Monday, July 17, 2006

Car license plate cameras may be illegal

Number plate cameras may be illegal and Police number plate cameras may breach RIPA ... this covers a program in Britain where cameras are ubiquitously installed "everywhere" through which the police can read car license plates and record them into computers. Through collecting this data, the computers can track movement of every car on a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, basis.

It seems that Sir Andrew Leggatt, Chief Surveillance Commissioner, is concerned that the program violates human rights law. Specifically Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, or RIPA.

It seems the program basically treats everybody in Britain as a suspect. Their movements by car can be tracked in the computer database, and later used against them in a court of law. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

What is Sir Andrew Leggatt's preferred solution? Well, it's to amend the law to allow the program to collect the data it is collecting, and also to ensure the data can be introduced into court as evidence.

Hmmm.. This sounds vaguely similar to the ubiquitous spying being conducted in the U.S. where it's been shown to be illegal, but the government is suggesting to change the law so that the program becomes legal. But, what of the desires of the people? Do the people really want to be spied upon all day long every day?

BTW, the Office of Surveillance Commissioners looks to be an errily Big Brother sort of institution.