CCTV on America's streets

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CCTV on America's streets

Postby Haggis@wk » Mon Jul 30, 2007 1:00 pm

ABC News has published a fascinating poll on the use of public surveillance systems for law enforcement, and the results will surprise many, especially civil libertarians. Over 70% of Americans support British-style CCTV systems in the US, and that support crosses all demographic boundaries.

I am firmly in the 30%. I saw these going up in the UK when I was there and I was horrified. The main justification put forward then was to gather evidence for terror attacks (remember the IRA? Yeah, me neither…) The main justification put forward now is to gather evidence for terror attacks, and criminal behavior, oh, and every now and then a real b****’in “X-Rated” blurb on U tube of people engaging in “personal behavior” unknowingly being filmed and posted by anonymous British employees of the police departments .

As a security professional I can tell you CCTV does not deter criminal behavior although it does help solve it sometimes.

I do believe that any governmental agency, business or private enterprise has the right to install CCTV in a designated place of business for whatever reason. Surprisingly, the main use of CCTV is usually for safety reasons or to document personal misconduct.

He drove the forklift off the 4 ft dock backwards during a “backwards forklift race”?

The welder started a fire while welding next to an exposed open can of gasoline?

He hurt his back doing back flips off the dock into a trash container he thought was filled with soft trash?


In my personal experience, “yes” to all of these. Trust me, human imagination is the single most constructive – and DISTRUCTIVE – force in our universe. (see "Jackass, the Movie")

I just have a inherent loathing that my presence on a city street of mainstream USA is the appropriate venue for overt law enforcement surveillance.

I suspect from the survey that my loathing is not shared by many Americans but as the recent attempt to use law enforcement resources for political gain in New York has demonstrated, when you have the ability to track people and record their actions, someone will abuse that ability.

And with the advent of computerized digital facial recognition and computerized digital license number tracking (and THAT’S been around for decades!) the ability to just plug your name or license number into the data base and then pull up your every move through the streets of America will be an unresistable temptation to someone to use that information for personal or political gain.

I hate the thought and personally think it is manifestly goes against the words and intent of the Constitution.

Your thoughts?
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Mon Jul 30, 2007 2:32 pm

I'm of two minds on the subject, Haggis. My reaction is that anyone in public should not be doing anything that other folk would find objectionable. My next reaction, in view of your remarks re digital tracking, is that full surveillance plus tracking would very nearly constitute defacto invasion of privacy.

I guess it comes down to who is doing the tracking, who is in charge of what gets tracked, and whether I trust them. Hmm. Let's see. Politicians in charge?

Whoops! Haggis is right!
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Postby Shapley » Mon Jul 30, 2007 3:19 pm

Haggis,

I believe that, since the surveillance is random in nature (i.e., it records everyone who happens to pass that particular spot) it does not infringe in the individual rights of those being monitored, at least that is how the legal scholars are likely to look at it. Since the cameras do not follow individuals, they do not selectively record the actions of individuals, and they do not discriminate against certain individuals, their presence is not an undue infrimgement on the rights of people. They are, in essence, a logical extension of the police booth on the corner, the highway patrolman behind the billboard, and the two-way mirror.

Additionally, since the municipality 'owns' the street in the much the same manner as the local 7-11 owns its' premises, they have the right to monitor activity that occurs within those premises. The Constitution defines 'roads' as postal routes, and allows their construction for that purpose. Our use of those public routes is a priviledge awarded, not a right granted, in the strictest legal sense. Since we have no right to use the roadways but are granted license to do so by the State or Federal government, they have the right to set the conditions under which that license is granted. Presumably, those conditions can include monitoring, whether by sight, radar, or electronic surveillance. I recall a similar fuss when radar first began to be deployed to catch speeders.

Mind you, I don't support all of this extension of power, but it is price we pay for the license we have given the government(s) for the construction and maintenance of public throughfares and every other convenience we expect the government to provide. We've made a bargain with the devil, and the devil always collects his due. I don't see a lot of difference between the motorcycle cop behind the billboard and the security camera on the corner. We have allowed the one to exist for far to long to expect them to draw the line at the other. Does it really matter whether the police hide behind a billboard, a two-way mirror, or a remote camera? I think not. If we tolerate surveillance, we have to accept it even in its most unpleasant forms.

What I want to know is, what happened to jurisdictional boundaries? Used to be there was a clear line between what the FBI, the Highway Patrol, and the local Sheriff had the authority to do or not to do with regards to law enforcement. Now we have 'multi-jurisdictional' agencies, 'Federal Police", and other groups operating sans boundary. This, I believe, is a significantly bigger problem than the camera on the corner.

There should, however, be severe penalties for violating the public trust by posting the embarrasing images on the web. Being entrusted with guardianship of the public carries great responsibility.

V/R
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Postby Haggis@wk » Mon Jul 30, 2007 6:14 pm

There should, however, be severe penalties for violating the public trust by posting the embarrasing images on the web. Being entrusted with guardianship of the public carries great responsibility.


Com'on Shapley, we can't find out (or, more sadly, don't care) who is traitorously leaking highly classified programs to the media. You think we're going to find out who leaks a pornographic video of hizzoner in the car park with Sally Strumpet?
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Postby dai bread » Mon Jul 30, 2007 7:39 pm

We've had surveillance cameras in the CBD here for some time. The most common complaint is that they're not monitored closely enough. There have been several instances of thuggery that would have been picked up & dealt with if there had been a monitor on duty, but there wasn't, and they weren't.

My own opinion is that cameras on the street are just an extension of cameras at work, and are there for the same purpose, i.e. the detection of malefactors. If anyone is interested in anything I do downtown, they must lead very dull lives.

I have no time for those who snog in public, be they Hizonner or a street sweeper. Anyone who does that is putting themselves on display, and if their antics reach an audience of millions rather than dozens, so be it. I might add that I have seen such displays, one in particular in front of an audience of hundreds. Alcohol works wonders on privacy considerations.
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Postby Haggis@wk » Mon Jul 30, 2007 9:23 pm

MPs outlaw satire in New Zealand

New Zealand's Parliament has voted itself far-reaching powers to control satire and ridicule of MPs in Parliament, attracting a storm of media and academic criticism.

The new standing orders, voted in last month, concern the use of images of Parliamentary debates, and make it a contempt of Parliament for broadcasters or anyone else to use footage of the chamber for "satire, ridicule or denigration".

The rules apply any to broadcasts or rebroadcasts in any medium.
They also ban the use of such footage for "political advertising or election campaigning", except with the permission of all members shown.


Okay, Dai, I have no editorial comments (other than don’t tell John McCain) until after I’ve heard from you. I just assume that it’s a Southern hemispheric “April Fools Day” down there….comments???
Last edited by Haggis@wk on Tue Jul 31, 2007 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Shapley » Mon Jul 30, 2007 9:54 pm

Com'on Shapley, we can't find out (or, more sadly, don't care) who is traitorously leaking highly classified programs to the media. You think we're going to find out who leaks a pornographic video of hizzoner in the car park with Sally Strumpet?


I'll agree it's more a matter of 'don't care' than 'can't'. It should be a fairly simple matter to make access to the videotapes and the recording equipment highly restricted. One person is placed in charge of them, with the understanding that, in the event of a 'leak' of information under his protection, the leaker is to be punished, or the 'keymaster' will be. Unless and until that information is needed for court, it does not leave the 'vault'. Once a few heads have rolled over sloppy handling, the message will get out that business is meant. Unfortunately, business is seldom meant. An unpopular mayor or an ambitious police chief will result in sloppy handling at the vault, with resultant leaks from unidentified sources and no real effort to identify those sources.

It doesn't change the fact that the CCTV is recording public actions in public places. I think we should go after those who misuse the data, rather than stopping the gathering of data. The mere fact that we can't (or won't) persue the misusers does not make the data itself evil.

V/R
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Postby jamiebk » Mon Jul 30, 2007 10:15 pm

Shapley wrote:One person is placed in charge of them, with the understanding that, in the event of a 'leak' of information under his protection, the leaker is to be punished, or the 'keymaster' will be. Unless and until that information is needed for court, it does not leave the 'vault'. Once a few heads have rolled over sloppy handling, the message will get out that business is meant. Unfortunately, business is seldom meant. An unpopular mayor or an ambitious police chief will result in sloppy handling at the vault, with resultant leaks from unidentified sources and no real effort to identify those sources.
V/R
Shapley


Yeah...kinda works like the Valerie Plame thing eh? No problem bringing those leakers to justice. :lol:
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Postby Shapley » Tue Jul 31, 2007 8:06 am

The Valerie Plame leaker is known, and was known from the beginning of the 'investigation'. As Haggis said, and I agreed, it is a matter of 'don't care', not 'can't'. The whole Valerie Plame thing was about discrediting the White House. 'Gettiing' Mr. Armitage wouldn't have done much, since he was not a 'Bush Man'. Thus, we got a drawn out investigation of Vice President Cheney and those around him in a dishonest effort to discredit Vice President Cheney and President Bush. They knew from the outset that there was nothing there, since they already had Armitage's name as the source, but they were able to use the investigation to sow distrust for well over a year.

They didn't care about the truth, and that, unfortunately, is the way the game of politics is played.
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Postby barfle » Tue Jul 31, 2007 8:09 am

The government of England is not subject to the restrictions of our Constutution, so whatever they do to themselves is beyond my ability to influence, so it's useless for me to be concerned about it.

I spent about 15 years in CCTV, although it was in the manufacturing and installation end of it rather than using it as a tool, so I don't know any statistics about its ability to prevent crime. I do know that most of the pictures are useless in identifying those who most need identifying, though, because of the incompetence of the installers and/or maintenance (and I've seen some really, really, really bad installations).

I do know of people who deliberately perform a variety of acts for the CCTV cameras. Some of them even have their identities recorded because they used their ATM card. But most of the recorded pictures are never viewed, so those performances are lost as soon as the memory needs to be reused.

I know the Constitution authorizes "post roads," although I doubt if our postage pays for any roads. The Interstate highway system is quite a stretch of that phrasing.

I don't know how the cameras are being used in England - are they being monitored by live people, or are they just being recorded for use if and when an incident occurs? I know the vast majority of the surveillance tapes and digital recordings made on my former employer's equipment are never viewed, because no incident was reported. Sometimes recordings are reviewed for quality control purposes, and that's usually when the exhibitionists are discovered. And if that's 1% of the recordings being made, I would be surprised.

But I find the gathering of information on law abiding people is ominous. When I'm on private property, I need their permission to be there, and in order to get that permission, I have to agree to certain conditions, which may include being photographed. If I object to those terms, I won't trespass. But a public road is an entirely different animal. It's rarely possible for me to navigate around a city without using public roads, so there is no voluntary agreement to being photographed on them.

I'm with Haggis on this one. Although I don't really understand how it jibes with his position on security and vulnerability.
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Postby Haggis@wk » Tue Jul 31, 2007 9:50 am

I was a high-end user of CCTV and can tell you the quality, even in low light, is as good as anything you see on TV. All high-end CCTV is digital and recorded to hard drives. And it can be used in real time although the only uses there would probably be law enforcement.

I watched a BBC program lat year that documented the police use of video to track a would-be bank robber from his home to where he had stashed a weapon and into the front door of the bank where he was apprehended. Of course, the police had prior knowledge of his intent and were able to track him because of that but they had tracked him across a large portion of the city where he lived (forgot which one)

Before I left TI in 2001 I was assisting on a research project where items being recorded were give a digital "signature." The signature allowed the item to be tracked as it moves through any camera hooked to the original system. In the research most of the items used for tracking were suitcases. It was amazing to me that several similar and nondescript suitcases could be individually singled out and remain recognizable from various angles across several cameras at various light levels. At the time the accuracy for tracking one among many similar objects was probably less than 50% but that was over 7 years ago. I’m sure advances in software and CCTV quality have increased those odds.

Facial Recognition System aren’t as well developed as Automatic Number Plate Recognition but they are getting better all the time and some advances are proprietary and are not shared. Gambling casinos have invested heavily in FRS’s and some of the bigger casinos have formal research partnership with the companies developing the FRS’s so they can keep the improvements secret.

England deployed a FRS as far back as 1998 and it was used in the 2000 Olympics in LA.

Tampa tried and quit using a FRS in 2002/3 saying it didn’t work well enough. The important thing to realize is that the technology has gone from the theoretical to application, albeit faulty, in a very short time frame.

Regardless, you can’t say the ANPR is faulty, jst ask anyone who has tried to sneak pass a tollbooth without paying. The Dallas North Texas Toll Authority’s ANPR is totally automated.

If you runs a tollbooth the system calls up the license plate for evaluation. If it has no record and it appears simply that the driver had no change and the booth had no operator the system’s programmed to ignore the violation but to keep the incident in a database. Enough violations interspersed with legitimate fee paying passage marks you as a sloppy scofflaw and you get a letter in the mail demanding payment with the appropriate “administrative fine” tacked on. The letter thoughtfully provides a color digital photo of each and every violation where you didn’t pay. If, on the other hand, there is no record that you have ever paid but continually use the toll roads the stakes can be escalated to larger fines, civil or even criminal prosecution. Oh, and if you’re car’s in the state’s database of unpaid traffic tickets or some other misdemeanor or felony crime the information is routed to the agency investigating you for additional charges.

None of this has any human intervention; the programs tied to the CCTV systems across North Texas do it all.

Human intervention comes into it when the states’ authority want to track you (for the time being only on the toll roads) the cops get a subpoena (much easier than a warrant) and give the license number to the toll authority. First they provided a copy of all activity of that car then set the system to alert them when it passes through a tollbooth. Did I mention that we have quick pass lanes that you can go through at 60mph? The cameras still catch you.

I know that our electronic privacy was compromised as soon as credit/debit cards became popular. I just hate to see our physical privacy go the same way. Don’t forget that we’re all supposed to have that federal ID card by next June.

“Big Brother” was a very real cautionary sign of the impending civil invidious encroachment of Socialism beginning in the late 40’s in England. Now it seems that it can also work the other way around; Big Brother will lead to Socialism.
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Postby Trumpetmaster » Tue Jul 31, 2007 9:58 am

Quote by Haggis
"Don’t forget that we’re all supposed to have that federal ID card by next June. "


Haggis,

Just started researching this from your post...

From what I read it is being done through DMV....
There are always Unlicensed drivers...

Seems like it will be too easy to get around "The System"

How in the world do they expect this to work and be enforced?

TM
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Postby Haggis@wk » Tue Jul 31, 2007 12:52 pm

Trumpetmaster wrote:Quote by Haggis
"Don’t forget that we’re all supposed to have that federal ID card by next June. "


Haggis,

Just started researching this from your post...

From what I read it is being done through DMV....
There are always Unlicensed drivers...

Seems like it will be too easy to get around "The System"

How in the world do they expect this to work and be enforced?

TM


If the Department of Homeland Security Secretary doesn't grant a state an extension to meet the certification requirements, then by May 11, 2008 (three years after passage of the REAL ID Act), all states must meet the government standard to become federally approved in order to gain entrance into a courthouse, onto a plane; receiving federal benefits, such as Social Security or Medicare, etc.

And unless your state meets those standards by next May (an impossibility) or the government grants extensions then, legally, you can be denied those services I mentioned above.

The Department of Homeland Security finally issued draft regulations on March 1, 2007, explaining how the states can meet these standards.

The Department of Homeland Security draft regulations would (1) impose more difficult standards for acceptable identification documents that could limit the ability of individuals to get a state drivers license; (2) compel data verification procedures that the Federal government itself is not capable of following; (3) mandate minimum data elements required on the face of and in the machine readable zone of the card; (4) require changes to the design of licenses and identification cards (5) expand schedules and procedures for retention and distribution of identification documents and other personal data; and (6) dictate security standards for the card, state motor vehicle facilities, and the personal data and documents collected in state motor vehicle databases.

These regulations create a de facto national identification system.

The states have been avoiding the realID program mandated by the federal government for two reasons; the cost and the stupidity of the program.

A showdown appears inevitable and I'm hoping DHS blinks first, if not then life gets uncertain next May.
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Tue Jul 31, 2007 1:00 pm

I wonder: does my official Federal DoD ID meet DHS criteria? How about my CA drivers license? They're both on credit-card sized plastic cards, have mag swipe strips on the back, the DoD one has a smart contact plate and something encoded in the speckly black square on the back...
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Postby Trumpetmaster » Tue Jul 31, 2007 1:02 pm

Haggis,

Thanks....

It seems pretty dumb to have this type of a program...

What about passports?
I just renewed mine (it's an official gov document)
and it's valid for I believe 10 years....

You would think this should be good enough....

The scary thing is I'm sure there are alot of people out
there that are not aware (as I - until I read this thread)
of this. If the state governments are avoiding this then
we citizens lose out...... when this goes into effect.....

Thanks again.
Valuable information...

TM
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Tue Jul 31, 2007 1:09 pm

I just found and downloaded the "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" and that rascal is 162 pages long. For the interested, it's Here.

And, no, my DoD ID does not conform to the rules. It will not be a sufficient ID to get me into the Federal building downtown, where my closest HR office is located. Nifty.
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Postby Haggis@wk » Tue Jul 31, 2007 1:33 pm

Selma in Sandy Eggo wrote:I wonder: does my official Federal DoD ID meet DHS criteria? How about my CA drivers license? They're both on credit-card sized plastic cards, have mag swipe strips on the back, the DoD one has a smart contact plate and something encoded in the speckly black square on the back...


In a word, no

The actual implementation date has been pushed back an additional year to Dec 2009, but the date the states must begin issuing them still remain June 2008….Go figure.

After December 31, 2009, "a federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a driver's license or identification card issued by a state to any person unless the state is meeting the requirements" specified in the real id act. States remain free to also issue non-complying licenses and IDs, so long as these have a unique design and a clear statement that they cannot be accepted for any federal identification purpose.

The federal transportation security administration is responsible for security check-in at airports, so bearers of non-compliant documents would no longer be able to travel on common carrier aircraft without additional screening. (NOTE That’s new, before you just couldn’t travel at all. I can’t even to begin what the “additional screening” will require but you can be sure it will be vigorous enough to force you to get a REAL ID or quit traveling.

In addition, the federal Social Security Administration, requires the states to maintain a “new hire” directory. Employers would no longer be able to accept, or ultimately hire, bearers of non-compliant documents for employment.

Also, financial institutions are required to assist the federal parent locator service, Financial institutions would require compliant documents from all customers. Bearers of non-compliant documents would be denied financial or banking services.

Each card must include, at a minimum, the person's full legal name, signature, date of birth, gender, driver's license or identification card number. It also includes a photograph of the person's face and the address of principal residence. It is required to have physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes.

It will use common machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements (the details of which are not spelled out, but left to the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation and the states, to regulate).

Before a card can be issued, the applicant must provide the following documentation:

A photo ID, or a non-photo ID that includes full legal name and birth date.

Documentation of birth date.

Documentation of legal status and social security number

Documentation showing name and principal residence address.

Digital images of each identity document will be stored in each state DMV database.

Each state must agree to share its motor vehicle database with all other states. This database must include, at a minimum, all the data printed on the state drivers' licenses and id cards, plus drivers' histories (including motor vehicle violations, suspensions, and points on licenses). Any state that does not link its database, containing records on all drivers and id holders, to the database of the other states loses its federal funding.

So, as current envisioned, each and every citizen of the United States who wants to travel, open a bank account, file for SS benefits, etc must apply for a new REAL ID approved driver’s license. The operative word there is “must apply” just like the first time you applied for your driver’s license. I don’t know about California but just getting my DL renewed (only had to provide SSAN) took 3 hours and I got in line at 06:30 here in Texas. Imagine what it will take for (lets be conservative) 100 million Americans to apply for a new card? And the actual numbers of American drivers is reportedly closer to 200 million

[smarmy comment]Well, gosh since the federal government was going to do 12 million background checks on “undocumented immigrants” in 24 hours, this won’t be that hard will it?[/smarmy comment]

This is going to be a disaster and a half. Later, of course, after we get our REAL IDs how long will it take to link the (next to be implemented) Federal Facial Recognition Program to the REAL ID database?
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Postby Trumpetmaster » Tue Jul 31, 2007 2:26 pm

Haggis,

I agree with you...
This will be a disaster....

Sad that our tax $$$ are being wasted on this.
You would think they would come up with a better plan....

TM
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Tue Jul 31, 2007 2:54 pm

It'll be quite a line, down at the DMV. I'll make an appointment, and bring a chair.

Sounds like I'll be able to cover all the bases, though, with my current license, a birth certificate, and my ancient, tattered, yellow original paper SSAN card (which I still have!). Maybe I should pack a lunch and some Excedrin, too.
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Postby Trumpetmaster » Tue Jul 31, 2007 2:57 pm

Selma in Sandy Eggo wrote:It'll be quite a line, down at the DMV. I'll make an appointment, and bring a chair.

Sounds like I'll be able to cover all the bases, though, with my current license, a birth certificate, and my ancient, tattered, yellow original paper SSAN card (which I still have!). Maybe I should pack a lunch and some Excedrin, too.


Selma,
A nice bottle of wine would do wonders!!!!

:rofl:
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