Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Privacy Technology

Police Given Access to Congestion-Charge Cameras 293

The BBC is reporting that anti-terror Police officers in London have been given live access to the "congestion charge cameras", allowing them to view and track vehicles in real time. This is a change from the original procedure that required them to apply for access on a case-by-case basis. "Under the new rules, anti-terror officers will be able to view pictures in "real time" from Transport for London's (Tfl) 1,500 cameras, which use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to link cars with owners' details. But they will only be able to use the data for national security purposes and not to fight ordinary crime, the Home Office stressed."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Police Given Access to Congestion-Charge Cameras

Comments Filter:
  • Wrong way 'round... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Timothy Brownawell ( 627747 ) <> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @03:53PM (#19905823) Homepage Journal

    But they will only be able to use the data for national security purposes and not to fight ordinary crime, the Home Office stressed.

    ...actually, something vague and expansive like "national security purposes" is probably the *worst* thing to grant extra enforcement powers for.

  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @03:59PM (#19905887) Homepage
    Aha! You test me!
    Privacy and the "Nothing to Hide" argument []
  • Privacy? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @04:01PM (#19905921)

    Oay, which nuts are tagging this "privacy"? Are you familiar with the concept of privacy? By definition, things that happen in public - like driving from one place to another - are not private.

    If you don't like the government recording some of the stuff that you do in public, please find another term to use instead of "privacy". It's completely misleading and dishonest, it makes you appear like a conspiracy nut, and it does a disservice to the people who campaign for true privacy who don't necessarily agree with you.

  • by Wombat2k ( 693873 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @04:26PM (#19906287)
    The UK uses ANPR for this too. Here you have to get home office type approval for a camera to perform a specific function. Data must be deleted ASAP if no offence can be proved. An ANPR speed camera must remove any non-offending data as soon as possible. A surveillance camera connected to the PNC must delete data within 48 hours unless the plate is black listed. The congestion charging cameras can only transmit a hashed VRM and can only store data if an offence happened. ( so it is possible to track backwards a vehicle with a known numberplate). A camera that is used outside it`s approved function cannot provide admissible evidence. I know of only two times when the police used ANPR data outside of it`s defined spec. Once when a WPC was shot in Bradford and recently when there was an attempted bombing. The police need to act quickly if they need to use a type approved device outside it`s designed function. The new law makes it faster for the police to gain access when they need to. Stressing this out is required because there are a lot more cameras here. The UK has laws that protect against data being kept for longer than is needed. I can understand the home office reaction that police might need access to ANPR cameras that might have security concerns...BUT it`s good to keep an eye on them in case of abuse.
  • Re:The best part. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Man On Pink Corner ( 1089867 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @04:28PM (#19906329)
    References []
  • Re:The best part. (Score:5, Informative)

    by cuantar ( 897695 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @04:44PM (#19906543) Homepage
    Have you tried to buy Sudafed (not the new fake adrenaline precursor crap, but the kind that's actually pseudoephedrine) in the last year or so? The newest version of the Patriot Act includes a section intended to cut down on meth production by placing restrictions on this *unscheduled* and rather effective sinus medicine. How does the regulation of pseudoephedrine have anything to do with national security? It's Title VII of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2006, and here's a link: 09&sid=cp109WUZzm&refer=&r_n=hr333.109&item=&sel=T OC_218802& []

    Jose Padilla was a Chicago street gang member originally from Brooklyn who converted to Islam while in prison. He was arrested, declared an "enemy combatant," and transferred to a military brig in South Carolina. He was denied due process, and he's an American citizen. The wikipedia article agrees with what I've read elsewhere. leged_terrorist) []

    These are just two examples. There are many more (the domestic wiretapping?) but these are the two that come to mind readily.
  • Re:The best part. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Blue Stone ( 582566 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @04:44PM (#19906545) Homepage Journal
    Bruce Schneier has a nice piece on this sort of thing - the risks of data re-use [] - in his latest newsletter.

    We learned the news in March: Contrary to decades of denials, the U.S. Census Bureau used individual records to round up Japanese-Americans during World War II. The Census Bureau normally is prohibited by law from revealing data that could be linked to specific individuals; the law exists to encourage people to answer census questions accurately and without fear. And while the Second War Powers Act of 1942 temporarily suspended that protection in order to locate Japanese-Americans, the Census Bureau had maintained that it only provided general information about neighborhoods. New research proves they were lying.
    It's worth bearing in mind these sort of things, especially when the British government is still pressing, full-steam ahead with the invasive and unwarranted National Identity Register [] (and ID Card).
  • by myspace-cn ( 1094627 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:35PM (#19907129)
    It ain't off topic.

    The boiling frog analogy [] can absolutely be applied.
    Welcome to the surveillance system.
  • Re:Balance of Power (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:38PM (#19907157) Homepage
    I think using these public surveillance systems are only acceptable if all the video is archived and the public has access to them

    The public does have access to them. In the UK, we have the Data Protection Act, which basically boils down to giving you the right to request any information an organisation may have about you, including CCTV tapes. You may have to pay a handling fee of £10 maximum, but for that you might well end up with literally a lorryload of tapes and paperwork. If they don't pony up, then it's big fines time.
  • by drspliff ( 652992 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @06:27PM (#19907701)
    Well, those cars must have previously been known by the congestion charging system unless they were driven in at night from outside of London and have never previously been in London.

    Even then, speeding tickets? Parking tickets? license registration? MOT?

    It's almost impossible for a car to stay anonymous when in the UK and especially in London, but attaching this car to a terrorist or terrorist suspect is something which needs active human integration, which is why the police are being given access to the network.

    90% of the time, the police have nothing to do with instigating investigations against terrorist threads, these come from MI5 and MI6.

    So the question comes back, why are the police being given access to this network when the majority of the crimes they have to deal with are every day things, like tracking bail absconders?

    Though if you were taking the paranoid approach you'd consider, why haven't MI5/MI6 already got access to the network for this sort of thing? Or if they did, would we ever know about it?

    Basically, privacy is a given human right, regardless of the individual; whether this is going to be used only for tracking "criminals" I've seen many times the re-definition of criminial which fits myself in other countries (remember when it was illegal to be homosexual?).

    Even though I don't like the congestion charging cameras, they should be used only for the purpose that was approved of. I'm just wondering is it too late for 'citizens' to call a vote to appeal this decision, or will the sheep approve it even if we did?

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva