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back to article UK is not a surveillance society, MPs claim

The Home Affairs Committee has called on the government to follow a "minimum data, held for the minumum time" approach to British citizens' personal information in its long-awaited report into surveillance. The Committee has decided, after a year long investigation, that the UK is not becoming a surveillance society but warns …

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Flame

"not a surveillance society" My Arse!

if they believe that now, god knows when it will stop,

CCTV everywhere, Emails can be read, Web use stored etc, Calls are recorded and kept, im beginning to wish i could find something to encrypt my email that wasnt such a pita to implement, not because im a terrorist with a pop bottle or rucksack, but because before email and my increasing reliance on it, i previously had abit more privacy than i do right now.

admittedly not everyone likes there privacy (e.g. the ones that join every data collecting site going) but im one of the ones that do like their privacy.

but it seems that the DPA was a waste of time and nobody has any kind of privacy in any shape way or form. :(

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Black Helicopters

Never Believe Anything Until It Is Officially Denied

<quote>minimum data, held for the minumum time</quote> by definition is ZERO data held for Zero time. Ironically that is exactly what we will get. Not one piece of data is likely to be deleted immediately.

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Anonymous Coward

Never believe the official denial either

As per usual, it says one thing then does something totally opposite.

We need a revolution in the UK, sooner rather than later.

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Pirate

CCTV is a joke

The chavs in our local high-street just make sure to perform their crime right after the cameras have pointed the other way, or where they don't work.

Carp system with carp results, glad that the local council has now put anti-climb paint on the CCTV masts as well.

Guess that's so we have no place to hide!

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Definition of Surveillance Society

Surveillance is the act of monitoring someone's behaviour for the purpose of catching them in the act of carrying out an illegal activity. A Surveillance Society is the situation where the population as a whole is monitored to catch people in the act of committing a criminal offence. A non-Surveillance Society is one where a citizen is only monitored when there is good reason to believe that the specific individual has actually committed a detected crime.

Examples of a Surveillance Society would be:

1) ISPs indiscriminately monitoring data for illegal file sharing or for illegal images or prohibited books.

2) Universities monitoring the books its students read.

3) Cameras observing public spaces when no crime is being investigated.

4) Searching citizens (or scanning their clothing/bags) in a way that cannot be avoided by the citizen (eg at the entrance to a school building - pupils cannot skip school to avoid being scanned).

There are also some indirect signals that you are living in a Surveillance Society:

1) Citizens asked to report suspicious activities (as opposed to reporting criminal acts) to the police.

2) Organisations (eg Mosques) asked to monitor the behaviour of the people who use their services.

3) A presumption of potential guilt even for those who are not under investigation for any crime, such as police databases of DNA records of people who are not currently under investigation for a crime.

4) Recording of private activities eg if the State records internet use and electronic communications of citizens who are not under investigation for a criminal offense.

Argue over the value of these surveillance activities, but it is simply incorrect to claim that we do not live in a Surveillance Society. This is just another example of impotent MPs pandering to the Government in the hope of moderating New Labour's authoritarian behaviour without p*ssing off Gordon Brown.

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Unhappy

But?

I have no concerns about state sponsored data retention as a concept.

I do have serious concerns about the way such data are managed and the numpties making use of it (comments relate to the UK)

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JCL
Coat

Well...

... they clearly haven't been over here recently, what with the price of oil making flights from Cloud Cuckoo Land more expensive.

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Black Helicopters

Window dressing.

What ever the committee or any one else says, if it is possible for the government to obtain and keep information about you it will. Every body from the day they are born to the day they pass beyond the ken of Govuk are numbered, observed and recorded. Your medical record when you are born is just the beginning of your life's surveillance, the number is connected to a file in the CRO computer at Scotland yard, anything not related to your criminal record is in an annex to your file which is accessed by an additional number tagged on the end of your CRO number. In the annex is information on every aspect of your life that comes before any kind of Govuk scrutiny, your school records and reports including attitude and any political leanings in school or college,your national insurance number, what you may have voted and in some cases what you actually did vote for, anything known about colleagues and/or friends with iffy backgrounds etc etc. The above I was told in the Seventies by a friend who worked in some of the darker corridors of Scotland Yard, I suppose it's possible that he was having me on but I believed him at the time and I still do, if I remember correctly all this was begun either during or just before the first world war. At the same time he said that fingerprint records which were supposed to be destroyed in the case of those taken for purposes of elimination or aquittals and not guilty verdicts actually were but not before they were copied and placed somewhere else. Remember we have a general election coming up and the politicos like us to think they're warm and cuddly and concerned about our freedoms. Just make sure the window dressing reflects the realities of the product you eventually buy, otherwise don't buy it.

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Stop

Replacing the RIPA...

> the Government is expected to introduce legislation to replace RIPA in the next session of Parliament.

Well, of course. Because it's not enough that any jumped up nosey parker Council can (ab)use the RIPA to conduct surveillance on pretty much anyone for any reason, we need to get rid of any safeguards left and make sure that *everyone* with a bit of power can monitor what people are doing.

Hopefully the British Public should have enough sense to replace this power-mad, control-freak Government at the next election.

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Hahaha

Not a surveillance society - what we get is pictures all over the internet of some guy mooning in a Beamer, whose driver of course was not doing a traffic offence at the time. But the system still took his picture, and it got published. Was that a case of "appropriate, brief, and for the purpose" ?

.

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not a surveillance society?

Well, they would say that wouldn't they.

£50 says phorm gets a shoo-in the in the "son of RIPA".

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Just goes to prove

That politicians are on a completely different planet to the rest of us.

Reg can we have a big brother picture added to the post comments icons ?

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"See what Jackie Smith and Gordon Brown decide"...

.. that about right as those two are the furtherest from their feet on the floor and least likely to listen to the electorate... on anything, especially when they have sort advice, its normally only only so that they can say they know better.

I think with the 300 odd cameras a day they say catch you in London as the average joe, i think it about time i went to some other country to appear on their CCTV, ...less.

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Paris Hilton

In other news

Father Christmas exists and unicorns graze in the wooded glades of this fair land.

Paris, 'cos she's got more brains than your average elected member.

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Gold badge

Obvious conclusion..

Of course he would say that the UK is not a surveillance society.

What else do you say in front of a camera?

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Flame

Replace RIPA indeed

What a colossal waste of space the Blair cabinets were. Them thinking they have to replace RIPA already, despite its built-in instant modification clauses, shows the total lack of thought that went into writing it in the first place.

Its typical of most of the Bliar Governments' legislation.

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Unhappy

Minimum time.......

Minimum time will likely be something like 10 years if its anything like the govs 'just in case' approach. CCTV is everywhere these days, the operators who are less than skilled and try and flag up things they see do help sometimes, but the use of it is reactive ie after you've been mugged or stabbed.... and not proactively as it should be.

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P.O

Might be the saviour of the Post Office !!

Snail Mail to the rescue !

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Coat

CCTV

A mate of mine works on CCTV near where I live.

He can follow me out of my house a mile across

town and pretty much tell me what I order when I walk

into a restaurant.

Not a surveillance society though.

Mines the one under the six camera's.

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Unhappy

Of course it isn't

Because you can't find out what home you, as a taxpayer, are buying for your MP's. You can't find out what tax payer money the MP's are paying. And if you follow a Deputy PM into their london residence and note that they are doing so and spending a night with a woman not their wife, the MP's will tell you it is none of your business and the Deputy PM should be allowed to have a private life away from all this surveillance.

It's just for non-MP's it's a surveillance society...

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Anonymous Coward

It doesn't matter

The outcome of the report seems to suggest that "yes, we are amassing huge stores of information and draconian powers but we're not actually doing anything with it - erm ... yet". As ever, its just word play.

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Heh?

1984 calling?

I wonder how deep inside your arse you need to have your head to be so immune to all information from outside world? Or how much "support" you need to receive from interested parties.

IMHO, politicians shouldn't be able to start their careers until they're at least 50. That will cut on those "career politicians" who have no clue about anything, no real life experience and would take any bribe^H^H^H election support. That would also cut on amount of politics going on, so they would be able to concentrate on thinking how to solve country problems not theirs only.

Sorry for the rant, sometimes I just cannot hold it...

Time to leave UK.

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Anonymous Coward

"not a surveillance society" My Arse!

Agree with AC on this one. Shows how out of touch they've become!

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Paris Hilton

They didn't know ...

... that they were being watched when they said this.

Paris, coz she didnt know she was being filmed either ...

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Pretty damning stuff from a Labour-dominated committee

It's worth pointing out that this is incendiary coming from the oleaginous Keith Vaz whose loyalty to New Labour makes the people in Hitler's bunker look a little half-hearted.

'The committee said it was concerned about the HMP Woodhill case - where conversations between an MP and his constituent were recorded in breach of the Wilson doctrine.'

Surveillance of the proles is okay, watching MPs - oooh now that would be naughty!

Nice to see the suitably Orwellian-sounding Ministry of Justice has already said the report is wrong, but if we could all speak a little more clearly that would be very helpful.

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Lying criminal bastards

All you're seeing is the backwash. They've been spying so long and hard for their septic masters they just can't help but bring their work home with them. Echelon works so well it'd be a shame not to apply it in blighty as well as outside.

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Black Helicopters

UK - "Endemic Surveillance Society"

I went to Privacy International to get some ideas about what might make a surveillance society, and what did I find? Britain's ranking as an "endemic surveillance society". Now I'm not suggesting that particular source is necessarily unbiased, but it does make one wonder.

Let's see. It's said that we've got something approaching half of all the CCTV cameras in the *world* in this country. This little tiny country. And yes, I know: that statement needs a [citation needed] tag. But whatever the actual figure, it's got to be said it'd be pretty difficult to chuck a brick anywhere in the UK without ending up charged with damaging someone's camera.

(Oh, but you try being a photographer indulging a usually harmless hobby and watch how quickly the obediently terrified public will shop you for being a paedophile or a terrorist...)

ID cards. 'Biometrics'. Increasing snooping power rationalised by the 'War on Terror'. An Information Commissioner in the pocket of big business, and unwilling to rock the boat. Widely ignored Data Protection laws. Communications interception on the authorisation of politicians, not judiciary. Vehicle tracking under the guise of proposed schemes to reduce carbon emissions (ah, The Environment: another great tool for spreading fear amongst the population). A Human Rights Act also widely ignored except when it's of immediate benefit to lawyers.

Truth is, this is - supposedly - the Information Age. And while I admit to increasingly Luddite tendencies where information technology is concerned, I do accept that that means privacy is an even harder thing to ensure. But maybe that's why it's more important than ever to protect it. Some people seem happy to accept that they can no longer expect privacy - I'm not one of those people. I understand that I can't expect *absolute* privacy - but I expect my privacy to be violated only where it's *absolutely necessary and of immediate and obvious benefit to society*. It's no argument at all to pretend that mass monitoring of everyone is justified on the grounds that a tiny few might have dissident or terroristic leanings. The potential benefit is insignificant next to the massively high price.

I am, for the moment, at least, one of those lucky people who doesn't really have anything to hide. But who knows when They might decide otherwise? After all, if they say I've got incriminating material, then their inevitable failure to find it will only prove how adept I am at hiding it - right? And therefore I must be a terrorist - right? After all, that's the policy we used in Iraq, isn't it? We couldn't find the WMDs, so that meant they'd been well concealed or taken away to some stash somewhere. The idea they weren't there in the first place? Inconceivable. (And if I keep posting comments like this, well, someone's going to take a dislike to me sooner or later - no doubt I'm already on some list somewhere.)

Let's face facts. Everything I do is monitored almost everywhere I go, either by an unaccountable and controlling Government or equally unaccountable commercial interests. It might be possible to live 'off the radar', but it's not made easy, and most people won't have the strength of will or the sheer paranoia required to make a good job of it. I'm working on both. Even so, the point is that if this is *not* a surveillance society, then it's terrifying to imagine what might be.

The only real question is, are the people drawing this conclusion astonishingly ignorant, and don't realise what's going on? Or are they astonishingly dishonest, and imagine that if they lie big enough, we'll all buy in?

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Boffin

and in other news...

... water is not wet.

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Anonymous Coward

Surveillance Society by Diktats

Does each change increase or decrease surveillance? Can you think of any change that hasn't resulted in more surveillance, for reduced reason with fewer checks and balances?

I can't, every change in the law is to reduce individuals freedom and elevate the role of the enforcement officer as judge and jury. It's all agreed between ACPO and Jacqui Smith at the home office, minus the ordinary terrorist in the street. Surveillance by diktat. They do realize that when it comes to laws, a police chiefs opinion is equal to one vote from an ordinary terrorist? No more no less.

Examples, You had 250000+ RIPA data requests. These were not done with a court order, hence they were not independently assessed. So why are they kept secret? Why is the information the police want so unimportant that they don't need to get a court order, yet so important that its disclosure needs to be kept secret from Joe terrorist?

CCTV to capture terrorists.... now used to enforce parking charges and track cars, and to monitor demonstrators (e.g. terrorist John Catt's car was arrested and tracked under the terrorism act, because his car was parked near an demonstration against EDO's for supplying Israel with weapons, an officer flagged the registration and he was tracked and locked up under the terrorism act as a result). Last time I looked protesting wasn't terrorism and this was an abuse of the terrorism act and ANPR, yet there doesn't seem to be a mechanism to protect innocent terrorists from guilty police.

Now the Home Office (Jacqui Smith again) demanding the right to take DNA swabs from any terrorist stopped for any offence, even speeding, playing their stereo too loud (audio terrorism) etc. What do you bet that the plastic police will get that power too? Can't have open bin lid terrorism in the UK!

ANPR, why is the location of car registration plates not associated with crime recorded? Why is it available realtime without a warrant? Even to the USA as we found out recently, presumably the ANPR data and associated DVLA data is passed too. Why? Who decided their duty to the USA outranked their duty to the UK voter/terrorist?

Mobile Phones, why did Blair demand the EU record every innocent terrorists location (by recording their phones location), every innocent persons call record, who they call and when, every innocent persons email trail, who they email and when, etc.? The excuse was terrorism, but you can't claim 350 million people are terrorists? Why was this not put through parliament first if he was in the right?

It's like the psychopathic are in charge. The guys on the street are ALL labelled terrorists, you can't protest without the police using anti-terror powers to suppress it, your daily lives are subjetced to surveillance because you are assumed to be a terrorist. ACPO demands more powers and the politicians are afraid to say no for fear of ACPO officers will turn on them.

About the only place you can safetly protest is as AC on the internet. Now the psychos are seeping out of their cracks and demanding surveillance powers for innocent people on the internet.... to prevent terrorists from protesting presumably.

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Stop

Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?

Seriously are they in the same country as us?

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Stop

Delusional

I returned to Blighty in Feb this year after being away for about 6 years. From Heathrow onwards I was under obvious camera coverage until I was far past Reading on the M4.

Security cameras (both private and public), speed cameras, average speed cameras, safety cameras, road marshals (or whatever they're called) with their cameras ... and that's just what was obvious.

I felt I was in a communist state or some giant prison island, not the country I grew up in and had, until then, viewed as a haven of privacy and freedom.

It says a lot when I feel less under the thumb of an oppressive regime living in the US than I do the country of my birth.

If I trusted the information to be used wisely, and not just as an excuse for various forms of revenue gathering to fund politicians jaunts around the world or extensive home remodeling I'd be less critical, but we all know it's to enable road users to be milked of every penny and criminalised simply because it's easier, and data about our movements to be fed into some great law enforcement scheme and maybe sold to advertisers to decide where to put billboards to appeal to a significant driver demographic who'll buy Duff beer...

It's another symptom of the Britain I don't want to bring my family back to.

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Go

Spare a moment?

Maybe it's time to think about three para's and a fourth injured one?

And in a free and open society perhaps news reports could convey the salaries of those that paid an ultimate price. Then the same report could possibly list the top ten public servants, MPs, SMPs, WMPs Euro-MPs, ... expenses claims just to add an aspect of relativism to the reports?

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Not a surveillance society?

Anyone notice if the MPs' lips were moving when they said that?

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Privacy

As i've said before the only private place is locked in your bathroom cause i don't think ever Gordon wants to hear the recordings from that....Yet!!!

The final nail will be when there using the 42 days without charge on people in no way related to terror plots, locked up for a month and a half without charge, welcome to the freedom of the west...

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Boffin

Too late 1984, started in 56 BC!

Oh Jebus on a Bike, we are and have always been, since a well known Frenchman call William stepped onto this "septic" isle way back in 1066, the Doomsday book anyone? Nothing more than a primitive database of names and property, to be honest I suspect the Romans did too under the name of Taxes, but not many records left of that time.

Right through to the paranoia of the post World-War II era, mistrust of big Joe and potential for uprisings from disgruntled peoples of Europe. Rationing still continued after WW2, not due to shortages but a little test of monitoring who was still left and what they were up to. The Cold War came along and the rise of McCarthyism, governments realising that technology is getting cheaper and people have electronic communication at their disposal, just need to simply tap into that to gather data on them. The Internet, let the plebs play on it for a bit, get to trust it, then we'll nail it down.

I too have heard that we have the highest number of CCTV cams per capita of anywhere else in the world, we are an island, we didn't want to be friends with the nice people living next door, the ones with the funny accents and weird ways, no we decided to set up a little province across the road(pond). Then after a bad party the new owners trashed our new des-res over there and changed the locks, they then saw we had been getting grief off our old neighbours, they helped us out and like some old infirm biddy, in return we signed the deeds on our house over to the dodgy owners over the road!

Too late now, fight all you like, but the only answer I can see now is to learn a nice European language, plenty to choose from, go live with the neighbours!

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they get away with it too easily

I get annoyed with the journalists in situations like these for not pressing the point enough. I think it was Andrew Marr asking the question yesterday and he should have followed up with something like: 'What is your definition of a surveillence society then, that you think ours doesn't fit that definition?'

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Coat

Not a surveillance society

Obviously, the word "not" is used in its loosest possible sense.

Mine's the one off the X-ray conveyor belt on a one-way ticket out of here.

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@Taskis

Well said.

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Dan
Go

@Shabble

Nice definition, where's it from?

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Joke

I have never seen a CCTV camera

These MP's must have gotten their Politician "talk while bybasing the brain" training from the same place the former Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf (Remember him?) got his...

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@George Johnson

"we didn't want to be friends with the nice people living next door, the ones with the funny accents and weird ways"

As a welshman (and therefore the ORIGINAL english, thank you very much!), you WERE the people living next door with the funny accents (anglo-saxon) and weird ways (monotheism).

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oleaginous

Hah! Hands up people who know what that word means.

I've only ever seen it used once.

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Quote

Which dictator was it that said "We live in a democracy, the only element missing is the expression of the popular will"? Tried Googling but couldn't find the source. Obviously Britain's MPs were taking notes.

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Unhappy

minimum data, held for the minumum time

I think what they mean is that the only copy of the data was on the two CDs.

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Ironic surveillance street sign...

Appropriate, and in case you missed it:

http://wuntvor.mirror.waffleimages.com/files/44/44cb4b91287cfcd8111d471867502a3cac861ab0.jpg

(linked from Blues News a few days ago)

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Silver badge
Pirate

RIPA II

"The Government is expected to introduce legislation to replace RIPA in the next session of Parliament."

This will be called DIPA - the Deregulation of Investigatory Powers Act. All that pesky red tape that hinders big business and the government from spying on us will be scrapped. Purely to keep us economically competive and safe from terror, you understand...

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Tim

Phorm...

talking of privacy, check out the latest on them

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/06/isp-spying-made.html

Perhaps, Mr Moderator, you could run a story on this & include the text of the Wikileaks report, as my BT internet connection doesn't seem to be able to download it, oddly....

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Coat

Not many cameras on the Alberta plains or in the Rockies.

Getting my coat, packing my bags & glad that I applied 3 years ago to leave not so merry olde England.

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Alien

Ahhh but

if we were a surveillance society the surely the police would actually be able to solve crimes as they'd all be on tape? Or is it all shot on Betamax? As for that joke of an ID card plan, the only people it'll help will be identity fraudsters.

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Paris Hilton

Only thing under surveillance...

...this summer is gorgeous girls in their "nothing left to the imagination" outfits.

That's all what CCTV operators look out for during summer to test the CCTV's zoom function.

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