Are the British police planning to deploy Chinese-style surveillance tactics during the 2012 London Olympics? A report in the Sunday Times said that the Police may install miniature microphones in thousands of taxis, similar to what was done with the Summer Olympics in Beijing. The spy bugs directly transmitted passengers' conversations to a police control room, and officers could activate disabling devices to stop the cabs if they suspected criminal activity. To keep a tab on the athletes, visitors and journalists, tiny microchips were believed to be installed on their tickets and passes. Software linked to the city’s 300,000 security video cameras was capable of recognizing known criminals and terrorist suspects, the report said. But, the fine balance between the use of technology to support security requirements and individual rights to privacy will be an open debate in the UK for 2012.
Dean Alexander, professor of Homeland Security at Western Illinois University, said that “If the report is true, it is not surprising that the UK government would attempt to use all technologies and tactics available to protect the UK as it hosts a possible prime terror target, the 2012 London Olympics. It is important, though, that technologies and tactics used are in line with existing UK law. If such technologies are deployable and deemed legally permissible, they will likely be implemented well before 2012. With news disseminating about these possible intelligence-gathering activities, well-trained extremists will not be revealing their plots in public, although self-radicalized ‘amateurs’ may slip up and discuss impending plots.”