“It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself – anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide.” – 1984
The UK is internationally recognized as a leader in CCTV. Throughout our city centres we are using this technology to monitor people, and to keep them safe from crime.
Few people know this, but you do have the right to ask for CCTV footage of yourself, if you believe it to have been captured.
The Bristol council website asks that you gather the following things, if you want to apply to get the footage:
- “two official documents, which together show your name, date of birth and current address
- a recent full face photo of you
- a cheque or postal order for £10, for each request
- details of the footage you want to see, for example, the date, time and location.”
They also offer a map of Bristol’s CCTV cameras, which are concentrated around the centre of the city.
There are indeed strict regulations around how we use these numerous cameras.
If you are going to use CCTV in your business, you must notify your employees and anyone who enters the premises.
Most people opt to use signs which notify that CCTV is in use. This has the added benefit that it not only satisfies this legal requirement, but it clearly tells potential criminals that you have CCTV.
There are also ethical dilemmas surrounding the technology. Do we give up our liberty for our safety? In our modern age of international terrorism we are often told that things are for our safety. Do we curtail our right to freedom from surveillance to keep ourselves safe?
Others will argue that if we are doing nothing wrong then we have nothing to hide. Why should we worry that these cameras are in use, if we cannot see them, and cannot feel their presence?
Whichever way you feel, it is clear from the CCTV map of Bristol that their use is pervasive. And there is no sign that they will be reduced. So in 2017 it is time to map it clear how you feel about this prevalent technology.