Policy Press

The glass consumer

Life in a surveillance society

Edited by Susanne Lace


Jun 14, 2005

Page count

272 pages




216 x 138 mm


Policy Press
The glass consumer

We are all 'glass consumers'. Organisations know so much about us, they can almost see through us. Governments and businesses collect and process our personal information on a massive scale. Everything we do, and everywhere we go, leaves a trail. But is this in our interests?

The glass consumer appraises this relentless scrutiny of consumers' lives. It reviews what is known about how personal information is used and examines the benefits and risks to consumers. The book takes the debate beyond privacy issues, arguing that we are living in a world in which - more than ever before - our personal information defines our opportunities in life.

This book is essential reading for anyone concerned with the future of information use, data protection and privacy. It will also appeal more widely to those with an interest in technology and society, social policy, consumption, marketing and business studies.

"A significant contribution to the ongoing debate on the important area of how best to protect individuals' personal data in an environment of increasing technological change." Baroness Ashton of Upholland, Government Spokesperson on Constitutional Affairs

"The urgent need to think through the practical implications for the rights and protection of the citizen-consumer in a growing 'personal information economy' makes this book essential reading for anyone concerned with these issues. The book manages to be both scholarly and accessible and provides many valuable insights and important food for thought." Melanie Howard, Co-founder, The Future Foundation

"The explosion of information in the Google age risks eroding our privacy faster than laws can be made to protect it. This book offers an incisive overview of the trends, risks and possible solutions to what may become the most critical consumer issue in the next century." Chris Anderson, Editor, Wired Magazine

Dr Susanne Lace is a senior policy officer at the National Consumer Council in the UK.

The National Consumer Council (NCC) uses its insight into consumer needs to advocate change. We work with public service providers, businesses and regulators, and our relationship with the Department of Trade and Industry - our main funder - gives us a strong connection within government. We conduct rigorous research and policy analysis to investigate key consumer issues, and use this to influence organisations and people that make change happen.

Introduction ~ Susanne Lace; Part One: Orientations: The personal information economy: trends and prospects for consumers ~ Perri 6; Regulatory provisions for privacy protection ~ Charles Raab; The use and value of privacy-enhancing technologies ~ John Borking; Part Two: Contexts: The data-informed marketing model and its social responsibility ~ Martin Evans; Personal data in the public sector: reconciling necessary sharing with confidentiality? ~ Christine Bellamy, Perri 6 and Charles Raab; Part Three: Case studies: Data use in credit and insurance: controlling unfair outcomes ~ Harriet Hall; Personal information in the National Health Service: the demise or rise of patient interests? ~ Jonathan Montgomery; Part Four: NCC's agenda: The new personal information agenda ~ Susanne Lace.