The Times Online tells the fascinating story of David Bond, a 38-year-old father of two who set out to make a film on privacy and surveillance by staging his own disappearance from the UK. The country now boasts nearly 5 million CCTV cameras—200 of which are within 100 yards of Bond’s home.
Bond hired detectives ahead of time. Their job? To hunt him down while he tried to escape the country undetected. The Jason Bourne-style chase had Bond paying cash everywhere he went, hiding in Germany and Belgium, and, at one point, narrowly escaping out a window. The detectives scoured the Internet for information on Bond, followed his wife, impersonated him on the phone to discover his appointment schedule and even staked out a hospital waiting for him. In the end, his “escape” from Britain’s surveillance society lasted 18 days before he was found.
The amount of information the detectives were able to glean on Bond and his family only reinforced his feelings of distrust toward his country’s watchful eye.
As [Bond] looked into it, he found that the UK … is now one of the most advanced surveillance societies in the world, ranked third after Russia and China. The average UK adult is now registered on more than 700 databases and is caught many times each day by … CCTV cameras.
“When you realize that your whole life is under view,” says the Tory MP David Davis, “it’s inhibiting.”
Britain’s wide surveillance net is just another argument for intelligent search technology, which enables officials to focus on particular individuals and make use of privacy protections like encryption and face-blurring algorithms. Only with advanced surveillance technology will the country be able to bring privacy back to its residents while still protecting them.