UK – Research into Lip Reading Surveillance Cameras To “Stop Terror”

From: Andrew Johnson

Date: 2007-04-28 08:45:48 Lip Reading Surveillance Cameras To Stop Terror
Shouting, face scanning, eavesdropping, X-Ray firing and now lip reading CCTV, do you still feel free?Steve Watson Friday, April 27, 2007   “Read my lips….” used to be a figurative saying. Now the British government is considering taking it literally by adding lip reading technology to some of the four million or so surveillance cameras in order identify terrorists and criminals by watching what everyone says. Electronic Design is reporting that the Home Office is interested in a project being pursued by a senior lecturer in computer vision at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England: Computer-based lip-reading technology would help video surveillance systems spot people planning a crime or terror attack by literally watching suspects’ lips for clues. Once it finds someone speaking certain key words or sentences, the system would automatically send an alert message to a central console, mobile phone, or other communications device. Police or security agents could then be dispatched to the scene to question the individual. Of course as with all these Big Brother surveillance moves it cannot be selectively applied and everyone will be subjected to it. The automatic devices bring to mind the heart-chilling scene in “2001: A Space Odyssey” when HAL (the intelligent computer) tells Dave that, despite all the precautions taken, he knows Dave was planning to disconnect him because he can read lips. Imagine a place where you cannot step out of your front door and have a conversation with someone without it being monitored. Imagine a place where if you say something considered by the authorities to be suspicious a team of agents is dispatched to your location to detain and question you. Does that sound like a free country? We have previously reported on the various Big Brother gadgets that the government wants to or already has added to surveillance cameras in the UK. Here is a brief re-cap: Talking / Shouting cameras – In an incredibly Orwellian move, loudspeakers are being fitted to surveillance cameras throughout major cities, allowing CCTV operators to bark commands at people who drop litter, act in an aggressive manner or loiter. Some of these cameras will even use the voices of children who will be recruited from schools to take part in the scheme and will be shown round CCTV operating rooms on school trips, learning how wonderful the big brother state is and how forcing people to behave in a certain way in public is the essence of a free society. X-Ray firing cameras – Documents leaked from the Home Office have revealed that the government is looking into using X-ray technology cameras by concealing them in lamp posts to “trap terror suspects”. The cameras allow operators to see through people’s clothes and look for suspicious items. Eavesdropping cameras – London police and councils are considering monitoring our conversations in the street using high-powered microphones attached to CCTV cameras that can pick up “aggressive tones” on the basis of 12 factors, including decibel level, pitch and the speed at which words are spoken. Face scanning cameras – linked into a national database software will allow cameras to scan hundreds of faces a second in crowds of people. Behaviour monitoring cameras – These devices are programmed to sound an alarm when they spot suspicious behaviour, such as waiting somewhere for a prolonged period of time or just walking in a suspicious way. These have already been deployed in airports and train stations. Are we seriously supposed to believe that these devices are going to stop terrorism? Watching everyone all of the time and treating the entire population as suspects is not going to weed out terrorists and criminals. Nor is it an effective way of defending our freedoms against those who we are told wish to attack us because we are free. If the government were to implement every piece of technology they are seriously considering to add to existing surveillance cameras, we would literally be living in a society ten times worse than that of Orwell’s Airstrip One. We continually have to make sure that does not happen by exposing these things.

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