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Report warns of people-tagging madness

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Within 10 years we will all be chipped "like dogs", according to a report in the online version of London newspaper The Evening Standard.

We suspect the paper (sister to reactionary rag, The Daily Mail) is upset about this because the RFID chips are expected to be implanted in everyone, not just criminals and foreigners. But that is an aside to the details of the report from which the website draws its material.

It quotes a still-to-be published report for the Information Commissioners Office, not yet seen by El Reg, which considers in depth the social impact of an emerging "surveillance society".

The report, compiled by Dr David Murakami Wood, managing editor of the journal Surveillance and Society and Dr Kirstie Ball, an Open University lecturer in Organisation Studies, outlines how increased surveillance gradually erodes trust and undermines social relationships.

For example, it explains that RFID tags have already been used in the US to tag and track 70 people with degenerative brain conditions, and one corporation has tagged two employees to control access to the workplace.

It also highlights the vast sums of money the UK government has spent on CCTV over the last 15 years. In the 1990s, a staggering 78 per cent of the police's crime prevention budget went on installing the spy cameras. The CCTV-related cost to the public purse in the last decade has topped £500m.

And if this goes unchecked, the paper says, the report's authors warn that we'll all be tagged and tracked as a matter of course, and near-total surveillance will be the norm.

All very comforting stuff.

The full version of the report will be published to coincide with the 28th annual Privacy Conference on Thursday this week. ®

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