Britain spies on rubbish terrorists

This is awesome. 77 councils said they are using automatic street surveillance, a power granted under an anti-terror law, to spy on people suspected of putting their trashcan on the street on the wrong day.

The Mail requested information from all of the 474 councils in England. Of the 151 which replied, some 77 - more than half - said they had used the legislation in the last three years for suspected ‘domestic waste, littering or fly-tipping offences’.

Although it is ostensibly an anti-terror law, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, or RIPA, is worded so loosely that it can be used to justify surveillance operations for a variety of reasons. These include spying to ‘protect public health’ or the ‘economic well-being of the UK’.

This means that councils can use the powers granted by the Act to monitor families’ treatment of household waste.

In Lincolnshire, West Lindsey District Council uses the new powers to place motion-activated cameras on lamp posts to catch homeowners putting their bins out at the wrong time.

One officer told an undercover reporter: 'In some areas, particularly where there is terraced housing, we have a problem with people putting their black rubbish bags out three or four days early.

'When they have been left in alleyways or at the rear of terraced properties, it is difficult to identify exactly who has placed them there.

‘The cameras are hidden in tin cans or put on lamp posts and allow us to monitor who is coming out of which property and leaving their rubbish. Sometimes we are able to put these cameras inside peoples’ homes that overlook the alleyways.

‘These are usually residents who have complained to us about rubbish being dumped outside their house on the wrong day.’

Via Bruce Schneier where comments confirmed that this article is correct (even though it’s from the Daily Mail).

Ministry of Happiness reports that we are happy

No need to worry about RIPA abuse and gradual erosion of human rights. Everything is fine, everyone is happy.

I read another message board where a lot of English people post and every time a story like this comes up they’re all like “Well, here comes Big Brother, ha ha ha.” I read posts like that and I can’t believe how cavalier and accepting they are.

1984 had a big impact on my political worldview. My biggest issues are things like transparency, freedom of speech and good government, which I think it a result of reading is when I was pretty young. But where I read the book and reacted strongly against the future it portrays, it seems like (at least) a few people read it and thought the ideal system would be some middle ground between the present day and Orwell’s dystopia.

I wonder if this shit would fly here. There are CCTV cameras, but not many, and I haven’t heard of any social micromanagement being done with them.

I’ve linked this piece before, but it’s worth doing again

It is a little funny that they are wasting resources like that but if you look at it from a non-slippery slope point of view, the only people that would complain about their street being monitored are the people who plan on committing crimes on the street and prefer not be caught. If it wasn’t a tremendous waste of resources and manpower this would be perfectly acceptable.

PS I knew putting garbage out early was a dick move but I never knew it was illegal.

I don’t think the English care very much about their civil liberties, nor do most nations within the Commonwealth (except, I suppose, Canada?). Just look at what Australia’s doing to their internet.

I think we try and complain, but there are 5 or 6 agencies that cover Big Brother legislation, and when any particular example comes up the original agency refers the complaint to another department, who deny responsibility and pass it to one of the regulators, who are sympathetic but unable to help as it’s not under their mandate, so they refer you to the next who send you to another who…

Why the UK is so friendly to public surveillance would be an interesting bit of sociology research.

The IRA.

pfft, the IRA weren’t brown so we weren’t afraid of them we just took Rubbish bins out of all the main towns and cities because people liked to stick nail bombs in them as well as sweetie wrappers. Although if you tried to fly into or out of [Northern] Ireland up until recently you’d get to have a thorough search and a nice chat about why you were going to Ireland, what you were intending to do there and who you were going to see and the same again when you got back. I dare say it was a lot more thorough if you happened to to have an Irish accent or passport.

I read another message board where a lot of English people post and every time a story like this comes up they’re all like “Well, here comes Big Brother, ha ha ha.” I read posts like that and I can’t believe how cavalier and accepting they are.

it’s because we don’t have guns, what can we do about it?

The Daily Mail needs to find a way to be delivered directly into the rectum of it’s readers. That it’s making a hullabaloo about what everyone not twisted and evil was pointing out to them and it’s readers when it was backing the government over this legislation is naturally amusing. Fancy that, you grant wide ranging powers to councils and government to mount surveillance operations to “combat terrorism” and they use those powers to do other stuff up to, and including, Freezing Iceland’s Bank accounts/Assets in the UK.

We’ve also got a huge “nothing to hide” mentality. You want all these powers to spy on brown people who want to kill us all? well I’ve got nothing to hide in the wanting to kill other people department so this stuff wont affect me at all, go right ahead. So now the council is using all these powers to determine whether I actually live in the right catchment area of the school that I’m trying to send my [imaginary] kids to? To see whether I’m sorting my rubbish out correctly? Hang on a minute, that’s just not cricket.

Possibly there is just trying to wade through the sheer volume of legislation introduced by Labour since 1997 incuding over 3600 new criminal offences, only 1100 or so of which were debated in any way in Parliament itself.

Still to come we have ID cards and that whimsical database that is supposed to hold details on all the websites you visit, all the people you phone, email or text or who contacted you and if you go into full on fairy land, which masts your mobile phone was connected to while it was switched on. A lot of this data is already stored, by law, by the companies providing the services, but it does at least require a warrant for the government to obtain.

On the plus side, Labour will probably lose the next election. on the downside, the Tories aren’t much better and once on the books, laws tend to be bloody hard to get rid of.

I thought this thread was going to be about MI5 busting up a gang of laughably incompetent terrorists, like the guys who set their car on fire and gently rolled it into Glasgow Airport.

Maybe we lag behind a bit, but our governments are still little bitches in this regard. For one we have a little Notwithstanding Clause that gives provincial governments the ability to suspend certain aspects of our Charter of Rights and Freedom - such as freedom of religion or speech.

Almost makes me want to move to the States.

Almost makes me want to move to the States.

But they can ship you off to a corner of the USA that technically isn’t the USA and hold you there indefinitely without trial or recourse to legal representation. We only spy on your bins. Your BINS dammit, that KFC box is legally biological warfare after 3 days.

I want to move to the UK just so I can get away with saying that!

Yeah Sol, I wouldn’t call Canada the exception. I’m more concerned about this stuff than the political mainstream. In addition to CSL’s point we also have some very spottily enforced (and at times a bit spooky) hate speech laws.

And here, I was told that the original reasons for the 2nd Amendment existing were “a joke.”

I think you just missed one.

Only if you are not a US citizen.

Not true. See here, here, and here.

Of all the constitutionally threatening and extremist powers the Bush administration has asserted over the last seven years, the most radical – and the most dangerous – has been its claim that the President has the power to arrest U.S. citizens and legal residents inside the U.S., and imprison them indefinitely in a military prison, without charging them with any crime, based on his assertion that the imprisoned individual is an “enemy combatant.” Beginning with U.S. citizen Yasser Esam Hamdi (detained in Afghanistan), followed by U.S. citizen Jose Padilla (detained at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport), followed by Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri (in the U.S. on a student visa and detained at his home in Peoria, Illinois), the Bush administration has not only claimed that power in theory but has aggressively exercised and defended it in practice.

The Bush administration’s strategy of imprisoning these “enemy combatants” in a South Carolina military brig has (by design) ensured that subsequent legal challenges are heard by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most right-wing judicial circuit in the country. In September, 2005, a three-judge panel from that circuit issued a ruling in the Jose Padilla case (.pdf) that actually upheld the President’s power to arrest and indefinitely detain even U.S. citizens arrested on U.S. soil without charging them with any crime – a decision which the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review (because the Bush administration, after 3 1/2 years of lawless imprisonment, avoided that review by finally charging Padilla with a crime), thus leaving that Padilla decision as still-valid law in this country.