Surveillance State Function Creep - London Congestion Charge "real-time bulk data" to be automatically handed over to the Metropolitan Police etc.
There is no question that we already live in a Surveillance State, which is creeping , step by step into a Police State.
Why can't the mainstream media ask a few simple questions when presented with a Home Office press release, instead of just re-publishing it verbatim ? e.g. the BBC
and The Times report, almost word for word the same dismal news about the further extension of ANPR CCTV Surveillance in London:
Police are to be given live access to London's congestion charge cameras - allowing them to track all vehicles entering and leaving the zone.
Anti-terror officers will be exempted from parts of the Data Protection Act to allow them to see the date, time and location of vehicles in real time.
They previously had to apply for access on a case-by-case basis.
We contend, that under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, they still have to do so on a case by case basis, as Mass Surveillance using ANPR is illegal, according to the Surveillance Commissioners (who are all former High Court Judges)
Police and security minister Tony McNulty said: "The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police believes that it is necessary due to the enduring, vehicle-borne terrorist threat to London.
"The Met requires bulk ANPR data from TfL's camera network in London specifically for terrorism intelligence purposes and to prevent and investigate such offences.
"The infrastructure will allow the real-time flow of data between TfL and the Met."
Mr McNulty said the home secretary had signed a certificate exempting the two organisations from some provisions of the 1998 Data Protection Act.
The Met will produce an annual report for the Information Commissioner, the government's data protection watchdog who oversees how material from CCTV cameras is used.
The scheme will also be reviewed in three months' time after an interim report by Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, so the home secretary can be "personally satisfied ... that the privacy of individuals is protected", added Mr McNulty.
Be clear as to what this Surveillance Function Creep means. It has nothing to do with following up clues about specific vehicles under investigation e.g. the movements of the two Mercedes cars which were so ineptly used as failed crude gas incendiary devices in the Haymarket and the one towed away by parking enforcers in Cockspur Street.
Both of these vehicles were unknown to the authorities until after they had entered the Central Congestion Charge Zone, so the exisiting, case by case Data Protection Act Section 29 authorisation targeted at specific vehicles, would have applied.
What is being proposed is real time data on everyone simply being slurped into who knows what sort of Metropolitan Police and passed on to who knows which other agencies anti-terrorism databases, both in the UK and overseas.
What safeguards are there for the millions of innocent people's vehicle movements which will be stored and analysed ?
What about the other Credit Card and Mobile Phone Data which the Congestion Charge system also collects in "real time" every day ?
Is this only the legally collected Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) data for enforcing the Congestion Charge during the Monday to Friday 6am to 7pm Congestion Charge period, or does it also include the illegally collected ANPR data at night and at weekends, when the system should be switched off, but is not ?
Data Protection Act 1998 section 28 National Security explains the complicated process of Ministerial Certificates which nullify the the supposed protection of innocent people's data.
At least the Mayorwatch blog managed to get a quote from a Transport for London spokesman:
A spokesman for Transport for London which oversees the congestion charge scheme told MayorWatch the body was "fully prepared to support the Metropolitan Police's request for routine access to data from London's Congestion Charging camera system for national security purposes."
"We have examined the technical issues arising from this proposal, and are finalising protocols to ensure the swift and secure transfer of the data in question."
"In allowing for this access, the Home Office has exempted Congestion Charging camera data from the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998."
Chief Surveillance Commissioner Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose published his Annual Report 2006-2007 today:
With regard to Automatic Number Plate Recognition, my position is the same as that of my predecessor and I adhere to the view that legislation is necessary to resolve some issues arising from enhanced technological capability.
Last year, his predecessor as Chief Surveillance Commissioner Rt. Hon. Sir Andrew Leggatt wrote, unanimously with the other Surveillance Commissioners (including Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose), all of whom are former High Court Judges or equivalent see Annual Report 2005-2006
14. Automatic number plate recognition
14.1 ANPR has proved very effective in crime reduction and is a prime example of intelligence-led policing. But the deployment of an ANPR camera constitutes surveillance when an identifiable image is recorded of a person in a vehicle. It probably also amounts to the obtaining of private information about any such person, whether or not that person has been identified for the purposes of the investigation or operation. The procedure will therefore be vulnerable to challenge unless it is authorised.
14.2 In the normal case, where a camera is sited in an obvious position and obviously is a camera, the deployment will not be covert. The same will normally apply where adequate notice of the presence of a camera has been given. But ANPR is not a normal case, and it is arguable that, even if the presence of an
ANPR camera is apparent, surveillance nevertheless remains covert if occupants of vehicles are unaware that the camera may make and record identifiable images of them. Explaining the true purpose of the equipment briefly is not easy. It is not possible to lay down rules as to what will amount to adequate
notice of the presence of the camera and of its function.
14.3 If the camera is set up in such a way as to record any of the large number of vehicles which may, for one reason or another, be entered on the computer database, particularly if a link to the Highways Agency's camera records were established, it is unlikely that the deployment could be authorised under RIPA or RIP(S)A. There may well be human rights issues arising in connection with any use of private information to build up pictures of the movements of particular persons or vehicles. In such a case, the admissibility at trial of
evidence obtained in this way would probably depend on whether its admission would have an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings.
14.4 The unanimous view of the Commissioners is that the existing legislation is not apt to deal with the fundamental problems to which the deployment of ANPR cameras gives rise. This is probably because the current technology, or at least its very extensive use, had not been envisaged when the legislation was framed. The Commissioners are of the view that legislation is likely to be required to establish a satisfactory framework to allow for the latest technological advances. The position is complicated by the fact that the current technology can be used in a variety of different ways and at different levels of effectiveness.
14.5 I am accordingly urging upon the Home Secretary the desirability of promoting such enabling legislation as may be needed.
In other words, the sort of Mass Surveillance and transfer of "bulk data" from the Transport for London infrastructure to the Metropolitan Police , in "real time", specifically not on a targeted, case by case basis, is not possible under RIPA, and is therefore illegal, regardless of whether there is a Ministerial Certificate signed by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, which nullifies the supposed protections of innocent people's data, under the Data Protection Act 2000.
The mainstream media should have asked about exactly what "data" Transport for London are handing over automatically to the Metropolitan Police Service, and what the Data Retention policy is.
The London Congestion Charge scheme produces several kinds of data:
- Colour "street scene" CCTV images at the entrances and exits of the original Central Zone.
- Colour "street scene" CCTV images at the entrances and exits of the Westward Expansion Zone. More of these cameras seem to be forward facing than in the Central Zone and might capture an image of the driver or passengers.
- Infrared greyscale images of Vehicle Number Plates
at the entrances and exits of the original Central Zone.
- Infrared greyscale images of Vehicle Number Plates
at the entrances and exits of the Westward Expansion Zone.
- ANPR processed text files of the Vehicle Number Plate, time, date and camera location at the entrances and exits of the original Central Zone.
- ANPR processed text files of the Vehicle Number Plate, time, date and camera location at the entrances and exits of the Westward Expansion Zone
- Colour "street scene" CCTV images from mobile enforcement vans, anywhere within either Zone.
- Infrared greyscale images of Vehicle Number Plates
from mobile enforcement vans, anywhere within either Zone.
- ANPR processed text files of the Vehicle Number Plate, time, date and camera location from mobile enforcement vans, anywhere within either Zone.
- Pre-payment individual registration details
- Fleet registration vehicle details
- Credit Card Pre-payment details linked to a particular Vehicle Number Plate
- Mobile Phone Pre-payment linked to a particular Vehicle Number Plate and Mobile Phone.
- Exempt Vehicle status data
N.B. This Data is only collected by Transport for London for the purpose of enforcing the Congestion Charge, which is only in force from Monday to Friday , from 6am to 7pm.
Transport for London's Register of Data Controllers entry Z5623601 has a specific Data Purpose for the Congestion Charge. It is unclear if the Westward Expansion Zone is covered by the words "Central London Congestion Charge", as this plainly refers to the original Central Zone.
Data Controllers further description of Purpose:
ADMINISTRATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF THE CENTRAL LONDON CONGESTION CHARGING SCHEME
Data subjects are:
Customers and clients
Complainants, correspondents and enquirers
Advisers, consultants and other professional experts
Offenders and suspected offenders
DISCOUNT APPLICANTS & HOLDERS
INDIVIDUALS MAKING CONGESTION CHARGE PAYMENTS INCLUDING PRE-PAYMENTS
REGISTERED KEEPERS OF VEHICLES INCURRING PENALTY CHARGES
SERVICE PROVIDERS AND AGENTS
SURVEY, RESEARCH & CONSULTATION RESPONDENTS
MARKETING/PUBLIC INFORMATION CAMPAIGN RESPONDENTS
Data classes are:
Family, Lifestyle and Social Circumstances
Goods or Services Provided
Physical or Mental Health or Condition
Offences (Including Alleged Offences)
Criminal Proceedings, Outcomes And Sentences.
IMAGES OF VEHICLES ENTERING THE CHARGING ZONE; REGISTRATION MARKS OF THESE
VEHICLES WILL BE MATCHED WITH KEEPER DETAILS HELD BY THE D V L A (DRIVER AND
VEHICLE LICENSING AGENCY) IF A VALID CHARGE PAYMENT, EXEMPTION OR DISCOUNT IS
NOT HELD, SO THAT A PENALTY CHARGE NOTICE MAY BE ISSUED.
Sources (S) and Disclosures (D)(1984 Act). Recipients (1998 Act):
D D V L A (DRIVER AND VEHICLE LICENSING AGENCY)
D P A T A S (PARKING AND TRAFFIC APPEALS SERVICE)
D ON STREET ENFORCEMENT SERVICE PROVIDERS
D ORGANISATIONS AUTHORIZED TO CONFIRM DISCOUNT ELEGIBILITY.
D TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT CENTRE, NORTHAMPTON COUNTY COURT(FOR DEBT REGISTRATION)
D EUROPEAN TRACING AGENCIES (TO TRACE KEEPERS OF VEHICLES WITH EUROPEAN AND
D OTHER NON-UK LICENCE PLATES WHICH HAVE INCURRED A PENALTY CHARGE)
Data subjects themselves
Business associates and other professional advisers
Employees and agents of the data controller