Thursday, November 02, 2006

UK Fast Becoming Surveillance Society Says Info Commissioner

Welcome to the future(?).

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.

The report was presented to the 28th International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners' Conference in London.

More coverage:
  • 4.2 million UK spy cameras (Scotsman): "Britons are the most spied on people in the democratic world, a new study has revealed (...) Only China and Russia rival the UK for covert surveillance carried out on ordinary members of the public, according to the Information Commissioner Richard Thomas."
  • How we are being watched (BBC): "Legal and logistical obstacles stand in the way of a massive Big Brother-ish database, but information is being gathered on almost everything we do. Everything from shopping tags to mobile phones has the potential to be watching us."
  • Big Brother Britain 2006: 'We are waking up to a surveillance society all around us' (The Independent): "New technology and 'invisible' techniques are being used to gather a growing amount of information about UK citizens. The level of surveillance will grow even further in the next 10 years, which could result in a growing number of people being discriminated against and excluded from society, says a report by the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas."
  • Information Commissioner: Britain is a surveillance society ( "Although he acknowledged that surveillance could 'be necessary or desirable' in helping fight terrorism and crime, he added: 'But unseen, uncontrolled or excessive surveillance can foster a climate of suspicion and undermine trust'."
  • In the glare of the spotlight (Guardian): "It's a beautiful day up here in leafy Cheshire; this morning brought a mackerel sky, a hot air balloon drifting over the Peaks and the first good frost of the year. I woke up and bounced. But what's this to spoil my morning? The information commissioner, Richard Thomas, tells me I'm waking up to a surveillance society. Duh. The report's appreciated Richard, but what's new?"
  • They come not as single spies, but in battalions (Telegraph): "History will record that the most baleful legacy of New Labour is not its alarming incompetence or its mendacity in the conduct of public affairs – shameful though they are – but the way in which it has destroyed our privacy. We are the most spied-upon society in Europe, with more CCTV cameras than the rest of the EU combined. In the international rankings calculated by the human rights organisation Privacy International we are near the bottom of the table, marginally above Russia and China but below the Philippines and Thailand."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:47 pm


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