Each time “someone clicks on a Web page, makes a phone call, uses a credit card, or checks in with a microchipped pass at work, that person leaves a data trail that can later be tracked. Every day, billions of bits of such personal data are stored, sifted, analysed, cross- referenced . . . to build up profiles to predict possible future behaviour” (the Economist, September 29, “Learning to Live with Big Brother”). Can we escape? Never. “America . . . has an estimated 30 m[illion] surveillance cameras. . . . Every Briton can expect to be caught on camera on average some 300 times a day.”
Should this terrify us? According to the Economist, few people mind the intrusion. What is more, many of us welcome surveillance, which we are told is a protecting instrument in a time of terror.