Your Local Authority is Watching You!
If you think its just central government using new technology to keep tabs on criminals, terrorists and other threats to national security think again. Here are how your local council may be using technology to inestigate and record information on you, your home and most disturbingly your children.
How Local Authorities Spy on You.
Voice Recognition analysis
Next time you telephone your local council make sure you have nothing to hide. There are currently 22 councils in Britain using voice risk analyses software when dealing with calls from people claiming benefits or a discount on their council tax. The technology measures in real time changes in the callers voice patterns. The operator is then prompted to ask questions based on these changes. If the software believes they are lying further investigation is prompted.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition
Ross and Roberts are a Civil enforcement agency employed by a number of local authorities in the U.K. By taking images of a number plate they can bring up details of any outstanding council tax, parking fines or business rates arrears owed by the owner of the vehicle . This information is cross referenced with the DVLA database and a prompt visit is made to the owners address.
The Regulation of investigatory powers act
The Regulation of investigatory powers act was introduced to combat terrorism and organised crime. With so much of our lives recorded and stored digitally it is very easy to build a picture of some ones life by requesting details of their bank accounts, e-mail messages and phone calls.
However local councils have been using the act for what most would consider very petty crimes. Poole Council for example used the powers to spy on Jenny Paton and access her mobile phone records. Her alleged crime was giving misleading information on her daughters school application form.
National Fraud Initiative Database
Every benefit you have claimed, every wage slip you have received, in fact every single penny you have earned or claimed will be recorded against your national insurance number and cross referenced in this mammoth database. If you've been working and claiming benefits you will be caught.
How Local Authorities Spy on Your Home
Next time you take your Wheely Bin out take a good look at it. Radio Frequency Identification chips are being trialled by local councils to monitor the amount of non recyclable rubbish individual houses create. As the bin is lifted by the collection lorry its weight is recorded and stored by a central database.
Thermal Imaging cameras
Northampton council splashed out Â£30,000.00 of taxpayers money to pay for a plane to take a thermal image of the whole town. This was to identify households who were not being energy efficient. These households were then given energy saving advice. Presumably the plane was carbon neutral. Closer to the ground as of June 2009 25 local councils were set to employ Heatseekers, a company who use thermal imaging vans to check residents energy efficiency.
How Local Authorities Spy on Your Children
C.C.T.V in the classroom
Salford council has installed C.C.T.V in 3 "training rooms" and plans to roll this technology out across the borough. Not only are classes monitored they are recorded as well. The cameras are so powerful they can record what a child is writing in their work books.
perhaps the most disturbing use of new technology is the use of fingerprint analysis in schools. This is used to allow children to check into school and get their free school dinners without signing a register. The theory is that it saves on administration costs and allows accurate records to be held regarding attendance.
There is currently no local authority in the U.K using all of the above methods of surveillance. However I believe this article does show that in the future our local town halls will hold far to much data about us. There have been many high profile cases of government departments mislaying sensitive data.
With mobile and home working on the rise in local authorities the security of tax payers personal information should be held in high regard and local authorities should question just how much information they need to hold about the residents they represent and work for.