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What Big Brother Sees

by RogueTrooper Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 10:29:52 AM EST

Britons are now the most closely watched people on the planet and fears that the UK could "sleep-walk into a surveillance society" may soon become a become a reality. This last quote is not from a spokesperson of a civil liberties group but from the UK government's own information commissioner, Richard Thomas.

This story is getting quite a bit of play in the UK media today. The BBC has a good article on the piece...


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".
"We have more CCTV cameras and we have looser laws on privacy and data protection," he said.

"We really do have a society which is premised both on state secrecy and the state not giving up its supposed right to keep information under control while, at the same time, wanting to know as much as it can about us."

The report coincides with the publication by the human rights group Privacy International of figures that suggest Britain is the worst Western democracy at protecting individual privacy.

My editorial is below the fold...


For myself I have no fears regarding about being under constant observation - or having my every move recorded*.  For as long as human beings have been keeping records of their deeds. And whilst as interesting as those records may be they are usually the records of Kings, Queens and their ruling classes. Interesting surely but hardly comprehensive.

Where's the peoples' history?

I believe technology has allows the democratisation of history; now ordinary men and women, whether their deeds be heroic or mundane, are remembered for posterity. Technology has allowed not only increased the scope of who is remembered but the granularity of those "memories".

I have no problem with a central databases that stores all my personal data gathered from cctv cameras, credit and debit cards, travel cards, library cards (even recording my visit to the internet cafe where I am writing this diary)

My problem comes from when the government or corporation access, and use this data with out my knowledge or my authority. I would like to be (at least) informed when ever an entity accesses parts of my personal data or does regression analysis on that data.

What do Eurotribbers think?

*full disclosure: I say all this living in Ireland.

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You seem to imply that this:

I believe technology has allows the democratisation of history; now ordinary men and women, whether their deeds be heroic or mundane, are remembered for posterity. Technology has allowed not only increased the scope of who is remembered but the granularity of those "memories".

is a good thing.

Speaking as a member of the mundane, I am not at all sure that I a comfortable with later generations poring over my dirty laundry after I'm gone, just as I would be mortified to myself on the front page of a tabloid. I am not a person of the public sphere; history has no more right to my personal information in years to come than the gutter press does today. (Not to mention that persons in the public realm have opportunities to influence how their history will be written.)

I also object on principle to the acquisition of personal data simply because the very existence of such records creates the potential for abuse.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 01:00:51 PM EST


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