Texte original anglais : Go on, watch me

People are volontary surrending their privacy

Georges Orwell got it wrong. In the developed world, it is not the state that has ushered in a "BigBrother" society but society itself. Every day, people are adopting new technologies that trade a small amount of their privacy for greater convenience and security : credit cards, small cards inelectronic tollbooths, customer loyalty cards, cash-withdrawal machines... As for surveillance cameras, they have become so widely accepted that they have bred a genre of mass entertainment in theform of so-called reality TV.

Where the public wants security, the willingness to give up privacy is powerfull. That bodes well for the companies hopping to sell personal location technology to peoplewho want to monitor the movement of their pets and loves ones. Worries about child, abductions, for example, mean that people are likely to welcome such devices.

But the loss of privacy may beless obvious where people trade privacy for convenience. For example, later this year, a smart card will be introduiced to bring about cashless travel on London's underground, buses and train services.Few of the 20m who use the capital' underground will realise that the card will record their daily movements for billing purposes. Mobile-phone companies hold data on an individual's calls andmovements. Shops hold details of purchases. Such companies frequently argue that personnal data is secure and inviolable. Yet the police, tax authorities and security services can usually gain access to suchdata to pursue an investigation or prosecution.

However, some think the toughest questions concern the minority who choose not to relinquish privacy for convenience or security, or those who do nothave that choice - such as illegal immigrants. If basic services become inaccessible to people who choose not to ( or cannot ) carry a credit card, smart card or mobile telephone, say, there could... [à continuer]

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