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Every step you take: UK underground centre that is spy capital of the world
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Tue, 3 Mar 2009 10:44:13 -0500

It is fitting for the UK to have the most camera. After all it was the home of George Orwell and "1984" Long live Big Brother. djf

Begin forwarded message:

From: Brian Randell <Brian.Randell () ncl ac uk>
Date: March 2, 2009 12:57:46 PM EST
To: dave () farber net
Subject: Every step you take: UK underground centre that is spy capital of the world

Hi Dave:

From today's (UK) Guardian, for IP if you so wish.




Every step you take: UK underground centre that is spy capital of the world

Visitors from around the world come to marvel at Westminster CCTV system

Millions of people walk beneath the unblinking gaze of central London's surveillance cameras. Most are oblivious that deep under the pavements along which they are walking, beneath restaurant kitchens and sewage drains, their digital image is gliding across a wall of plasma screens.

Westminster council's CCTV control room, where a click and swivel of a joystick delivers panoramic views of any central London street, is seen by civil liberty campaigners as a symbol of the UK's surveillance society.

Using the latest remote technology, the cameras rotate 360 degrees, 365 days a year, providing a hi-tech version of what the 18th century English philosopher Jeremy Bentham conceived as the "Panopticon" - a space where people can be constantly monitored but never know when they are being watched.

The Home Office, which funded the creation of the £1.25m facility seven years ago, believes it to be a "best-practice example" on which the future of the UK's public surveillance system should be modelled.

So famed has central London's surveillance network become that figures released yesterday revealed that more than 6,000 officials from 30 countries have come to learn lessons from the centre.

They include police with the job of keeping order in the most dangerous cities on earth, from São Paulo in Brazil to Baltimore in the United States, as well as law enforcement officials from countries with a notorious disregard for the rights of citizens, such as China.

A delegation of foreign visitors turns up at Westminster's subterranean CCTV control room on a monthly basis. The FBI has paid a visit, as have - more recently - police forces from South Africa, Japan and Mexico.

The UK, whose police forces pioneered experiments with the technology in the 1960s, leads the world in surveillance of its people.

Exactly how many CCTV cameras there are in the UK is not known, although one study four years ago estimated 4.8m cameras had been installed.

What is rarely disputed is that the UK has more cameras per citizen than anywhere else.
. . .
Full story at:

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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