Britain is ‘surveillance society’

November 5, 2006

I know one of the authors slightly through some work I did with Barry and Steve on Sousveillance/Surveillance in a paper Sousveillance: Inventing and Using Wearable Computing Devices for Data Collection in Surveillance Environments, and though it is not really my field, I’m very curious about how children’s information is collected and used, and the sort of world they’re growing up into. I think this is something to be rather bothered by, especially if it doesn’t bother you.

Britain is ‘surveillance society’

Fears that the UK would “sleep-walk into a surveillance society” have become a reality, the government’s information commissioner has said.

Researchers highlight “dataveillance”, the use of credit card, mobile phone and loyalty card information, and CCTV. Monitoring of work rates, travel and telecommunications is also rising. There are up to 4.2m CCTV cameras in Britain – about one for every 14 people.

But surveillance ranges from US security agencies monitoring telecommunications traffic passing through Britain, to key stroke information used to gauge work rates and GPS information tracking company vehicles, the Report on the Surveillance Society says.

It predicts that by 2016 shoppers could be scanned as they enter stores, schools could bring in cards allowing parents to monitor what their children eat, and jobs may be refused to applicants who are seen as a health risk….

The report’s co-writer Dr David Murakami-Wood told BBC News that, compared to other industrialised Western states, the UK was “the most surveilled country”.

[Surveillance society – full report]

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