On Sky News, Hazel Blears (the spokeswoman for the Intelligence Security Committee) explained that this small number of British spies who have illicitly gathered personal data should face criminal charges for doing so. The disclosure came as part of a landmark report into spying by GCHQ and other agencies.
“Each Agency reported that they had disciplined – or in some cases dismissed – staff for inappropriately accessing personal information held in these datasets in recent years,” writes the ISC (Incident Command System) in the case report. Though the report suggests that it will give further information on that misuse, all of the part referenced is redacted — as is a large proportion of the report.
“We’re not in a position today to give you the detailed information … but I think the fact the committee recommends it be a criminal offence gives an indication of how seriously we take it,” Blears told Sky News.
Though spy agencies and governments claim that the information kept is largely tactical — including metadata that can be used to identify whether people are plotting terrorist attacks — the sackings imply that personal information can also be found and accessed by spooks.
This isn’t the first time an intrusion into private data has raised such concern in the UK. People are once again reacting very strongly and raising awareness as to whether their personal rights are being respected, similarly to when Andy Coulson was found guilty of scandalous phone hacking. Personally, I do not feel safe. It feels as if whatever I am writing is being internally tracked by a living robot who reveals whatever is written as a very bad thing. As if we, the ones writing, were doing something wrong.
Imagine if someone is hacking what I am doing right now- it would seem pretty awkward. The computer world is very dangerous and like a monumental maze, a costume for insecurity. But it isn’t technology that is responsible for intrusion; it is other people, nosy, rude and quite frankly immature people who clearly have nothing better to do. I agree with Hazel Blears and believe if they receive enough criminal charges, then maybe others like them will understand the severity of their intrusion and think twice before ruining lives of others and meddling with private business. They can’t then just claim it was to identify whether people were plotting terrorist attacks, because otherwise they wouldn’t have to do it behind backs. After all, if what we are doing isn’t breaking the rules, then by principle there is no need to hide it, for it isn’t to be feared.
That’s what we’ve been taught since we are young, isn’t it?
– by William H.