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Government Privacy Games Your Rights Online

Real-LIfe Distributed-Snooping Web Game To Launch In Britain 419

Posted by timothy
from the no-room-for-abuse-there dept.
corerunner writes "A new internet game is about to be launched which allows 'super snooper' players to plug into the nation's CCTV cameras and report on members of the public committing crimes. The 'Internet Eyes' service involves players scouring thousands of CCTV cameras installed in shops, businesses and town centres across Britain looking for law-breakers. Players who help catch the most criminals each month will win cash prizes up to £1,000."
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Real-LIfe Distributed-Snooping Web Game To Launch In Britain

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  • by lbalbalba (526209) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @02:27PM (#29684579)
    But we *can* afford prizes up to £1,000 for public citizens that are effectively doing police work ? This world is getting way too weird for me... Or perhaps im just getting old :)
  • Demand to see them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @02:29PM (#29684623) Journal
    You Brits should demand to have unfettered access to these cameras. It might have been possible to claim that this was not technologically feasible before, but not any longer. You paid for those cameras. You paid for that information to be gathered. You should be able to access it.
  • Open surveillance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZackSchil (560462) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @02:32PM (#29684661)

    If someone is going to be snooping, it's only fair to have everyone snooping. The only oppressive element of CCTV is the idea that only a select few people get to snoop and thereby gain some sort of advantage over everyone else. If everyone gets access, you still lose privacy but at least no one gains power.

  • false positives? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HockeyPuck (141947) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @02:32PM (#29684677)

    What goes to the person who reports the most false positives?

  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @02:34PM (#29684705) Homepage Journal
    No, this is dangerous. Very Stasi-like. [wikipedia.org] This is a disturbing trend in official and informal law-enforcement because it encourages things like community-based harassment [derkeiler.com]. People will band together and participate in government-sanctioned stalking of atheists, commies, homosexuals, or whomever else they just don't like.

    It is simply turning the people against each other to distract them from their discontent with their government.
  • by Akita24 (1080779) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @02:37PM (#29684739)
    is just so 80's East Berlin. You would think that somebody, somewhere would have learned a lesson. Fargin' sheeple. Just remember, when the cops come for you because somebody at a PC somewhere said that was you mugging the old lady, that it was you who sat on your lazy ass and let them do this because "only bad people have something to hide." Idiots.
  • Re:I wanna try! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by death_before_win7 (1646207) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @02:37PM (#29684751)
    Available in the US? Imagine if it becomes available in India (or elsewhere in . 1000 pounds is a lot of money for many people living there.
  • by Sockatume (732728) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @02:51PM (#29684925)

    Presumably it's only a matter of time before someone reverse-engineers the back-end to do exactly that. It's not like our government has a great record on data security.

  • by radtea (464814) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @02:53PM (#29684945)

    Any ideas what happens to reports on cops committing crimes?

    I'd say they disappear down the memory hole, but users will be able to capture the video they are using locally, and repost on YouTube for fun and profit.

    Ergo, this program will be shut down within weeks as it reveals cops committing crimes. Either that, or the feeds will be scrubbed of all police presence "for the protection of our hardworking constables on the street" prior to distributing them.

  • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @02:55PM (#29684981) Journal

    Yes, but people aren't stupid (okay - not in all ways). It will be pretty obvious to most people participating that they're not going to win against the strange obsessive person who has no job and no life and racks up 100 crimes a week. So cash prizes aren't going to be much of a motivation for playing this. Which means most people playing it will be doing so for other motivations.

    Let's face it - the primary use of such a system would be lonely males jacking off over live feeds of unsuspecting young girls. In fact, if we want to oppose this system (and we do because we don't like living in a combined police state and mob-rule society), pointing out its wonderful desirability to peadophiles is probably the best approach to take for most.

    Of course there will be those with other motivations also. Those with a particular hate-agenda will love this.
  • Obligatory cop-out (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sherpajohn (113531) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @02:56PM (#29684997) Homepage

    "You have nothing to fear if you are doing nothing wrong" Yeah right... ...First they came for the communists, and I did not speak outâ"because I was not a communist;
    Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak outâ"because I was not a socialist;
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak outâ"because I was not a trade unionist;
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak outâ"because I was not a Jew;
    Then they came for meâ"and there was no one left to speak out for me...

  • by Xin Jing (1587107) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @02:57PM (#29685007)

    This idea is wrong on so many levels. I hate Hitler analogies because they tend to be polar opposite examples of the argument they attempting to counter, but this one seems to fit.

    The BBC did a documentary a few years back "Nazis: A Warning From History' http://www.amazon.com/Nazis-Warning-History-Samuel-West/dp/B00097DY66/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1255030547&sr=1-1 [amazon.com] that touched on this very subject. Granted, the UK isn't the Third Reich and I'm pulling a very specific instance from that documentary, so please understand that I'm not suggesting a one-size-fits-all with regards to that regime's policy, but an accounting of state-sanctioned surveillance by civilians.

    In that doc, there's a segment that reveals that the Gestapo actually didn't have very many official staffers out in the field and relied heavily on "neighborhood watch" participants to implicate other citizens in activities that fit a broadstroke definition of 'suspicious behavior'. Years later, a woman was confronted about a statement she had submitted to the Gestapo about a woman neighbor that she had reported for suspicious behavior; the 'suspicious' woman was detained by the Gestapo and never heard from again. The original documents were presented to her, showing her signature and her statements which were read back to her. She remembered the woman mentioned in the statements, recognized her handwriting and signature, but disavowed that she wrote or submitted the statement.

    The documentary example is the far end of the spectrum for state-sanctioned civilian surveillance. Given that people will recieve rewards for their efforts and the program is marketed as a game, it adds more fuel to the fire that people will misuse it. Once implicated in such a program, a person's name or guilt can never be expunged.

    All we need to finish off the program is a Norsefire logo http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/ab/Norsefire-logo.png [wikimedia.org] and a picture of the High Chancellor Adam Sutler http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/8d/250px-Sutler2.jpg [wikimedia.org].

  • by lbalbalba (526209) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:06PM (#29685119)

    I wonder who's snooping on the snoopers?

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? ["Who watches the watchmen?"]

  • Re:No. RTFA. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by heretic108 (454817) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:10PM (#29685161)

    You don't get to choose which camera you see each session. In fact, the location is 'secret' (though you may be able to figure it out). Single person surveillance won't work.

    You're assuming the surveillance camera network and the 'snooper' game server components won't get pwn3d.

  • by NotBornYesterday (1093817) * on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:10PM (#29685167) Journal
    This must be a stalker's wet dream.
  • by xaxa (988988) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:12PM (#29685191)

    No, no, no, that's too American. You don't have enough bureaucracy or scapegoating.

    In Britain, the police would deny that any officers have broken the law. Then the video footage would go on YouTube, and some newspapers would get the story. The IPCC (Independent Police Complains Commisson) would open an investigation, and the police would deny any wrongdoing again, even when shown the video.

    Some time later, the IPCC will say there's a systematic problem and the blame lies with the police managers. A junior police officer will be sacked, and the manager will be promoted.

    Later, another police officer will claim he should have been promoted instead, and claim he was discriminated against. After an investigation into police prejudice, he will eventually get the job, with his predecessor getting a large pay-off.

    This all costs lots of money, so four police officers will be replaced with part-time community support officers. They don't know what they're doing, so they'll arrest someone for photographing a train -- hopefully captured on CCTV.

  • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:19PM (#29685279) Homepage

    You can request footage of yourself from private cameras using data protection laws.

    Anyway, no need to worry for two reasons:

    1. This is a story in the Daily Fail. So it's practically guaranteed to be wrong, made up, exaggurated etc.
    2. Despite that the story makes it quite clear that the system doesn't have any cameras today. The dude is trying to sign up businesses to his plan. Obviously you can't just plug into random CCTV cameras, that'd be insane - the owners have to opt them in. Good luck with that!
  • Re:There are... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nightfire-unique (253895) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:20PM (#29685301)

    real rape, not some 18 year old having sex with a 17 year old),

    You know we live in a sick and demented society when you have to explicitly differentiate the two.

  • The problem is that the CCTV cameras have proven to be very ineffective in deterring crime.

    The MOST effective has been cops patrolling - either walking the beat, on bikes, horse, or patrol car.

    This is going to increase crime:

    1. Blackmail, David Letterman - style - "I saw what you did and I have a video. Either give me $$$ or I tell the cops which camera, and the timestamp";
    2. Recruiting kids for crime - "Hey, I see you guys are always hanging around here - want to make some $$$ selling drugs?"
    3. Casing future "jobs" - "Hey look - they close shop at 9pm, and then there's the last person to leave at 10pm, and on Thursdays they then go and make the night deposit - let's relieve them of that burden."
    4. Cyber-stalking.

    This is just taking a bad idea and making it worse.

  • by badboy_tw2002 (524611) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:25PM (#29685387)

    I think he was using typical US-centric boogeymen. If it was Cultural Revolution China your list would be the one to consider.

    I think the interesting bias here is that his original comment didn't say anything about "moralists", but you added them in to the hit list. I guess that means communists, homosexuals, and atheists are immoralists in your Book?

  • by dstech (807139) <darksidex3@gmail.com> on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:30PM (#29685479)

    In 1984, citizens were encouraged to spy on each other and report possible dissidents to the authorities. So yes, this is very Orwellian.

    RTFN

  • by DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:36PM (#29685573) Homepage

    I agree.

    But I don't think we're going back. The best solution is to "watch the watchers", so anyone can go back and see who was viewing any particular cam at any particular time.

  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@slashd[ ]org ['ot.' in gap]> on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:52PM (#29685801)

    Are you seriously stating that losing privacy is no oppressive element? It's actually a world where everybody can oppress everybody else, because he knows something about that person, that was meant to be private.

    Privacy and even lies are an essential part of our society. Without them, social life as we know it, breaks down and becomes impossible. So much do we know on the scientific side.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @04:04PM (#29685943) Journal
    It's a Daily Mail article. To put this in context for US readers, that puts it somewhere between The X Files and Fox News in terms of relation to reality.
  • by aywwts4 (610966) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @04:19PM (#29686135)

    You clearly have no idea what kind of people are going to be watching this like a hawk.

    Old home bound busybodies with nothing to do focusing particularly on calling the cops on the hippie degenerates and their maryjawana cigarettes and their long hair commie music while keeping a stern eye on any 'Negros' and the darned hooligans in their communities.

    People with lives and more sensible moral character will be out doing better things than watching CCTV cameras and tattling on their peers, while major crimes with victims will likely already be reported, minor crimes are really all this has the potential to unearth.

  • by noundi (1044080) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @04:37PM (#29686319)

    In 1984, citizens were encouraged to spy on each other and report possible dissidents to the authorities. So yes, this is very Orwellian.

    RTFN

    I did read the novel, but there's a big difference. The citizens in 1984 were never allowed to view surveillance, so they were never on an equal scale as the government. And fundamentally this is what frightens people, that someone with an upper hand controlls you. When that upper hand is given to everyone the concept isn't the same, and you taking things out of context doesn't make it so.

  • by emilper (826945) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:10PM (#29686703)

    or: ... for 1000 pounds sterling a month, you get the same crime reported 5000 times, then you need to employ 300 secretaries to sort through the reports

  • by Pollardito (781263) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:52PM (#29687057)
    Actually I imagine the first Prime Minister that gets caught coming and going from his girlfriend's house on CCTV will be in favor of cancelling this program. They were all quite upset when that paper uncovered their improper expenses last year (more upset at the reporting than the actual impropriety), so I could easily see a scandal of that sort getting this whole thing cancelled.
  • by brkello (642429) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:05PM (#29687185)
    Why do people suddenly become retarded when they see the word socialism. Socialism has some positive aspects...as well as negative. Same with capitalism. It's all about finding the right balance. Grouping people up and saying they are all evil is what radio pundits do to profit off your stupidity. So many people blaming so many different things when there are a few very wealthy people pulling the strings and laughing as you dance.
  • Re:There are... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by whoop (194) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:12PM (#29687689) Homepage

    See Whoopi Goldberg on The View [youtube.com] discussing Roman Polanski. Apparently, according to her, in Europe, 13-14 year olds are seen as fair game for drugging and sex. That's one wonderful "view" there from Hollywood...

  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @09:01PM (#29688361) Homepage Journal
    Groups of angry zealots could easily coordinate by phone, possibly with one or more persons actually following a mark around.

    It's all too easy to get people riled up against a common enemy - as an example, my (conservative) hometown newspaper recently tried to convince everybody, via editorial, that the enemy were fellow Californians who were collecting unemployment checks, in a county with a 24.7% unemployment rate in a state with a unemployment rate which is 12+% and rising!

    The target audience are, of course, people who still believe that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are keeping America safe from terror...but what can you do when you live in a whole city full of them and you choose to be an atheist communist homosexual?

    Alternately, what about a large group of laid-off factory workers who have nothing else to do all day? It would allow them an opportunity to displace their anger upon other citizens and not on the government which caused the loss of their jobs in the first place.

    Community-based "policing" is always a bad idea. It's mob rule! Neighborhood watch groups, community church groups, "not-in-my-neighborhood"-ers, will all get together and find somebody to harass. Humans are but animals, and this is the pack mentality at work. The funny thing is that these are the same hypocrites who would publicly condemn the actions of 4chan's /b/ . That style of stalking is always driven by self-righteousness and is done in a secret, Kafka-esque manner because the people who gang up have no spines individually. Being able to hide behind a camera only makes it worse. It is tacitly tolerated by U.S. law enforcement, but I have a bad feeling that this kind of crap may be the future of the idiocracy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:37AM (#29689285)

    You did get *who* big brother was in the end?

    "Big Brother" was not some guy or dictator, "Big Brother is watching you" was about the PEOPLE spying on itself!

    If you have a system where some government agency is formed from the people (like the Stasi) or if you create an atmosphere of fear and make people spy on each other and to report "bad behaviour" seems to become a quite minor difference.

    But to be honest... this is nothing but web 2.0... no one said only Wikipedia can "benefit" from a group effort, we see that the government also can get to use a group to "improve" reaching a certain goal for cheap, cheap cash (that such a system will get used for spying on your neighbours and your love interest does not even have to be mentioned in a place like this).

  • by jipn4 (1367823) on Friday October 09, 2009 @02:50AM (#29689801)

    By "people," you apparently mean Christians, capitalists/conservatives, heterosexuals, and moralists. I guess atheists, communists, homosexuals, etc., are all peace-loving hate-hating people that have an inherent aversion to stalking or harassing or any sort of "bad behavior,"

    It's not about "bad behavior". Christians, conservatives, and moralists have a long history of committing harassment, stalking, and blackmail against minority groups in order to make the minority behavior conform to their views. Atheists and homosexuals have virtually no history of using harassment, stalking, or blackmail to change Christians into atheists or heterosexuals into homosexuals.

    whereas others - like Christians and conservatives - only profess to believe in "higher authority," God,

    Believing in a "higher authority" is offensive and immoral. But as long as you as you keep it private and to yourself, that's your business. But you don't "only profess", you try to impose your offensive and immoral beliefs on others, and that's where you cross the line.

  • by Lundse (1036754) on Friday October 09, 2009 @03:05AM (#29689853)

    The citizens in 1984 did view the surveillance. Winston himself was part of perpetuating the system he hated and which oppressed him - this was more or les the entire point.
    Same thing today, the guy manning a CCTV system (or who just one a prize through this scheme) will also be watched on his way home.

    There does not have to be an evil group of 12 men in a smoke-filled room on the 13th floor in order for you to be oppressed (this is the erroneous thinking which leads to conspiracy theories). The system can be oppressive, and this one is. Or rather, it is a way to make the invasion of privacy (a clear oppression and one which paves the way for a lot of future oppression) more efficient - or at least that is the idea.

    I also think it is more like 1984, exactly because it distributes the oppression-task to the larger citizen-ship, like it was in the novel... When the first participant of this game/scheme is sentenced as an accessory for not calling the cops, this is made even clearer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 09, 2009 @04:20AM (#29690185)

    EPIC! Lulz

  • by horza (87255) on Friday October 09, 2009 @06:52AM (#29690707) Homepage

    Freedom is hard fought for and easily lost. Those that try and take rights and freedoms away try and do so under the radar. For instance who would have thought that RIPA would be used to spy on half a million uk citizens a year [itpro.co.uk]. Most uk citizens I speak to don't know about the eborders scheme [bbc.co.uk], where everyone is catalogued each time they enter or leave the country (with up to 2.5 billion journeys stored at any one time).

    The vast amount of information being gathered, as you say via your phone, cards, internet, etc, is worrying. You merge this into one coherent database and you have no privacy left. I would hardly call a slip towards totalitarianism an irrational fear, especially when it is being legislation into existence in front of people's eyes. Many laid down their lives to earn the freedoms we take for granted today, and it would be disrespectful to give them away for temporary convenience.

    Phillip.

  • by arethuza (737069) on Friday October 09, 2009 @07:23AM (#29690831)
    Care to expand on the relevance of that quote to the point in question? Are you saying that I don't have the right to pay for my own cameras and record my surroundings and keep the results in my own private archive?

Lo! Men have become the tool of their tools. -- Henry David Thoreau

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