Making surveillance tangible

Notes from the digital-rights hack day on projects to make urban surveillance through mobile technologies more tangible.

This project entails few ideas to overcome the ambiguity around how much data collected from individuals throughout their daily activities. By means of making ubiquitous surveillance technologies webbed around the city more sensual, this project aims to create more realisation of embedded urban surveillance technologies and how much of meta-data is being collected on the individuals.


  • One of the ideas is to come up with an app that gathers all the data collected by the wifi network throughout a shopping mall. So the app will supply full details of her/his activities from the point of entrance to the shopping mall till the exit with a notice saying "all this information has been shared by {}..".
  • Coming up with an app that enables either a buzz or vibration each time one walks by a CCTV camera throughout the city.
  • Browser plugin which displays an eyeball for each tracker on a website
  • Eyeball stickers which activists could place at eye level under each CCTV camera.
    • Simple version: just eyeballs to raise awareness of how many cameras there are.
    • To raise awareness of data protection, could add a QR code and sending link to the data controller's information. (More work per sticker).

Types of data gathered about people

  • London council CCTV locations
  • Unofficial corporation CCTV locations
  • footfall tracking: eg via wifi
  • Data retention/DRIP data:
    • Call data
    • Location data
    • Internet metadata: domain names


  • Our app needs to respect the privacy of its users even though it's demonstrating how much personal information is collected by mobile devices!
  • Can we make it work even without the radios operating (e.g. gps only, donwload data in advance)

Existing work

  • The metaphone project [1] collects data from volunteers, solely about phone calls, to demonstrate how revealing this data is.