On 8th June anti-surveillance campaigners around the world will issue a mass “we do not consent” on 1984 Action Day.
This week the UK Home Office published its revised Surveillance Camera Code of Practice following a brief consultation.
Despite criticism from both anti-surveillance campaigners and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) the Code still contains the Orwellian concept of ‘surveillance by consent’. This new concept requires no actual consent, and no choice needs to be given to those who are under surveillance. Instead the ticking of a 12-stage checklist, containing buzzwords such as ‘transparency’ and ‘accountability’, is enough to fulfil ‘surveillance by consent’.
Charles Farrier of No CCTV said: “In an echo of the hackneyed phrase ‘policing by consent’, the Surveillance Camera Code creates a truly Orwellian definition of ‘surveillance by consent’. According to the Code consent is something that magically happens when a checklist is ticked, regardless of the views of the people actually being ‘surveilled’.
Rejection of the code and it’s Orwellian language will be amongst the many aspects of the modern surveillance state that we will be campaigning against on 8th June. Both the Code and the Home Office’s obsession with increasing surveillance of communications data (via the snoopers charter) show that this government cares nothing for individual freedoms.”
In their response to the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice consultation the ICO said: “The use of the term ‘surveillance by consent’ may cause confusion by introducing a different notion of consent beyond that exercised directly by individuals themselves on their own behalf . […] In law for consent to be valid it has to specific, freely given and informed. It is exercisable at an individual’s complete discretion and once given is capable of being withdrawn at [a] later date. It is difficult to see how this legally defined individual consent operates in the context of widespread camera surveillance or how a form of ‘ societal consent ‘ is achieved and then respected in practice.”
In Birmingham on Saturday 8th June campaigners will be raising awareness in the city centre via human CCTV street theatre, readings from ‘1984’ and music.
In other cities such as Stratford, Oxford, Leamington Spa and Watford campaigners will be taking part. Other events are planned across Europe and it is hoped many others will take place around the world.