News article – Hi-def CCTV technology threatens our democracy

Photograph: Andrew Fox
An automatic number plate recognition camera to the right of a conventional CCTV camera in Sparkbrook in Birmingham.

High-definition CCTV cameras and facial recognition will bring a nightmarish future to our streets. A privacy law is long overdue

At what point will the British public realise that its privacy and freedom is in mortal danger? If the new surveillance commissioner Andrew Rennison is right about the development of high-definition and facial-recognition technologies in CCTV systems, it should be today, because these technologies represent an unprecedented threat. They are being allowed to proliferate without any regulation or consideration as to how they will eventually be deployed against the individual.

You can pay attention to this issue, or you can let it go. That’s what most of us did with the automatic number-plate recognition camera system (ANPR) which was installed on Britain’s major road and in town centres to watch in real time and log 90% of vehicle journeys. The decision was taken not by parliament but by the Association of Chief Police Officers ,“ whose proceedings are secret, because Acpo is a private limited company.

It is remarkable this was allowed in a country that prides itself on history of liberty. It is happening again, but with even greater implications for a free society. Rennison, a former police officer who has just been confirmed in the job of surveillance commissioner, paints a stark picture in the Independent: “A tiny camera in a dome with 360-degree view can capture your face in the crowd, and there are now the algorithms that run in the background.” The test data he has seen suggests that cameras will pick out a face in a crowd with a 90% success rate. Read more LINK


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