According to a report issued by a site specialized in disclosing former CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaks, the British Government owns a huge database called the Black Hole which engulfs billions of data on all ‘visible’ Internet users and their online habits every day.
So if you used the Internet anytime after August 2007, expect your data to appear on the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)’s servers. Or at least that’s what the latest Snowdean leak says.
According to the leak, the GCHQ has been running a special, ultra secretive program called “Karma Police” to track the world’s every Internet user for more than eight years. The agency, which is the European version of the U.S.A.’s NSA, touts the program as the “world’s biggest’ operation of collecting and storing Internet user data to date.
Karma Police’s initial goal was to track Internet users that listened to online radio stations in an attempt to spot possible Islamic extremists. But surprisingly, the program also monitored radio stations that had nothing to do with the talibans or other radicals such as pop-rock radio stations.
But those listening to Islamic religious content were especially profiled, and the British agency also monitored their Skype and social media accounts. Over time, the program was extended to neutral users too, and by 2009 the GCHQ’s servers stored more than 1 trillion web searches and internet history entries in a database dubbed “the Black Hole.”
One year later, the agency reported that its capacity was of 30 billion bits of metadata every day. In 2012, that number hit 50 billion. The Karma Police tracks users’ IPs and their cookie data when they visit sites. The cookies are then analyzed and a user’s profile can be made.
In the agency’s wording, cookies are dubbed “presence events,” which British spies praised in a report for allowing them to easily unveil Internet users’ identities. Cookies help spies analyze the user’s online life ‘pattern’ and detect the machines from which that user logs onto the Internet. Some of the British spies’ favorite online venues due to their extensive and detailed cookie information are Google, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Amazon, WordPress, Yahoo, porn sites, and news outlets including Reuters and CNN.
In the recent leaked documents, there is even a detailed report on a Swedish user (you can tell their nationality from the IP) who googled for the GCHQ’s eavesdropping program and read about it on a news site. The GCHQ can also track your e-mail address and fake online identities but they cannot yet read your e-mails (we hope so).
Image Source: Wikipedia
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