back to article Spy regs used against dogs, litterbugs

Local councils are using snooping laws - the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act - to follow dog walkers suspected of letting their dogs crap on public land and people suspected of littering. RIPA is meant to control how investigating bodies like the police and secret services can snoop on citizens' communications and …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward

    Those who have nothing to hide...

    Have nothing to fear.


  2. michael

    hands up

    thouse who saw this comming

  3. Ash


    You have to use RIPA to people-watch in the park now?

    What about perving the buxhom blondes with little puppies bending over to stroke their beloved pooch?!

    For shame.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The next person who mentions having "nothing to hide"

    will get a smack in the face.

    This is about the people we're supposed to trust misusing laws brought in to protect us.

    I've got nothing to hide, but I certainly don't want my every move recorded in a database.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    RIPA is for terrorists only?

    Yes, clearly we must support the Daily Mail campaign to stop councils using legislation that was intended to be only used against terrorists to snoop on other people .... ermm, or is this the same RIPA which appears to be being invoked as the way of stopping ISPs snooping on us via Phorm!

    I suspect that this is just a case of "changing the way things are counted" ... before RIPA I'd assume that councils already had people checking up on perceived problem areas ... certainly over recent years there's been several articles on the lengths school heads have had to go to o check whether parents making applications really live where they say they do. All that has changed is that now with RIPA is that they'd need to say that what they were doing is permitted by RIPA

  6. Geoff Mackenzie

    Serves 'em right

    Finally, someone's taking action against these irresponsible dog owners. Stray faeces funds terrorism and international crime. It's good to see the powers that be are losing their fear of multinational canine excretia corporations.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poole slandered parents

    If you recall Poole said it was investigating 'fraud' by spying of parents to check their main home was the address claimed. It had to talk up the offences otherwise people might object to council workers following their movements to check on them.

    "Commenting on the findings, Cllr Les Lawrence, chairman of the Children and Young People Board of the LGA, said:...There appears to be an emerging and worrying trend of parents willing to break the law in order to try and get their children into the best schools.....The most common examples we uncover are: parents stating the address of the child’s grandparents as being the child’s home; parents stating the address of a property which they own but are renting out to other people; and parents who own more than one property not giving their correct home address."

    What I think is needed is that by default, any time RIPA is used without court approval, the council or whatever has to notify the person that they were spied on.

    That way they can take action if they think it was unjust. As it stands in RIPA, a council can simply use it without oversight, without judicial process, and if anyone suggests they're misusing it, they can simply make a false allegation, like Poole saying it was spying on fraudulant applications, yet never prosecution anyone.

    Yet who knows why they were spying on people, we only have their word for it, and the people spied on can never find out they were followed. Perhaps one of them is an ex-girlfriend of a councillor, but only they would know this and they'll never find out because of the secrecy clause. So they'll never have the opportunity to uncover the misused of RIPA requests.

    The more we find out the more it looks like RIPA is being misused, and the secrecy clause used to cover it up. Why shouldn't the person find out they were spied on if the original reason for the RIPA request was valid? Why shouldn't every police officer, council worker, and snoop defend their use of a RIPA request when it doesn't result in a prosecution?

  8. Maurice Shakeshaft

    AC & RIPA is for terrorists only?

    If I understand the issue correctly you can only snoop (eg Phorm) when your entitled to do so in compliance with the law. Phorm, BT & the rest haven't, allegedly, complied with the law and the CEO's should be prosecuted and (if found guilty) have a wholesome and thinning diet of porridge - without the fat cat cream - for more than a little time! That the Local Authorities are doing snoopy things could be considered unacceptable extensions of the way they do business but at least we know they're doing it because they've had to comply with RIPA. Have I missed something here?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Geoff Mackenzie

    You forgot to mention how it's all done to protect the children.

  10. stickman


    I cannot tell you how much I hate dog crap

    a better idea: take a DNA sample from every dog at registration, send a few bods out to test the mounds of crap in the local kids playground then shove it through the owners letterbox. it is theirs after all, and no spying required

  11. Mike Crawshaw
    Black Helicopters

    @ Geoff Mackenzie

    It's more complex than that.

    Y'see, people who rip their CDs to digital, then play them on a grey-import iPod are statistically proven to be the SAME people who let Rover shit on the sidewalk. And then watch extreme porn. With the dog. This study here says so:

    So, watching for who doesn't clean up Rover's doings whilst taking him for walkies allows them to identify smugglers, copyright-infringers, extreme-porn deviants, and those with a bestiality fetish. Who obviously support TEH TERRIRASTS!!!

    It's for our own good!

  12. Richard
    Black Helicopters

    The bit I don't quite get

    From RIPA:

    28 Authorisation of directed surveillance

    (2) A person shall not grant an authorisation for the carrying out of directed surveillance unless he believes—

    (a) that the authorisation is necessary on grounds falling within subsection (3); and

    (b) that the authorised surveillance is proportionate to what is sought to be achieved by carrying it out.

    How the hell does surveillance for littering prevention get authorised as a proportionate response? I'll bet the paperwork alone is more than the miscreants would have littered.

    This is clearly from the same school of thought as the justification of Will's borrowing a chopper to get to a stag party as "valuable training".

  13. jonathan keith
    Paris Hilton


    Great to see RIPA being used in the manner for which it was intended.

    After all, if it was meant for anything more serious, then BT and Phorm would already have been issued with warrants, surely?

    Paris, of course, as she's well used to protecting her privacy.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    mea culpa

    There was me thinking that this was a sensible law, that would 'do what it said on the tin'.

    I was forgetting that local councils are filled with little Hitlers, who think that the ends justifiy the means. Perhaps we should buy them all some brown shirts?

    Anonymous, because I'm getting a little paranoid.

    Black Helis, because we're all terrorists now.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Dog owners

    Geoff - have you ever attempted to negotiate the minefield left by someones "best friend" with a baby buggy and a 3 year old in tow? I fully support the full use of RIPA against these bastards, followed by making them eat up the disgusting mess their dogs have left.

  16. Alex

    plastic bags

    the ones that get me are the folk who bag it then leave it!!!

  17. Alex

    Borough Councils, Microsoft, BTyahoo & Phorm?

    "it looks as though you are taking your dog for a walk, would you like to"

    "buy a plastic bag"

    "meet others interested in dogs"

    "see all results in dogging"

    * all your feces are belongs to us"

  18. Liam


    surely a dog crapping somewhere is a terrierist :)

    sorry, robbed that gag from QI!

    mines the one with a plastic bag full of dogpoop in the pocket :)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a shame

    that there is reluctance to use the legislation to bring a prosecution against the Phuckwitted ISPs who sold us down the river last year, but it's okay to follow someone around in case they drop a sweet wrapper.

  20. Dean
    Jobs Horns

    My SHAME

    I have a confession to make...

    I've occasionally thrown litter the pavement, I've even bought alcohol when I was 17 and (breaks down in tears) my dog has once or twice left his unmistakeable calling card on a grass verge. I now realise the error of my ways and how I have invited Osama right into the country.

    I'm so ashamed.

    I only hope they never find out that I drive at 75 mph on the motorway...

  21. dervheid

    75mph on the motorway?

    Neither wonder our highways are clogged!

    Move Over Slowcoach!

  22. Steve Howe

    Damn me, the authorities....

    .. are using surveillance tech to aid the job of stop people breaking the law?!?!

    My GOD, where will the travesties end?!?

    Maybe next we'll have speed camera's catching people breaking the law by driving at a speed they consider safe? Oh right.. that one's here already..

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all our fault!

    To be fair, we are all to blame. The government (currently a Labour one) brought these laws in - but we as the electorate voted them in. Not once, not twice, but three times!!!

    I before everyone bites back with "well I didn't vote for them!!!"... well someone did. And obviously the majority.

    Remember that tripe on BBC1 about the housewife who ended up PM... almost makes you wish it could be true. I think a great deal of us normal, sane people would revoke half of these stupid laws and right the wrongs put in play over the last 11 years.

  24. V


    "What about perving the buxhom blondes with little puppies bending over to stroke their beloved pooch?!"

    Surely they would be big puppies if the female in question were buxom??

  25. Trevor Watt

    Who likes fly tippers?

    Fly tipping is classed as an offence under the littering laws.

    So following known fly-tippers is well within a council's remit and justifiable.

    What would you rather have, your local council having someone follow the fly-tippers, or just keep paying through your council tax bills to clean up after them?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <no title>

    As always in this type of situation, I am outraged at the authorities use of cameras to spy on the decent citizen. In this case I suggest all the civil liberties groups immediately resolve to ensure this stops. Meanwhile given the way litter louts make any decent folk ashamed to be their fellow citizens, I'd suggest the groups put this on the back burner immediately, and return to it as soon as the more important civil rights issues as sorted, maybe in a decade or three's time.

  27. Tom
    Thumb Down

    @ Mark

    No it wouldn't! If you remember how much tripe was included in that broadcast, the country would be phucked! All she did was moan and bleet, used the countrys resources to her own gains and abused her position to improove her social position, get free-bees ect.

    Ohhh........ hang on a minute, did that actually happen?

  28. Anonymous Coward

    An Authority

    RIPA applies to surveillance by an authority. BT & Phorm are not an authority so they'll have to be done under some other law - Data Protection most likely.

    All RIPA applications should withstand scrutiny by the Surveillance Commissionaires - it would appear they are not doing their job. Wankers!

    Penguin because its black and white.

    Anonymous because I am paranoid too.

  29. Jonathan Richards
    Thumb Down

    Hey, Mr Tally Man...

    <quote>PA contacted 97 councils and got replies from 46. 16 councils said they did not use the Act, 16 did not respond and 19 said they would only release the information if they received a formal Freedom of Information request</quote>.

    Since 16+16+19 = 51 = 97-46, I guess that breakdown is meant to describe *non*-replies. However, I think "We don't use RIPA powers", and "Come back with a proper FoI request, sucker" are perfectly proper replies, so is it in fact the case that PA got replies from 81 councils?

    On a separate note, I think public bodies are obligated to treat *any* information request as if it was an FoI request, even if it doesn't contain the right magic incantation to make it formal. That's the case in this Department of State, anyway.

  30. Harry Stottle

    @Poole Slandered Parents

    "What I think is needed is that by default, any time RIPA is used without court approval, the council or whatever has to notify the person that they were spied on."

    and there you have one of the core concepts of Trusted Surveillance.

    as Anon Coward said:

    "Yet who knows why they were spying on people, we only have their word for it"

    This is a problem we can solve if we get our act together...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    nothing to hide????

    "19 said they would only release the information if they received a formal Freedom of Information request" ....

    .. so nothing to hide then.

  32. John Murgatroyd

    Or-thorities ?

    "ll RIPA applications should withstand scrutiny by the Surveillance Commissionaires - it would appear they are not doing their job. Wankers!"

    The entire structure of government is full of "authorities" who do not regulate anything.

    From O£COM to Information Commissioner, they revel in the power they have but do not use.

    Loads of "authority", little "bottle".

    Or, securing their careers by ignoring us.

  33. Jeffrey Nonken

    "Nothing to hide"

    Do your windows have curtains? Shades? Blinds?

    If so, you must have something to hide.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Don't you get it ?

    It's simple - any government lives in fear of the people they govern - they fear you, and by definition that makes all of us terrorists in their eyes. They have to stop anyone from ever being a threat to their power base, and to do that they divide us all up, small chunks, easy to swallow whole. The only exceptions are themselves and those needed to enforce their rule (Army, Police, Civil Service, etc.). Not exactly rocket science, but it can be worked out by reading Machiavelli, and really thinking about the big picture. Which will soon be illegal.

    When they said it will end in 2012, I laughed. However, the timescale is about on track for social dissolution - by 2010 you should have an idea of what's up ahead - and all these little pieces will make it far easier to control the inevital riots that will happen in London for the Olympics. I remember some Nazi Germany footage about their Olympics. Guards with Guns, and people cheering with fear in their eyes.

    Welcome to the New World - please leave your freedoms at the front door.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    National Snooping Day

    I think we should designate a National Snooping Day where we all get to follow around, phone tap and search through the bins of anyone who has used RIPA and their families, perhaps then they would get the message.

  36. davenewman

    No need for formal freedom of information request

    They cannot insist on a formal freedom of information request. There is no such thing. All requests for information from a statutory body, in any form, are subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

    Please can journalists immediately respond to this point when they hear this bullshit, and address their request to "the Little Hitler" in the good old 1940s tradition.

  37. Captain DaFt

    re: Those who have nothing to hide...

    Cardinal Richelieu's words: "Give me four lines written by the most innocent of men, and in them I will find something to hang him."

    EVERYBODY should expect the Goverment Inquisition! (Sorry 'bout that Monty)

  38. JohnG

    I thought the Police were supposed to investigate crime...

    .. and the council was supposed to look after the roads, collect the rubbish and so on. If they're out following their citizens about, no wonder they have no time or money for the mundane stuff.

    One wonders if it might also be cheaper to employ more people to clean the streets and parks, rather than employ people to follow other people about.

    If the dog license was restored, maybe there wouldn't be so many irresponsible dog owners.

  39. Paul

    @ Mark: It's not all our fault (not mine anyway)

    in 2005 Labour got 55% of seats with 35% of the popular vote and a piddling 22% of the total electorate.

    or if you're really interested:

    I believe Mugabe has it listed in his favorites

  40. Neil Jones

    Oh, PLEASE!

    I’m starting to get a bit bored of all of these dramatic headlines about ill-informed RIPA stories. The clue is in the name: REGULATION of INVESTIGATORY POWERS Act (2000). So, starting from the back, we’ve got “2000”... that’s a whole year before we all went terrorism mad, and the Act was being drafted for several years before that. So it’s not a “terrorism law”, it’s an act of Parliament that’s equally applicable to surveillance against terrorists as it is to surveillance against benefit cheats.

    Then we get to the “Investigatory Powers” bit, and that definition includes not only the police, intelligence services and armed forces, but Government departments (DSS, MAFF, DETR etc), local authorities, and other bodies including the Post Office, The Financial Services Authority and the Food Standards Agency.

    And then we’ve got the key word, “Regulation”. And that’s what RIPA is about. It doesn’t suddenly give bodies new powers to spy on us as the media like to portray, it exists to control this kind of activity. Before RIPA, there was very little control over -for example- the DSS watching people whom they suspected of being benefit frauds, now that is governed by RIPA. It’s therefore wrong or at least misleading to say that “X used RIPA to spy on Y”, it should be “X was governed by RIPA when spying on Y”. And it’s also misleading in that any surveillance activity carried out by a council is by its very definition covered by RIPA. Bottom line is that if you’re a council and you want to undertake some form of surveillance then you’re governed by RIPA. Or as the media prefer, you’ve got to use this “terror law” whether you like it or not. Yes, you can question whether certain surveillance operations should have been sanctioned, and maybe RIPA needs tightening up in a few areas, but RIPA is not black helicopter legislation any more than the Road Traffic Act is responsible for car crashes.

  41. Dean
    Thumb Down


    The paper nazis of the government probably won't listen anyway, but there is a petition out now:

    Enough signatures and Gordon's arse will go...

    or we'll all end up jail :(

  42. Neil Jones

    @ Dean

    So you want to remove any regulation of this type of activity?

  43. Gordon

    Just who gave them???

    The right to carry out "Surveilance" under the guise of the RIPA?

    These powers should be restricted to warranted Police officers ONLY. I think i'm right in saying a specially trained office of the rank of Inspector or greater needs to authorise RIPA requests.

    What worries me is that, from local council "officers" it is only a hop, skip and a jump to private contractors being given the power to snoop on anyone they like. Having seen the way council parking contractors behave (no naming, but you know who they are!) this would be terrible. We'll have the buggers rifling through our trash to find out what we've been doing and what they can fine us for. KA-CHING!!!!

  44. Gordon

    @ Neil Jones

    Technically you're absolutely right. But whenever a set of laws are laid down about something, it's invariably taken as an authorisation *provided* the task is completed in the proscribed way. Previously the surveilance teams had to pass a subjective test of whether their actions were reasonable, now they just have to "hit the bullet points" in order to be judged to have complied with the law!

This topic is closed for new posts.