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In Australian Town, Public CCTV Off Over Privacy Concerns 160

Posted by timothy
from the sanity-but-in-such-small-portions dept.
freddienumber13 writes "The CCTV cameras operated by the local government in the country town of Nowra, NSW (Australia) have been turned off following an order by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal. The local government is crying because it believes that it is losing an effective method in combating crime in public. Locals however are rejoicing that they are no longer being recorded whilst walking down the street."
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In Australian Town, Public CCTV Off Over Privacy Concerns

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  • Yay! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @11:51PM (#43632719)

    I welcome any and all pushback against monitoring of the public.
    Here is related news, not quite the same implications, but a good trend none the less:

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/02/22/states-local-governments-join-push-to-turn-off-red-light-cameras/ [foxnews.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'm a little surprised the assuie public had the balls to stop it. Most Australians take whatever their politician tries to shoves up their ass (and for the few that don't like it, they get told they must hate the children or something).
      • I'm a little surprised the assuie public had the balls to stop it. Most Australians take whatever their politician tries to shoves up their ass (and for the few that don't like it, they get told they must hate the children or something).

        Are you sure you didn't mean to s/Australians/Americans?

    • Don't get your hopes up. This isn't a trend, this is a statistical outlier. Government monitoring is an easy-to-sell way of politicians "being serious" about solving your problems without actually getting knee-deep in the sludge. Plus this what government wants to do. They do want to monitor you and will use any excuse to increase it.

      Don't be fooled or led to believe otherwise.

      • by KGIII (973947) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @01:24AM (#43632997) Journal

        Unfortunately it looks like a review of a bunch of studies indicates that CCTV usage actually has a positive impact on crime with it being markedly so in the case of car parks it seems. It appears that they're able to legitimately pull out numbers to prove the efficacy so I think the argument must be that the decrease in crime isn't worth the decrease in privacy. Some exceptions could be made, for instance, as it shows a 50% decrease in crime when used in car parks it seems. I imagine that compromises will need to be made and I'd personally rather the increased freedom over the increased safety though I'm aware that other people will not think the same and that it is, ideally, a democracy where I live.

        • by TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @01:32AM (#43633013)
          Government surveillance isn't about the relationship to surveillance to an increase or decrease in crime, it is about control. It can have a positive or negative correlation. The end goal isn't solving a problem, the end goal is surveillance.
          • by KGIII (973947) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @01:49AM (#43633061) Journal

            That is an interesting line of thought but without further evidence I am going to conclude that the goal is the stated goal. It may make me a "sheeple" but I find that, by law of probability, I'm usually right about such things when I do it this way.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              I don't see why you'd give the government the benefit of the doubt. There have been an immeasurable number of government abuses of power throughout history, and abuses of power can still be easily spotted in this day and age (including among governments in first world countries).

              • by KGIII (973947)

                Absolutely and you may well be correct. It's a very valid theory. However, I do better statistically by taking them at face value and with their stated intent. It helps me be correct more often than assuming the worst does.

            • Imposing the full burden of "further evidence" is a bit much for me, myself and I to have to bear as a burden to your world view, but despite that unfair burden I'll try to give it the old "college try" and see if a can successful communicate my thoughts so here goes ...

              Statistically a fair bulk of violent crime occurs on Friday and Saturday after the hours of 11 PM due to the work week, off days and when alcohol consumptions occurs. For a moment, let's say that alcohol consumption and crime have a very po

              • by KGIII (973947)

                It is my right, I know this. I vote accordingly but I don't tend to jump on the old conspiracy theory bandwagon. Critical thinking would suggest Occam's Razor in this case and that the government really wants to just use them for observation which is bad in and of itself in my opinion. Also your question concerning extra police presence, why would you assume it is either/or and not both?

                • I was actually arguing human nature, not conspiracy. It is human nature for a government -- which is expected to be involved as the middleman in human affairs --- to want to monitor its citizens. One reason is the perception that this make the job of government easier. It is also easier to act as a middleman in human affairs by taking away freedom.

                  It ends up with a muddled mission statement that government prioritizes its own interests above the what the government is in place to do. i.e. The objective

                  • by KGIII (973947)

                    It seems likely that the only controlling attempt they seem to be going for is that it may result in a lower crime rate because people may act differently if they know they're being watched and/or recorded. Which you could easily say is controlling though I am under the impression you mean on a grander scale than that.

                    I can appreciate where you're coming from. I can even see where your views are logical conclusions as to what it might be. However, without anything more substantial to go on I don't arrive at

            • "It may make me a "sheeple" but I find that, by law of probability, I'm usually right about such things when I do it this way."

              And you likely will always be "right" if that's your measure. After all, the one's in control of what you perceive as "evidence" aren't exactly forthcoming. Perhaps some critical thinking is in order? As an [albeit wayyyy arbitrary] example, recall geocentric theory? In any case, hopefully one is not basing his facts on evidence alone while keeping in mind the very evidence one

              • by KGIII (973947)

                Nah, I've both given it thought and looked at what evidence we have. It's certainly true that the government wishes to control us though I think that this is simply observation. I find that they feel they need to observe us to be above and beyond what I think they should do but I don't think there's some grand conspiracy to control us via Orwellian means. Well not any more than they'd be controlling us in that we may behave differently if we know we're monitored by CCTV though, again, I think their stated i

        • Unfortunately it looks like a review of a bunch of studies indicates that CCTV usage actually has a positive impact on crime with it being markedly so in the case of car parks it seems.

          Cite? Lots of those studies miss things like regression to the mean - where the cameras have an initial impact but after a while people just start to compensate like wearing hoodies or they shift the crime to areas without cameras.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          Car parks are a good example of where it probably is acceptable to most people to have CCTV, with appropriate access controls. The problem is that because it works in car parks some people want it everywhere and they want people monitoring it 24/7.

          In the UK we actually have cameras with speakers so the operator can shout at people remotely. While I appreciate my car being safe and having some record of hit-and-run accidents while it is parked I also don't want to live in a society where we have people watch

          • by KGIII (973947)

            I agree. I don't want them in car parks but I'd agree that if society wants them then we should have them. While I don't like the idea in general I know we're going to see an increase in surveillance and I'd like us to do it with an eye towards maintaining as much privacy as possible.

    • I wonder how many of the people who argue against surveillance cameras would be so principled if they were ever to be the victims of violent crime. It's my bet that they'd be the first ones screaming for the footage.
      Go ahead and take my picture. I doubt it's worth looking at and there is, in any case, too much video for anybody to bother studying more than a tiny part of it. There really is no use for it other than catching criminals.
      It's not that I trust our government, but I do know that they're not a tot

      • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @01:12AM (#43632967)

        I wonder how many of the people who argue against surveillance cameras would be so principled if they were ever to be the victims of violent crime. It's my bet that they'd be the first ones screaming for the footage.

        Even if your bet that that is true about an entire group of people were correct, what exactly is your point? That everyone who isn't a victim of a crime can't have a valid opinion on the subject of surveillance cameras?

        "I wonder how many of the people who argue against government surveillance cameras in people's bedrooms would be so principled if they were ever to be the victims of violent crime. It's my bet that they'd be the first ones screaming for the footage."

        You might have just been wondering how many of them would be quick to change their tune, but the rest of your comment leads me to believe that that's unlikely.

        There really is no use for it other than catching criminals.

        Selective harassment is always nice, too. As long as you're not the one affected, who cares?

        but I do know that they're not a totalitarian regime.

        They do not have to be a totalitarian regime in order for abuse to happen.

        As long as the cameras contribute to the crime clearance rates, I'm fine with it. /Australian

        Is safety your only concern?

      • It's not that I trust our government, but I do know that they're not a totalitarian regime.

        Of course they aren't a totalitarian regime because if they were, they would not need your approval. Ask your yourself this: Lets say that all governments wish to be a totalitarian regime, but they have a problem in that they are operating under a democracy and need gain your approval.

        Why do their ideas always result in increase surveillance when there are always 763 options at their disposal to reduce crime?

        If you go along with ever idea they want to do, you won't long be claiming they aren't a totalitar

    • by Max_W (812974)
      Sociologists say that the 3rd World War is going on on the roads. More than 1.5 million people will be killed in 2013 in traffic accident. About 10 million wounded.

      The theory is that primates are inherently aggressive and need a venue for this aggression. Pacifism ended the battlefields, so it is motorways and roads nowadays.

      Some drivers want to violate traffic lights and speed limits no matter what. Cameras are an obstacle to this aggressive impulses.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        If that's the kind of analogies they use, then sociologists can go fuck themselves.

      • Sociologists say that the 3rd World War is going on on the roads. More than 1.5 million people will be killed in 2013 in traffic accident. About 10 million wounded.

        Dunno about the rest of the world, but in the US traffic fatalities are down about 50% over the last decade - its been a consistent decline that isn't correlated to traffic cameras.

        • by Max_W (812974)
          Mostly to the quick medical response and hardware safety features. Even one traffic accident fatality or trauma is too many. It is absolutely avoidable.
          • Mostly to the quick medical response and hardware safety features.

            Non-fatal injury rates are also down significantly. [dot.gov] From the chart there looks like about 130 injuries per 100M vehicle miles in 2000 to 75 injuries per 100M vehicle miles in 2010.

            Even one traffic accident fatality or trauma is too many. It is absolutely avoidable.

            Yeah, and Mussolini made the trains run on time too. No thanks.

            • by Max_W (812974)
              The US government at least is trying to do something about it. Otherwise all we have got 250 mph cars and motorcycles on roads where speed limit is 3 times slower. And couple of underpaid tired cops, plus no automation of control.

              It is easy to find the statistics of the WHO which show that the number of death per year is more than 1.5 million in the world and growing. Nowadays medicine can keep a person alive no matter what injury he/she has. Still the death toll is growing. It is the figures on the Worl
      • I saw Mad Max, Mad Max II and I've played the entire Carmageddon series. So this is easily validated and the traffic citational records confirm thke social trends, based on automobile, highway statics.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...or just "turned off"?

  • A Small victory. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chr1st1anSoldier (2598085) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @11:55PM (#43632733)
    This is a victory for the people. I worked for a CCTV company for over a year and a half. Every move you made and conversation you had was recorded and the management did go back and listen and watch. If you didn't give 110% and say anything that could be remotely offensive to the management, you got called into the office and dealt with. A perfect picture of where we are heading as a nation and as a planet. I will say it again, the CCTV cameras getting turned off is a victory for the people and personal privacy.
    • by Zeph3r (2914985)
      WOW . . . that place sucks. Could someone post a list of common CCTV cameras with microphones?
      • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Sunday May 05, 2013 @12:15AM (#43632789)

        WOW . . . that place sucks. Could someone post a list of common CCTV cameras with microphones?

        England.

        • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @01:25AM (#43633005) Homepage Journal

          Do you know how England got to be that way? Trying to make themselves safe from IRA terrorism. Look for more and more cameras in the US, in other words. Just look how quickly the Boston Marathon bomber idiots were caught thanks to public surveillance. Just as most people thought that porno-scanners in airports were a fine idea because "it made them safe" they'll be fine with more and more cameras.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            Actually it was mostly due to the privatization of security. The police became less interested in low level crime like shoplifting so business owners started spending more money on CCTV. The police also started requiring any business that needed some kind of license (e.g. to sell alcohol) to also have CCTV covering the street outside.

            It soon got to the point where the police wouldn't bother to investigate if there was no CCTV. If it wasn't handed to them on a plate they were not interested and would do ever

      • WOW . . . that place sucks. Could someone post a list of common CCTV cameras with microphones?

        It can be difficult to say on which cameras have microphones and which do not. For example, most analog cameras do not have a microphone, but you can place a microphone anywhere and associate it with that camera. A good deal of IP cameras that are on the market and coming to market have microphones built into them. The problem there is you have no real way of knowing if the mic is enabled on that IP camera without looking at the DVR and its configuration or the web interface of the IP camera and its configu

    • by mysidia (191772)

      If you didn't give 110% and say anything that could be remotely offensive to the management, you got called into the office and dealt with.

      In many US states, they could be busted, for illegal wiretapping, due to recording audio, without the consent of all parties to the conversation.

    • by houghi (78078)

      Sucks to be you and that company. If they would do that at my company, I would call THEM into the office and they would be thrown out before they could say lawsuit.

      In Belgium (and probably many parts of Europe) it is forbidden to do things like that. e.g. in a bar it would be allowed to have a camera, but not pointed at the till. It can not be used to keep your people into check.

      Still not going far enough and I applaud the win against 'the man'.

      Time for a quote:
      They who can give up essential liberty to obta

      • by Attila the Bun (952109) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @07:02AM (#43633651)

        Time for a quote: They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. -- Franklin

        This pithy quote comes up a lot in connection with civil liberties. The trouble is Benjamin Franklin wasn't talking about civil liberties, he was talking about self governance. A moment's thought would show that his words make no sense as a slogan for individual freedoms.

        Since the beginning of civilisation we have had laws and people to enforce them: we have given up certain carefully chosen liberties in exchange for the much greater liberty of safety. The idea that safety and liberty of the individual are separate concepts is just wrong. They are both part of the same scale. Our task as citizens of a democracy is to find the most suitable balance.

  • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @11:57PM (#43632739)
    From the article: "The decision was made after Shoalhaven City Council was found to have breached several clauses of the Privacy and Personal Information Act.

    After allegations made by a member of the public, only identified as SF, that the council had used its CCTV cameras to obtain personal information from him, the council was ordered to refrain from any conduct or action in contravention of the act.

    The tribunal also ordered the council to render a written apology to SF for the breaches and advise him of any steps to be taken by council to remove the possibility of similar breaches in the future. The cameras are to remain turned off until the decision of the tribunal has been considered."

    I wonder what personal info was gathered about the guy, and how.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      knowing Australia at the moment (the nanny country) his lawn probably wasn't regulation height, or his bin wasn't exactly 90 degrees to the curb.
    • by Spikeles (972972)

      The Australian Privacy act [comlaw.gov.au] defines personal information as: personal information means information or an opinion (including information or an opinion forming part of a database), whether true or not, and whether recorded in a material form or not, about an individual whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained, from the information or opinion.

    • by c0lo (1497653) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @01:04AM (#43632935)

      Some bits and pieces:

      Looks like the City Council [illawarramercury.com.au] has spent two years and about $95,000 fighting resident Adam Bonner in tribunal after it used $150,000 in federal funding to install 18 cameras. One of the article's comments provides insight on why the opposition: CCTV cameras have shown time and time again that they do help immensely in solving crime, but the stats to determine whether they prevent crime are less clear."

      An audit report [nsw.gov.au] has found that the council may also intend to stage its own small scale "security theater", by
      * "Increase the perception of Nowra’s CBD as a safe place and reduce the fear of crime amongst business operators and the community" but
      * "From the available statistics, it appears to be too early to judge if the system acts as a deterrent for potential offenders. Statistics for a longer period of time may identify a trend up or down but at present this is not observable from only a little over a year of compiling data."

      Then again... stepping on the "conspiracy theory" tracks (aren't they juicy?):
      * it also seems there's a new jail [2st.com.au] in town and some may want to fill it up or else the employment and stimulus money may go down [justiceaction.org.au].

    • by houghi (78078)

      I wonder what personal info was gathered about the guy, and how.

      The how part we know. They used the camera's. The what part I do not want to know as it is irrelevant.
      It is irrelevant if he was saying 'good afternoon' to a neighbor. It is irrelevant if he helped an old lady across the street. It is irrelevant if he stabbed his wife. It is irrelevant if he planted a bomb at a random marathon.

      As long as there was NO indication and NO judge ordering him to be followed, they should not do that.

      I know that in the

  • Combatting Crime? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iCEBaLM (34905) <icebalm AT icebalm DOT com> on Sunday May 05, 2013 @12:04AM (#43632753)

    Cameras don't combat crime. They don't prevent crime, they don't deter criminals, they don't allow police to stop perpetrators.

    They are evidence after the fact, and a really easy way for the government to spy on you.

    • Re:Combatting Crime? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SternisheFan (2529412) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @12:15AM (#43632791)

      Cameras don't combat crime. They don't prevent crime, they don't deter criminals, they don't allow police to stop perpetrators.

      They are evidence after the fact, and a really easy way for the government to spy on you.

      One night last year I was walking down a street when a car drove past me, the passenger threw a full cup of soda at me (and just missed). A block away I see the car has turned around and is coming toward me, so I whipped out my phone and held it up to record video. Like a vampire seeing a crucifix they stop their approach, then decide to leave down a side road, like the cowards they are. Sometimes, cameras do prevent crime.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        For a camera to be effective:

        1. The criminals have to notice the camera.
        2. The criminals have to believe the camera is recording them or there is someone watching.
        3. The criminals have to believe they will be caught so any video recording can be used to convict them.

        Your story had all three. They noticed the camera and knew there was a real person recording them and that their plate could be used to identify them.

        CCTV cameras are often unnoticed by criminals. They have their own mythos about how the CCTV sy

      • Cameras don't combat crime. They don't prevent crime, they don't deter criminals, they don't allow police to stop perpetrators.

        They are evidence after the fact, and a really easy way for the government to spy on you.

        One night last year I was walking down a street when a car drove past me, the passenger threw a full cup of soda at me (and just missed). A block away I see the car has turned around and is coming toward me, so I whipped out my phone and held it up to record video. Like a vampire seeing a crucifix they stop their approach, then decide to leave down a side road, like the cowards they are. Sometimes, cameras do prevent crime.

        In the U.S. the encounter would have ended with you unloading 14-17 9mm loads into their car and most/all of them dead.

        So congratulations to you on your civility!

    • by MacTO (1161105) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @12:27AM (#43632815)

      I always chuckle at signs that claim the area is protected by video cameras, simply because images of the camera jumping off the wall and performing ninja moves pass through my mind.

      On the other hand, they are an investigative tool for after crimes have been committed. How useful they are, I cannot say because I do not entangle myself with the law (as a good guy or a bad guy). What I can say is that they are a product of a free society. For the most part, we don't go around arresting people for suspicious behaviour or the intent to commit crimes. That means that evidence must be collected after the fact, and CCTV is one of the tools for doing so.

      As for being a really easy tool for governments to spy on people, maybe you should set your paranoia aside. There is no easy way to sift through the massive quantities of data produced by CCTV cameras, at least at present. If they were interested in spying on people, it would be far easier to have human eyes on the street reporting on the behaviour of people. Even that is excessive in most nations, because the various branches of the government are only interested in select people.

      • Having worked with CCTV, I think you are misinformed on the spying. Why it does take someone sitting in front of the camera, it is real easy to track people and get routines of there day.
      • As for being a really easy tool for governments to spy on people, maybe you should set your paranoia aside. There is no easy way to sift through the massive quantities of data produced by CCTV cameras, at least at present.

        It isn't necessarily about spying on "people" it is about spying on specific persons of interest. You pick somebody of interest and follow them around. Even worse, CCTV enables retroactive spying on someone - so someone becomes a person of interest and now the people in power can go back through months or even years of camera footage and see everything that person did - great for digging up dirt to blackmail them with.

        This scenario works even though the footage is not categorized by the names of the peopl

      • by houghi (78078)

        For the most part, we don't go around arresting people for suspicious behaviour or the intent to commit crimes.

        Please turn off the tv and start browsing international news.
        And nice to say that they don't use it to spy on people, because that is what they were used for in Australia and why they are being turned off.

        The invasion of privacy is a given when you have cameraâ(TM)s. That is what they do. They record what I do in my private life without my direct consent.

        Have you never seen somebody arrested?

      • by DJ Beret (2915181)

        While there may not be ways to track people in tons of CCTV footage at the present time, there is certainly work underway.

        Facebook already has a decent method to identify people by their faces on photographs, and although the feature is currently "turned off" for certain countries, it certainly exists and can be used by law enforcement. Several thesis projects at my school are aimed at recognizing people in video, and then there is the European Union project called INDECT that aims to aggregate information

    • Re:Combatting Crime? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jeremi (14640) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @12:38AM (#43632849) Homepage

      Cameras don't combat crime. They don't prevent crime, they don't deter criminals, they don't allow police to stop perpetrators.

      It's not unreasonable to argue that it was cameras that prevented the Tsarnaev brothers from carrying out their plan to travel on to New York and plant bombs in Times Square.

      Granted, those were mainly private cameras, but public cameras would have done the job too.

      My feeling (which I expect to be roundly flamed for, so go ahead if you must) is that camera surveillance in one form or another is pretty much inevitable in public places; and therefore the best way to ensure privacy and civil liberties is not to simply dig in one's heels and demand that the cameras be removed, but rather to figure out how to design cameras that are effective at recording crimes and also as resistant as possible to Big Brother-style abuse.

      For example, imagine a law that allows government CCTV cameras, but only if they meet the following design criteria something like the following:

      1. The camera must store video data to a local storage device only -- it's not allowed to transmit video over any network
      2. The camera may not store any video for longer than 14 days. In fact, it is only allowed to contain enough storage space for 14 days' worth of video.
      3. The camera should store the video in an encrypted format. The keys necessary to decrypt the video should be kept by an independent agency and made available to the police only after a judge determines that a crime has been committed that justifies access to the camera's video feed
      4. The camera may not have a network data link faster than 2400 baud. That gives the government the ability to verify that the camera is operating, but no practical ability to access the camera's video stream remotely. If the government wants to review a camera's video, they will have to send someone physically out to the camera to collect its flash storage device. This makes centralized mass-monitoring and mass-data-collection impractical, while still allowing the government to collect specific video evidence after a crime has been committed.

      Now I'm sure there are plenty of holes in the above design -- cleverer people than I can come up with something better -- but my point is that civil liberties will be better protected in the long run if we design them into the hardware and into the laws governing the design of said hardware, than if we simply stamp our feet and demand that the government not use a technology which many people perceive (correctly or incorrectly) to be an obvious way to identify and catch criminals.

      • This is an interesting take on the subject. I must admit, it it was truly not networked, I would fell more ok with the idea. The biggest abuse comes when you can real time track things across a large region. Having to physically go to a camera to obtain evidence stops the abuse. Yet the biggest help that a camera can offer is still there, after the fact.
      • I would like more CCTVs. Specifically, located in every FBI office. So we'll know why they ignored repeated warnings about Tam Tsarnaev from Russia and Saudi Arabia intelligence.
      • I actually would be fine with that. Networking would be all right, so long as the footage is only stored for X days, and you need a judge's authorization to decrypt it. Then the cameras could really only be used for their stated purpose of catching criminals and not for general spying on the public.

  • The local government is crying because it believes that it is losing an effective method in combating crime in public. Locals however are rejoicing that they are no longer being recorded whilst walking down the street."

    WHO runs the "local" government here? Apparently *not* the locals, if "their" local government feels differently than them. Time to hire a different police chief? Time to ELECT a different "local" government?

    • by mab (17941)
      Local government doesn't have police in Australia. All police are state government.
  • If I or my neighbor can walk down the street with a camcorder or place one on my property looking out on the street I see no problem the police also doing so. Public is public. If it is effective I see no reason police can't put cameras up everywhere they could patrol. Furthermore the cameras don't need to be visible or obvious. I would personally place them outside bars and in high crime areas.

    What I do object to is that the police are not required to be discrete about information they acquire. They and th

    • by Anonymous Coward
      If those public camera's video can be accessed by the public as easily as the police/government, then i see no problem in it. Then we could call out all the police brutality, and shoddy council workmanship.
    • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @01:14AM (#43632977)

      Wrong, public is public

      And 1 is equal to 1. Who cares? The fact that you're in the public doesn't mean that ubiquitous government surveillance is a good thing or that it's intelligent to desire it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Your argument for total police surveillance of public space is flawed on two points:

      1) Your comparison between yours or your neighbour's private recording, and blanket systematic surveillance is not valid. It is not valid because of the difference in scale. When you commit a crime, or a good deed, scale always matters. Kill a person, vs. a million, and you will see very different reactions. Same thing if you give a homeless person a coffee, or feed million hungry.

      If we were to allow blanket police surve
  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @12:27AM (#43632817)
    Technology is only going to make it easier and easier for governments and corporations to spy on us to an ever higher degree. There will always be those governments who are "doing it for our own good" and corporations that just do it for money. So I don't think that we should have to fight our governments and corporations every time that a new idea or abuse of technology pops into their heads. We don't just need laws but an actual constitutional amendment enshrining our Right to privacy. The 4th amendment is pretty good and often interpreted but I think that governments should be extremely limited in their data gathering ability. I don't want license plate readers noting where I am, and I really don't want video recognition systems starting to note where I am and who I'm with. I don't want visa selling information about what I buy.

    There is certain information that certain parts of government genuinely need. Say driver's license information. But I think that it should be a jailable offense for any other government or non government person to access that information for any reason outside of checking if I am legally allowed to drive or not. If my power company has my billing information and address then they should only be allowed to access the information for the purpose of billing me or turning my power on. Even if their own marketing department wants a list of customers to send "educational information" they should not have access to that information. Certainly the government or a corporation should not be ever able to sell my information to "trusted third parties." Not only do I not trust those third parties but I Hate them.

    One tiny trick I do is to use slight variations of my address with different organizations that I have to deal with Suite 30, Apt 33b, Unit 30 Upper to see who sells my information. Basically they all do. With extended information gathering do you think they won't sell that information.

    I am in the grocery store and they are watching me (as in their facial recognition knows its me) and they see me look at Crapios a new cereal that is 110% Sugar. I examine the box to laugh at how crappy it is. Then I get a text with a coupon for crapios, I get home and there are flyers for crapios, And Visa makes a note that I am less credit worthy because people who eat crapios are generally stupid. On my drive home I get 3 speeding tickets and 4 stop sign tickets because the drones and nearly infinite traffic cameras get you each time you go 1mile over the speed limit or don't come to an absolute halt at a stop sign. Having lost my driver's license I decide to leave this stupid country for one with personal privacy protection and print my boarding pass and see another ad for crapios. Then I log into the internet and get no ads for crapios because I have ad-blocking software.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This story has video of one of the U.S.'s police beating a teenage girl up, and the page has links to others, so cameras will sometimes protect citizens, albeit after the fact. http://jonathanturley.org/2009/09/29/seattle-officer-fired-over-videotaped-beating-of-teenage-girl-in-cell/

  • This is Australia. It is like turning off the cameras in a prison.
  • by 50000BTU_barbecue (588132) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @01:59AM (#43633085) Homepage Journal
    Are there CCTV cameras in City Hall so the public can make sure there are no crimes happening with their money?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is it? I hear the claimed Boston bombers couldn't be identified from all CCTV footage they had of them. And both guys were in the database.

    And of course the cameras did nothing to prevent the deed from getting done.

    In reality the cameras are there for Total Information Awareness. [wikipedia.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What's the best (most effective, easiest, cheapest) way to destroy/disable one or many CCTV cameras without being caught?
    Using a drone to spay black paint on the lens?

  • Paranoia People (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rangelus (1766356) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @04:11AM (#43633339)

    I know people aren't going to see this, and it'll never be modded up, but whatever.

    I live in a country that has a high number of CCTV cameras (actually, mostly traffic cameras and webcams and security cameras that the police are allowed to access). I feel they are nothing but good.

    Every day the news is full of crimes being shown on camera, and the criminals apprehended. While there isn't a lot of serious violent crime, there is plenty of petty theft and the like here, and the cameras help a lot in catching the perpetrators.

    Do I worry about being spied on? No, why would I? The cameras are only in public places, somewhere anyone could film me without my knowledge anyway. I live in a fairly large city, why would anyone be interested in me specifically unless I commit a crime? Even if they were, what could they really find out about me by watching some cameras? The places I visit? That I pick my nose and scratch my balls while walking down the street? All of this is obtainable in other ways.

    People, it's PUBLIC. You should have no expectation of privacy in public. The government isn't installing cameras in your shower. They aren't bugging your house. They are putting up cameras to record crimes and help catch criminals. All in public areas where you don't have any privacy anyway.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think that attitude works as long as feel the cameras are watched by people who agree with you.

      To people wanting to protest a new power station, or protesting banker bailouts, complaining about a bailout, suddenly they're out of the mainstream and the cameras are used to monitor and arrest them.

      The police killed a man at the bank protests, Ian Tomlinson, and the cameras miraculously didn't record any of the details. Do you believe the cameras would prevent crime? Did you believe the cameras would be watch

      • by Rangelus (1766356)

        I understand your sentiment, however your specific example is one of police corruption and/or abuse of power, not a problem with the cameras. In fact, the police telling you that no cameras recorded the shooting leads to the same result as if there were no cameras there in the first place. However, if the police had less power and/or were unable to remove evidence of their conduct in the way they have, the cameras would certainly be a good thing, wouldn't they?

        Further, I put it to you that the cameras pro

    • by Kjella (173770)

      The disorganized crowdsourcing of photography and video from various private buildings and random people present like after the Boston Marathon bombings don't intimidate me either, because they happen in a limited scope for a limited time with the awareness of everyone who helped collect it.

      I live in a fairly large city, why would anyone be interested in me specifically unless I commit a crime?

      That is not how it works, computers aren't limited resources the way humans are. Take for example the Boston Marathon bombings, they'd like to see who was there to drop of the bomb before they exploded and in order to be

      • by Rangelus (1766356)

        Long post, I'll reply to selected parts.

        Even if they were, what could they really find out about me by watching some cameras? The places I visit? That I pick my nose and scratch my balls while walking down the street? All of this is obtainable in other ways.

        You're trying to make a mockery of it but combining who you are from e.g. cell phone records and how you looked and dressed at the time for example. If you want the tinfoil hat version it's also the visual fallback system for when you aren't carrying your radio buoy aka cell phone, without the effort of having an undercover officer following you. If you leave the house with a blue cardigan, you'll be auto-flagged as a suspect because someone across town was raped by a person wearing a blue cardigan.

        And? If someone was raped by someone in a blue cardigan, I think it's fair enough that "the system" (are we talking Skynet here? Because I'm pretty sure no actual CCTV system is nearly this sophisticated) watches me to see if I am, in fact, that rapist. Won't this help catch the rapist sooner?

        People, it's PUBLIC. You should have no expectation of privacy in public. (...)

        You should take a clue from the military, they are quite concerned that if you can systematically collect and process unclassified data you might infer information of a sensitive nature. Who and how many people work at a military facility may be secret, but if you count the comings and goings and track them home, you've inferred something the government doesn't want you to know. Likewise if you systematically collect enough public information, you can infer private information.

        Military is built on paranoia. What, exactly, about knowing where I work, what I like to eat for dinner on the way home, and which park I take my kids to on the weekend, shou

    • there is plenty of petty theft and the like here, and the cameras help a lot in catching the perpetrators

      That's what they tell you, but is it true? Seems to be a little contradictory to use all the crime you have to justify the need for cameras, as well as demonstrate their effectiveness.

      • by Rangelus (1766356)

        Fair point.

        Put it this way: When I say there is plenty of petty theft, I mean there is plenty of petty theft that is caught. Sure, maybe only 1% of all the crime committed is actually solved by the cameras, but that is still 1% more than would be if there were no cameras.

        I agree with you that cameras do not prevent crime, or at least, there doesn't seem to be any reliable statistics to support that it does. I can tell you, though, that it certain does help solve crimes, and catch criminals. That's better

    • There's a difference between being observed and being recorded. Given:

      • Constable Alice is earnest, honest, and clever, but a little bit lazy.
      • Captain Bob is not so lazy, believes in delegating where ever possible, and will listen to a good argument for something - but only if it's short.
      • Carol met some nice ladies at the country club last month, two of whom have sons of suitable age for her daughter to date. They're all kinds of fun to hang with!
      • Detective Dave sees Carol (previously unknown) hanging out a
    • People, it's PUBLIC. You should have no expectation of privacy in public. The government isn't installing cameras in your shower. They aren't bugging your house.

      Serious questions. Considering you feel no expectation of privacy in public, would you...

      1. accept mandatory personal ID & tracking for every site you visit on the internet (which is arguably "public space")?

      2. accept mandatory wearing of armbands in public, identifying your religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation and income?

      3. answer questions about your public activities (clubs you go to, items you buy, web sites you visit) when you apply for a job?

      4. be ok with all your public activity be

  • by pbjones (315127) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @04:40AM (#43633379)

    a single person complained and took the action. Not a popular decision.

  • by Gonoff (88518) on Sunday May 05, 2013 @10:49AM (#43634459)

    We are unlikely to do such a stupid thing.

    I have first hand experience of seeing criminals caught because of CCTV and I have actually been the responder to an injury spotted by cameras,

    At the hospital where I work, car theft and vandalism has almost disappeared since cameras were introduced in the car parks. I have also heard drunks warn each other to behave because there were cameras in A&E. I have also seen where someone was given a watertight alibi where they had been accused of a major crime. Yes, they also catch criminals. That does not worry me either.

    I don't know if they have much effect on gun crime. This is the UK and we don't have your problems with that. The last time I heard gunfire not on TV, I was in army uniform and carrying one myself.

    • by Rangelus (1766356)

      This. Exactly, precisely, this.

  • I sometimes feel that the cost of "freedom" seems affordable because it is paid by other people. It's other peoples kids that get killed in a war, it's sad, but it doesn't affect you directly and intimately. But I wonder how someone would feel if their daughter was raped and killed in a place where one of those cameras was taken down. Yes yes, it would probably have happened anyway, but if there was even a 5% chance that it wouldn't happen, how would you feel about that? Is there really any expectation

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