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Watching over you…

The Independent has a terrifying story, if there is no public outcry over which, I have no hope for the short-term survival of liberty in Britain. Perhaps it is just our turn to live under totalitarianism, and our children’s and grandchildren’s too (assuming liberati and other anti-social types are permitted to breed in the well-ordered society) …

Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years.

Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years.

Read the whole thing here. Then answer me this question: by what right is this power assumed? It is no doubt being done in the name of ‘public safety’, in which case where’s the democratic mandate, and when was parliament asked?

Cross-posted to White Rose

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90 comments to Watching over you…

  • Long association with George Bush has obviously rubbed off on Tony – he presumes he can do as he likes without following the rule of law… They’re probably already bugging the phones…

  • Romania was under totalitarianism for over 40 years. Yet, the individuals born after 1985 or so know nothing of what was going on and seem to understand nothing and know nothing and care about nothing.

  • Julian Morrison

    There needs to be a serious grassroots movement to smash or otherwise disable these cameras – all of them, because we can no longer be certain which are networked.

  • GCooper

    I haven’t read the Indy’s story, but I did catch a synopsis earlier. If it’s correct (and I have to say it seems entirely believeable) then it is one of the most sinister developments of recent years.

    And that is saying quite a lot.

  • If i could afford it these look interesting but not nearly as much fun as Julians suggestion.

    Ive been called paranoid – but sooner or later we will have no liberty at all. What really concerns me, is no one cares. Ive spoken to well educated informed people who have no idea about the laws introduced by phoney tony and bully blunkett or just dont care. “It for our own good” the masses cry.

    Nearly time to make a choice, emigrate or stay and fight…….

  • llamas

    Naomi wrote:

    ‘Long association with George Bush has obviously rubbed off on Tony – he presumes he can do as he likes without following the rule of law… ‘

    Could you perhaps define what ‘rule of law’ you believe that President Bush has not followed?

    Back to the instant point – the Dutch government installed a precursor to this system, called ‘traject controle’ (literally – journey watching), ostensibly to catch speeders. Electronic cameras recorded registration numbers at multiple locations and compared data – if a registration showed up at two places within a certain time defined by the intervening speed limit, then a speeding ticket was issued.

    The roadside hardware and control boxes for this system were completely and throughly destroyed within weeks of their activation. The website flitservice.nl had an extensive photographic record of the damage. More power to the citizens who did this – the state has no business monitoring the everyday activities of its citizens absent any evidence of wrongdoing. I hope it spreads.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Verity

    Matt – the British public are supine. They really don’t care. In fact, they’ll be pleased that the government is taking care of them. The people who have the will to fight are very few and far between.

    It is tragic that this government, instead of confronting the Islamic problem head on chooses to victimise and subjugate its other 58m citizens. Tony Blair’s got a yellow streak as wide as his back.

  • Stephen Hodgson

    This is extremely alarming.

    This idea first came up just over a month ago:
    Spy cameras to spot drivers’ every move.

    (By the way, Guy, there is a minor typo in your link.)

    In that article, it is stated that ANPR cameras would be installed every 400yds on motorways, which undoubtedly means they would be used not only for monitoring and building a database of vehicle movements but also for ‘speed enforcement’. It will probably be easier to cause widespread public outrage to this plan based on the idea of ‘speed enforcement’, although that particular usage will likely come later – after the network’s in place and there are cameras watching the cameras to try to stop decent individuals from sabotaging the scheme.

  • Julian Taylor

    … the British public are supine. They really don’t care. In fact, they’ll be pleased that the government is taking care of them …

    No they do not. They do care deeply now that the economy is in ruins, the police don’t even bother to respond to drug dealing on our streets and the education system has been reduced to a shambles (one of my nephews this year had to perform in a school pantomine based on a Maori interpretation of The Nativity which does not mention Jesus or God, so as not to offend the < 10 % of Muslim children in his school). One of the most common threads of conversation that you might overhear in restaurants, trains etc. is "I wish I'd never voted for that man". All the while Our Little Tony stands and preens and collects his awards [LINK]from fawning little four-letter admirers thankful to him for elevating them to the House of Lords for a token sum paid openly into Labour Party coffers.

    Genesis wrote ‘Selling England By The Pound’. Tony Blair is writing How To Sell England By The Ton.

  • Chris Harper

    GCooper,

    “it is one of the most sinister developments of recent years.”

    As a member of one of the most discriminated against groups in the word I regard the context of your use of the word “sinister” to be deeply offensive.

    I am, of course, a left handed person. Sinistrous, or sinister, if you will.

    I am subject to the most insidious discrimination each and every day of my life. The whole world is constructed on the assumption that every person is of the dextrous persuasion. Even visiting an Internet cafe is an exercise in discrimination; have you noticed that every mouse is positioned, and even designed, for the convenience of the right handed?

    The language itself is handed biased. Consider the meanings of sinister as opposed to dextrous.

    GCooper, I label you as a handedist, and I demand an immediate apology for the slur you have cast against every honest and decent left handed person who does, has ever, and will ever exist.

  • Julian Taylor

    Dunno what happened there but it should look like this:

    … the British public are supine. They really don’t care. In fact, they’ll be pleased that the government is taking care of them …

    No they do not. They do care deeply now that the economy is in ruins, the police don’t even bother to respond to drug dealing on our streets and the education system has been reduced to a shambles – e.g one of my nephews this year has had to perform in a school pantomine based on a Maori interpretation of The Nativity which does not mention Jesus or God, so as not to offend the less than 10% population of Muslim children in his school. One topic you overhear in many restaurants, trains and pubs etc. is “I wish I had never voted for that man”, while Our Little Tony puts on his best dishonest smile and accepts awards [LINK] from fawning little four-letter admirers thankful to him for elevating them to the House of Lords for a token sum paid openly into Labour Party coffers.

    Genesis wrote ‘Selling England By The Pound’. Tony Blair is writing How To Sell England By The Ton.

  • Julian – Care they might but other that moan no one does anything. Im not blameless in this regard but on odd occasions Ive done what i can to stand up and be counted. Until the ‘public at large’ wake up to what is been forced upon them, I see little hope for those of us who wish to be free.

  • Pete_London

    Stephen Hodgson –

    I’ve just been onto Essex County Council’s Highways people and they’ve known about this scheme for a lot longer than a month. These cameras starting sprouting up near me a couple of years ago. I bitched to them at the time about it and was told that they can’t read number plates and were only to be used to monitor traffic levels. Now they tell me the purpose all along has been to monitor individual car journeys.

    I also called the Association of Chief Police Officers. Like Guy Herbert I too would like to know by what authority ACPO and others are acting. The fella we need to speak to wasn’t there so I left a message. Not being a blogmeister I’m not certain of the protocals of naming names. I’ll just say that it’s remarkably similar to ‘Keith Bailey’. The number’s 0207 227 3411.

  • Milton G Sayanim

    Well, when a subversive’s not sitting down sending emails and cellphone calls that can be intercepted by the security services, and s/he’s not being tracked on foot by CCTV, and s/he’s not producing a computerised info-rich ID card while standing still, the pesky Menace to Our Way of Life could be up to no good on four wheels. Hence the car tracking.

    C’mon, let’s get real. Everything changed on 9/11. A bunch of outlaws living in caves, inspired by mediaeval clerics and unable to control one state in their own region, have launched World War IV ((C) Norman Podhoretz) against Israel, sorry I mean the entire planet, and are far likelier to win than was Hitler’s Germany or the USSR, which only had thousands of ICBMs and a raft of client states plus thousands of CP members, infiltrators and sympathisers in western countries.

    The only way we can defend our traditional freedoms against these monsters is to shred ’em– only for a limited period, y’unnerstan. Our good friends at the neocon think tanks, brandishing their combat experience and profound knowledge of the Middle East, tell us that this great undeclared war against an unidentified enemy could be over in, oh… fifty years give or take a decade or two? Once we’ve converted all the naughty little nations to Democracy and the American Way, that is. (Admittedly after the latest elections it looks like Iraq’s going the Iranian Way, but you can’t win ’em all. or any of ’em.)

    If anybody should understand that the cause of Freedom requires temporary sacrifices for a half century or thereabouts, it’s those noble rational idealists the Libervention Tendency: so stridently championed at Samizdata, and so determined not to connect the dots between bullying abroad and pushing around back home.

    ‘The State is not your friend.. unless it’s ‘nation building’ in somebody else’s state.’

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Milton G, your point is?

  • Verity

    Instead of monitoring all citizens, and spending billions of pounds of taxpayer money to do so, they need to make new laws specifically against Islamic terrorism – and name it. Not soften it with “the vast majority …” because we know that is not true. The government, specifically in the person of Tony Blair, lies because it is terrified. The “vast majority”, while not having the energy, guts or will (suicide, by and large, is a young man’s game) to bomb public places, believe the creation of Dar-as-salaam is a Good Thing because their god commanded it.

    Instead of cowering and whimpering in corners like puppies who’ve been caught weeing on the carpet, the government needs to be seen to take control.

    As a start, there should be an immediate fiat against wearing burqas in public places, like public buildings, libraries, banks, train stations and airports “for security purposes”. Burqa clad women trying to enter those premises should be told firmly to remove their burqa or go away. (This suggestion comes from the magnificent Fjordman, whose blog closed down for good yesterday.)

    No, there aren’t many women suicide bombers, yet, but the point is to confront them head on, so to speak, making it clear that our national security takes precedence over their tribal customs. The psychological impact, I guarantee, would be profound.

  • As a start, there should be an immediate fiat against wearing burqas in public places, like public buildings, libraries, banks, train stations and airports “for security purposes”. Burqa clad women trying to enter those premises should be told firmly to remove their burqa or go away.

    Upon penalty of what? How would you want these private/public entities to respond to a peaceful female Muslim who wants to conduct her business like everyone else?

  • Verity

    Charles Heuter – On penalty of not being allowed onto the premises.

    If she wants to conduct her business “like everyone else” she should follow the norms of “everyone else” and not conceal her identity. It is absurd to allow people into airports and train stations with their identity completely masked and we should make no concessions.

    Most suicide bombers are not women, but that is not the point. The point is, we must be seen to have ceased making concessions to aliens in our own country. This would be a widely reported first step and it would reveverbrate. It would demonstrate that we will not be bullied in our own country with the nonsensical demand that people wearing masks can enter banks, airports and train stations.

    It is a psychological move that is overdue. If you want to put a practical spin on it, we have no guarantee that what is under the mobile pillowcase is a woman.

  • Verity

    Hmmmm … coincidentally, great minds think alike. Me and Geert Wilders, who, I read after I posted above, has proposed a burqa ban in the Netherlands. Immigration minister Rita Verdonk, a conservative and a rather brave politician, is looking into it. If the Netherlands goes for it, they’ll be the first in Europe, but I guarantee they will not be the last.

  • Instead of putting wrongdoers into prisons, the PC state has decided to make the entire world a prison. One has to wonder if real, violent crime will be reduced. I’m even cynical enough to suggest that the data produced by these cameras will not be used by the government, since that would take effort and analytical skill, qualities not much in evidence in government functionaries. The main result will be to terrorize innocent citizens into obedience in all things. That would be reason enough for the nanny-staters to put a camera in everyone’s nose. I mean, if you have nothing to hide …

  • On penalty of not being allowed onto the premises.

    Could you be more explicit about what “public places” means? You initially said “public buildings, libraries, banks, train stations and airports” thereby covering nominally private businesses all the way to nominally state-owned entities.

    If she wants to conduct her business “like everyone else” she should follow the norms of “everyone else” and not conceal her identity.

    Is social conformity your actual premise or is it something else? Do other people have a right to know who you are when you leave your home?

  • *sigh* And once more the naked assertion, with no proof whatsoever, that “everything changed” on September 11, 2001.

    Nothing changed in reality, which was the same the day before the terrorist attacks on the United States, and the day after. The only thing that changed was some people’s perceptions of reality.

  • RAB

    Well the cheapest and quickest solution is to put a ban on further immigration from Muslim slums. No more child brides and husbands from illiterate stone age communities etc. But I think we all know why that dog wont hunt; The European Union!
    You’ve got to give Government it’s due it has loved the idea of Big Brother.And they have been doing it by increments for years.
    First it was security cameras in shops (to stop shoplifting was the excuse, though it doesn’t.But is really handy to study consumer choice patterns and ajust you retail stratergy accordingly.)
    Then it was speed cameras and now all of our streets will have cctv. Indeed it is already possible to walk from the Downs in Bristol all the way down to Templemeads station and be on camera every step of the way.
    We need a libertarian paint ball team to keep taking out these cameras, force them into conflict with the accounts department, as Hunter used to say.If half your cameras are out of action at any one time then the whole project will begin to look costly and ineffective

  • Stephen Hodgson

    Pete_London,

    ANPR has indeed been around for a few years – thankfully nothing near where I live (to my knowledge) but the majority of cameras you see monitoring roads (particularly motorways) at the minute are run-of-the-mill CCTV cameras, albeit better quality than a lot of the cameras you see in town centres but I don’t think they could be easily adapted to become ANPR cameras – that requires new cameras. However, the ‘traffic monitoring’ camera posts now established on our motorways and in some localised schemes have put in place the monitoring posts, the computer networks and the police control centres that will support a national ANPR system just as soon as the ANPR cameras are in place.

    Full-blown ANPR does seem to have been rolled out on a local basis in some places though. The best example of a local ANPR rollout is the London Congestion Charge zone, the perimeter of which is bounded by fixed and mobile (fitted to a police van) ANPR cameras to monitor vehicles as they enter and exit the zone. Whilst the London ANPR scheme was, of course, established on the grounds that it is a necessary component of ‘congestion charging’, I doubt the Met would deny that it is also used to track vehicles in the same way that it is intended a national ANPR camera network will track vehicles and, ultimately, individuals – through links to the DVLA database and insurance databases.

    Eventually, I’m sure the government would like to link a national ANPR scheme to the proposed National Identity Register, which itself will be indexed to the DVLA database – making it incredibly easy to build a highly-detailed record of individuals’ movements, for whatever purposes the government and the politicised chief constables fancy.

  • Verity

    Charles Hueter – Is social conformity your actual premise or is it something else?

    Are you intentionally misunderstanding my post or do you have poor comprehension skills? I said plainly and in unequivocal English that the point is we be seen to be taking control and taking action against terrorism, whether it offends immigrants’ “cultural norms” or not. Blair allows himself to be chivvied and bullied. Bullies, as we all know, push the weak around.

    All government premises should be off limits to anyone trying to enter with their identity concealed. Once that was in place for government premises, other institutions would follow, specifically banks.

    It is a sensible move. But specifically, it is an announcement to the terrorist community that our national interests prevail over their “culture”. If they want to operate in our country, they, not we, must be pliant.

  • Well, if you haven’t done anything wrong, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

    /sarcasm

    Call Ragnar. These things need to be destroyed in the dark of night by informed and brave patriots as soon as they go up.

  • Julian Taylor

    It still is. There’s a clear sign at the DTI HQ in Victoria Street that all motorcycle couriers must remove their helmets before entering the premises. Unfortunately in Blair’s NuBritannia women in burqas need not remove their headgear – which leads me to wonder how on earth do they get a security photo of a Muslim woman working in the civil service? Xrays?

  • Verity

    Being aware of how unpopular these devices are, they’ll start stationing armed guards next to them as they go up. And other, concealed or disguised, cameras. And spy satellites. And whatever.

    They are victimising 58m (comparatively) blameless Britons in the name of fighting terrorism, when they should be addressing the pool of potential terrorists.

  • Verity

    Julian Taylor, interestingly, there are also signs in banks in Malaysia, a Muslim republic, that motorcyclists have to remove their safety helmets. If I remember rightly, banks in Malaysia and Singapore also don’t allow anyone to enter wearing sunglasses.

  • sark

    Milton G is what we now call an Idiotarian. Opposing (and indeed overthrowing) a mass murderous tyrant is now a Bad Thing because the same people who did that are also abridging civil liberties at home.

    Likewise the ability to praise one thing (overthrow Saddam) whilst at the same time deploring others (post-Saddam lack of coherence) is also rather odd. It is not an all or nothing matter (either you are a Bush lover or Bush = Hilter in the weird world of people like Milton G).

    This inability to make some causal links and yet to conflate other quite seperate things is almost the defination of an Idiotarian.

  • Duncan

    “the government needs to be seen to take control”

    I’m sorry.. I thought this was a site based on the idea of freedom from government.

  • guy herbert

    damaged,

    I think it is pretty plain Milton’s “everything changed” is ironically meant. And regular readers of this blog will know I largely agree with his point although I don’t see a conspiracy so much as opportunnism.

  • Verity

    I’m sorry … I thought you knew that even Perry de Havilland thinks there is a role for the government in providing national security.

  • guy herbert

    Julian,

    […] how on earth do they get a security photo of a Muslim woman working in the civil service?

    I think you are missing the point of security photos, security interviews, security anything… It is not about information, but about creating procedures involving rituals of submission, placing people in psychological bondage to the organisation involved.

  • I’m sorry.. I thought this was a site based on the idea of freedom from government.

    Anyone can comment here, at least until they wear out their welcome

  • Keith

    “They are indistinguishable from the barbarians we are actively fighting, with the only difference being that they have different ideas about which group of thugs will be in charge of the “utopia”. They prefer themselves–a more secularly-oriented set of thugs–to rule”
    Dr. Patricia Santy, writing about Bush haters, but doesn’t it fit Tony’s Mob perfectly?

  • Perry E. Metzger

    Dearest friends in the United Kingdom;

    Certainly you are on the precipice of totalitarianism. It is possible that it will come to be regardless of your actions.

    However, I can guarantee that if you and other Britons of good will do nothing to oppose this, the outcome is already decided. If evil goes unopposed, it will triumph.

    You should quit simply moaning about this and take to the streets. Peaceably, to be sure, but you have to make it clear to your dictators-to-be that you are not fooled and have no intention of obeying. Fill Parliament Square with hundreds of thousands of “illegal” protesters demanding a new government and the return of civil liberties your ancestors fought and died for and which your people have enjoyed for centuries. Inform your MP that you and millions of others intend to systematically break every totalitarian law they pass until the jails are clogged.

    If you do not — if you sit back and wait for others to rise on your behalf — your future will be as an object lesson, rather than as a beacon of freedom. Action will not guarantee that you win, but inaction will guarantee that you lose.

    Perry

  • Are you intentionally misunderstanding my post or do you have poor comprehension skills?

    I wanted to confirm that your basis for your proposed burqa ban is security and not conformity to majoritarian norms.

    … we be seen to be taking control and taking action against terrorism…

    In other words, you want to impose symbolic law on people in order to send a message that the state is Doing Something. The regulated action does not have to constitute actual malice against another person to qualify for this message-sending, apparently.

    All government premises should be off limits to anyone trying to enter with their identity concealed. Once that was in place for government premises, other institutions would follow, specifically banks.

    Is this your way of telling me your idea of public places extends to private property, that you think you can tell the owner who he can allow on his property and why?

    And let’s be absolutely clear about this “on penalty of not being allowed onto the premises” stuff.

    A peaceful devout Muslim woman (yes, they do exist) wishes to open an account at a local bank. Verity’s Law says that banks cannot allow people to enter who have their facial features obscured (correct me if you really think just burqas should be banned). The woman tries to pass through the front doors but is told by security she cannot enter unless she removes it. She refuses, saying she thinks it is an affront to her god to do so. Security tells her, in essence, “tough shit, all banks in the UK are like this. Take it off or leave.”

    Now, if she says, “bollocks, I’ve done nothing wrong” and attempts to move inside, they’ll physically restrain her. I don’t know much about your political orientation, Verity, but I’m of the mind that it is only permissible to use force in self-defense or when delegated to by the owner of the property. So I’m open to the argument that if a private entity voluntarily banned burqas on its property, it should be allowed. I’ve no problem with businesses posting dress codes. That’s their right.

  • However, a government-imposed dress code is something to which I am opposed, particularly if the individuals affected have not committed a crime.

  • JVF

    The final sentence in this post implies parliament was never asked to approve this program. Kevin Drum is alleging this program was approved by parliament presumably latching on to the sentence half way through the article stating that the program “has the full backing of ministers who have sanctioned the spending of £24m this year on equipment.”
    So, British government lesson in 25 words or less, which is it, approved by parliament or not and why? If not approved, what allows government entities other than parliament to spend monies as they see fit?

  • John East

    Perry E Metzger,

    Thanks for the call to arms, and I most certainly agree that we are on the precipice of totalitarianism, but I should point out the following:

    ”You should take to the streets.”

    It’s cold out there, our citizens are well fed, and have all of life’s luxuries. In short they can’t be bothered.

    ”…protesters demanding …. the return of civil liberties your ancestors fought and died for…”

    We are quite poorly educated these days. Few know any history.

    ”Inform your MP that you and millions of others intend to systematically break every totalitarian law they pass until the jails are clogged.”

    Our jails are already full and we don’t plan to build any more.

    Sorry to be so negative, but I’m sure you get my drift.

  • Verity

    Charles Heuter, I don’t care whether you read posts carefully or not, but if you are going to comment and wish to engage other people to respond to you, I suggest that you do.

    I wrote, and assumed you had read as you quoted it: Once that was in place for government premises, other institutions would follow, specifically banks. You then jump up and down saying:
    “Is this your way of telling me your idea of public places extends to private property, that you think you can tell the owner who he can allow on his property and why?”

    Actually, it’s not my way of telling you anything, but what I said was once the government had put the ban in force, other intitutions would follow. Meaning, they would jump at the chance. Is it only Muslim women you are protective of, or would you like the ban on motorcycle helmets removed? Sunglasses?

    You write: A peaceful devout Muslim woman (yes, they do exist) You have absolutely no way of knowing whether this is true. You are making an assumption and presenting it as fact.

    You hypothesise a devout Muslim woman, who you know exists encounters a bank guard who tells her she can’t be admitted until she removes her burqa. She refuses, saying she thinks it is an affront to her god to do so.

    Well, she may be peaceful and she may be devout, but she certainly is stupid. Nowhere in the koran or the hadiths is a burqa mentioned or required. All that is required is that women “dress modestly”. It’s never been commanded that they walk around in black serge tablecloths and wear pillowcases over their heads.

    Don’t you think requiring that women submerge their identity and walk around completely completely tented is creepy?

  • Pete_London

    Guy Herbert, Stephen Hodgson, JVF

    I’ve been ferreting around on the ACPO site and came up with the ANPR STRATEGY FOR THE POLICE SERVICE – 2005/2008. It’s on the policies page, fourth link down.

    Well quelle surprise, Richard Brunstrom, the Mad Mullah of the North Wales Traffic Taleban, is pushing this. The document sets out the aims, goals, strategy blah blah of the ANPR. I’ve only been able to skim through it but the only mention I’ve seen so far regarding legislation is in section 6 of the appendix (page 14):

    New legislation and Associated Guidance

    New legislation, which will further assist ANPR operations, should be implemented during 2005. The ACPO ANPR Steering Group will continue to highlight to government further opportunities to legislate or amend regulations or guidance to increase the effectiveness of ANPR as these are identified. This will include pressing for the offences of disqualified driving and drink / drug driving to be incorporated into the key performance measure of Offences Brought To Justice, as these are serious offences that are increasingly being dealt with via ANPR intercepts.

    Nope, I’ve no ida what that 2005 legislation is, but let’s note that a bunch of coppers think it’s perfectly permissible to suggest new legislation to government to further their aims. I bet they do!

    The Freedom of Information Act also gets a mention, in section 8 of the appendix (page 14):

    Whilst information on ANPR will be generally available under FOI, operational and tactical information (e.g. camera site locations) and commercially confidential information should not be disclosed.

  • J. Random Engineer

    Before the Congestion Charge ANPR there was the City of London “ring of steel” after the IRA bomb.

    The recent ANPR scheme had much input from PA Consulting Group, who also designed the speed camera ‘partnership’ scheme. Search PA’s website for interesting info.

    Allegedly, Trafficmaster were hawking their plate-recognition technology & know-how round the corridors of power a year or so ago. (Trafficmaster cameras only capture a small proportion of plates that pass them.)

    Some idle back-of-the-envelope calculations for the ANPR total surveillance scheme, not necessarily accurate, just for fun, don’t bite me:
    # assume the average car does 10,000 miles a year = 30 miles a day,
    # cameras every 400 yds,
    # so the average car triggers 120 ish recording events per day,
    # assume 30 million vehicles on the roads,
    # giving roughly 3600 million events per day,
    # at that transaction rate and data rate the system must recognise plates locally before transmission to the database,
    # assume 10 bytes for the plate ID and 10 bytes for a timestamp,
    # yields 72 Gigabytes per day to transmit & store,
    # equals 52,560 Gigabytes over 2 years.

    That’s some pretty hefty & expensive system! Assume there’s 100 million credit card events per day in the UK and you’re talking many times larger than the VISA network.

    (And the government is going to make this work? The same government that ballses up every big computer project it attempts? The government that chucked away a billion plus on postoffice computerisation, Pathway, NIRS2, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseam.)

    Even with a 99.99% accuracy rate of recognition that’s a lot of dirty data. And the whole billion pound setup is defeated by a strategically placed 1p strip of black duct tape.

    You would have thought the crims had learned to clone their numberplates by now, or use foreign plates.

  • Amelia

    I suggest camera smashing, a la the Dutch. I further suggest that the camera smashers do so while wearing burkas. After all, why pass up such an excellent identity concealment method?

  • Verity

    Amelia – You are totally brilliant.

  • Verity, if you are going to continue bitching about my reading comprehension, I’d appreciate it if you’d spell my last name correctly. Ya got it right once, so you aren’t hopeless. It is Hueter, not Heuter. Furthermore, you’ve been studiously avoiding several of my questions. I invite you to “read…carefully…comment and…engage” them.

    Actually, it’s not my way of telling you anything, but what I said was once the government had put the ban in force, other intitutions would follow. Meaning, they would jump at the chance.

    This meaning was far from clear as originally written (…an immediate fiat…) and you certainly didn’t bother to state it outright after I asked quite politely. So, rather than a total outright legal prohibition against identity-concealing attire in all “public places” (your definition of which I am still waiting), you want the government to ban it on its facilities. Seeing this, you think private entities will then do so voluntarily? Given the “supine” nature of so many British citizens when the government asserts power, perhaps you are right.

    Is it only Muslim women you are protective of, or would you like the ban on motorcycle helmets removed? Sunglasses?

    Given that burqas are primarily worn by Muslim women, I felt the example was appropriate to the discussion. More generally, I am protective of people who have not intentionally and directly aggressed against others. That includes people who decide to take the risk of biking without a helmet or who dislike the glare of bright lights enough to wear shades.

    Speaking of one’s focus, why are you so concerned about banks? Has there been a rash of burqa robbers recently or something?

    You write: A peaceful devout Muslim woman (yes, they do exist) You have absolutely no way of knowing whether this is true. You are making an assumption and presenting it as fact.

    I started from that reasonable assumption, yes. I’ll go even further and say it is factual. Are you saying there are no such women?

    It was part of the premises from which I started. I wanted to establish the innocence of this hypothetical individual to highlight why I thought your idea was bad. I’m not assuming every female adherent to Islam is innocent in all aspects. Conversely, you also don’t know whether a random Muslim woman wearing a burqa is a Threat to National Security.

    Well, she may be peaceful and she may be devout, but she certainly is stupid. Nowhere in the koran or the hadiths is a burqa mentioned or required. All that is required is that women “dress modestly”. It’s never been commanded that they walk around in black serge tablecloths and wear pillowcases over their heads.

    Don’t you think requiring that women submerge their identity and walk around completely completely tented is creepy?

    What’s with the red herring? I’m an atheist and carry no water for codes of behavior that are based on what I consider to be fantasy. Yeah, I think it’s dumb to cover oneself from head to toe to keep gawd happy, especially in the scorching heat of the Middle East. So what? I think wearing a symbol of a brutal and agonizing way to murder someone (crucifixion) is a stupid way to advertise one’s religion. I think lots of things are creepy, especially people who want to use police violence against someone because they are dressed as to prevent instant facial recognition.

  • Verity

    Charles Hueter – Apologies for spelling your name wrong.

    I’m not going to engage further with you because you are not knowledgeable on this subject, and because you are a contrarian. Probably Euan Gray posting under a different nomme de guerre.

  • Thanks for the name awareness. No thanks for getting my identity wrong. I have no affiliation or association with Euan Grey.

    My comments still stand and I still think your idea is bad.

    Back to the topic of Mr. Herbert’s post, there are no real protections in the US against this sort of thing other than a fuddled mass outcry, which would probably occur without coherent reasoning beyond “privacy is a right!” Given the pressure to reduce illegal drug use/distribution, drunk driving, and of course terrorism, I can easily envision a near future where a linked network of Social Security #s, driver’s licenses, fingerprints, and so on is in full swing.

    And despite J’s envelopian calculations, we are talking about an institution that simply doesn’t give much of a damn if it’s programs go over budget. Civilians can buy 250 gigs of hard drive space for less than $100 per unit. At 52,560GB/yr, that comes to just over 210 250GB hard drives and at current prices that massive array can be had at a measly $21,000. It’s also a lot easier to spendspendspend when it ain’t your money that’s being spent.

    If I wanted such a pile of data, I wouldn’t count on the feds to compile it accurately or efficiently. But it would be encompassing enough to present a standing danger to nearly all people in the nation.

  • Verity

    Charles Hueter – I thought you must be American because you seem to have no depth of understanding of what is happening in Britain and much of Europe.

  • -War Is Peace
    -Freedom Is Slavery
    -Ignorance Is Strength

    Embrace Big Brother

  • John East

    I heard a news report the other day to the effect that thefts of number plates are soaring. I believe the number quoted was 10,000 in the last year. No points for guessing why this is happening.

    So come the big day when the government starts monitoring us 24 hours a day, the criminals and terrorists will drive around unimpeded brandishing their forged and stolen plates. The only people who will get their collars felt will be the victims whose plates were stolen or cloned.

    Pitty the poor sods whose cars are the same make and colour as the cars carrying their stolen plates. Imagine trying to talk your way out of that one.

  • Pete_London

    Don’t forget to have a chat with plod, just to find out all about ANPR. After all, it’s now a Police Service and they’re just there to help. From the ACPO document I linked to earlier:

    FURTHER CONTACT DETAILS

    For further details relating to ANPR and its use, please contact:

     Chief Constable Frank Whiteley, Hertfordshire Constabulary
    frank.whiteley@herts.pnn.police.uk or tel. 01707 354511)

     John Dean, National ACPO ANPR Co-ordinator
    anprcoordinator@northants.pnn.police.uk or tel. 01425 657759

     Inspector Nick Purdie, Police Standards Unit
    Nick.Purdie2@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk or tel. 020 7273 3709

  • Verity

    Nick Purdie – Police Standards Unit. I wonder what they do for a living.

  • John K

    My sister’s number plate was stolen the other day. I think the rise of the congestion charge and gatso infestation has led to a rash of these thefts. If this insane plan goes ahead there will be many more such thefts. Criminals don’t give a toss a bout the law. That’s why they’re criminals, and that’s why this is a piece of authoritarian population control disguised as a crime control measure.

    Only the innocent have anything to fear.

  • John K

    As an aside, and I may be clutching at straws here, I wonder where Brother Brown stands on all this fascist state bullshit?

    The man may not be a libertarian (!), but I’m not sure if he shares Phonio Antonio’s messianic zeal to spy on every detail of national life. I believe he was no supporter of the ID card plan. It may be that he’s wary of these plans simply on account of the huge costs involved, which is something that does not bother Bliar in the slightest. But just as I feel that Brown would not have bent over to accept Frere Jacque’s tough love quite so willingly as the Dear Leader, equally, he might not be so willing to spunk away so many billions on ID cards and ANPR scams. Especially as the money to pay for them will now be building the Warsaw tube network.

    As I said, I may be clutching at straws, but il Duce won’t be around for ever.

    And on that cheery note, a happy Winterval to all Samizdatists.

  • What makes you think that they need Parliamentary authorisation? Parliament votes the Crown a money bill each year. Anything not hypothecated in the bill, the Crown is free to spend as it likes. It’s like when your parents gave you pocket money, except that your pocket money would never quite stretch as far as taking away the privacy of everyone in the UK.

  • Smash the f*****g cameras! Seriously, smash them. It’s a lot quicker to break one than to replace it.

  • Yeah…smashing the cameras. Thing is, the govt would almost certainly love an excuse to introduce “really stringent anti-tampering” measures in response. Like having the cameras spray CS gas when they become obscured. That would conveniently set a precedent, and be fine and proportionate, because cameras won’t be anywhere near innocent people, because no-one walks alongside motorways. See?

    Mass protests in general, and probably the formation of some sort of political party might work a bit better.

  • Verity

    Marcin Tustin – There will be no mass protests. The British will complain that one more intrusion into the lives of the citizenry has arrived, and innit awful. Blimey, mate – it’ll be cameras in the bedroom next – “It wont me, love. It was the bleedin’ govament – don’t tell the missus, nudge nudge, wink wink! Har har har har har!”

    Others will write to the papers and say they’re absolutely furious and they’d certainly never put up with this kind of thing in France. The hen house will flutter for a while, then everything will settle back down to normal. And one gigantic liberty will have been quietly snipped off British life.

    The British are lazy. And they have been immunised with leftist toxin for almost a hundred years – partly via Lord Reith and the loathesome BBC, partly through the elevation of people like Bertrand Russell to some grand pantheon of suppliers of received wisdom, partly … well, you name it.

    What will be done by the British public about this new outrage? Absolutely nothing. They’re passive. If it doesn’t work, it will be because they are also incompetent and the government couldn’t get it to work. Then it will be semi-abandoned and left to moulder. There are plenty of thoughtful, brave people in Britain, but their numbers are far from large enough to organise an effective protest.

  • Verity – although the English are typically passive, it only takes a small hard core to organise protests.

  • Verity

    Marcin Tustin – Yes, of course it does. But for it to gather momentum, there has to be an underlying discontent, and underlying anger that precious liberties are being infringed. Sadly, I predict it will not be there.

    The government will say it’s an anti-terrorist measure. ‘Nuff said. That they are surgically removing the liberty of 58m people in order to thwart perhaps 2,000 or 3,000 putative terrorists won’t be mentioned.

    I keep saying, it is lunacy not to attack it the other way round. Remove the liberties of terrorist suspects and their families if necessary. Maybe 30,000 people. Perhaps fewer. With good reason, deport them. Or intern them. But the socialist/Gramscian courts wouldn’t agree. And the Today Show would foam at the mouth and Jeremy Paxman would come up with a totally new sneer.

    For the cameras taking photos of the licence plates of people who are not under suspicion of anything, the BBC will have nothing more than a yawn and a quiet conspiratorial giggle in the canteen. Oh, and an item on its Have Your Say site asking: “Do those against having anti-terrorist cameras along the motorways hold a dated, hard right view of modern Britain?”

  • I’d like to make it clear that I totally dissociate myself from Verity’s ethnic and religious profiling views. Only by maintaining (and increasing) liberty for all can “we” (however you want to construct that) demonstrate moral superiority over any other vision of society. Any move to restrict the liberties of religious or ethnic minorities will only fuel the firesmall flame of terrorism.

  • Verity

    Marcin Tustin – I stand re-educated.

  • Damn, that was easy. Maybe I can work my magic on Blair too?

  • Larry Anderson

    Pass the word that the cameras will also be used to enforce the fox hunting ban.. That seems to be the only way to rile the gentry to protest.

  • Verity

    It’s not amusing. The carpet of your ancient liberties, which the British have confidently taken for granted for tens – perhaps hundreds – of generations, has been pulled out from under you by a very malignant individual. Once gone, they’re gone. The encroachment of the police state progresses in Britain basically unimpeded. Who’s going to say them nay? Dave?

  • Gengee

    We could always take the bus or the metro or the train, for surely in Nulabour Britain these will become pleasant, punctual, inexpensive and frequent.
    Also this would afford the Government the ability to check individual faces, from the cameras that are more and more becoming prevalent on Public Transpot, (to stop the yobs, you understand, and protect the employees), rather than merely numberplates from cars which may carry several people.
    Furthermore it will dovetail nicely into the GPS tracking for all vehicles which is being mooted as a replacemt for the Roadfund License.
    The added advantage of the Roadfund License being tied to Insurance and Driving licenses and having access to the DVLA database will become even more of a benefit when The NationaL Identity Card and driving license become amalgamated.

    The Future is Bright. And apparently they are soon to be far more easily trackable too. Tinfoil hats are now necessary.

    Later

  • guy herbert

    We could always take the bus or the metro or the train, for surely in Nulabour Britain these will become pleasant, punctual, inexpensive and frequent.
    Also this would afford the Government the ability to check individual faces, from the cameras that are more and more becoming prevalent on Public Transpot,…

    That’s not quite how it would be done. For all the fanfare, facial recognition technology is very, very poor. One might almost suspect the fuss about it was misdirection, but that’s a bit too paranoid: it is probably that politicians and chief police officers are as suckered by the analogy of human faculties as the ordinary punters. Of course if you have a suspect on a journey, you’d have humans watch the video file (or a live feed if available).

    What’ll be pushed is electronic self-tracking tickets like Oyster . And for one-off long distance journeys ‘proving your identity’ will be encouraged if you buy your ticket for cash… It might be drug! or terrorist! money- laundering!, or proceeds of crime! (Which definition is so broadly drawn it probably is, even if you can’t remember breaking the law.) You might be about to bomb the train!

    Credit card applications will require ID numbers anyway–Know Your Customer, Mr Mastercard Provider–so that mode of purchase can be tied into the database.

    “We need to know who people are.”

    We need to know people are who they say they are.”

    “We need to know who’s here and who they are, so that we can track them.”

    All very inclusive, this weeing; but somehow I don’t think my own thirst for knowledge is being taken into account. Why should we pay any attention to their demands?

  • Pete_London

    Marcin Tustin

    It’s just as well you were so clear in disassociating yourself from Verity’s comments, as up to then I couldn’t figure out if Verity was speaking her own mind or not. There’s no such squeamishness here though – you can associated me fully.

  • guy herbert

    New legislation, which will further assist ANPR operations, should be implemented during 2005.

    Might be the new Road Safety Bill, currently running a bit late, so they might have expected it in 2005. It contains all sorts of interesting provisions, including the creation of a personal driving record maintained by the Government which will carry all details of driving offences committed by that person (cl.7), allowing for speed cameras to have more than that function alone (! – cl.16), the capacity to require the surrender and reapplication for any driving license of an older pattern, permitting driving licenses to be used to force people onto the National Identity Register (cl.28), regulation of licence plates and their suppliers (ccl.33, 34, 35), and (in the most obscure language) scope for elaboration of and datasharing in relation to, information kept on vehicle registrations and required to be provided in relation to the sale and transfer of vehicles (ccl.36, 37, 38).

  • guy herbert

    Larry Anderson:

    Already thought of–and advocated by Chief Constables.

    Cameras in the trees will spy on hunts – Daily Telegraph, 12 Sep 2004

  • Pete_London

    guy herbert

    Thanks for the reminder about cameras to be used to spy on hunts. It gave me a right old laugh at the time and still does. From the link:

    Police are planning to use spy cameras in the countryside to enforce a ban on fox hunting. Chief constables intend to site CCTV cameras on hedgerows, fences and trees along known hunting routes to enable them to photograph hunt members who break the law after hunting with hounds is outlawed.

    And

    Mr Blunkett, however, was said to be enthusiastic about the idea, believing that cameras would be an affordable way of allowing police to identify where illegal hunts are taking place before moving in. An aide said: “This is the sort of imaginative policing solution that we will need to be able to police this ban, without incurring massive extra costs.”

    How did that drongo ever make it into Parliament? Cameras in hedgerows and trees! Dear God, he is truly insane. And it’s given me the giggles again.

  • Pete_London

    Guy Herbert

    Chief Constable Frank Whiteley of the Herts Constabulary is the ACPO lead on this. He wasn’t available when I called but I did manage to have a chat with Inspector Christine Burden who absolutely, positively reassures me that ANPR is authorised by existing legislation. “So which statute?” says I. “I don’t know” she says. She’s off to find out and will call me back.

  • Pete_London

    She called me back. According to Inspector Burden there is no legislation explicitly supporting ANPR. She didn’t directly say that but that’s what she was admitting to. According to her, the power to stop a vehicle is contained in the Road Traffic Act (1991 IIRC) and ANPR is being developed as an intelligence tool to assist in identifying vehicles used by criminals. There was little else she could say about it.

  • Julian Taylor

    The woman tries to pass through the front doors but is told by security she cannot enter unless she removes it. She refuses, saying she thinks it is an affront to her god to do so. Security tells her, in essence, “tough shit, all banks in the UK are like this. Take it off or leave.”

    Unfortunately for the woman … tough. Banks have a complete right to assert that the person withdrawing cash, transferring funds or doing other bank transactions is indeed the actual account holder. Again it is unfortunate that the only method you could reliably use to ascertain the identity of a woman in full burqa is through fingerprint or retinal checks on Blair/Blunkett’s biometric ID card.

  • Verity

    Pete_London – I didn’t understand your comment addressed to Marcin Tustin.

    Julian, of course a bank or anyone else has the right to decide who to admit to its premises. I would imagine there are many shops in Luton, say, who would prefer anonymous ambulatory black blobs swathed in voluminous garments under which you could conceal much shoplifted booty, would not come in their stores, especially when travelling in gaggles.

  • Verity

    Pete_London – I’ve always thought David Blunkett was a loony. I never understood why everyone held him in such awe.

    Further to this “devout, peaceful Muslim woman” who feels removing her burqa would be an affront to her god, if her god is offended by the face of 50% of the human race, how does he feel about , well, slavery, for example? Oh, wait a minute! – slavery’s OK. It’s mentioned approvingly many times in their holy book. OK, well, how about let’s say, murder?

    Well, there again, it depends on who you’re murdering. If it’s an infidel, no probs because they’re not really human anyway. Removing a burqa, big sin. Murdering people, yawn.

    BTW, I just read that chador and burqa wearers grow up with rickets because the sun never gets to their bones. So underneath the black tablecloths, they’ve got bow legs!

  • The cameras will have NO effect on terrorism or crime.
    The bombings of 7/7 were caught on camera,the police are interviewing some suspect DNA.

    Criminals will steal a car, commit crime torch the car and steal another,they alteady have this operating procedure in place

    What must be stressed if the deletirious effect cameras will have on wildlife,radiation emitted by the cables that connect them.The risk to unborn burrowing creatures is enormous.

    Cameras will also be an intrusion of the sex life of the British,at risk will be gay people and those having affairs.

    It it also unfair to put temptation in the way of criminal elements,those cameras are valuable.

    But most seriously,the cameras might capture the uncoverd faces of Muslim women.

    The only advantage I can see is in prosecuting police drivers speeding.

  • Verity

    It occurs to me that chadors and burqas don’t give Islamic RuPauls much to work with, really.

  • Julian Taylor,
    She is the first wife of an Arabian Sheik,same rules.

  • Verity

    She could be one of the wives of the 5,000 Saudi princes, in which case, the prince would buy the bank and then let her in with her burqa on. She could lope in on her rickety legs.

  • Pete_London

    Verity

    I was being sarcastic towards Marcin Tustin, who pompously disassociates himself from your comments – as if someone somehow could confuse your words for his.

  • Verity

    Oh. I usually catch onto to your sarcasm faster than that! My irony meter batteries must have been running low.

  • Verity

    RuPaul’s got fabulous legs, so he wouldn’t be able to do a drag act of a bow-legged burqa babe anyway, even with sequins and feathers.

  • Julian Taylor

    I read recently that under Sharia law if a man is found to have a thing for camels, sheep, goats, male children or other men then the fault lies not with him but with his mother, for not raising him properly, or with his wife, for not being more accomodating to him.

    Maybe they use the defence that. “I was sick of making love to bow-legged women and at least my camel doesn’t suffer from ricketts.”

  • spiny widgmo

    My suggestion is that for any invasive technology like this, every elected and appointed official shall have their records made publically available with a, say, one month delay.

  • Verity

    spiny widgmo – oh, yes. No problem getting that through Parliament. None at all.

  • Verity

    Most chilling of all of Guy Herbert’s post was this:

    “Perhaps it is just our turn to live under totalitarianism, and our children’s and grandchildren’s too …”.

    Actually, Mr Herbert, I fear this is true.

    Inexplicably, although, obviously, there always is an explanation, Britain gave itself away – first to the communist/Gramscians and then, powered by them, to “Europe”. Traitors Heath and Blair and his wife (and Campbell and cohorts), Heseltine, Patten float to the consciousness.

    Why would a successful nation commit suicide? How persuasive the left must have been to persuade so many to abandon their country. Of course, the BBC is very powerful and has always been a hard left/Bertrand Russell/ban-the-bomb (hi there, Tony and Cher!) type organisation … and the “National Health” … what a strange history and now giving itself away to Europe for no gain whatsoever and the alien Islamists who mean devastating harm.

    It’a horrible, but I think Guy Herbert is right. Maybe, like eastern Europe, in another post, by Adriana, they will recover after 40 or 50 years. That’s about three to four generations. The same length of time the Islamics have been in Britain and occasioned hate laws and speech laws, slashing ancient freedoms, by a cowardly prime minister.

  • When it comes to cameras, some might find this interesting.