Ben Laurie blathering

A Surveillance Society

Not exactly news, but apparently our Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, has realised that we now live in a surveillance society. Apparently he’d like us to talk about what’s OK and what’s not. As if we hadn’t been.

As ever-more information is collected, shared and used, it intrudes into our private
space and leads to decisions which directly influence people’s lives. Mistakes can
also easily be made with serious consequences – false matches and other cases of
mistaken identity, inaccurate facts or inferences, suspicions taken as reality, and
breaches of security. I am keen to start a debate about where the lines should be
drawn. What is acceptable and what is not?

I suppose its progress, even if of a rather 20th century kind.

The report itself has some sensible things to say

A third concern regard technologies is that many argue (mistakenly, as
we shall see) that anxieties about surveillance society may be allayed by
technical means. Certainly, some so-called privacy-enhancing technologies
serve well to curb the growth of technological surveillance (PETs) and their use
should be encouraged where appropriate. But these are at best only ever part of
the answer. We are correct to be wary of any offers to fix what are taken to be
technical problems with technical solutions. As we shall see, the real world of
surveillance society is far to complex for such superficial responses.

I often get the impression that people think I believe I can fix the world by providing cunning crypto. As they say above, its not the whole answer, but I do believe its vital to start from a position of anonymity or you can’t choose what you do reveal about yourself.

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