The Difference between Surveillance and Tracking
is the difference between reasonable Law and Order and Totalitarian control.
Punters get upset when they read about talking CCTV in Middlesbrough, but they're actually an appropriate use of the technology. They let people know, in a public place, that their actions are visible and that, if they commit antisocial behaviour, those actions have been recorded. They then have the option of ceasing to behave antisocially or face the consequences. Crucially, the surveillance has no way of identifying the watched and - unless they move from talking to listening, they present only a minimal breach of privacy. In addition, it actually prevents trivial crimes and petty nuisance and, as such, is largely welcomed by the natives.
ANPR is a whole different kettle of fish. With that, anyone with access to the data (and that, currently, is probably a few thousand people) can't just watch what's happening in a given area but can identify who they are watching. Not only that, they can ask questions of the data like "Where was that car an hour ago?" (or "last thursday" etc) and so on.
One of the advantages to an attacker of knowing where you are is that they also immediately know where you aren't. So if, for example, the attacker wants access to your home for reasons of theft (of goods or data) or to plant close surveillance devices, then knowing that you're out and about is a pretty serious advantage.
Permitting the State to monitor its citizens to this extent is the most dangerous and ignorant mistake the citizenry can make. Even if the current incompetent incumbents are not inclined to abuse such powers to the extent of the nightmare totalitarians we frighten small children with, merely allowing such an infrastructure to be built massively increases the chances that such a regime will arise and find a warm welcoming environment ready made to accommodate and empower it.
The question is - how do we make our ignorant fellow citizens aware of the potential dangers and, in particular, the crucial difference between anonymous watching and targeted tracking.
Clearly the government strategy at the moment is to bombard us with more and more cases for targeted tracking, which will, coincidentally, make it all the more necessary for us to be able to prove our identity with their trackable ID Cards.
If you're interested in exploring the alternatives to their draconian proposals, please pop along to http://www.fullmoon.nu/book/side_issues/IdentityCards.htm