Time for a little venting

First off, I’ll gloat a little. Not that it makes me feel much better.

At the start of this year, it was revealed that ANPR was rolling out nationwide. And I said this was a very bad thing, with fears of Big Brother and all that. To which a commenter replied:

ANPR doesn?t mean the police know anything more about your car than they did before, it?s just a way of saving time

And yes, the location of the check and the name of the officer doing it is recorded, mainly to detect corrupt officers doing illegal checks.

I didn’t call bullshit (much) then, but by God I’m calling bullshit now.

It seems that things will be very much worse than I thought. Cameras every 400 yards on motorways, tie-ins to DVLA and insurance databases, and a two year rule for holding the data.

Great. So if you can’t remember where you were on, say, the second Thursday in March of 2004, don’t worry. The state will know exactly where you went, how you got there, what speed you were moving at, and who you had with you.

I challenge someone, anyone to justify this. Not to my satisfaction, or anything like that. I just want to see if anyone will actually stand up and say “No, this is a really good idea, and I have sufficient faith in the government that I know it won’t be abused and only the guilty have anything to fear.”

I don’t expect that I’ll be snowed under with people agreeing.

0 thoughts on “Time for a little venting

  1. I agree with the principal behind ANPR itself. It’s just a system that does what a traffic officer does when he sits at the side of a road – runs checks on vehicles as they pass, but enables him to look at more vehicles during a specified time period. Which at a specific point on a road at a specific time simply makes it a labour saving device. And info on these (manual) checks would already be stored for a long period of time along with the officer’s shoulder number anyway. There is no extra info that an Officer cannot already access involved.

    I think having it every 400yds down a motorway is the part that doesn’t make sense. There’s not even a slip road every 400yds so what extra info would that provide? Unless you’re measuring speed, which makes this a system that tries to address the previous criticisms of GATSOs – that they only detect speed and not uninsured drivers or other criminals.

    As for identifying drivers or passengers from pics taken by ANPR cameras that depends on a number of factors, like the resolution of the pic, whether the pic actually captures the whole of the vehicle, the light levels, reflections off the windscreen, distance from the camera, any compression of the pic once it’s been stored, whether the camera is forward or rear facing etc.

    I think you’re fearing that the government has introduced some sort of fool-proof technology that is keeping track of where your car is going 24/7 and who’s driving it. It still takes someone to actually search this database for your vehicle in order for anyone to actually work out where you’ve been. And you would require a valid reason and authority to do this.

  2. By the standard of the first paragraph, a barcode on your forehead is a labour saving device. The problem is that it is very, very easy to turn such labour saving devices into tools of oppression. Go slow fuel protest? Every car/truck in it could be tagged and marked as troublesome within seconds. Ain’t that progress?

    The main criticism of GATSO is not that they ‘only’ detect speed, it’s that they’re a pile of horseshit with no discresion.

    And I think that the last point is somewhat backwards. I object to the data being held full stop, because the rules for using it will be too lax, with no appeal, no opt out, no nuffin.

  3. The suggestion that it still takes a person to search through the data is wrong too. With the tie-ins to insurance and DVLA databases, a simple computer program can trawl through and match up entries that don’t have tax paid or insurance. In fact, that would be so easy to do it’s only a matter of time before that’s demanded – again, as a labour saving device.

    It’s information the State doesn’t need, and it will be abused.

  4. And this is why! If you have any doubt that they’d do a quick search of the DBs for anything they could, and then go rounding people up, then you have far too much faith in these people. It’s simply too easy to bump up the crime detection rates this way.

  5. Chez – what’s wrong with that? If your car isn’t taxed or insured you deserve to get caught whatever the legal method of investigation used. Same with unpaid parking fines. Your human rights are being protected by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to stop random searches with no valid reason being carried out. But the investigation of crime is a valid reason for breaching certain human rights under the above legislation. If you think your human rights have been breached illegally then you follow it up through the courts.

    I really don’t see the problem with using this technology in this way as long as the data is kept accurate (which it should be under the Data Protection Act). And in fact this is the main concern of the Information Commissioner as well. What I do think is that there should be some way of challenging the data that has been collected. There should be some sort of fast-track way of doing this, and it should not involved more severe fines for those who do challenge the data.

    I think (and I could be wrong on this one) that vehicles with no info markers are currently only kept on the databases for 31 days (like with CCTV footage) and it’s only the ones with info markers that are held for a longer period of time (and probably for the proposed 2 years).

  6. And if that method of investigation was a camera in ever car? How about if it was an mechanism by which you had to phone a police call centre before the engine would turn on? It would bring detection rates way up, so obviously it could only be a good thing.

    Sorry, I take issue with the use of the word ‘investigation’ to cover this. To investigate suggests that work is being done; it suggests that people are involved somewhere along the line. ANPR, and Gatsos for that matter, are not ‘investigative methods’. They’re discrete options: either they say a crime has been comitted or they say nothing. They don’t investigate, and the police don’t investigate their output. They read a number plate and stamp the fucking envelope.

    And you’re still not grasping my first principle. Even if you think you can trust this government (and you can’t), can you trust the next one? There’s a very real possibility that our local government could include people who are waist deep in organised crime; should they be allowed to play with this system? Fuck no. Then why should anyone? Answer: they should not. Plain and simple.

  7. Ollie: two parts of your argument worry me.

    1. “you deserve to get caught whatever the legal method of investigation used”. So, you’re cool with torture then? All you have to do is make it legal. Being legal does not make it right.

    2. Your basis for most of this argument seems to be: “it’ll be fine, if everyone complies with the various laws.” Hmm. Possibly. It’s the potential for abuse we’re worried about.

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