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Chapter: 

Introduction


Data processing companies around the world have been buying up up vast chunks of government data and are taking over the responsibility for running traditional public sector activities such as social welfare and taxation. The boom in outsourcing of government services is taking hold in most industrialised countries, but the activity is often outside public scrutiny. The outsourcing process has been described as the quietest privatisation in history.

The implications of the outsourcing boom are far reaching and serious. Privacy, security, sovereignty and accountability are substantially affected. In this article, Privacy International's director, Simon Davies, investigates the British operations of the world's largest outsourcer, Electronic Data Systems (EDS), and explains how the industry is changing the world.