Little Brother alive and well in North Somerset

Little Brother alive and well in North Somerset

North Somerset strikes me as a somewhat ambivalent area of the country. On the one hand, it has town councils eager to indulge in Luddism and hold back the tide of technology (posts passim). On the other, the unitary authority – North Somerset Council – seems eager to do its bit for Orwell‘s dystopian vision of the future in its own Little Brother-ish way.

North Somerset Council is apparently compiling a database of email addresses of people who choose that means of contacting it, according to a report in today’s Bristol Post.

According to the council, this database is for use to contact people in an emergency and will not be passed on to third parties.

However, the council has only just released details of the existence of this email address database once it had already collected 20,000 entries.

According to a council spokesman: “The central database complies with data protection and email addresses will not be shared or sold to third parties (now where have we heard that before? Ed.).

“This is just another way of the council being able to communicate with its residents should an emergency situation arise.

“The addresses will not be used for any other reason. People who do not want to be contacted in this way can ask to have their details removed from the database.”

Isn’t that reassuring? People can have their details removed from the database if they don’t want to be contacted by this means. This means North Somerset residents will have to take action themselves to be removed from a list that they probably didn’t want – or consent – to be added to in the first place.

There’s far too much of this kind of data scraping going on. It would have been better if North Somerset Council had sought the informed consent of its email correspondents before adding them automatically to its database, but then again that would involve treating people like intelligent human beings. However, this is a highly unlikely prospect given that North Somerset Council has an even greater propensity than its big neighbour Bristol to refer disingenuously to its residents as ‘customers’. 🙁

Author: Steve Woods

Generic carbon-based humanoid life form.