Monday, May 12, 2008

Quebec Government Advisory Committee Report on Surveillance Technologies

The Science and Technology Ethics Committee (CEST) of the Quebec government recently released a report entitled In Search of Balance: An Ethical Look at New Surveillance and Monitoring Technologies for Security Purposes:

"Mass surveillance can be considered a fact of modern society. Its significance is reflected in the variety of methods used to collect information. Among these methods, New Surveillance and Monitoring Technologies (NSMT), and particularly the way in which they are used, raise a number of ethical issues. In addition, the Commission de l’éthique de la science et de la technologie (CEST) has taken on the mandate of formulating an opinion on technology which could be used in mass surveillance for purposes of security: Biometric Systems, Video Surveillance and Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID)."

"In Search of Balance: An Ethical Look at New Surveillance and Monitoring Technologies for Security Purposes is the Commission’s fifth Position statement. A look at the notions of security, sense of insecurity, risk, and surveillance is followed by a technical and ethical overview or each NSMT under consideration. Fundamental democratic values are at the heart of the ethical issues involved: Assessment of the effectiveness and reliability of NSMT, proportionality of response to insecurity, social acceptability, consent, respect for end purpose, and protection of personal information."
Earlier Library Boy posts about surveillance include:
  • UK Fast Becoming Surveillance Society Says Info Commissioner (November 2, 2006): "Richard Thomas, the United Kingdom Information Commissioner, stated in a report released today that his country is sleep-walking into a surveillance society. This is due to the increasing accumulation of credit card, cell phone and loyalty card information, the monitoring of workers' computer activities, and the spread of closed circuit television surveillance. There are now 4.2 million closed circuit cameras in Britain and Britons are picked up 300 times a day on camera as they go about their regular private business."
  • International Surveillance and Privacy Survey from Queen's University (November 15, 2006): "Earlier this week, Queen's University researchers released the results of a survey of 9,000 people around the world about their experiences with surveillance and privacy: 'This is believed to be the first cross-cultural study of its kind that explores relationships between attitudes and experiences, and how much people trust corporations and governments to handle personal information, including the sharing of such information with third parties, the researcher says... the survey included nearly 50 questions on participant’s attitudes about issues like consumer surveillance, racial profiling at airports, national ID cards, media coverage of surveillance issues, workplace privacy, knowledge of privacy regulations, control over personal data and public trust in government'."
  • Suspect Nation Video on Rise of the Surveillance Society (November 28, 2006): "A documentary on widespread surveillance in the US and the UK by Henry Porter of the British paper The Observer has been posted to Google Video. Entitled Suspect Nation, it explores the potential misuse of the mountains of data collected about each of us through a proliferating number of technologies"
  • George Orwell's London Apartment Under 24-Hour Surveillance (April 4, 2007): "On the wall outside his former residence - flat number 27B - where Orwell lived until his death in 1950, an historical plaque commemorates the anti-authoritarian author. And within 200 yards of the flat, there are 32 CCTV cameras, scanning every move."
  • French Privacy Watchdog Warns Against Surveillance Society (July 12, 2007): "In its most recent activities report, the Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés or CNIL (the French national personal data protection and privacy commission) warns that the increased use of biometrics, surveillance cameras, and geolocalization technologies (to track employee movements via GPS systems in company cars or corporate mobile phones) may threaten privacy and civil liberties."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:51 pm


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