ICO to investigate surveillance for Parliamentary report
But who watches the watchdog?
Privacy watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) will report to Parliament later this year on the degree to which UK citizens are put under surveillance.
The study will be a follow up to a previous ICO report which said that citizens were at risk from growing pressure in Government to share information between departments and even with the private sector, and that companies' data gathering threatened to create a two-tier consumer society.
"Two years ago I warned that we were in danger of sleepwalking into a surveillance society," said then-Commissioner Richard Thomas on the launch of that report. "Today I fear that we are in fact waking up to a surveillance society that is already all around us."
The ICO has commissioned a new study into surveillance in the UK which will be the basis of its report to Parliament later this year. Parliament's Home Affairs Select Committee has asked the ICO to make the surveillance report.
The Surveillance Studies Network (SSN) will produce the study on which the ICO will base its findings. SSN, which is a charitable company, will produce the factual analysis on the ways and the degree to which ordinary UK citizens are put under surveillance.
The new report will be the follow up to a 2006 ICO report 'A Surveillance Society', also produced by SSN.
An ICO statement said that the report would be "an analysis of developments in surveillance and the collection of information about individuals since the report, A Surveillance Society, was produced for the ICO in 2006".
"This new analysis will accompany the Information Commissioner’s 2010 report to Parliament on the state of surveillance, in which the ICO will highlight any significant issues that require particular attention," the ICO said.
That 2006 report found that more information on more people was gathered more routinely than ever before, and that it was beginning to have an adverse impact on people's day to day lives.
It described a near-future in which wealthy, educated people would receive better, faster service from companies while slowing down the physical social and economic movements of poorer people.
Explaining that report's findings to technology law podcast OUT-LAW Radio in 2006, assistant Commissioner Jonathan Bamford said that Government and private enterprise were increasingly relying on data about people that could seriously damage their future prospects.
"If you are talking about building up profiles of people you are going to find there's an element of social sorting going on," he said. "You actually see that some people become favoured and others treated with suspicion."
"You could be the best behaved child in the class but if the profile that's generated on you based on your relatives show you as being a risk of being disruptive or being one of the 20% of people who commit 80% of the crime in later life you're going to be treated in a particular way whoever comes into contact with you, however you are. There are worries there for the future for social stigmatisation, social exclusion, a society of haves and have nots," he said.
The ICO said that the new report should concentrate on the day-to-day monitoring of everyday activity, rather than the kind of specific, covert surveillance that individuals might experience in exceptional circumstances.
"The study should take account of the developments in technology, policy, law and practice but should be focussed on the practical consequences of these developments for individuals and society now and in the immediate future," said the invitation to tender for the research. "The focus should be more on the surveillance that individuals face as they live their everyday lives rather than the specific covert surveillance activities."
'Surveillance is ever-present' OUT-LAW Radio report can be heard here.
Copyright © 2010, OUT-LAW.com
OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
The same ICO that said of Phorm:
"The ICO has not contacted any independent IT experts for their view on Webwise since being made aware of the 2007 trials on 10 March 2007 [8?]. The ICO are not technical experts so encouraged Phorm to be transparent and directly engage with technical experts to address concerns raised by such experts about the safeguards and nature of the Webwise product"
Bollocks to this report, because it will be a complete waste of paper.
The ICO needs to be purged before a study like this. The people who are 'not experts' in the industry they are supposed to police need to be sacked, and all of the current management need to be ejected onto the street for failing to employ people who are qualified to understand what they are employed to do.
Else what value their interpretation? Its a recipe for fail.
Ich habe nur Befehle befolgt...
Police states may be started by those bent on control, but they' couldn't succeed without being supported and maintained by the jobsworths - the kind of self-righteous social rejects who seek any job that provides a peaked cap and petty power. Including, it has to be said these days, many of our police. People who seem to have no personal conscience beyond ingratiating themselves with their masters.
They used to be limited to making our lives a misery in car parks and public buildings with their "You can't do that 'ere. mate!" and a host of (often self-generated) 'rules and regulations'.
These days, at everything from airports to shopping malls, they seem to have assumed the awesome responsibility of saving us all from terrorism/paedophilia/insert latest fashionable threat. What an enormous boost for socially-dyslexic minds! At an airport recently, lining up for a half-hour joyride in a classic aircraft, we were held up longer at security than we spent in the air - by morons I wouldn't have trusted to post a letter, let alone combat terrorism.
And when the dung finally hits the air-conditioning, their excuse is always the same: "We were only following orders!"
Frankly - if only because they now seem to be everywhere, including in charge of so much surveillance - such people frighten me far more than the terrorists,
Do they really think we are going to believe this report will make any difference? Its not even going to highlight exactly how bad its got, for fear of pissing off the government, because the government are very much part of the problem!, for example, politicians like Mandelson and the Home Secretary are both in their way pushing for much more surveillance! ... they are very much part of the problem!
The ICO should have stopped all this years ago. So either the ICO are totally ignorant of what is really going on, or totally incapable of stopping what is going on, or they are a government smoke screen. Whatever the case they should be wiped out and replaced with a group with some serious legal teeth to keep the politicians in their place. (The politicians are our government representatives, not our masters who can spy on us as and when they choose and they sure as hell should be protecting us from corporations setting up ways to spy, e.g. Phorm!).
What I would like, is for our basic rights to be respected as well as protected. Our rights took centuries to fight for so our government representatives should bloody well respect them not keep trying to wipe them out!. We don't want state interference in our lives and we don't need state interference in our lives.
What I expect however, is for the ICO to end up telling us all, that basically not much is being spied on and what is spied on is more or less justified, when clearly the government is utterly taking the piss with how much spying they have created and even how much they have allowed with things like Phorm, ID cards, naked X-Ray scanners in airports, monitoring all our communications, monitoring our movements etc.. etc.. etc.. whilst at the same time selling our privacy to the highest bidder and preventing us even protecting our privacy from state interference and exploitation as we having to tell the state everything about ourselves and then they bloody well go and sell it all! ... then they have the bare faced gall to bleat on about how identity fraud is such a problem! ... then they have to add even more controls over our lives to patch identity fraud problems they are working so hard to make worse by selling our privacy to every company they can!. On top of this they are also relentlessly accidentally leaking vast amounts of our data at an astounding rate! Yet they now want to talk about privacy!
Do they really think we are all so stupid to believe this spineless ICO will make any difference?! The government are very much part of the problem not the solution!