Open Rights Group call for photos on Britain's march into the surveillance society

Becky Hogge from the Open Rights Group sez,

UK residents, get snapping! The Open Rights Group and No2ID are asking people to take pictures of stuff they see in their day-to-day lives that embodies the surveillance society the UK is turning into.

In two week's time, in a London location TBC, we'll be mosaicing the photos live to make a bigger picture - a picture that shows where incremental infringements of our privacy will eventually lead. Here's what you need to do to get involved:

1. Spot something that embodies the UK’s wholesale transformation into the surveillance society/database state. Subjects might include your local CCTV camera(s), or fingerprinting equipment in your child’s school library

2. Snap it

3. Upload it to Flickr and tag it “FNFBigPicture” - please use an Attribution Creative Commons license*

4. That’s it!

I took my camera on a walk around my local area over the weekend and had taken 30 surveillance society snaps before I'd even travelled 100 yards from my front door...

Capture the UK's database state - community photocall (Thanks, Becky!)


  1. The BBC building near my home is rife with signs warning you that you’re being filmed. Appropriate, I suppose.

    I’ll get pictures of them (and the rest) when I walk the dog today.

    All best to the ORG and No2ID.

  2. “…that embodies the surveillance society the UK is turning into.”

    Dead on, except for the turning into part. I think has thoroughly become might be a bit more accurate.

  3. If I went to London right now I would wear a bike helmet with a video camera on top. If we were to record our whole day for our own security, then what? Police harassment I’ll bet.

  4. I saw a documentary about these surveillance cameras and it had a segment where performance artists dressed as “monsters” would “act out” in front of the cameras.

    It also showed them being arrested for “acting out in front of the cameras”.

    Does that really happen?

  5. This is a cool idea, and I really hope it makes a difference. UK is one of the places I had considered feeling to in the event that the US goes totally 1984 on me, but it looks like UK has quickly outpaced us towards that end.

  6. From the moment I got off the plane in the UK I had this eerie sensation of being watched. Turns out I probably was!

  7. I’ve heard the difference between the UK and US post-9/11 described as “the UK is Orwell, while the US is Kafka”.

  8. Careful now
    this is exactly the kind of behavior that gives “justifiable suspicion” that you are a terrorist, taking pictures of CCTV is a big no no in the UK, means your staking out for a bombing

  9. #7 – one of the few redeeming features of the UK government is its complete and utter incompetence. If something is idiotproof, they WILL invent a better idiot, and hire him. They are simply incapable of running a decent-sized computer system and keeping it secure.

    #9 – there’s no law against it though, is there? I’ll have to try it out in the city tomorrow if I’m feeling adventurous enough.

  10. I’m more interested in the vehicle in the picture! What make/model of car is this? How comfortable, especially for us plus-sized Americans? What’s the mileage like and … most important, when will it be coming to America?!

  11. Hey Takuan

    No ban on the masks, well, not in Scotland anyways… There’s currently a protest every Saturday outside the ‘Personality Academy’ AKA the Hubbard School of Rubbish in Edinburgh, and they always have the V masks on :)

    Apparently it’s some kind of uniform for protesting against any Scientolo or Hubble bubble stuff… Not surprised considering the amount of surveillance the AHEM’ church which takes yer cash’ has on such protests/demos XD

  12. I wish they would modify the instructions to have people take “before” and “after” shots; that is — before and after a flashmob of masked teens re-purposes each embodiment of the surveillance culture with their cricket bats to send an entirely different message.

    But the Smart car is pretty cute, perhaps it can be spared.

  13. @11: LOL !

    But seriously … “CCTV Mobile enforcement vehicle” get serious !

    What does it enforce? a CCTV coverage of an uncovered area ? please …

    I am English, but haven’t lived in England for the last 30 yrs since my parents came to Argentina, but I still love and visit my home country (i have family), but with these posts lately i am glad i live in a 3rd world country …

  14. I just thank god that the majority of these cctv cameras arent connected and monitored by the same people. There are police cameras to check traffic, local authority cameras monitored on main roads for “public safety”, cameras for security on all the different froms of public transport and then private cctv for crime prevention/evidence gathering by property owners. What most articles about London/UK cctv don;t mean is exactly this point. These are all many different cctv systems and the vast majority of cameras record to disk and never get viewed as the footage gets gone over x amount of hours later as no crime was committed. If there were moves to “unite” these different systems I’d be so scared. I’m not saying having all these different systems is a good thing at all, but just trying to point out that this isn’t one big cctv system being monitored 24/7. Obviosuly I’d much prefer them not to be there. Oddly in my city since putting in the city centre cctv system crime has gone up and looking at statistics alone there seems to be a direct correlation between each camera put in and the increase of crime!

  15. A lunchbreak stroll revealed tons of cameras. It got me thinking, at first about whether we just don’t trust the underclass, but really we just don’t trust us, the public. Many of these cameras are badly located and not connected to useful recording equipment (that could, for example, identify a face) — more for show than surveillance. They’re modern gargoyles, there to make us *feel* that the Great Judge is watching.

Comments are closed.