Warning over 'surveillance state'
Lord Norton: "We are a world leader in surveillance"
Electronic surveillance and collection of personal data are "pervasive" in British society and threaten to undermine democracy, peers have warned.
CCTV cameras and the DNA database were two examples of threats to privacy, the Lords constitution committee said.
It called for compensation for people subject to illegal surveillance.
The government said CCTV and DNA were "essential" to fight crime but campaign group Liberty said abuses of power mean "even the innocent have a lot
Civil liberties campaigners have warned about the risks of a "surveillance society" in which the state acquires ever-greater powers to track
people's movements and retain personal data.
Controversial government plans for a database to store details of people's phone calls and e-mails were put on hold late last year after they were
"There can be no justification for this gradual but incessant creep towards every detail about us being recorded and pored over by the state" -
Ministers are consulting on the plan, which would involve the details but not the content of calls and internet traffic being logged, saying it is
essential to fighting terrorism.
In its report, the Lords constitution committee said growth in surveillance by both the state and the private sector risked threatening people's
right to privacy, which it said was "an essential pre-requisite to the exercise of individual freedom".
People were often unaware of the scale of personal information held and exchanged by public bodies, it said.
"There can be no justification for this gradual but incessant creep towards every detail about us being recorded and pored over by the state,"
committee chairman and Tory peer Lord Goodlad said.
'Misuse of powers'
Among areas of most concern were the growth of CCTV cameras, of which there are now an estimated four million in the UK.
The UK is said by privacy campaigners to have the most cameras per head of population in the world, but no definitive figures are available.
According to a 2004 European Commission report, Britain has the highest density of CCTV cameras in Europe. It found 40,000 cameras monitored public
areas in 500 British towns and cities, compared to fewer than 100 cameras in 15 German cities and no open street CCTV at all in Denmark.
In its report, the Lords committee said the use of cameras should be regulated on a statutory basis in the UK, with a legally binding code of practice
governing their use.
There was evidence of abuse of surveillance powers by some councils, with cameras wrongly being "used to spy on the public over issues such as
The UK's DNA database is the "largest in the world", the report concluded, with more than 7% of the population having their samples stored,
compared with 0.5% in the US.Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
for full artice.
Hey, at least that anachronism of a House is good for something. I wish someone in a position of authority would flag up the glaring disparity between
the proliferation of cctv cameras in Britain and crime rate figures. No one can dare say that they are there for public protection. I'll shoot my tv
set the day some deadmans-shoe utters that!
Have any of you Brits noticed the frequency of surveillance helicopters in our skys of late? I'd really be interested to hear. There's one
practically every night in my area equipped with a powerful spot. People I've talked to all think they've an idea. Mostly it's searching for the
heat signature of cannabis farms. But I'm not inclined to believe the authorities would go to the expense for such a specific task. With a piece of
kit like that , you're going to make it pay, right?