UK Councils Used Massive Surveillance Powers To Spy On... Excessively Barking Dogs & Illegal Pigeon Feeding
from the once-the-power's-there... dept
A mass freedom of information request has found 186 local authorities – two-thirds of the 283 that responded – used the government’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) to gather evidence via secret listening devices, cameras and private detectives.Remember, of course, that every time these kinds of surveillance powers are discussed in government, everyone is told that they're necessary to stop the horrible threat of imminent death from terrorism. No one talks about how they'll stop the scourge of illegal pigeon feeding.
Among the detailed examples provided were Midlothian council using the powers to monitor dog barking and Allerdale borough council gathering evidence about who was guilty of feeding pigeons.
While the article rightly quotes politicians horrified by this abuse of surveillance power -- and using it to question why the UK is giving itself more powers under the Snooper's Charter, which will be similarly abused -- there are also some local politicans who defend spying on the public in this manner:
“I’m frankly far more concerned about the rights and civil liberties of the victims and wider council tax-paying public, who are currently having to pick up the tab, than the small minority criminal element who continue to treat the rest of us with open contempt.”And this is how civil liberties die. By claiming that it's more important to give them up to capture people involved in petty nuisance activities, and claiming that the government needs to spy on everyone to stop such activities.