Smile! Calgary Police officers to use miniature video cameras – CCLA Rights Watch … La veille sur les droits et libertés

Smile! Calgary Police officers to use miniature video cameras – CCLA Rights Watch … La veille sur les droits et libertés.

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Trapwire is watching you in Ottawa – Jesse Brown, Technology –

Trapwire is watching you in Ottawa – Jesse Brown, Technology –


Coming soon to every major city in Canada – I suspect police departments across the country are drooling over this.

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Stratfor emails reveal secret, widespread TrapWire surveillance system — RT

Stratfor emails reveal secret, widespread TrapWire surveillance system — RT.

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Police to use cameras to keep eye on Occupy N.S. sites | The Chronicle Herald

A great comment on the Halifax herald site in response to Occupy Nova Scotia’s statement that they don’t mind extra police camera surveillance of their protest site



I’m amazed they would so readily accept 24/7 police surveillance. It’s not just about safety. The cops will be building up a database of faces and associations. Watch what happens the next time you protest, for example let’s say Harper tries to impose martial law. The first people they are going to lock up are the political dissenters, starting with all the “subversives” in the database. Yeah ok, maybe the Halifax police haven’t thought it through that far but give them enough leeway to take away your privacy rights and you’ll end up there soon enough. Wouldn’t it be far cheaper and easier and more effective to have a cell phone on speed dial? If cameras are going to be better than that, it means they will be sitting in a room watching you, probably laughing and mocking you and joking about how they would like to take you down, etc. Don’t roll over so easily!

via Police to use cameras to keep eye on Occupy N.S. sites | The Chronicle Herald.

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Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Halifax police plan to use covert cameras in public places

Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Halifax police plan to use covert cameras in public places.

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When Police Abuse Surveillance Cameras – Politics – The Atlantic Cities

Is there potential for abuse of Police CCTV cameras in downtown Halifax? Yes of course there is. I see no evidence or suggestion of it though… in fact after observing local police in a few tense situations lately they seem to be quite professional and show no indication of being overly authoritarian etc. I think we have a good police force here.

When Police Abuse Surveillance Cameras – Politics – The Atlantic Cities.

A good way to prevent potential issues with police CCTV is to have clearly articulated and government approved guidelines for their deployment and operation. Halifax has none.

Have a look at Ontario’s guidelines:

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The Criminalization of Protest

I am posting this because I believe the Halifax Police Service is positioning themselves through CCTV installations in the downtown core, especially near Grand Parade, to be able to monitor and thereby potentially control public protests through high tech surveillance.

It’s important to note that I also believe they have legitimate public safety and security objectives for example in the case of violence or muggings are assaults that happen from time to time in the area, and that control and monitoring of activities they may view as subversive is a desired additional result.

From Reason Magazine

The Criminalization of Protest

Police and politicians ignore the First Amendment when we need it the most.

from the January 2010 issue

I’ve lived in the Washington, D.C., area for the better part of the last 10 years. So I’ve seen my share of demonstrations, although more often than not I just try to avoid the traffic nightmares they cause. Among the various classes of protests—pro-life, anti-war, environmental, and now tea parties—the most destructive are the anti-globalization marches. So when cops clashed with anti-globalization demonstrators at the Pittsburgh G-20 summit in September, it was easy to assume that most of the altercations represented justified police responses to overzealous protesters.

But a number of disturbing photographs, videos, and witness accounts told a different story. Along with similar evidence from other recent high-stakes political events, they reveal an increasing, disquieting willingness to smother even peaceful dissent.

On the Friday afternoon before the G-20 meeting kicked into high gear, a student at the University of Pittsburgh snapped a photo showing a University of Pittsburgh police officer directing traffic at a roadblock. What’s troubling is what he’s wearing: camouflage military fatigues. It’s difficult to discern a practical reason why a man working for an urban police department would need to wear camouflage, especially while patrolling an economic summit. He’s a civilian dressed like a soldier. The symbolism is clear, and it affects the attitudes of both the cops wearing the clothes and the people they’re policing.

The campus cop wasn’t alone. Members of police departments from across the country came to Pittsburgh to help during the summit, most of them dressed in paramilitary garb. In one widely circulated video, several officers dressed entirely in camouflage emerge from an unmarked car, apprehend a young backpack-wearing protester, stuff him into the car, and drive off. The sequence evoked the “disappearances” associated with Latin American dictatorships or Soviet Bloc countries. When Matt Drudge linked to the video, he described the officers in it as members of the military. They weren’t, but it’s easy to understand how someone might make that mistake.

In another video, members of a police unit from Chicago who took vacation time to work at the summit prop up a handcuffed protester and gather behind him. Another officer then snaps what appears to be a trophy photo. Two men in faraway Queens were arrested for posting the locations of riot police on Twitter, as though they were revealing the location of troops on a battlefield. Another video shows dozens of police in full body armor confronting and eventually macing onlookers (who weren’t even protesters) in the neighborhood of Oakland, far from the site of the summit, as a recorded voice orders any and all to disperse. Students at the University of Pittsburgh claim cops fired tear gas canisters into dorm rooms, used sound cannons, and shot bean bags and rubber bullets.

The most egregious actions took place on September 25, when police began ordering students who were in public spaces to disperse despite the fact that they had broken no laws. Those who moved too slowly, even from public spaces on their own campus or in front of their dorms, were arrested. A university spokesman said the aim was to break up crowds that “had the potential of disrupting normal activities.” Apparently a group of people needn’t actually break any laws to be put in jail. They must only possess the “potential” to do so, at which point not moving quickly enough for the cops’ liking could result in an arrest. That standard is a license for the police to arrest anyone anywhere in the city at any time, regardless of whether they’ve done anything wrong. In all, 190 people were arrested during the summit, including at least two journalists.

It can’t be easy to both keep order and protect civil liberties at such events. But that doesn’t mean police and city officials shouldn’t be expected to try. Yes, some protesters damaged some property at the G-20 summit, although there wasn’t much of that this time around. But the presence of a few unruly demonstrators doesn’t give the police carte blanche to crack down on every young person in the general vicinity, nor should it give the city free rein to suppress all public protest. It’s unfortunate that when the global press and the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies came to Pittsburgh, the images that emerged were not of a society that values free expression and constitutional rights but of one willing to grant police powers normally seen in authoritarian states.

This projection of overwhelming force at big events is becoming more common. At last year’s Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, police conducted peremptory raids on the homes of protesters before the convention began. In all, 672 people were jailed, including at least 39 journalists. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 442 of those 672 later had their charges either dropped or dismissed.

Four years before that, more than 1,800 people were arrested at the previous Republican National Convention in New York City. Ninety percent were never charged with a crime. One notorious photo from the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver shows a small mass of protesters, zoned far off from where any delegates or media representatives could hear them, surrounded by two walls of riot police who outnumbered them at least 2 to 1. Denver’s police union later issued a commemorative T-shirt of the event emblazoned with an illustration of a menacing cop wielding a baton and the slogan, “We get up early to beat the crowds.”

The trend may have started at the 1999 World Trade Organization summit in Seattle, which saw both actual rioting and police overkill. Mayor Paul Schell not only declared a state of emergency, imposed a curfew, and designated swaths of the city “no-protest” zones; he actually banned civilian possession of gas masks. Police then gassed entire city blocks. The victims included many owners of the stores the police were ostensibly protecting from looters. Assistant Police Chief Ed Joiner, who was in charge of security for the event, would later tell reporters that future summits should be held only in destinations with military governments.

These are precisely the kinds of events where free speech and the freedom to protest need protection the most: when influential figures make high-level decisions with far-reaching consequences. Instead, we see the opposite. The higher the event’s profile, the more powerful the players involved, and the more important the decisions being made, the more determined police and politicians are to make sure dissent is kept as far away from the VIPs as possible. Or silenced entirely.

Radley Balko ( is a senior editor at reason.

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Peace Activists car targeted through police CCTV, repeatedly stopped for no reason

Activists repeatedly stopped and searched as police officers ‘mark’ cars

The roads were empty when Linda Catt and her father drove their white Citroën Berlingo into London on a quiet Sunday morning. They could not have known they were being followed.

But at 7.23am on 31 July 2005, the van had passed beneath an automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) camera in east London, triggering an alert: “Of interest to Public Order Unit, Sussex police“. Within seconds Catt, 50, and her 84-year-old father, John, were apprehended by police and searched under the Terrorism Act.

After filing a complaint, the pair, neither of whom have criminal records, discovered that four months earlier, a Sussex police officer had noticed their van “at three protestdemonstrations” and decided, apparently on that basis, it should be tracked.

The two anti-war campaigners were not the only law-abiding protesters being monitored on the roads. Officers have been told they can place “markers” against the vehicles of anyone who attends demonstrations using the national ANPR data centre in Hendon, north London, which stores information on car journeys for up to five years.

Senior officers have been instructed to “fully and strategically exploit” the database, which allows police to mark vehicles with potentially useful inform-ation such as drink-driving convictions.

The use of the ANPR database to flag-up vehicles belonging to protesters has resulted in peaceful campaigners being repeatedly stopped and searched.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal Kent and Essex police deployed mobile ANPR “interceptor teams” on roads surrounding the protest against the Kingsnorth power station, in Kent, last year.

The files reveal the pressure police placed on the local Medway council to assist with the installation of cameras on lamp-posts. Sergeant Keith Waymont, Kent police’s ANPR manager, wrote to the council three months before the demonstration to complain its officials were not co-operating. He wrote: “When I put this to my bosses, they were less than impressed, given the importance of this operation as the new power station build is likely to create a considerable number of jobs for Medway.”

But council officials had reasons to object. Internal emails reveal they were concerned temporary cameras could “alienate the community”. One wrote: “I agree – under what powers are they looking to do that? Everyone has a right to drive down a road unless we are returning to the miners dispute tactics of the 1980s.”

Police eventually succeeded in mobilising the Kent ANPR system, which appears to have been used to monitor protesters since four years ago.

The marker was placed on Catt’s van on 10 March 2005 by a PC Sayer, of Sussex police, who had noticed it at anti-war protests. Sussex police told Catt the marker was placed because her van was “associated” with protests which had given rise to “crime, disorder and the deployment of significant resources”. After she submitted a complaint, senior officers found their officer’s actions had been “proportionate and appropriate”, a finding upheld on appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which concluded that while her case highlighted the concerns over “the civil liberties or protesters”, police had been acting in accordance with “national policy”.

Catt has since discovered from Greater Manchester police that footage of her protesting at last year’s Labour party conference, which she drove to in her van, is being stored on the National Public Order Intelligence Unit database.

Another protester, an IT manager who only wants to be known as John for fear of police retribution, said he was stopped more than 25 times in two and half years after a “protester” marker was placed against his Mercedes SUV. He said police were giving him inconsistent explanations for the stops.

“I heard every excuse under the sun: ‘We’ve heard reports of suspicious vehicles in the area’ or ‘We’re keeping an eye on high value vehicles moving through the area,'” he said. “One or two officers would be a bit more honest and say: ‘Your number plate has flagged up on our system, we don’t know why.’ This was happening all over the country.”

He finally decided to complain after a police armed response unit stopped him onduring an evening out with his wife in March 2008.

Documents revealed a marker “requiring stop checks” had been placed on his car by Lancashire police in 2006 after he attended a protest, described by the local paper as “peaceful”, against duck and pheasant shoot near Preston.

Lancashire police said the marker had been placed “for a policing purpose” and due to “concerns about the nature of your involvement” in the protest”.

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The Erosion of Privacy Rights in Halifax

“Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.”

The current buzz is that the Owners of The Dome, a nightclub in Halifax recently shut down for a few days by regulators after a large brawl in which 38 people were arrested, and where a week earlier a door security staff allegedly assaulted a patron resulting in serious head trauma, intend make a series of changes to their operations including doubling the number of surveillance cameras. The owner of The Dome says that the Halifax Police will be able to monitor the CCTV video feed (presumably online from police headquarters).

Is this a first in Canada? It’s probably commonplace in our prisons, but are there other bars in Canada with live police monitoring?

The Dome property has been one of the most heavily CCTV surveilled spots in Halifax for several years. The building’s exterior bristles with cameras at each corner and at entrances and other spots. The entire public space around the property is covered.

(Next door at the World Trade Center, the Halifax Police have a permanent pan, tilt and zoom camera mounted in a plastic bubble conveniently located to be able to watch the many bar areas and also the Grand Parade, where citizens often hold peace rallies, etc.)

No one regulates this. No regulatory agency has authority to say whether or not a private company can keep a public area under surveillance with privately owned video surveillance systems.

Over the past few years the situation seemed to have set a precedent. It led the way as other businesses followed suit. Although none look quite as fortress-like, many have similarly blanketed the public space surrounding their property with private surveillance systems.

The public quietly accepted this proliferation of private surveillance and as a result, and after the murder of Damon Crooks in 2006 outside a downtown bar, the Halifax Police Service was able to install their own real-time CCTV systems throughout the downtown with little public discussion of the privacy implications. You can see them at Pizza Corner, above Neptune Theater and on either side of Summit Place on the waterfront, high up on the top floor. There are several others as well and likely many more to come.

In Chicago the Police operate cameras that raise an alert when someone “lingers” outside a public building. Imagine that… Is Halifax on this track?

Unless the public takes an interest in challenging the currently unchallenged proliferation of electronic surveillance systems we will soon resemble a police state. Will crime rates drop? Probably not, but we are sure to feel the chilling effect of Big Brother watching in case you “linger”.

Now that the Dome is establishing a new precedent with the Halifax police, by allowing real time video surveillance of their customers, how long will it be before this becomes the standard in other clubs?

As some people say, if you’re not doing anything wrong you should have nothing to be concerned about. OK if that’s the case let’s have police cameras in all stores. How about in schools, libraries and restaurants; hotels, sports fields and beaches?

Heck, let’s just get it over with and implant every newborn with a GPS locator chip at birth for real-time tracking of your movements.

How much of this is appropriate for public safety and how much is simply to facilitate convenience for police and profit making by a private business owner? Where does public safety override our rights to privacy and our right to limit police control over law abiding citizens.

“Too many wrongly characterize the debate as “security versus privacy.” The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that’s why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide.” ~ Bruce Schneier, CTO of Counterpane Internet Security and the author of Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World. website

It’s time the provincial government enacted some legislation governing the deployment and use of CCTV in public places.

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Police understand they are invading privacy

This was in the July 20 Herald:Police have put up signs informing festival-goers they may be under surveillance for their safety and that they may be recorded, he added.

“We put up between six and eight signs on the boardwalk area,” Supt. Moore said.

He said people should know the cameras won’t be trained on them constantly.

“We don’t want to give people the impression there’s someone there watching them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

Clearly the police understand that people do not want to be under surveillance. They know that law abiding citizens do not like being under constant watch. They recognize that the “If you’re not doing anything wrong you should not care” argument is weak. They admit that people prefer to not be under constant police surveillance. Do they care?

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