May 23, 2007

Life in the UK [10:38 am]

Winston Smith, look out! Spy Drones Added to Britain’s “Surveillance Society”pdf

It could be the 4 million closed-circuit television cameras, or maybe the spy drones hovering overhead, but one way or another Britons know they are being watched. All the time. Everywhere.

The latest gizmo to be employed in what civil liberty campaigners are calling Britain’s “surveillance society” is a small, remote-controlled helicopter that can hover above inner city streets and monitor suspected criminals.

Unveiled in the north of Britain this week, it could be introduced across the country if deemed a success, fuelling an already intense debate over whether the “Big Brother” world George Orwell predicted is now truly upon us, or whether such scrutiny is merely essential for security in the modern era.

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Peers, Networks and Opportunity [10:36 am]

Tracking an Online Trend, and a Route to Suicide

Figures released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show that South Korea’s suicide rate stood at 18.7 per 100,000 people in 2002 — up from 10.2 in 1985. In 2002, Japan’s rate was the same as South Korea’s, but the rate in the United States was 10.2 per 100,000.

Experts attribute the increase to the stresses of rapid modernization and the degradation of rural life, but they are also concerned that the Internet is contributing to the jump. South Korea has one of the world’s highest rates of broadband access and, as in Japan in recent years, the Internet has become a lethally efficient means of bringing together people with suicide on their minds.

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