Big Brother Watch
Big Brother Watch is a libertarian British pressure group founded in 2009 to "fight injustice and campaigns to protect our civil liberties and personal freedoms". The group campaigns on a variety of issues including the rise of CCTV, freedom of speech, privacy policy, the database state, ID cards and airport body scanners
Security scan
A full-body scanner is a device that creates an image of a person's nude body through their clothing to look for hidden objects without physically removing their clothes or making physical contact...


The campaign is headquartered in Westminster, within easy reach of the Houses of Parliament and the BBC, ITV and Sky News television studios.


The group was established in late 2009 by the founders of the TaxPayers' Alliance
TaxPayers' Alliance
The TaxPayers' Alliance is a British pressure group and taxpayers union formed in 2004 to campaign for a low tax society. The group had about 18,000 registered supporters as of 2008, and claimed to have 55,000 by September 2010....

. The official launch took place in January 2010 with Tony Benn
Tony Benn
Anthony Neil Wedgwood "Tony" Benn, PC is a British Labour Party politician and a former MP and Cabinet Minister.His successful campaign to renounce his hereditary peerage was instrumental in the creation of the Peerage Act 1963...

 and David Davis
David Davis (British politician)
David Michael Davis is a British Conservative Party politician who is the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Haltemprice and Howden...

 as guest speakers.

The name Big Brother Watch originates from George Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is a dystopian novel about Oceania, a society ruled by the oligarchical dictatorship of the Party...

, published in 1949.

Rightwing Eurosceptic Matthew Elliott is the current Chief Executive of Big Brother Watch. Conservative Way Forward Executive Daniel Hamilton is the Director. Alex Deane, David Cameron's former chief of staff, was the organisation's founding Director..

Reports and campaigns

Police Databases: How over 900 staff abused their access

In July 2011, Big Brother Watch uncovered the true extent to which Police abuse their access to confidential databases . The report was especially timely, following allegations yesterday that former Downing Street Head of Communications Andy Coulson paid the Police in order to receive privileged information. The report concluded that between 2007 and 2010: 243 Police officers and staff received criminal convictions for breaching the Data Protection Act (DPA), 98 Police officers and staff had their employment terminated for breaching the DPA and 904 Police officers and staff were subjected to internal disciplinary procedures for breaching the DPA.

Who’s knocking at your door?

In May 2011, Big Brother Watch released a report exposing the extent to which councils use debt recovery agents such as bailiffs to recover unpaid council tax and parking fine debts. Across the 320 local councils who responded to their Freedom of Information request, almost six million (5,939,003) cases have been passed to bailiffs for the late payment of council taxes and parking fines.

The price is wrong

Big Brother Watch conducted the first study of the true cost burden of CCTV to local councils in the United Kingdom. Of the 342 local councils who responded to Big Brother Watch’s information request, a total of £321,331,453.18 was spent on installing and operating CCTV cameras during the 2007 to 2010 period.

Big Brother is Watching

In December 2009, Big Brother Watch released its first report detailing the number of council controlled CCTV cameras in Britain. The report revealed that in less than 10 years the number of council operated CCTV cameras had tripled from 21,000 to 60,000. The findings were produced with a full regional breakdown and it received extensive national and local media coverage.

Barging In

In December 2009, the group also published their second report which detailed the number of officers in local councils who were able to enter private property without requiring a warrant or police escort. The conclusion was that at least '14,973 officers in 73% of local councils in Britain held such powers'.

Lifting the Lid

In March 2010, the organisation released a third report revealing that the number of councils installing microchips in bins had risen by 62% from the previous year. The research conducted indicated that 68 local authorities in Britain and Northern Ireland had installed microchips in rubbish bins of at least 2.6 million homes.

Guerilla Sticker Campaign

The group runs an ongoing campaign in which the public are encouraged to email Big Brother Watch requesting free stickers. The aim is to place stickers on 'everyday invaders of privacy' and send photographs to Big Brother Watch where they will be displayed on their website. They claim over 8,000 stickers have been requested thus far.

The Grim Ripa

In May 2010 Big Brother Watch released its fifth major report, investigating the uses and abuses of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. The research revealed that 372 local councils in England, Scotland and Wales had authorised 8,575 Directed Surveillance and Covert Human Intelligence Source authorisations under the RIPA and RIPSA in the period 1st April 2008 - 31st March 2010.

Drive-by Spies

In July 2010 BBW published an investigation into council use of CCTV Smart cars. The figures revealed that 54 CCTV Smart Cars operated in 31 local councils in Britain, caught and fined at least 188,000 motorists between April 2009 and March 2010.

Vanessa Kelly

In November 2009, Sandwell
Sandwell is a metropolitan borough of the West Midlands with a population of around 289,100, and an area of . The borough is named after Sandwell Priory, and spans a densely populated part of both the Black Country, and the West Midlands conurbation, encompassing the urban towns of Blackheath,...

 Council issued Vanessa Kelly a fixed penalty notice of £75 for feeding ducks. Miss Kelly refused to pay the fine and Big Brother Watch offered to represent her in court unless the charge was revoked. The case was reported in the media and several days later the council apologised to Miss Kelly and withdrew the charge.


The Big Brother Watch website is centred around its popular blog
A blog is a type of website or part of a website supposed to be updated with new content from time to time. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in...

 which is updated several times per day. Posting topics include council snooping, the nanny state, privacy and DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

. As well as reporting on headline stories, many articles focus on local cases which have not reached the media at a national level.

External links

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