The Daily Telegraph has a story which confirms our suspicions and fears about the controversial secret mass surveillance snooping scheme, which the London Congestion Charge, the London Low Emissions Zone and other linked Transport for London CCTV and ANPR systems have become, with not even a whimper of opposition from the incumbent Labour control freak Mayor of London.
Remember this is not about tracking any known terrorist suspects or their vehicles, or protecting us "in real time" from vehicle bombs, for which the normal law enforcement exemptions under Section 29 of the Data Protection Act were perfectly adequate. This is about snooping and spying on everyone, all of the time through a mass surveillance infrastructure.
The Daily Telegraph reports:
New anti-terrorism rules 'allow US to spy on British motorists'
By Toby Helm and Christopher Hope
Last Updated: 3:06am BST 21/04/2008
Routine journeys carried out by millions of British motorists can be monitored by authorities in the United States and other enforcement agencies across the world under anti-terrorism rules introduced discreetly by Jacqui Smith.
The discovery that images of cars captured on road-side cameras, and "personal data" derived from them, including number plates, can be sent overseas, has angered MPs and civil liberties groups concerned by the increasing use of "Big Brother" surveillance tactics.
Yesterday, politicians and civil liberties groups accused the Home Secretary of keeping the plans to export pictures secret from Parliament when she announced last year that British anti-terrorism police could access "real time" images from cameras used in the running of London's congestion charge.
A statement by Miss Smith to Parliament on July 17, 2007, detailing the exemptions for police from the 1998 Data Protection Act, did not mention other changes that would permit material to be sent outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to the authorities in the US and elsewhere.
See our October 2007 blog posting
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith cripples the Data Protection Act regarding the London Congestion Charge ANPR Mass Surveillance scheme
Her permission to do so was hidden away in an earlier "special certificate" signed by the Home Secretary on July 4.
The certificate specifically sets out the level of data that can be sent to enforcement authorities outside the European Economic Area (the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) by anti-terrorist officers from the Metropolitan Police. It says:
"The certificate relates to the processing of the images taken by the camera, personal data derived from the images, including vehicle registration mark, date, time and camera location."
A spokesman for Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, confirmed that the certificate had been worded so that the images of private cars, as well as registration numbers, could be sent outside to countries such as the USA.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police have been given the right to view in "real time" any CCTV images from cameras that are meant to be enforcing the congestion charge.
Sources said that officers would access the cameras on behalf of overseas authorities if they were informed about a terrorism threat in the UK or elsewhere. They would then share the images, which can be held for five years before being destroyed, if necessary.
On what basis was a data retention period of 5 years, for the data of innocent people justified ?
Why should anyone believe that this data is ever destroyed and is not simply copied to another secret system ?
Who believes that any policeman or civil servant be sent to prison if such data is not destroyed after 5 years ?
However, the Home Office defended the powers in the certificate, which was signed specifically for the purposes of counter terrorism and national security.
A spokesman declined to say how many times images had been sent from London to other countries.
However, he added: "We would like to reassure the public that robust controls have been put in place to control and safeguard access to, and use of, the information."
Who was this "Home Office spokesman" ? If it was a civil servant, he has just broken the Civil Service Code of Conduct by lying to the media and the general public.
How does destroying the safeguards of the Data Protection Act, such as they are, via such Ministerial Certificates, constitute "robust controls" ?
How can the UK authorities possibly control what a foreign Government does with the copies of the data which they hand over ?
When, not if, a private investigator, in the UK or in the USA etc., bribes or coerces his corrupt law enforcement insider contacts, for access to this data, for private commercial snooping purposes, not for "national security", then there is nothing anymore that the UK Information Commissioner do about it, now that his Data Protection Act Enforcement Powers with regard to this data have been stripped from him by these Ministerial Certificates.
He cannot now even prosecute the dodgy private investigators, and they will never be brought to trial under the Official Secrets Act etc, for fear that details of the the secret data mining experiments come to light in court.
When can we rid ourselves of these Labour party control freaks and their "diverse evill Councellors, Judges and Ministers" who "endeavour to subvert and extirpate ... the Lawes and Liberties of this Kingdome" (using the wording of the Bill of Rights 1689) ?