How to disappear and avoid Big Brother


(Image by Wikimedia user Hustvedt (cc:by-sa))

The millions of closed-circuit cameras keeping a silent watch over Great Britain have earned the country a dubious honor: It is now considered the country with the least privacy protection in Europe, according to Transparency International. Only Malaysia, Russia and China keep more surveillance over their citizens than Great Britain does.

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Director David Bond decided to test the bounds of the British surveillance state to see if it's still possible to disappear. In the documentary Erasing David, Bond hires two private investigators to track him down using nothing more than his name. Bond then tries to disappear.

"It was a pretty painful experience to be honest," Bond told "The World." He became increasingly aware, and increasingly paranoid, about how much personal information he was constantly leaking, and how much he had already given away permanently. He said:

What I really didn’t realize was quite how much stuff is out there already. When you try to disappear, you need to be very keenly aware of how much you’ve let go over your lifetime, which is irretrievable and undeletable in most cases.

New technologies have made erasing memories nearly impossible, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger writes in the book "Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age." There was once an expiration date on memory, as Mayer- Schönberger details in his book: Paper breaks down, copies lose quality and people simply forget. In the digital age, however, infinite identical copies of photos and recordings can be made, and information can hypothetically last forever.

The memories may never go away, and people continue to hand over ever-increasing amounts of information to companies like Facebook. David Bond told "The World:"

A lot of people now are willingly putting up a whole bunch of stuff about themselves which 20 years ago they never would have considered allowing other people to find out about, photos of them drunk at parties or worse. And this kind of willingness that both we have and we’re kind of instilling into our children, that it’s okay to do this, is deeply concerning to me.

As Bond discovered, once you give your privacy away, it becomes very hard to get it back.

You can watch a preview for Erasing David below: