Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Orwellian overtures II...

It seems we are getting there: I wrote 5 years ago about Orwell's Omen**; I wasn't the first by a long way and I won't be the last; back then 20% of the world's CCTV cameras were in the UK: four million cameras covered almost every town centre and, of course, the numbers have been growing although I doubt now we have such a large percentage of world CCTV. Recent news reminded me of this: "you won’t be able to drive in or out of the town without being clocked", this sinister-sounding phrase said with pride by 'the town centre manager' of Royston:
"The town of Royston in Hertfordshire is to become Britain’s first ‘ring of steel’ town, with hidden Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras installed on every single road in and out of the town" [Big Brother Watch]
Now, ANPR isn't CCTV and you may think it quite close, however, see image and read on. The Town Council says that residents details will be safe (how many data lost/stolen stories are there every year? Dozens) and that the cameras are to "give the police hard evidence as they track known villains" but the fact that ANPR have released details of its hopes to combine with Scottish police and other national security bureaus it tends to add weight to what Charles Farrier of the group 'No CCTV' said when he accused the police of creating a UK-wide tracking grid "to keep tabs on everyone". I tend to agree, especially when you read what they do: The ANPR introduction tells us that:
"Just capturing number plates and storing them is not much use by itself. Each new vehicle is automatically displayed upon detection within the event panel"
Jeez: click on the image above to enlarge or scroll down the linked ANPR page and look at an event panel: apart from the car etc there is a picture of the driver, name, address, job, telephone numbers, e-mail...

** Amusingly, or not as the case may be, I read Orwell's words ('Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.') just today reading about BBC giving a very dodgy version of Libyan history (credit to pounce_uk on BBBC)

Read online: 1984 

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Paul said...

Okay first things first - "back then 20% of the world's CCTV cameras were in the UK: four million cameras covered almost every town centre"

That's an urban myth that began life as a lunchtime discussion between two bored academics on a South London street who looked around them, extrapolated the number of cameras by mulitplying that street by the number of businesses in the U.K.

Okay moan over, this is scary but it's part of a worrying trend that Devon (5 Live Devon) and I were discussing online before Christmas. Loads of people suddenly have access to what I thought was secure data - even the local newspaper is printing details of people involved in road accidents. Look at 192.com or any of the numerous websites that do car valuations, somebody somewhere is selling information which should be against the Data Protection Act.

Span Ows said...

Firstly rant re your ran ;-)

Your urban myth was a very loose "study" based on Putney high street!! BUT even "official" extrapolation figures say nearly 2 million and that DOESN'T include the private/non official corner shop/alley/garage CCTV. And no official figure exists so it's a moot point...but 4 million seems realistic if you take into account the above e.g. local town centre may have a dozen but there are no doubt more than a few dozen more in every parade of shops/posh flats/whatever etc. say hi to Devon for me, wasn't he an expat too? And tell him I did warn him about counting eggs before they hatched re the election several years ago (definite Con win, Labour wiped out...)

Span Ows said...

Re 192 etc, about 10 years ago or more I recall seeing ads for discs/download of every address in the UK, this was on those small ads in front of you as you piss in service station loos.

A Northern Bloke said...

For me, the whole thing is a reflection of the type of person we are allowing to rule over us nowadays Some of the utter fuckwits in local government are beyond belief and the councillors who appoint them / oversee their appointment should be sacked for letting it happen.