A Cambridge University researcher has warned that the UK government and its European Union counterparts are eroding civil liberties in their rush towards an information society.
Ian Dent claims in Beyond Broadband: the true cost of Digital Britain (PDF) that an "iron net is now descending upon Europe" as governments collude with business to create powerful IT infrastructures that allow them to collate information on citizens and covertly profile the population.
Dent argued that governments have been reorganising entire infrastructures based on information taken from vast databases, without proper scrutiny.
This has been done because the technology has made it possible to gather huge amounts of information on citizens, without any regard for whether it should actually be done.
"The EU has spent almost £470bn creating a system that enables it to monitor the impact of citizens within the economy, and allocate public spending budgets according to the credit score a citizen receives in this e-system," Dent claimed.
"The EU believes that technology can create a utopia whereby all the information they have on the population can be cross-referenced to provide in-depth data that helps them make financial decisions in the most logical way. "
However, Dent explained that no money at all has been spent on trying to determine the negative affects of this data collection, nor on engaging with the public about using data in this way.
Dent claimed that, in a world of e-profiling, a woman whose mother had died of breast cancer and was unemployed for 10 years would have difficulty gaining access to expensive drugs or treatments on the future e-controlled National Health Service because her "worth-to-the-economy profile" would be low.
Dent also argued that the EU has released information on this project in such a way as to pass under the radar.
"Although the information on this project is released publicly, it has been done in such a way, either through technical statements, or hidden in among other information, as to mean that the public are completely unaware that it is going on," he said.
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