Tag Archives: cctv

Siobhan Benita slams London Mayor’s mass surveillance roll-out as a real risk to civil liberties

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Responding to the Metropolitan Police’s announcement on Thursday that it will begin to use automated facial recognition surveillance operationally, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London Siobhan Benita said:

It is unacceptable for a new form of mass surveillance like this to be rolled out onto London’s streets without proper consultation, regulation or oversight.

Facial recognition technology is hopelessly inaccurate. It is biased against women and ethnic minorities. The evidence that it will make us safer is patchy at best, but there is a real risk that it will erode civil liberties and increase distrust and discrimination.

To make London safer we must restore effective community policing, starting with the re-opening of local police stations, which the current Mayor has shut down.

Liberal Democrats do not want London to become a city where innocent people feel as though their every movement is being watched. The fact that Sadiq Khan has given the go-ahead for this undermines his recent claim to share our liberal values.

If Londoners want a liberal mayor with a positive vision for a safer, greener, kinder capital, their best option is me.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 12 Comments

CCTV – What of Liberty

The UK has approximately 1 per cent of the world population and well over 10 per cent of the world’s CCTV cameras. London alone has around 422,000 CCTV cameras, and it is estimated that on an average day an individual, in London, will be captured on a camera at least 30 times. Third in line with the most CCTV cameras is Chicago, with at least 17,000. However, according to a recent report in the Chinese state media, People’s Daily, the city of Beijing now has a CCTV network that covers ‘every corner’ of the city. The total number of cameras is around 470,000. Without any obvious trace of irony, the system’s official name is ‘Sky Net’.

In George Orwell’s novel, 1984 one of the things that the protagonist Winston Smith hated was the surveillance by cameras and how the Thought Police could remotely talk to you. Someone mentioned to me that as he was coming out of Reading Station, about a year ago, someone dropped an empty packet of crisp on the floor, only to be told via a speaker to pick up the litter he discarded that had been spotted by CCTV.

We now learn that Christmas shoppers have had their faces scanned in central London as part of a police trial. The Metropolitan Police says it invited people to take part in testing the technology rather than scanning people covertly. Privacy campaigner Big Brother Watch has described the use of such technology as “authoritarian, dangerous and lawless”.  In a statement, the group said that “monitoring innocent people in public is a breach of fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of speech and assembly”. Investigations by them also revealed that the system at the moment is not fully functioning as it identified a large number of innocent people as potential suspects.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged | 13 Comments

Julian Huppert MP writes… Have your say – Coalition plans to regulate CCTV

The Home Office yesterday announced plans for the regulation of CCTV as part of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.

This is fantastic news. The regulation of CCTV and the protection of civil liberties were key to our manifesto and prominent in the coalition agreement.

Britain is home to as many as 4.2 million CCTV cameras – up to 20% of cameras globally – yet under Labour there was virtually no control over who has access to state surveillance. Our reforms mean we can control who has access to cameras, and how the footage is used.

Regulation will be crucial …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 7 Comments

Poking Big Brother in the eye. (Or ‘How I turned the tables on an illegally parked council CCTV spy van.’)

I have moaned a lot about those spy cars and vans that patrol our streets, filming us in those brief moments when we’re not being filmed by omnipresent static CCTV cameras. I have even written about them here on Lib Dem Voice.

What annoys me in particular is the number of times I have seen them seeming to break the rules they are there to enforce. Take this example from southwest London, highlighted for me by Jason Hunter. These people are exercising power over us, filming us as we go peacefully about our everyday lives. I don’t like at all the idea that they might feel themselves to be above the law.

It may to some sound petty, but to me this is important. What I am driving at was summed up recently by Norman Baker in this vox pop interview at the Birmingham conference. Asked about the values of the Lib Dems his first instinctive answer is about ensuring the balance of power between the State and the individual is not too heavily weighted in favour of the State. Spot on.

It’s because I see this issue in this light that I was simultaneously annoyed and overjoyed when I spotted one of the vans parked in a restricted parking zone and across a cycle lane, whilst out walking the other week. I casually leaned against a nearby lamppost, whipped out my BlackBerry and shot this footage:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 14 Comments

Tom Brake writes: The Freedom Bill is a staging post towards an even freer society

The Freedom Bill is clear evidence of the Liberal Democrats setting the political agenda and making a positive difference to how we live in Britain.

It’s our robust answer to unwelcome and unwarranted intrusions into our everyday lives. It starts the dismantling of an overbearing surveillance state and restores British civil liberties that we used to be able to take for granted.

At the heart of the Bill is a commitment to safeguarding and protecting individuals and national security. What has felt to many like an obsession of the state to monitor our every waking moment is broken down by the …

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Opinion: Slaying Big Brother and Big Government in one go

We know the facts by now. We are borrowing north of £100 billion every year, with our national debt having now topped £1 trillion. To finance all that we are paying £120 million every day just to pay the interest on that debt – enough to build a new school every day or a new hospital every week. Only the most shameless of deficit deniers would argue that we do not need to find cuts.

So, let me offer up one idea for a cut that has lots of potential across the country: council-run CCTV camera cars. These mobile CCTV …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 24 Comments

The Independent View: surveillance lessons from Birmingham

Birmingham, the city that this week played host to the Conservative party conference, has also been hosting a grass roots battle for Liberty.

This battle takes the form of a campaign run by residents against Project Champion. This project involved the police installing automated number plate recognition cameras (ANPR) in a Muslim area of the city.

It has now been shown that the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) provided the project’s funding as part of an anti-terror grant. This raises the questions as to why people were mislead by senior officers into believing the cameras were installed for crime prevention

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

If used properly and proportionately, CCTV can be a vital deterrent to criminals

I did intend to write a less controversial article after my previous contribution attracted far more attention and comments than I expected it to. Knowing that what I’m writing about now falls onto a similar strand of sensitivity, I expect I’ll fail miserably.

When I arrived at Surrey in 2002 to study, we were told it was the safest county in the country. Indeed, this was one of the attractions of studying there, as well as the very beautiful and leafy campus in one of the most unspoilt but bustling southern towns in the country. However, …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 14 Comments
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