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Home Affairs Select Committee Voices Concern Over Surveillance State

The Home Affairs Select Committee has recommended that only essential information on people should be collected and retained by the government untill it is required.

The committee made it clear in its June 8, 2008 report that only a proved need should trigger the creation of new databases, sharing of data, and there should be a motive behind increasing surveillance on the people.

A preliminary risk assessment is to be undertaken prior to the beginning of the project design to audit it independently.

An annual report on surveillance should be presented in the Parliament, written by the information commissioner.

Special recommendations are made for the Home Office by the report called "A Surveillance Society" that include a declaration on the part of the office that the administrative data of the scheme or the audit trail will not be used routinely for monitoring people.

The Home Office is also required to raise awareness about the use of the surveillance techniques provided by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

To prevent the intrusion in the private space of the people, the committee rejected the idea of addition of microphones to the surveillance cameras.

In general, the Home Office should articulate the effects on the society and the individuals with its increasing power over the personal information of the people.

The committee said, to ensure a drift away from the surveillance society, the government needs to work towards preserving a trust in it's intentions behind data-sharing.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.