Nasa consultant, scientist and writer David Brin has long concentrated on the effects technology can have on people. In 1998, he wrote The Transparent Society, an award-winning book investigating privacy, surveillance, people’s rights and the state. Famously, he considered the solution to too much surveillance by the state was even more surveillance — but by the people, guarding their rights by checking up on the activities of the watchers. Now we have police turning to Flickr to identify rioters, Anonymous disclosing user data, Google+ pushing users to prove their names and even Swiss banks giving up some of their famous secrecy. Given this, ZDNet UK asked Brin: Are we living in the transparent society now? Q: Did you look at surveillance of the riots published online and recognise trends you’d predicted?The Transparent Society because of what I saw going on. By the time I left, there were 150,000 cameras on the streets of Britain; well, that’s a fingernail clipping compared with what Britain now has — something like 5 million cameras. The reason people were less creeped out than they would have been had this been in Germany or some other country, is they feel a fair degree of faith in the social contract in Britain. In the States, almost every city has same number of cameras, but a majority of them are privately owned. So if there is a disturbance or bank robbery, the FBI or local police have to knock on doors and say ‘Can we see your… [Read full story]
ZDNet is a business technology news website published by CBS Interactive, along with TechRepublic. The brand was founded on April 1, 1991, as a general interest technology portal from Ziff Davis and evolved into an enterprise IT-focused online publication owned by CNET Networks.