UK Big Brother Invades More Privacy

April 18, 2017

The United Kingdom has been compared to George Orwell’s 1984 dystopia before, especially in the last two decades with their increasing amount of surveillance technology.  Once more UK citizens face privacy invasion reports the Guardian in “UK Public Faces Mass Invasion Of Privacy As Big Data And Surveillance Merge.”  The UK’s Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter expressed his worry that government regulators were unable to keep up with technological advances.

Big data combined with video surveillance, facial recognition technology, and the profuse use of more cameras is making it harder to protect individuals’ privacy.  People are being recorded 24/7 and often without their knowledge.  Another worry is that police are not being vigilant with private information.  One example is that license plate information has not been deleted after the two-year limit.

Porter wants changes to be made in policies and wants people to be aware of the dangers:

Porter’s new strategy, published on Tuesday, points out that an overwhelming majority of people currently support the use of CCTV in public places. But he questions whether this support can continue because of the way surveillance is changing.

 

‘I’m worried about overt surveillance becoming much more invasive because it is linked to everything else,’ Porter said. ‘You might have a video photograph of somebody shopping in Tesco. Now it is possible to link that person to their pre-movements, their mobile phone records, any sensor detectors within their house or locality. As smart cities move forward, these are challenges are so much greater for people like myself. And members of the public need to decide whether they are still happy with this.’

Porter admitted that advanced surveillance technology had allowed law enforcement to arrest terrorists and track down missing people, but it still can lead to worse privacy invasions.  Porter hopes is new three-year strategy will inform authorities about how technology will impact privacy.

The good thing about surveillance technology is how it can track down bad guys, but it can be harmful to innocent citizens.  The BBC should run some PSAs about video surveillance and privacy to keep their citizens informed.  I suggest they do not make them as scary as this one about electricity.

Whitney Grace, April 18, 2017

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