Government intrusion

Some threads that have appeared on AWeb lately have given me food for thought.

We are increasingly being asked to 'shop' people, there is CCTV everywhere, and the intrusion seems to be increasing with some new government idea always being questioned. 

I am torn over the issue. On the one hand it does seem that our freedom of choice is being compromised, and 'Big Brother' is always watching, but on the other hand I think community minded individual's would accept these restrictions without question or complaint as it can help so many innocent people while curbing the actions of the less scrupulous people among us.

Is it so wrong that we are asked to report tax evasion and fraudulent accounting? How would it be discovered otherwise?

Is it so wrong that CCTV is everywhere? It helps solve crimes and makes the streets safer for us all.

I know there needs to be a balance, but how can the rights and freedom of the innocent be protected while also preventing the less scrupulous from taking advantage of the same freedom to do exactly as they like, no matter who they hurt or who pays the cost.

What are your view on this, ie. are the costs, and the intrusion, worth the benefits.

Comments

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taxhound's picture

Life is far too complicated

taxhound | | Permalink

To keep a clean nose these days, you have to be so careful and cautious.  I would also suggest you have to have a reasonable degree of intelligence and I wonder how some people cope in the current high tech world.

I recently received a parking ticket for parking where I have always parked for the last 20 years on my infrequent trips in to a local town.  They had changed the parking restrictions and I did not notice.  There were no warning signs about the changes and I did not realise I had done anything wrong until I returned - I would not have parked there had I realised.  Yes, I should have checked the small sign at the side of the road, but when you think you know something you don't realise that you need to check.

Life is far too unforgiving.  There is no room for any error.  When things start to go wrong it can snowball into something unmanageable very quickly - as I think we will see when the £10 per day for late tax return penalties kick in....

johnjenkins's picture

Spot on taxhound.

johnjenkins | | Permalink

We are not perfect but get penalised heavily for not being so.

This from governments that have been far from perfect themselves. Time for a massive change of thought, which is not too far away - look out for the summer of discontent.

If the workforce is unhappy then we are in trouble.

Hansa's picture

A few facts to add to the generalities

Hansa | | Permalink

As the following are two longish extracts, I reproduce them here without comment. 

 

11 August 2009, Daily Mail

Britain has one and a half times as many surveillance cameras as communist China, despite having a fraction of its population…It is estimated that Britain has 20 per cent of cameras globally and that each person in the country is caught on camera an average of 300 times daily.

Simon Davies from pressure group Privacy International: -   'As far as surveillance goes, Britain has created the blueprint for the 21st century non-democratic regime.

Figures released today showed that in Britain the number of Big Brother snooping missions by police, town halls and other public bodies has soared by 44 per cent in two years. One request is made every minute for officials to spy on someone's phone records or email accounts. Last year there were 504,073 new cases - an average of 1,381 a day. It is the equivalent of one adult in 78 coming under state-sanctioned surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1205607/Shock-figures-reveal-Britain-CCTV-camera-14-people--China.html#ixzz1rjW86vNk

2 November 2006, BBC News

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

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

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

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

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

"We really do have a society which is premised both on state secrecy and the state not giving up its supposed right to keep information under control while, at the same time, wanting to know as much as it can about us."

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

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6108496.stm

ShirleyM's picture

I don't defend CCTV ... but ...

ShirleyM | | Permalink

They can be very helpful. Attackers, rapists, hit and run drivers, burglars and thieves, all caught because of CCTV. The usual defence is that if you are doing nothing wrong then what do you fear?

A ex-employee of mine returned to her car to find it damaged from front to back. The business next door had a CCTV  and they showed the recording to us, and a wagon had hit her car so badly it literally bounced her car off the road, and he hadn't even bothered to stop. Without the CCTV we would never have discovered who the culprit was.

I am just trying to make the point that they may be intrusive, but they bring benefits, too. If you had been in similar circumstances would you have refused to accept the help they offered?

There must be a balance. Where should the line be drawn?

Hansa's picture

The effects of a surveillance society

Hansa | | Permalink

ShirlyM said: Is it so wrong that CCTV is everywhere? It helps solve crimes and makes the streets safer for us all.

Does it?  Really?  Where is the evidence? Every study I have read says that it displaces rather than solves crime.  In any event, the kind of crime it might prevent is generally of the street yob variety - much better prevented by having police on the beat rather than working 9-5 in police stations completing endless forms & reports.

Of equal if not more concern is the harnessing by the state of unwilling informers. ... The Banks, Legal & Accountancy professions etc. are roped in by the MLR, the FSA and the Accountancy bodies etc. to snoop into matters which don't concern them and send reports to the Serious & Organised Crime Agency for the most minor matters - 240,000 such reports last year.

To my knowledge NO other civilised country goes as far as the UK in it's definition of ML.  The EU directives make the starting point  €15,000 (£12k odd) below which NO report is required, and reporting is restricted to those handling that money.  If I engage an accountant anywhere else in Europe to, say give me some advice,  I do NOT need to "prove" to him who I am and I certainly would not be asked to prove where I live! (on this point, banks in Europe also do NOT ask for proof of address on account opening except those following the UK model - Ireland, Cyprus, & Malta).

What I find really sad is the short memories of those in practice.  In 1999 (lets say) did you ask for passports & utility bills to take on a client?  No.  Did you know who your clients were?  Of course you did.  Did you shop your clients? No I don't think so - you advised them to mend their ways and if that didn't work you parted company, and the Revenue would catchup with them eventually in most cases.

OK, the Regulations are here (probably to stay) but professionals, in my view, should do the absolute minimum to comply.

 

 

Hansa's picture

private v public cctv

Hansa | | Permalink

The example ShirlyM gives is of the camera owned by the next door business "catching the action" NOT a state controlled camera - it is these latter which I object to.

Interestingly, I have recently read in Austria businesses have been told that private CCTV cannot capture any images of public space on privacy grounds and must be directed wholly within their own premises. Public CCTV is forbidden generally (very rare exceptions require Minister's individual authorisations) and even speed cameras are rare.

Of course one can always find an example to prove a point but this is not the way that legislation should be framed.  A perfect (off-topic) example is the Dangerous Dogs Act which, having been introduced in a wave of hysteria, has proved unenforceable and ineffective. 

 

 

ShirleyM's picture

Wow! - two posts on the trot ... which do I answer first!!!!

ShirleyM | | Permalink

Firstly, if you are going to keep emphasising my name, would you please include the 'e'.

  1. Are you really disputing the fact that CCTV allows the police to identify people? I have seen Crime Watch and putting the persons CCTV image on the TV has resulted in a confirmed identity.
  2. Why do you assume everyone, whether banker, accountant, or just the guy in the street, is unwilling to report crimes? I am not. I also abhor people who turn a blind eye to crime, unless reporting it may result in personal injury.
  3. Displacement of crimes due to CCTV. Possibly, but how relevant is it? Would that just give good reason to conceal the cameras? I would prefer to know where they are and have them act as a deterrent.
  4. My knowledge of CCTV is that you are not allowed to direct them onto personal property, unless it is your own. How could people cover entrances, etc. without it encompassing some public area? Maybe the law is different in Austria (edited to correct typo).

I always try to put myself in the place of the person who it may help, and the person it may hinder. Providing these measures are used as a means of fighting crime, then I cannot see why any responsible person would object, unless they themselves assist criminals or are a criminal themselves, or maybe have never suffered at the hands of a criminal and do not realise how distressing it can be.

The point of the original post was to ask where the line should be drawn, ie. it should not be used to snoop on someone going about their lawful business.

 

 

johnjenkins's picture

How about a webbcam

johnjenkins | | Permalink

ShirlEyM?

Hansa's picture

We aren't going to agree . . .

Hansa | | Permalink

Apologies to ShirleyM for neglecting the "e

To answer your numbered points in brief:

1. Yes I do dispute that more than a very tiny % of the estimated 4,2m + CCTV's have ever resulted in a conviction.  CrimeWatch obviously shows only those small number of cases where there is a clear image.

2. Crimes yes, vague suspicions as SOCA demands no. You don't need SOCA to know your public duty to report a crime, and "Cheating the Public Revenue" existed, as a crime, long before the MLR.  With respect, this point is a non-sequitur.

3. Well, on this we fundamentally disagree! I would not wish to be captured on CCTV "300 times a day" (Daily Mail report above). 

4. Your entrance is not a public area, it is your entrance & thus private property.  I was referring to CCTV pointed across a street or including another building.  The example was simply an illustration of how other places view privacy.

- - - 

Finally you say "The point of the original post was to ask where the line should be drawn, ie. it should not be used to snoop on someone going about their lawful business."

and I say the line should have been drawn long ago and should be rolled back.  If the 300 images per day figure is correct, this IS 300 times per day too many for someone going about their lawful business.  Likewise how many of the 240,000 SOCA reports in 2011 resulted in a prosecution or were indeed even justified on any rational basis.

I rest my case.

An old one ...

JC | | Permalink
ShirleyM's picture

I'll agree to disagree @Hansa    1 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

What harm has beset you because of the CCTV's? It isn't as if they prevent you doing anything lawful ... do they?

The CCTV cameras may not help you directly, but they help many other people, and may even help you in the future if you are unfortunate enough to need them.

I prefer the deterrent aspect, and help towards solving crimes, and would not support their use if they did not help towards this.

Flash Gordon's picture

Don't believe everything you read...    1 thanks

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

particularly when it appears in the Daily Mail!

I'd prefer to be reporting tax evaders than for them to be getting away with it and for the rest of us either having to pay more tax as a result or receiving less in the way of public services. And I'd prefer to be watched on cctv occasionally if it means that the same cctv cameras will be used to catch criminals before they commit crimes against me or someone else. 

As for displacing crime, well isn't that what burglar alarms do, just move them onto to the next place? CCTV may displace some crime but equally it can act as a deterrant and put some people off committing crimes of opportunity. And if it doesn't deter then it can help catch the criminal.

Anyway, I'm wasting valuable time here when I could be shopping some ex-clients for tax evasion. It's the simple things in life that entertain me and HMRC actually took notice of the last report I made :)

Too much snooping going on ...    1 thanks

JC | | Permalink

How do CCTV cameras help when the perpetrator may be wearing a 'hoodie'?

Clearly anyone out to commit an offense is not going to intentionally reveal themselves to camera's, so how does CCTV assist in this situation

Tend to agree with @Hansa - the level of surveillance in the UK is excessive and at the end of the day you also need to factor in trust of those who will eventually be using the footage - which is sorely lacking

Essentially do you trust those in charge not to use the information for their own purposes?

In other circumstances we have had county councils abusing situations to snoop on parents applying to send their child to the local school on baseless grounds

http://news.sky.com/home/politics/article/15675184

Of course the next step is the ill-conceived internet/email surveillance. Preventing people looking at email content is not that difficult to achieve and when all else fails the 'terrorist' can use steganography which will generally bypass most snoopers -especially when coupled with encryption

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

So realistically all that happens is that the 'normal' person in the street is captured on these devices whilst the real offenders just by-pass them

A bit like IHT rules really

ShirleyM's picture

So ... it isn't perfect ...    1 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

... and CCTV does not help catch every offender. They do help to catch some.

You cannot blame the cameras for the people who misuse them. If anyone is to blame it is the criminals for making them necessary in the first place. Do away with crime and the cameras would disappear as there would be no further use, or excuse, for them.

johnjenkins's picture

oooooooooo ShirleyM    1 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

you're beginning to sound like Clarkson. Kill all criminals then they can't re-offend. Didn't Hitler have some sort of idea on that basis????????

ShirleyM's picture

Yeah John ... let's go for it :)

ShirleyM | | Permalink

lol ... I don't remember asking for capital punishment  ..... but could maybe be persuaded :)

Rules .v. benefit - bit like the tax take ...

JC | | Permalink

Any set of rules has to be weighed against their results and as with certain forms of taxation, if it costs more to implement that they return in tax revenues then it is not worth doing

Similarly with CCTV - if they only assist in the minority of cases then why have them invading the entire population’s privacy on the off-chance of catching someone careless enough to reveal their identity ?

The disappointing aspect of this whole issue is that Governments play on the 'fear' aspect of society to implement policies that would be totally unacceptable under any other circumstances. 

In reality they are channelling people’s fears so that snooping becomes acceptable practice and the norm - furthermore, not content with doing their own snooping the Govenment now encourages the population to spy on each other

The amazing thing is that normally 'sane' people get carried away with this despite the fact that they are intelligent beings and should actually know better - induced herd panic about safety!

Flash Gordon's picture

Snooping

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

People have snooped on each other since the beginning of time, it's human nature to want to know what someone else is doing. The government doesn't need to encourage it, it just makes it easier to report when someone is breaking the law.

Besides, all cctv is doing is watching what people are doing on public property. If you have a problem with, heaven forbid, being seen walking down a high street then stay indoors and don't go out or wear a disguise! CCTV is only recording what Joe Public can see if they happen to be on the same bit of pavement as you, it's not as if they've got a camera installed in your house. You've got more to worry about from people recording your mishaps on their mobile phone and posting it on YouTube than you have of cctv. All seems a bit like paranoia to me. If my local council really wants to watch me pick my nose or scratch my *** while I'm walking the dog (naturally I don't!) then so be it, it's my choice to do those things in public so I have to appreciate that someone might see me...

The logical extension ...

JC | | Permalink

@Flash Gordon

'.. only recording what Joe Public can see if they happen to be on the same bit of pavement as you ..'

Surely the point is that it is not restricted to '.. Joe Public .. on the same bit of pavement ..' but available to anyone in authority (or not) anywhere in the world and irrespective of any pious rhetoric about not sharing data - it happens

We have already had the uproar about Google Street and some countries who value the privacy of their nationals more highly than the UK have threatened bans

Therefore why not give everyone a RFID tag or better still 'chip everyone' so that all movement is tracked when they leave their house - happens in a virtual world so just migrate it to the real world

Also currently occurs in a number of shopping malls to track footfall and mobile phone tracking also exists

Don't forget that it is not one thing in isolation (only CCTV) but a combination of all forms of tracking to build a picture of the individual

All boils down to the use made of the information and when all the dots are joined up (CCTV, RFID, mobile phone, car number plate, face recognition ... ultimately cross referencing to Facebook & friends etc.) those in charge have a accurate record of your entire life

Clearly many do not regard this as an intrusion (or have not even thought about it) because most have GPS turned on with their mobile phones anyway

If one is comfortable with this scenario then fine but the issue is that unlike the internet (sometimes) there is no opt-out (do not track) available in real life

ShirleyM's picture

Cost & fear?    1 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

Why does something have to be 'profitable' or have successes that can be counted, to be worth doing? Many times a deterrent can prevent even more costs, or losses, but may not directly appear profitable. You cannot measure the crimes that are prevented by them.

As to fear mongering. I do fear criminals. Lots of people have their lives ruined by criminals. I don't need the government to tell me that ... I have read the police/medical reports myself, and until reading those I didn't realise that such truly evil people live among us.

Think of Jamie Bulger, and Millie Dowler, and how CCTV has helped trace some of what happened to them. As Flash says, anyone on the street will see the same thing and could photograph/video it all, so it isn't that CCTV sees something that is private.

OK - I think I have made my decision regarding CCTV. I do think the benefits are worth the intrusion, but if unscrupulous people start using for them for personal gain then laws should be introduced to prevent this, if they don't exist already.

ShirleyM's picture

@JC    1 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

Great ideas, JC. Let's track everyone movements. It would make crime detection a doddle, and could even wipe it out altogether. Anyone trying to opt out or evade tracking should be put under immediate suspicion.

Flash Gordon's picture

@ JC    1 thanks

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

@Flash Gordon

'.. only recording what Joe Public can see if they happen to be on the same bit of pavement as you ..'

Surely the point is that it is not restricted to '.. Joe Public .. on the same bit of pavement ..' but available to anyone in authority (or not) anywhere in the world

 

Yes but my point, as Shirley at least understands, is that it's in public view anyway so you surely at that point give up your expectation of privacy? It could be broadcast on YouTube and watched by anyone (in authority or not) anywhere in the world if someone decided it was worth it!

Anyway we're obviously on different sides of the fence with no gate between them so I'll agree to differ. I'm happy to be watched if by being so even just one person (or animal) benefits. It doesn't hurt me in the slightest and it's no different to my neighbours seeing me at a window (except at least I'll definitely be fully clothed when I'm out in public!).

thisistibi's picture

What's the big problem    2 thanks

thisistibi | | Permalink

So long as all the CCTV cameras are doing more good than harm, then I think they are justified. And I think that is exactly the situation - the cameras do help catch criminals, and are also used to help police on the ground to get to the right places when there is trouble.  The price we pay for this, a loss of privacy in public places - that seems like a very small price to me?

Losing your privacy in a private place is more problematic.  My workplace has CCTV installed inside the buildings, in corridors etc.  That does seem more of an invasion of my privacy with no significant benefits which I can identify.

Also worth mentioning, Hansa talks about CCTV displacing crime, but I'm not sure that's such a band thing.  At least you can feel safer on the high street, because crime has been displaced elsewhere.  That means as long as you are sensible you can feel safer...

We need to face the fact that as the population increases, and communities become more and more fragmented and anti-social, then the number of morons is ever increasing and using technology to keep the morons in check is a necessary thing.

ShirleyM's picture

@Flash

ShirleyM | | Permalink

Flash Gordon wrote:

....... It could be broadcast on YouTube and watched by anyone (in authority or not) anywhere in the world if someone decided it was worth it! ....

Haha ... that comment reminds me of the mobile phone recording shown on YouTube of the old lady who ran across the street and attacked the gang of thieves on scooters with her handbag. What a great gal. She showed real community spirit. :)

thisistibi's picture

And!

thisistibi | | Permalink

ShirleyM wrote:

Haha ... that comment reminds me of the mobile phone recording shown on YouTube of the old lady who ran across the street and attacked the gang of thieves on scooters with her handbag. What a great gal. She showed real community spirit. :)

And the cat-in-wheelie-bin prank!

Nobody mentioned the hose-pipe ban and how we're expected to report our neighbours.  To many northerners here perhaps?

Stop Government Snooping ...SIGN UP    1 thanks

JC | | Permalink

From the content of this thread so far it would seem that some are perfectly comfortable with the level of Government snooping

However, for those who are worried about the erosion of privacy - have a look at this

http://www.38degrees.org.uk/

http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2012/04/03/stop-government-snooping/

Never forget, the more power you give to the politicians the greater potential abuses in the future.

'.. Fear sells better than sex ..' - Enter NeuroMarketing (emotion that take place in the subconscious area below the levels of controlled awareness)

'.. A positive feedback loop has been found between fear and commercial consumption, whether one is selling terrorism (and security/defence systems, pre-emptive wars, and the like) or plastic surgery, cosmetic products, clothes, cars, image, etc ..'

Frankly all those in favour of Government snooping need to open their eyes because they are sleepwalking into a problem and are being manipulated - as the Americans say - 'wake up and smell the coffee'

Flash Gordon's picture

Government snooping

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

Frankly all those in favour of Government snooping need to open their eyes because they are sleepwalking into a problem and are being manipulated

Or equally maybe all those who are taking the above attitude of 'the end of the world is nigh' should realise that they are the ones being manipulated by the media for headline-grabbing ratings and actually their concern is bordering on paranoia?

I did sleepwalk once - but only as far as the top of the stairs, not into a problem :)

Good to know you support ...    1 thanks

JC | | Permalink

@Flash Gordon

That you are totally in favour of the proposed new Government plans to monitor (as identified in the previous post)

'.. All calls, texts and emails and which websites we visit - without any kind of warrant or reason ..'

Despite cross-party concern about the proposals & the fact that the last time this was suggested it was scrapped

johnjenkins's picture

There is

johnjenkins | | Permalink

an arguement for both sides and on probability they cancel each other out.

We always seem to be in this position whereby instead of dealing with a problem a short cut is taken which produces more problems.

Get rid of all illegals and deport national security risks, that would make a start. Stop having a go at our police force when they interact with yobbos and give them extra staff to eliminate the drug culture. Get values back in schools and stop excluding unruly kids.

These measures alone would reduce the need for massive snooping, but we would rather lend Greece umpteen billions which we won't get back than spend a bit extra on making this a safer country.

thisistibi's picture

Sleep walking    1 thanks

thisistibi | | Permalink

Flash Gordon wrote:

I did sleepwalk once - but only as far as the top of the stairs, not into a problem :)

One more step and you would have fallen into the abyss!

Flash Gordon's picture

@ JC

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

The government plans aren't for content but for identification e.g. they'll know who you rang but not what you said or who you emailed but not what you said. So they'll know I dutifully rang my mother this morning and that I emailed various clients yesterday, whoopidee do! Strangely enough I can't see them focussing on that sort of thing but if I started emailing known terrorists then they might and rightly so, in my opinion. Okay I'd not be too keen on people knowing every single website I visit but it would only be the slightly more embarrassing ones that I'd prefer to keep to myself!!

I'd be delighted if it meant they identified and stopped more terrorists, more paedophiles and so on. But then I have nothing to hide.......

thisistibi's picture

But

thisistibi | | Permalink

JC wrote:

@Flash Gordon

That you are totally in favour of the proposed new Government plans to monitor (as identified in the previous post)

'.. All calls, texts and emails and which websites we visit - without any kind of warrant or reason ..'

Despite cross-party concern about the proposals & the fact that the last time this was suggested it was scrapped

a) You need to wait for full details of the proposals before getting on the hype ride 

b) If there is "cross-party concern" then how is it going to get voted through parliament?

Practical implementation ...

JC | | Permalink

@johnjenkins - agreed & a good place to start is with our own Human Rights bill rather than using the default EU one

@thisistibi - it didn't get as far as Parliament the last time

Does the Government really believe that those they are trying to deter/catch are stupid? With each new measure introduced someone will find a way around

After all the Government has an abysmal record on security themselves and cannot even prevent the recent DDos attack - what about all the Data Protection breaches they have had?

  • So how does this work and does the Government propose to break https protocol?
  • Quite apart from the fact that it may be against EU regulations anyway

Bypassing the snooping

  • Encryption
  • Install Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • Don't UK ISP's e-mail address
  • Register your own domain name and e-mail address with an overseas provider
  • Web surfing - use a proxy server outside the UK. Anonymises the users actions on the web by routing any data requests through an extra server, currently the tool of choice for hackers
  • and so on ...

Do they propose to force Google(gmail) & Microsoft(Hotmail) to toe the line - like China has done with Google? How on earth will Yandex(Russian) mail be dealt with or China(Baidu)?

The overall effect will be to force an underground culture which even 'normal' people will subscribe to in order to maintain their privacy; which will make the whole thing a worthless exercise

Quite apart from the dangerous example it sets the rest of the world - i.e. providing excuses for Syria, Iran etc. surveillance to copy the UK with potentially devastating effects

Finally using the '.. if you have nothing to hide ..' argument is totally specious

thisistibi's picture

@JC

thisistibi | | Permalink

I completely agree that the "if you have nothing to hide" argument is ill-conceived.  

However, I think that equally the "they will find ways around it" argument is similarly ill-conceived.  You are essentially saying "it's too hard, don't bother trying".... I sincerely hope our national security doesn't depend on people who operate in that way.  It is always better to make things harder for criminals, and the outcome is that fewer criminals will have the technical expertise to evade detection.  You assume that terrorists are all highly technical, whereas although some might be, many are probably not.  Perhaps the enhanced security will make other countries an easier target?  And anyway, even if the proposed measures save a single life - doesn't that make it worthwhile?  

I think you need to look at things from the opposite end.  The police used to be able to raid a premises and find written or other evidence to bring terrorists and other criminals to justice.  The move to the internet has happened very quickly, and substantially, so that all the incriminating evidence required might now sit on somebody's mobile phone, which can easily be thrown into a river.  The level of evidence that once exists, and the types of terrorist crimes which are now taking place, cannot be dealt with by antiquated policing methods and we need to look at how we cope with materials on the internet.  We should tackle this head-on and have a proper debate about how we can achieve the required result - we need to achieve a balance between privacy and justice.

Agree with most ...

JC | | Permalink

@thisistibi - agree with most of your comments

Nevertheless, the scatter-gun approach of targeting everyones privacy either in a 'fishing exercise' on the off-chance of getting a hit is not the right one

The approach of making things harder for criminals is also sound, although, it should be genuinely harder and not simply an inconvenience that can be easily by-passed; as with proxy servers etc.

Neither should we underestimate the intelligence/technical ability of these people - just look at the eastern bloc credit card gangs running rings around the banks

The fact that things happen faster in todays world does not mean we should dispense with the check and balances that make up the judicial system purely to suit politicians. And if the police want to instigate surveillance against an individual then the judiciary should decide whether they have a valid case; mass surveillance is not the answer

Antiquated policing should not mean sacrificing wholesale privacy of the individual because of badly thought out solutions or lazyness in identifying the real threats to society

Yes we should have a proper debate about these issues, but rushing though ill concieved bills as a knee jerk reaction is not the place to start and probably does more harm than good

ShirleyM's picture

Email monitoring

ShirleyM | | Permalink

If they are just recording the sends/receives, and not looking at the content, then it could be beneficial in certain circumstances, if they have to justify a warrant before viewing the contents.

Logistically speaking, how would it be possible to monitor everyones emails? I dread sorting out my own emails. If it gives police the ability to target the emails of criminals and find out what they are up to, then I wouldn't object. Like everything else, so long as it is used for the correct reasons, and not for snooping on lawful behaviour, then there isn't a problem. If anyone misuses the privilege then the British Press would have a field day with them!

It may even help get rid of internet trolls :)

thisistibi's picture

Debate    1 thanks

thisistibi | | Permalink

JC wrote:

Yes we should have a proper debate about these issues, but rushing though ill concieved bills as a knee jerk reaction is not the place to start and probably does more harm than good

Isn't "a proper debate" what will happen in the Commons as the bill progresses?  Is it really a knee jerk reaction - isn't it actually a standard procedure to propose new bills in parliament and then debate them?  Where do you think the process should start...?

Sentencing ...    1 thanks

JC | | Permalink

@thisistibi

There is no universal answer because various types of crime are driven by different motives.

Nevertheless, perhaps the place to start is sentencing & punishment in the existing criminal justice system

Clearly this only has an effect on certain types of crime (religious terrorism has other motives) but once sensible levels of punishment are introduced the risk/reward balance shifts to make some crimes unattractive.

Frankly it is absolutely no use having worthless sanctions (a few hours community service) because the perpetrator will generally balance reward .v. punishment and take the most profitable decision - i.e. how many in this profession would be prepared to commit fraud where the risk/reward ratio was £5m reward .v. 5 years in prison (with 3 years remission for good behaviour), and a good chance of not getting caught?

The UK legal system is one of the best in the world (mainly because it is not codified) and there are probably sufficient existing laws to cater for most eventualities, although in some cases they are simply not applied. i.e. Pubs/Bars etc. are not allowed to sell alcohol to people who are already drunk - so how come we see pictures of streets outside bars where this has clearly not been applied and why are establishments that do this allowed to maintain their licences?

Simple solutions to start with before trying to snoop on the entire population and criminalise them by default

Hansa's picture

To summarise....

Hansa | | Permalink

It seems that many here are happy to live in a police state.  JC and I seem to be the only ones to say:-  Having nothing to hide is no defence for the destruction of privacy.

Flash Gordon's picture

Police state...

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

It's great if you have a thing about men / women in uniform!!

Flash Gordon's picture

@ JC

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

JC wrote:

@thisistibi

There is no universal answer because various types of crime are driven by different motives.

Nevertheless, perhaps the place to start is sentencing & punishment in the existing criminal justice system

Clearly this only has an effect on certain types of crime (religious terrorism has other motives) but once sensible levels of punishment are introduced the risk/reward balance shifts to make some crimes unattractive.

Frankly it is absolutely no use having worthless sanctions (a few hours community service) because the perpetrator will generally balance reward .v. punishment and take the most profitable decision - i.e. how many in this profession would be prepared to commit fraud where the risk/reward ratio was £5m reward .v. 5 years in prison (with 3 years remission for good behaviour), and a good chance of not getting caught?

Well firstly, I wouldn't be prepared to commit £5m fraud regardless of the minimal chance to be caught.

And secondly there is actually a case to say that the place to start is not sentencing but in looking at the reasons for the crimes being committed. It's no good making the punishment for, say, being a drugs mule (which is increasing in the UK, particularly in women from ethnic minorities coming from abroad) hideously severe if the women in question have effectively no choice about committing it due to extreme pressure (a.k.a. being forced into it) from others. It doesn't stop the drugs problem and actually risks increasing crime because the women in question risk losing their homes, possessions and frequently their children while inside and thus have little choice but to return to a life of crime on release just to survive. A few hours community service might actually give them the opportunity (if combined with practical help) to sort their lives out and get away from drugs etc. I was recently studying the issue of women's imprisonment and it totally changed my view - most of them would be far better served by providing help to sort out their lives and prevent the re-occurrence of crime. There are actually very few cases where the public needs protecting by locking them up.

But I was assuming that the idea of monitoring emails etc was aimed at the likes of religious terrorism, not at catching petty vandals and shoplifters...

ShirleyM's picture

Nope!    3 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

Hansa wrote:

It seems that many here are happy to live in a police state.  JC and I seem to be the only ones to say:-  Having nothing to hide is no defence for the destruction of privacy.

You're making a dirty big assumption, and a big dramatic leap, from people accepting CCTV to now accepting a police state! There are some police states, but thankfully  the UK isn't one of them!

Definition of Police State …

JC | | Permalink

@ShirleyM – definition of ‘police state’

Not really a dramatic leap

‘.. a political unit characterized by repressive governmental control of political, economic, and social life usually by an arbitrary exercise of power by police and especially secret police in place of regular operation of administrative and judicial organs of the government according to publicly known legal procedures ..’

Seems as though this definition fits the bill with surveillance proposals rather well – i.e. univeral state snooping on the individual by the Government, without recourse to the judiciary to legitimise these acts

 

 

Flash Gordon's picture

Really?    1 thanks

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

JC wrote:

@ShirleyM – definition of ‘police state’

Not really a dramatic leap

‘.. a political unit characterized by repressive governmental control of political, economic, and social life usually by an arbitrary exercise of power by police and especially secret police in place of regular operation of administrative and judicial organs of the government according to publicly known legal procedures ..’

Seems as though this definition fits the bill with surveillance proposals rather well – i.e. univeral state snooping on the individual by the Government, without recourse to the judiciary to legitimise these acts

 

 

Yeah, I had the secret police round mine on Saturday night - they said that they were in charge of my social life now and I could watch NCIS or CSI NY but not both. I hope they're not monitoring AWeb because I actually watched both PLUS the boxing! Next stop Siberia for me....

I can't help think that you're over-reacting just a teensy bit...

Different tariffs for same offence …

JC | | Permalink

@Flash Gordon

‘..the place to start is not sentencing but in looking at the reasons for the crimes being committed ..’

Some would argue that this is precisely why we are in the current situation in the first place (the 60’s generation of laisez faire) – for whatever reason every perpetrator has a ‘get out of jail card’

Why is there a distinction between right/wrong based on one’s background, upbringing etc.? The problem with looking at the cause of crime is that subsequently affect the perception of the offense & reduces its severity for social/background reasons

The inevitable result is that sentences for two identical offenses could be entirely different because the perpetrators have been treated in a alternative manner due to their background; when in fact the crime itself should carry the tariff rather than the offenders antecedents - it is no less an offense because of background and unfortunately this approach seems to instil the idea of being a ‘victim’ in the perpetrators mind rather than the fact that they have committed an offense

I am afraid your argument falls down in the following scenario

What would be situation if the women in your previous example were terrorists rather than ‘drug mules’ both subject to extreme pressure from others – so substituting ‘terrorist’ for ‘drug mule’ in your paragraph, would you advocate the same rules / solutions for this offense – i.e. community service

Because in reality a lot of these young terrorist have been fed such a lot of rubbish to encourage them to be suicide bombers that they are probably in the same situation (young, naïve & pressured) – although it is notable that those encouraging them to be terrorists almost never wear the bombs themselves & get others to do it for them

At the end of the day it has to be about making the bulk of crime unattractive and then dealing with the exceptions

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/ - no doubt there will be disparaging comments about the publication to divert from the facts identified

Old Greying Accountant's picture

Simple little me thinks ...

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... all this is treating the symptoms.

We should be looking at the cause.

There is a malaise of selfishness and lack of respect that is the root cause of this.

There are many reasons for this, but not least because the powers that be have led by example and shown themselves to be morally corrupt, couple withthe fact the current generation of yound people have been let down totally through inept education and social engineering policies.

There are many well adjusted socially responsible young people who have or who are succeeding, but this is inspite of and not because of government policy.

Old Greying Accountant's picture

JC - :o)

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

That's synchronicity in action!

Flash Gordon's picture

@ JC    1 thanks

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

I'm not talking about different sentences for the same crime, I'm talking about treating the underlying symptoms to prevent further crime instead of just punishing one offence, and then the next, and then the next... Some people end up committing crimes because of their circumstances, it's the difference between someone stealing food to feed their family versus someone stealing a hi-fi because they want it. You punish the hi-fi theft, you make it possible for the person to feed their family without having to resort to crime in future. I'm not saying you give them a free pass for the crime they have committed, but you give them the option not to commit it again through necessity. Which will then give them the same choice that the hi-fi thief has - commit or don't commit because they want to as opposed to need to.

ShirleyM's picture

@Flash - in theory, that is what happens now

ShirleyM | | Permalink

If you kill someone for selfish reasons you get put away (hopefully). If you kill someone because they would kill you, or your family, or someone else, then you have still killed someone but you don't get put away. It is the same crime, but with a different description to allow for the cause.

You cannot give out the same punishment, even though they both killed someone! It would be grossly unjust!

thisistibi's picture

Think we missed the point    1 thanks

thisistibi | | Permalink

This thread seems to have diverged into a discussion about reasons behind crime.  Yes, it would be great to further disincentivise crime.  But crime will still happen, albeit to a lesser extent, and therefore we still need to bring those criminals to justice.  In order to do this, we need the right evidence and government intrusion occurs because of this need for evidence.

If our police forces can no longer bring criminals to justice because of lack of evidence, particularly due to the ever increasing use of the internet, then that is a real incentive for criminals.

I guess the justice system has several pillars, and we can debate the different parts, but it doesn't change the need for an element of government snooping, the only question is how much can be justified.

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