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Government Privacy Games Your Rights Online

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

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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  • slippery slope? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by enigma32 ( 128601 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:30PM (#29684637)

    Anyone who argues against the "slippery slope" argument for More Cameras == Bad should be shot. Now. So anybody can be challenged for anything now, just because somebody who's trying to win a chunk of money thinks they saw something wrong?

  • by heretic108 ( 454817 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:33PM (#29684691)

    Giving the public access to the big brother camera network will open up unprecedented opportunities for cyber-bullying, especially for people living in dwellings whose front doors are within the frame of a camera.

    You only need a few miscreants spying on some poor bugger, then sending harassing and threatening SMS messages as s/he moves about the city in the normal course of his/her day.

  • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:35PM (#29684717)

    £1,000 for the person with the MOST crimes.

    Say you have 100 people wanting to try and win this prize.
    1 person reports 400 crimes, but the average is around 40-50 crimes.

    So for £1,000 a month, you get 5000 crimes reported.
    It'll be interesting if 4Chan decides to start trolling this.... thousands of people reporting Pedo Bear at the Palace, or just any single crime somewhere cops aren't.

  • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:39PM (#29684777) Homepage

    Firstly, this is the Daily Mail - a rabid right-wing tabloid newspaper that typically has headlines about how Polish immigrants are going to knock down all our schools to open up christian vegan lesbian holistic bomb-making camps, or something.

    Secondly, it would be entirely illegal to do this under UK law. We have things like the Data Protection Act.

  • There are... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:41PM (#29684805)
    There are two types of "crimes" one is crimes that harm others and in general are a big deal, things like murder, rape (real rape, not some 18 year old having sex with a 17 year old), theft and even some forms of vandalism. Those things should be reported. Other things are still "crimes" but they harm no one except possibly the person doing the actions, things like light speeding with little to no traffic, underage drinking/smoking, some things classified under drugs, etc. However, its not the crimes that are a big deal that will be reported it is the stupid little crimes which shouldn't even be prosecuted or in some cases have laws forbidding the actions.
  • Re:slippery slope? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:43PM (#29684821) Journal
    Anyone who argues against the "slippery slope" argument for More Cameras == Bad should be shot. Now. So anybody can be challenged for anything now, just because somebody who's trying to win a chunk of money thinks they saw something wrong?

    If the cameras were entirely public access and you were able to search the archives, and you got charged for a criminal act, but you were able to demonstrate that more than half the population also committed this criminal act, what would happen next?
  • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:46PM (#29684867) Journal

    In addition to all the above legitimate concerns, add sexual harrasment and a live "hot girl at location X" Twitter feed or whatever. Not to mention filming and recording of partners, ex's, bullying victims, etc. And if you thought "happy slapping" with a phone camera was something, wait till you see what people can do when broadcast live on the Internet. If a group wants to harras you, it's going to much easier for them to do so, as you say. What do you think will happen with a system like this in the hands of Anonymous or some group like them.

    Of course you might be able to use this to monitor the police, but if so, expect them to implement controls on that asap.
  • by diodeus ( 96408 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @03:48PM (#29684887) Journal

    Nothing will be able to stop my Fake Crime Street Theater gang. I'll keep those snoopers glued to their monitors for years. Crimes that never happen. Victims who don't exist. Jam the system.

  • Re:Open surveillance (Score:2, Interesting)

    by miffo.swe ( 547642 ) <daniel.hedblom@g ... minus city> on Thursday October 08, 2009 @04:01PM (#29685051) Homepage Journal

    It would be fair if you could snoop on politicians and the rest of the wealthy. Problem is, its extremely focused on poor and uneducated people who desperately needs help getting up from poverty, not surveillance.

    Why arent the same extreme mesures taken out to challenge corporate crimes? The society value of stopping moneylandry, tax evasion and such is much much higher than to get at some idiot shoplifting or doing other petty crimes.

    Its clearly people in power bashing poor and powerless people. Stasi and KGB must be pretty miffed when the people lambasting them the most in the 90s is stealing their work.

  • by noundi ( 1044080 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @04:01PM (#29685053)

    In a way that's very non-Orwellian. You see the fundamental concept of the Orwellian idea is to have one instance impose on your privacy, in which case this instance uses this data against you, but if we're all imposing on eachothers privacy, what has changed? Other than the very extension of our privacy. I'll give a comparison. Say that none of us had eyes, thus no vision (no echo location isn't allowed either), our privacy would extend much further than it does today, but what if one person, or a group of people suddenly gained vision, these people could use this to receive information about you when you thought you weren't being observed. That would be Orwellian. In the case where everybody (well except the few blind people) get to have vision it no longer becomes Orwellian. It might still be frightening, mostly for those that fear getting something unwanted caught on tape, but in the end it's equal for everyone. If (when) we have a surveyed society I hope that we all get access to the footage at anytime, live or recorded. Equal makes it fair, might be right or wrong -- but still fair.

  • by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @04:09PM (#29685155)

    People will band together and participate in government-sanctioned stalking of atheists, commies, homosexuals, or whomever else they just don't like.

    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," whereas others - like Christians and conservatives - only profess to believe in "higher authority," God, law-biding citizens, etc....

    You probably just mentioned the ones that you particularly dislike or feel are discriminated against/harassed (I could show you a lot of Christians/capitalists/conservatives/heterosexuals/moralists that are, though....), but it's an interesting bias? :)

  • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @04:13PM (#29685211)

    He also says it is inevitable -- with cameras getting cheaper and smaller and better by the day, the time will come when everyone will be wearing several cameras for 360 recording of what's around them, sent wirelessly back to central servers, probably never to be deleted, ever, with the cost of storage dropping as fast. The time will come when any bad guy will leave traces on so many recordings, all of which will ne annotated with time and lat/lon, that it will be a trivial matter to back track thru all the cameras in the area and trace the perp back far enough for identification. Physical crime will become pretty rare. So will phoney alibis, all sorts of cheatin' hearts, the murky deeds of hypocritical politicians .... it's going to be an interesting future, this global village with no privacy. I look forward to it. It will take some time to get used to the lack of privacy, but the tradeoff -- the *inevitable* tradeoff -- will be well worth it, and those who grow up with this will have a fantasticaly different mindset from those of us living now..

  • by Headcase88 ( 828620 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @04:28PM (#29685425) Journal
    Anyone who snoops incorrectly will be meta-snooped and won't get as many snoop points. Thus, everything will be forever moderated correctly on Slashdot. I mean Britain.
  • by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @04:30PM (#29685471)
    You missed out the bit where they are unable to find an actual criminal, so they shoot someone else instead.
  • It's not Orwellian. Orwell was intelligent. This is likely just foolish or dishonest. This:

    "Players who help catch the most criminals each month will win cash prizes up to 1,000."

    should be, in my opinion, translated as this:

    "CCTV cameras have so far been a huge waste of money. The reason is that it takes 1,000,000 hours of looking at cameras to find one illegal act. [I'm guessing.] Criminals are not so stupid that they perform for the cameras. So, we will try to get the work done without paying. We are wording the announcement so that we won't have to pay at all if someone catches only one illegal act."

    This is the last paragraph of the story: "Last month it was revealed that Britain has 4.2 million CCTV cameras - the equivalent of one per 14 people - one-and-a-half-times as many as Communist China."

    It would require 36,792,000,000 hours, 36.8 billion hours, each year to watch 4.2 million cameras. Booo-ooo-ooordom.

    What's happening in the British government? Things seem to be becoming crazy.

    The story says it is a scheme by a "former restaurant owner". Quote: "He will charge those who use the service, which could eventually include local authorities and even police forces as well as shop owners, £20 a week per camera to have their CCTV included on the site - amounting to thousands each year." Who will pay 1,040 pounds each year to possibly have someone watch one camera?
  • by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @04:46PM (#29685717)

    [1] And yes, I know exactly how inane the idea of a deserving target is, given the topic of this sub thread, and grandparent post in particular. Take the phrase as tongue in cheek.

    Actually in this case it is rather easy and clear-cut: the organizers and promoters of this "contest" are quite deserving of this sort of attention indeed. Anonymous should simply turn these would-be Gestapo members' self-righteous shit on them. See how they like the taste of their own medicine, the feeling of their own petards up their asses ... you get the idea.

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @04:51PM (#29685777) Homepage Journal

    Apart from the fact that long before the novel was written, there were governments, and governments in those days did the same thing.

    So it's about as Orwellian as horsedrawn chariots are Chryslerical.

  • by kalidasa ( 577403 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:03PM (#29685929) Journal
    But *who* will watch the watchers? Almost certainly, someone with a stake in continuing the program; so abuses will still go unreported.
  • by noundi ( 1044080 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:32PM (#29686281)

    Alright, I'll make sure to remember that. On a side note I'd love to rat on those leaving their dogs turds on the street. I'm serious, there is no easier way to ruin someones day than to leave dog shit behind for him to step on. When I see someone leaving dog shit on the street I always lecture their ignorant asses, and if they don't listen I walk behind them screaming "hey everybody, you know that dog shit you try to dodge everyday, forcing you to stare down at the street with every step you take, the shit you occasionally step on, this guy is the reason for that, he refuses to take his responsibility", and repeat. I'll be honest -- I don't even care that it's against the law, but if your actions affect me, then I'll make sure that my actions affect you. Fair and square. I just hope there were less pussies in the world and more people like me, at least in that sense.

    Oh and by the way I've worked both at kindergardens and elderly homes when I was younger, and I've had to clean up more shit than you'd even imagine -- asshole. And there's your paragraph.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:42PM (#29686385) Journal

    Can we please all not forget that George Orwell was a nasty little man who would have gladly seen the universities closed and everyone who wears glasses jailed? He hated higher education and wanted a world where everyone was a worker and lived drab lives of bare sustenance. He idolized the uneducated working class and believed in the worst parts of communism and fascism. His "ideal world" would have been a nightmare that makes the one in his comic-book novel look like utopia.

    His real beliefs were as close as you can get to a bipolar mixture of the worst of communism, populism and fascism. George Orwell was an earlier version of Glenn Beck, without the winning personality.

    Like Ayn Rand, he was a damaged personality whose bitterness and hatred resulted in novels that are misread, misunderstood and used by equally damaged people to justify antisocial behavior.

    The problem is not that people read George Orwell and Ayn Rand, but that a significant number of people who somehow enjoy their books decide never to read any others.

  • by mhajicek ( 1582795 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @05:43PM (#29686391)
    What happens when a citizen volunteer spy reports on police or government officials breaking the law?
  • In Ireland of old, possibly still today, one of the great insults was to be called an "informer". This derived from the old rule under the English where informants were very real and the information they passed on to authorities was a very central element of British rule over the country. When discovered, actual informers could face very serious repercussions from the local population, and there was really no worse sin, particularly in the days before independence. Even during the Troubles in the north well into the 90's, informers, and even suspected informers faced summary execution at the hands of the IRA.

    While the English have long gone in the Republic, the taboo lingers on in a fashion. As in most former colonies, people tend to report crimes less, and respect for those that do is not very forthcoming.

    Looking on the bright side, perhaps after they have been subjected to this system, the British may finally get an idea of why the government (or anyone else), knowing too much is actually a bad thing. Recent developments in their country suggests that they haven't yet grasped this, but may actually be capable [] of doing so. Americans on the other hand... .

  • by LtGordon ( 1421725 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @06:51PM (#29687041)

    Here in Florida we took our dog out on the beach once and within 20 minutes a local police officer had showed up after receiving "numerous complaints from residents". Basically, the shore is bordered with miles of condos with bored elders who have nothing better to do with their time than call the PD when they see something they don't like.

    My dad has been an officer here for almost 30 years and once worked a homicide case where a guy was killed on this same section of the beach ... and nobody reported a dead body in the sand until the next day. As my dad used to say, "if only the guy had a dog with him when he died."

  • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @07:31PM (#29687385) Journal

    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.

    If there's a scandal, the Prime Minister is removed by his party and a new one brought in. The new one does not remove the system because that would just be a concession that he was going to behave similarly. What would happen (and it doesn't need to be anyone as dramatic as a Prime Minister) is that exceptions will be made for a vaguely defined class of people (which basically translates as people with power) that you are prevented from spying on by law and by technological measures.

    The only reason parliament would ban this sort of thing would be if there is sufficient public disgust voiced to make it clear that it harms their electoral achievements and benefits their rivals.

  • by noundi ( 1044080 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @08:30PM (#29687857)

    I hope you get modded up. I think it is an important distinction. But the privacy-at-all cost people on here may want to suppress your post because it doesn't agree with their freaking out.

    I didn't want to say it, but you took the words out of my mouth. Truth is, no matter how many books we've read or how many movies we've seen we're never going to be able to foresee a scenario at such a large scale. There are just too many factors in play. What people do know is their fear, and their fear will unfortunately play on many of their decisions in life causing irrational behaviour.
    Maybe we will have a surveyed society, and maybe it will turn out ok, I know I don't suffer from hubris, thus I cannot tell either way. I can speculate, but I will never throw myself to the ground screaming "my god can you not see what awaits ahead!?", such as many here do. Fundamentally we humans are curious creatures, and we will always try to snoop on our neighbours, but there's a difference between invading privacy and monitoring public domain. I agree the thought of Orwells world is frightening, but he was no god, and his books are not prophecies. They are merely the product of a curious human playing with the thought of what could be. I believe that if a government becomes the way that Orwell describes in 1984, then there's a good chance the effects will also be as described. However this is not the only outcome of a surveyed society. We are already surveyed, just at different levels. That cell phone you carry: it is used to track your location to prove your guilt or innocence. Those keycards you use: same thing. Internet: need I continue? And apart from this there's already a series of cameras on public locations.
    Every person should have the right to privacy, that is given. My property is not public domain, thus I should have all the rights to decide if I want a camera in my house, or even aimed at my property, or not. However the streets are not mine, they are ours. And fundamentally it is a choice we make. If you truly feel that you want to fight something, then do it. The further you take it, the more people will listen to you. Ultimately it's up to you. If you believe that politics is all corrupted business then fine, but it doesn't mean that there's no room for honest opinions -- look at all the pirate parties merging around the world. There's a swedish pirate in the european parliament, who's actually one of 14 members in charge of developing the new telecom package! That is change my friends. Or you could just waste your time speculating, in fear, about what horrors the future may hold you.

  • by Crazy Taco ( 1083423 ) on Thursday October 08, 2009 @08:37PM (#29687897)

    In 1934, German citizens wearing brownshirts were encouraged to spy on each other and report possible dissidents to the authorities. So yes, this is very Nazi/Fascist.


    And yes, I've read 1984 but just in case anyone doubts, this can/did happen in real life also.

Each new user of a new system uncovers a new class of bugs. -- Kernighan