Opinion – Video clips on mass surveillance and citizen rights | European Parliamentary Research Service – John Gelmini

'CCTV in operation' sign in a street in Oxford...

‘CCTV in operation’ sign in a street in Oxford, England (UK). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr Alf brings us two rather quaint videos, which purport to suggest that we can have privacy in Europe and balance our right to privacy with security. The reality is rather different.

To begin with, we are photographed by security cameras 300 times a day, and in the UK, there are more cameras per head of population than there are in the People’s Republic of China. The footage from these cameras is retained by private companies and can be accessed by the police and security services at will.

Mobile phones in roaming mode and even when switched-off are emitting a signal locating the phone and by definition the person who is carrying it every 8 seconds. By triangulation, the police and security services can track a person to within 300 meters of where they are 24 hours a day, and if that person is with another person or persons, then they can see who has been consorting with or accompanying them.

Every street in the UK has a “collator”(this has been the standard practice for at least 50 years), who is a police spy employed to give the police information about who lives in the street and provide data about what people are doing. The police store that data forever and then use it when crimes have been committed or as a way to target “persons of interest”.

Everything we say on the telephone can be taped, the moment we say certain key words and even if we don’t RIPA allows our human rights to be breached “proportionately” by the police, council officials, benefit fraud investigators, the security services and even outsourced providers of policing services like G4S, who are already running rural police stations, escorting prisoners and providing investigative services to police forces up and down the country.

Automatic number plate recognition allows the police and the Highways Agency to establish whether vehicles are stolen, properly taxed, insured and MOT’d and whether a given vehicle has been driven erratically or too fast.

The plan eventually is to have all roads covered by facial recognition cameras, as well as the new digital speed cameras which will then allow the police and the Highways Agency to know where people have driven to, who they were with, when they started their journeys ,what route they took and when they came back.

All cars built since 1995 have devices in them that link to transponders built into motorways like the M6, MI, M2 and the M25, so that at some future point when road pricing comes in, satellites can track a person’s every move.

When we buy something in a supermarket or retail outlet on a store, credit, debit or charge card we leave an electronic trail which can be matched to our phone and car movements, web browsing and security camera footage to come up with more information about us than the Stasi in the old Eastern Germany could ever have imagined.

At home, the latest generation of Samsung flat screen televisions and Apple phones contain a facility to enable the security services to watch and listen to a person as they watch television or use their smartphones. The data is retained by the phone and television manufacturers and the facility to observe and listen to a person can be triggered by the security services without a warrant.

A trip to the BT facility at Martlesham Heath in Suffolk reveals a building with blacked out windows.
There BT engineers, totaling 70 in all, listen in to conversations of suspected terrorists, jihadists and organised crime figures who have been identified and targeted for “relentless disruption” whatever that phrase means in practice.

Turning now to e-mails and Skype, the Russians have 2 million cyber warriors in the GRU and the Chinese have at least 4 million in the PLA. The Climate Change e-mails, which were leaked from the University of East Anglia, emerged after a potentially hostile foreign power hacked into the University’s computers and revealed how climate data was being manipulated to make the case for Global Warming appear stronger than it really was.

The EU has already passed legislation which says that cookies have to be on all EU domiciled websites so browsing data and what is typed can be tracked by Google, Microsoft, Skype(owned by Microsoft) and other providers.

Our own security services can and do collect metadata and can get live feeds from the telephone cables before they cross the Atlantic of people they need to analyse further.

To retain a measure of privacy one could use proxy servers but the reality for some time is that privacy as we once knew it has been dead for a very long time.

John Gelmini

Opinion – To the Commissioner for Energy | EU to Do 2015-19 – Bruegel – John Gelmini

Drax Power Station

Drax Power Station (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like Dr Alf, I can broadly relate to the Bruegel article but I cannot “buy” the argument about the need to “insure against Climate Change”.

Currently, Germany will have problems with energy supply because of a refusal to build nuclear power stations and the UK, since the recent fire at Didcot power station, is now just a heartbeat away from blackouts, as we have now been run down to just 2% spare generating capacity, with winter less than 5 weeks away.

There is no security of energy supply and Europe’s economy is stagnating.

Even if there was some sort of recovery from the “flat-lining patient”, which seems unlikely, there would not be enough generating capacity to power the factories and produce a sustained recovery.

Closing down coal fired power stations may save pollution but when China is opening up 7 of these every week, all we are doing is putting more people out of work.

It gets increasingly barmy because now Ed Davey, the UK Minister for Energy and Climate Change, has decided that Drax power station, in Yorkshire, UK, will burn wooden pellets from the Carolinas in America. Of course, these pellets are shipped by sea, using diesel ships and presumably diesel powered lorries or trains to actually get the pellets to the power station and from their American forests to the freighters in America, prior to their 4,000 mile journey in the first place. This “so-called2 UK Government Minister, also likes wind-farms which are subsidized at the rate of £2,500 gbp per turbine and which between them all only produce 14% of our electrical power requirements. In addition, he wants to put smart meters into houses and envisages switching off people’s refrigerators at 3.00 AM, whilst people are asleep and then switching them back on again at say 5.30 am, whilst people are still asleep in order to save energy. I have this first hand, from one of his Civil Servants whom I met at the University of East Anglia. She expressed surprise when I asked what the Department’s approach would be to the personal representatives of a pensioner suing the Department in the event of food poisoning caused by such a switch-off of power causing food such as fish to go off.

Clearly Europe is full of “Ed Davey” lookalikes, devoid of commonsense, devoid of any concept of consequences and devoid of any concept on how a modern economy is supposed to work.

Without people working and paying taxes, there are no revenues to sustain a Government or Ministerial Department, let alone provide public services so perhaps the objective is to de-industrialize to the point where no-one works all but a few people die off and society as we know it changes to a feudal economy, whereby a few people live in moated castles, robots do all the menial work and no-one else is left?

I exaggerate to make the point but left unchecked this is the ultimate endgame if there is no change of direction.

John Gelmini