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Speaker: Database Nation

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  • Matthew Littlewood,

    Forget about that - Dunedin's in the process of ramming though a bunch of CCTVs for the Octagon - largely to avoid being responsible for policing the bars they've let expand into the street (one cop walking the beat would so much more good)

    Gosh, that's interesting news. It's always struck me how even around the campus area, there's been a bizarrely contradictory approach to policing drunken activities there is in Dunedin, a lot of which seems predicated on a lack of foresight from the powers-that-be, which of course then spills over into what's now becoming the annual nuisance of the Undie 500 Riots.

    Rather than take a good hard look at the causes and how to anticipate them, it's always been easier for them to fingerpoint and then bury their head in the sand. You only need to have a look at the density of the population in the immediate campus area, the sheer plethora of off-licenses and nearby bars, to know it doesn't take much to spark a proverbial in the area.

    Nice piece from Mr Chapman on the implications behind this latest move- it's a development I've been following quite a bit over the last year or so, as I got to interview Katrine Evans of the Privacy Commission about it for a couple of pieces, including a rather overwritten piece about surveillance for Critic last year.

    http://www.critic.co.nz/about/features/54

    It's striking how prevelant the technology is in London- particularly CCTV- you do wonder whether it reaches a certain mass where it becomes difficult to determine how beneficial it actually is. I'm reminded of some of Banksy graffiti which commentates on the phenomenon. And that anecdote about the Oyster Card is fascinating.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 434 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    "Criminals will soon find it harder to get bail as the National Government moves immediately to get tough on law and order."

    Indeed; I wouldn't say it's just because it's National though. Editors tend to forget at what point hypothetical people become criminals quite easily.

    But combine that with they way the change may not actually change anything and the trueness of the sentence is not high.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1091 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Does this mean courts now have to take into account unreal and insignificant risks?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Does this mean courts now have to take into account unreal and insignificant risks?

    That was exactly my thought when I heard the news item about it on the radio.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17967 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    You could, of course, just falsify all the information for the prepaid phone. When they require a passport it could be a different matter, though.

    Last time I went to Europe for work, they were very surprised (and I think also a little annoyed) that I would not accept any flight that went over the USA, because I object on principle to being fingerprinted. So my trip went via Vietnam. The agent had screwed up her instructions to me and I did not realize that there is no transit lounge area in Hanoi at all (be wary of this, folks). So the authorities in Hanoi were understandably annoyed at me attempting (as they saw it) to get into Vietnam without a visa (I was actually just waiting for my connecting flight).

    Now, just imagine if I'd tried the same thing in the USA, what could have happened to me? Have a guess what happened in Vietnam?

    Answer: I was put into a hotel without any guards whatsoever, where I promptly slept like a baby for the 8 hour wait. After that there was a bit of bureaucratic arsing around waiting for someone to make a call, until finally a guy in a military uniform came out, eyeballed me, yelled at them, and I was on my way. No interrogation, no processing, not even demands for payment for the hotel. And people rag on communists for being inefficient, unhelpful and bureaucratic. Pfffft. I'd take that experience over getting fingerprinted by scary angry American border guards any day.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8027 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    Does this mean courts now have to take into account unreal and insignificant risks?

    That was exactly my thought when I heard the news item about it on the radio.

    How far (or near) is it to the infamous 'sus laws' that caused Brixton to explode in 1981?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3907 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    many of these systems currently archive footage that has no use today in the hope that future tech will make it much more useful

    This article has a suspiciously conspiracist tone, but it's an interesting take on the potential future purpose of our own local photo drivers license - remember how the flash seemed a bit brighter than usual when they took your photo?:

    Although never publicly admitted, direct and circumstantial evidence shows that the type of digitised images to be produced were Visionics/ Polaroid FaceIt Facial Recognition images for national, de facto ID cards. The specialised cameras acquired, if used in conjunction with a software package developed by Visionics Corporation, are capable of measuring the geometric makeup of a person's face...i.e. the distance from the tip of the nose to the chin, the width of the brow or distance between the eyes. This form of identification imagery, using mathematical algorithms, is as effective as a fingerprint in the identification of individuals. Anyone so photographed can be positively identified in a crowd by special surveillance cameras.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Presumption of innocence even extends to them, Kyle.

    Ah yup.

    My point was, that my understanding of what they're doing differed from Paul's. Paul seemed to be running with "anyone arrested'. My understanding was 'anyone arrested who had a previous criminal record'.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Ah yup.

    My point was, that my understanding of what they're doing differed from Paul's. Paul seemed to be running with "anyone arrested'. My understanding was 'anyone arrested who had a previous criminal record'.

    Curse my common name - which Paul did you mean Kyle? Mr Litterick or me?

    My reading of the policy is that it's intended to permit testing at arrest (for an offence punishable by imprisonment). Their clarity about this, I suspect they'll regret.

    Now perhaps there'll be guidelines that mean far less testing than could be reasonably predicted from that framing, however I still think there's too little protection afforded to people who may be arrested to obviate the courts' interest in an exploration of the limits of the presumption of innocence.

    Despite my overwhelming democratic leanings, I hope for judicial activism.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2185 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    Sheesh, what a load of insencere and innacurate tosh. For a start councils have been told they are not allowed to use anti terror powers to snoop on people so scratch that one. On the side of the council if people cooperated on recycling and sorting waste the councils would not have to resort to fining them. The alternative is being charged even more for refuse removal.

    If you don't want FTL to track your movements then don't register your Oyster card, simple. As for the woman fined for parking on the motorway, well it is illegal to do so. The DVLA sells such things since private companies are zealous in collecting them or they don't make any profit. It's efficient innit? Or maybe you think people should be able to break the law with impunity?

    The collection of all electronic communication has been shelved and may well die a death as the govt has been told it is unworkable technically.

    Still if your paranoia gets too much for you move up here North of the Border. We have far fewer cameras and our police are still at heel.

    Oh and Mr Litterick the police here in Scotland must destroy the sample and the record if you are not found guilty. It is not the collection of dna that is the problem, it is what is done with it that matters. If you disagree with the collection of dna you must disagree with the police holding fingerprints.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Does this mean courts now have to take into account unreal and insignificant risks?

    I doubt it. Or rather, unless the law says that explicitly, they will refuse to. Natural justice again...

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1592 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Curse my common name - which Paul did you mean Kyle? Mr Litterick or me?

    I meant Paul Litterick. Though from what you've linked to there, it looks like his understanding is correct, and mine was not.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    I doubt it. Or rather, unless the law says that explicitly, they will refuse to. Natural justice again...

    I have this image of Finlayson in my head. He's wearing a Amnesty pin, he's paid up his liberal elite memberships and still he's fronting jack-boot law that offends the fundamentals of our Commonwealth legal history... oh hang on, it's not Finlayson at all, it's Philip Ruddock.

    It's not Paula Bennett who's shaping to up as the sacrifical liberal lamb, it's Finlayson.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2185 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    I meant Paul Litterick. Though from what you've linked to there, it looks like his understanding is correct, and mine was not.

    I wish that it wasn't true but...

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2185 posts Report Reply

  • Zippy Gonzales,

    Also, I have had some discussions with people from the Office of the Privacy Commission, and in principle Snapper are very constrained as far as sharing their data goes. The issue is really whether they need to collect as much data as they do.

    Good on ya, Stephen. I must admit, Snapper's FAQ and T&C have evolved somewhat since I last looked at it. The data sharing has pared back, or at least, been blurred with all sorts of clauses about loyalty programmes and so forth. I can't find the bit about requiring a credit check to get a properly functioning bus ticket, but it may be lurking in there still.

    Between Snapper and Air NZ's new RFID chips for Africa scheme, there seems to be a debate we're not having about these innovative way of tracking things.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 186 posts Report Reply

  • nic.wise,

    this wouldn't be quite so bad if the UK government - and it's 1001 contractors - didn't lose millions of records of personal data, oh, every week or so.

    but they do. Incompetent is being nice.

    I thought about counting the CCTV cameras from home (E14 - Isle of Dogs) to work (W12 - White City) but gave up at the time I got to the tube station and I was already over 30. About the only place I'm not being watched is sitting at my desk at work. Atleast, I can't SEE the cameras (tho we could do with them to spot the theiving cleaners/night staff)

    So, now we have to get the card for my wife. Fun. On top of the $1500 we paid for the spouse visa.

    thanks for the interesting post :)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 82 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Chapman,

    For a start councils have been told they are not allowed to use anti terror powers to snoop on people so scratch that one.

    Oh, of course there's been discussion, but no law changes as of yet. Last week the Home Office promised action on the abuse of anti-terror laws "in the near future". I'll believe it when I see it.

    As to your other points Peter:
    TfL now only sell monthly tickets through the Oyster Card system (you can buy without Oyster for National Rail services, however these are only useful if you happen to live on a route operated by, uh, National Rail. No chance if you're reliant on the tube or buses);

    The woman did not park on the side of the motorway but in the services ie. in a designated car-park;

    And I don't personally believe any information I am compulsorily required to provide the state with ie. the DVLA, should be on-sold for commercial gain. A database of registered vehicles and drivers is one thing, flogging information from it to any company who stumps up £5 is something altogether different.

    Besides, if anyone should be profiting from my personal details - it should be me :-D

    Munich • Since Nov 2008 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Beatrix,

    Nice post Tom! Hope Munich is lovely.

    The really interesting (scary) thing for me, was that when this information was first released (maybe about six weeks ago now?), all the reporting couched the ID card system within the immigrant debate. Meaning that very few UK residents that I spoke to about it had any idea that it would eventually be affecting the wider population, let along THEM PERSONALLY.

    I'm still not sure that most people realise that although immigrants and visa-holders will be carrying ID cards soon (and what a lovely prospect), this is just part of a roll out. Soon biometrics will prevail...

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    It will be interesting to see if the National ID programme ever gets properly implemented. Seems ripe for some sort of populist "lolsorry" move during these uncertain times*. At so I hope, as I need renew my visa mid next year.

    Besides of which, there isn't really a culture of ID demanding here yet though, I remember when I voted in local body elections earlier in the year, I tried to show my passport, but they laughed me off with a "maybe in NZ you need to show ID to vote, here you just need a card we post to you".

    *Or maybe not, this is Gordon 42 Days Detention Brown

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 861 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    And people ask me why I never go back

    +1. I tend to pass these stries through my 'scaremonger' filter, because The Right aren't the only ones who think the world is going to hell in a handbasket. But really, FFS.

    this wouldn't be quite so bad if the UK government - and it's 1001 contractors - didn't lose millions of records of personal data, oh, every week or so.

    Yep. I don't really see why private companies are bothering to pay for personal data: they just need to go dumpster diving. Or possibly hang around train stations or bars near Vauxhall.

    And those were the results of a 15-second google search.

    It's not so much the stomping all over my hard-earned democratic rights that bothers me. It's the fact they're TOTALLY F**KING INCOMPETENT.

    The world won't end with a bang, more of an 'oops, sorry, that wasn't meant to happen'.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2292 posts Report Reply

  • Grace Dalley,

    While I find Britain's CCTV surveillance disturbing, I think the registration of your name and address when you buy a cellphone is necessary, and I wish NZ had a similar system. I am one of many many people in NZ who has been troubled by obscene and/or threatening text messages sent from an unregistered prepaid phone. And surely some robust form of ID, such as a passport, is required to stop some people giving false details.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2008 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    It's the data losses that scare me about systems like this. The more data there is in one place, the greater the consequences of a breach. And when they manage to lose memory sticks with system architecture and authorisation details, that's well beyond abjectly terrifying.

    It doesn't matter that these breaches and losses have happened because people haven't followed policy. It doesn't matter if the policy was handed down on stone tablets by a divine hand, even. The breaches have happened, and will continue to happen. It happens here, and the main saving grace is that it's explicitly forbidden for agencies to use a common identifier. That the IRD loses rubbish bags full of unshredded records, or MoJ has files full of convict details deposited on park benches, isn't quite so serious when the information therein cannot be used for a wholesale beach of a person's identity as recognised by government departments.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I think the registration of your name and address when you buy a cellphone is necessary, and I wish NZ had a similar system. I am one of many many people in NZ who has been troubled by obscene and/or threatening text messages sent from an unregistered prepaid phone. And surely some robust form of ID, such as a passport, is required to stop some people giving false details.

    It won't solve the problem. It'll deter people who casually misuse phones, but unless there are stiff criminal sanctions for on-selling a phone without updating the register it won't matter a damn. And many people are likely to be firmly against wasting the courts' time on something so trivial, so stiff penalties is a non-starter.

    Plus, there are so many phones out there that aren't registered that the market for unregistered phones will continue for years after any registration requirement were passed. Unless it becomes illegal to sell topup credit without proof of registration (how many new bureaucracies do we want to create here?!), a phone can be used anonymously until it dies. Which can be a very, very long time if they're treated with a modicum of care.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    And I don't personally believe any information I am compulsorily required to provide the state with ie. the DVLA, should be on-sold for commercial gain. A database of registered vehicles and drivers is one thing, flogging information from it to any company who stumps up £5 is something altogether different.

    Hear hear. I have very few problems with most of the information that the government collects about me, and I don't mind them sharing it with some other government departments within reason.

    It's the selling on would annoy me. The post office still sells car license information? Anyone know what else is available here from government and local body data?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    It won't solve the problem. It'll deter people who casually misuse phones, but unless there are stiff criminal sanctions for on-selling a phone without updating the register it won't matter a damn.

    No doubt it wouldn't solve every problem, in much the same way that a vehicle register doesn't help you find a criminal who steals a car and uses it in a crime.

    But even if it's only done at point of original sale it could help with some things. If a person on-sells it, they might be able to tell police who they sold it to.

    I am unsure whether I'd support it, but I can see that it would help in some instances. It's a question of whether that is sufficient enough to make the cost worthwhile.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

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