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Controls On Mass Surveillance, e.g. ANPR System

Comment 2nd July 2010

We need legislation to control and limit the use of mass surveillance databases, for example the ANPR database. 

Data held by the police (or any other government body) must be subject to the data protection act: it must be available to the suspect, it must be proved to be appropriate and accurate, and it must be subject to change if innaccurate. 

Entry on these databases must not be made without genuine grounds to suspect criminal activity.  No fishing expiditions.

Police should be subject to prosecution themselves if the data is misused to harrass the innocent.

Why does this matter?

Currently the police can add anyone to the ANPR database for the flimsiest of reasons.  For example, people have been ANPR marked for simply attending a peaceful demonstration; or even for parking near one.

The police take an ANPR entry as reason to stop and search, to invade privacy, etc..    Someone who is marked is going to get repeated contact with policemen who (naturally or not) assume that you must be guilty of something.  This is beyond policing: it's punishment without a trial.

There is no way to know if you have an APNR mark.  There is no way to appeal. 

And this is just the tip of the mass surveillance iceberg.  We could talk about the activity of the police "Forward Intelligence Teams", also.

Some links for further reading here, here and here.

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