10 ways Big Brother is already watching you

Google Street View car
Act normal - the Street View car is in town

Doors locked? Curtains drawn? Tinfoil hat in place?

Good. Just because the government's abandoned its 'Big Brother database', it doesn't mean they're still not watching you.

The question is who, and why - read on to find out more. It'll make your average CCTV camera look positively benign.

1. Loyalty cards

The next time you flash one at the checkout, just think for a minute about what your shopping habits say about you.

Retailers from Tesco on down can tell what you bought, when you bought it, whether you're a bargain hunter or a high spender, how many kids you have, what kind of car you drive (diesel or petrol) and how often you like to ply your body with alcohol.

In the US, loyalty card data is used to discover whether or not you can afford to pay alimony or even whether you're a potential terrorist - an innocent trip to the gardening section to buy some fertiliser can make sure of that.

2. Phorm

BT's tried and failed twice to introduce this particularly insidious method of monitoring your web surfing habits to fruition, but there's no sign of it going away.

Companies from Apple to Amazon already use web tracking to identify what you're looking at, and to offer you their 'recommendations' on more of the same. It can be convenient, sure, but it also runs the risk of turning you into a 'target market' stereotype, when you think of yourself as anything but.

3. Twitter, Facebook, and so on

You might think you're daily breakfast ritual is of no interest to anyone (in which case, why are you tweeting about it?) but your membership of social network sites often reveals far more about you than you realise.

Aside from the unintended consequences of giving away your date of birth, pet's names, home address and phone number (a gift to identity thieves) it also reveals the company you keep and can tell potential recruiters what you're really like outside the 9-to-5.

Are you sure you really want to post another pic of you lying drunk in a gutter, dressed in your skimpies or sorting out your social life while throwing a sickie? Think again.

4. Google Street View

There you are minding your own business vomiting into a pint glass outside a pub, when along pops the Google camera car, snaps the photo and then displays your distressed state, not just to your friends, but to the whole darn world. Do you really want to be a global laughing stock? Thought not.

5. iTunes

So you downloaded the DRM-free latest by Robbie Whatever and then decided to share it with friends? Doh! Every thing that you buy is tagged with your ID, so Apple or anyone else for that matter can identify you and potentially serve you with a writ when that file pops up on a file-sharing site for everyone else to download.

If that wasn't enough Genius actually scours the contents of your iTunes library to identify your viewing and listening habits and then targets you with more of the same. Customer service to some, downright intrusion to others. Thank goodness you can choose to switch it off.