Channel 4’s Hunted is a worrying reminder of just how traceable we are

Every time I watch Channel 4’s Hunted, I’m reminded just how much surveillance there is in modern society.

As is customary for the show – essentially a game of hide-and-seek – the sixth series involves 11 thrill-seeking Britons going on the run for 23 days in the hope of winning a share of £100,000. Attempting to capture them are the Hunters, a pseudo-military police force with every bit of surveillance tech at their disposal and a network of officers on the ground, ready to intercept the fugitives.

Competing are mother and son Shoba and Amarinder, sisters Abi and Grace, flatmates Nathan and James, both of whom are deaf, urban explorers Katie and Liam, Welsh couple Meurig and Elinor, and lone wolf Sarah, who is ex-military.

Tonight’s episode didn’t mess about: within the first 10 minutes, all the fugitives had Hunters on their backs as they tried to find ways off the Isle of Wight and back to the mainland. It was tense stuff, and from the off, Shoba and Amarinder struggled to get going.

I found myself shouting at the television when Meurig and Elinor realised they’d run out of supplies and resorted to withdrawing money from an ATM, immediately giving away their location.

What’s chilling is just how easily the Hunters can locate us using the technology that’s deeply embedded in the fabric of our lives. They can track modern cars as well as mobile phones, and can glean information from social media and access footage from video doorbells.

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But while they’re a threatening presence, the show is reluctant to cast the Hunters in too negative a light. It leaves you wondering: is Hunted a cautionary Orwellian experiment or an intimidation tactic by the state?

Either way, it’ll make you think about just how traceable you really are.

Hunted continues on Sunday 29 May at 9pm on Channel 4.

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