Posted by: anglopole | August 3, 2008

‘Every step you take…. I’ll be watching you’

Have you ever read ‘1984’ by G. Orwell, or watched ‘Big Brother’ show? I’m guessing you’d be acquainted with one of the two, at least. How about the Supernanny show? If you’re not a parent, you might not be interested enough to indulge in this sort of a tv production. As the title suggests, though, you’d be right in guessing, the show is about techniques of bringing up children – disciplining them in appropriate ways, etc.

Now, try to envisage a marriage of Orwell’s visions with Supernanny’s  techniques! Such a unity already exists, actually. It’s referred to as nanny state and Great Britain seems to be a good example of it.

The British ‘nanny state’ can lack some things but it does possess eyes in abundance 😉 There are up to 4.2m CCTV cameras in Britain – about one for every 14 people (300 CCTV appearances a day)! One might say that this country is a Hollywood for common people as everyone gets their fair share in being in the spotlight of cameras! As The Police were singing: ‘every step you take, every move you make…. I’ll be watching you’. Little did they know how accurate this verse from their song would describe the British reality.

Big Brother's supernanny eyes

Big Brother's supernanny eyes

Dear tourists, remember then, when you stroll the busy streets of London or another interesting place in Britain, someone can see when you pick your nose, sratch your bum, spit the chewing gum onto the pavement, have a super passionate snog with that stranger you met in that fastfood restaurant, where, THEY know, you were having your mega burger….. 😉

Unfortunately, there are more eyes in the ‘nanny state’ and there are ears too!  Here are some of the ways we can be seen or heard wherever we are in the old Blighty:

  • 4.2m CCTV cameras
  • 300 CCTV appearances a day
  • Reg plate recognition cameras
  • Shop RFID tags
  • Mobile phone triangulation
  • Store loyalty cards
  • Credit card transactions
  • London Oyster cards
  • Satellites
  • Electoral roll
  • NHS patient records
  • Personal video recorders
  • Phone-tapping
  • Hidden cameras/bugs
  • Worker call monitoring
  • Worker clocking-in
  • Mobile phone cameras
  • Internet cookies
  • Keystroke programmes

Yeah, yeah…. I can hear all the cries: “but but it’s for our safety!” . Indeed, so we are told that all the above are the goverments measures to protect the society from the bad guys, the terrorists! I can also hear other cries: “Who, on earth, will protect us from the government?!”. Which of the cries would your vocal cords carry, I wonder? Mine join the latter lot.

Nearly every week the media treat us with reports of yet another teenager being stabbed by their peers. Every few weeks we learn about a huge bundle of personal data of many people getting lost (stolen CDs, memory sticks, top secret files left on the public transport , etc.), at the same time listening to the mantra coming from those in the government seats: We have some of the strictest privacy laws in this country”.

Well, it looks like all we need now is someone to watch them watching us…. and disposing of our identities! 😉



  1. I’m less concerned about the number of ways they can observe us. Once the computers are able to truly track us and categorize our behavior, is when I get scared.


  2. Indeed, the Brave New World, A. Huxley was writing about is beginning to be our reality…


  3. The thing that really bothers me is that I have no idea who is on the other end of those cameras – we assume it’s the ‘police’ in some guise or another but with 4.2 million of them out there that seems unlikely. Who exactly is watching us? I honestly have no idea.


  4. As an exhibitionist at heart, I don’t really mind being watched. It’s the storing and processing of information that I have a problem with.


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