UK Liberty

More on protestor database

Posted in database state, freedom of assembly, surveillance society by ukliberty on March 9, 2009

Paul Lewis and Marc Vallée in the Guardian:

Police are targeting thousands of political campaigners in surveillance operations and storing their details on a database for at least seven years, an investigation by the Guardian can reveal.

Photographs, names and video footage of people attending protests are routinely obtained by surveillance units and stored on an “intelligence system”. The Metropolitan police, which has pioneered surveillance at demonstrations and advises other forces on the tactic, stores details of protesters on Crimint, the general database used daily by all police staff to catalogue criminal intelligence. It lists campaigners by name, allowing police to search which demonstrations or political meetings individuals have attended.

Disclosures through the Freedom of Information Act, court testimony, an interview with a senior Met officer and police surveillance footage obtained by the Guardian have established that private information about activists gathered through surveillance is being stored without the knowledge of the people monitored.

Police surveillance teams are also targeting journalists who cover demonstrations, and are believed to have monitored members of the press during at least eight protests over the last year. …

Superintendent David Hartshorn, from the Met’s public order branch, conceded law-abiding campaigners were being added to the database. He said individuals on the system included people convicted or suspected of public order offences.

But he added “people we have seen on a regular basis involved but may not have been charged or arrested” were also stored on the database. He added that the data was reviewed every year. “In relation to what we can keep on databases, we are governed quite strictly on that. Obviously you’ve got the Data Protection Act but also, in terms of intelligence, we have to justify what we are able to keep.”

Then do so.  

Why is it necessary and proportionate to:

  1. have a protestor database in the first place (as opposed to merely storing the details of those who commit crimes);
  2. store details of those who have not been convicted or suspected of public order offences, i.e. simply storing the details of every protestor;
  3. store the details of members of the press who cover protests.

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