Tuesday 14 March 2017

Theresa May's Snoopers' Charter gives 20,000+ people the ability to go data trawling

People who were actually paying attention to what Theresa May was up to will already know that her Internet Snoopers' Charter allows all kinds of state employees to trawl through the private communications data of innocent people. Until now we didn't really have much idea of how many people Theresa May has given permission to snoop on innocent law-abiding citizens, but now we know that the number is at least 20,000!

The research was done by Claire Broadley at Who is Hosting This. Over 100 Freedom of Information requests were submitted, and although several government agencies including the Home Office (the department that actually introduced the Snoopers' Charter!) didn't bother to respond, those that did respond have revealed that over 20,000 people have been given the power to snoop on the private communication and browsing data of innocent people.

Unsurprisingly there are a lot of cops and military personnel in the list of 20,000+, but there are also 45 people at the Food Standards Agency, 56 at the Gambling Commission, 59 at the DWP, 326 at the Department of Health Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, 75 at the Information Commissioner’s Office, 548 at the Office of Communications, 45 at the Health and Safety Executive, and hundreds more at various other non-terrorism related government agencies.

Even if you're the kind of person who remains unconcerned at the government legislating that our Internet providers create massive hackable data dumps of all of the private communications data of millions of innocent people, and nonchalant that these data dumps can be browsed by the employees of all manner of UK government agencies, surely you've got to accept that allowing 20,000+ people to trawl these data dumps of private browsing and communications data is an obvious recipe for data misuse?

Do you really believe that nobody amongst these 20,000 government employees might try to use their new snooping powers to do stuff like search for blackmail material or tittle tattle to sell to the tabloid press, 
commit industrial espionage, settle old scores by leaking embarrassing personal information, search for inside information to sell on or manipulate markets with, trawl around looking for sexually explicit material to masturbate over or sell, cyber stalk their current or ex partner, or any manner of other ways of misusing the private communications data they've been handed access to by Theresa May's government?

The really interesting thing is that there are right-wing authoritarian people out there who defend this to the hilt. These right-wing blowhards are normally the kind of people to furiously decry the nanny state and the meddling of quangos like the Health and Safety Executive. But now, because it's their beloved nanny-dominatrix Theresa May has imposed the most extreme surveillance system of any developed nation in history, they're suddenly deliriously happy that so many government agencies have been given permission to trawl through everyone's private data, and unable to see any potential problem whatever with the creation of vast hackable data dumps, or the fact that over 20,000 people have been given permission to trawl them, and the recipe for large-scale data misuse that entails.

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