Is Nick Clegg right – are traffic cams a ‘Trojan Horse’?

by Stephen Tall on July 18, 2007

A new Home Office proposal, accidentally released today, suggests road pricing cameras could be used by police to track drivers’ movements in England and Wales.

The Lib Dem shadow home secretary, Nick Clegg, is quoted in this BBC Online report:

With this unintended act of open government the disingenuous attitude of ministers towards public fears about a creeping surveillance state is revealed for all to see.

Bit by bit vast computer databases are being made inter-operable and yet the government seems to be running scared of a full and public debate on the safeguards needed to make such information sharing acceptable.

The government appears to be using the London cameras as a Trojan Horse to secure unprecedented access to information on car drivers’ movements without full public scrutiny or debate.

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He’s absolutely correct.

The London congestion charge cameras are now due to be used as a realtime network for the police (I’m sure we were promised that wouldn’t happen…).

Function creep is a huge problem in projects no matter how worthy the initial project is.

Whilst in principle I support road useage pricing, in practice I do not trust any government to implement it in such a way that tracking is not possible.

by Tristan Mills on July 18, 2007 at 12:21 pm. Reply #

Yes absoutly agree with Nick.
As Tristan points out its typical of this government.They introduce something on one basis and then change its use once the public have taken their eye off the ball. Thank God at least we spot this, as usual Camerons Tories are all talk and no action.

by Big Mak on July 18, 2007 at 1:03 pm. Reply #

A prime example of the kind of function creep the Government insists wont happen with ID cards. What a bunch of lying, sneaky b****ards!

by Letterman on July 18, 2007 at 1:30 pm. Reply #

The government appears to be using the London cameras as a Trojan Horse to secure unprecedented access to information on car drivers’ movements without full public scrutiny or debate.

That’s fine by me because I’m not totally paranoid.

by Laurence Boyce on July 18, 2007 at 2:16 pm. Reply #


However privacy is a prerequisite for freedom and liberty.

People will abuse data because they can. Look at the way supposedly protected information like the full electoral register are available cheaply (last I heard the going rate was about £20). Other more protected information is available at higher cost.
Those ‘inside the tent’ who are implicitly trusted by government have shown time and time again to be as susceptible to corruption as anyone else.

Liberals are concerned with freedom and that, in part, means privacy. The state is no guarantor of privacy, in fact its the opposite since knowledge is power and those in government seek more and more power.

by Tristan Mills on July 18, 2007 at 4:37 pm. Reply #

My partner works for a local authority. He is involved with the new children’s database. Now, because of the over-riding need to protect children, hearsay and so on about parents can be added to the database to give a maximum picture of them. An official from electoral services approached him and asked for access to this database. He planned a push to sign up voters and wanted to know if there were any potentially dangerous householders. My partner refused on the basis that there was no legal basis on which he could open up this database to people other than social workers and others who needed it for the protection of children. The official was very annoyed and explained that the local authority where he used to work allowed all council staff access to the database.

Whatever ministers and officials say, whatever safeguards are supposedly in place, these databases (including this one which allows hearsay) are being opened up to any old Tom, Dick or Harriet.

It is all very depressing and all very worrying.

by Anon on July 18, 2007 at 4:59 pm. Reply #

This was announced after the “car bombs” in Soho – the Police would have unrestricted, real-time access to all ANPR systems around the UK, including those already in operation on the UK motorway network.

These systems have been used around Greater Manchester to track suspects under investigation… and also to harrass innocent people whose cars happened to be near Climate Camp at Kingsnorth, who were neither arrested nor charged with a crime.

Paranoia’s got nothing to do with this – ANPR cameras are already being abused.

by Dave Page on November 30, 2008 at 12:43 am. Reply #

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