Spent an interesting day last week hearing the results of the privacy projects funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) under their e-society programme.
Several of the projects looked at the use of tracking technologies within government. John Taylor described systems being used by probation officers, for driving licence applications and in other areas of e-government. Nicholas Pleace talked about his work on data sharing to improve service delivery to homeless groups. While interesting, I thought both these projects would be enhanced by looking at the deeper question of whether data sharing was an efficient way to meet the government's stated policy objectives, and whether cheaper and less invasive systems could do the job just as well.
Other projects looked critically at the tracking of children using the Child Index, border security, regulating online privacy and the intensification of surveillance in the criminal justice system. Finally, Nigel Gilbert discussed the recent Royal Academy of Engineering project that he chaired which found that privacy and security can be complementary rather than in opposition.
A pleasure to hear about so much interesting research on privacy. Hopefully the ESRC will consider funding a follow-up programme!