UK is a surveillance society

The UK information commissioner called Britain a surveillance society, where "dataveillance" of buying habits is combined with cameras and other surveillance methods to track practically every movement of Britons.

I saw this first hand, as when the London Underground phased out almost all forms of paper tickets in favor of the inherently less private RFID-based Oyster card (the only paper tickets remaining were single-day tickets, and the LU doubled the price of those). Even the banks get in on the act — Citibank UK sent me a "mandatory questionnaire" that demanded that I disclose every source of income I have or might have or had, all property I owned all over the world, whom I loaned mney to and why, and so on — they claimed that this was to comply with British terrorism rules. When I confronted them on this, they backed down and said it was an optional mandatory questionnaire.

Not only are cameras all over Britain — especially London — but many indoor spaces have rules that say you aren't allowed to shield yourself from their gaze, prohibiting motorcycle helmets and even hooded sweatshirts. The hoodie has become a symbol of surveillance-dodging hooligans — a favorite (ab)use of the expansive, extra-judicial "anti-social behaviour orders" (ASBOs) is to order kids to stop wearing camera-foiling hooded jumpers.

The report's co-writer Dr David Murakami-Wood told BBC News that, compared to other industrialised Western states, the UK was "the most surveilled country".

"We have more CCTV cameras and we have looser laws on privacy and data protection," he said.

"We really do have a society which is premised both on state secrecy and the state not giving up its supposed right to keep information under control while, at the same time, wanting to know as much as it can about us."

(Thanks to everyone who suggested this link!)