Have you ever been tempted to try to find out what information about you is out there in databases? Matt Roper did just that, and sent out requests under the UK’s Data Protection Act to 46 organizations, requesting copies of all of his information. What he got back was a 2-foot high pile of records on himself. Most of what he got back would not surprise most of us who follow privacy news, but Roper’s experience serves as a useful example of the shock and concern that individuals experience when they realize the extent of what is compilable about them — that none of their information belongs to them and can be accessed by thousands of strangers. Roper quotes Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti:
“Big Brother is supposed to be evening entertainment, not a whole way of life.”
If you have been having trouble convincing skeptical friends or family about the extent to which we live in a database society that knows our every detail, have them read Roper’s detailed account.
Tom DeWeese also discusses the total surveillance society, but his piece focuses more on government surveillance of its citizens.