STOP Orwellian surveillance in London

by Open Rights Group

STOP Orwellian surveillance in London

by Open Rights Group
Open Rights Group
Case Owner
Founded in 2005, Open Rights Group (ORG) is a UK-based digital campaigning organisation working to protect our rights to privacy and free speech online.
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Open Rights Group
Case Owner
Founded in 2005, Open Rights Group (ORG) is a UK-based digital campaigning organisation working to protect our rights to privacy and free speech online.
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Latest: Aug. 18, 2022

Campaign Update

Thank you so much to everyone who has generously contributed to this crowdfunder. 

It has been a huge demonstration both to us and to the Mayor as to how much people care about privacy and survei…

Read more

The privacy campaigning organisation, Open Rights Group (ORG) and the prominent London Assembly Member Sian Berry AM have united to put the brakes on the mass surveillance of Londoners by the Metropolitan Police. 

What's at stake?

In 2014, the Mayor of London granted the Met Police ‘limited access’ to textual data in Transport for London (TfL) Automated Number-Plate Recognition road cameras. In May 2022, Sadiq Khan decided to expand the scope of this data sharing to include enhanced contextual imagery data from road cameras, i.e. photos including the colour and make of vehicles, images of drivers, and potentially also pedestrians, and the boundaries of ‘sensitive’ buildings such as schools, hospitals, and places of worship. This could even get worse. Proposals to expand the ULEZ zone from the end of 2023 will cover the whole of Greater London, which means every single car and driver in Greater London will potentially be subject to future surveillance by the Metropolitan Police. This was done with a stroke of a pen, without any meaningful public consultation.


The Mayor has delegated the power to decide when and if to share data to TfL. TfL and the Metropolitan Police are in the process of carrying out impact assessments and working out their proposals for how the scheme would run if it launched. It is crucial that they address the privacy concerns of Londoners and carry out stakeholder consultations with affected communities - before any data sharing happens.

Even the members of the Independent Advisory Group (IAG) on Automated Number-Plate Recognition (ANPR) road cameras have called this scheme a “gargantuan increase of surveillance in London” and have questioned the legality of it.

We believe that this expanded and enhanced data sharing between TfL and the Met Police is potenially unlawful and in violation of millions of people’s basic privacy rights.

Only over the past few weeks: 

  • The Metropolitan Police has been placed into special measures by the Police inspectorate due to ‘systematic’ failings.
  • The Metropolitan Police has been found to be ‘institutionally corrupt’ by the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, and the police watchdog has described their approach as ‘not fit for purpose’.

An ‘institutionally corrupt’ organisation which is in special measures due to ‘systemic failings’ – and also has a documented history as an institutionally racist organisation – must not be handed over an Orwellian surveillance network which potentially violates the basic privacy rights of millions of people.

Our legal challenge 

We are working with the well-known law firm, Bindmans LLP, who have specialist public and data law knowledge, to put the brakes on this expanded and intrusive surveillance regime.  

London is already the most surveilled city in the world outside of China and India. If these measures are not challenged, London’s place as the surveillance capital of the western world will be cemented and irreversible.

We must not allow Sadiq Khan, TfL and the Metropolitan Police to abuse a clean air initiative like ULEZ to set up a mass surveillance network in London.

We need to raise £12,000 to pay for our legal costs. Help us now to put the brakes on the mass surveillance of millions of Londoners. You can make the difference.

Further reading:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/jun/28/met-police-placed-special-measures-series-scandals

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-60832186

https://www.statista.com/chart/19256/the-most-surveilled-cities-in-the-world/

Update 1

Open Rights Group

Aug. 18, 2022

Campaign Update

Thank you so much to everyone who has generously contributed to this crowdfunder. 

It has been a huge demonstration both to us and to the Mayor as to how much people care about privacy and surveillance in London.

We had initially been planning to push for a repeat consultation on the scheme. But our legal team have advised us that our best line of attack is to challenge the privacy breaches with the proposed ANPR scheme, before it launches

We will be urgently engaging with the Mayor, TfL and/or the Met Police on your behalf regarding the detail of the proposals. We will also be pushing them on the stakeholder consultations with communities which we believe they should be carrying out now. 

As we hold their feet to the fire, your support remains vital.

We are continuing to raise money for this action. 

Thank you again to everyone who has already supported this crowdfunder.  

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