Communion Of Dreams

And for today’s installment of “1984 – The Musical”:

Man, I love the UK, particularly Wales. Have been there half a dozen times, and enjoyed it every time.

But I have to admit, the whole creeping and creepy 1984 mindset about CCTV there drives me nuts. The Brits are well on their way to being a true surveillance society. As I have written recently:

I am constantly dismayed by just how much Great Britain has become a surveillance society, to the point where it is a dis-incentive to want to travel there. In almost all towns of any real size, you are constantly within sight of multiple CCTV cameras, and there is increasing use of biometrics (such as fingerprint ID) as a general practice for even routine domestic travel.

Well, there’s another development related to this: the mindset that for “security purposes” the police and public need to “be aware” of people taking photographs. I’m not talking about around some kind of secure military base or something – I mean in general. This sort of thing has been mentioned numerous times over at BoingBoing (in particular, check out this, this, and this), but an item yesterday really jumped out at me:

Middlesbrough cops, goons and clerks grab and detain photographer for shooting on a public street

That links to this Flickr account of the incident:

My friend and I were photographing in the town. I spotted a man being detained by this security guard and a policeman, some kind of altercation was going on, i looked through my zoom lens to see what was happening and then moved on.

Moments later as i walked away this goon jumped in front of me and demanded to know what i was doing. i explained that i was taking photos and it was my legal right to do so, he tried to stop me by shoulder charging me, my friend started taking photos of this, he then tried to detain us both. I refused to stand still so he grabbed my jacket and said i was breaking the law. Quickly a woman and a guy wearing BARGAIN MADNESS shirts joined in the melee and forcibly grabbed my friend and held him against his will. We were both informed that street photography was illegal in the town.
Two security guards from the nearby shopping center THE MALL came running over, we were surrounded by six hostile and aggressive security guards. They then said photographing shops was illegal and this was private land. I was angry at being grabbed by this man so i pushed him away, one of the men wearing a BARGAIN MADNESS shirt twisted my arm violently behind my back, i winced in pain and could hardly breathe in agony.
A policewomen was radioed and came over to question the two suspects ( the total detaining us had risen to seven, a large crowd had now gathered)
The detaining guard released me, i asked the policewoman if my friend and i could be taken away from the six guards, she motioned us to a nearby seat and told all the security people to go. She took our details, name, address, date of birth etc. She wanted to check my camera saying it was unlawful to photograph people in public, i told her this was rubbish.

Now, before you get all worked up hatin’ on the Brits for not respecting the civil liberties of their citizens and guests . . .

. . . here’s a little gem about New York’s finest, also courtesy of BB:

NYPD cop: videoing me breaking the law is a terrorist act

This video is of a man filming a cop who parked illegally in front of a fire hydrant. He follows her, asking questions, and she mostly ignores him. Then something truly disturbing happens.

A retired police woman comes by and informs the first cop, and the man filming that citizens aren’t allowed to film anybody who works for the police department “’cause of the terrorism.”

OK, isolated incident. But here’s a little something else to consider about how the “War on Terror” is suppressing civil liberties of all of *our* citizens and guests:

Border Agents Can Search Laptops Without Cause, Appeals Court Rules

Federal agents at the border do not need any reason to search through travelers’ laptops, cell phones or digital cameras for evidence of crimes, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, extending the government’s power to look through belongings like suitcases at the border to electronics.

The unanimous three-judge decision reverses a lower court finding that digital devices were “an extension of our own memory” and thus too personal to allow the government to search them without cause. Instead, the earlier ruling said, Customs agents would need some reasonable and articulable suspicion a crime had occurred in order to search a traveler’s laptop.

On appeal, the government argued that was too high a standard, infringing upon its right to keep the country safe and enforce laws. Civil rights groups, joined by business traveler groups, weighed in, defending the lower court ruling.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the government, finding that the so-called border exception to the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches applied not just to suitcases and papers, but also to electronics.

So, it isn’t just your underwear and sex toys that the Feds want to paw through when you travel outside the US. It’s also any data you might have on any kind of electronic device. “‘Cause of the terrorism,” you know.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to UTI.)

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A friend who was having problems posting a comment sent me this relevant link about the Feds hassling people out in the Seattle area. A taste:

With their location 20 or so miles from Canada, the San Juan Islands have enticed smugglers for more than a century. Complex channels and isolated coves concealed the import of Chinese laborers and opium in the 1880s, moonshine during Prohibition, and more recently, potent marijuana known as “B.C. bud.”

And the Border Patrol says terrorists could be next.

San Juan Islanders are used to customs inspections in Anacortes if they take the ferry that comes from Sidney, B.C. Before now, though, they were never subjected to checks on domestic ferry runs.

That changed in February, when federal agents started corralling everyone off domestic ferries into a fenced-off area in Anacortes and questioning them about their citizenship. It now happens once, maybe twice a week; no one has any way to know if they will be stopped.

Jim D.

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