Surveillance Society


We are steadily moving towards the surveillance society. Where our every action is recorded, and analysed and may be used against us. Just as George Orwell predicted.

In the UK level of surveillance is about to vastly increase by the removal of small but key parts of the processes. The Home Office is proposing having a central database, fed by probes located in the comms networks to replace the current system of requesting Communications Data from the ISP / Telco.

At the moment this informations is available to the police and a long list of other agencies but they need to request it from the operators. The operators in turn have a responsibility to ensure that the requests are fair and reasonable, and that the information provided is accurate. At the moment a request has to be for the communications activity of an individually identified person. That can be identified by a name, an IP address, a Phone number etc.

They cannot make non targeted requests. Of course they can make multiple requests in a single investigation. Who did this person call, then in turn the traffic of all of those in turn etc. Then there is the requirement under RIPA that the communications providers make sure that the requests are properly authorised and reasonable. So there is someone looking at these requests who is not employed by the government who can refer to the Interception Commissioner if they feel the requests are unreasonable.

Despite huge deployments of CCTV there is little evidence that they help deter crime. The Home Office’s own reports say the street lighting is more effective in reducing crime that CCTV.

Bill Thompson commented on this in his blog on the BBC technology pages.

The spaces within which we can live unobserved are constantly diminishing, as both public and private sector agencies link their databases together or co-operate to ensure that nothing we do goes unremarked.

We need a space for experimentation, where we can test the limits of old laws and explore how they might be altered in future, but once ISPs decide that they are no longer neutral carriers of bits and choose to ally themselves with the content industry then we lose another sliver of freedom.

I am concerned with the society we are building, where parents monitor their children’s, internet activity, track them to and from school. Where employers do the same to their staff, and where the government monitors its citizens in the name of preventing terrorism, but in fact use the systems to detect benefit fraud.

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6 Responses to Surveillance Society

  1. […] themselves – which websites we access, who we phone, when and from where. Stuart Ward, whose blog posting inspired the piece, was concerned that new government proposals would give authorities direct […]

  2. Stuart says:

    Jackie Smith is now promising a review.

  3. caz says:

    What about the brain transmitter programme.
    Illegally forced on patients since the 1940s.
    Sounds like some futuristic game doesnt it.
    However its true, much more disturbing than surveillence with an external camera.Where do the government on this as far as the stalking laws apply.
    I doubt i will get an answer as this as it seems to be covered up and “victims” classed as mentally ill to hide the projects. Often cancer patients are used for these experiments too.
    Civilised? I dont think so.

  4. Stuart says:

    The plans for a snooping plan are back again. Sign the petition.

  5. […] Surveillance Society June 2008 4 comments 4 […]

  6. […] Surveillance Society June 2008 4 comments 4 […]

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