If expensive CCTV coverage in shopping areas and a  desire to close down Manx Forums still hasn’t convinced you that Free As Thy Sweet Mountain Air is simply  a meaningless phrase, and nothing more, then how do the clandestine videos on Big Brother Bus Vannin grab you?

The Office of Data Protection has served an enforcement order on the DCCL as it seems the practice of external CCTV on buses breaches a Council of Europe  convention on privacy. The issue  being that the CCTV cameras might be capturing pictures of people on private land. Might? It’s a certainty.

So the DCCL decides to covertly video passengers, pedestrians and those on private land and to release this to the police on demand. How much did this installation cost and why were we not informed? Who supplies the CCTV and how much have our paranoid authorities paid out for this Orwellian voyeurism? Having been caught in the act did the DCCL issue an apology and an assurance that Bus Vannin would desist from the practice? No. They are contesting it and claiming it is necessary. Does it make you feel warm and cozy and safe? Or do you also begin to feel that sneaky snooping by a government department which releases the footage to the constabulary is yet another indication that something is badly wrong?

It would almost certainly be possible to make a case for the necessity for the installation of CCTV in most public places. However, should it be done simply because it is available? Where does it end? Frisking before you board a bus? Full body scan built into the entrance?  Demanding ID? There is no end of possibilities but when does common sense come into play? Small island, low crime rate, high detection rate, safe place to live is the constabulary mantra. Once again government is spying on innocent individuals without informing the public and we pay for it! Does this make sense? In a totalitarian system it does.


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