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Crime Businesses United Kingdom

Pre-Crime in the UK: Businesses Crowdsource a Watch List (arstechnica.com) 162

Press2ToContinue writes: In the film Minority Report, people are rounded up by the Precrime police agency before they actually commit the crime. In the movie, this pre-crime information is provided by 'pre-cognition' savants floating in a goopy nutrient bath who can apparently see the future. Replace those gibbering pre-cog mutants with Facewatch. It's a system that lets retailers, publicans, and restaurateurs share private video footage with the police and each other. It is integrated with real-time face recognition systems, such as NEC's NeoFace. Where previously a member of staff had to keep an eye out for people, on the crowdsourced Facewatch watch list, now the system can automatically tell you if someone on the watch list has just entered the premises. A member of staff can then keep an eye on that person, or ask them politely (or not) to leave.
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Pre-Crime in the UK: Businesses Crowdsource a Watch List

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  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @01:37PM (#51144423)

    Better then LA pre_crime where then get you for per Prostitution just for driving down a road.

  • That's Not Pre-Crime (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 18, 2015 @01:41PM (#51144459)

    It's a system that lets retailers, publicans, and restaurateurs share private video footage with the police and each other.

    That's not pre-crime. That's sharing video footage of actual behavior.

    Casinos has done this forever, and I'd imagine so do large chain grocery, department, and big box stores.

    • Its creepy as hell and needs to be made illegal yesterday.
      • Its creepy as hell and needs to be made illegal yesterday.

        In principle, how is it any different from sharing photos on Facebook? I don't see how they can make this illegal without also banning many popular and commonly accepted activities.

        • In principle it's different because its intent is different. My family album is not the moral equivalent to a DIY Most Wanted List generated by whatever goon wants to generate it then shared as fact with other goons. If the intent of tendering the video is to imply the people on the video have committed some crime or are likely to or have some other moral flaw, then that goes by another name of slander.

          IF the intent of the video is to pass around the time and location of babes, then that goes by the name of

          • by Sowelu ( 713889 )

            In the USA (though not in several other countries), it's not slander if it's true.

            Slashdot is usually opposed to censoring true stories about criminals like the EU's "right to be forgotten".

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            It also seems likely to fall foul of data protection laws. In order to store and share such data they must compost l comply with the rules, which include things like allowing subject access and correction.

            A good way to fight back might be for large numbers of people to do periodic data requests. Then the company will have to sort and supply large amounts of CCTV footage in exchange for minimal compensation. Their process won't be 100% accurate so you are bound to get other people's data from time to time.

        • Because it can be used to "punish" people without any recourse. Like I said in another message, suppose the retailer takes a dislike to you for whatever petty reason and they add you to this system. Now you're going to be harassed and chased out of stores and what can you do about it?

        • Its creepy as hell and needs to be made illegal yesterday.

          In principle, how is it any different from sharing photos on Facebook?

          I second your call to make it illegal to share photos on Facebook.

      • Its creepy as hell and needs to be made illegal yesterday.

        Why? How is that any different than a retailer seeing someone that's a known pickpocket or shoplifter passing his window and headed into a colleague's store, and calling that colleague on the phone to say, "Hey, Bob, that guy, Sticky-Fingered Lou, is just walking into your store - heads up!"

        Specifically, why is that creepy? It's creeps that these people have to deal with every day, and this is an approach to dealing with it. I can tell you've never been involved in retail trade with walk-in public custo

        • See my reply above scentcone. It's very different and the reason the guy in your scenario gets away with it is because no one can prove he did it. It's the same with employee blacklisting. There are laws to protect people, but employers sneak around those laws- at their own peril.

          • Uh no, the two shop owners would "get away with it" because it is not illegal (at least in the US). Here in the US we call this behavior, giving your neighbor and possibly competitor a heads up that he may be about to be robbed, being a good neighbor. Now, the shop owner being called can't simply kick Lou out unless he has actually caught Lou shoplifting a time or two and properly notified Lou that Lou is no longer welcome on the premises but he is certainly free to more vigorously watch Lou in an attempt t

      • Its creepy as hell and needs to be made illegal yesterday.

        Anything that keeps shoplifters away, including professionals who steal on order, keeps prices down for everyone. Maybe you can explain what your problem is.

        • Its creepy as hell and needs to be made illegal yesterday.

          Anything that keeps shoplifters away, including professionals who steal on order, keeps prices down for everyone. Maybe you can explain what your problem is.

          It's probably something to do with the evils of socialism and the right to bear arms. Most stories on slashdot are nowadays.

    • True. However, the problem can come from a retailer deciding that you were too much of a pain in the ass when you were doing a return, or you wanted to use a coupon that they didn't want to honor or maybe you got a little loud when they promised to hold something for you and you got down there to find out it was sold anyway. So to get back at you, they put you on "the list" and now your life is a raging sea when you try to go shopping for anything around town.

      • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

        If trivial crap like that gets you on the list then the list is worthless and won't be used. On the other hand, if you have a long history of 'returns' or using bad coupons that probably is something that other businesses are interested in.

        • > If trivial crap like that gets you on the list then the list is worthless and won't be used.

          Toddlers are on the No Fly List...

          If 95% of the list is useful, it will be used. The problem is oversight. We've all seen the stories in the news where someone's receipt at a restaurant is printed and has "Asshole" or similar coded somewhere that the server didn't expect the end customer to see, I guarantee that unless there is a very stringent submission protocol for this crowdsourced watchlist for stores wit

      • by Xest ( 935314 )

        That's just fear mongering nonsense, that wouldn't even be remotely legal.

        There are very few exceptions by which businesses can gather data on an individual without their permission, and crime prevention is one of them.

        So all this can legally be used for is crime prevention, if it's used for being selective about customers then they've crossed the line into illegality and will be liable for massive fines (far more than it would've cost to just serve you).

        This is only ever going to be a problem for you if yo

        • "So next time roma gypsy gangs come across from the continent on the ferry to rape just about every shop in a particular city / shopping centre in the space of a few hours before heading back home again on the ferry with a boat load of stolen shit"

          Not too racist?

          In the US employee theft accounts for 43% of lost revenue. That’s about $18 billion, or $2.3 billion more than the cost of five-finger discounts taken by customers [fortune.com].

          The rest is things like spoilage, broken merchandise, returns the supplier won't respect, etc.

          • by Xest ( 935314 )

            I was using an example of a real actual problem, saying the UK has a roma gypsy gang theft problem right now is no different to saying the middle east has an Islamic terrorism problem.

            It doesn't in any way imply that I believe that all, or even close the majority of muslims are terrorists, which is actually racist, it's merely a statement of fact - you're surely not going to deny the middle east has an Islamic terrorism problem right now? No, I didn't think so, so why pretend someone is racist for also stat

            • Fact is that the majority of store thefts are inside jobs. Compared to that the roma are a minor nuisance. As for the middle east having an Islamic terrorism problem, what it has in reality is a "regime change didn't work so well the last few times we tried it, and now we have to clean up the mess we made, so let's do the whole regime change thing again because it's the thing we have the most experience with.
              • by Xest ( 935314 )

                You seem to be taking some random stat from the US and applying it globally, which is complete bollocks. In some stores employee theft is completely and utterly solved, they have zero theft by employees such that external theft, particularly by crime gangs are their biggest problem. You can't arbitrarily take one metric from one country (which may well include data on stealing office post-its and so forth) and suggest therefore that another problem in another country, with different metrics, and different l

                • The fact is, gang sweeps by that community are currently a high impact crime in the UK that has become increasingly prominent in recent years

                  Yes, but without providing some actual figures to back this up, you just sound like another Daily Mail bigot.

                  • by Xest ( 935314 )

                    Right, except to be a bigot, I'd have to be again implying that the whole culture or similar is guilty of this, yet only you and the GP are making that association.

                    The fact that the two of you believe that any suggestion of theft by a certain community implies the whole community is involved in fact shows a disgusting amount of bigotry on your behalves.

                    For me to be prejudiced in this respect, you would need to show that there are no roma gypsy gangs engaging in widespread theft such that I've made an invali

      • True. However, the problem can come from a retailer deciding that you were too much of a pain in the ass when you were doing a return, or you wanted to use a coupon that they didn't want to honor or maybe you got a little loud when they promised to hold something for you and you got down there to find out it was sold anyway. So to get back at you, they put you on "the list" and now your life is a raging sea when you try to go shopping for anything around town.

        Any shop is private property. Any shop can refuse to do business with you, and ban you from their premises. If or when they do that, trying to enter the store is trespassing. No need to put you "on the list".

        • > Any shop can refuse to do business with you, and ban you from their premises.... No need to put you "on the list".

          That's not the problem, the problem is the list covers LOTS of shops. Suppose you go to an auto shop who has done substandard work and the owner doesn't want to do the work over or refund you. So you sue, and in retaliation he adds you to this list as a problem customer. Suddenly you're barred from half the shops in town.

      • True. However, the problem can come from a retailer deciding that you were too much of a pain in the ass when you were doing a return, or you wanted to use a coupon that they didn't want to honor or maybe you got a little loud when they promised to hold something for you and you got down there to find out it was sold anyway. So to get back at you, they put you on "the list" and now your life is a raging sea when you try to go shopping for anything around town.

        Yes, because most retailers' main purpose is to turn people away rather than selling them stuff.

    • It's a system that lets retailers, publicans, and restaurateurs share private video footage with the police and each other.

      So far so good, it's just like a television show where they take crimes caught on video. Do th crime, do the time - and entertain us as well. Especially if its funny.

      That's not pre-crime. That's sharing video footage of actual behavior.

      But wait - there's more now. This new system addition uses facial recognition. So a person who may have done something somewhere, sometime can now be identified as soon as they enter the store.

      So they can be kicked out. That's the pre-crime part. If a teenager is caught pilfering a pack of gum, we now have entered the age of permanent crimin

  • This sort of thing is a cancer on civilization and needs to be stamped out, firmly and completely.
    • So is stealing someone else's goods but I don't hear you whining about that.

    • This sort of thing is a cancer on civilization and needs to be stamped out, firmly and completely.

      I think you're confusing people who regularly steal things from retailers with the people who want to stop them. Give it some more thought.

      • Just like how the USA's no-fly list only contains the names of people who are too dangerous to allow on board airplanes, right? It's not like there could be a clerical error that takes years and multiple trials to get fixed [wired.com] due to nobody being willing to admit that they checked the wrong box on a form, after all.

        • So now you're confusing a government-run list that bars people from traveling with an advisory between two retailers who want to know when a business-damaging person walks into their business?
          • A list that subjects people to heightened security and/or denial services to people that you can wind up on without any explanation, notification or evidence.
            vs
            A list that subjects people to heightened security and/or denial services to people that you can wind up on without any explanation, notification or evidence.

            Gee. How could I ever confuse those two totally different things?

            • And again, I'll ask: how is this any different than one retailer calling another on the phone to tell another retailer that a known shoplifter is walking into his store? Be specific.

              And comparing this to a no-fly list? That's not "extra scrutiny," that's the government denying freedom of movement without due process.

              A coffee shop owner doesn't owe a disruptive jackass or a regular thief any sort of due process. She can simply say, "You're not welcome in my store." You don't have a constitutional right
              • Well sort of. i actually agree with you on the principle but not on the actual current legal situation in the US. Because of the Civil Rights Act and subsequent modifications, a shop does have to jump through some hoops before refusing service without a risk of a lawsuit that they will probably lose. But once those hopps have been successfully negotiated because of actual wrongdoing then, yes, shops have options.

                • Because of the Civil Rights Act and subsequent modifications, a shop does have to jump through some hoops before refusing service without a risk of a lawsuit that they will probably lose.

                  They only have to jump through hoops if the person they're turning away is in a protected class. In which case all they have to do is keep a record of previously telling that person why they're not welcome in the store. Throwing someone out because they're an evangelical: not allowed. Throwing an evangelical out of your store because they're proselytizing your customers? Perfectly OK. Likewise with skin color, sexual orientation, etc.

                  When someone who's a known disruptive jerk or petty thief has been tol

            • There is a fundamental difference between the State monitoring you and imposing legal sanctions including imprisonment, and a private business trying to reduce the amount of stock that goes walkabout.
      • We're already very close to living in a world where everyone is identified and tracked in realtime 24/7/365; you would hurry that process along? Do you enjoy having no privacy whatsoever? Or are you one of 'those' people who has been indoctrinated into believing that 'privacy' is something that only criminals and other wrong-doers seek?
  • Old time US version (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @01:46PM (#51144487)

    Retailers post pictures on their wall saying "Do no accept checks from this person". It's just a reputation system committed to paper. It's not really a problem, but it's also not something the government (police) should be involved in because government blacklists violate due process rights.

    • Retailers post pictures on their wall saying "Do not accept checks from this person".

      Are there any retailers that still accept checks?

      • Plenty do (electronically converted to ACH, anyway). Generally bigger businesses who can easily afford the equipment, but it's not that expensive to get instant verification of funds.

    • It's a problem because of two things: One, it is a distributed system subscribed to by a large number of retailers. And more importantly, Two: If a store had my picture up for writing a bad cheque and was wrong about it, I could sue them for libel and have it removed. From this system it appears there isn't that level of accountability. Some register jockey might get their shorts in a knot over some interaction with you and "get you back" by putting you in the system and you will have a very difficult

      • Do you honestly think this system isn't full of audit trails about which shop posted what and that shops are going to give every employee rights to enter "problem people" into the system? Have you ever been employed by an actual business? The real world works completely different than what you seem to be imagining here.

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      Retailers have 'fixed' that by getting laws that a bounced check can have an 'electronic debit' so it automatically debits your account + $30+ fee regardless of your funds. In court you can even get up to 4x the value of the check.

      The bank 'eats' the overage and then bills the customer another $30+ fee per day your account is in overdraft.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Retailers post pictures on their wall saying "Do no accept checks from this person". It's just a reputation system committed to paper. It's not really a problem, but it's also not something the government (police) should be involved in because government blacklists violate due process rights.

      Your society still accepts personal cheques?

      What is it like in 1950's land?

      However the real issue here is the speed at which data can be shared and the lack of checks and balances. One false accusation and your reputation is ruined across town, not just in the store where your jilted ex works.

      However the Libertardian businessgeniuses have assured me because this is being run by PRIVATE INDUSTRY (yay, hooray) it's perfectly safe and will never be abused.

  • Seems Fine To Me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Assoluto ( 4277481 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @01:46PM (#51144493)

    If somebody has a history of shoplifting, keeping an eye on that person when they're in your store seems perfectly sensible to me.

    I also have to wonder why half the article was about Minority Report when there are few similarities between pre-crime and this system. In Minority Report arrests were based on information from the future, while this system is based on past information. In Minority Report people were arrested and charged for crimes they had yet to commit, while this system simply gives stores better information on which customers they need to keep an eye on. The differences are so pronounced I fail to see why Minority Report even needed to be mentioned.

    • In Minority Report people were arrested* for crimes that they wouldn't necessarily commit (the precogs weren't perfect), there was no defense from the accusation, and if you got falsely accused you were screwed. This is the same in all respects except instead of being arrested you might get denied an important service (I'm fine with the "keep on eye on" option).

      * Incidentally, anyone else wonder why in Minority Report people got arrested for predicted crimes of passion instead of being gently reminded not t

      • * Yes, but, often the pre-crime police weren't able to get to the scene of the crime quickly enough for that to be the issue. If only the Apple Watch could vibrate when you were about to commit a crime to gently remind you....

        • If the guy's already murdered someone in a fit of passion, then, sure, arrest him. If I remember the movie correctly, they were arresting people who hadn't committed crimes rather than just making sure the crime does not take place.

  • by edittard ( 805475 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @01:53PM (#51144557)

    Where previously a member of staff had to keep an eye out for people, on the crowdsourced Facewatch watch list

    Perhaps they could extend it to check for commas, that don't need to be there.
           

  • by Wowsers ( 1151731 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @03:44PM (#51145575) Journal

    Considering there were hundreds of expenses fraudsters in UK's Houses of Parliament, maybe the politicians should be added to this pre-crime "watch list".

  • by craighansen ( 744648 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @03:47PM (#51145607)

    In my view, it crosses the line when it infringes on your activity. If Facewatch gives you a warning that this person might deserve some scrutiny in case they shoplift, and store owners watch your behavior, but allow you to shop and act normally, that's behind the line. It crosses over the line when the reaction to a warning is to refuse to let you in the door, or escort you out upon entering, particularly when there is no recourse to correct the information.

    Even now, businesses could use this kind of information to determine whether or not to offer you a bargain, a deal, a coupon relative to the marked price. For businesses like Safeway (US), that routinely offers price breaks on items that they know you buy or want you to start buying, incorporating Facewatch into the mix could lead toward price discrimination that would be very objectionable.

    • It seems like this kind of thing happens all the time.

      For example, you get into several car accidents because you were drunk and behind the wheel. After a few strikes, you are not allowed to drive any more for a while. When you can drive again, all off your information is shared to all the insurance companies who are all going to give you high rates because of your past activity. The only reason they will give you insurance at all is because there is a state mandate that they have to, otherwise, they may ch

      • The important questions are what level of evidence Facewatch requires, and what retailers do with the data. If it requires a conviction for shoplifting to get on the list, that's cool. If retailers just keep an eye on you, and let you go about your honest business, I have no problem with that.

        A friend of mine was working security at a store. He picked someone out and shadowed them. The shadowee accused my friend of picking him out because of his skin color. My friend said, "No, it's because it's sum

    • Why is offering you a discount objectionable? Are you simply unable to refuse a purchase if it is discounted?

  • by berchca ( 414155 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @04:04PM (#51145739) Homepage

    I know this is a bit nit-picky, but it feels very un-Slashdot-like to not attribute an idea to its origins, which in the case of 'precrime' would be the Philip K. Dick story [wikipedia.org] on which the aforementioned movie is based.

    • I know this is a bit nit-picky, but it feels very un-Slashdot-like to not attribute an idea to its origins, which in the case of 'precrime' would be the Philip K. Dick story [wikipedia.org] on which the aforementioned movie is based.

      Eventually everything worth watching will be based on a Phillp K Dick story,

      • I'm really, really hoping that there will never be a time when everything significant in life is based on a Philip K. Dick story. That man wrote some depressing stuff.

        • I'm really, really hoping that there will never be a time when everything significant in life is based on a Philip K. Dick story. That man wrote some depressing stuff.

          A lot of life IS depressing. The dystopian future as depicted in Blade Runner still makes for a great background for telling a love story.

  • Let's start a Pre-Corruption database.

    How long would that last?

  • Airstrip One.

  • Doesn't the UK have some pretty nasty defamation-type laws? I would think a single mistake that results in such a suit (win or lose) would cost a retailer decades worth of "shrinkage."

  • PubWatch has been running in UK pubs since the 1990's, it's a voluntary organisation where landlords share photographs of troublemakers between themselves and with police. They probably include video by now.
  • Remember the corporate police force out of Robocop? In the UK they have a corporate police force, being the City of London Corporation's private police force. And they kick in doors all over the country, together with other corporate representatives (and sometimes a token member of the local police force, to add legimitacy and not to step too much on their toes).

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