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back to article Shop-a-suspect web security system: 'We've helped cops nab 100 suspects'

Earlier this year, The Register revealed how a massive security breach accidentally allowed access to thousands of images of people suspected of petty crimes. Now the private company behind that CCTV and image database is claiming its technology has led to the arrest of 100 suspects. London's Metropolitan Police has spent the …

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Innocent until ...

> They had no numbers on the number of convictions that arose from those arrests

Which is a shame, as that is the only statistic that matters.

Being arrested is not an indication that you've done anything wrong

Getting charged is no indication of guilt

Going to court doesn't make you a criminal

The only two possibilities for being classed a "baddie" is if you either plead guily (or accept a caution), or if a court finds you guilty and any appeals don't exonerate you.

I realise there is a huge "There's no smoke without fire" contingent who will naturally assume you're a fully paid-up member of the underworld is a police-person (or even the cheap plastic variety) so much as looks at you, but these individuals need to have their biases adjusted.

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Re: Innocent until ...

I don't see that it presumes innocence or guilt. It's a collation / alert system.

Presumably it allows shops to more readily notify police and related stores of suspected criminal behaviour and collate it through a common system than the haphazard approach in the past.

If a person were to be prosecuted and convicted they store / police would still need CCTV footage or catch them red handed. Perhaps this sort of system increases the chances of that happening.

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Holmes

Re: Innocent until ...

"...Going to court doesn't make you a criminal..."

No, wearing a wig & a gown does that...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Innocent until ...

It may also prevent crime, which means a conviction would not be the outcome of the system.

Because if you are a shop owner and someone comes in whose face appears to match one on a list of "suspicious" individuals, you might keep an eye on them a bit more rather than adjusting the goods on the shelves.

So another measure to use would be whether those businesses in the system see reduced losses or not.

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Re: Innocent until ...

Because if you are a shop owner and someone comes in whose face appears to match one on a list of "suspicious" individuals, you might keep an eye on them a bit more rather than adjusting the goods on the shelves.

So if your face happens to resemble a poor quality image of someone who one shop keeper was suspicious of, all the local shopkeepers are going to be treating you as suspicious and keeping an eye on you every time you go out shopping. Every shop you go into is gong to be making it clear they are watching you. Every time.

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Re: Innocent until ...

So if your face happens to resemble a poor quality image of someone who one shop keeper was suspicious of, all the local shopkeepers are going to be treating you as suspicious and keeping an eye on you every time you go out shopping. Every shop you go into is gong to be making it clear they are watching you. Every time.

So what? Unless you were planning to carry out some criminal activity, does it matter if the staff are watching you?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Innocent until ...

So what? Unless you were planning to carry out some criminal activity, does it matter if the staff are watching you?

Yes - it's basically covert defamation, only you won't know about it until, let's say, this database is coupled up with another and you're denied access to the US, or questioned every time to re-enter the UK. Personally, I think such databases should only be allowed if the people in it are aware they're now in it. For the wannabee thief it's a hint that thieving will be hard, for the innocent citizen it provides a route to sue the living crap out of the database managers for supplying scheme participants with unproven allegations.

ANY, and I mean ANY database which lists you as a potential criminal should have the obligation to inform you of the fact. You should be able to go to a terminal of participating companies and have the system search your face, then provide the details (as is actually required AFAIK under the Data Protection Act, but I could be wrong), together with the details of who filed this and where and their contact details.

And their lawyers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Innocent until ...

They are doing little more than shops currently have done in the past, when owners or mall security have noticed suspicious behaviour and notified other businesses.

But with this system, instead of a description ("tall guy, red hoodie, shifty-looking") they have something possibly more accurate to go on.

That said, I would not want mere supposition of criminal behaviour to be linked with a person's name where it might be interpreted as genuine - but the police are presumably allowed to cross-check with criminal records for a possible match if an actual offence is alleged.

The legal get out that the organisers might try could be to do with the declarations in the shops that "images are recorded for....." and therefore that those recorded have agreed. Liberty has an opinion here: http://www.yourrights.org.uk/yourrights/privacy/other-types-of-surveillance/cctv-surveillance.html

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Innocent until ...

> does it matter if the staff are watching you?

To the shop owners it does, as I won't buy on any shop that does not show a modicum of trust in its customers.

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Google still has cached versions of the old directory listings exposed via the HTTPS SNAFU. I've not tested clicking on them from work in case they see it as a hacking attempt, but it is possible that there are still routes to this data.

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FAIL

Wrong measure.

".....Previous figures show that CCTV has so far been a spectacularly inefficient way to catch criminals, with one crime in London solved per 1,000 surveillance cameras....." But you'll never know how many criminals were deterred from committing a crimes by the presence of the very same cameras, and deterrence is still the best outcome for all involved.

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Re: Wrong measure.

CCTV has also secured a massive number of convictions.

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Re: Wrong measure.

We would know if cameras were a successful deterrent because crime would have dropped in areas which had cameras. This doesn't seem to be the case so we can say that they neither deter nor are they that helpful in prosecuting.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wrong measure.

But you'll never know how many criminals were deterred from committing a crimes by the presence of the very same cameras, and deterrence is still the best outcome for all involved.

OK, so I'll shoot 100 people tomorrow on a busy shopping street. It is a statistical certainty that I will have caught a thief in that volume, probably someone who beats his wife and possibly a child molester. Does that justify killing the other 97?

I don't believe the deterrence story as a UNIVERSAL excuse. It works in some places, but I don't buy it that it works everywhere, but there seems to be a remarkable reluctance to provide figures for all deployments. It helps solve crimes afterwards, but prevention isn't happening - the criminals merely adapt (you didn't think the popularity of hoodies was an accident, did you?).

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Facepalm

Re: MAtt 21 Re: Wrong measure.

"We would know if cameras were a successful deterrent because crime would have dropped in areas which had cameras...." It has. Direct comparisons show criminals stopped commiting as many crimes in areas with CCTV and chose areas with less CCTV instead. This was proven waaaaay back as early as 2006, when crime rates in areas with CCTV showed dramatic declines - Berwick reported that burglaries fell by 69 percent; in Northampton overall crime decreased by 57 percent; and in Glasgow, Scotland, crime slumped by 68 percent. Please do try and explain those drops by any other factor.

"....This doesn't seem to be the case...." The Reg is using a very old report and set of stats (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8219022.stm), and it does not refelct either the increase in effectiveness of police use of CCTV (70% of murderers identifed with the help of CCTV even back in the period mentioned). Sorry, it's just another irrellevant "fact" trotted out by the "anit-surveillance" sheeple at every opportunity, with no attempt to set the context or discuss the realities of the matter.

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@Matt Bryant - Re: MAtt 21 Wrong measure.

And from 2010: "Number of crimes caught on CCTV falls by 70 per cent, Metropolitan Police admits"

"Prosecutions linked to CCTV have fallen in parts of Britain, raising questions about the true impact of the security cameras."

"Scotland Yard sources suggested the fall was because officers deciding only to mark down an involvement of a CCTV camera if it had formed part of the investigation. Previously officers had recorded if a camera was in the vicinity of the crime scene.

"Campaigners suggested that this change meant that the effectiveness of CCTV as a crime fighting tool might have been exaggerated by the previous figures. "

" Last summer an internal Met Police report concluded that for every 1,000 cameras in London, less than one crime is solved per year"."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/6867008/Number-of-crimes-caught-on-CCTV-falls-by-70-per-cent-Metropolitan-Police-admits.html

Still, let's keep on having Big Brother watch us and snoop on our every move and journey and e-mail and phone call. After all, giving up essential liberties for a little temporary security has always been a good thing, hasn't it?

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Facepalm

Re: Graham Marsden Re: @Matt Bryant - MAtt 21 Wrong measure.

Or could it be that crims are learning to avoid areas with CCTV... Gee, you can't think that, it would really put a massive hole in your bleating. Tell you what, since you have a hard time trying to think like a grown-up, go enjoy this other reason to keep CCTV cams running:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wT7zM8XgXQ

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Boffin

Re: Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - MAtt 21 Wrong measure.

Oh dear, Matt, resorting to ad hominem attacks again.

There are parts of London (and other cities) where it is virtually impossible to avoid being within range of CCTV cameras yet, astonishingly, crimes *still* happen in those areas!

You may be happy to have the State monitor and observe and record your every movement and journey and phone call and e-mail and web access, but, please, don't assume that because you "have nothing to hide", you have the right to decide that we should be happy with it too.

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FAIL

Re: Graham Marsden Re: Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - MAtt 21 Wrong measure.

"Oh dear, Matt, resorting to ad hominem attacks again....." Ooh, look, ickle Graypants has learnt some posh words! I wonder where he copied them from? Tell you what, you skip the pointless non-arguments and come back with something worth discussing and we can let you try conversing with the adults, mmmmmkay?

"....There are parts of London (and other cities) where it is virtually impossible to avoid being within range of CCTV cameras yet, astonishingly, crimes *still* happen in those areas!...." Yet the stats show crime has reduced in the areas with cameras, and not in the areas with cameras. Gee, I wonder if even a blinkered sheeple like you could come to a conclusion on that..... Guess not.

"....don't assume....you have the right to decide that we should be happy with it too." Don't worry, I'm not qualified to give psychiatric advice on how to treat paranoid delusions, which is the advice you really need.

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Re: Graham Marsden Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - MAtt 21 Wrong measure.

Matt, do you really think such childishness adds anything to the (lack of) validity of your arguments?

Still, feel free to down vote me and call me some more names if it makes you feel better. I'll even let you get the last word in since once again you've shown there's no point in trying to have a reasonable argument with you....

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FAIL

Re: Graypants Re: Graham Marsden Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - MAtt 21 Wrong measure.

"Matt, do you really think such childishness adds anything to the (lack of) validity of your arguments?..." Well you sheeple only have yourselves to blame, your childish bleating insisting that Big Bruvva is watching you all the time, despite the evidence to the contrary, is - frankly - getting boring. Like I said, come back with some actual points rather than childish shrieking from under your tinfoil hat and you'll get an adult debunking. Until then it's just laughing and pointing.

"....I'll even let you get the last word in...." Ah, so - as expected - you failed to find anything actually relevant to contribute. Yeah, SL&P.

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Big Brother

And what...

... is the False Positive Rate? How many people were arrested and then found *not* to be criminals?

Or don't we get told that because it makes their scheme look less good in the media?

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So 100 people have been lifted based on fairly ropey info over the course of a year and we don't even know how many were convicted?

Waste of time/

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I may have misunderstood the way the system works but the article seems to suggest that a participating business owner can upload an image without any need for any kind of proof. So if a shop owner dislikes me for whatever reason they can upload my image to the system and say I am suspicious?

Then every other business owner will be keeping a close eye on me (which TBH would make me feel extremely uncomfortable). Bars would prevent me from entering without offering up any explanation why.

This sounds like a really, really easy way to harass someone without even the risk that they know who or why it is happening. Not only that but the fact that my face exists on a database somewhere means that at some point in the future when the data is automatically uploaded to the Panopticon 5000 and police are automatically alerted to my presence and have a duty to arrest me as part of investigating a crime. That last bit is why it differs from shopping centre security giving out a description over their walkie-talkie. On the basis of no evidence whatsoever and without knowing why I could be subjected years of harassment because the spotty oik behind the counter at the local newsagent thought it might be a laugh to add me to the system.

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Anonymous Coward

You don't need such a complex system just to harass people!

Just ask Thames Valley Police re:Katie Bowman

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Big Brother

Red Dwarf

Sebastian Doyle: [reading] "Vote Fascist for a Third Glorious Decade of Total Law Enforcement"?

Jake Bullet: [reading] "Be a Government Informer. Betray Your Family & Friends. Fabulous Prizes to be Won"?

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Meh

Anyway

Helps to take ones mind of what banks and mega corporations get up to I suppose.

I know shop lifting and petty theft can be really, really hard on small business but I would much rather more effort be put into combating the rich bastards who continue unabated to rip people off. All depends how close and on which side you are relative to the law I guess.

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Anonymous Coward

Data Protection?

I am only superficially familiar with England and Wales data protection laws as they do not apply to my businesses, although I do recall them being a piss-take.

So my question is, can a data custodian (the shop owner) transfer, without prior express authorisation, personal data to a third party (this start-up)? Also, the mere inclusion of someone's likelihood in a "potential offenders" list which is publicly available (upon payment of a subscription) sounds like grounds for defamation charges. It only takes someone who's slightly more bothered than usual and has the time, money, and vindictiveness to spend on it to ruin the shop owner's day.

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Re: Data Protection?

I think you may be correct, but it was my understanding that since this is only an image that was recorded on the shop owners property then its ok, basically by entering that shop you are agreeing to get filmed (dodgy I know).

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You might be automatically agreeing to get filmed, but I don't see that you are agreeing to be considered a criminal.

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CCTV image?

I was under the impression that in the UK CCTV images are not able to be modified if used as evidence, including zooming in, cropping or touching up, this is to stop the accused saying that the image has been modified to make it appear like them, is this not correct?

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Anonymous Coward

I wonder

If Facewatch is checking that all the people supplying it with information are suitably registered with the ICO to collect images for the purpose of detection/prevention of crime?

And they need to have the sharing information within the registration as well.

Additionally, whilst the data controller can share images for legal reasons facewatch are not a law enforcement agency so its questionable if the sharing of personal information based on suspicion alone meets the requirements of the act.

Also I took this from the Facewatch ICO registration:

==

Reasons/purposes for processing information

We process personal information using a CCTV system to monitor and collect visual images for the purpose of security and prevention and detection of crime.

==

And it makes no mention of collation over the web and collection from third parties, it implies they are using there own CCTV system to collect the information.

Given the previous security howler they had the question has to be asked if they are a competent organisation to handle this kind of information?

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FAIL

A private company "facilitaitng" police investigations...

Does anyone else think this is as ill-conceived as letting the fire department work on commission?

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Meh

Data Protection

If you are using CCTV cameras to monitor people in a business you need to issue a fair processing notice. This would usually be a poster telling people that CCTV is in operation and is used for training, preventing crime etc.

Of course you need to give contact details so that people can pay their £10 and get copies of footage of themselves.

I suspect that if everyone who thought their images were in Facewatch's hands put in an SAR they would struggle to meet the demand.

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