Author Archive | Charles Farrier

Internet Eyes Citizen Spy Game – The New Stasi?

Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it…
- Judge Learned Hand, ‘The Spirit of Liberty’ speech (1944)

The launch of Internet Eyes on 4th October (as part of a three month trial) marks another disturbing chapter in Britain’s surveillance society.

Internet EyesIn the autumn of 2009 Internet Eyes Limited hit the headlines when they announced their desire to launch a CCTV game that they were keen to claim was not a game. Private individuals would subscribe to private camera feeds connected to the internet and spy on people going about their business, with a cash prize each month for the person who reports the most infringements. The game is now being launched as part of a three month trial at 12 shops (including Costcutter and Spar franchises) in towns including Reading, Wokingham and Newton Abbott.

The UK’s Information Commissioner has put private profit above personal privacy in allowing a private company to launch its Stasi style citizen spy game rather than defending the rights of British citizens.… Read the rest

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Speed Cameras, ANPR and Project Columbus

Photo: Kaihsu Ta (CC)

Photo: Kaihsu Ta (CC)

- The expansion of automated checkpoints around the UK

Data Protection expert Chris Pounder of Amberhawk Training[1] has warned that moves by UK local authorities to remove speed cameras could lead to an increase in Automatic Number Plate Recognition or ANPR cameras. In a recent blog post ‘Data Protection and surveillance: swapping the speed camera for ANPR?’[2] Pounder suggests that as speed cameras are removed, more accidents could occur so that over time, there will be increased public pressure to do something to counter the rising accident rate, and he says: “ANPR installations (which only need a few cameras) will be the technological fix of choice”. Pounder goes on:

In this way, specific surveillance of an accident black spot by a speed camera (which only captures the image of speeding cars breaking the law) is replaced by general surveillance of all vehicles passing the cameras (where records of date, time, driver details, location are all retained for possibly up to 5 years).

Read the rest

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Gordon Brown’s UK Election Pledge – More CCTV!

CCTVThis week the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, made it clear that he sees the expansion of the UK surveillance camera network as a vote winner in the coming general election [1]. Brown was in Reading delivering a speech on ‘crime and anti-social behaviour’, he said [2]:

CCTV and DNA are crucial.

There are of course some who think CCTV is “excessive”, but they probably don’t have to walk home or take the night bus on their own at the end of a night out. For the rest of us, for ordinary hard working, decent people, the evidence is clear: CCTV reduces the fear of crime and anti-social behaviour.

That is why this government has funded CCTV in nearly 700 town centre schemes over the last decade — and why in the coming months we are bringing in a new power for people to petition their local authority for more CCTV, with the authority having a duty to respond.

Now the opposition parties have campaigned against CCTV — our support for CCTV will be on the ballet paper at any coming election.

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CCTV Drones: Policing By Remote Control

The secret development of CCTV UAVs or drones represents yet another example of Administrative Lawlessness now evident the world over as civil liberties are squandered.

All we have of freedom, all we use or know -
this our fathers bought for us long and long ago.

- Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue

A recent Guardian newspaper article (‘CCTV in the sky: police plan to use military-style spy drones’, 23rd January 2010[1]) reveals plans to use surveillance drones/Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to spy on UK citizens. The project, called the South Coast Partnership, sees arms manufacturer BAE Systems teaming up with a “consortium of government agencies led by Kent police”.

The Guardian report states that:

Police in the UK are planning to use unmanned spy drones, controversially deployed in Afghanistan, for the ­”routine” monitoring of antisocial motorists, ­protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers, in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance.

The Home Office’s ‘Science and Innovation Strategy 2009–12′ [2], published last year, confirms that the UK government has been exploring the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as a policing “tool”…

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Naked Scanners, Naked CCTV And Barefaced Lies

How digital strip searches got fast tracked…

Back in 2002 when biometric ID cards were first being suggested by UK politicians many of those of us that opposed their introduction pointed out that fingerprinting is associated with criminal suspects and that treating citizens like criminals is unacceptable in a free society. Now the proposed digital strip searching of airline passengers in the UK raises similar concerns. The UK government is suggesting that passengers should stand with their hands up and submit to a scanning technology that reveals their naked body to airport security staff. If the public submits to this demand and accepts this technology then it raises serious concerns about people’s understanding of what privacy and freedom are and will not bode well for the future. It is up to the people of this country to take a stand and to say no to digital strip searches.

The pants incident

The current media hype around airport security has been sparked after an incident in the US on Christmas Day 2009.… Read the rest

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