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UK Fears over privacy as police expand surveillance project
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Mon, 15 Sep 2008 09:00:32 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: Brian Randell <Brian.Randell () ncl ac uk>
Date: September 15, 2008 7:11:16 AM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Subject: Fears over privacy as police expand surveillance project


For IP if you wish.

Today's (UK) Guardian has as its main front page story:

Fears over privacy as police expand surveillance project

Database to hold details of millions of journeys for five years

The police are to expand a car surveillance operation that will allow them to record and store details of millions of daily journeys for up to five years, the Guardian has learned. A national network of roadside cameras will be able to "read" 50m licence plates a day, enabling officers to reconstruct the journeys of motorists. Police have been encouraged to "fully and strategically exploit" the database, which is already recording the whereabouts of 10 million drivers a day, during investigations ranging from counter-terrorism to low-level crime. But it has raised concerns from civil rights campaigners, who question whether the details should be kept for so long, and want clearer guidance on who might have access to the material. The project relies on automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras to pinpoint the precise time and location of all vehicles on the road. Senior officers had promised the data would be stored for two years. But responding to inquiries under the Freedom of Information Act, the Home Office has admitted the data is now being kept for five years. Thousands of CCTV cameras across the country have been converted to read ANPR data, capturing people's movements in cars on motorways, main roads, airports and town centres. Local authorities have since adapted their own CCTV systems to capture licence plates on behalf of police, massively expanding the network of available cameras. Mobile cameras have been installed in patrol cars and unmarked vehicles parked by the side of roads. Police helicopters have been equipped with infrared cameras that can read licence plates from 610 metres (2,000ft). In four months' time, when a nationwide network of cameras is fully operational, the National ANPR Data Centre in Hendon, north London, will record up to 50m licence plates a day. The Home Office said in a letter that the Hendon database would "store all ANPR captured data for five years". The photograph of a person's licence plate will, in most cases, be stored for one year. Human rights group Privacy International last night described the five-year record of people's car journeys "unnecessary and disproportionate", and said it had lodged an official complaint with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the government's data watchdog.


Full story at:



Brian Randell

School of Computing Science, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne,
EMAIL = Brian.Randell () ncl ac uk   PHONE = +44 191 222 7923
FAX = +44 191 222 8232  URL = http://www.cs.ncl.ac.uk/people/brian.randell

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