The UK is becoming a "surveillance society" where technology is used to track people’s lives, a report said yesterday.
CCTV, analysis of buying habits and recording travel movements are among the techniques used.
Surveillance is set to increase over the next decade, the Report on the Surveillance Society says.
Information Commissioner Richard Thomas – who commissioned the report – warned that excessive surveillance could create a "climate of suspicion".
Most techniques used to survey the UK public are automated and out of sight, the report says.
Techniques include surveillance of international travel, consumer spending, internet and mobile phones.
Some of this benefits the typical UK family, but in other cases it is "personally threatening" and has wider consequences, the report warns.
It says surveillance can lead to the loss of individuals’ anonymity and privacy in different spheres of their lives.
The report, produced by a group of academics called the Surveillance Studies Network, predicts that by 2016 surveillance will be ramped up even more.
Shoppers may be scanned as they enter stores, schools could bring in cards allowing parents to monitor what their children eat, and jobs may be refused to applicants who are seen as a health risk.
Mr Thomas called for a public debate on the future of surveillance.
He said: "Today I fear that we are in fact waking up to a surveillance society that is already all around us."
Mr Thomas said surveillance could help fight terrorism and crime and improve access to public services.
But he added: "As ever-more information is collected, shared and used it intrudes into our private space and leads to decisions which directly influence people’s lives.
"Mistakes can also easily be made with serious consequences – false matches and other cases of mistaken identity."
The Information Commissioner’s Office is an independent body that has a legal duty to promote public access to official information and to protect personal information.
* What do you think of all the surveillance in our lives today? Is it too much or is there not enough? Does it make you feel safe or is it an invasion of your privacy? Get in touch by email, messageboard or send a web letter to the editor