Thursday, November 02, 2006

Waking up to a surveillance society

This has been heavily featured in the media this morning and is certainly a good starting point for a serious debate on these issues:

ICO press release:

The Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, is today launching a public debate on the implications of living in a surveillance society. The Information Commissioner’s Office is hosting the 28th International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners’ Conference, which starts today in London, where Richard Thomas will warn that we are waking up to a surveillance society.

Today also marks the publication of ‘A Surveillance Society’ - a detailed report which has been specially commissioned for the conference. It looks at surveillance in 2006 and projects forward ten years to 2016. It describes a surveillance society as one where technology is extensively and routinely used to track and record our activities and movements. This includes systematic tracking and recording of travel and use of public services, automated use of CCTV, analysis of buying habits and financial transactions, and the work-place monitoring of telephone calls, email and internet use. This can often be in ways which are invisible or not obvious to ordinary individuals as they are watched and monitored, and the report shows how pervasive surveillance looks set to accelerate in the years to come.

A Report on the Surveillance Society For the Information Commissioner, by the Surveillance Studies Network:

-Summary Report (MS word)
-Public Discussion Document (MS word)
-Appendices (MS word)
-Full report (MS word)

Deatils of the Conference

Electronic NHS records system

This report "From cradle to grave, your files available to a cast of thousands" in the Guardian yesterday also exposed privacy fears about the new NHS database. A doctor I spoke to yesterday did express concerns about the lack of safeguards, from what I understand already some "demographic data" is available nationally to enable the "choose and book" system. This demographic data about patients appears to open to all GPs with only basic safeguards.

The Government published this response today to the Guardian article

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