'Surveillance society' centre launches at Stirling University

image captionCrisp will study surveillance technologies, how they are used and the privacy implications

A research centre to focus on the surveillance society has been launched at the University of Stirling.

The Centre for Research into Information, Surveillance and Privacy (Crisp) will study surveillance technologies, how they are used and the privacy implications.

Crisp will look at all forms of data gathering, from mobile phones to loyalty cards.

Researchers hope it will help lead the discussion around the technology's use.

Stirling's Professor William Webster is one of the founding directors of Crisp. He said: "Surveillance technologies can be the everyday things that we take for granted: mobile phones, supermarket loyalty cards, website cookies or satellite navigation systems in the car.

'Poor understanding'

"These create a digital footprint and provide very valuable personal information that can be used by government agencies and private organisations.

"Currently, we do not have a good enough understanding of the information and its use."

He said the new centre will help researchers develop awareness about how surveillance technologies are used and the consequences of that use.

Prof Webster added: "We don't protect our privacy, how many people read the terms and conditions before they tick the box to give them access to a new service on the internet? We tick the box unthinkingly because we want the service or product.

"As a society, we haven't valued privacy enough and consequently we do not have a good understanding of what happens to our personal data."

The interdisciplinary centre will bring together expertise from social sciences, the arts, humanities, information science and other relevant fields and is the result of a joint collaboration between the University of Stirling, the Open University and the University of Edinburgh.

Crisp will also host to the Scottish Privacy Forum, which gives academics, senior Scottish policy-makers and professionals the opportunity to share knowledge about the development of information processes and their consequences for privacy in public policy and service delivery.

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