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Britain is a 'surveillance society' (says BBC)

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Britain is a 'surveillance society' (says BBC)

Old 11-02-06, 08:17 AM
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Britain is a 'surveillance society' (says BBC)

I have a hunch this will turn into a political discussion. Welcome to <em>1984</em>!

Originally Posted by BBC
Britain is 'surveillance society'

Fears that the UK would "sleep-walk into a surveillance society" have become a reality, the government's information commissioner has said.

Richard Thomas, who said he raised concerns two years ago, spoke after research found people's actions were increasingly being monitored.

<b>Researchers highlight "dataveillance", the use of credit card, mobile phone and loyalty card information, and CCTV.

Monitoring of work rates, travel and telecommunications is also rising.

There are up to 4.2m CCTV cameras in Britain - about one for every 14 people.

But surveillance ranges from US security agencies monitoring telecommunications traffic passing through Britain, to key stroke information used to gauge work rates and GPS information tracking company vehicles, the Report on the Surveillance Society says.

It 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.</b>

Produced by a group of academics called the Surveillance Studies Network, the report will be presented to the 28th International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners' Conference in London on Thursday, hosted by the Information Commissioner's Office.

The office is an independent body established to promote access to official data and to protect personal details.

'Looser laws'

The report's co-writer Dr David Murakami-Wood told BBC News that, compared to other industrialised Western states, the UK was "the most surveilled country".

"We have more CCTV cameras and we have looser laws on privacy and data protection," he said.

"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."

The report coincides with the publication by the human rights group Privacy International of figures that suggest Britain is the worst Western democracy at protecting individual privacy.

The two worst countries in the 36-nation survey are Malaysia and China, and Britain is one of the bottom five with "endemic surveillance".

Mr Thomas called for a debate about the risks if information gathered is wrong or falls into the wrong hands.

"We've got to say where do we want the lines to be drawn? How much do we want to have surveillance changing the nature of society in a democratic nation?" he told the BBC.

"We're not luddites, we're not technophobes, but we are saying not least don't forget the fundamental importance of data protection, which I'm responsible for.

"Sometimes it gets dismissed as something which is rather bureaucratic, it stops you sorting out your granny's electricity bills. People grumble about data protection, but boy is it important in this new age.

"When data protection puts those fundamental safeguards in place, we must make sure that some of these lines are not crossed."

'Balance needed'

The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) said <b>there needed to be a balance between sharing information responsibly and respecting the citizen's rights.</b>

A spokesman said: "Massive social and technological advances have occurred in the last few decades and will continue in the years to come.

"We must rise to the challenges and seize the opportunities it provides for individual citizens and society as a whole."

Graham Gerrard from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said there were safeguards against the abuse of surveillance by officers.

<b>"The police use of surveillance is probably the most regulated of any group in society,"</b> he told the BBC.

"Richard Thomas was particularly concerned about unseen, uncontrolled or excessive surveillance. Well, any of the police surveillance that is unseen is in fact controlled and has to be proportionate otherwise it would never get authorised."
It's hard to imagine that of Western societies, Britain beats out the US. But then again, it's a lot easier to monitor a highly condensed population of 60 million than it is to monitor a widespread population of almost 300 million.

It's unfortunate that we're pressing China and other countries on their human rights records and freedoms while simultaneously having our own rights (as in our right to privacy) slowly but surely restricted.

-ringding-
Old 11-02-06, 08:27 AM
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It's hard to imagine that of Western societies, Britain beats out the US. But then again, it's a lot easier to monitor a highly condensed population of 60 million than it is to monitor a widespread population of almost 300 million.
Why? I mean London has always been one of the most heavily surveilled cities in the world and the laws regarding monitoring of Britians are looser than those regarding monitoring of Americans (I think a lot of it comes from their fight w/ the IRA and trying to prevent terrorist attacks).


It's unfortunate that we're pressing China and other countries on their human rights records and freedoms while simultaneously having our own rights (as in our right to privacy) slowly but surely restricted.
Where is this right to privacy guaranteed? I mean there are elements of privacy in the Bill of Rights, but there's no overall "right to be left alone".
Old 11-02-06, 08:27 AM
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I remember when I was in the UK a few months watching BBC News. They had a report on the speed cameras (which are all over the place) - that they were originally set up at intersections and measured speed as you went through an intersection. People adjusted and braked considerably at intersections and then sped up again - traffic tickets went down.

So they adjusted and changed it so it took 2 pictures of a vehicle (one well before the intersection and at the intersection) and measured the average speed over the distance. Traffic tickets went back up.
Old 11-02-06, 08:49 AM
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I like Penn Jilette's take on this issue: make all the cameras available to watch on the internet.
Old 11-02-06, 08:59 AM
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Ahh, the BBC. No worries that "Londonistan" has become of the hub of radical Islam in Europe, but they're outraged and horrified at their own security forces. It's not that this story isn't legitimate, but reading the BBC site on a regular basis, I find it unbelieveable how skewed their priorities are.
Old 11-02-06, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Ky-Fi
Ahh, the BBC. No worries that "Londonistan" has become of the hub of radical Islam in Europe, but they're outraged and horrified at their own security forces. It's not that this story isn't legitimate, but reading the BBC site on a regular basis, I find it unbelieveable how skewed their priorities are.
why stop there? Let's put cameras in everyone's house. We'll start with yours.
Just to be sure.
Old 11-02-06, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Ky-Fi
Ahh, the BBC. No worries that "Londonistan" has become of the hub of radical Islam in Europe, but they're outraged and horrified at their own security forces. It's not that this story isn't legitimate, but reading the BBC site on a regular basis, I find it unbelieveable how skewed their priorities are.
By skewed I assume you mean the BBC's priorities don't seem to match yours. I'd be interested to see you list, for example, the top five items you think the BBC should be worrying about.
Old 11-02-06, 09:46 AM
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The multiculturalist left in Europe (of which the BBC is a main mouthpiece) have purveyed this culture of anti-Americanism, anti-capitalism, anti-Zionism, pro-Muslim immigration, anti-Christian and Anti-Westernism to such a degree now that huge trouble is on the horizon with the millions of Muslim immigrants that are not assimilating throughout Europe. The French riots are just the foreshadowing. Every attempt to question this immigration policy has been shouted down with cries of "Racist!", "Xenophobe!", and "Islamophobe!" from the left. Now you're seeing the rise of the BNP in Britain, Jean Marie Le Pen in France, and far-right parties throughout Europe are gaining ground, and that doesn't bode well for anyone. Because the multiculturalists/ centrists didn't want to talk about this or deal with it, the societies are going to become polarized.

Originally Posted by Lord Rick
why stop there? Let's put cameras in everyone's house.
Just to be sure.
And that might very well happen when the real fascists come into power in Europe.
Old 11-02-06, 09:52 AM
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stupid story since most cameras are privately owned and look only at private property

even a lot of the privacy nuts don't have a problem putting a camera to look at their private property
Old 11-02-06, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
I like Penn Jilette's take on this issue: make all the cameras available to watch on the internet.
There you go with the "nut point of view" again....
Old 11-02-06, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Lord Rick
why stop there? Let's put cameras in everyone's house. We'll start with yours.
Just to be sure.

If you have nothing to hide.....

Old 11-02-06, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
If you have nothing to hide.....

Ok, you can be 2nd, after Ky-fi.

Old 11-02-06, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by davidoflondon
By skewed I assume you mean the BBC's priorities don't seem to match yours.
Ok, here's a great example of BBC reporting:


Somalis learn to follow the law


By Yusuf Garaad
BBC Somali Service editor, Mogadishu



Fear of a good lashing or having one's head shaved is keeping drivers in Somalia's capital on the straight and narrow.
A few months ago, Mogadishu's chaotic roads were ruled by red-eyed, open-shirted militia, speeding along in their technicals - the open vehicles with anti-aircraft guns mounted on the back - weaving from one side to the other to avoid the potholes.

Today, one of the world's most dangerous cities has been tamed: law-abiding men and women motor along without a gun at their side, keeping steadily to the speed limit, and not daring to swerve for craters.

This transformation is down to the rule of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which took control of Mogadishu in June and much of southern Somalia since then.

They have imposed Sharia law and are at lengths to show that no-one, no matter their clan or influence, is above God's law.

Trials are swift and punishments public: publicity is their policeman.

Applause

Most are astounded by the changes - restaurants are opening, business is booming - and people are proud to show off to visitors their new-found security.

But with reports that Ethiopian troops are in the country backing the beleaguered interim government in Baidoa and peace talks deadlocked in Khartoum, the calls for jihad grow.
It is talk that may win approval amongst the young at rallies after Friday prayers, yet behind the rhetoric the city's residents are sick and tired of the 16 years of fighting Somalia has experienced since the fall of Siad Barre.

"Jihad will mean more deaths. Why can't we use our brains to solve the political stalemate instead of fighting?" a female student recently had the temerity to ask UIC chairman Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in a debate broadcast on the BBC Somali Service.

The 400-strong audience burst into applause before Mr Ahmed had a chance to respond.

Questions then flowed thick and fast from other women.

"Will you allow women to work in the media? Are you the Taleban?"

A known moderate, Mr Ahmed sought to allay their fears: the Islamists, he said, did not want to stop women working.

"Actually, I am happy a woman is asking this question - at a university campus," he said.

Yet it is this uncertainty about the UIC's intentions that marks life in the capital.

Elopements banned

Loud music no longer blares from taxis: it has not been banned, but it is felt best not to test the waters.


In Kismayo, 500km south of the capital, Islamist hardliners have banned the chewing of the mild narcotic khat - an afternoon ritual across the country.

On Tuesday, a distraught football fan phoned up the BBC Somali Service from Jamame, near Kismayo, begging them to include La Liga match details in their sports reports the next day as he said the screening of football matches had just been banned in his town.

These creeping edicts may be the courts' undoing as Somalis have always had a fairly liberal interpretation of the holy scriptures.

Agaran, which means green in Somali, is the perfect example. The coastal town is Somalia's Gretna Green, where couples eloping from the capital can go for a quick marriage.

According to local Islamic tradition, a woman must get her father's consent to marry if her father or guardian is within 50km.

On the map, Agaran is just over 50km south of the capital with many a willing sheikh at hand to perform the nuptials without dowry objections and saving the young couple wedding expenses that can ordinarily cost up to a year's wages.

Agaran's days as Somalia's romantic capital, however, are over, as Islamic leaders banned elopement marriages as unlawful on Monday.


Dissenters argue that this authoritarian attitude is eating away at Somali culture and traditions, from dulling their dress code to muting their music.
But for most this is an argument for another day.

For now, Somalis are basking in the novelty of moving about freely, the novelty of seeing a woman behind the wheel, the novelty of militiamen greeting them politely at checkpoints, the novelty of leaving their guns at home.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/h...ca/6106398.stm

Published: 2006/11/01 13:57:53 GMT

BBC MMVI

*****************************************************

Now what is that, other than cheerleading for a radical Islamic victory? Now, people are driving safely, because if they don't, they'll get a jolly good lashing, hahahaha. Yeah, or if you decide to convert from Islam, you'll be killed? If you're gay you might be executed in the streets? Women's rights rolled back to medieval times? Artists and intellectuals silenced through intimidation and violence? Oh, haha, those aren't really questions that need to be asked, and any problems with Islamic extremism are just questions for another time---for now the population is just overjoyed with their newfound liberty and safety.

For pete's sake, Hitler brought law and order, too, but the BBC of the 40's didn't fawn all over him for it.
Old 11-02-06, 10:22 AM
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I agree with Red Dog - if you nothing to hide, why would worry about surveillance?

I totally agreed with Bush's domestic spying. I had nothing to hide.
Old 11-02-06, 10:26 AM
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Is this what Howard the Screamer meant when he said our security needed to be more like the British after the terror plot was uncovered earlier this year?
Old 11-02-06, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Vandelay_Inds
I actually like this. Being the victim of violence scares me far more than someone looking at me while I walk down the street. Also, gotta remember Brits are far more sensitive to these things. For example, a "gathering" of youths that is perceived as "threatening" by people in the neighborhood can be called on and police have the authority to disperse it.
Surveillance doesn't stop crime. It just makes sure it's on tape.
Old 11-02-06, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
I totally agreed with Bush's domestic spying. I had nothing to hide.
That's not for you to decide.
Old 11-02-06, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Ky-Fi
Ok, here's a great example of BBC reporting:

Now what is that, other than cheerleading for a radical Islamic victory? Now, people are driving safely, because if they don't, they'll get a jolly good lashing, hahahaha. Yeah, or if you decide to convert from Islam, you'll be killed? If you're gay you might be executed in the streets? Women's rights rolled back to medieval times? Artists and intellectuals silenced through intimidation and violence? Oh, haha, those aren't really questions that need to be asked, and any problems with Islamic extremism are just questions for another time---for now the population is just overjoyed with their newfound liberty and safety.
Seems to me to be a pretty straightforward objective look at the situation. I'm not sure where you're reading tacit BBC appproval. They're reporting on what's happening and what Somalis think about it.
Old 11-02-06, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
Seems to me to be a pretty straightforward objective look at the situation. I'm not sure where you're reading tacit BBC appproval. They're reporting on what's happening and what Somalis think about it.
Sure, and Hitler was greeted by throngs of cheering, flower-waving Austrian crowds at the Anschluss, too. No need for journalists to present anything deeper in their coverage of that other than the joyous celebration.
Old 11-02-06, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Ky-Fi
Sure, and Hitler was greeted by throngs of cheering, flower-waving Austrian crowds at the Anschluss, too. No need for journalists to present anything deeper in their coverage of that other than the joyous celebration.
Okay, sure, don't respond to anything I said and just bring up Hitler. That's a formula for success.
Old 11-02-06, 11:34 AM
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Only those that have something to hide (the guilty) need constitutional protections.

Good citizens, like myself, Bush supporters, Iraq War supporters, Repubs, don't need 'em.
Old 11-02-06, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
Okay, sure, don't respond to anything I said and just bring up Hitler. That's a formula for success.
Well, I think if you understand the historical background of the Anschluss, its perception at the time by the Austrians, and what it ultimately resulted in for Austria (and more importantly, for Austrian "undesireables"), then it's an extremely apt analogy which buttresses my point quite well.

But anyways, if you can read that BBC piece and conclude that it's an ojbective, non-biased, critical view of the situation, then I don't think my arguments would persuade you.

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