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UK Has Become a "Surveillance Society" 291

cultrhetor writes "In a story released by the BBC, Richard Thomas, the information commissioner for Great Britain, says that fears of the nation's 'sleep-walk into a surveillance society' have become reality. Surveillance ranges from data monitoring (credit cards, mobiles, and loyalty card information), US security agencies monitoring telecommunications traffic, to key stroke logging at work. From the article, the report 'predicts that by 2016 shoppers could be scanned as they enter stores, schools could bring in cards allowing parents to monitor what their children eat, and jobs may be refused to applicants who are seen as a health risk.' The report's co-author, Dr. David Murakami-Wood, told BBC News that, compared to other Western nations, Britain was the 'most surveilled country.' He goes on to note: 'We really do have a society which is premised both on state secrecy and the state not giving up its supposed right to keep information under control while, at the same time, wanting to know as much as it can about us.'"
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UK Has Become a "Surveillance Society"

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  • by Zarniwoop_Editor ( 791568 ) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @03:31PM (#16718049) Homepage
    There are up to 4.2m CCTV cameras in Britain - about one for every 14 people.

    With that many cameras one can imagine it must be fairly difficult to venture out in public without being "ON CAMERA".
    I'm really not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand it might prevent some crime, on the other it certainly makes one feel like their privacy is in doubt. I guess it's only gonna be a real problem when they start installing them in your home.
  • Funny (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Threni ( 635302 ) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @03:37PM (#16718101)
    It doesn't feel any different. I know we've solved quite a few 20+ year old crimes using DNA, and we found out quite a lot about the July 7th bombers from CCTV. A friend whose car was damaged in a hit and run incident a few months ago managed to find out which insurance company to claim against because of cameras on the road - that wouldn't have been possible if she's just hoped the guy had decided to turn himself in.

    Still, I'm sure there's a downside to this technology, otherwise why the fuck would people keep going on and on and on and on about it all the time, as if the presence of cameras somehow stops them from going about their lawful business.
  • Re:Funny (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Poppler ( 822173 ) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @04:02PM (#16718321) Journal
    for my own part I think that it might help reduce crime by increasing the probability of getting caught and thus changing the pay-off matrix for the criminals
    It doesn't. [] 4294693.stm []

    Of coarse, it's your country, and it's none of my business that you let your government monitor you. Just don't let them fool you into thinking it's useful for deterring crime. Violent crime in particular is often not a rational act; most criminals are not putting the risk and reward through an algorithm to determine whether or not they should commit the crime.
  • Terrorstorm DVD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LM741N ( 258038 ) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @04:04PM (#16718343)
    Search Amazon for the Terrorstorm DVD by Alex Jones. One section of the video has some excellent pictures of the camera systems in use in Britain. On a more general note about the video, it is an excellent documentary about the rise in state sponsored terrorism. Last I checked it was #21 in popularity for Amazon DVD's. Alternatively, you can find it on Google video or at
  • by mrogers ( 85392 ) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @07:17PM (#16719851)
    People are only being treated that way by CCTV if they're doing something suspicious.
    That's your assumption, but in most cases you can't see what the camera's looking at. How would you feel about a camera operator watching your mother or sister for ten minutes because he found her attractive?
    Like the article said, 1 camera for every 14 people.
    On a crowded street, each camera captures more than 14 people at a time. Anyway, would you be happy to be followed by a masked man for one day every two weeks? Do you think you'd behave differently on that day?
    Yeah, it's exactly what other pedestrians do when you're walking around in public right now. They see you as you pass by, may turn to look if you're doing something interesting, and if they really want to, follow you for a bit if they wish.
    But if they choose to stare at me I can stare back. If they choose to follow me, everyone can see them doing it. On the other hand if a camera tracks me down the street, nobody's any the wiser. The symmetry of the relationship is broken.
    If you're doing something you wouldn't want a camera to see, why would you do it in public where a cop walking along could see you?
    You're missing the point: it's not about wanting to commit crimes without being caught, it's about wanting to have a symmetric power relationship with other members of society.

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller