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    Recent Stories about Privacy and Camera Surveillance Systems

    Los Angeles Times: License plate readers help police and Border Patrol, but worry privacy advocates

    The [license plate scanning] technology used in this case has recently swept the country. Long used in Europe, it is now employed in all 50 states and is also helping to combat the flow of drugs, illegal currency and weapons across the U.S.- Mexico border.

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection awarded a contract in October worth as much as $350 million to increase its use along the border, where thousands of license plates are processed by the system every day. But the technique, which, unlike speed cameras, snaps pictures of all vehicles passing by, worries privacy advocates. Wary of its ability to pinpoint and store the location of vehicles, they worry that innocent people may become easy targets for tracking. […]

    The relatively simple technology consists of cameras, either mounted on police cars or at a stationary location, capable of capturing and processing more than 100,000 license plate images an hour. Plate numbers are automatically run against “hot list” databases of stolen, suspicious or crime-related vehicles, said Capt. Kevin Reardon of the Arlington, Va., Police Department. […]

    But the same technology that makes it easier and faster to peg suspicious vehicles also makes it easier to track innocent people, said [Lee] Tien, the Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer.

    Every time a scan runs through the system, the location of the vehicle and the date the image was taken are stored in a database — even if it does not trigger an alert. Individual agencies determine how long that information is stored, Arlington Police Capt. Reardon said. Some agencies store the data for a couple of days, others for six months. Arlington clears its database once a month.

    That much information in one place makes it easy to “connect the dots” and track where a vehicle has been, revealing whether it stopped “at the opera or a strip club,” Tien said.

    (Australia) Daily Telegraph: Home security cameras are creating privacy concerns for Sydney neighbours

    Neighbours in Sydney’s south are being accused of invading each other’s privacy with household security cameras that not only watch their homes but also next door’s.

    Now a council is calling for laws to end the problem amid a home security camera boom that has seen up to 45 per cent of householders turn to high-tech surveillance equipment to protect themselves. Sutherland Shire Councillor George Capsis said mounting complaints were behind his call for an end to cameras recording neighbours inside their homes. […]

    Security systems featuring night vision, four cameras, motion detectors and a TV monitor can be bought and installed for less than $2000. Sutherland Council will take the calls for legislation to the annual NSW Local Government Conference to get support from the state’s 152 councils. It will make a submission explaining no laws exist to control the operation of security cameras. […]

    “We have had many complaints from people about this. There is nothing to protect people. There is no privacy law that gives effective remedy to this situation,” [said NSW Council for Civil Liberties secretary Stephen Blanks.]

    AllVoices.com: Sri Lanka Launches Country’s First Surveillance Camera System

    The Sri Lankan government has set up the country’s first closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera system in the capital city of Colombo.

    More than 100 cameras, which began operating Wednesday, have been installed around the city, and the images that are transmitted continuously can be viewed at a control room on 28 LCD screens, according to a defense ministry statement. The system has the functionality to store the acquired images for several days. […]

    According to officials, the cameras serve two objectives: to assist with national security issues and to help manage traffic in the country’s largest city. […]

    It is unclear what type of information the police will be gathering and how that information will be used.

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    2. Homeland Security Watch » From the other blogs – for Tuesday, January 4th Says:

      […] PrivacyLives summarizes recent stories about privacy and camera surveillance systems. […]

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