UK Spies Have Been Abusing Their Powers to Send Birthday Cards

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

Dirty new documents obtained by Privacy International show that the MI5, MI6 and GCHQ have been collecting a lot more data than we’ve previously been led to believe, as well as abusing their powers to ridiculous lengths. While the government has insisted that only suspected criminals are being tracked by the agencies, the papers reveal that people "unlikely to be of intelligence or security interest" are also being widely monitored, and that ministers have known about this since the late 1990s.

This information, including travel records, financial data and telephone records, has been organised into searchable bulk personal assets. What's more, this unnecessarily-gathered information is being systematically abused by spies, who’ve been accessing it to complete personal tasks, such as booking holidays and sending birthday cards.

“We’ve seen a few instances recently of individual users crossing the line with their database use, looking up addresses in order to send birthday cards, checking passport details to organise personal travel, checking details of family members for personal reasons,” reads a 2011 letter from the Secret Intelligence Agency. “Another area of concern is the use of the database as a ‘convenient’ way to check the personal details of colleagues when filling out service forms on their behalf.”

It's a ludicrous situation, which would be funny if it wasn't for the fact that we're the ones being mugged off time and time again. Now Mr Cameron, anything else you'd like to own up to? [Verge]