I worked with writer Henry Porter to explore the extent of universal surveillance in the UK, and whether the rights we have under the Data Protection Act and Freedom of Information give us any kind of protection to ensure this slew of personal information is not misused.
As a follow up to this documentary, I would note that of the five requests we made for CCTV footage of Henry, we received only one film within the statutory time limit and only after numerous follow-ups. We were made to jump through a number of bureaucratic hoops that made the system in essence unusable to the general public. The fact is that while on paper you have a right to CCTV footage of yourself, in practice the chances of you actually getting it are slim to none. The Ministry of Defence also said it would provide the footage but we did not receive it within the statutory time limit.
While Parliament released the footage of Henry standing outside the House of Commons, an official there told us we could not use the footage in any way without the written permission of Parliament. Surely personal information is owned by the person in question and the only permission needed should be from that person? This is not the case in the UK where the government seems always to exert control by holding the copyright even for personal information.
Another film about CCTV which will hopefully be released soon is ‘Every Step You Take’.