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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Sunday, July 15, 2007

    Big Brother (and his sisters and his aunts, probably) is watching you

    The 'personal information' issues that crops up from time to time on this blog concern ID Cards and the National Identity Register; or the sharing of data between government agencies. However, I have mentioned the excessive collecting of data before - particularly with regard to fingerprinting our children. Most readers will be aware that as they go about their daily business in the UK, they will be recorded on video - perhaps as many as 300 times a day, depending on where you live.

    O'Reilly Radar reported yesterday that UK Rolls Out Police Headcams. The story comes from the Canadian Globe and Mail, which reports:
    Britain is not the first country to use such cameras, versions of which have been tested in Denmark. But the national rollout will tighten Britain's web of video surveillance, already the most extensive in the world. The country is watched over by a network of some 4 million closed-circuit cameras, and privacy advocates complain the average Briton is recorded as many as 300 times a day.
    The O'Reilly commentator's response was much as mine:
    Given various incidents of police brutality, you can see the additional upside that police might be more restrained if they knew someone was watching -- or they might just turn off the camera.
    As the catalogue of data recorded and kept about British citizens increases (just read this blog!), there has to be a need for more controls. I know, I know - if you're innocent you've got nothing to worry about... but what about people like the guy stopped by US immigration recently because they thought he was someone else, or the UK student who was TWICE wrongly turned down for jobs because her data was mixed up with someone else's on the security database?

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