If you’ve seen the 2015 blockbuster film, Spectre, then you know where we’re heading with this. MI6 and James Bond, on a clandestine mission, to ensure the safety of the world’s population remains in the hands of living, breathing spies – not digital Big Brother. While it is an exaggeration, the film showcases the very real dangers of total surveillance, especially what can happen when the extracted data falls into the wrong hands. So it’s an interesting plot twist to find out that the real life MI6 is in fact, trying to do the very thing they fought against in the film.
Yes, this is the actual MI6 building, and yes they did use it in the newest James Bond films [i]
Documents released from a Privacy International case on April 20, 2016, show that they U.K. Government’s intelligence services, GCHQ, MI5, and MI6, have been collecting and storing “Bulk Personal Datasets”. They have been “routinely requisitioning personal data from potentially thousands of public and private organizations.” Bulk Personal Datasets (BPDs) was a term coined in 2015 in an Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) Report, who were unaware of the use from the U.K. Intelligence agencies. The papers show the immense scale of just how much these agencies have been collecting personal data. Beyond monitoring texts messages, emails and social media, they have “secretly been giving themselves access to potentially any and all recorded information.”
Legal Officer at Privacy International, Millie Graham Wood, released the following statement:
[ii] Image retrieved from Privacy International
So why are the most notoriously secret agent men turning to big data surveillance? Simply put, it’s getting harder for the spies to spy. It’s no big surprise after the Edward Snowden revelations, and most recently the Apple vs. FBI court battle, that tech companies are starting to crack down on information protection. The greater population is becoming increasingly more aware of big brother, and demanding that their personal data is more secure – especially through the use of encryption. However, in a world that essentially fully digitized, personal data is everywhere and unfortunately, still easily accessible.
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[i] Image retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SIS_Building
[ii] Image retrieved from Privacy International: https://privacyinternational.org/node/853