Big Brother Is Watching U.K. in a Big Way
People in the United Kingdom are more spied upon than any other population in the free world, according to a report in Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper.
An official report released recently by Britain’s information commissioner Richard Thomas revealed that very little of what the country’s citizens say or do is ever private, the newspaper reports.
“We’re waking up in a surveillance society,” Thomas told the newspaper. “And when you start to see how many apparently beneficial schemes are in place to monitor people’s activities and movements that does raise concerns. There are risks the information is going to be mishandled.”
The newspaper reports the U.K. boasts some 6,000 speed cameras and 8,000 automatic number plate recognition devices which trigger a reaction when wanted, stolen or cloned number plates or uninsured cars are spotted.
London’s Met Police bought high-powered “eye in the sky” cameras capable of reading number plates from several thousand feet up in March, the newspaper reports. The devices will be fitted to helicopters to help track wanted and stolen vehicles, as well as to snare speeding motorists.
In other findings reported in the newspaper, the average person is caught on camera 300 times a day – once every 4.8 minutes – by four million CCTV cameras. Facial recognition software automatically identify faces within crowds. “Smart” CCTV is used in train stations to ID patterns of behavior that suggest a crime or suicide attempt is about to occur, the report says.
The newspaper says the government handed itself sweeping powers in the 2004 Children Act to record basic information about all children in England and Wales. But in June came proposals to widen the database – accessed by police, social workers, teachers and doctors – to include information about performance at school and whether they are eating the correct amount of fruit and vegetables.
A vast database containing a file on every man, woman and child is being planned by the British government. The newspaper says the plans would see a sharing of all state databases including the driving records, electoral roll and benefits records. They would allow anyone working for a public body to monitor everything from an individual’s driving license record to whether they had paid their taxes on time, according to the newspaper.
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