Public Space CCTV Microphones and Loudspeakers: The Ears and Mouth of “Big Brother”

  • Demetrius Klitou
Part of the Information Technology and Law Series book series (ITLS, volume 25)


This chapter briefly introduces the privacy-intrusive evolution of CCTV surveillance technology; outlines the social and privacy implications of the deployment of CCTV microphones and loudspeakers; reveals the scope of deployment of CCTV microphones and loudspeakers in the UK; briefly outlines the problems, weaknesses and deficiencies of earlier CCTV systems and explains the potential security gains of attaching or integrating microphones and loudspeakers to CCTV cameras; describes the potential alternatives to CCTV microphones and loudspeakers; provides an overview of the statutory laws and case law of special relevance in the UK; evaluates the relevant deficiencies and dilemmas of the UK legal framework in terms of safeguarding privacy and liberty with regard to the deployment and use of CCTV microphones and loudspeakers; and proposes some policy-relevant recommendations, including proposals on how to enhance the UK legal framework and address the issues identified.


CCTV microphones CCTV loudspeakers Surveillance Privacy in public CCTV code of practice Data protection act Anti-social behaviour Privacy principles 


  1. Bannister J, Fyfe N, Kearns A (1998) Closed circuit television and the city. In: Norris C, Moran J, Armstrong G (eds) Surveillance, closed circuit television and social control. Ashgate, Aldershot, pp 21–40Google Scholar
  2. Borland S, Slack J (2008) March of the dustbin Stasi: Half of councils use anti-terror laws to watch people putting rubbish out on the wrong day (The Daily Mail, 1 Nov 2008). Accessed 20 Feb 2014
  3. Camber R (2008) Big brother is NOT watching you: Cash-strapped towns leave CCTV cameras unmonitored” (Daily Mail, 16 Dec 2008). Accessed 20 Feb 2014.
  4. Cannataci JA (2010) Squaring the circle of smart surveillance and privacy. In: Proceedings of the 2010 fourth international conference on digital society, IEEE Computer SocietyGoogle Scholar
  5. Cockfield AI (2003) Who watches the watchers? A law and technology perspective on Government and private sector surveillance. Queen’s Law J 29:364–407Google Scholar
  6. Donohue LK (2006) Anglo-American privacy and surveillance. J Crim Law Criminol 96(3):1059–1208Google Scholar
  7. Foucault M (1980) Power/knowledge: selected interviews and other writings, 1972–1977. Pantheon, RomeGoogle Scholar
  8. Gill M, Spriggs A, Allen J, Argomaniz J, Bryan J, Jessiman P, Kara D, Kilworth J, Little R, Swain D (2005) The impact of CCTV: fourteen case studies, Home Office Online Report 15/05Google Scholar
  9. Goold BJ (2006) Open to all—regulating open street CCTV and the case for symmetrical surveillance. Crim Justice Ethics 25:3–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Harris DO, O’Boyle K, Warbrick C (1995) Law of the European Convention on Human Rights. Sweet and Maxwell, LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. Haris J (2014) Most people ignore talking CCTV, CCTV Core News. Accessed 20 Feb 2014
  12. Hubbard RW, Magotiaux S, Sullivan M (2004) The state use of closed circuit TV: is there a reasonable expectation of privacy in public. Crim Law Q 49(2):222–250Google Scholar
  13. Hickley M, CCTV helps solve just ONE crime per 1,000 as officers fail to use film as evidence (The Daily Mail, 25 Aug 2009). Accessed 20 Feb 2014
  14. Kim Y, Lee SW, Lee DH, Kim J, Lee MW (2007) Sound detection as an aid to increase detectability of CCTV in surveillance system. In: Aykin N (ed) Proceedings of the 2nd international conference on usability and internationalization, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 4560. Springer, Berlin, pp 382–389Google Scholar
  15. Kurzweil R (1990) The age of intelligent machines. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  16. Long EV (1967) The intruders: the invasion of privacy by government and industry. Praeger, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  17. Macdonald K (2009) CCTV cameras ‘listen for trouble’ (BBC News, 13 Feb 2009). Accessed 20 Feb 2014
  18. Mazerolle LG, Watkins C, Rogan D, Fran J (1999) Random gunfire problems and gunshot detection systems. National Institute of Justice, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  19. Monmonier MS (2004) Spying with maps: surveillance technologies and the future of privacy. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  20. Moreham NA (2006) Privacy in public places. Camb Law J 65:606–635CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Norris C, Armstrong G (1999) The maximum surveillance society: the rise of CCTV. Berg Publishers, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  22. Orwell G (1949) Nineteen eighty-four. Secker and Warburg, LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. Pienaar J (2006) Olympics audio surveillance row (BBC News, 26 Nov, 2006). Accessed 20 Feb 2014.
  24. Rempell S (2006) Privacy, personal data and subject access rights in the European data directive and implementing UK statute: Durant v. financial services authority as a paradigm of data protection nuances and emerging dilemmas. Florida J Int Law 18:807–842Google Scholar
  25. Schermer BW (2007) Software agents, surveillance, and the right to privacy: a legislative framework for agent-enabled surveillance. Leiden University Press, LeidenGoogle Scholar
  26. Smith G (2004) Behind the screens: examining constructions of deviance and informal practices among CCTV control room operators in the UK. Surveill Soc 2(2/3):376–395Google Scholar
  27. Surette R (2005) The thinking eye: pros and cons of second generation CCTV surveillance systems. Policing: Int J Police Strat Manage 28(1):152–173Google Scholar
  28. Taylor N (2002a) State surveillance and the right to privacy. Surveill Soc 1(1):66–85Google Scholar
  29. Taylor N (2002b) You’ve been framed: the regulation of CCTV surveillance. J Civil Liberties 7(2):83–107Google Scholar
  30. Thomson I. (2005) Council listens into Soho crowds (Vnunet, 4 May 2005).
  31. Thomson I. “Westminster pulls CCTV microphones (Vnunet, 31 Jan 2008)Google Scholar
  32. Thurston R (2008) CCTV cameras that listen as well as watch (SC Magazine, 25 June 2008)Google Scholar
  33. van Reijendam W (2008) English Bobbies can escape the normal life by listening to aggression detection (Financieel Dagblad, 13 May 2008)Google Scholar
  34. Welsh BC, Farrington DP (2003/2004) Surveillance for crime prevention in public space: results and policy choices in Britain and America. Criminol Public Policy 3(4):497–526Google Scholar
  35. Willman J (2007) Talking cameras are just the start (Financial Times, 7 Apr 2007), Ed1, p 9Google Scholar

Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press and the author(s) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations