- The Government is creating a system of "mass public
surveillance" capable of tracking every adult in Britain without their
consent, MPs say. They warn that people who have never committed a crime
can be "electronically monitored" without their knowledge.
- Biometric facial scans, which will be compulsory with
ID cards, are to be put on a national database which can then be matched
with images from CCTV. The database of faces will enable police and security
services to track individuals regardless of whether they have broken the
- CCTV surveillance footage from streets, shops and even
shopping centres could be cross-referenced with photographs of every adult
in the UK once the ID cards Bill becomes law. Biometric facial scans, iris
scans and fingerprints of all adults in the UK will be stored on a national
database. Civil liberties groups say the plans are a "dangerous"
threat to people's privacy.
- Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman,
said the plans were being brought in by the Government without informing
the public. "A new system capable of mass public surveillance is being
created with no public debate. The arrival of CCTV cameras which can recognise
you and track you without your knowledge means we are stepping into an
unknown future," he said.
- The monitoring will be possible using the country's four
million CCTV cameras - more than any country in the world. Images could
be swiftly cross-referenced with the database.
- Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, has said that the
"facial images national database should be operational by December
- The technology is already used by the police to check
for offenders, and for football hooligans. Casinos use it to spot VIPs
and to check for gamblers they have barred.
- The Home Office said the police would only check a person
against the National Identity Register to investigate a specific crime.
"The police may request information from the National Identity Register
without an individual's consent [or knowledge] if it is necessary for the
prevention of further offences or establishing who committed the crime
they are investigating," said a spokeswoman. "An internal authorisation
process would operate ... so that only officers of a specified rank could
apply for information."
- © 2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.