed at the body — firing from a remote, flying platform is likely to increase the risk of head injury.

Another option is the taser. Taser stun guns are now so light (about 150 grams) that they could be mounted on the smaller drones. Antoine di Zazzo, head of SMP Technologies, which distributes tasers in France, says the company is fitting one to a small quad-rotor iDrone (another quad-rotor toy helicopter), which some have called a “flying saucer”. Continue reading »

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Aug 21

Another must read article by former CIA field officer Philip Giraldi.

Philip Giraldi was the foreign policy advisor to Ron Paul during his last presidential run.

giraldi
Philip Giraldi


If the seemingly unending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ever do come to a close and a new war with Iran, Somalia, or Sudan can somehow be avoided, the most serious long term damage from the conflicts will be to the fundamental freedoms that Americans have cherished for more than two hundred years. The erosion of America’s liberties has been driven by fear of terrorism but it is enabled by leaps in technology coupled with new legislation and a police state mentality that have made every citizen a target. Hate crimes and laws targeting the internet provide a framework that relies on advanced monitoring technology to criminalize behavior that would have been considered off limits for privacy reasons ten years ago.

The National Security Agency can monitor every phone call made in the United States and quite likely every e-mail. European security agencies have the same capabilities and have gone far down the road of legitimizing state intrusion into private activities, limiting free speech and free association. In Britain, most cities and highways are now monitored by CCTV cameras and the police have begun to use aerial drones to observe and record demonstrations of groups considered to be extreme including the right wing British National Party. New legislation in Germany will require all internet users to be licensed with a backtracking feature that will enable the government to determine where any internet transmission originated. The new regulations will require all users to have a tamper proof internet ID and will be enforced by special police. All telecommunications data, to include both internet and telephone, is already retained by the German service providers for six months, a law that has been in effect since 2008. The government can obtain the stored information by court order. It is particularly interesting to note what German politicians and officials said in support of the new legislation. One commented that it is necessary to stop the internet from becoming a “lawless chaos room.” Another described the internet as a “source of criminality, terrorism, and much similar filth.” Yet another said “What is illegal offline is also illegal online.”

Countries like China and Iran already control the servers for internet as well as the cell phone centers in their country and have not been shy about shutting down communications. In many places in Europe internet services are often screened by software that blocks certain websites and the use of words or phrases that are considered objectionable. This screening is also becoming common in hotels and other public places that offer internet services in the United States. But what is really dangerous is the combination of technologies that make it possible to control the internet with legislation that gives the authorities the ability to go after users who are deemed to be breaking the law, such as is happening in Germany.

Can there be any doubt that the monitoring of the internet to control “terrorism” and “filth” will in fairly short order also be used to repress the viewpoints of individuals and groups that are considered to be politically unacceptable? And what better weapon to use against dissidents than the criminal justice system, most particularly the hate crime legislation that is becoming both increasingly more common and more draconian in both the United States and in Europe? Hate crimes are the antithesis of the old principles that there is “equal justice under law” and that “justice is blind.” They essentially create specially protected classes of people within the criminal justice system, permitting selective enforcement of the law. Normally when there is an crime, the police investigate and make an arrest and the judiciary prosecutes. The perpetrator is punished in a manner proportionate to the seriousness of the offense. But if an incident is deemed a hate crime, i.e. that it may have been motivated by prejudice or bigotry, the penalties are harsher and the federal government has the option of trying the suspect if the state court for some reason fails to convict. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid justified the dismantling of two thousand years of jurisprudence recently, saying “”There is a difference between assaulting someone to steal his money or doing so because he is gay, or disabled, or Latino or Muslim.” Reid’s interesting interpretation notwithstanding, many would argue that hate crimes create an unconstitutional special tier of justice while the ability to try someone twice constitutes double jeopardy.

Continue reading »

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Mar 05

CCTV cameras and microphones are being installed in schools to monitor children’s behaviour and teachers’ performance in what union leaders described as ‘Big Brother’ tactics.

CCTV installed to monitor classrooms
Although taking part in the monitoring sessions is voluntary, headteachers say they expect the majority of their staff to participate Photo: GETTY

Four schools in Salford, Greater Manchester, have installed cameras and microphones in special training classrooms.

The 360-degree cameras are so powerful that observers can see what children are writing.

Continue reading »

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Mar 02

Visitors from around the world come to marvel at Westminster CCTV system


How the control centre of one of the country’s most extensive CCTV systems works

Millions of people walk beneath the unblinking gaze of central London’s surveillance cameras. Most are oblivious that deep under the pavements along which they are walking, beneath restaurant kitchens and sewage drains, their digital image is gliding across a wall of plasma screens.

Westminster council’s CCTV control room, where a click and swivel of a joystick delivers panoramic views of any central London street, is seen by civil liberty campaigners as a symbol of the UK’s surveillance society.

Related articles:
Liberty groups unite to defend UK rights (Observer)
Government plans to keep DNA samples of innocent (Guardian)
Information Commissioner Richard Thomas warns of surveillance culture (Times)
Spy chief: We risk a police state (Telegraph):

Using the latest remote technology, the cameras rotate 360 degrees, 365 days a year, providing a hi-tech version of what the 18th century English philosopher Jeremy Bentham conceived as the “Panopticon” – a space where people can be constantly monitored but never know when they are being watched.

The Home Office, which funded the creation of the £1.25m facility seven years ago, believes it to be a “best-practice example” on which the future of the UK’s public surveillance system should be modelled.

So famed has central London’s surveillance network become that figures released yesterday revealed that more than 6,000 officials from 30 countries have come to learn lessons from the centre.

Continue reading »

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Dec 29

    Tim Loughton
    Shadow Children’s Minister Tim Loughton is chairman of Classwatch

    Schools have installed CCTV cameras and microphones in classrooms to watch and listen to pupils as young as four.

    The Big Brother-style surveillance is being marketed as a way to identify pupils disrupting lessons when teachers’ backs are turned.

    Classwatch, the firm behind the system, says its devices can be set up to record everything that goes on in a classroom 24 hours a day and used to compile ‘evidence’ of wrongdoing.

    The equipment is sold with Crown Prosecution Service-approved evidence bags to store material to be used in court cases.

    The microphones and cameras can be used during lessons and when a classroom is unattended, such as during lunch breaks.

    But data protection watchdog the Information Commissioner has warned the surveillance may be illegal and demanded to know why primary and secondary schools are using this kind of sophisticated equipment to watch children.

    Continue reading »

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    Dec 09


    Aerial photographs of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre on Google Earth

    An Indian Court has been called to ban Google Earth amid suggestions the online satellite imaging was used to help plan the terror attacks that killed more than 170 people in Mumbai last month.

    A petition entered at the Bombay High Court alleges that the Google Earth service, “aids terrorists in plotting attacks”. Advocate Amit Karkhanis has urged the court to direct Google to blur images of sensitive areas in the country until the case is decided.

    There are indications that the gunmen who stormed Mumbai on November 26, and the people trained them, were technically literate. The group appears to have used complex GPS systems to navigate their way to Mumbai by sea. They communicated by satellite phone, used mobile phones with several different SIM cards, and may have monitored events as the siege unfolded via handheld Blackberry web browsers.

    Police in Mumbai have said the terrorists familiarised themselves with the streets of Mumbai’s financial capital using satellite images, according to the sole gunman to be captured alive. The commandos who stormed the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai said the militants had made a beeline for the building’s CCTV control room.

    Continue reading »

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    Dec 02

    Watch it.
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    Three police officers are being investigated after a soldier claimed he was repeatedly beaten while being pinned to the ground.

    CCTV footage shows Lance Corporal Mark Aspinall, who was praised for his bravery against the Taleban in Afghanistan earlier this year, being held down by two officers while a third appears to hit him on the back.

    Mr Aspinall, 24, was later found guilty of of assaulting the police offices but the convictions have been quashed on appeal after a judge watched a video of the incident.

    The nine-minute video, obtained by the Sunday Mirror, shows a drunken Mr Aspinall gesticulating at three police officers in Wigan, Lancashire, in July.

    It is claimed that he was mistakenly identified by the officers who had been called to deal with a man causing a nuisance to paramedics in the centre of the town.

    Mr Aspinall is then seen tripping as he attempts to run away from the police and then is then held down by three officers in fluorescent yellow jackets.

    An officer, identified in court as PC Peter Lightfoot, appears to twice push Mr Aspinall’s head on the ground in the middle of the road.

    Two colleagues – PC Richard Kelsall and another named only as Sergeant Russell – pin down his legs.

    When Mr Aspinall bites one of the officers legs, PC Lightfoot appears to scrape his face on the road. He then hits Mr Aspinall eight times on the back before he is put in the back of a police van.

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    Oct 21

    Centuries of British civil liberties risk being broken by the relentless pressure from the ‘security state’, the country’s top prosecutor has warned.

    Outgoing Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Ken Macdonald warned that the expansion of technology by the state into everyday life could create a world future generations “can’t bear”.

    In his wide-ranging speech, Sir Ken appeared to condemn a series of key Government policies, attacking terrorism proposals – including 42 day detention – identity card plans and the “paraphernalia of paranoia”.

    Instead, he said, the Government should insist that “our rights are priceless” and that: “The best way to face down those threats is to strengthen our institutions rather than to degrade them.”

    The intervention will be seen as a significant setback to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith who last week saw her plans to lock up terror suspects for 42 days before being charged thrown out by the House of Lords.

    It is also a blow to Miss Smith’s plans for a super-database to record the details of millions of people’s online presence, including emails, SMS messages and Facebook profiles as well as the controversial identity card programme.

    Sir Ken chose to issue his tough warning about the perils of the “Big Brother” state in his final speech as DPP, days before he leaves his post at the end of this month.

    He warned that MPs should “take very great care to imagine the world we are creating before we build it. We might end up living with something we can’t bear”.

    Sir Ken, who has held the post for the past five years, said: “We need to take very great care not to fall into a way of life in which freedom’s back is broken by the relentless pressure of a security State.

    “Technology gives the State enormous powers of access to knowledge and information about each of us, and the ability to collect and store it at will.”

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    Oct 20

    Paris will quadruple the number of closed-circuit police cameras in its streets by the end of next year, after President Nicolas Sarkozy’s promise to emulate London in an attempt to track crime and terrorism threats.

    While the Paris metro and rail networks already operate around 9,500 CCTV devices, police have only 330 at their disposal to survey outside public areas. The new plan, dubbed “A Thousand Cameras for Paris”, will raise that number to more than 1,200 – with most installed in high-risk areas and outside railway and underground stations.

    The figure is still small compared with London, where each citizen is caught on average several hundred times a day. Britain has about four million closed-circuit security cameras compared with France’s 340,000.

    The CCTV drive follows Mr Sarkozy’s pledge last autumn to follow London’s surveillance lead. “I am very impressed by the efficiency of the British police thanks to this network of cameras,” the French president said. “In my mind, there is no contradiction between respecting individual freedoms and the installation of cameras to protect everyone’s security.”

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    Oct 20


    Live CCTV launched on buses

    A six-month trial of live CCTV on a London bus route has begun.

    London Mayor Boris Johnson announced that the technology had been installed on 21 double-decker buses on a north London route.

    The real-time images will be beamed to a control room manned by Transport for London (TfL) and police.

    The trial will be monitored to determine whether live images can help transport staff deal with disorder more effectively.

    Mr Johnson said: “I am determined to banish the sad minority of hoodlums and trouble makers that have blighted our buses.

    “Having the facility to access live pictures from buses travelling around the capital will mean our bus controllers can play a far more effective role in sending police officers to sort out troublemakers.

    “If this trial is successful then we will consider rolling out the system on other routes as part of our campaign to stamp out the casual disorder that led to a culture of fear on public transport.”

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    Sep 15


    CCTV cameras, converted to read ANPR data, capturing people’s movement. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Reuters

    The police are to expand a car surveillance operation that will allow them to record and store details of millions of daily journeys for up to five years, the Guardian has learned.


    Paul Lewis on police plans to store car surveillance records Link to this audio

    A national network of roadside cameras will be able to “read” 50m licence plates a day, enabling officers to reconstruct the journeys of motorists.

    Police have been encouraged to “fully and strategically exploit” the database, which is already recording the whereabouts of 10 million drivers a day, during investigations ranging from counter-terrorism to low-level crime.

    But it has raised concerns from civil rights campaigners, who question whether the details should be kept for so long, and want clearer guidance on who might have access to the material.

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    Aug 28

    In the Queen’s speech this autumn Gordon Brown’s government will announce a scheme to institute a database of every telephone call, email, and act of online usage by every resident of the UK. It will propose that this information will be gathered, stored, and “made accessible” to the security and law enforcement agencies, local councils, and “other public bodies”.

    This fact should be in equal parts incredible and nauseating. It is certainly enraging and despicable. Not even George Orwell in his most febrile moments could have envisaged a world in which every citizen could be so thoroughly monitored every moment of the day, spied upon, eavesdropped, watched, tracked, followed by CCTV cameras, recorded and scrutinised. Our words and web searches, our messages and intimacies, are to be stored and made available to the police, the spooks, the local council – the local council! – and “other public bodies”.

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