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All cameras are police cameras (shorttermmemoryloss.com)
383 points by alandarev on Nov 10, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 220 comments



It's interesting as the only involvement I have had with CCTV was positive.

On a night out in a city, myself and my friend were walking home from a club about 3.30am. We were joking about me being from the North and him being southern (a common UK joke), this was unfortunately overheard by someone nearby who took it personally and started punching my friend in the head, I managed to break it up and the other chaps mates pulled him away as his was rather inebriated. A girl nearby ran over after seeing this and called the police and within a minute a police officer had arrived - the most interesting and relevant part was that the officer had been dispatached by CCTV operators who had seen the whole incident. The policeman was being relayed that the perpetrator had been already arrested by a colleague down the street (after CCTV identified him), the officer with us knew it was an unprovoked attack as the CCTV operator saw at no point did we interact with the assailant, so treated us with respect and started explaining the options for prosecution.

I appreciate the flip side of the coin but personally now feel much safer when in an area with CCTV.


I would prefer to live in a society that was 100% supervised, if the laws of the society were sensible.

Unfortunately, our society, where people can be denied tourist visas or arrested because of twitter jokes, where pregnant women can be charged with attempted murder (of the unborn baby) for falling down the stairs, where police can enter homes to remove "illegal" advertisement on your window or to arrest your 12 year old daughter who was downloading movies, is not sensible.


Or when you look at felony charges for cannabis use. Every time I hear about the wonders of surveillance I think about how many lives the drug war has destroyed, even for drug use that is non-addictive, peaceful, and done in the dignity of one's own home by productive adults.

Also, as someone who lives in Chicago, I can tell you that a lot of crime is caught on tape, but only crime that is politically convenient for the police to go after. There's no shortage of stories of homeowners or landlords with videos of vandals and robbers only to be told to piss off. The police don't want to mess with the gangs unless they have to or it looks bad if there are too many minority arrests that month.

It seems the surveillance state is more often used against us than for us for a variety of reasons, mostly due to corruption, which we still don't have a fix for. In some weird way it has empowered the criminals, because it's a long way with lots of roadblocks from a face on tape to an actual arrest. We put up cameras instead of tall gates and guard dogs or gun ownership and think we're safe. We're not.

Not to mention, the criminals aren't stupid. They pull a hoodie down over their face as much as they can, and in the dark, can't be identified on tape. All the success stories I've heard seem to focused on crazies and idiots who more or less would have been caught with old fashioned police work. Holding up footage as the be and end all of police work really just empowers the worst kinds of people in law enforcement and fools the electorate into handing over powers that law enforcement has historically been shown to be irresponsible with. I just read that the PATRIOT ACT is now used on drug offenders. The slippery slope in unfortunately real in this case.


> It seems the surveillance state is more often used against us than for us for a variety of reasons, mostly due to corruption, which we still don't have a fix for

There is no fix for "corruption".

Imagine there's a ruler with only one subject. Would someone inevitably ask him for a favour? "Could you have your peon mow my lawn? -I'll buy you a beer some time!"

Would the ruler want more subjects? -Of course! It just means more benefits for him, more opportunities for making money at his subjects' expense! The possibilities are limitless!

Now take a bunch of rulers with 320 million subjects. Would Comcast ask them to make it difficult to compete with them? Competition is bothersome you know. It forces you to provide better quality at lower prices, even though you'd much rather just fleece a captive audience!

"Corruption" is a bit of a misnomer. It sounds like something is wrong, but actually it's just an element of a system with rulers and subjects working as intended.

> There's no shortage of stories of homeowners or landlords with videos of vandals and robbers only to be told to piss off. The police don't want to mess with the gangs unless they have to or it looks bad if there are too many minority arrests that month.

You're seeing another aspect of the system working as intended.

If you're a ruler, do you really care about your subjects' well-being? -Of course not. You'll pretend you do because you need them to refrain from overthrowing you, but your subjects are just tools to you.

Your "Royal Guard" (=the police) are meant to protect your power and to enforce your edicts, not to help your subjects. They behave accordingly.


This is half a truth, in that incentives do influence people's behavior:

> There is no fix for "corruption".

But not the whole truth, as the West is far less corrupt than, say, Bangladesh. We're under the impression that it's all because of our political systems and so are eager to teach the rest of the world Political Science 101 at gunpoint, convinced that if they only understood then they'd all be liberal democracies. But it's not their understanding of game theory that's flawed, it's ours.

As we've found out, it's not just a systems problem. Western Civilization? We didn't build that. There is, at least, a lot of residual faith in institutions built up over the last 800 years ago. And also some unabashed patriotism---the quiet kind that has you pay your taxes fully when you could perhaps pay a bit less and get away with it.


> But not the whole truth, as the West is far less corrupt than, say, Bangladesh.

The current degree and overtness of corruption in a particular area is completely irrelevant. The point is the very nature of political power: Its only use case is to gain at other people's expense.

That's it. Political power implies intervention in what people would otherwise do in their mutually beneficial, voluntary exchanges and arrangements.

Want to charge a fee for driving people from A to B? -You have to get a $X-hundred-thousand license to do that. If you don't, you will be punished, by force if "necessary". Who benefits? -The state-supported taxi cartel of course: now their drivers are debt slaves and profit margins remain higher than otherwise.

Note all those foreign governments protecting their taxi-cartel buddies from Uber.

Rulers want subjects because they benefit from them. Subjects are resources, like human livestock to be milked. And oh boy, milk us they do.

Sorry but I'm not sure how to address the rest of your post. Feel free to ask something or make some specific claims.


>Rulers want subjects because they benefit from them. Subjects are resources, like human livestock to be milked. And oh boy, milk us they do.

If only they understood that! That would not be the worst case( http://unqualifiedreservations.wordpress.com/2007/05/20/the-...)

>That's it. Political power implies intervention in what people would otherwise do in their mutually beneficial, voluntary exchanges and arrangements.

Remember, though, that not all voluntary exchanges and agreements are mutually beneficial (paycheck advances); or if they are, there may be an unknowing third party suffering some nasty externalities (I will sell you an extra-polluting car for only $1000!). Is this not a non-exploitive use case?


> If only they understood that! That would not be the worst case( http://unqualifiedreservations.wordpress.com/2007/05/20/the-...)

Please make a specific claim. I don't know how to address the nonsense you linked to.

> Remember, though, that not all voluntary exchanges and agreements are mutually beneficial

They are, to both parties involved in them. Otherwise they wouldn't go through with the exchanges, assuming no coercion of course.

> there may be an unknowing third party suffering some nasty externalities (I will sell you an extra-polluting car for only $1000!). Is this not a non-exploitive use case?

If you sell me an extra-polluting car, you're not exploiting anyone. I value the car higher than the money I'm parting with, because otherwise I wouldn't buy it.


>Please make a specific claim.

Well, in Nofunspeak: People take care of the things they own. Cows have done pretty damn well considering their spot in the food chain. Much better than, say, tyrannosaurs or Bengal tigers. Were I reincarnated and given the choice between a cow and a tiger, would I pick the cow? Of course not. But realistically (I use the term loosely given that we are talking about reincarnation), the tigers would all have been taken by nobler and more deserving souls than I, and I would have the dilemma of, say, a cow and a flea. Ah, I forgot: this is nofunspeak. So: tigers are independent, fear-no-man humans innately sovereign, cows are their slaves, employees, mistresses, and children, and fleas are property of the horror-state that would be erected if the real estate were not currently occupied (this is likely to be our point of supreme contention, which I must confess boggles my mind. It seems perfectly obvious that states of some kind are a naturally occuring phenomenon. I mean, they're all over the place. It also seems obvious that they are easier to get wrong than right. If only the criminals are allowed to set up states, all the states will be run by criminals.) Or, in today's boredom-state: tigers are whoever you think of as bogeymen, cows are the virtuous economic producers industrially farming their villes, and fleas are their unkempt IT guys, anarchist commune residents, and (shudder) idealist college students (Reader's note: I have been all three of these at some point in my life, so I have some flea cred).

Shall we aphorize? Who is more free, my dog that's dumb as a rock and I don't allow off my property, or the dead one euthanized as a puppy because I didn't adopt it? I mean, the second one can sit on whatever dog heaven couches it wants, but this seems small consolation.

Now at this point it must be addressed: yes, my dog, by rights, ought to be allowed to fulfil her noble duty of guarding Tibetan shrines. It's good for Lhasa Apso health, according to that article in Nature. But didn't we go over this? In our bleak world, there are not many shrine-guarding, tiger, or free-from-political-power spots left.

Clearly I am treading in moral gray area, because I am contradicting the central dogma of the (world-wide! Tip your local Peace Corps Rep!) American religion, which is freedom ueber allen. Choice, man! But I have just demonstrated a scenario that is beneficial enough that both parties would voluntarily agree to it (cow doesn't get eaten by wolves, human gets milk), but limits the freedom of one party. Behold! Political power, ex nihilo! And so we see that choice is very easy to lose: give everyone the same amount today, and tomorrow most of it will be in the hands of a few. This makes voluntary beneficial exchanges rather tricky. Of course you could periodically reset the amount of choice people had, perhaps by cancelling contracts (Jubilee!), but that reeks of rules, and political power.

And as for the car: you and I may be happy, but Joe down the street has to breathe the same air. Was our exchange beneficial for him?


> People take care of the things they own.

Agreed.

As for most of the rest, I don't want to fish for meaning in a pond of analogies.

I found something that's actually addressable though:

> It seems perfectly obvious that states of some kind are a naturally occuring phenomenon.

Yes, in the sense that psychopaths have existed for ages, have always wanted power over other people, and have always been exceptionally good at manipulating people to get it.

> It also seems obvious that they are easier to get wrong than right.

Oh they're functioning perfectly well. In other words, they've been "gotten right". It's just that their purpose is not what we imagine. It's not to "maintain order" or to "protect our rights" or other brainwashospeak people spout.

Nation-states are a vehicle for a small elite to exploit everyone else.

> If only the criminals are allowed to set up states, all the states will be run by criminals.

If most people are evil, then they clearly can't be allowed to rule over others.

If only a small percentage of people are evil, then states are a bad idea because they'll be run by the power-hungry evil minority. Strangely enough, our governments are run by psychopaths.

> And as for the car: you and I may be happy, but Joe down the street has to breathe the same air. Was our exchange beneficial for him?

I haven't claimed anything about Joe. Do you want to make a claim about voluntary exchanges, based on what happens to Joe?

On a related note, if you've ever bought a pair of sneakers, you've motivated China (etc) to cause externalities. Was it immoral for you to buy sneakers?


> There is no fix for "corruption".

There is no fix for anything by that reasoning; we'll always have illness, accidents, crime, and browser crashes. We can improve those things significantly though, and we have and we can improve corruption.


> There is no fix for anything by that reasoning; we'll always have illness, accidents, crime

Well, the fix for corruption is for no one to have political power. Would you say the fix for illness is to be dead?


Be careful what you wish for. I don't think you intended to push the boundaries, but I'll do that for you.

Again, I consider this quite a stretch of your vision. But, imagine having supervision include things such as:

- ...Vehicle sensors. Exceeding the speed limit, making an illegal turn, failure to maintain safe distance, littering or any other violation automatically relays infraction details to relevant government agency and ticket is automatically issued

- Direct supervision of every trade (whether monetary or barter) for taxation and violation purposes

- Supervision of normally private / personal (i.e., at home) things for medical, safety and potential criminal behavior

I am not sure where the line should be drawn, but I would not feel comfortable with pervasive, unlimited supervision.


"Vehicle sensors. Exceeding the speed limit, making an illegal turn, failure to maintain safe distance, littering or any other violation automatically relays infraction details to relevant government agency and ticket is automatically issued"

35,000 people die every year on our streets because of careless driving. There's no right to privacy in what you do in public that endangers the lives everyone around you.

Killing a cityfull of innocent people every year is not some kind of civil right.

People who can't drive safely and within the law don't have to drive at all. Those who do have a responsibility to comply with public safety measures, including traffic laws and enforcement tracking. It makes little difference if that means cops or electronic tracking, except that electronic tracking can do a better job keeping us safe.

-- "supervision of every trade (whether monetary or barter) for taxation"

I don't know why you're shilling for tax evasion, either. And I'm a libertarian: I don't like the taxes, but that's no excuse to cheat while they're still the law.


Who is more dangerous? The traffic moving at 70 mph (which is 5 mph over the legal limit) or the car that merges into that traffic at 40 mph? In my view one is doing something technically illegal while the other is doing something technically legal but batshit insane. An automated system would ticket all the safe drivers in this scenario.

"People who can't drive safely" and people who can't drive "within the law" are two separate groups with limited overlap. And I 100% reject to your idea that they "don't have to drive at all." Driving is a necessity. (And if it isn't, let's get those idiot drivers off the road...)

Complying with "public safety measures" is not the same as driving safely. Everyone has a responsibility to do the latter and should not be penalized for it for not doing the former. I keep away from other cars and stay with the flow of traffic. That makes me a safer driver (even if traffic is doing 5-10 mph over the limit) than the guys who drive right next to each other doing the speed limit or less.

Electronic tracking doesn't keep us safer. Case in point: The shortening of yellow light timings beyond legal limits in order to increase revenues from red light cameras.

And even those red light cameras we have now have humans making all the decisions. I've triggered those cameras many, many times while making perfectly legal right turns on red.


> Who is more dangerous? The traffic moving at 70 mph (which is 5 mph over the legal limit) or the car that merges into that traffic at 40 mph?

All, one-up that one. How about someone merging into a 60 to 70 mph highway flow at 40 mph with three cars behind him that also need to merge and are now stuck behind someone creating an incredibly dangerous situation because they are (conjecture) afraid of the accelerator. I have see potentially horrific situations just like the one I described on the California 5 freeway. This is a major trucking route which is full of 18 wheelers. They, of course, keep to the right-most lanes. I saw a woman (sorry ladies, it was a woman) merge onto the freeway at what had to be 35 mph and get right in front of a semi doing at least 60. Right behind her two cars who were just stuck there desperately trying to figure out how not to get killed by this semi that had to lock all its breaks.

Nah, give me someone with years of experience (not a teenager) driving fast any time. They are generally much safer drivers than the fools who are afraid of going over the posted speed limit. I've never had a problem getting on the freeway behind someone who's got the pedal to the metal and knows how to match traffic speed and merge safely.


What I do, stuck behind such a driver, is spot it quickly and hang well back. Then I can accelerate to match the traffic behind such a dangerously slow driver. Plus, if they have their accident early, I have lots of space and time to deal with it.

Drivers behind me often misunderstand this.


Every time I am stuck behind someone merging at 40 into a 55 I whisper a silent plea for mass adoption of SDCs


Laws can't satisfy every single edge case. I have to sometimes run red protected left turn lights (very carefully) on my motorcycle because they don't sense it. Sometimes you have to swerve out of your lane due to an emergency, etc.

We have judgement for a reason. I also feel like the current fines associated with various law breaking have the expectation that not all of the behavior will be captured and thus it's rather high. If I got an automatic $5 fine every time I went 10 mph over the limit I might be more amendable to it than if it was $300 each time (as it is now). Again, if I am speeding 15 over in the middle of a deserted highway it's different than doing so in a residential area.

Also per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_i... I would not say ALL of those deaths are caused by "careless driving". In fact the majority is probably due to alcohol, falling asleep, etc. although I suppose you could consider being drunk while driving "careless".


Driving while tired (including driving for too long without a break) is careless. If you are tired enough, I believe the impact on your reactions can approach that of you being tipsy.

I have driven after working 30ish hours straight and think it's something best avoided.


Driving while tired can well surpass tipsy. http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/about-this-sho...


Just because our laws are poorly suited for new technology doesn't mean we have to be stuck with the tech we have. With more automated traffic enforcement, our laws would have to better model our expectations, as you point out. If we had speed cameras on 100% of roads, I doubt people would be okay with $300 fines for speeding, so it's bound to change.


That's a cute notion. It's exceedingly rare for a law to disappear once it's on the books, while mission creep for current laws is all too pervasive.

The idea that people balking at fines will cause the fine amounts to drop is equally silly. Consider the times the (local / state / federal) government introduces a temporary tax ... or builds a road that will only at first be a toll road. All too often, these temporary things become permanent fixtures.


>35,000 people die every year on our streets because of careless driving. There's no right to privacy in what you do in public that endangers the lives everyone around you. Killing a cityfull of innocent people every year is not some kind of civil right.

And who said that amount is big?

Perhaps it goes with the territory -- driving machines that weight a ton for hundrends of miles with 70 mph, and it's not just the driver going 5 miles over the limit, but other factors that could be statistically inevitable despite any surveillance.

>I don't know why you're shilling for tax evasion, either. And I'm a libertarian: I don't like the taxes, but that's no excuse to cheat while they're still the law.

So do you do immoral things to if they are "still the law"? Slavery was the law too at a not too distant past, as was segreggation (and some of us lived at that time too).


> There's no right to privacy in what you do in public that endangers the lives everyone around you.

It's pretty terrifying to see that argument in favor of the government tracking everyone's detailed vehicle statistics.


"John Spartan, you are fined five credits for repeated violations of the verbal morality statute."

I have to agree here, I'd have less problem if all camera feeds that the gov't has access to are available for all citizens, including police cars, etc.. at all times.

Also, the fact that discretion is rarely something one thinks of when it comes to the police or prosecutors lately with nearly 1% of the U.S. population in prison.


>I have to agree here, I'd have less problem if all camera feeds that the gov't has access to are available for all citizens, including police cars, etc.. at all times.

Remember that stalkers exist. Madison, WI did this momentarily a year or three back, and a lot of abusers and such used it to stalk and harass other people much more consistently than they could have otherwise.


>>- ...Vehicle sensors. Exceeding the speed limit, making an illegal turn, failure to maintain safe distance, littering or any other violation automatically relays infraction details to relevant government agency and ticket is automatically issued

I am afraid that this is already happening with trackers fitted by insurance companies. Going over the speed limit, or flooring it from the traffic lights is not going to get you a ticket, but your insurance premium will go up(and that can hurt more than a ticket). I hope that there always will be a choice of policies without trackers.


Regarding vehicular tracking...

I realize that there are voluntary tracking programs in-place for insurance purposes. That is the reason I specifically mentioned the somewhat fantastical thought of an automatic ticketing system for every type of vehicle-related infraction one can imagine (e.g., littering, endangering for lack of maintenance).

From what I've seen on the roads, something like this would mean crushing financial burden for many people for the first few days, weeks and months of operation. On the flip side, I think we would see a welcome change on the roads.

Wouldn't that be something? On second thought, maybe that is not such a bad idea.


We seem to have a cultural attitude that most dangerous and illegal behaviors are socially acceptable just as long as one is operating a motor vehicle. That thinking really does baffle my mind.

We have a very real privacy issue with potentially tracking vehicle movements by authorities and/or private companies. I think somehow there can somewhere be a middle ground that makes the roads safer while preserving some privacy. Perhaps?? I personality think there isn't nearly enough to deter dangerous driving at the moment.

Hopefully we just will all have self driving cars in a few years instead.


There should be a distinction made ib every discussion about this subject between "dangerous" driving and merely "illegal" driving. Sometimes they are the same, like speeding through a school zone (never do this!). But sometimes they are not, like when four lanes of traffic on a limited access freeway all decide to drive at 80mph in a 65mph zone. In that case, driving 65 would be the much more dangerous choice, as it forces other traffic to back up and make more lane changes (more opportunities for accidents).


Speeders love to argue that speeding is not dangerous. Or that THEY are such good drivers that they know how to speed safely. I am not 100 percent convinced of that. The reason being is humans are very, very bad at analyzing risks as well as being very bad at analyzing their own skill. Famously 93% of drivers think they are above average in driving skill.[1] As far as cold hard facts, i don't know if they exist but government organizations claim speeding kills. The reliability of such claims of course can be challenged. Physics also tells us that if number of accidents remain constant than higher speeds during an accident would lead to more damage/death/injury.

In theory we would have safety experts analyze each road and come up with an effective speed that would be safe in optimal conditions. We don't have that unfortunately. Speed limits can tend to be somewhat arbitrary. This is unfortunate.

The other issue is, yes, it is safest when drivers are mostly operating at the same speed. How do cars all communicate with each other to set the speed? That would be issuing a speed limit. Speed limits are unfortunately set at a maximum which means driving below the speed limit is legal and potentially make the roads unsafe when everyone else is driving at or near the maximum.

It is a difficult problem that probably won't be solved until we have self driving cars. But for now i think we are not taking the human element of road safety as serious as i believe we should be. Road accidents are a MAJOR cause of death in people under 25. On the engineering side we have made huge strides in engineering safer cars and roads.

[1] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/00016918819...


>In theory we would have safety experts analyze each road and come up with an effective speed that would be safe in optimal conditions

That would be nice, but it's important to recognize that 1/4 of accidents are weather related. Often that is because they were going over the maximum safe speed at the time, even though it was below the posted speed limit. Per the NHTSA only somewhere around 10 to 15% of accidents are directly related to speeding, the most likely cause of an accident is inattention.


Ah, what we really need then are eye trackers in cars. Look off the road for more than two seconds? Ticket! Not watching your mirrors? Ticket! Change lanes without checking your blind spot? Ticket!


I believe I've heard of cars that will make an obnoxious noise if you appear to be falling asleep.


Part of the problem with this argument is that safety is often not the real motivation behind any particular speed limit.


On one hand, yes, I agree. But on the other - insurance companies will want to decrease their risks as much as possible. Which means that they will penalize everyone for accelerating faster than at a snails pace, for going into corners so you start leaning to the side a little bit, and of course for driving late at night. At which point, there will be absolutely no point in buying anything other than a 1.0L self-propelled shopping carts.

I know HN is extremely anti-car sometimes, but there are people(like myself) who enjoy driving. And by "enjoy" I don't mean going 100mph on country roads and overtaking like a maniac. I just like the physical act of driving, and I feel like having every one of my reactions judged by an insurance company to penalize me would kill any enjoyment I might have had left.


It would be nice if several US states could do this, and people could move there, and we could stand on the sidelines and see how it works out.

People could pick and choose where to move depending on what they like. One state could be mass surveillance and one could be anarchy. Or you could stay in a moderate state that is centrist and acts a lot like what modern states do.

It would be a lot better than the broad supernational control states and companies can have over policy and society. There is no political experimentation anymore and that really sucks.


> People could pick and choose where to move depending on what they like.

People may be legally free to move between states, but certainly very many are not economically free to move between states.

> There is no political experimentation anymore

There certainly is significant political variation between the states, with some of those single-state variants becoming popular and spreading.

There may not be changes in the direction you want or on the issues you care about -- but that's different than an absence of political experimentation.


What you say is technically true, but kind of misses the point. Historically variation between the states was so great that today's variation is practically indecernable. Political experimentation still exists, but is difficult, because of strong centralized government. A strong centralized government makes some experimentation impossible and other experimentation gets pushed to the federal level even if not appropriate to the nation at large.


Ideally by the time we get to that point of surveillance we'll have sufficiently advanced self-driving vehicles such that driving infractions will no longer be a thing.

Most financial transactions that hit the banking system at some point can already be tracked and audited. Arguably many people who elude that are basically ripping off the rest of society. As far as banks cheating people, maybe that kind of surveillance could help curb that?

Definitely would need to be careful about how far it pervades in to private life. Maybe it's impossible to limit, in which case it's probably a bad idea.


We'll just have to get used to it, then. Tinier and tinier cameras get built every year. Imagine a limit - dust motes that record and relay, blown by the wind and carried by your clothes, hair, pet into your home. Anyone can tune in to anyone, anywhere.

The only hope I see is new social rules. Can't stop people from peeking into everything; but CAN have taboos against mentioning it. So the illusion of privacy maintained, which is all people need to keep sane. Already cultures have rules like this, especially where folks lived in close confinement.


This feels like such a cop-out philosophy: just get used to it and don't bring it up in polite company. This reeks of cognitive dissonance.


No, its bowing to the inevitable. There is actually no way to avoid loss of privacy due to technology. It would be like asking everyone to quit breathing your air. Its not a cop-out to concede that, and work from there.


That all would be OK if we also had drones that followed politicians and senior civil servants 24/7 and streamed video and audio to any citizen who wanted to check up on them.


> I would prefer to live in a society that was 100% supervised, if the laws of the society were sensible.

Don't forget the enforcement of laws. In my estimation, the entire legal system of a 100% supervised society would have to be significantly better than any legal system that has ever existed for the advantages of surveillance to outweigh the disadvantages.


Yeah, and then a despotic (or perhaps just idiotic) government takes over. And they have the 100% surveillance machinery in place to use as they please.


And it's those nonsensical laws that are the problem, not surveillance. Limiting surveillance doesn't help solve any of that, it just makes enforcement more arbitrary.


The article contained a story which directly disagrees with your last point.

http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2849#comic

Surveillance may result in more evidence that could potentially allow for better enforcement. However, people run these systems. Centralised surveillance gives a minority of people more power. As seen in the article, this power is abused, because there is nothing else to balance this power.

All these arguments talk about the benefits of surveillance without looking at the social relationships of how real-world surveillance is implemented. Like privacy tools, surveillance is just a tool. Without looking at the social relationships, one can make any argument in favour of, or against, these tools.

Centralised surveillance run by security forces, by nature will overestimate what crimes are being done, and allow the people in charge the ability and incentive to overinterpret innocent acts inappropriately.

CCTV rescuing you from drunken arguments is only one very small part of what CCTV can and will become.


And then you can never foresee what that data is going to be used for in the future. Nazis used "completely innocent" records held by countries to find out where Jewish families lived so they could find them and put them in camps. The less the government knows about you the better.


And if the records had been complete video of those peoples' everyday lives, those Nazis might have felt some empathy for the people they were exterminating, and reconsidered their positions. Anyone can make up whatever arguments they want about history, since it's not a repeatable experiment.


And if such behaviour was ever found, the gas chamber ate another person. The Nazi government did not take well to dissenters, especially among the armed forces.


Yes, the Nazis were bad. How insightful.


Well, the point is at there always were bad people and bad governments. You can't just say that history is not a repeatable experiment, so we are just going to gamble with our private info in hopes that we never get another Stalin or Hitler. I mean, you absolutely can, please feel free to, but I would rather not, thank you very much.


There's more to it than just hope. With sufficient surveillance and recording, you will know you are getting another Stalin or Hitler long before he takes power.


I disagree. Hitler didn't come to power on the promises of gassing millions of people to death - that came later. Actually, if you watch his speeches he had some good points and if you heard someone like him today you could even call him patriotic. And even if you could tell that someone of that attitude is coming to power, what are you going to do if the government already has your data? Protest?


You're looking at it the wrong way. It's not a matter of abusing power or not. That power is destroyed when people realize that privacy doesn't exist. You are worried that someone will record you picking your nose? Instead of banning such recordings, how about changing society to one that accepts that everyone picks their noses?


That is not a realistic scenario. Not everyone kisses people of the same gender. Not everyone wears religious head garb. Not everyone vomits in the street.

A free society is one where people are free to question social norms, express themselves, and act in ways that don't violate others' rights. A society with ubiquitous surveillance is no longer a free society because people cannot freely and openly question social norms through action, express themselves, or act in ways that may be annoying or unbecoming but which do not violate others' rights. In a surveillance society, even one where "everyone knows", these behaviors are implicitly and globally discouraged by the act of recording all behavior and saving it in perpetuity.

I recommend reading about chilling effects < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilling_effect >.


Sure they can. They might choose not to out of paranoia or cowardice, but that already happens today. Chilling effects are the result of vague laws and inconsistent enforcement. Universal surveillance solves that problem, it doesn't exacerbate it. There's much less need to speculate about whether you will be convicted of assault for punching this person when you can review every single alleged assault of the last 20 years and whether each defendant was found guilty.


Or people might not choose to exhibit borderline behavior out of rationality. That is, in the recent past, there were consequences for borderline behavior but the leverage of any single actor was no where near the leverage you are proposing.

If you read the wikipedia article, you will find that chilling effects are not only the result of vague laws and inconsistent enforcement but also the result of any legalistic behavior that might cause others to self-police or self-censor.

As for your assertions about universal surveillance, I find your position has a number of serious conditions:

1. It requires total surveillance of everyone.

2. It requires totally unambiguous laws and norms.

3. It requires total stasis of society.

4. It requires total faith in system by the governed population.

There are two major issues with this position:

1. Society must transition to this system somehow and survive.

2. People and systems in the material world are imperfect and we have no existence proof of any social system which achieves anywhere near the requisite levels of assurance.

I can only see this kind of system working in a society with 0 or 1 people in it. That is to say, I believe what you propose is impossible to enact by its very fundaments.

However, you continue to argue that attempting to create such a system is desirable. Due to this, I can only fathom that either:

1. You are a naive totalitarian.

2. You are a long-playing troll.

Because of this line of reasoning, I must conclude that the attempt to bring your proposed social system into being will not succeed and that the intermediate state will be much worse than the present state as totality will never be reached but concentration of power will corrupt.

If you insist that your proposed system is possible, how will you deal with dissenters such as myself who will refuse to live inside such a system? Doesn't the existence of dissent mean that you cannot reach totality? Or perhaps you believe that such a system can be made to accommodate dissent? What if the resistance is violent? Should the surveillance state kill anyone trying to resist its total surveillance, total laws, total stasis, and total faith? That would surely solve the dissent problem but perhaps the result would be neither stable nor pleasant...


You will die of old age long before this society is even possible.


An excellent reason for us to not attempt to hasten its arrival lest we be stuck in a terrible intermediate state.


“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”


You're talking about a theoretical world where absolutely no-one has any privacy, even presidents, security guards, etc.

In the real world, there is lots of asymmetry. This asymmetry is absolutely critical when making ethical considerations.


Yes, I'm talking about the world that we should work towards realizing. Wasn't that the entire point of this discussion?

Obviously it will take some time. Even if we recorded everything everyone ever did starting 50 years from now, which is still quite a stretch, it would likely take another 150 before we could be certain that every living person had been under surveillance for their entire lives.


No, that wasn't the entire point of this discussion. You give no consideration on how to achieve your supposed scenario, whereas everyone else has considered how the ways of doing this proposed by the state, would lead to horrific crimes.


I thought your whole objection was that these acts were not crimes, but should be.


Arbitrary (in the sense of limited) envorcement of the laws is what makes society tolerable.


I strongly disagree. I think that laws should be enforced 100%. If we (the society) wouldn't like that, it means that our laws suck, and need to be changed.


The problem is some laws will always suck, and those in power are either bad or idiots.

So one is a harder nut to crack.

Until we solve the "laws are now all good" problem, is better to have some breathing space ("at least we can bypass some").

To put it in another way, they estimate that each of us commits three felonies per day (from obscure BS laws, edge cases etc).

Not sure if accurate, but even if it's one per year, would you want to go to prison now for that shit in the hope that there would be some backlash and those laws will change?


> Not sure if accurate, but even if it's one per year, would you want to go to prison now for that shit in the hope that there would be some backlash and those laws will change?

Well, yeah, obviously. In a year, everybody would be in jail, so I assume that, "yes", the laws would change. That's the point: if even absurd laws are 100% enforced, we'll soon realize how absurd they are, and repeal them!


Well, it's not that easy.

For one, 100% enforcibility due to technology, can also just mean 100% enforcibility to THOSE persons those in power don't like. If, for example, you can know immediately when someone violates law X (because of advanced technology), you can still select to apply that to those you want to target only. (One can imagine the McCarthyism government using that knowledge to target "commie sympathizers, or the apartheid govervnemt against blacks, dissidents etc).

(a) some violations being 100% detectable (which is what technology can offer) and (b) fines/jail being enforced to 100% of the violators (which is a policy issue) is a totally orthogonal thing. And since we can't trust policy decisions, I wouldn't like having (a) either.

Second, even if we have (a) and (b), how about when it's not for all laws? (which realistically, it wouldn't be).

If any drug use is immediately detected with some future technology and its use punished, for example, tons of heroin users, who otherwise have done nothing wrong besides possession, would go to jail. And it's not necessary that this will have a big enough backslash to repeal the relevant law (after all, all the marijuana laws that affected millions weren't repealed for decades). To continue with this example, I'd still like most drug addicts to be free, even if the occasional unlucky one is caught.

I don't like perfect 100% systems -- I prefer things to have cracks, is what I'm saying. It's more human.


I would prefer to live in a society that was 100% supervised, if the laws of the society were sensible.

Wow, just wow. It boggles my mind how anyone could say that. So you'd really rather live in a world where you're under constant surveillance, your every move, word, action, behavior constantly tracked and recorded for all perpetuity? If so, I just have to say, I can't even begin to imagine the thinking behind that.

Personally, I would consider that world to be completely evil and dystopian, and would work to undermine, destroy, damage and subvert the "supervision" in any way I could.


Yes, but not in the 1984 sense - in the sense that everything is public, and secrets don't matter, because nobody cares.

Basically, I reach this conclusion from my desire to have robots that would assist us. Obviously, to have omnipresent AI that can help you with your life, you need to have it "perceive" the world - i.e. 100% surveillance. Furthermore, you wouldn't want this AI to just "forget" stuff, so you want it to remember things forever. As I said, this doesn't work with our current repressive political system that prohibits many victimless activities, but it could work in a different world (e.g. the fictional Australia in the story Manna [1]).

[1] http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm


What is “sensible” or not is extremely subjective. If you propose that your standards should apply, you are effectively proposing to become a dictator.

Also: If technology improves over time, and cool technology increases willingness to give up personal privacy, we have a bit of a situation brewing:

http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?id=3370#comic


The real problem is political power. Laws are irrelevant once political power reaches outright tyranny, as it's done countless times over the course of history.

The US and England are leading the charge to show the Western world that having rulers is still a bad idea, just like it was when Stalin was in power. Will we ever learn?


What a wonderful example.

Never seen or heard of anything like that happen.

I lost my phone two years ago on a railway station in the city of Frankfurt (Germany). Two guys forced it from me with one pointing a knife at me and ran away. Three levels up through hallways full of cameras. I waited for an additional ~20mins (collecting information from bystanders). Nobody appeared. Not even the police one of the bystanders called...

The situation we have here is exactly what the CCC and all the anti-surveillance movements said when the hype for cameras all over began. They said back than that we'll have less police and security on the streets and we'll lose the control of the data recorded there.

Today even the smallest bus company has cameras in their bus. Even if they can't afford to clean the bus properly. Open drug market places have been moved to shady side roads where crime rose. Videos of people being beat up in front of cameras became popular and seem to become popular until media stopped reporting and playing the videos. And so on.

I don't see the whole thing work out. Cameras create a false security hole that allows to cut down money where it would have been better invested: in police officers on the streets. What happens to all the collected data, I don't even want to know anymore. Btw I've heard a polish city is recording audio also. Isn't it nice? They even prevented some crime with it...

Btw. the Police was unable to get the videos from my robbery. "Technical reasons".


This is covered in David Brin's book The Transparent Society:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Transparent_Society

There are actually a lot of benefits to surveillance like this, but we need to be able to watch the watchers, so to speak.


There is a book. "The Circle". Proponents of transparent societies should read it IMHO.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Circle_%28Eggers_novel%29


In England we have The Surveillance Commissioners who should do a reasonable job of oversight.

https://osc.independent.gov.uk/


But how can we be sure? Maybe we need another level of oversight...


humans are guaranteed to drop the ball at some point in time


Very recently in Baltimore, MD, USA, a woman's abduction from an empty street was caught on video. A couple days later, her bank card was used in another city to withdraw money. The video from the bank, along with the video from a nearby gas station helped identify the captor and save the woman.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/t...

Edit: Earlier story with original street video:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/la-na-nn-reward-abducted-philade...


To go along with that, the captor was nabbed because his car had a built-in GPS tracker, installed by the dealer to deter theft.

Don't worry, it was in the fine print somewhere.


Some details here:

http://news.yahoo.com/abducted-philadelphia-woman-rescued-ma...

The second paragraph is apropos:

> A woman snatched off the streets was rescued with the help of a GPS tracking device that had been installed on the suspect's car by the dealer in case it needed to be repossessed, authorities said Thursday.

> It was just the latest arrest made possible by the surveillance technology that is seemingly everywhere nowadays. And it involved not just GPS but surveillance video, traffic-camera imagery and a left-behind cellphone.

Edit: Also from the above article regarding traffic-cam:

> Her rescue came after authorities spotted the used-car dealer's name on a traffic camera photo of Barnes' vehicle and recognized the dealership as one that routinely puts GPS devices on its cars, said sheriff's Capt. Jayson Crawley, of Charles City County, Virginia.

> "We called the dealership, and within five minutes they had the location," he said.


An interesting story but I'm not sure of your exact point. Do you mean surveillance has some benefits? Of course. There is good and bad to everything, including asbestos, lead, authoritarian government, plastic shopping bags, and even COBOL.


I toured the council CCTV office where I live, and was impressed by the fact (well, claim) that it was operated by council employees, not police officers (seemed true), and that the police could ask them to look out for things or for footage, but any kind of operational use by the police required high-level authorisation (the reverse wasn't true; as the parent indicates, the CCTV operators can and do alert the police to crimes and direct them to the perpetrators.)

That reassured me it couldn't at that point be used as a dragnet. Obviously there is a slippery slope issue involved though (the article claims congestion charge ANPR cameras are being used by the police indiscriminately because "terrorism"), so I'm not sure if I'm totally happy with it.


The people you visited probably had nothing but the best of intentions. But to expect all those other thousands with similarly elevated privileges to behave similarly as such would be..short sighted indeed.


I agree, it's not easy to get right. But this is a general problem of Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Two things that are protective in the CCTV case are:

- Policy: having police and CCTV operated separately is protective - both have to collude for things to go badly, like any government separation of powers.

- Technology: one example of this is the cameras had preprogrammed "no-dwell" zones - areas the pan/tilt/zoom of the camera is not allowed to stay in (e.g. windows of residential buildings). Although this could be overridden, there was an operational log where such overrides had to be justified, which feed back into oversight policy above. (They demoed this, then had to write into a logbook that they had done so.)

In general, CCTV is a force multiplier, but not excessive - the council could pay people to stand around in the street taking notes for example. The use of unmitigated ANPR with permanent recording – that is something else.


> I toured the council CCTV office where I live, and was impressed by the fact (well, claim) that it was operated by council employees, not police officers (seemed true), and that the police could ask them to look out for things or for footage, but any kind of operational use by the police required high-level authorisation (the reverse wasn't true; as the parent indicates, the CCTV operators can and do alert the police to crimes and direct them to the perpetrators.)

> That reassured me it couldn't at that point be used as a dragnet.

Who gave you the tour? How do you know those procedures are followed? Is there any reliable oversight on what they actually do?

There are many cases of procedures like that not being followed. In fact, most organizations I've worked in, in any field, have a difficult time following procedures.


Police and courts are usually pretty chummy with each other, how does that not apply to council employees and local police departments funded by such councils?


UK police departments are not funded by councils. They are funded in two ways: A precept issued to council tax collection authorities, and grants from the Home Office.

Note that the precept is set by the police, not by the council - the councils have no authority over police spending.


>UK police departments are not funded by councils. //

When council tax has an earmarked additional portion specifically noted to be for police funding I think you're clutching at semantics. UK Police are in part funded from council tax garnishing, a precept as you say.

Where I am at least [in the UK] the police commissioner details a request based on a proposed budget which is put to a panel "the police and crime panel" which sit to set the funding that will be made. The panel comprises members of the local councils and they must vote as to whether to endorse an agreed budget and so collect the tax to pay for it.

The distinction you seem to be making doesn't appear to be there. The police and council set the budget between them effectively, councillors having veto powers, the council collect the money as part of council tax.


> he flip side of the coin but personally now feel much safer when in an area with CCTV.

Considering what British city centers are like around chuck-out time, why can't we have some police out on foot patrol around that time? It's not that the areas around the lager palaces are no-go zones, but then I'm not that comfortable around lagered-up yoof either.

With CCTV cameras you have a better chance of arresting a drunk hool after he has committed an assault, but with police out they will think twice before picking an argument. Cameras might help solve crime, but proper policing is preventing crime before it occurs. Besides, I don't appreciate having my every movement stored on tape.


There often are police wandering around at chuck-out time. However, they are spread fairly thin on the ground, simply because there aren't that many of them. Using CCTV in this case allows the police to be directed to where they are needed, increasing their effectiveness and reducing the tax-payers' cost of policing.


I live in Croydon (for those who don't know, it's one of the largest London Boroughs; there are 30 of them), and here there's huge numbers of police around the town centre all weekend. Last Thursday I was out walking around 10pm, and passed at least a dozen in five minutes when I walked past some of the bigger clubs, as well as an ambulance on standby, and that is fairly standard for the readiness here.

Most of the time they're just hanging around chatting to people, or making sure people are ok. With the added fun of making sure nobody gets run over when the clubs close and people spill into the road.

Despite the jokes (Croydon has a bad reputation; mostly undeserved these days), Croydon is about average for London boroughs when it comes to crime, and far better than Westminster (which has the biggest concentration of London nightlife).

Basically in boils down to whether or not the local forces choose to prioritise presence at night, since it's obviously more expensive.


Didn't England experiment with never closing the pubs so people weren't all dumped on the street at the same time, with the idea it would reduce fighting?


IMO as this was handled by police trained for city center brawling, it would have been almost the exact same outcome without CCTV. They may have arrived slightly later, but if you were in the city center near the pubs/clubs, there's often a minimum of 10 officers hanging around


Arrived slightly later and not known who the perpetrator was or have admissible evidence to that effect. The guy had already run away onto another street - it's likely he wouldn't have been caught.

It also very much changed the officer handling us behaviour I would imagine, as usually in such brawls they detain everyone then get he said/she said stories. Instead he knew the guy had run across the street after we hadn't even acknowledged him, so knew my friend was the "victim".


Of course, the CCTV only helped with the consequences of, amongst other things, excess alcohol consumption, apparent north/south hatred, and people with a violent nature apparently looking for a fight / easily provoked. I don't know if throwing money at a cultural change (i.e. drink less alcohol, love your southern neighbours, don't punch people) would've been more effective than throwing money at creating a surveillance state though.


I think this is not a great line of thought. Sometimes root causes are being ignored and dealing with symptoms is stupid.

At the same time, all problems are never solved. Crime exists and it demands a response from police and courts. It's very "let them eat cake" to suggest that crime in Soho next friday be addressed by dealing with drinking culture and making sure no one is allowed to leave Manchester.

We can do both at the same time, but we can't not respond to a bottle attack with police.


Also that cause and effect aren't so cut and dry on social issues. A good neighborhood doesn't need a strong police presence because it has little crime. This is very much socioeconomic. Of course, if it becomes a bad neighborhood, bow are you going to ever improve its socioeconomic status until you make a dent in the crime and gang problem so you can give a chance for your social programs to actually work?


I understand where you're coming from, but I have a complete opposite view here. The idea of 24/7 monitoring by government authority is something that disturbs me a great deal - the very thing that makes you feel safer makes others under attack.


But your friend still got punched, so what exactly did you gain from being surveillance? Getting a drunk guy to spend a night or two in jail?


First, if you believe in policing and the justice system at all, you think it's a good thing when the right person is punished for a crime, even if it's a small punishment for a small crime.

Second, it prevents the wrong person from being treated as the problem. Without immediate hard evidence that video gives police, both men could easily treated be treated the same. They could all spend a couple of nights in jail. That's a good win.


First, if you believe in policing and the justice system at all, you think it's a good thing when the right person is punished for a crime, even if it's a small punishment for a small crime.

I think it's silly to have such a black and white view. Whether it's a good thing or not depends on the actual situation, that is, if it's actually likely to have a positive effect on people's lives.

That doesn't mean the cops shouldn't have arrested him - it's their job to uphold the law - but I don't think much was gained by having him arrested, no.

Second, it prevents the wrong person from being treated as the problem. Without immediate hard evidence that video gives police, both men could easily treated be treated the same. They could all spend a couple of nights in jail. That's a good win.

Well, sure, we can invent hypothetical scenarios to justify anything. But if imprisoning everyone when the situation is not clear is a method frequently employed by the local police, I'd argue that you have a different problem to fix.


Are you really saying that not much was gained in the punishment of someone who, unprovoked, assaulted a complete stranger? Do you not think their experience will cause them to think twice next time they have an impulse to act like this? Nor that it's a net positive when society sends them a message that this is NOT acceptable behaviour?

All I can say is that I'm very glad you're not in charge.


All I can say is that I'm very glad you're not in charge.

Well, we can agree on that :)

But I'm not saying he shouldn't be arrested, or that it isn't a net positive to send a message to violent aggressors. I just think what will actually happen is that he'll pay a fine and possibly spend a night in jail, control himself for a month or so, and then carry on as usual.

And even that is still a positive effect, I just don't think it justifies pervasive surveillance of the streets. It's not like it actually prevented to guy from getting beaten.


> Do you not think their experience will cause them to think twice next time they have an impulse to act like this?

There it little evidence that it does. Punishment in general has extremely low utility when it comes to changing behaviour.

There may be value in some degree of punishment to satisfy societal needs, and there may be some value in incarceration to keep some particularly dangerous people off the street, or if the incarceration is used to enable training to reduce the chance of re-offending, but punishment alone is not an effective way of reducing negative behaviours - criminal or otherwise.

In some situations it's even directly counter-productive.


punishment alone is not an effective way of reducing negative behaviours - criminal or otherwise.

Yeah, we're gonna need a source.


I think we're in danger of getting to a youtube comments 'you-stupid-no-you-stupid' argument here but that said, I think you're being somewhat unrealistic about the real world.

One of the things police do is keeping the peace. Getting in fights outside of bars at 3am is disturbing the peace. IE, people don't feel safe when that is common. When police show up, most everyone is drunk, angry, scared, etc. They don't know what happened. Sometimes they can work it out from talking to people but a 4 minute investigation and witness statements from a bunch of drunks is not all that reliable. They need to do something to keep the peace. So, they might arrest all involved or some or sternly send them all home. Video solves that problem. They know how done it.

On the philosophical note, I think outcomes are important. Prison systems producing 80% re-offence are a failure. That said, I also believe in justice. I want rapists, murderers and assailants to go to jail regardless of harm reduction or rehabilitation. If there were 10 of us on a deserted island and number 8 beats up number 6 because he's angry or drunk or somesuch, coconut hull lashings would ensue.


Psychologically, there is a very real difference between the fear of getting assaulted and the fear of getting assaulted and the person who did it getting away with it.

People on HN may insist that the way the rest of the world acts is silly, but that says more about HN than the rest of the world.


Clearly this isn't an HN vs the world issue, since I seem to be the only dissenting voice.

I can see the difference if I feared he was out to get me; I certainly would feel safer with him caught. But a drunk guy who punches you because of a joke you said will still punch you the next time he's drunk. I just don't see his night in jail as fixing the issue in any way.


There is also a very clear difference with the way the British feel about CCTV and the way Americans feel about it. This is largely down to the perception of what goes on behind the cameras.

In the States it seems that far fewer people trust their government than those in the UK. I know there are areas of serious distrust with the police in the UK, but I feel that the majority of the population still have the perception that the police are to be trusted. I honestly don't have that same feeling about Americans...

Of course, that opinion is largely biased by the media. As are most of my perceptions about America/Americans - but then, perhaps Fox News/CNN and other partisan media (which appears to engulf more and more American media by the day) aren't the best choices to form clear objective opinions about the environment and the world around me. It becomes harder and harder to watch American TV and remain objective about life. It's no wonder the NRA are so fearful about their guns being taken away. Perhaps if media sensationalism (driving almost constant fear uncertainty and doubt) weren't so pervasive, people would spend less time living in fear and be more trusting of the government oversight... like the British.

In the UK, CCTV has largely been seen to be a good thing. The corrupt are eventually found and dealt with - well, enough to keep the public placated to allow the remainder of the corrupt to continue unabated; that is, until the next can no longer be swept under the rug and hidden from public purview and they too are dealt with.

So the question really comes down to trust. The British media doesn't tend to sow the seeds of distrust and fear into the British people... and so we don't really tend to fear CCTV like Americans do. 1984 and Animal Farm didn't appear to have the terrifying impact on our psyches that they did with Americans. I am skeptical I would feel the same way if I were brought up in America.


It's definitely black and white. As a British person, I laughed out loud when on a train hearing an American family:

Little Girl: "Do people love the government here"

Father: "Yes, they do"

Which is very very far from the truth, we are a highly cynical country... sure we like the NHS and BBC, but certainly not the MPs that run our country.


It is worth considering that when people outside the UK and people in the UK talk about CCTV in the UK, people tend to have very different views of what the UK CCTV usage is actually like.

Outside the UK it appears a lot of people imagine CCTV in the UK is pretty much a massive network of police/authority monitored cameras.

But the vast majority are privately owned, non-networked cameras exclusively monitoring private property, with no operator paying attention, and where the chance anyone will ever see you on the recording is pretty much nil. If the camera is even recording properly in the first place.

The use of actually live-monitored CCTV under police or council control is mostly limited to small portions of city centres, and even then mostly in larger towns. For the simple reason that it is too expensive and inefficient to use outside of certain types of "hotspots" which frequently have large crowds of high numbers of easily spotted crimes.

Outside of those areas, it's not uncommon for police to be totally uninterested in even trying to obtain the footage, because the odds of actually managing to identify someone are fairly low.


I'm neither American nor British, though, I'm from continental Europe.


Apart from prosecution, another benefit is deterrence. As the word gets out that CCTV operators are actually reacting to crimes in progress in real-time, at least the less drunk bad guys will think twice before attempting anything within the surveilled area.


Well, maybe. Has that been measured? I just don't see a great number of guys being drunk enough to punch people over a joke but not too drunk to remember the CCTVs.


He got fined about £300, which hopefully taught him a lesson.


lol you mean he stole a further £300. Fines are not there to teach a lesson. Poor people can't pay so steal, rich people can afford to pay so do. Who does this arrangement benefit if not the victim?


He was a soldier in the Army, so very likely he got reprimanded rather strongly by his CO. I am not sure where "poor" and "rich" people come into this?


fixed fine, variable means to pay, interests me.


The OP "managed to break it up." What if he hadn't managed?


If only "Minority Report" actually existed, eh?


The friend would have been punched anyway. The advantage was the (potential) prosecution.


The flip side to your flip side is that the cameras, for a number of reasons, do not always work. I remember dealing with a case of robbery, and it turned out that the camera was not working (either itself, or the transmission of the video to the center where they are monitored). This was some 7/8 years ago though, and the technology may have improved.


(Genuinely curious): what do you mean that this is the flip side here?

In your case the camera not working doesn't seem to have caused any further harm (which is how I'd interpret "the flip side of the flip side" in this context).

It not working isn't helpful of course, and I can think of possible circumstances where it might have made things worse (removal of guards because of the camera etc), but these appear somewhat marginal (and are missing from your comment). One could equally argue that even a non-working camera provides a deterrent effect (eg, the "dummy" cameras one can buy).

What am I missing?


In that case, the presence of the cameras gave a sense of security that was unwarranted. It didn't prevent the crime from happening, but did let the citizens think that that their presence would detract criminals, which it didn't, at least in their case, and that if there was a crime, the culprits would have a higher chance of being convicted.


To be precise, it didn't prevent that crime from happening. You seem to be assuming that the law-abiding folks reacted to the non-working camera but the criminals didn't.


As far as I remember, there is little supporting evidence that CCTV usage in the UK have much effect on crime rates.


If you want to get a negative one just try to fight for something that goes against the status quo. I.e. try to exersise your civil rights for what you might consider an edge-cause (which constitutes the majority of the causes civil rights are supposed to be about).


London already is a police state, every square inch is monitored with cameras and servers equipped with licence and face detection capabilities. While there are some upsides, the down considerably outweigh them.

As an aside, and being from the UK, I wouldn't say it's common to make jokes about being from the north or south. It's also not a very good "joke".


I'm glad to hear that your situation was handled well.

With that said, would you like to take your camera for a stroll by the Grosvenor Park Hotel?


Imagine a police force so corrupt and dangerous that you would rather deal with criminals yourself than having them dispatched to your whereabouts. Or you being from a minority routinely targeted by police. These are not things you'd expect or even fathom in the UK but it happens.


> Or you being from a minority routinely targeted by police. These are not things you'd expect or even fathom in the UK but it happens.

How about Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians?


Nope.


>I appreciate the flip side of the coin but personally now feel much safer when in an area with CCTV.

it reminded me Benjamin Franklin's quote: "He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither."

despite it's arguable that we are giving up freedom with more CCTV, but it scary what will happen if (when) Google Glasses will be more popular.



While the article itself was interesting (if not at all surprising), one thing that really caught my eye was the reference to 1 Bessborough Gardens.

There are few references to it online, other than a planning permission application [1] mentioning five roof-mounted satellite dishes and an oil fuelled generator, and a mention [2] that the property was bought by investors in 2006 for £45m and leased to the government.

I wonder what it's used for and why it's such a secret.

[1] http://transact.westminster.gov.uk/CSU/Planning%20Applicatio...

[2] http://csbgroup.co.uk/index.php?page=history3



Possibly on secondment between GCHQ and SIS, I understand?


A lot of the comments here are about the benefits of CCTV generally and not addressing the meat of the article (imo) regarding to the system wide automated recording and storage of personal data by government organisations without any justification.

Quoting the article: "Surveillance images attain the status of evidence for unknown crimes the moment they are created, and merely await the identification of the moment they were created for."

Ofcourse a plod watching a CCTV camera is a good thing. A network of cameras that tracks my car as it passes down every street, and stores that data in police database forever without any suspicion against me? That is a totally different thing.


As your quote implies, just because no justification exists now doesn't mean none will exist in the future. And when that happens, you will often wish you had historical data rather than having to start recording going forward. For example, if someone stole your car from the airport parking lot while you were away on a trip, and you returned 4 days later, it would be too late to help you if you start watching for your car on local cameras immediately. If you can go back in time and look at what happened, not just in your town, but when your car turned up in the big city 50 miles away, your chances of recovering your property are much better.


So whole societies should sacrifice their privacy so someone can have a hypothetical chance at recovering a stolen car more quickly?


You don't have a right to privacy in a public space.


The law disagrees with you in most jurisdictions.

You will not have the same expectation of privacy as in a private location, but most legal systems recognise that walking out your front door does not mean you automatically give up all expectation of privacy.


You are conflating two clearly distinct uses of "privacy".


You do have a right not to be followed everywhere you go. Ubiquitous ANPR is essentially a police officer/power broker tailing every car without suspicion. This is more than a violation of visible privacy.


Why is tracking if done by the police in a "slow" way (ie: cops sitting at major intersections or keeping an eye out for a flagged vehicle) OK, but if it is done automatically somehow bad?

Should all of your server logs be manually reviewed by hand for intrusion detection vs. allowing software to do it? You are both trying to track down and also stop criminals...


It isn't tracking that is bad but suspicionless, ubiquitous tracking.

Your server analogy is badly flawed because it is analogous to your cop/intersection example. A more appropriate analogy would be universal connection/request logging at the ISP level. It's not OK to have all of your society's unencrypted Web requests recorded and correlated by your government. Do you think it's OK? Why? What benefit does it confer to the people?


So is universal tracking of everyone who walks in/out of a gas station / store also bad?

No one cares or looks at the tape of you walking around the store unless there is a reason to do so. Should all passive recording cams also be stopped?


You're still not paying attention to the words I have written. The word you are missing is ubiquitous. It's not about a single location -- it's about all locations.


Or maybe if you feel that this is sacrificing your right to privacy, your definition of privacy has expanded way beyond reasonable limits. It honestly reminds me of the people who complain about legalizing gay marriage as a violation of their religious freedom.


What's a reasonable limit of government surveillance to you?


The level at which the public good being served does not outweigh the psychological damage done to citizens.


Hopefully you agree with every law that will ever be created in your lifetime.


Of course I won't. However, I recognize that repealing bad laws is the right solution to bad laws, not an indiscriminate weakening of all law enforcement.


These are automated _systems_, not individual note books. They don't operate in silos.

If no historical data is recorded, I report car stolen, my Car registration is added to a "Something has actually happened to this car" list. Cameras start actively looking for my car's reg, cameras find my car. Done?


Surely you can recognize that being able to go back and review records taken before the report happened is more effective. Arguing that another "less effective but possibly still okay" solution only makes sense if you present a reason not to use the more effective solution instead.


Not done. By then good chance the car has been completely dismantled and sold as parts.

Criminals adapt.


Exactly. Criminals know about how to circumvent the law; it serves no purpose mass collecting this data at all if it's pretence is to stop organised crime.

In the case of a chop shop the criminals might know they'll be picked up by cameras straight away, so when they steal the car they whack some fake plates on it, and we're back to not knowing anything.

What it is good at doing is tracking individuals, without any suspicion attributed to them.


Photographers being detained seems to be an unfortunately frequent occurrence in London (anecdotal belief rather than based on any numbers). There are a number of videos on youtube of people having filmed themselves being detained for the same or similar reasons. It is tricky issue; you want to prevent terrorists gaining information on the security measures of certain buildings/areas, while allowing non violent citizens to go about their day. However I fear if terrorists were to do this, they would be more subtle, using hidden cameras, or working off memory and multiple trips, so seems like the current approach only impacts genuine photographers and concerned citizens. Usually, looking at the videos on youtube, the most unsettling part is the behaviour of the security guards and police officers, though I do seem to remember one video where the police officer/PCSO was reasonable.


> prevent terrorists gaining information on the security measures

I've gotten into arguments about this before, but I still fully believe that any long-term security measure requiring secrecy is bound to fail and/or be ineffective.

It's another step of security theatre; they need to look like they're doing something otherwise if something happens they're afraid of looking like idiots (despite their measures being completely and utterly useless).


> any long-term security measure requiring secrecy is bound to fail and/or be ineffective

Well especially when the secrets are revealed to anyone stood on the street looking / taking photos...


> I've gotten into arguments about this before, but I still fully believe that any long-term security measure requiring secrecy is bound to fail and/or be ineffective.

Agree with the sentiment, especially when applied to computers, though i'm not sure how it applies to non-IT based security, because I just don't know enough about the subject.

> It's another step of security theatre; they need to look like they're doing something otherwise if something happens they're afraid of looking like idiots (despite their measures being completely and utterly useless).

Agreed. On a slight tangent, base jumpers are more than able to gain illegal access to tall buildings in the city, with all their secretive security measures. There are a couple of documentaries out there on this, one I'm confident was shot post 9/11.

My greatest concern when reading about or watching these incidents is the poor treatment of those non-violent citizens taking the photos. Ok, you have to do your job and check their photos, but why not crack a joke, apologise for the inconvenience, and check the photos quickly as possible.


> Ok, you have to do your job and check their photos

Why do they have to check their photos? That's private property.

In the UK and US at least, you do not need to show your photos to a person that tries to detain you, and you do not need to delete any photos. If you are arrested and charged with a crime, then they can inspect the photos as evidence, but not before. They still are not permitted to delete any.

Also, in the UK if someone who is not a police office tries to detain you (and this includes security guards and PCSOs), then they must be relying on the law of citizen's arrest, which means that they must have seen you in the act of committing an offense that could be tried at a crown court - in other words, something worthy of half a year or more in prison. If they have not, then they are liable to prosecution for false imprisonment and may have to compensate you.

Not a lawyer, by the way.


> In the UK and US at least, you do not need to show your photos to a person that tries to detain you, and you do not need to delete any photos. If you are arrested and charged with a crime, then they can inspect the photos as evidence, but not before. They still are not permitted to delete any.

My understanding is different for the UK. If you refuse to show a police officer the photos, they have the right to take you to a station, where they will examine the photos. Like you, i'm not a lawyer.

>Also, in the UK if someone who is not a police office tries to detain you (and this includes security guards and PCSOs), then they must be relying on the law of citizen's arrest, which means that they must have seen you in the act of committing an offense that could be tried at a crown court - in other words, something worthy of half a year or more in prison.

What you say is true about the citizens arrest, but as was mentioned in the article, my understanding was that they are able to call the police because you've been acting suspiciously, and that they have that 'right' to call the police if you are seen taking photos. They can't hold you, but then most people stay, because leaving is seen as an admission of guilt/being a terrorist. Would be nice if this was tested in a court of law, or to hear from someone who knows if it has. Even then i'm not convinced a Judge won't just say "Well, in this post 9/11 time, people should be expected to be stopped if they take photos of high value targets."

EDIT: Taking photos of a building == Acting suspiciously. Not what I believe, just what I understand is argued, often, when security guards call the police because you've been seen taking photos of their building.


In the UK, the police have the power to stop and search, including viewing images, only someone 'reasonably suspect to be a terrorist'. http://content.met.police.uk/Site/photographyadvice

It doesn't say so there, but other advice I've seen the Met. issue explicitly states that taking pictures of a building in and of itself isn't sufficient for a police officer to 'reasonably suspect' a person to be a terrorist, and taking pictures of the police definitely isn't.

The Met. keep publishing advice telling their army of goons to leave photographers alone, while at the same time winding up said army to catch terrorists. It's a farce.


Note that this advice was revised after the UK once again was slapped down thoroughly by the European Court of Human Rights, who in January 2010 ruled that the much wider stop-and-search powers granted under section 44 of the Terrorist Act 2000 were illegal.

Notice the weasel words on the page you linked, which states "The power to stop and search someone under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 no longer exists" - not mentioning that it was not merely repealed, but found to be an illegal violation of human rights.


Most security setups are't crypto. Stopping people from gaining intelligence about your operations is part of stopping attempts in the first place.

OTOH, if taking a picture of the outside of your building gives away secrets, you should probably rethink your threat model.


I still fully believe that any long-term security measure requiring secrecy is bound to fail and/or be ineffective.

A security system needs to be effective against attack. That's simple and obvious. But beyond that I think there's a very big difference between 'requiring secrecy' for the effectiveness of a system and wanting to keep something as secret as reasonably possible. Hypothetically, it could be that people attacking a system would harm civilians while capturing attackers in their planning stage (eg while they're investigating the system) would prevent danger to the public. If that was the case then keeping the system secret might well be worthwhile.

You shouldn't immediately assume that an attempt to keep something secret is 'security through obscurity'. It might be obscurity with no regard to increasing security.


> ... so seems like the current approach only impacts genuine photographers and concerned citizens.

I suspect this is also true for the FVEY dragnet surveillance.

Those terrorists who are vulnerable to such surveillance are unfit and will quickly be removed from the population, perhaps before having the opportunity to reproduce their broken tradecraft. The population of terrorists who remain adapts to evade the surveillance measures (for anecdotal data, see [1]). The result is the dragnet primarily entraps average, everyday citizens, and not terrorists.

[1]: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/26/us-reconnaissan...

EDIT: I'd like to clarify that this is purely speculation. Also, even assuming my thesis is correct, this does not mean these surveillance measures are useless; on the contrary, such surveillance can push their communications to other surveillable channels (e.g. tactical radio that can be picked up by NRO sats), or simply deny terrorists the "cyber"/electromagentic domain, which impedes their reaction speed and effectiveness.


To me, it seems that any building that would have value as a target for terrorism is so thoroughly documented by tourists and official photography that it makes no sense for a terrorist to actually risk their neck ahead of time by visiting the site. All of the necessary planning is likely most easily accomplished with high quality maps, satellite and ground images that are available online. I don't see restricting photography in public as having any deterrent effect on terrorism whatsoever, and the practice strikes me as the product of a completely naive view of modern security.

So I would argue that it's not really a tough choice in many cases. Don't, in the name of terrorism deterrence, harass people for doing things that don't impact the odds of a terrorist attack being carried out. All you end up doing is highlighting to the public the downside of terrorism defense, which ultimately probably lowers its approval of those defensive measures general in the long run.

Terrorism is an enduring threat, and to defend against it in the long run to the extent that is even possible, authorities need the public on their side. Hurting public sentiment for terrorism defensive measures increases the odds of the success of future terrorist plots. It's important only to do so when you get enough return in terms of lowering the probability of the success of future terrorist plots to compensate for the cost.

And this doesn't even take into account other factors outside of terrorism defense. Single factor cost benefit analysis should be enough to dissuade anyone who actually cares about deterring future terrorist attacks from frivolously harassing the public in the name of terrorism deterrence.


> if terrorists were to do this

There's the thing. We're really inconveniencing and harassing actual people based on a unproven, half-baked "what-if".


Which turns our police forces into proxy terrorists.


If terrorists were to do that they would just become cleaning staff for the buildings.


Because terrorists will actually care about their privacy / secrecy while they're bombing. The main issue IMO is that full camera coverage does nothing against terrorism - in fact, it's the success of terrorism, because the people (= the lawmakers, government) are scared into placing cameras everywhere.

What I'm saying is, no matter how many cameras you install, a random guy with a backpack full of explosives or poison gas or whatever won't be detected by it.


terrorists also breath a relation of nitrous oxide and regularly dose on a chemical, dihydrogen monoxide. quite reasonable to ban these dangerous substances on similar grounds, or at least detain those engaged in similar acts for further questioning.

google maps makes a mockery of their photography paranoia.


Agree, though I dont inherently disagree for being approached if you are taking pictures, the fact that there are quite a large number of anecdotal stories about law enforcement officers detaining or trying to prohibit people is just wrong.


I agree with that. As I mentioned in another comment, the behaviour of the security guards and the police officers is often the most unsettling part of the experience. To quote myself in another comment:

"Ok, you have to do your job and check their photos, but why not crack a joke, apologise for the inconvenience, and check the photos quickly as possible."


What a great article.

The sad thing about all of this is that the dinguses on the police state side are not evil monsters, they think this is the only way to protect us from some undefined attack, and if a few rights are trampled on the way, well you are going to break a few eggs to make an omelet.

It practically encourages bullies in the police force to take their will out on the people, and there is no real mechanism for justice for the citizens affected. The constant excuse "but it will make you safer!" or "think of the children!" is chanted while more and more of your privacy is eroded.

Any terrorist could simply use non-human intelligence to gather information on most structures of import, or if needed, would have a much better plan to deal with the problem of being identified as someone casing the place.


Well, that's the fundamental disagreement, really. Do you have a right to not be seen when out in public? I don't think you do, and continuing to insist on that when technology in general and recording technology in particular are only going to get better over time is a futile effort.


It's futile only if you do not regulate and control it properly.

In socialist times the citizens of my country said the same for secret police which was doing the same - and history has proven that resistance there was neither futile nor ineffective.


That's a circular argument. What constitutes "proper" regulation and control is the thing in question here.


I think it's understood that what is done in public is public, however that is not the same as having the same information recorded, analyzed with facial recognition and machine learning technology and stored for the future.


What a terrible article. It has no point whatsoever.

Worse still are the comments, featuring gems such as: > The terrorists of our world must be patting themselves on the back. This sort of “mentality of fear” is precisely what they are working towards and we are playing right into their hand.


Did you want to give a bit more detail? I can simulate dozens of arguments against someone's interpretations of the article, but it doesn't seem you are giving any beyond "it is bad".


OpenStreetMap is a great tool for visualising the surveillance state. This site is just one example: http://osmcamera.tk

Tens of thousands of cameras have been mapped already, I would urge anyone who studies surveillance like the author to put their findings in a public database so efforts will be collaborative.

More info on how to add cameras to OSM here: https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:man_made%3Dsurveilla...


The main problem isn't the presence of surveillance cameras. The problem is who has privileged access to them.

Currently it tends toward the Platonic 'Polis' model with a distinct class of people (The "po-lice") given sole responsibility for enforcement and access to the omni-panopticon(while being themselves above the law.)

However if we apply Linus' Law (with many eyes, all bugs are shallow) it makes much more sense to give access to surveillance back to the people being surveilled.


Could not agree more. Any eventuality where access to surveillance data and systems is limited to a select few, I think will turn out very badly.


Just wait till all police officers are cameras, we will come to the day where they will be able to record the entire shift, whether they are on patrol, on break, or actually in the process of arrest.

Considering how heavily license plate scanners are deployed with inconsistent protection of privacy there should be work done at a national level to regulate the gathering and retention of the data.


This is slowly (finally!) happening in a few places. It has had a hugely beneficial effect on reducing police violence[1].

[1] https://www.aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/police-body-moun...


don't get too excited, eventually they will figure out how to turn them off and lose the footage.


That's why you tie the powers granted to police to the camera. No camera, no extra powers. Ideally, the camrea is simply a built-in part of the badge.

Edge cases and any Hollywood movie-plot contrivance can be easily solved by cheap backup batteries and backup cameras, as this kind of technology is inexpensive. The very-rare and unusual situation where an officer has some legitimate reason for a camera failure, the officer can be given the benefit of the doubt an should not be prosecuted for what was clearly not his fault... if-and-only-if the incentive to cause8 that situation is removed as well: we also mandate that "no camera" means no evidence in court*

To put it another way, we simply place the court's trust in the witness less likely to be in error: the camera. Without that recording, the officer's testimony should be considered hearsay. This will, of course, make it harder to prosecute in a few rare and unusual cases. That difficulty is the entire goal, as an application of the principle that it better to let the guilty go free than prosecute an innocent person.


cops aren't going to agree to having the camera on at all times as a prerequisite for their testimony having special privilege. remember the video about why you shouldn't talk to the cops?

the situation that will emerge is as follows, if the cops cannot subvert or work around the camera tech to their advantage the cameras will be "left behind" and any excuse for that will be accepted.

that is unless one of the cops rats another out but the culture actively prevents that.


The opinion of the cops - our employees - about the requirements of their job is not particularly interesting.

Failure to follow means they should find a new job. If they decide to make a habit of "forgetting" their badge (aka camera), then they have no authority, and are not doing their job. Charge them with [attempted] murder if they shoot [at] anybody.

Compare the camera requirement with any other job's requirements: retail employees are on camera when on the job almost 100% of the time. If a an employee at the US Postal Service decided to regularly "leave behind" mail, they won't keep their job. If "mens rea" can be shown, they might even face charges.

No, the opinion of the cops was not asked for. The people that we would need buy-in from (not counting the usual politicians would need to be included to get anything passed) are the prosecutors and regulators, not the cops. The local prosecutor needs to actually go after the nastier charges whenever they might happen, or they are really just aiding-and-abetting original crime (willingly choosing to not report a felony that you have direct knowledge of is itself a felony).

The cops need to be given a choice. They can:

(1) use the cameras (and the implicit attitude changes that would require)

(2) face charges for acts that require certain additional powers while willfully ignoring the the mandatory requirements of those powers

(3) have fun on the unemployment line and/or explain to the prosecutors why they screwed up their evidence collection

While I would agree that getting the DA to prosecute is currently an issue, even a usually pro-cop DA is going to be very annoyed if all the evidence is regularly thrown out due to improper collection.


They are a law unto themselves and they simply are not going to give that up! Notionally I agree that they are your employees, but practically what your suggestion will not be allowed happen.

Put it to you this way, if I were a cop I would resign sooner than work under those conditions.


The abusive criminals resign? Awesome! That was one of the GOALS!


I think you are blinded by your own positive attitude, I was giving that as an example of the extreme resistance that would be put up.


The level of resistance the cops will put up to maintain their current status is obvious, with the armed robbery, assault, intimidation, disregard for the law, and general "violent gang"-like behavior. I expect strongly that at least some amount of actual shooting-war will be required to correct this situation.

What I'm suggesting that a necessary step in the basic concept of having a police force. The nature of the job by necessity requires us to grant some extra powers and exceptions in law to the people we hire to enforce it. Unfortunately, history shows that not only can we not trust that those powers will not be abused, we also cannot trust that the usual check against abuses of power will be implemented (or even attempted at all). Various types of regulatory capture, institutional corruption, and far too many people choosing to look the other way have demonstrated very clearly a list of methods that do not work.

The key problem in all of that tends to center around someone being able to abuse their powers freely while retaining a very high level of trust. Tying police powers to the camera separates these issues, and might be the start of a much-larger plan to fix this mess we're in. I don't expect that the people currently benefiting from the situation will like it. In fact, as they are (by definition) violent criminals, I expect the people committing the worst abuses will fight back. Hard.

I suggest we start solving that problem now, regardless of the difficulty. Power accumulates, so this will only be harder in the future. I don't have a miracle solution for how to enact these ideas - that is going to be hard regardless..


Even if that happens, it will be no worse than the status quo of not having cameras. If anything, it will look more suspicious that the camera suddenly failed before a suspect supposedly fell down 3 flights of stairs, whereas today, you're just SOL.


it's a given that footage will only be available when it's to the advantage of powers that be.

in other cases it will not be available, and obviously it will be framed to look as if it wasn't sudden. it won't be thought of as suspicious in the slightest.

i can see footage being faked also but that's probably further into the future than it simply being disappeared, it's all covered under tampering with evidence laws but you don't see those get used very often.


How stupid do you think judges are?



If making mistakes means you are stupid then your definition is so skewed it is useless.


you are too kind in thinking those are honest mistakes. judges will selectively ignore evidence, which might appear to some people as stupid, but i agree with you they aren't - so that's why i said

"selectively so".

here's some more, you give these guys way too much credit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kids_for_cash_scandal


I'm sure national intelligence agencies will have access to those biological drones, able to peek in on their cameras if and when they feel it necessary. That might even be the point of this recent push for "body cams".


So basically it's a win-win.


I find the tone of general acceptance of surveillance in this discourse deeply upsetting.


What I find ironic about the story of Photographing the CCTV cameras is that he obviously most of had a "real" camera (one that can be readily identified as an old fashioned cameras.

However, every one and their mom has smartphone with a camera attached. Yet it's the people who've invested money in more "professional" cameras that we have to be scared of (even though they are the more conspicuous users of photography.)


Copying one of the commends:

”The poor are collectively unseizable. They are not only the majority on the planet, they are everywhere and the smallest event speaks of them. This is why the essential activity of the rich today is the building of walls — walls of concrete, of electronic surveillance, of missile barrages, minefields, frontier controls, and opaque media screens.“

— John Berger “Ten Dispatches About Endurance in the Face of Walls” (October 2004)


I am very curious about one thing still - with so many traffic cameras in London, how are cars still stolen there? There have been thousands of cars stolen in London just this year, and I don't understand how? As soon as the car is reported stolen, any camera scanning its licence plate anywhere in the country should sound alarm bells at the nearest police department. Why has this not been implemented yet?


They are stolen because cameras don't stop you stealing a car. Often, by the time the car has been reported stolen it has long since been dumped and set alight.


If we all wore universal body cameras, but the recordings were encrypted with a key only the wearer knew, could we fight back against public surveillance with private surveillance?

Interesting idea. Personally, I think CCTV does more good than harm. There's no right to privacy in public places.


Some Google searches that will get you surveillance footage....

inurl:ViewerFrame?Mode=

inurl:axis-cgi/mjpg (motion-JPEG)

inurl:view/indexFrame.shtml

inurl:view/index.shtml

inurl:view/view.shtml

liveapplet

intitle:liveapplet

intitle:”i-Catcher Console – Web Monitor”

There are many more. What's going to stop the police, or anyone for that matter, from using those?


There is a serious issue with cameras in countries that have less than stellar record of protecting civil liberties. That would probably me 80-90% of the countries.

No, cameras aren't increasing security in those societies.


These comments disturb me more than the article. Saying more cameras prevent crime is like saying more logging reduces your attack surface. Let's just ditch firewalls and add kernel dumps everywhere instead. My rate is $150 an hour.

Sometimes, HNs political naivety deeply undermines their technological contributions.


> Saying more cameras prevent crime is like saying more logging reduces your attack surface. Let's just ditch firewalls and add kernel dumps everywhere instead.

What if your firewalls cost each about £30,000/yr (plus benefits), have only 40 hours weekly uptime, and you need like a bunch of them around in the city all the time for this to work at all?


Red herring. Price points on techniques that actually reduce your attack surface do not make techniques that don't magically gain abilities.

Go ahead. Disable SSH, firewalls, and VPNs and just run loggers all day. I'm sure you'll feel super duper secure then. Heuristics never fail!

My rate is $150 an hour and I will create the most perfect and secure and tiniest attack surface for your brand new logging cluster.




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