It’s a sad day when the term ‘Owellian’ has become a cliche. I can’t believe this is for real…

Electronic spy ‘bugs’ have been secretly planted in hundreds of thousands of household wheelie bins, reports Sunday’s Daily Mail. The gadgets – mostly installed by companies based in Germany – transmit information about the contents of the bins to a central database which then keeps records on the waste disposal habits of each individual address. Already some 500,000 bins in council districts across England have been fitted with the bugs – with nearly all areas expected to follow suit within the next couple of years.

Until now, the majority of bins have been altered without the knowledge of their owners. In many cases, councils which ordered the installation of the devices did not even debate the proposals publicly. The official reason for the bugs is to ‘improve efficiency’ and settle disputes between neighbours over wheelie-bin ownership. But experts say the technology is actually intended to enable councils to impose fines on householders who exceed limits on the amount of non-recyclable waste they put out.

… According to conservative MP Andrew Pellingm ‘This is nothing more than a spy in the bin and I don’t think even the old Soviet Union made such an intrusion into people’s personal lives. ‘It is Big Brother gone mad. I think a more British way of doing things is to seek to persuade people rather than spy on them.’

Anyone who removed a bug and threw it away might not get their bins emptied, warned Paul Bettison, the Association’s environment chief.

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