It’s no secret that your average Londoner is under perpetual surveillance, there are around 422,000 active CCTV cameras operating in London today, that’s one camera for every 14 people. Some people are okay with this, believing the presence of CCTV deters criminals and improves quality of life, others not so much. A large proportion of people are unsurprisingly perturbed by the fact that they’re constantly being watched by authorities, the council and private owners with nothing they can do to stop it.

The inescapable surveillance of London is reminiscent of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four, a dystopian novel about a man living in an alternate history version of London in which the country is ruled by a totalitarian government that controls the thoughts and feelings of its people. The leader of this government is an omniscient figure known only as ‘Big Brother’(whose symbol of recognition is a large eye) who is supposedly all-seeing and all-knowing, keeping the people in line through the intense use of propaganda and surprise, surprise, constantly surveillance.

I was recently sent a photograph of one of TFL’s awareness posters (which cannot be featured in this article due to copyright issues) by a friend and instantly saw shocking similarities to the propaganda described in Orwell’s book. The ‘all seeing eye’ was clearly featured in the poster and after doing some digging I realized most other TFL posters followed suit. The symbolic eye (of Big Brother) was the focal point in every other 'suspicious activity' poster I found. Upon further research I found that other people had also made the connection to Orwell’s work, the similarities were undeniable.

The affinity between Orwell’s work and the featured image is almost ridiculous, almost as if the artist behind the poster aimed for an Orwellian style. Upon researching this specific poster I found a quote from TFL that claimed that they didn’t aim to create any kind of satire with the poster, it was a dead serious message to the public about how they’re ‘secure under watchful eyes’. Disconcerting to say the least.


Statistics show that on average just one crime is solved per 1000 cameras, at results like this is it really worth living under perpetual surveillance? Arguably this loss of privacy is the price we pay for a supposedly safer society, but do we really want to risk slowly becoming a realization of George Orwell’s dystopic vision?