As you are probably aware, Nosy-parker in chief Theresa May wants to record all the internet activity and emails of everyone in the UK, just in case you do something the government thinks is wrong (or decides is wrong sometime later down the line should you become “Politically inconvenient”).

One wily UK citizen recently did a very British act of defiance and, using the Freedom of Information Act, requested CCDP like information for just one UK individual, namely Theresa May.

Since she is so keen on snooping on the rest of us, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind.

After a certain amount of back and forth the request was unsurprisingly denied. What I find interesting is that the request was denied on cost grounds due to the breadth of the request. This begs the obvious question: if the cost of obtaining this information for one person proves too costly to comply with a simple FOI request, and that by their own admission the request is too broad, how on earth can they justify doing the same for ~65 million people?

As a government minister, much of the requested information would almost certainly be recorded anyway as a matter of course.

My suspicion of course is that this request was never going to be complied with, as always there is one rule for us and another for them, cost was just a convenient excuse. In the words of Lance-Corporal Jones, “They don’t like it up ’em”.

I suppose it shouldn’t come as any surprise that a government goes back on its word once they get to power, but it nonetheless disappoints to discover that LibCons have resurrected Labour’s batshit insane Intercept Modernisation Programme.

Now called the Communications Capabilities Development Programme and containing a few superficial tweaks (namely dispensing with a centralised database), it is still the same impractical authoritarian mass surveillance nightmare that Labour tried to push through before they were rightfully ousted at the last election – hopefully never to return.

As with IMP, the CCCP CCDP plans to record details of phone calls, text messages, location, emails, IMs and social network activity.

As with IMP the content of messages isn’t to be recorded – just when, where, from and to whom. I suspect this concession was down to data processing limitations more than anything else, but as I’ve remarked on before this actually makes it a whole lot worse as it introduces the very easy to fall victim of guilt by association fallacy.

Consider the following situations:

  1. I am so incensed by RabidManWithAHookForAHand’s views that I email him to say he’s an idiot. He replies and a flame war ensues.
  2. I meet someone at a party, we get chatting and I add them as a friend on Facebook and we exchange a few IMs. Later they turn out to be a animal rights activist.

Without context, both these situations would likely flag me up as a person of interest.

Content or no, the deluge of irrelevant data this sort of mass surveillance would produce must surely make it harder to spot the anything that is important. The signal to noise ratio must be particularly poor.

Blanket surveillance such as this sacrifices much and gains little, lets the government go on “fishing expeditions” and will do very little to protect us from terrorists (if you accept the government’s assertion that the barbarians are at the gate, which personally I doubt very much).

Historically of course the biggest threat to life and liberty a population has faced has nearly always been posed by their own government.