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    'Nightmare Scenario': UK Watchdog Warns of Surveillance Camera Overload

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    Britain's Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Tony Porter, has called for a radical overhaul of Britain's surveillance regime, warning that regulators are struggling to keep pace with the sprawling growth in CCTV technology.

    Porter, March 14, launched a national surveillance camera strategy for England and Wales, to help keep people safe in public places and respect their right to privacy.

    The strategy aims to provide direction and leadership in the surveillance camera community, to enable system operators to understand best practice and their legal obligations.

    He says it is his strategic vision "to ensure the public are assured that any use of surveillance camera systems in a public place helps to protect and keep them safe, while respecting the individual's right to privacy."

    "After a year of hard work I'm delighted to be able to launch this strategy. It's a strategy that is far reaching, touching on many areas of surveillance camera use — police and local authority, installers and manufacturers, training providers and regulators — and of course how the use of surveillance cameras impacts members of the public," Porter said.

    However, he said he was worried about not only the massive spread of surveillance cameras — in stores, streets, transport systems as well as body cameras — and the way the authorities pull together data from them.

    "I'm worried about over surveillance becoming much more invasive because it is linked to everything else. You might have a video photograph of somebody shopping in Tesco — now it is possible to link that person to their pre-movements, their mobile phone records, any sensor detectors within their house of locality," Porter told the UK Guardian newspaper.

    "As smart cities move forward, these challenges are so much greater for people like myself, and members of the public need to decide whether they are still happy with this," he added.

    Snoopers' Charter

    The news comes just months after the UK Government passed the Investigatory Powers Act — aka the Snoopers' Charter — which opponents have described as the most far-reaching mass surveillance program ever in Britain. It allows wing for the controlled and supervised interception of data communications — email, telephone, internet browser and social media usage — on behalf of the authorities.

    "The passage of the Investigatory Powers Act is a major blow to the privacy of people in the UK and all over the world. It sets a world-leading precedent, but not one of which the Government should be proud," said Caroline Wilson Palow, General Counsel at Privacy International.

    "Instead of reining in the unregulated mass surveillance practices that have for years been conducted in secret and with questionable legal authority, the IPA now enshrines them in law. Widespread surveillance is an antithesis to democracy, yet the IPA now sanctions it," she said.

    Related:

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    To Spy or Not to Spy? UK House of Lords Passes Controversial 'Snooper's Charter'
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    Apple Chief Says UK's Snooper's Charter Could Have 'Very Dire Consequences'
    Tags:
    Snoopers' Charter, mass surveillance, CCTV cameras, snooping, surveillance, Investigatory Powers Bill, British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), MI6, MI5, Tony Porter, Edward Snowden, Theresa May, Britain, United Kingdom
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