The influential tabloid newspaper The Sun, had an interesting report yesterday, with the front page headline
We have been commenting on the implications these sort of "see through your Children's clothes" imaging systems for some time- see our archive Passive Millimetre Wave Radar or other "see under your clothes" imaging
See also, specifically, Lampposts in the 21st Century
The Sun has an article on Page 9, illustrated with "naked" pseudo images of adult volunteers from the US manufacturers of one model of this sort of equipment, which are about 4 years old (according to the EXIF meta data copyright info in the online images) . Today's and future versions of this equipment could provide even more detailed images, at longer range.
You are undie surveillance
By GEORGE PASCOE-WATSON
January 29, 2007
OFFICIALS are bracing themselves for a storm of public outrage over their controversial X-ray cameras scheme.
As part of the most shocking extension of Big Brother powers ever planned here, lenses in lampposts would snap “naked” pictures of passers-by to trap terror suspects.
The proposal is contained in leaked documents drawn up by the Home Office and presented to PM Tony Blair’s working group on Security, Crime and Justice.
Home Office documents presented to a Prime Ministerial working group, which have been leaked to The Sun ?
Is this a genuine "whistleblowing" attempt, or is this a "let's test the water of media and public reaction" to these ideas ?
But the prospect of the State snooping on individuals’ most private parts is certain to spark national fury.
We certainly hope that the public will vent its fury electorally.
And officials are battling to find a way of dealing with that reaction.
A January 17 memo seen by The Sun discusses the cameras, which can see through clothes.
It says “detection of weapons and explosives will become easier” and says cameras could be deployed in street furniture.
It adds: “Some technologies used in airports have already been used as part of police operations looking for drugs and weapons in nightclubs. These and others could be developed for a much more widespread use in public spaces.
There is no justification for deployment of even "normal" CCTV surveillance cameras , hidden in "street furniture" like Lamp Posts or Phone Booths etc.
Doing so in secret, loses any chance of there being a deterrent effect.
There is no excuse for such "mass surveillance", which is a waste of resources, compared with specifically targeted surveillance, limited to a particular criminal or intelligence investigation.
“Street furniture could routinely house detection systems that would indicate the likely presence of a gun, for example.”
Unless this is part of a real time monitoring system, linked to armed police or military personnel nearby, then what is the point of indicating "the likely presence of a gun" ?
If there are armed Police or soldiers nearby, how many innocent people are going to be shot on the authorisation of an imperfect "see through your clothes" image ?
But the document goes on to reveal fears at the public reaction.
Officials have agreed one solution would be to allow only women to monitor female subjects — although they admit this would be “very problematic” in crowds.
That is not acceptable. How do you isolate male and female images when pointing these systems at a crowd of people, rather than in an orderly airport security check situation which is the clear implication of mounting such equipment in "street furniture".
How is this acceptable for viewing naked images of Children ?
The memo says: “The social acceptability of routine intrusive detection measures and the operational response required in the event of an alarm are likely to be limiting factors.
“Privacy is an issue because the machines see through clothing.”
Beside cameras, officials are also considering systems known as millimetre wave imaging and THz imaging and spectroscopy.
All are routinely used in airports and other secure places to detect explosives and weapons in luggage and on people.
None of these are yet routinely used at airports, some experimental trials have taken place at some airports.
Air passengers are now chosen at random for full X-ray examinations — and must agree to it.
Under what legal power in the UK can you be compelled to submit to a forced X-Ray (external) search, rather than a manual "pat down" search ? None that we are aware of.
Technology could also be used to halt theft, with fingerprint scanners fitted to many items.
How exactly can "fingerprint scanners" prevent "theft" ?
Elsewhere, tagged offenders could be sent electronic pulses to remind them not to re-offend.
"electronic pulses" ? Is that meant to be electric shocks or is it the dubious idea of an audible warning or automated SMS mobile phone calls, when the electronic tag is approaching an inaccurately defined "forbidden zone" or boundary ?
Cops would also get the power to build a database of everyone in the land. Three-dimensional CCTV pictures would be coupled with records of people’s mobile phones and even their travel cards to get details of their movements and habits.
Facial recognition systems to help track individuals’ movements are also being considered.
Who exactly is proposing these evil ideas to the Government ? How much money do they stand to make from promoting such unproven, and unnecessary technological "magic fixes" to social problems ?
Are the NuLabour Politicians so desperate to cling on to power,that they will throw our public money at such schemes, and further compromise our freedoms and liberties, simply in order to Be Seen To Be Doing Something ?
There is also a Sun Editorial comment:
THE prospect of X-ray cameras at every street corner is truly terrifying.
If that’s not Big Brother, we don’t know what is.
Ministers are right to do everything to protect us from terrorists.
But we draw the line at such an invasion of privacy — and privates.
Does this mean that the powerful Rupert Murdoch media empire is starting to take the idea of the NuLabour Surveillance State seriously ?
There is an obvious tie in with the "story about the "winner" of the television voyeurism show "Big Brother".
Strangely, for newspaper obsessed with campaigns against child molesters, The Sun does not seem to have twigged that all these "see through your clothes" surveillance technologies are also in fact "see through your Children's clothes" systems as well.
If they were ever deployed in the UK in public places, they would fall foul of the draconian Child Pornography laws..There is no "national security" exemption from the Sexual Offences Act 2003 section 45 Indecent photographs of persons aged 16 or 17 , which raised the age limit for the definition of a Child, with respect to child porn images or pseudo-images, from 16 to 18 years of age.
Secretly taking such images of people without their explicit, informed consent, such as happens in the "voluntary" trials of this expensive equipment at some airports or railway stations, is also likely to fall foul of the Data Protection Act and of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and the Human Rights Act, unless, of course, the Home Office forces through Primary Legislation regarding these surveillance technologies.
Other blogs which comment on this story in The Sun: