Privacy SOS

History channel to air ‘Off the Grid’, escape from urban surveillance reality TV

It's a novel concept for reality TV: task some private industry spooks and some eager would-be reality TV stars with the urban jungle surveillance race of our times. The spooks used all tools available to modern police departments and the two regular guys tried to escape the matrix, and get out of Los Angeles without getting picked up by the ever watchful eye. The prize? If the guys escaped unseen, they take home a million bucks.

The show was filmed in six hours in LA, but obviously producers won't say whether or not our heroes made it out of the city, escaping detection. You can find out on December 8th when the program airs on the History Channel. 

The show's producers won't comment on their views of the modern surveillance state. They say the show doesn't take a position on the privacy v. surveillance debate. Instead, they say, they hope to simply show people what that surveillance state looks like. They plan to do the same show again in another major metropolitan area. (Pick Boston!!)

This show is one of many taking on the prescient issues of privacy and government surveillance. Showtime's 'Homeland' and CBS' 'Person of Interest' are also airing this season. The former is a bizarre tale of a psychotic CIA agent hell bent on chasing down Muslims she deems as 'suspicious'. The latter is a story based on the real life subject of Robert O'Harrow's book "No Place to Hide," about a Florida businessman who sells his data-mining tools to the federal government. In the TV show, the businessman has a crisis of faith when he realizes that the government can and does use his tool to spy on ordinary people, and, well, take a look for yourself… 

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© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.