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CCTV Cameras In UK Get Loudspeakers 484

An anonymous reader writes, "Big Brother is another step closer in the UK where the ever ubiquitous CCTV cameras are being fitted with loudspeakers so that camera operators who spot activities deemed 'anti-social' can berate the citizens below. In January 2004 there were more than 4,285,000 CCTV cameras in the UK (roughly 1 for every 4 households). No data about the number of CCTV cameras now in use in the UK is available."

US Government Restricting Research Libraries 753

An anonymous reader writes: "In a move that has been termed 'positively Orwellian' by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility Executive Director Jeff Ruch, George W. Bush is ending public access to research materials at EPA regional libraries without Congressional consent. This all-out effort to impede research and public access is a [loosely] covert operation to close down 26 technical libraries under the guise of budgetary constraint. Scientists are protesting, but at least 15 of the libraries will be closed by Sept. 30, 2006."

A Car Navigation System That Takes Pictures 137

Brandon Miniman writes "Navman has brought to market the first in-car navigation system with a built in camera, the iCN 750. The camera lets you take pictures of places you've been. Geographical coordinates are then assigned to each picture, so that you can bring up a gallery, and choose your destination by clicking on a picture." Add to this an always-on, all-sides video camera to document that it was the minivan that strayed into your lane, and it'll be even better.

U.S. Secretly Tapping Bank Databases 537

The Washington Post and New York Times are reporting on a Bush administration initiative that has tapped into a vast global database of confidential financial transactions for nearly five years. Relying on a presidential emergency declaration made under the International Emergency Economic Powers, the administration has been surveilling the data from the SWIFT database, which links about 7,800 banks and brokerages and handles billions of transactions a year. From the article:
Together with a hundredfold expansion of the FBI's use of "national security letters" to obtain communications and banking records, the secret NSA and Treasury programs have built unprecedented government databases of private transactions, most of them involving people who prove irrelevant to terrorism investigators.

Library Chief Criticized for Requiring Subpoena 715

sudnshok writes "Hasbrouck Heights (NJ) Library Director Michele Reutty is under fire for refusing to give police library circulation records without a subpoena. Her lawyer explained, 'Reutty did the right thing... At no time did Michele Reutty say to any police officer or anybody else that she would not give the information if it was properly requested.' However, borough labor lawyer Ellen Horn, who also represented the library trustees, said Reutty was 'more interested in protecting' her library than helping the police. 'It was an absolute misjudgment of the seriousness of the matter,' Horn said."

Google Researchers Create TV Audio Analysis System 108

segphault writes "Ars Technica reports on a paper (PDF) about ambient audio analysis authored by Google researchers. The system described in the paper can effectively determine what television show a user is watching just by capturing a short audio clip. The paper explains how a regular computer microphone can be used to record an audio clip that is then converted into a statistical data summary and transmitted to a remote server which matches the clip against archived data in order to ascertain which TV show it is associated with. Apparently, the system is fully viable, and other kinds of ambient noise don't negatively impact its accuracy. The paper also describes how web services can provide contextually relevant information based on a consumer's television viewing activities."

High Court Trims Whistleblower Rights 718

iminplaya writes "In yet another blow against free speech rights, the Supreme Court decided that government employees who report wrongdoing do not enjoy 1st Amendment rights while on the job. From the article 'The Supreme Court scaled back protections for government workers who blow the whistle on official misconduct Tuesday, a 5-4 decision in which new Justice Samuel Alito cast the deciding vote [...] The ruling was perhaps the clearest sign yet of the Supreme Court's shift with the departure of moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and the arrival of Alito. [...] Stephen Kohn, chairman of the National Whistleblower Center, said: "The ruling is a victory for every crooked politician in the United States."'"

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