Statebook: how UK gov't spooks see the Internet

Glyn sez, "Statebook is a spoof government site, providing examples of the types of information the UK government holds an an individual citizen. The site also shows what what new information the government want to collect, through new schemes, like the 'Intercept Modernisation Programme' which could even include amassing all of our Internet traffic data in a single government database."

Statebook: A Place to Access Your Citizens' Information (Thanks, Glyn!)


  1. Protests against the Intercept Modernisation Programme should be directed against the EU due to the Data Retention Directive. This is just expanding the programme to social networking and other websites.

    At least we have a chance at shooting it down. Unlike the NSA call database.

  2. Surely, all these info can have some positive application. For instance, if the govt can mine the phone, email, and all other communication records of every person in the country, we could assign scores. If X commits a crime shortly after talking to Y, we could infer that the interaction between the two may have contributed to X decision to commit the crime. We could then allocate negative scores to Y. How big a score depends on the severity of the crime (we can derive this from the amount of fine, or jail time meted out to X), and the delay between the phone call and the commission of the crime. The whole thing will be done automatically with computer programs. As we live our lifes, we collect both positive and negative scores. After a certain time, the govt look at who has collected the most negative scores, and removes them from society. Not because they are guilty of any crime, but because they have a negative affect on the people around them.

    OK. This is not such a great scenario. I’m not so sure that somebody will try it though.

  3. As spooky as you guys make the UK sound I’m surprised there isn’t a huge uprising taking place over there. I know America’s not much better, but some of the sh*t that’s being pulled over there I can’t even fathom happening here.

    Like the passer-by that was beaten into cardiac arrest at the G20 protests, that would spark a huge riot over here. Where’s the civilian rage? Maybe it’s there and I’m just not seeing it.

  4. There’s a real irony in their choice of name for the site.

    Because the -actual- facebook isn’t a huge repository of personal information on individuals that could be used for data mining purposes, is it?

    But Facebook are a PRIVATE company, they would NEVER give people’s personal information away, would they?

    How many people here are Facebook members? That’s information you’re -willingly- giving away to the government on the internet. Is anyone surprised?

  5. should have an entry at the bottom: Jack Smith is currently held at…………., Jack Smith is responding to interrogation methods #’s …………

  6. Every single time I post anything on Facebook, here or anyplace for that matter, I ask myself two questions..

    Can this post be used to personally identify me, track me, or otherwise give any advantage to an ID thief or the government that they couldn’t easily get otherwise?

    Then I ask would I want anyone I know not to read this? Now and in perpetuity, ’cause that’s how long it will be on Google.

    Optionally I ask: Am I being a smartass bore? Occasionally I ignore the answer depending on the circumstances….

  7. #6 Palilay is spot on. Facebook is a data miner’s dream. I’ve jokingly called the site Fascistbook (yes, I know it’s not pronounced the same) because there is so much there that a government gone bad can use to build a personality profile of its users. Facebook even expects you to give up personal information like your date of birth which used to be a security question. And for all the fears of government misuse of the data, the government is at least theoretically bound by laws and a duty to do the right thing for its people. Anybody else could misuse the data and they will not be bound by these constraints. The government is just the most powerful and well-known potential abuser data today.

  8. @10 – The worst thing about it, as the US Government has proven in recent years (see Messrs Bush, Cheney, et al), is that a government can freely access all that information from a PRIVATE data mining company, and use it as they see fit, without all the hassles of the general public having access to the paper trail.

    The bottom line is – the “outsourcing” of data mining to companies like Facebook is the best possible thing to have happened to potentially over-reaching governments, because it means ; Just as unaccountable mercenary forces can be used in Iraq to carry out PR-unfriendly jobs (after all those firms are bound by “commercial confidence” and are bound to secrecy), now the government can get the private sector to trawl for data on various personal data of individuals.

    At the end of the day, nobody gets access to the crucial information of “where did this information come from?”, because somehow, inexplicably, private firms are held up to a lower standard of accountability than government offices.

    Facebook and its ilk are essentially customised intelligence gathering agencies for the government, without any of the accountability.

    Without getting into conspiracy theories – one need look no further than some of the principle venture capital in Facebook many years ago to see that this is actually more true than people realise. Remember the “Total Information Awareness Office”? Is it even a coincidence that Facebook sprung up not long after it was decided that office was a PR disaster? (Of course – don’t STEAL people’s private information – get them to VOLUNTARILY give it up! Under the guise of “Social networking”!)

    Seriously, there are days when I wonder whether people are any different to thousands of Lemmings heading for the cliff, -willingly-……..

  9. uncontrolled data mining and excessive database hoarding are how it begins. When it reaches totalitarian control, they merely invent whatever lies they wish to hang you with and add them to your dossier. They can do this because now the dossier exists and “everybody knows” it has “everything” in it. Be very careful of this. Consider that in Japan, the mere fact of being arrested has almost certainly sealed your guilt and fate. “Everybody knows” in Japan that the police get almost 100% results in confessions. They do this by torture and falsifying evidence. Because “everybody knows” everybody confesses, the fact that you were taken away has already been your trial and conviction. People therefore are very careful never to fall under even slight suspicion. East Germany under the Stasi, all of cold war Russia, the whole East Bloc, you learned early to fear your dossier and fear those who had the power to write in it.

    Don’t let them create your dossier in the first place. Resist now or be unable to resist later.

  10. Where am I?
    In the Village.
    What do you want?
    Whose side are you on?
    That would be telling.
    We want information.

  11. This is a great spoof page. We need another one that shows the information that commercial interests – marketers – can put together about us without our consent.

    We don’t need to use social networking sites for them to do this. Just use the web. For example, even though I seldom use Google as a search engine or for e-mail, it follows me. If I go to the front page of an online newspaper that has a headline accusing a politician of being a lesbian, and then I go to BoingBoing, the Google ads I am served here include lesbian dating services. And so on.

    Ever since Facebook began, there was the rumour/myth that the CIA started it. Even if it didn’t, it is easy to see how such an agency could use it. (Note: Facebook lawyer Moselle Thompson says FB requires a duly executed warrant to disclose information to the authorities.)

    Remember, though, that the CIA actually did start the internet – and we found other things to do with it. It has become our tool and plaything too. Before that, the CIA was into using LSD for mind control – which didn’t quite work out as intended.

    Just as I do not bow to The War Against Terror (TWAT), I don’t let this kind of thing deter me from using social networking. It has too many advantages for me. Same for the web – I am not going to curtail my use of it just because I am being stalked by robots. Whoever follows me around will have an interesting ride and if human might learn something.

    Having said that, I think the UK government is over the top in its dependence on databases and has dangerously little idea of database security. Yes, where is the citizen unrest?

  12. Facebook is a great vehicle for spreading disinfo and propaganda about yourself. Use it – they’re listening!

  13. To all those asking “where is the citizen unrest?” in the UK…

    I know. We have just become such quiescent wusses since the ’80s. You aren’t even allowed to get angry about injustice anymore. I was recently told that I was “too negative” at an appraisal because I had been (admittedly fairly vociferously) voicing my anger that the company I work for had made people redundant, unnecessarily in my opinion. What is even more hilarious as a side note to that was that in being negative (about unnecessary and irresponsible redundancies) I wasn’t “embracing change” and therefore “not displaying the right behaviours.”

    That being the case, I’m not really surprised that most people don’t really consider the potential consequences of what they do online.

  14. Posting anon because I’m getting a MoveableType error when trying to login…

    ‘Intercept Modernisation Programme’ which could even include amassing all of our Internet traffic data in a single government database.”

    minor quibble; that’s not strictly accurate. The IMP is supposed only to capture metadata: for email, sender/recipient, subject line, timestamp (and possibly the SMTP headers, doubt it though.) For web, URL requested, client IP, timestamp. Storing the fulltext of all web traffic alone for 12 months would require the world’s biggest data warehouse. Capturing only the metadata (a) is less unfeasible, technically, (b) gives all the information needed to build the social graph for your “targets of interest”, and (c) allows the Home Office / spook / LEA-complex to claim that they’re not actually intercepting communications, per se.

    Full disclosure, I’m an ORG supporter, I certainly don’t mean to suggest IMP is anything other than an outrageous attempt to destroy everyone’s privacy at once. Hmmmm, isn’t there something in the Human Rights Act about right to privacy of communications?

    Respect for privacy and family life and the right to marry – protects against unnecessary surveillance or intrusion into your life.

    Captcha: gram towing

  15. Man that websites is awesome I have never seen it before. Gives me all types of good or bad ideas to create my own:)

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