Electronic spy chips have been surreptitiously planted in household wheelie bins by many councils in an attempt to gauge how much rubbish we're chucking out.
The RFID-based chips are being hidden under the lip of bins used for non-recycled waste. Transponders fitted on rubbish trucks read the chip's serial number when household waste is collected. As bins are hoisted up, another device on lorries weighs them. This data is then correlated alongside chip numbers to create a record of the quantity of waste each household discards.
Already 500,000 of the devices have been deployed in Peterborough, South Norfolk, and parts of Cheshire, Surrey, and Wiltshire. In most cases, home owners were not informed about the deployment of the technology.
Within two years the technology could be fitted in most of the UK, creating concerns that taxation of household rubbish or fines for people who fail to recycle waste might follow. But introducing a "pay-as-you-throw" tax might only serve to increase fly-tipping.
Middle England is, predictably, outraged.
Conservative MP Andrew Pelling told The Sun: "I don't think even the old Soviet Union made such an intrusion into people's personal lives. It's Big Brother gone mad." ®