Ministers are considering spending up to £12 billion on a database to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain. GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre, has already been given up to £1 billion to finance the first stage of the project. Hundreds of clandestine probes will be installed to monitor customers live on two of the country’s biggest internet and mobile phone providers – thought to be BT and Vodafone. BT has nearly 5m internet customers.
Big Brother may soon be far too real. News reports suggest that the UK plans to intercept communications on a scale that dwarfs (publicly known details of) other regimes and mechanisms to intercept communications of citizens. But going by other accounts, the British Government has more to worry about its intelligence leaking out into the public domain.
A 28-year-old delivery man from the UK who bought a Nikon Coolpix camera for about $31 on eBay got more than he bargained for when the camera arrived with top secret information from the UK’s MI6 organization. Allegedly sold by one of the clandestine organization’s agents, the camera contained named al-Qaeda cells, names, images of suspected terrorists and weapons, fingerprint information, and log-in details for the Secret Service’s computer network, containing a “Top Secret” marking.
If these governments really want to make the world a safer place, how about investing all this money on the same technology to support efforts to build bridges between and within divided communities?