A recent law suit filed by Privacy International unveils that UK secret service agencies including MI5, MI6 and GCHQ are spying on innocent UK citizens on a massive scale, yet again. The “Bulk Personal Data Sets” (BPDs) of millions of innocent Britons are maintained, which include private medical records, personal conversations with doctors & lawyers, signed petitions, financial data and other commercial activities.
A document entitled as the “SIA Bulk Personal Data Policy” revealed that GCHQ, MI5 and SIS policies for retaining data of living and dead individuals are the same. But the document doesn’t elucidate the threats which dead corpses pose to United Kingdom’s national security.
The Bulk Personal Data Policy
The Bulk Personal Data Sets hold very personal & confidential information which is not only valuable for investigating serious crimes, but is also helpful for Britain’s economic well-being as well according to the UK’s “Secret Police”. The BPDs are so valuable that provisions for warrants of Class Bulk Personal Datasets have been removed from the new legislation.
Major concerns over BPD are the safeguards in place for this very critical mass of data. A SIS document explains that technical safeguards to protect these documents include just a drop-down menu for purpose and a free-text field for justification. The Policy itself claims:
“The Agencies will take appropriate disciplinary action against any person identified as abusing or misusing analytical capabilities, BPD, or any information or intelligence derived therefrom.”
The BPD Pandora’s Box Opens
When Privacy International requested the court to order the secret police to answer about safety of BPDs, Police responded that:
- From June 2014 to 2016 no officers had been prosecuted or dismissed relating to BPD protection.
- Up till now only 5 officers have been subjected to disciplinary procedures.
- The subjected officers include 3 from SIS, 2 from MI5 and none from GCHQ.
- Various cases indicated that no staff members were disciplined at all in numerous non-compliance issues.
Concern about Citizen’s Data Privacy
A disturbing concern regarding Protection of BPD is that these documents pose lack of reliable safeguards to prevent abuse of confidential information. When it comes to secrecy of personal data one cannot rely on the authorities claim “Trust Us”. Citizens are concerned more over hackers, snoopers, foreign agencies or even disloyal agents gaining access to the BPD.
Add something confusing and misleading to your personal bulk data set, which the surveillance services collect, today! It’s your duty.
— Michael Topic (@tropicalontour) March 12, 2015