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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."
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Police Given Access to Congestion-Charge Cameras

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  • Re:New Rules? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by obergfellja ( 947995 ) <obergfellja@g m a i l . c om> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @03:30PM (#19905511)
    unless it is written in an important document (like a constitution)... oh wait, it can always be changed. Look at what Bush has done with the patriot act. If someone speaks out against him in public, it is now a crime, yet we HAD freedom of speech (to speak out against the leader if we chose to do so).
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @03:39PM (#19905641) Homepage Journal
    The London system is the direct source of the system that NYC mayor Bloomberg is trying to install in Manhattan. He says it's for "counter terrorism", though he'll probably morph that excuse into "traffic congestion". And then he'll use the (public spying) info for whatever he wants. Like helping his run for president, by watching which "known whorehouses" his political and economic opponents frequent when they're telling their wives they're "working late again".

    These cameras point at public places. Their data is public info. Their use, and abuse, needs to be overseen by representatives of the public. Probably on a time delay to give real police business the advantage for which they're installed. Probably with a process to allow total redaction to protect legitimately sensitive info, even though it was recorded in public, like for example which places are covered (and therefore which places have a blind eye). But without public oversight, they're just Big Brother's public eyeball.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @03:52PM (#19905807)
    Why can't they use these traffic cameras to fight crime when they can use standard town center CCTV?

    How about they also stop pretending that London webcams malfunction whenever there's a large protest, so that we can keep an eye out for criminal acts committed by the police. After all, if they have nothing to hide then they have nothing to worry about.</sarcasm>
  • Oh no! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by helpfulcorn ( 668048 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @04:07PM (#19906003) Homepage Journal
    Big Brother is watching you, in public! Surely, being in public violates your privacy!

    I think it's a bit alarmist to go on about Big Brother, privacy, etc when we're talking about cameras that are in the street, as if you'll be showering there or rubbing butter on your lover.

    Of course, a system like this could be abused if you started watching people jay-walk, but then again jay-walking is a crime and if a cop was standing there watching you, you'd also probably get in trouble (actually, probably not, I've never met a cop (personally) who cared about jay-walking in most cases).

    To assume that any kind of authority watching you in the street is automatically big brother reminds me of people who live in the woods, want to separate from the US, and act like a bunch of crazies.

    Anyone can see you in the street, log you for any purpose, and any cop can stop you and fuck with you. How is this any different than what's been happening for years? Other than it's over a camera now. You can't automatically jump behind "omfg privacy!" when it's in public. There are millions of people to watch, so it's a little naive and alarmist to assume it'll all be used to control your everyday life.

    P.S. Sorry if this is hard to read, I keep having to hide the window from nosy co-workers.
  • Re:New Rules? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by veranikon ( 202025 ) <westbywest@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @04:46PM (#19906563)

    "Under the new rules... will only be able to use the data for national security purposes and not to fight ordinary crime..."
    Until, of course, they change the rules again.
    Once the nascent terrorist menace of jaywalking, running stoplights, public urination, and petty drug deals is fully acknowledged by your gov't, then yes, those cameras will indeed be used exclusively for national security purposes.
  • by speedlaw ( 878924 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:06PM (#19906797) Homepage
    Luckily, here in NYC, we just tossed out congestion pricing, which was the distractor for a full surveillance system, paid for by the congestion charge. Luckily, the legislators outside the golden ring of New York City saw this for what it is, a huge commuter tax. I want the Germans to run my traffic systems, not the British. WTF is up with this idea of total surveillance, and why would any allegedy free country put this crap up ? Allegedly....
  • by TheDarkener ( 198348 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:50PM (#19907283) Homepage
    It only takes so much depriving human beings of their

    Sense of privacy and individuality,

    And increasing a government's

    National opression and monitoring of its' citizens in every sense,

    When citizens will become so depressed and feel so

    deflated of their individuality,


    Sense of personal freedom

    That they will revolt.

    Read your history books.

Why won't sharks eat lawyers? Professional courtesy.