Computing Surveillance

ISP Content Filtering Might be a ‘Five Year Felony’

In stark contrast with the UK a former federal computer crimes prosecutor believes that ISP Content Filtering Might be a ‘Five Year Felony’

University of Colorado law professor Paul Ohm, argues that ISPs such as Comcast, AT&T and Charter Communications that are or are contemplating ways to throttle bandwidth, police for copyright violations and serve targeted ads by examining their customers’ internet packets are putting themselves in criminal and civil jeopardy by breaking federal wiretapping laws.

In spite of this I’m sure that there will be a push by the US government as there has been here in the UK for ISPs to start doing this.

Computing Surveillance

UK goverment want email and phone database

The Times: ‘Big Brother’ database for phones and e-mails

A massive government database holding details of every phone call, e-mail and time spent on the internet by the public is being planned as part of the fight against crime and terrorism. Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms companies would hand over the records to the Home Office under plans put forward by officials.

This seems very much par for the course with this Labour government put absolutely everyone under surveillance in order to catch the criminals and terrorists. I think ministers are being lobbied by technology companies that promise more than they can deliver because the government seeks technological solutions to problems that might otherwise be solved in better ways or in ways that at least do not have a negative impact on British citizens as a whole.

This will be just a step towards a future where they keep a permanent database of every single email you receive, every website you visit and everything you download.

Surveillance Uncategorized

The increase in CCTV has not caused a siginificant decrease in crime

Owen Bowcott reports in The Guardian that CCTV boom has failed to slash crime, say police.

A senior police officer confirms what I’ve suspected for a long while that the massive increase in the number of CCTV cameras has not seen a corresponding decrease in crime.

Use of CCTV images for court evidence has so far been very poor, according to Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville, the officer in charge of the Metropolitan police unit. “CCTV was originally seen as a preventative measure,” Neville told the Security Document World Conference in London. “Billions of pounds has been spent on kit, but no thought has gone into how the police are going to use the images and how they will be used in court. It’s been an utter fiasco: only 3% of crimes were solved by CCTV. There’s no fear of CCTV. Why don’t people fear it? [They think] the cameras are not working.”

Presumably the criminals think the cameras do not work because they are able to get away with their crimes in full view of them. However the general public have a great deal of faith in the ability of CCTV to cut crime because they have been sold on the idea by the politicians and the police.

With the differing perception of the effect of CCTV the increase in number might have an effect to increase crime because people become more complacent in a heavily surveilled area believing they are safe from criminals.

Surveillance Uncategorized

Bicester drinkers happy to be tested for drugs by police

Customers of the Litten Tree pub in Bicester were apparently quite happy to be submitted to a drug test upon entering the premises. [via]

Movies Reviews Surveillance

Review: Taking Liberties

Taking Liberties

Most important UK documentary of the decade? Perhaps. Whilst it is not as well made as the Adam Curtis documentary The Power of Nightmares it is very powerful and has a hell of an impact. I only wish more people would see it, but I have a feeling that it will only end up preaching to the converted as those in the know are the only ones that will go to see it.

However if it inspires anyone and moves them to action then perhaps it be said to have succeeded. It made me rethink my decision no to join the march against the War in Iraq, I knew at the time that the government was committed to war and would not be swayed in that by any number of marchers but perhaps I should have stood up to be counted amongst those opposed.

Surveillance Uncategorized

Fingerprinting children

Britain, a nation that has sleepwalked into a surveillance state is considering a proposal to fingerprint children aged 11-15.

This is to tackle the danger posed by teenagers that might otherwise be able to avoid the all-seeing eye of the British Surveillance Society because they will have child passports free from biometric details. [via]

Security Surveillance Uncategorized

The street value of X-ray cameras

BBC News: Could X-ray scanners work on the street?

X-ray cameras that would “undress” passers-by in a bid to thwart terrorists concealing weapons, could be coming to a street near you, according to reports. Aside from the obvious privacy issues, would such a plan work?

Leaked documents said to have been drawn up by the Home Office and seen by the Sun newspaper say cameras which can see through clothes could be built into lamp posts to “trap terror suspects”.

X-ray type cameras have their place in the security framework but in the War on Terror they would be costly and ineffective if implemented widely like surveillance cameras.

They are effective in situations where specific locations need securing such as airports as they can be used to filter out individuals for additional scrutiny by security guards who are hand to do so.

Surveillance cameras are used in an entirely different manner they are predominantly used as a visible deterrent against criminal acts or as evidence gathering devices for prosecution of criminals after the fact. They are very rarely used to apprehend criminals in the act.

Security expert Bob Ayers, of Chatham House, believes putting an X-ray lens on a lamppost poses all sorts of resource questions.

“Some guy walks past and his picture is beamed back to a control room to say that something is under his jacket. What do you do? Despatch a police car to hunt him down and frisk him?

“The real question is not whether the technology can see something under the clothing. It’s how you respond to it when the technology says there’s something unusual.

This may well have been obtained from leak Home Office documents but I doubt even that incompetent government department would pursue this ill-thought out scheme.

Surveillance Uncategorized

CCTV cameras gain ability to hear as well as see

Speak softly and carry a big stick

Politics Security Surveillance Uncategorized

If thine eye offends thee, pluck it out.

The Guardian reports: Police want power to crack down on offensive demo chants and slogans

Present curbs are too light, Met chief to tell Goldsmith

This seems like nothing more than a power grab and an appeal to the right wing members sections of Britain that are incensed by these uppity sandal-wearing Lefties and Muslim types voicing their displeasure about various things.

The country’s biggest force, the Metropolitan police, is to lobby the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, because officers believe that large sections of the population have become increasingly politicised, and there is a growing sense that the current restrictions on demonstrations are too light.

It seems to me that Tony Blair’s government has recently freaked out about something which has been going on for quite a few years and that is issue politics. The populace seem generally apathetic about the political parties but a number are passionate about singular political issues be it marching in opposition to the Hunting Bill or demonstrating against the Iraq war etc. Also there has been a rise in political views being expressed online as the number of fora has increased where such views can be aired.

I think that they have freaked out because virtually all these views being expressed are anti-government. You’d be hard pressed to find any Joe Public commenter expressing a pro-Iraq opinion for example.

Most worrying is the following bit of it.

The police want powers to tackle a “grey area” in the array of public order laws. At present, causing offence by itself is not a criminal offence.

Causing offence is not a criminal offence and it never bloody well should be.

He talks about respecting freedom of speech.

We also need to think more laterally around how we police public demonstrations where ‘offence’ could be caused, while still respecting the British position around freedom of speech.

But this sounds like just a piece of management speak that means nothing.

But then I’m part of the problem not the solution aren’t I.

Security Surveillance Uncategorized

UK Car Rentals to Require Fingerprints

Bruce Schneier has alerted us to the fact that in order to rent a car in the UK fingerprints will be now taken by the rental company.

It seems that the taking of biometric information is entering the mainstream and will likely become more and more commonplace.