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back to article Lords investigate 'unconstitutional' surveillance society

The House of Lords will investigate whether the UK's "surveillance society" is unconstitutional. The Lords' Constitution Committee has asked for evidence (doc) in an investigation it has launched into surveillance in the UK. "The inquiry, which is set against a backdrop of increased use of CCTV, the creation of the national …

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not to mention...

... installing tracking devices in cars, triangulation of mobile phones, and the use of "guilty until proven innocent" policies to populate the DNA database with even innocent people's data kept on file for the good of the nation.

Freedom? That was lost many moons ago.

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and also ...

... the apparently undebated programme to link up the nation's speed cameras and other number-plate recognition cameras in such a way as to monitor, effectively in real-time, the location of every car on the road, speeding or not. This provides a level of detail on the movement of citizens that is very close to that which would be provided by implanting GPS chips in people.

It is frightening that the debate is opened by the Lords *after* these projects launch, but at least the debate is happening. Unfortunately, the general public has been terrorised by an hysterical tabloid press into believing that only such measures are capable of protecting them from the twin evils of benefit fraud and radical Islam. I fear that the debate will stagnate as the victims (us) are lured into the 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' fallacy while the surveillance campaign quietly continues apace.

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Hear hear!

My sentiments precisely. The government would rather assume the entire population is guilty of something until we can adequately prove otherwise.

The government doesn't trust us, we don't trust the government. The police don't trust us and vice versa. Why should we trust each other?

Sad and tragic.

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Land of the free

And in "the land of the free and home of the brave", Congress is chickening out and saying "look at how successful Britan has been in quelling crime".

We will soon join you. Only Congress will botch a botched job.

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Anonymous Coward

weakness

The safety of any data collection system is always determined by the person who then have access to that data. It is all well and good collecting data whilst saying it will not be misused, but I have first hand experience of how it is often misused.

Alan

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Would this have happened if the Lords were chosen by Tony?

Okay so a lot of them are, but would Tony's cronies have instigated this kind of report given how keen he is on monitoring every private citizen? Good argument for the keeping of an independent House of Lords...

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and also, but not really.

" ... the apparently undebated programme to link up the nation's speed cameras and other number-plate recognition cameras in such a way as to monitor, effectively in real-time, the location of every car on the road, speeding or not. This provides a level of detail on the movement of citizens that is very close to that which would be provided by implanting GPS chips in people. "

Oh, do calm down Ross, that simply isn't true. For instance, in the last week I have travelled around my region quite extensively, but have only made two journeys involving motor cars, both of these have been in taxis. I spent the rest of my travel time on a bicycle or on public transport, or, shock horror, on foot. Walking, remember that ? Under these circumstances it's quite possible for the ordinary citizen to travel freely without being identified or tracked (future use of ID cards to peform all financial transactions notwithstanding, obviously).

Or consider, a car with two or more insured drivers, containing a number of passengers. Knowing the location of the vehicle in this case can not give you the identity of the driver to better than 50% accuracy, (less if you allow for the case where drivers are uninsured) let alone that of the passengers. It's important to remember that what is being tracked by ANPR systems, hideously intrusive as they may well be, is not the individual, but the vehicle.

Loose the vehicle, lose the problem.

I think the ICO is right, we *are* waking up in a surveilance society, and as usual, the Great British middle classes have been woken from their comfortably apathetic slumber by the potential for government interference in the one thing which they deem to be their inalienable, god given, right. The right to drive filthy great motorcars all over the place without anyone bothering them about trivial matters like speed limits, road construction costs, pollution, deaths, etc, etc.

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They'll track you on foot too

Don't think that by getting out of your car you're going to escape.

Oh no, the government are keen looking at technologies like facial recognition so they can track you if they can see you. OK so facial recognition systems might not work, but so what, you're guilty until proven innocent in this new world. Just ask anyone who's had a picture of a plastic with their cars reg on it sent to them through the post.

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Democracy: overrated

Once again the House of Lords, with its bizarre unelected mix of political has-beens, never-wases, chinless descendents of someone vaguely imperial, bishops and celebrities has shown itself to be more useful than the six-hundred and something spineless careerists down the corridor.

Perhaps its time to consider calling for the Abolition of the House of Commons and naming Betty Boothroyd as Lord Protector of a Second British Commonwealth.

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A Tale of Two Cities

As a boy I read that Drake's Drum hangs from a wharf on the Thames. It was said if ever Britain faced invasion someone was to beat on the drum and the spirit of Drake would return to defend the Isle. The problem being faced is that the enemy could be anywhere and have any face. The times really call for the return of Dickens.

Technology promises us 'the best of times' but seems to be bringing with it 'the worst of times.' The freedoms won during the Age of Revolution are at risk because those freedoms are being swept aside on the pretext of protecting the people who are meant to enjoy the freedoms being lost. We're raised being told to be ready to die for freedom. Fighting for freedom in the past was for the most part a game of capture the flag. War was declared on a nation state, the state capital was captured, the flag was captured, the war was over. With the Blitz came an effort to break the will of a people with mass destruction. With radical Islam comes an insidious effort to break the will of a people with suicide bombings. Rereading 'GUERRILLA' by T.E. Lawrence I was caught by his mention that commanding Arab guerrilla fighters required much attention be paid to ensuring little or no loss of Arab life as any loss of Arab life would cause mass desertions. Something has radically changed. Now the enemy is within and, seemingly, constituents have made it clear to politicians that personal safety comes first. There's a quandary. Do we live with our rights and freedoms, prepared to die for our freedoms or do we forfeit our freedoms for the safety of a Nanny State? It's a quandary worthy of Dickens.

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Just a quick reply

To Steve, author of "Oh do calm down Ross ..."

I don't drive and I have never learned. I make all my journeys in the way you do. And I wholeheartedly agree with speed cameras to reduce irresponsible driving.

The problem is that the majority of people do drive, regularly. Outside of London, where public transport is truly dreadful, it is a pretty rare person who doesn't drive. The fact that there are alternatives to driving is not the point. The point is that the state intends to exploit the near-ubiquity of private transport to obtain unprecedented data about the movement of its citizens. The issue is about the intentions of the state, not the workarounds it is possible to find in their imperfect monitoring systems.

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Freedom

"Those who trade liberty for security deserve neither" - FDR

Has it even been more appropriate?

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CCTV is not a substitute

CCTV has sneaked in past the citizens and everyone probably thought it was a good idea, lets get the ASBO offenders and "yoofs" caught on camera.

The problem is that I feel its becoming a substitute for putting a policeman on the street, instead we have a "security specialist" sitting behind the camera on the street who can now even calmly ask the kids to stop tipping cars and setting light to each over. They probably will have to ask them to stop shooting the camera now that there's so many guns around.

CCTV is not a substitute for the police, but the police can no longer do their job effectively because they are frightened of getting sued by ignorant greedy people and their over eager solicitors. Because of these greedy people everyone is scared of getting sued, so some stupid laws and guidelines get passed by local councils and government. Its not meant to protect us but to protect themselves against legal action.

Now for the police it means too much paperwork and not enough direct intervention, you just cant arrest people anymore when they break the law because a greedy lawyer will come calling to sue for technicalities, against human rights, didnt follow correct procedure, etc.

I'm sure the police wonder why they bother. It certainly seems to affect the recruitment of new police.

Technology is great but not when it replaces a proven part of society that is sorely needed.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh, grow up, Ken ...

Ken Green: "...so what, you're guilty until proven innocent in this new world. Just ask anyone who's had a picture of a plastic with their cars reg on it sent to them through the post."

Oh, for God's sake, Ken, next time you go speeding and get caught, actually READ what it says on the Conditional Fixed Penalty Offer (no, not "fine") that accompanies your pretty picture.

All it says is that you have an opportunity to pay the fixed penalty to avoid being prosecuted in the usual way (summons, plea, Court, consider evidence, acquittal or finding of guilt) - the fact that the system you complain about is a much cheaper and more efficient way of dealing with boy racers ("person racers"?), to save us poor chargepayers some dosh, should warm the hearts of many El Reg readers.

And, Simon Foxwell, the bad news is that tens of thousands (yes, really!) of police officers are due to retire over the next few years, and will not be replaced except by CSOs and their ilk... so I'm afraid it will get worse... much worse...

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those who...

"Those who trade liberty for security deserve neither" - FDR

is that not "...deserve, and receive, neither"? seems more appropriate even if it isn't the correct quote

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not FDR, but Thomas Jefferson

The quote above is usually attributed to Thomas Jefferson.

To defeat th facial recognition systems, we should all start a mass campaign to get people to wear bikie beards, balaklavas, big coyboy-type hats, face covering robes or scarves or something similar (not forgetting the tin-foil hat). HTe last option, an arab robe or something of that sort, is perfect, beacuse if anyone tries to get you to take it off, you could threaten to sue him for racial discrimination adn any related offence you could think of. OTOH, I think i will jst wear my big hat.

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Use google, or possibly wiki...

Quote from Wikipedia:

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety", is an often misquoted phrase commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin.

The quote is taken from, "An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania," first published anonymously in London in 1759. The quote is an excerpt from a letter written in 1755 from the Assembly to the Governor of Pennsylvania.

Benjamin Franklin did publish the edition printed in Philadelphia in 1812, and most likely the original, but denies writing any part of it. The quote, however, may have originated from Franklin and been excerpted for the book by the author.

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|333173|3|_||3, well hiding behind a mask of some kind might be an idea, but it's quite possible to recognize patterns in the way people walk. That is, theoretically there is no real need to see your face either :D.

I guess the only rational thing to do is to buy a Burqa, and then apply to the department of Silly Walks for a grant...

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