In many European countries, modern technologies are actively used to ensure the safety of citizens. Measures such as the establishment of outdoor cell phone cameras are increasingly used. In the United Kingdom, the number of cameras per capita is now higher than in any other state in Europe. Police and security services can watch the clock on the streets around the clock not only near jewelry shops or parking lots, but also in many other places. Following the English experience, Ireland recently allocated large funds for the use of a large number of cell phone cameras. But the question of how to regulate access to these cameras, and how long video materials should be stored, in which cases it is ethical and justified to use them to bother many.
Authorities of Justice of Ireland have allocated 2 million 750 thousand Euros, these funds will be sent to local municipalities for use of cell phone cameras. The main goal of these measures is to reduce the level of street crime. The Minister of Justice of the Irish Republic, Brian Lenigan, stated in this connection:
It is obvious to everyone that cell phone camera systems are a new reality of our life, cameras will remain for a long time. It is enough to note what interest the public was caused by the recent trial of the murder of Rachel O’Reilly, and the role that new technologies played in the arrest and conviction of the suspect. And I find on my table all the new demands on the part of the population to increase the number of surveillance cameras. I understand that someone may have concerns about invasion of privacy. Of course, one must have assurances that the information obtained with the help of these new technologies will be carefully protected. But it’s obvious that people want to have cameras in residential areas.
The murder case, mentioned by the minister – is no exaggeration the loudest process of this kind in Ireland, which ended in July this year with a life sentence. The testimonies received, including, thanks to the law on information protection, played a crucial role in the process – simultaneously causing a lot of questions. The suspect was the former husband of the victim, who was killed in 2004 in his house by Rachel O’Reilly. During the investigation, the jury was informed that the e-mails sent and received by Joe O’Reilly left no doubt that in his last years of marriage he had a mistress. Let me remind you, we are talking about Catholic Ireland, where most of the population remembers well the time when the divorce was prohibited by law and, so to speak, the “moral image” of the defendant set the jury against him. Finally, since telephone companies have recently been required to record and store information about the movement of their clients, it turned out that the accused was at the victim’s home within the radius of the victim’s death. During the investigation, he claimed that he was in another place.
In the UK, cell phone cameras are actively used by the police. There is an opinion that the establishment of them has increased the demand for jackets with hoods for a certain category of buyers. However, in Britain there is strict legislation regulating work with cameras and access to information. In Ireland, however, critics of the Information Retention Law draw public attention to the fact that legislation regulating access to private information has not been adopted so far and the collected data, often of a very personal nature, is practically not protected against possible abuses. A representative of the Irish non-governmental organization Digital Rights, which deals with the protection of the right to privacy, attorney Tidzhei McIntyre explains:
Our concern is that for all the years of the data preservation program, the government has not adopted a legislative scheme regulating access to them. There are rules for protection and work with cell phone cameras, but the application of these rules is almost voluntary. No sanctions are provided for non-compliance, for possible abuse or for allowing information leakage. We remember the lawsuit in England over the operators of street cell phone cameras that could focus them close-up on women in apartments, in bathrooms. These people were punished under English law, but this would not be possible with us, we have no rules by which people could be held accountable for such things. All that is required is permission from the government to install the camera and threaten to revoke the authorization if the device is proven to be abused. Neither criminal sanctions against cameramen operators in case of non-compliance with the rules, nor measures against local authorities who failed to stop abuse.
In recent years there have been many such “leaks”. Most often, attention is drawn to cases when the press appears details about someone available to either his relatives or officials working with his data. This was the case when the whole country was informed about the amount of social benefits of the woman who won the lottery, and if the family was forced to sell the house and go to another city, the official sold the local “yellow” newspaper information about the criminal past of their relative . In such cases, those who allow the leakage of personal information that is in his possession are not provided for in Ireland.
A year ago, the organization “Digital rights” appealed to the Supreme Court of the Republic with a lawsuit against the Government of Ireland. The group calls for an answer to the Minister of Information and Communication and a number of other officials who have passed the law, contrary to what the activists believe is the European Convention on Human Rights. They call for a review of the law, which requires storing information about e-mails, Internet activities, mobile communication negotiations and other things for three years.
Discussion of the law on the storage of information was conducted in the EU for a year and a half. At the end of 2005, most of the justice ministers of the countries of the union supported the decision to store data on all negotiations on mobile communications and wired telephone, location, names and SIM cards of subscribers and their interlocutors in order to combat terrorism. The data should be kept for two years and be provided under a special warrant. The governments of the EU countries were given a deadline until September 2007 to hold this decision in the legislative base of their countries. The maximum period of storage of the country’s data is determined by yourself. For example, in Italy this is 4 years, Poland claimed about 15, in Ireland, I repeat – 3. The activities of users of such services on the Internet, like social networks, forums and blogs, are also tracked and stored. The same can be said about the cameras. In principle, technology in itself is neutral. The question is, how and by whom are they used and are there any guarantees against abuse? I am worried about the expansion of universal observation of people. It becomes habitual, the younger generation grows on the fact that their personal data is available not only to them.
When you leave the house in the morning, you have a phone connected to the provider’s network. Even if you do not speak on it, Vodafone keeps information about where you went with this phone, it’s monitored while your device is turned on. You paid somewhere with a bank card, you may have used a magnetic card to pay the fare – all this leaves behind you a plume of digital information that is stored somewhere. At work, you have magnetic locks in your building, you open them with your card – all this can be traced. On the Internet you are looking at some pages – somewhere there is a huge electronic dossier on you, and here too there is cause for concern.
Perhaps one of your relatives called the help agency for a pregnancy crisis, maybe you read on the Internet about testing for AIDS or you looked for information for people with high blood cholesterol. There have already been cases when such data fell into the insurance companies, which is not in your best interest.
That is, the problem is not in the proper recording and storage of data, but in their possible use. Google’s search engine stores blogs about the activities of each user of the network for purposes that the company has not yet found necessary to explain to anyone. The digital space is practically unlimited, and it’s no secret that commercial firms are trying to keep up with the times in market research.
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