You can't defend such dragnet surveillance techniques as 'terrorist prevention'. How can I make a difference?
I don't want my country to become America 2.0 (It's already starting to look like that with water cannons on standby, internet filtering and now this).
Having spent half my life in one and half in the other it is very interesting to compare the different ways in which attitudes to privacy and personal integrity are violated.
In the UK it is normal for everything to be surveilled. CCTV on every corner and every road etc. To someone with a "rugged individualist" US attitude this is appalling. "What, what, you're going to give me a speeding ticket and you didn't even have to catch me doing it? WTF, that's not cool."
Yet in the US it is rather normal for people in authority to kill someone when the target is running away or convicted of a crime. To the UK attitude this is barbarous.
How it feels to me is that the UK tends to co-opt a lot of modern US ideas badly: without empathy or sympathy or respect for individual rights. In the US it feels like there is at least some measure of collective guilt (or at least shame) over surveillance whereas in the UK those doing it are either gleeful or at least remorseless.
The UK certainly does look too readily across the Atlantic for bad ideas. But most of the home grown ones come out of a sort of domestic colonialism and shrinking empire. British police and (para)military forces were quite capable of street violence in Kenya in the 50s & Northern Ireland in the 70s & 80s. The frontier shrinks slowly; Scottish independence comes slowly closer, seemingly with almost no violence. Newspapers dispatch foreign correspondents from London to cover Manchester and Birmingham. People in the coastal towns complain of distant government that's only an hour away by train. It's more inattentional blindness that's the problem than physical distance.
The Met's antiterrorist role has let it take on the hard edge. But there is also a public demand for aggression against those percieved as "bad". People demand that "something must be done" while being vague about what that involves and who might suffer.
Yeah, excellent point. The British need for someone, anyone, to blame and be punished for everything ever is worthy of several dissertations.
Yes, Prime Minister nailed this one:
Something must be done. This is something. Therefore, we must do it.
No sir, not me, not these days.
When I was younger, and in the US, and frequently traveling between states I did manage to rack up a significant number of speeding tickets. There were all, to use a UK term, a fair cop: I was speeding and I was caught by an officer of the law patrolling the roads who stopped me and gave me a ticket in person.
Getting them in the mail several days after the fact, without ever knowing you were speeding in the first place is a) confusing, b) not great for immediate enforcement and safety concerns.
If I'm being careless and/or distracted in one of those zones, I want to know about it immediately, not up to 14 days later after I've already plowed through a bunch of schoolchildren.
Well here they all are: http://www.longislandredlightcameras.com/
Most major roads definitely do _not_ have average speed cameras placed liberally along them. The only average speed cameras I can recall encountering are at roadworks sites (a move I 100% support) and along a couple of more scenic A-roads that are particularly enjoyable to drive along at high speed.
There are plans to introduce more average speed cameras on the new managed motorways, but I feel it is incorrect to claim they are liberally placed along most major roads.
I'd be pretty surprised if there were any average speed cameras along the A86 along Lagganside!
You may feel this. However, it does not match with my driving experience. I would suggest that as (in my experience) variable speed camera zones tend to come-and-go we may just have different experiences due to driving different roads or even driving the same roads on different dates.
I'm all for them if there are roadworks, but the problem is, is that for 90% of it, there is no damned reason for them!
On top of that, it's hard to stay aware of what speed you should be doing when it goes through: 70, 50, 30, 40, 70, 60, 50, 30, 50 (no lies) every few miles. It's a bloody farce.
From my observations (which are limited and unsystematic) some of these 'roadworks' are not roadworks but an excuse to put out an average speed check.
> On top of that, it's hard to stay aware of what speed you should be doing when it goes through: 70, 50, 30, 40, 70, 60, 50, 30, 50 (no lies) every few miles. It's a bloody farce.
This could easily be technologically solved. Why can't the highways agency publish these speedlimits in real time (with a sensible API) and allow our GPS devices (or even our cruise control) to tell us the speed limit.
I'm not saying speed limits aren't important. I basically never speed. However, there are things one could better use one's attention on whilst driving.
Again, no credible source.
Dad, if you read this I didn't mean it, you are very credible.
Made up: I thought the 10% came from the rules the speedometer is calibrated against which are +10% -0% i.e. Your speed will be 30mph but you could be doing 27. You will never be doing 31.
I guess the plus number is whatever the council have chosen to enforce. Another person from the country thinks it's 10%+2
edit: Here you go, it's a more nuanced than above. Europe's law. Read Page 8 - http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/main/wp29/wp29regs/...
Displayed (V1 ) and the true speed (V2)
0 ≤ (V1 - V2) ≤ 0.1 V2 + 4 km/h
It used to be generally accepted that you were safe doing 80 mph but with the proliferation of average speed cameras people are a bit more conservative.
10 years ago it wasn't unusual to see people doing 90 - 100 on a motorway - now it's rare.
Nope. The limit is really 70, however to take into account possible inaccuracy in your speedometer or the traffic camera, there's some leeway in place. If you start assuming the limit is 79 then if nothing else, you no longer have the benefit of that leeway. How sure are you that both your speedometer and the camera are 100% accurate?
Oh shove off.
"England/Wales: 55 fatal police shootings in the last 24 years"
"US: 59 fatal police shootings in the first 24 days of 2015"
Perhaps this is driven by the large amount of gun ownership and gun crime in the US, but I suspect it also comes down to cultural differences between police in the two countries.
Perhaps not "rather normal" but normal enough that Police are rarely prosecuted when it happens and judging by comments here and in other places, people seem divided about whether they even should be.
330 million people; ~1,000 people die by cop shooting per year (~750,000 police officers in the US), a fraction of those are likely running away or similar. So no, it's not normal by any stretch of mathematical imagination.
So yes, Americans are vastly more tolerant of police violence (to say nothing of stratospheric incarceration levels) than the British - mainly because black people are so disproportionally targeted in this country.
Indeed, among America's more reactionary elements, the unrestrained use-of-force and incarceration policies behind these figures are vehemently defended, as they provide an effective way to enforce a racially-determined class structure, even in the absence of the Jim Crow laws that performed this role until the late 1960s.
However, none of this would be acceptable if the police were equally harsh with everyone. Indiscriminate oppression is much harder sustain in the U.S. In that regard, we're quite different from the UK, where the "if you've done nothing wrong you've got nothing to hide" attitude is far more prevalent (it's a fixture in comment sections of British news sites, whereas American sites see it crop up far less frequently).
The fact that mass surveillance doesn't easily square with the more "acceptable" (read: racist) forms of police abuse in America is why Americans are far more unified in their opposition to it.
I found your thesis about the racist nature of police abuse interesting, especially how you tie it to mass surveillance.
I think you are probably right that this plays a large role in which communities and majorities will support or excuse this behavior.
I don't want to draw it too far, though. We should recognize that Muslim Americans get far more surveillance - more targeted surveillance - for merely being Muslim or having Muslim community respect. It's also true that people can and are fooled into believing and supporting principles, spurred by things like nationalism or political party identity, that actively harm or target their own minority groups.
This caveat I don't think invalidates your misgivings, which I think are good. If mass incarcernation and police abuse were as widely practiced on the wealthy or the majority there would be far more outcry.
A note to foreign readers of HN: In America, "terrorism" is an ethnically coded term. Mass shootings by white people - a depressingly frequent occurrence - are almost always described in other terms. In the rare cases where this dodge becomes impossible to pull off (e.g., the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh), the attack will be described as an act of "domestic" terrorism, thereby preserving the clear ethnic subtext that is carried by the unmodified term.
The notable exception to this rule is made for environmental activists, who are branded "eco-terrorists", or left-leaning people protesting economic injustices (e.g., Occupy Wall Street). In these cases, the deliberate use of a term with a strongly xenophobic component is a thinly veiled accusation of treason, which is a line of attack long-favored by the more belligerent critics of the American left (e.g., Joseph McCarthy, who provides the canonical example).
In the McVeigh case the FBI pronounced (and media reverberated) that the OK City bombings were a Muslim terrorist attack until it was shown, in fact, to be definitively not the case.
The language used to describe McVeigh's crimes and intentions was then continually watered down.
I'm not trying to say any of this is good, but my point is that it's incorrect to believe that it's "relatively common for the police to shoot a fleeing suspect".
I mean, it's true in an absolutely literal sense, in that having a gun makes you an outlaw, but it's wildly misleading in suggesting that the unarmed population will be subjected to a significant population of outlaws that has - somehow - managed to remain heavily armed.
To hear the NRA tell it, the law is simply a suggestion, meaning that people who choose to ignore it can do so with impunity. As places like England and Australia have demonstrated, this is absolutely not the case.
PS: The safety argument falls flat as truck driving is a significantly more dangerious job in the US. And driving is also the most dangerous part of a cops job.
Do you have a source for that? Every discussion of the number of CCTV cameras in the UK I've seen has always been talking about both public and private cameras (with by far the majority being private). Also I assume you meant to say per capita.
There are also a lot of state-controlled cameras monitoring places like public spaces in big cities, and we do have things like ANPR cameras monitoring lots of our roads, and there are genuine and legitimate privacy concerns about these technologies and how they are used. But please let's keep any discussion of them proportionate and based on the facts not the FUD. There are greater threats to privacy in this country than cameras that show you where the queues on the roads are before you set off to your London job in the morning.
Also that statistic on its own doesn't show that the UK has the highest rate unless you have number from other (similarly wealthy) countries to compare it to.
In my home city, Nottingham, because it's very hard to get a new licence at the moment, the police have such clout I heard of ridiculous scenarios where they started asking for 7 or 8 cameras in small restaurants in quiet areas of town.
Mapperley Road for reference. There were even crack whores on Google Street View on there for a couple of years...
So not that surprising. Also Mapperley Road leads onto Forest Road East, which at least used to be a notorious red light district and always have really skanky prostitutes hanging out on it.
You lived on a really bad street.
I lived 10 minutes down the road from you about 8 years ago, Zulla road. That area was really nice, although they'd recently finished a big campaign to stop robberies in the area due to, you guessed it, St Ann's residents.
I really don't think one extreme problem area should be compared to a restaurant in Hockley where all the hipsters hang out.
I think it should be compared. Hockley is right at the bottom of "Wells Road" at the arse end of St Annes and was a notorious shit hole in the early 00s.
Genuinely surprised they managed to clean the place up.
Still glad I escaped.
Hell, I don't think even the foaming-at-the-mouth UKIP eurosceptics try to claim the UK turned into a surveillance society due to the EU. Neither did the EU ask the UK to lead the global surveillance efforts in Europe through GCHQ. Not to mention the fact that it is David Cameron himself who is trying to get out of the EU's human rights framework.
Actually, if you define the solution narrowly as "undesirables on my doorstep" I suppose it is a solution; but since the wider problem is resolved by reducing the pool of undesirables for any doorsteps, only in the very narrowest sense.
Do you have evidence for this? I find it hard to believe that branches of Walmart in the US don't have CCTV cameras in them.
I am an American, and never thought there would be so many cameras.
I'm not offended when someone comments on our use of surveillance! I am offended when Americans don't seem concerned over the proliferation of cameras everywhere?
The UK seems to have a lot of visable cams. At least they can point out most of the cams?
Why do I have a sneaky suspicion the United States has more surveillance cameras than the UK, but they are hidden in very sneaky ways?
The UK is very arguably also less progressive in terms of surveillance and espionage; GCHQ seems to be even more unethical than NSA, going by a few dozen of the leaked presentations.
It's just not only about terrorism, or mostly about terrorism.
When terrorism is invoked what the public is left with is, 'oh it's used for that so that's what it's intended for'.
Surveillance is about power, plain and simple. Surveillance is information and this is the information age. Information is a weapon and it drives the world.
Intelligence on persons of interest, propaganda, censorship, 21st century census operations, information for guiding policy, protest and riot management, aid in background checks, information support for public affairs and diplomacy, detection of cyber attacks - all of these things are enabled by massive data collection and analysis systems.
There are hints, from the Snowden docs especially, and from others, that these systems are used for these purposes.
So yeah, they are used for terrorism. In the US when the Attorney General did an investigation into why the brothers hadn't been caught by the FBI and National Counter Terrorism Center, it did just that. The report named the NSA two times - ones in the opening paragraph and once in the appendix. FBI use NSA intelligence to support investigations, but the NSA is not in charge of counter-terrorism. Other agencies have asks of the NSA and yes - I think it was Drake, but maybe it was Binney? - whistleblowers have reported on these capabilities being used to do background checks (in this case on Obama before he ran for President); they've been used against journalism outfits (the Associated Press); they've been used in cyberwar; they've been used for corporate espionage; their fusion centers have been used to target political parties (Tea Party) and protests (Occupy); the UK used them for propaganda in the Falkin Islands.
Dragnet surveillance is not about terrorism. Or rather, it is not, has never been, and will never be merely about terrorism.
It already is America 2.0 with all the cameras and transport surveillance the FBI wished they had. ;)
I'm beginning to think the police in the UK have lost all interest in normal law enforcement - maybe it's just too much hard work?
Idle hands and all that...
It would save a fortune on transport costs too.
PCSOs are just pointless.
We are losing any ability to conduct neighbourhood policing, and that's entirely because the public fetishises police officer numbers, so we fire a bunch of far cheaper, more competent and specialized police staff.
A lot of crime prevention and fighting is walking through areas, talking to people and giving out leaflets. You really want PCs doing that and being paid for it?
Yes I do.
I get the impression that a lot of petty crime happens because the perpetrators know there is a negligible chance of being caught in the act.
Having police officers 'walking about' may be seen as a waste of resources by senior police officers looking to make easy cost savings. I don't think most law abiding people would agree?
I am wrong to say PCSOs are 'useless'. They are a better than nothing solution, maybe?
Desktops can also have camera(s) and / or mics disable more readily than phones.
Often you'll see the US only adopt such measures after a "trial run" in the UK.
Of course they can. They'll never be made to tell us who they were targeting or what they collected and I'm sure if they need to make a statement the government will lend them a counter terrorism team to stand with for the cameras. It's the easy thing to do, I doubt they'll do anything else if push comes to shove (unless Theresa May needs another anti-extremism news story I guess).
I think you were getting at the fact it's a ridiculous response to the supposed threat - I agree, but unfortunately at this point I don't think there's much the government won't do if they can call it terrorist prevention.
Apply the same logic to the justice system and courts would operate behind closed doors.
The public needs to know because it is the public who is supposed to oversee the authorities via the polling booth. The public should be able to assess whether the supposed benefits of this practice are valid and decide whether they want their privacy violated in order to get these benefits.
That has already happened: http://www.theguardian.com/law/2013/jun/14/what-are-secret-c...
Its pretty ok on O2 4G for me. Everything else seems congested.
Meanwhile, just about everybody who actually uses mobile networks seems to tell roughly the same story that I did before, and there seem to have been occasional more rigorous/scientific surveys that showed a definite, measurable drop in service quality on 2G and 3G over the relevant time period.
At least on Three, it doesn't come at extra cost to the customer, and I'm more than happy for capacity to be repurposed towards it.
How is it bad that people are paying for services on multi-year contracts and the quality has dropped in the middle of that period to a level where it is literally unusable in many cases? I'd say it's "complete failure to provide the fundamental part of the contracted services" bad.
how is 4G more profitable ?
Aside from everyone having to buy an entire new generation of devices to use it?
As for plan pricing, I can't tell you, because the sites of several of the mobile operators are now so bad that I literally can't find any information about pricing on them after the five minutes I've just spent looking.
I'm more than happy for capacity to be repurposed towards it.
Well, I'm happy that you're happy, but that repurposing still screws everyone who doesn't have the option to switch over right now so they get a worse service than before even though they're still paying for it and (short of actual legal action) probably still locked into their contracts.
If I didn't know better, I'd think the UK government have an 'anything you can do, we can do better' attitude about their orwellian antics.
That is literally every government project here in the UK.
Another thing to think about, if it's happening in the UK, it's probably happening in your own country too.
I'm wondering what they gather: I'm guessing that if I were to walk past one, it would be able to log a unique identifier in my phone. Then I presume it could log future visits to the area. Is this all it is? Same effect as having a CID officer in an unmarked car with a flask and an empty 2.5 litre coke bottle?
There is not much to be learned about pervasive, 24/7 dragnet surveillance from comparing it to one officer in one location. They are completely different concepts with different consequences. An officer can track a few people for a short time. Stingrays and the like can build an ongoing narrative about everyone who passes them, criminal or innocent.
Factual question: What can Stingray collect? Is it 'device number NNN was in my capture range at 095627 on June 11th 2015' and then the local police have to analyse the data over time? Or can they get more precise location information by triangulating with several Stingrays?
You should be able to get good idea of the handsets distance from the station based on timing delay.
As it's acting as a full fake site it could potentially be used to deny service, drain the battery, MiTM outgoing SMS & phone calls, possibly use the E911 provision to request GPS location from the handset too...
So My Friends in the Met could have a few of these things at sensitive points, and sit there and collect data along the lines of name (via phone number), time, date, location, device ID. Running this for some weeks would allow them to build up a list of people traversing a certain route daily.
Phone/sms could they decrypt the phone calls with the device ID? Seems a lot of data to collect given the number of people passing through many locations in central London.
It was not long ago that the FBI was revealed to be using them from light aircraft routinely:
Edit: also, you can use a cell site simulator without telling anyone who you are, whom you're interested in, or what legal authority (if any) you claim to have to monitor them.
If someone with a bit more domain expertise could point out the smoking gun here, it could be very interesting.
If you want a location, then I suggest: grab a spectrum analyser; head to Knightsbridge; tell me what happens when you get close to Hans Crescent; then look on the corner and guess why.
And, don't take your phone. Obviously.
Would you happen to have a picture of the install they have in that area?
I work for a company with a huge dataset of cell tower observations, and so I was interested in locations that I could investigate. I'll try your suggestion and see if I can find anything suspicious.
For 3G/4G/LTE there's network authentication, so "in theory" you can't do it...
I've read a bunch of stuff which says you're supposed to be able to jam or disrupt non-2G frequencies to force a fallback to 2G... however, I'd expect a telco van to turn up if you tried this for more than a short period of time (the ranges you'd want to jam are massive) and I didn't try it for obvious reasons.
BUT - what I found in practice (2011, field testing on an island near Auckland NZ) was that a surprising amount of stuff would just straight up camp to a 2G base station, presumably because the signal was stronger. You don't need LTE if the phone is happy to look for the best signal. I didn't analyse what models of phone did this, it seemed like everything did at the time.
A more interesting approach which I haven't tried involves downloading a several GB of rainbow tables and cracking TMSIs with kraken; no idea how well that works in practice.