Fears that the UK would “sleep-walk into a surveillance society” have become a reality, the government’s information commissioner has said.
Richard Thomas, who said he raised concerns two years ago, spoke after research found people’s actions were increasingly being monitored.
Researchers highlight “dataveillance”, the use of credit card, mobile phone and loyalty card information, and CCTV.
Monitoring of work rates, travel and telecommunications is also rising.
There are up to 4.2m CCTV cameras in Britain – about one for every 14 people.
But surveillance ranges from US security agencies monitoring telecommunications traffic passing through Britain, to key stroke information used to gauge work rates and GPS information tracking company vehicles, the Report on the Surveillance Society says.
It predicts that by 2016 shoppers could be scanned as they enter stores, schools could bring in cards allowing parents to monitor what their children eat, and jobs may be refused to applicants who are seen as a health risk.