The erosion of privacy and boiled frogs


Here is an interesting article from The Economist on the growing use of surveillance and data tracking, and the blind acceptance by citizens in most countries. I like the analogy myth of the “boiled frog” attributed to Ross Anderson at the end of the article — if the water is heated gradually enough, the frog fails to notice the difference until it is too late.

Learning to live with Big Brother

Across the rich and not-so-rich world, electronic devices are already being used to keep tabs on ordinary citizens as never before. Closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) with infra-red night vision peer down at citizens from street corners, and in banks, airports and shopping malls. Every time someone clicks on a web page, makes a phone call, uses a credit card, or checks in with a microchipped pass at work, that person leaves a data trail that can later be tracked. Every day, billions of bits of such personal data are stored, sifted, analysed, cross-referenced with other information and, in many cases, used to build up profiles to predict possible future behaviour. Sometimes this information is collected by governments; mostly it is gathered by companies, though in many cases they are obliged to make it available to law-enforcement agencies and other state bodies when asked.

3 thoughts on “The erosion of privacy and boiled frogs

  1. Andrew

    Thanks for the comments Patrick. The “good of the people” argument is also being used to support the public safety justification for these technologies, in what some people are starting to call a current “society of fear”.

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