Surveillance and privacy

Intute (a UK-funded) covers a report by the Royal Academy of Engineering on "Dilemmas of Privacy and Surveillance - Challenges of Technological Change."

A joint effort of engineers and social scientists, the report raises many issues (legal privacy protections, surveillance tech, et al.) with serious political implications. While I'm skeptical of some of the suggestions (e.g., "engineering research into developing effective means of automated surveillance which ignore law-abiding activities"), this is a critically important conversation.

We in the US (may) have a ways to go before we approach the levels of surveillance common in the UK today. Still, if we wish to retain personal privacy in a meaningfully way, we need to seriously address such issues.

Cory Doctorow (Annenberg Fellow) raises such awareness through activism, science fiction, teaching, and public speaking. He is one of today's more cogent and salient thinkers on Internet technology. I'm midway through his talk at Simon Fraser (EcoSchock.org) where he discusses RFID, the meaning of privacy, and the illusion of control; I'm looking forward to picking up a colleague at the airport this evening so that I can hear the rest of it during the drive.

On a parallel track, the Center for Democracy & Technology has released "Privacy Principles for Identity in the Digital Age" for public comment. CDT is a cornucopia of serious dialogue about such issues - an excellent jumping off point for scholars.

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