The CCTV cameras spying on hundreds of classrooms

CCTV monitors classrooms at one in 14 schools, according to a survey.

The poll of teachers also found that almost a quarter feared there might be more cameras hidden around the campus that they did not know about.

Most said their schools were fitted with surveillance cameras. Almost 80 per cent said there were cameras at the entrance and more than 7 per cent said there were some in classrooms.

Nearly 10 per cent of teachers polled by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said there were cameras in the lavatories.


Big brother is watching you: One in 14 schools is monitored by CCTV

Read moreThe CCTV cameras spying on hundreds of classrooms

‘Big Brother’ government costs us £20billion

The cost of Britain’s “surveillance society” measures is now running at £20 billion, a new report reveals today.

The amount is equivalent to £800 per household and includes £19 billion for the planned ID card system and £500 million for CCTV cameras.

The report by the TaxPayers’ Alliance was highlighted by David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, who stands in a by-election this week on the issue of civil liberties. Mr Davis resigned as an MP after the opposition failed to defeat Government plans to hold terrorism suspects for 42 days.

Mr Davis said: “This is yet further damning evidence of Big Brother’s expensive tastes. ID cards, CCTV, the DNA database and other measures are a huge waste of taxpayers’ money on policies that undermine freedom and are utterly ineffective in fighting crime or terrorism.

Read more‘Big Brother’ government costs us £20billion

Is Britain on the slippery slope to dictatorship?

The democracy-loving British public would never put up with dictatorship – or would they?

An 82-year-old former bomber pilot I met in the street the other day said: “Supermen. Ha! If Hitler had come over here we would have given him a proper kick up the jackside.” As Michael White suggests, British people are fond of the myth that they won’t tolerate dictatorships, despite the fact that there were many fascist sympathisers in Britain in the 1930s.

Yes, we do live in a relatively free and secular country – just ask any young Afghani woman studying at a college here for her opinion. But there is also evidence around us that the British government is engaging in repression. And not just in Iraq or Afghanistan, but here in Britain. Perhaps those of us who have lived for a time under dictatorships can spot some of the warning signs:

  • Inconvenient elections are avoided in the name of getting on with the job.
  • Leaders of the opposition are character-assassinated by the state media.
  • Institutions like the legislature begin to lose their independence and traditional role.
  • Citizens are increasingly afraid to speak openly on certain issues.
  • Citizens are observed and monitored on cameras and the government can tap into their conversations at will.
  • Governments can snatch anyone from their homes or off the street and detain them without trial on charges of treason or terrorism.
  • Ethnic and religious minorities are persecuted and are made into scapegoats.
  • The state increasingly intervenes in family and community life in an attempt to control citizens’ behaviour.
  • The focus of discussion moves away from the issues and into a narrative of political rivalries and gossip spreads.
  • Governments use bread and circuses to shut people up and distract attention away from their increasing political impotence.
  • Public spaces for demonstrations are closed down and restricted.
  • Large and ridiculous monuments are built to impress the citizens.
  • Individuals have to carry ID with them at all times and the government holds large amounts of information on every citizen.

How does the British government rate on the dictatorship scale? How close are we to Zimbabwe under Zanu? How far away are we from, say, Norway?

Read moreIs Britain on the slippery slope to dictatorship?

Big Brother CCTV Cameras In Airplanes

CCTV cameras are bringing more and more public places under surveillance – and passenger aircraft could be next.

A prototype European system uses multiple cameras and “Big Brother” software to try and automatically detect terrorists or other dangers caused by passengers.

The European Union’s Security of Aircraft in the Future European Environment (SAFEE) project uses a camera in every passenger’s seat, with six wide-angle cameras to survey the aisles. Software then analyses the footage to detect developing terrorist activity or “air-rage” incidents, by tracking passengers’ facial expressions.

The system performed well in tests this January that simulated terrorist and unruly passenger behaviour scenarios in a fake Airbus A380 fuselage, say the researchers that built it.

Systems to analyse CCTV footage – for example, to detect violence (with video) or alert CCTV operators to unusual events – have been designed before. But the SAFEE software must cope with the particularly challenging environment of a full aircraft cabin.

Threat indicators

As crew and passengers move around they often obscure one another, causing a risk the computer will lose track of some of the hundreds of people it must monitor. To get around this, the software constantly matches views of people from different cameras to track their movements.

“It looks for running in the cabin, standing near the cockpit for long periods of time, and other predetermined indicators that suggest a developing threat,” says James Ferryman of the University of Reading, UK, one of the system’s developers.

Other behaviours could include a person nervously touching their face, or sweating excessively. One such behaviour won’t trigger the system to alert the crew, only certain combinations of them.

Ferryman is not ready to reveal specifically which behaviours were most likely to trigger the system. Much of the computer’s ability to detect threats relies on sensitive information gleaned from security analysts in the intelligence community, he tells New Scientist.

Losing track

But Mohan Trivedi of the University of California, San Diego, US, is sceptical. He has built systems that he says can track and recognise individual people as they appear and disappear on different floors of his laboratory building.

It correctly identifies people about 70% of the time, and then only under “optimal conditions” that do not exist inside an airplane cabin, he says.

“[Ferryman’s] research shows that a system detects threats in a very limited way. But it’s a very different thing using it day in and day out.” Trivedi says. “Lighting and reflections change in the cabin every time someone turns on a light or closes a window shade. They haven’t shown that they have overcome these challenges.”

Ferryman admits that his system will require thousands of tests on everyday passengers before it can be declared reliable at detecting threats.

The team’s work is being presented this week at the International Conference on Computer Vision Systems in Greece.

Read moreBig Brother CCTV Cameras In Airplanes

China: Police State 2.0 is Ready for Export

Excerpts from the long but excellent article:

“Over the past two years, some 200,000 surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the city. Many are in public spaces, disguised as lampposts.”

“The security cameras are just one part of a much broader high-tech surveillance and censorship program known in China as “Golden Shield.” The end goal is to use the latest people-tracking technology — thoughtfully supplied by American giants like IBM, Honeywell and General Electric — to create an airtight consumer cocoon:”

“Like everything else assembled in China with American parts, Police State 2.0 is ready for export to a neighborhood near you.”

“This is how this Golden Shield will work: Chinese citizens will be watched around the clock through networked CCTV cameras and remote monitoring of computers. They will be listened to on their phone calls, monitored by digital voice-recognition technologies. Their Internet access will be aggressively limited through the country’s notorious system of online controls known as the “Great Firewall.” Their movements will be tracked through national ID cards with scannable computer chips and photos that are instantly uploaded to police databases and linked to their holder’s personal data. This is the most important element of all: linking all these tools together in a massive, searchable database of names, photos, residency information, work history and biometric data. When Golden Shield is finished, there will be a photo in those databases for every person in China: 1.3 billion faces.”

“Here is a small sample of what the company (L-1) does: produces passports and passport cards for American citizens; takes finger scans of visitors to the U.S. under the Department of Homeland Security’s massive U.S.-Visit program; equips U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan with “mobile iris and multimodal devices” so they can collect biometric data in the field; maintains the State Department’s “largest facial-recognition database system”; and produces driver’s licenses in Illinois, Montana and North Carolina. In addition, L-1 has an even more secretive intelligence unit called SpecTal. Asked by a Wall Street analyst to discuss, in “extremely general” terms, what the division was doing with contracts worth roughly $100 million, the company’s CEO would only say, “Stay tuned.””

“It is L-1’s deep integration with multiple U.S. government agencies that makes its dealings in China so interesting: It isn’t just L-1 that is potentially helping the Chinese police to nab political dissidents, it’s U.S. taxpayers. The technology that Yao purchased for just a few thousand dollars is the result of Defense Department research grants and contracts going as far back as 1994, when a young academic named Joseph Atick (the research director Fordyce consulted on L-1’s China dealings) taught a computer at Rockefeller University to recognize his face.”
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Thirty years ago, the city of Shenzhen didn’t exist. Back in those days, it was a string of small fishing villages and collectively run rice paddies, a place of rutted dirt roads and traditional temples. That was before the Communist Party chose it – thanks to its location close to Hong Kong’s port – to be China’s first “special economic zone,” one of only four areas where capitalism would be permitted on a trial basis.

The theory behind the experiment was that the “real” China would keep its socialist soul intact while profiting from the private-sector jobs and industrial development created in Shenzhen. The result was a city of pure commerce, undiluted by history or rooted culture – the crack cocaine of capitalism. It was a force so addictive to investors that the Shenzhen experiment quickly expanded, swallowing not just the surrounding Pearl River Delta, which now houses roughly 100,000 factories, but much of the rest of the country as well.

Read moreChina: Police State 2.0 is Ready for Export

Americans react to petrol price increases

Americans are adopting a host of measures in response to soaring petrol prices including driving more slowly to conserve fuel, going out of their way to find cheaper prices and even driving off from pumps without paying.

As petrol yesterday climbed to a new national record of nearly $3.65 a gallon (40p a litre) – with the price topping $4 in many places – drivers are trying to cut back on car use and swap once ubiquitous gas-guzzlers for more fuel efficient cars.

There has also been a surge in “drive-offs” across the country, where motorists leave petrol stations without paying.

In one Seattle case, a thief was caught on CCTV using a master key to unlock a station’s pumps after dark to fill up several barrels, CNN reported.

Elsewhere, motorists have been waking to find the petrol siphoned from their cars.

Read moreAmericans react to petrol price increases

Pictured: The moment a London tourist dies after screaming ‘I can’t breathe’ to police who restrained him

This is the moment a tourist died in the street after being restrained by police.

Frank Ogboru, 43, was sprayed with CS gas and pinned down after a minor row. CCTV footage captured him losing consciousness after screaming: “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.”

The Nigerian businessman, who was in London on holiday, stopped breathing and was declared dead in hospital.

Witnesses said officers had their “knees and feet” on him as he “wailed like a dog”.


Frank Ogboru is held down by four police officers in Woolwich with one appearing to have his knee on his neck

But the CPS decided there was “insufficient evidence” for any of the officers to be charged in connection with Mr Ogboru’s death in Woolwich in September 2006.

Speaking from her home in Lagos, Mr Ogboru’s widow, Christy, said: “I am crushed. I put my faith in the British system to give me justice but it has failed me.

“Frank was not a criminal. He did not deserve to die in the street like an animal.”

Read morePictured: The moment a London tourist dies after screaming ‘I can’t breathe’ to police who restrained him

CCTV boom has failed to slash crime, say police

Massive investment in CCTV cameras to prevent crime in the UK has failed to have a significant impact, despite billions of pounds spent on the new technology, a senior police officer piloting a new database has warned. Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe.

The warning comes from the head of the Visual Images, Identifications and Detections Office (Viido) at New Scotland Yard as the force launches a series of initiatives to try to boost conviction rates using CCTV evidence. They include:

· A new database of images which is expected to use technology developed by the sports advertising industry to track and identify offenders.

· Putting images of suspects in muggings, rape and robbery cases out on the internet from next month.

· Building a national CCTV database, incorporating pictures of convicted offenders as well as unidentified suspects. The plans for this have been drawn up, but are on hold while the technology required to carry out automated searches is refined.

Use of CCTV images for court evidence has so far been very poor, according to Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville, the officer in charge of the Metropolitan police unit. “CCTV was originally seen as a preventative measure,” Neville told the Security Document World Conference in London. “Billions of pounds has been spent on kit, but no thought has gone into how the police are going to use the images and how they will be used in court. It’s been an utter fiasco: only 3% of crimes were solved by CCTV. There’s no fear of CCTV. Why don’t people fear it? [They think] the cameras are not working.”

Read moreCCTV boom has failed to slash crime, say police

New anti-terrorism rules allow US to spy on British motorists

Routine journeys carried out by millions of British motorists can be monitored by authorities in the United States and other enforcement agencies across the world under anti-terrorism rules introduced discreetly by Jacqui Smith.

The discovery that images of cars captured on road-side cameras, and “personal data” derived from them, including number plates, can be sent overseas, has angered MPs and civil liberties groups concerned by the increasing use of “Big Brother” surveillance tactics.


Images captured by road-side cameras will be made available to foreign authorities
Images of private cars, as well as registration numbers, could be sent outside to countries such as the USA

Yesterday, politicians and civil liberties groups accused the Home Secretary of keeping the plans to export pictures secret from Parliament when she announced last year that British anti-terrorism police could access “real time” images from cameras used in the running of London’s congestion charge.

A statement by Miss Smith to Parliament on July 17, 2007, detailing the exemptions for police from the 1998 Data Protection Act, did not mention other changes that would permit material to be sent outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to the authorities in the US and elsewhere.

Her permission to do so was hidden away in an earlier “special certificate” signed by the Home Secretary on July 4.

The certificate specifically sets out the level of data that can be sent to enforcement authorities outside the European Economic Area (the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) by anti-terrorist officers from the Metropolitan Police. It says:

“The certificate relates to the processing of the images taken by the camera, personal data derived from the images, including vehicle registration mark, date, time and camera location.”
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A spokesman for Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, confirmed that the certificate had been worded so that the images of private cars, as well as registration numbers, could be sent outside to countries such as the USA.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police have been given the right to view in “real time” any CCTV images from cameras that are meant to be enforcing the congestion charge.

Sources said that officers would access the cameras on behalf of overseas authorities if they were informed about a terrorism threat in the UK or elsewhere. They would then share the images, which can be held for five years before being destroyed, if necessary.

Last night, Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: “This confirms that this Government is happy to hand over potentially huge amounts of information on British citizens under the catch-all pretext of ‘national security’.”

Civil liberties campaigners said they were appalled that images of innocent people’s journeys could end up in the hands of the British police, let alone foreign investigators.

They feared that it was a move towards the US-style system of “data mining” – in which powerful computers sifted millions of pieces of information as they tried to build patterns of behaviour and match them to material about suspects.

Gus Hosein, who runs Privacy International, said he was making a complaint to the information commissioner having obtained a copy of the certificate.

However, the Home Office defended the powers in the certificate, which was signed specifically for the purposes of counter terrorism and national security.

A spokesman declined to say how many times images had been sent from London to other countries.

However, he added: “We would like to reassure the public that robust controls have been put in place to control and safeguard access to, and use of, the information.”

By Toby Helm and Christopher Hope
Last Updated: 3:06am BST 21/04/2008

Source: Telegraph

The Pentagon’s battle bugs

Biological weapons delivered by cyborg insects. It sounds like a nightmare scenario straight out of the wilder realms of science fiction, but it could be a reality if a current Pentagon project comes to fruition.

Right now, researchers are already growing insects with electronics inside them. They’re creating cyborg moths and flying beetles that can be remotely controlled. One day, the US military may field squadrons of winged insect/machine hybrids with on-board audio, video or chemical sensors. These cyborg insects could conduct surveillance and reconnaissance missions on distant battlefields, in far-off caves, or maybe even in cities closer to home, and transmit detailed data back to their handlers at US military bases.

Today, many people fear US government surveillance of email and cell phone communications. With this program, the Pentagon aims to exponentially increase the paranoia. Imagine a world in which any insect fluttering past your window may be a remote-controlled spy, packed with surveillance equipment. Even more frightening is the prospect that such creatures could be weaponized, and the possibility, according to one scientist intimately familiar with the project, that these cyborg insects might be armed with “bio weapons”.

For the past 50 years, work by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) – the Pentagon’s blue skies research outfit – has led to some of the most lethal weaponry in the US arsenal: from Hellfire-missile-equipped Predator drones and stealth fighters and bombers to Tomahawk cruise missiles and Javelin portable “fire and forget” guided missiles.

Read moreThe Pentagon’s battle bugs