Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Everyone hates getting speeding tickets, but they hate red light speeding tickets even more. Texas and Ohio hate them so much that they voted against them in local elections last week.

Three cities Tuesday — two in Ohio, one in Texas — voted to rip the things down. In College Station, Tex., the camera manufacturer and their subcontractors reportedly spent $60,000 campaigning to keep them in place, more than five times the amount raised by the opposition, and lost anyway. Voters in Chillicothe, Ohio, went against the cameras at a rate of 72 percent. In Heath, Ohio, the mayor got caught removing anti-camera campaign signs from an intersection. He, and the cameras, got sent packing.

Nationwide, there have been something like 11 elections on automated enforcement. Your vote total: Revolting Peasants 11, Machines 0.

Yet cities continue to install the machines, mainly because they are such great revenue generators. It takes a rejection on a ballot for city officials to get the clue that people don’t want these machines in their town.

And why do people hate them so much? You can’t argue with a machine.

Ash, the College Station activist, started his campaign because he said they were a violation of due process, that there was no appeal beyond a municipal hearing. Red-light or speed cameras or both are banned in all or part of 14 states. The Republican governor of Mississippi kicked them out of the Magnolia State earlier this year. The Democratic governor of Montana did the same in July. Sulphur, La., put the issue to a vote in April — and 86 percent of the populace voted to get rid of them.

In 2005, then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) vetoed the Maryland bill that eventually authorized cameras in Montgomery County, because, he said, it was a blatant “revenue-raising measure” that designated four- and six-lane highways to be “residential neighborhoods” and allowed a jurisdiction to “charge, try and convict an individual solely through the use of a photograph.”

His veto was overridden. With a conviction rate of 99.7%, it’s no wonder municipalities want red light cameras.

There isn’t all good news for the cameras. Arizona is fighting it vigorously. People simply hate these machines and will do whatever it takes to get rid of them.

…And, not funny at all, a technician was servicing a speed camera on Loop 101 in Phoenix back in April. An irate motorist shot him to death.

Overseas, people in Finland have destroyed them with explosives. Vandals in Britain attack them at the rate of 100 a year.

While traffic accidents have decreased, the numbers have fallen across the board, not just places with traffic cameras. There is considerable conflicting data on whether or not the camera help prevent or cause accidents, but it is clear that the citizens do not want them. Given the fact that the yellow lights are purposefully shortened to generate more money, is it any wonder?

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The former head of the West German Military Intelligence has issued a book revealing secret details of a 1949 US-German treaty, alleging America and its allies have been deliberately suppressing the nation’s sovereignty.

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The ACTA Threat

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Michael Geist’s 20 minute talk on the ACTA threat.

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Who Owns You?

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Despite ever growing concerns over security details, the UK has gone ahead and entered the details on 11 million children into ContactPoint’s database. The database has been delayed several times over security and privacy concerns, however, after claiming the pilot project a success, every local council authority will soon have the project.

They say the long-delayed £224 project will make England’s 11million young people safer by providing a single register that can be used by all child protection professionals.

But there are concerns that the sensitive data could fall into the wrong hands, after an official review concluded that it could never be completely secure.

The program was delayed after officials admitted that the database could never be fully secured. Then, ContactPoint had some glitches over the summer and new loopholes were found, making the system vulnerable to attacks.

Children were being listed in the database under their real and adopted names, making it easier to track them down and eliminating the “shielding” that was supposed to take place to protect them. The database itself proved to be helpful to anyone who would hack the system to find out where the children lived, leaving many children at risk again.

It is also feared that police or council workers will use it to search for evidence of crime or pry into family arrangements, rather than safeguarding children.

Tim Loughton, the shadow children’s minister, said: “We are determined to protect vulnerable children from abuse, but ContactPoint would put them risk.

“Every IT system the Government touches turns into a disaster – we cannot afford to let them mismanage the personal details of 11 million children. It would be irresponsible to implement something that is such a danger to our children.”

David Laws, the Lib Dems’ children’s spokesman, added: “When it comes to child protection, professionals need to be talking to one another and not relying on simply putting data into a massive database.

“The Government has shown it can’t be trusted with sensitive data. Parents have every right to demand that their children’s personal details are not put at risk.”

The computerised database contains a record for each of the 11m under-18s living in England, containing their name, address, gender, date of birth and a unique identifying number.

It also holds information on their parents, their nursery or school, their GP and whether they have a social worker, health visitor or probation officer assigned to them. If the young person consents, it will also give details of sexual health or drug abuse counsellors.

After politicians claimed the pilot program a success, at least 390,000 people will have access to the database. These include, social workers, teachers, police officers and health care workers. They will use the database to track children in a variety of different ways.

A nurse said: “A child came into A&E [who] lied about his address as he had run away from home. I went onto ContactPoint and was able to find his correct contact details.”

Noting is noted about why the child ran away from home or why he was in the emergency room. Instead, the nurse “helped” by contacting his parents and letting him know where he was. This isn’t helpful. This is detrimental. A nurse should not be determining this information. If she knew the child had run away from home, she should have contacted the police and the right child advocate authority. Common sense should have told her this. Instead, the nurse has already relied on a database to solve the problem.

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