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British Drivers Destroying Surveillance Cameras 259

Posted by timothy
from the probably-not-with-guns dept.
miletus writes "A Wired article tells us that not everyone in Britain loves the surveillance state." The linked entry (part of Bruce Sterling's blog) quotes a story about British anti-camera groups, one of which claims its up-and-coming methods "will enable them to destroy a roadside camera in just a few seconds," and illustrates with a burned-out camera. I wonder how many Americans are similarly motivated.
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British Drivers Destroying Surveillance Cameras

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  • Privacy (Score:2, Funny)

    by Brian Lewis (1011579)
    It's time to build some tin-foil hats for your cars people.

    That, or get some kind of cool preditor laser thing that will somehow find the camera and shine it directly into the lens causing it to go "blind" for the brief period that you are in it.
  • Not CCTV (Score:4, Informative)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot@spad.YEATSco.uk minus poet> on Monday December 24, 2007 @11:55AM (#21806932) Homepage
    To be fair, these groups are targeting speed cameras (or "Safety Cameras" as they are laughably called by councils) rather than CCTV cameras.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Threni (635302)
      A shame really, for them, as it'll be the CCTV cameras of their destructive acts which will provide the crucial evidence needed to convict them.

      Note: Many, many more people are killed by dangerous/drunk/stupid drivers in the UK than by murderers, disturbed burglars and demented rapists.
      • Re:Not CCTV (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Elemenope (905108) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:10PM (#21807820)

        Note: Many, many more people are killed by dangerous/drunk/stupid drivers in the UK than by murderers, disturbed burglars and demented rapists.

        And many more people in the UK are killed by coronary disease than by dangerous/drunk/stupid drivers. Quick! Ban McDonald's and boiled potatoes! It'll save lives!

        Each "safety" measure must be balanced against the effect it has upon people's lives, liberties, and dignity. For my part, I do not wish for bored nosy strangers to record and view at their leisure my every public move on the off chance I might run a red light.

        • Re:Not CCTV (Score:5, Insightful)

          by LingNoi (1066278) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:50PM (#21808200)
          That's great but I live in the UK and some fucktard ran through a red light almost killing me last thursday as I crossed the road. No speed camera there, but I bet if there was he would have stopped instead of thinking he needs the shave off 5 minutes journey time.

          These people destroy speed cameras because they want the freedom the break the law, nothing more and I hope everyone of them gets arrested. The law is you go a certain speed if you break it ITS YOUR OWN FAULT NOT THE CAMERA THAT CAUGHT YOU BREAKING THE LAW.

          Quick! Ban McDonald's and boiled potatoes!
          What a stupid comparison. Are you twelve years old or something? A McDonald's doesn't run through red lights, almost killing me. To kill me I (As in myself not some random asshole) would have to eat way too many. Just like how water kills you if you drink too much.
          • Re:Not CCTV (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Andy_R (114137) on Monday December 24, 2007 @02:25PM (#21808522) Homepage Journal
            The flaw in your logic is that speed limits are not the same as proper laws. They are not set by politicians, debated in parliament, and you can't vote out the people who choose them if you disagree with them. They are set by mysterious quangos, with no accountability and no effective means to appeal against them when they are set wrongly.

            In the UK we have a law against dangerous driving. Have you ever wondered who someone caught doing 31 mph in a non-residential area on an empty dual carriageway is charged with speeding but not dangerous driving? It's because breaking a speed limit that is only there to give revenue to a 'camera partnership' isn't dangerous.

            You're right about red lights being a real danger point. Why do we have far more speed traps than red light cameras? It's because safe drivers do go faster than wrongly set limits, but they don't run red lights, so red light cameras wouldn't rake in the cash like speed traps.
            • In the UK we have a law against dangerous driving. Have you ever wondered who someone caught doing 31 mph in a non-residential area on an empty dual carriageway is charged with speeding but not dangerous driving?

              They wouldn't. You get an extra few percent of the speed limit as leeway to stop such silly prosecutions going through. Stop repeating the same bollocks all the other "I want to drive as fast as I like wherever I like" idiots spout.
              • Re:Not CCTV (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Andy_R (114137) on Monday December 24, 2007 @03:46PM (#21809160) Homepage Journal
                No, mr troll, i've clearly stated im not in favour of dangerous driving, and plenty of people have been charged with doing 31 in a 30 zone, the percentage leeway depends on the police deciding if they like you or not, which is another example of what's wrong with our speeding laws.

                If you are defending the system, maybe you can tell me why the safe speed for any road never varies with time or weather but will always be exactly divisible by 10? Or am I right when I say that speeding is not the same as going dangerously fast?
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by Rudolf (43885)

                  If you are defending the system, maybe you can tell me why the safe speed for any road never varies with time or weather


                  In California, safe speed does vary with weather:
                  http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/hdbk/pgs19thru22.htm#speedlimits [ca.gov]

                  California has a "Basic Speed Law." This law means you may never drive faster than is safe for current conditions. For example, if you are driving 45 mph in a 55 mph speed zone during a dense fog, you could be cited for driving "too fast for conditions."

                  Maybe you should get your government to enact something similar?

                • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                  by Haeleth (414428)

                  plenty of people have been charged with doing 31 in a 30 zone, the percentage leeway depends on the police deciding if they like you or not

                  If there are police officers there to decide whether they like you or not, then clearly you haven't been caught by an automatic speed camera, so it's hard to see what such a case would have to do with your strange theory that speeding fines are a conspiracy involving the manufacturers of automatic speed cameras. Automatic speed cameras have fixed leeways which generally

                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    by ShakaUVM (157947)
                    But really, why do you care? So what if you have to drive slightly slower than you want to? If you want to drive fast, go to a racing track or buy a racing game or something. If you want to share the public roads, you can damn well play nice and slow down. It's really not that difficult a concept to grasp. Once you get used to not having to constantly look out for speed cameras, you might even learn to enjoy driving again.

                    Believe it or not, most people want to drive at close to the natural speed of a road.
            • by Haeleth (414428)

              Have you ever wondered who someone caught doing 31 mph in a non-residential area on an empty dual carriageway is charged with speeding but not dangerous driving?

              Under the guidelines [police.uk] from the Association of Chief Police Officers, someone caught doing 31 in a 30 limit would not be charged with anything at all. They'd have to be doing 35 before they were fined at all, and they'd have to be doing 50 before they'd face court proceedings.

              But of course this is Slashdot, where we don't like to get boring facts get

              • by Andy_R (114137)
                Firstly, who elected the ACPO and gave them the power to change laws?

                Secondly, these are (as you say) guidelines not laws. Individual police forces can (and do) set their own policies differently, and offciers have discretion to prosecute for a 1mph over the limit case, or ignore a 100mph over the limit case... and that's what's wrong with the law as it stands.
          • Speed cameras have no bearing on probability of a driver failing to stop for a red light. Perhaps you are thinking of "Red Light Cameras", which are likely to discourage drivers from running said red lights and are a Good Thing(tm). I'm of the opnion that speed cameras actually increase the probability of a collision for two reasons: 1 - speed cameras are generally positioned where the general flow of traffic is likely to be exceeding the posted speed limit. This means that drivers brake to ensure that they
      • by bluephone (200451)

        Note: Many, many more people are killed by dangerous/drunk/stupid drivers in the UK than by murderers, disturbed burglars and demented rapists.
        Yes, but I have faith that as Englishmen, you'll be able to bring the death toll from murderers, disturbed burglars, and demented rapists up to the number killed on the roads, if not EXCEEDING that number. FOR ENGLAND!
    • Re:Not CCTV (Score:5, Insightful)

      by damburger (981828) on Monday December 24, 2007 @12:10PM (#21807122)

      Yep, its a misleading article headline - these are not surveillance cameras. They take a static photo when a car passes above the speed limit by a certain margin (5-10% IIRC).

      The UK government places these in accident-prone areas, and makes their locations available to the public. If you have satellite navigation in your car it will warn you as you approach one. They are not in any way a violation of civil liberties because doing 80 through a residential area is not any kind of right. Petrolheads claiming they are fighting back against a police state are doing nothing more than trivialising the actual civil liberty violations committed by the UK government.

      • by Gordonjcp (186804)
        Actually, I support the destruction of these speed cameras in residential areas, because I don't want to be exposed to the massive amounts of X-band microwave radiation they emit.
      • The UK government places these in accident-prone areas
        Which then makes them more accident-prone as all the people entering that area slam on the brakes to not get a ticket.

        It's just like when they put red-light cameras at intersections and rear-end accidents skyrocket. Brilliant!
      • They take a static photo when a car passes above the speed limit by a certain margin (5-10% IIRC).

        For the record, the current ACPO guidelines are 10% + 2mph over the legal limit.

        The UK government places these in accident-prone areas, and makes their locations available to the public.

        If that were true, people wouldn't be (quite) so upset. But the fact is that many of the cameras violate the official guidelines, and are posted in highly revenue-generating but statistically very safe areas. Similarly, if the locations were reported accurately and completely, then that would be one thing, but not all police forces and "safety camera partnerships" respect this.

        They are not in any way a violation of civil liberties because doing 80 through a residential area is not any kind of right.

        That's one side of it. On the flip side, I b

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MightyYar (622222)
      Yeah but now they'll need CCTV cameras to watch the speed cameras.
    • Re:Not CCTV (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Cheesey (70139) on Monday December 24, 2007 @12:34PM (#21807414)
      Sometimes they are both. The automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) network uses CCTV cameras to (a) enforce special road taxes like the "congestion charge", (b) make a timestamped record of every number plate that passes each camera, and (c) enforce speed limits.

      This is arguably worse than non-automated CCTV systems even though a human operator may never see the pictures that are recorded. The number plate information goes into a database, where it may be stored indefinitely for "crime prevention purposes". Bruce Schneier wrote [schneier.com] that 'It's not "follow that car," it's "follow every car."' So there are certainly valid political reasons to object to this type of surveillance beyond simply objecting to a speed limit. It is nice to see people who actually give a shit about this stuff, even if I do not agree with their methods, since most Brits couldn't give a fuck about anything the Government does.
    • by hedwards (940851)
      We don't have those here, for a while my street had an automated radar gun display, which showed drivers how fast they were going. It didn't hook up to a database, or at least identify the people that were speeding. I'm not actually sure whether it was just a reminder to people that were speeding, or if they were using it as a part of traffic planning, to decide whether to install speed bumps or post traffic cops there to write tickets.

      We do have four or five red light cameras installed, and the community h
  • Americans? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iknownuttin (1099999)
    Ha, we'd pull ours down and sell 'em. They'll be called American Camera Chop shops. "ACCs" for short. I can see it now, gangstas running around and selling cameras. It'll happen.
  • The Revolution? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by downix (84795) on Monday December 24, 2007 @11:56AM (#21806950) Homepage
    All of these actions have me wondering if the revolution is happening, and nobody in the public mind knows it?
    • Re:The Revolution? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ZombieWomble (893157) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:06PM (#21807774)
      Pfft, revolution my ass. This is just a bunch of people who are cranky because they got speeding tickets (and/or wanted to avoid tickets in the future) and took it out on the machines. Not to mention it's been going on for years on a low level (random BBC news story [bbc.co.uk] from September 2006). They don't care about liberty or the like, which is demonstrated both by their actions - they aren't bothering to try and destroy any sort of CCTV which actually keeps track of people in public areas - and their actual manifesto - that is, that the cameras are just a money-making scheme by the government.

      It just demonstrates that civil liberties are to these people, a rather lower concern than, say, 50 quid in fines.

  • Sweet! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the_humeister (922869) on Monday December 24, 2007 @12:02PM (#21807014)
    In a surveillance society, who watches the watchers?
  • what's a camera worth?
  • Woo Hoo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by heinousjay (683506) on Monday December 24, 2007 @12:11PM (#21807136) Journal
    Let's celebrate destruction of public property. These heroes are standing up for their right to break traffic laws and they need our support. Let the road be free of the tyranny of civility.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      You forgot to ask us to get off your lawn.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by malkavian (9512)
      No, they're standing up and saying that arbitrary limits set up in arbitrary places and now enforced by automated cameras that fine you and put points on your license for performing what may be a perfectly safe action are grossly unfair.

      Take two cases for example:

      1) Driving at 40 miles an hour down an empty, open street at 4:30am, with a 30 speed limit.

      2) Driving the wrong way down a road at 15 miles an hour in broad daylight in a crowded street.

      Which of the above cases do you think should be picked up as
      • When the purpose of the law is to sow a minefield to rob honest and otherwise law abiding people, then it is time for the people to rise up and become outlaws if necessary. As it was with the underground railroad in the US - unjust and immoral laws must be opposed.

      • by leoxx (992)
        Mathematical analysis of the cameras has shown that at BEST, they make no difference. At worst, they increase the incidence of accidents.


        Sources please.

        • Not citing anything, but: Which is more likely to cause an accident, taking that left on a yellow arrow, or slamming your brakes because the speed camera will ticket you if you don't?
        • by ivan256 (17499)
          http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/07/740.asp [thenewspaper.com]
          http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/04/430.asp [thenewspaper.com]
          http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/03/AR2005100301844.html [washingtonpost.com]

          I'll stop there, but you can google for dozens more, because every experiment with red-light cameras has had the same effect: Increased rear-end collisions when people stop fast to avoid a ticket.
        • by malkavian (9512)
          Just a sampler [bbc.co.uk] which gives an overview of a few viewpoints. Much of what I've read and looked into says that the speed cameras aren't that great an idea, and generate more revenue than safety. Which is why here in the UK, they've stopped giving automatic points on the license if you attend a 'road safety seminar'. Though the fine is still levied. Say something?
      • by acroyear (5882)
        1) Driving at 40 miles an hour down an empty, open street at 4:30am, with a 30 speed limit.

        There's more to speed limits than just speed. There's also noise.

        Here in Sterling, VA, the main street, a widely divided 4-lane road with only a few stoplights that late at night are almost always green, the speed limit is 30. The very same road half a mile further south, with just as much traffic and lights, is 45.

        The reason for the difference?

        Residential zoning. Not for kids or pedestrians crossing the street (no
  • Good Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by foreverdisillusioned (763799) on Monday December 24, 2007 @12:22PM (#21807260) Journal
    There are certain to be plenty of replies saying how this is a bad thing, people should write to their lawmakers instead, etc. Let me offer a preemptive rebuttal: Fuck that. The information age has made permanent archival cheap, and improvements in pattern recognition are fast giving us the ability to rapidly search through those archives. There isn't a single government in existence today that's responsible enough to handle such data. Certainly, Britain's (and to a much greater extent, the USA's) extremely self-destructive War on Drugs is evidence enough of that.

    Speeding isn't good, but it isn't the scourge of society. The fact is, governments (and the UK government especially) have repeatedly shown a propensity to never throw away any data gathered from the public (if you are arrested in the UK for any reason, your DNA is put into a database and never deleted, even if the charges are dropped.) The speeding *obsession* is a joke anyway--the only reason why law enforcement cares so much about it is it's easy to prove and tickets are an easy source of revenue. The solution to the traffic problem is ultimately a technical one--within the next 50-75 years, we should have fully automated cars anyway (if not flying.)

    Despite what the evening news tells you, law enforcement is NOT the primary problem of our times. In the quest for a peaceful society, law enforcement is a merely one tool of many and it's a very dangerous and cumbersome tool at that. If our lawmakers cannot recognize this and continue to blaze a merry path towards a privacy-less society--one where surveillance is abused to persecute the law-abiding and civil disobedience is utterly impossible because law enforcement is just too damn omniscient--then the populace at large can and should take measures into their own hands.

    I'm certainly not happy *at all* about the destruction of taxpayer-funded property, but this issues involve here transcend your average political quibbling. If these Brits are willing to risk imprisonment to fight the naive Orwellians in charge, good for them. (If on the other hand they're just doing this so they can speed with impunity, shame on them.)
    • by ledow (319597)
      "The information age has made permanent archival cheap, and improvements in pattern recognition are fast giving us the ability to rapidly search through those archives. There isn't a single government in existence today that's responsible enough to handle such data."

      Lets assume it's true (I'm only half-agreeing with both statements). So that means we should burn them, no? I know, let's burn all the computer centres. Hell, while we're at it, let's burn the court records. And the courts. Hold on, let's j
      • I really don't give a shit about speeders. If anything, I'm on your side (in principle), though I don't believe speed is a causative agent in the majority of accidents (though it admittedly can make an accident much worse.)

        My point is, you're being extremely naive if you think these cameras will be used ONLY to combat speeding. Hell, give it 10 or 15 years and I'll be surprised if they're even *primarily* used for speeding. A few months after 9/11, and there were law enforcement seminars being held f
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ledow (319597)
          Ah, assuming you're not from the UK yourself.

          London, England - to enter Central London TODAY, your number plate is read on entry and exit, stored, and you are sent an automated bill for that day unless you pay the "congestion charge" in a London shop (or by text, online etc.). The point is that by entering Central London you have already been spotted and recorded on CCTV, your number plate automatically read and you've been charged. Not paying is an offence - no matter what you were doing. Certain except
    • Wouldn't the easiest solution just be to legislate that the data must be thrown out after 30 days and can only be viewed by a court order?
    • by yog (19073) *
      parent wrote:
      >>Speeding isn't good, but it isn't the scourge of society.

      Don't know about the U.K. but in the U.S., traffic accidents result in about 43,000 deaths per year and hundreds of thousands of injuries, as well as hundreds of billions of dollars in property damage, suffering, litigation, insurance fees, on and on.

      If this isn't a scourge, I can't imagine what is. Would I surrender what little anonymity I possess on the road in exchange for capturing and de-licensing the scoff-law speeders, red
  • George Orwell was about 25 years too early in his predictions.

    • by iggymanz (596061)
      not at all, the events in 1984 don't necessarily take place in 1984, that's just the year the State said it was, and anyone who disagreed would change their tune after a visit to room 101.
    • Without wishing to be especially contradictory (because it's clear that shit is happening in the world today), I would like to point out that Orwell has already been 20 years, 15 years and possibly 10 or even 5 years early with his prediction. I would hazard a suspicion that he was also 5 years, 10 years or even 15 years late, although that was long before my time and I wouldn't know.

      This does not mean he was not right, of course.
    • Traffic cameras were tried about 35 years ago in South Africa. There, a large part of the population is armed, with the result that the cameras were taken out almost as fast as they were put up and the fad literally went up in smoke and blew over rather quickly. I'm surprised that it took so long for people to revolt against automated government spying in the UK.
  • by Peter Cooper (660482) on Monday December 24, 2007 @12:37PM (#21807442) Homepage Journal
    This speed camera vandalizing is nothing new. It's been going on for at least seven years now. It's usually idiots who've been caught by the camera that day who go back to destroy the evidence. Thankfully the new "digital" speed cameras that transmit pictures back to the base instantly will resolve this.

    However, I think this sort of cowardly attack on public property is nothing new in the UK. Whereas citizens of other countries will attempt to use the law to defeat things, the British are typically content to moan and be passive aggressive about things rather than effect real change. One curious development in the last several years here has been the increase in attacks against firefighters and paramedics. You can't go a week without hearing about firefighters getting rocks thrown at them and their tenders by gangs of feral teens. Even paramedics rushing to people's aid have been attacked and beaten up for no reason at all. Why? The British underclass is powerless, and aggression is all they know, because our legal and political systems are so limp wristed that the ordinary man on the street cannot effect change.
  • Hypocrites (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 0xdeadbeef (28836)
    In the US, cops are seen as reckless thugs who are drunk on power and out of control. And yet, given the choice between being ticketed by a cop and ticketed by a machine, the very people who hate cops most get pissed about the machine.

    The problem isn't that the machine is faulty, it's because it is always on. Cops can't be everywhere, but the camera is. The people destroying these things aren't anarchists or vigilantes, they're just dumb thugs who want to live in a world without rules and want to continue t
    • by Rayonic (462789)

      The problem isn't that the machine is faulty, it's because it is always on. Cops can't be everywhere, but the camera is.

      The real problem is that the fines and point penalties were set up in the pre-camera era. So they're far too harsh for the frequency people are caught nowadays.
  • ... these are speed cameras, not surveillance cameras.
  • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:05PM (#21807744)

    If British drivers don't want to be seen by the cameras, why can't they just engage their cloaking devices?

    Signed,
    Every Sci-Fi Geek in the World

    • by 0123456 (636235)
      "If British drivers don't want to be seen by the cameras, why can't they just engage their cloaking devices?"

      They do. From what I've been told, in some areas (typically Chav-towns), 50% or more of cars either have fake plates or are unregistered, or are registered abroad... that instantly 'cloaks' them from speed cameras, and they can drive as badly as they want.

      That's fine if you're a chav who's probably in and out of jail anyway; what more do you have to lose? But when you're one of the middle class worke
  • by gorbachev (512743) on Monday December 24, 2007 @02:12PM (#21808398) Homepage
    PETHW (People for the Ethical Treatment of Hardware) strongly condemns these senseless attacks on the completely innocent pieces of perfectly fine hardware.

    What harm have the cameras done to these afwul people? They just take photos, that's all. They don't care what anyone does with the photos. If you have a problem with those photos PETHW suggests you either drive slower, or take it up with the local constabulary, who are, after all, ultimately responsible for taking the photos and placing the cameras where they stand.

    We urge all citizens to act upon this travesty and rise against these lawless individuals. How can they sleep at night knowing what they've done???

    Join PETHW in fighting hardware abuse at http://pethw.org/ [pethw.org]
  • Bruce Sterling has just discovered a web site that has been amusing many of us for years. 10 years in fact.

    For those who haven't seen this before, the site documents obnoxious installations of GATSO speed cameras in places where its obvious purpose is revenue generation rather than safety. The result is that someone usually hangs a tire around the camera, fills it with diesel, then adds a flare. Burns quite nicely. Peruse the site [speedcam.co.uk] though for more creative solutions like chain saws.

    WHOIS information

  • After getting nailed by a redlight camera when turning right .2 seconds after the light turned red. I can totally understand the frustration here. The camera takes a picture, the officer reviews it, stamps a ticket on it and sends you your fine. No explaination, no please, no thank you for your payment. Etc.

    If were and officer pulling me over, the officer would have told me why it was unsafe, the reason he pulled me over and have a good day or at least been a small conversation with a few laughs. But i
    • by mvdwege (243851)

      After getting nailed by a redlight camera when turning right .2 seconds after the light turned red.

      So you ran a yellow light, instead of stopping, as you presumably have been taught as a condition for getting your license. I am afraid I can feel very little sympathy for your self-inflicted suffering. Next time you see a yellow light, remember you have at least one more pedal beside your accelerator.

      Mart (motorcyclist who regularly gets almost rear-ended by cagers who think a yellow means speed up).

  • The linked entry (part of Bruce Sterling's blog) quotes a story about British anti-camera groups, one of which claims its up-and-coming methods "will enable them to destroy a roadside camera in just a few seconds,"


    In the US, we call this a thirty-aught-six, among other things. Perhaps these Brits are borrowing something from Russia? Molotov Cocktails would be ironically appropriate.

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