06 November 2006

The 2006 CECI Award

Ladies and Gentlemen, follow the red carpet for a very special treat: the presentation of the first annual CECI Award for clear thinking about security, privacy, identity, and risk.

The nomination and selection process is, like that for the Nobel prizes, mysterious - so don't ask. Nominees who fall short are not humiliated by having their unsuccessful candidacies announced and discussed.

The award is simply bestowed, here, by me, in a suitably magisterial fashion, with appropriate fanfare, pomp, and circumstance (and a little gold picture of Magritte's notapipe).

The 2006 CECI Award goes to David Murakami Wood and a large cast of co-authors, expert contributors, and reviewers for the publication of "A Report on the Surveillance Society". This report was prepared for the Information Commissioner of the United Kingdom. It is in the opinion of the CECI Award selection committee (me) the best government report of the Millenium to date, and it sets a standard which is unlikely to be excelled often in the remaining 994 years.

The report's scope is breathtaking, but its focus is intense. Its language is clear, direct, and even elegant. Its importance cannot be overstated. To select a representative quote seems almost a disfigurement; the thing should be taken as a whole. Still, as an advertisement for what you absolutely must read - and I am in no way kidding or exaggerating here - I offer you the very first paragraph:

"We live in a surveillance society. It is pointless to talk about surveillance society in the future tense. In all the rich countries of the world everyday life is suffused with surveillance encounters, not merely from dawn to dusk but 24/7. Some encounters obtrude into the routine, like when we get a ticket for running a red light when no one was around but the camera. But the majority are now just part of the fabric of daily life. Unremarkable."

I will have a lot to say on topics this report addresses in the coming months, but I am not likely to improve on any topic it addresses directly. I invite you to read it. Your children's lives will be profoundly affected by how well you understand the issues it raises, and by what you choose to do based on your understanding.

Congratulations to the recipients. An acceptance speech in the comments is not required, but would be most welcome.


Blogger Craig Heath said...

This report has prompted mainstream press coverage here in the UK, which I find very encouraging! It must be embarassing for the government, and I wonder if it prompted the new line direct from Tony Blair on identity cards ("it's not a privacy issue, it's a modernisation issue" - oh, OK then!)

November 06, 2006 11:53 AM  
Blogger Craig Heath said...

Also see this communiqué calling for an international convention on data protection.

November 07, 2006 6:20 AM  

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