With over 4 million CCTV cameras on Britain’s streets, can Big Brother really see your every move?
Closed-circuit television (CCTV) was invented by Walter Bruch in 1942, in Germany when it was used in the Second World War to monitor V2 Rockets at a different location to where they were to be launched. It wasn’t used commercially or for security purposes until Marie Van Brittan Brown decided to make use of the idea and turn it into a way to document video footage and recordings of the outside of her home in the US.
At the turn of the millennium, there were around 21,000 CCTV cameras monitoring Britain. Today there are 4-6 million, meaning roughly 7.5 cameras per 100 people (as of December 2019). Globally, this puts Britain in the top 5 countries per 100 individuals with the most CCTV cameras.
CCTV today is used for various reasons, such as security and surveillance. People place CCTV outside their homes to deter burglars. Shops and shopping centres have CCTV linked to control rooms where operators monitor suspicious activity or shoplifters. Highways agencies use CCTV to monitor traffic queues and motorways, whilst the police use it to investigate crimes. Individuals may use dashcams that can record driving incidents.
Currently, CCTV is still developing, and we can see live facial recognition (LFR) and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) being introduced more and more into communities. ANPR would normally be used by the police to detect whether or not a car is insured and taxed, but also to catch criminals who are using fake number plates. LFR is also used by the police to track criminals and solve crimes. In the UK, it is currently being trialled by the Metropolitan Police.
However, some liberty groups and human rights organisations believe that this is a violation of our human rights and that therefore LFR should not be used to track our every move. They believe it is an invasion of our privacy and freedoms.
So, is “Big Brother” really watching? I’ll leave that for you to decide but I do think with CCTV left, right and centre on Britain’s streets mayve we should consider how we behave or how it is being used. But surely there is nothing to worry about if you haven’t done anything wrong?
Do you think LFR and ANPR should be used? Is it an invasion of privacy or an infringement of our human rights? Do you believe that Big Brother is watching? Let us know in the comments!