The Tories have just been caught snooping on our social media at a horrifying rate

Theresa May Budget Tax
Support us and go ad-free

The UK Conservative and US governments have been asking social media companies to hand over our personal information at unprecedented levels, new analysis reveals. And while government requests to snoop on our online private lives are nothing new, the rate at which the Tories and their US counterparts are asking for information is cause for concern.

Unprecedented snooping

As The Financial Times (FT) originally reported [paywall], consultancy firm Deloitte has released its latest analysis of public data in both the UK and the US. And after The Canary analysed Deloitte’s data, it found that:

  • Governments made a total, on average, of 704,678 requests to just 26 companies in 2016.
  • This was a 98% increase in requests since 2013.
  • On average, there were 27,103 requests per company; the equivalent of 74 per company per day. But these figures peaked in 2015, at 28,409 requests.
  • Facebook had a total of 61,703 requests made to it.
  • 12.3% of government requests were made with search warrants, to probe people’s full data.
  • Companies’ response rate to governments has remained steady at 78%.

Nosy parkers

The FT heralded [paywall] the news as vindicating “claims from some companies that they face an impossible task in dealing with requests for information”. But it also pointed to a darker aspect of the story. As Tomaso Falchetta, Advocacy and Policy Lead at Privacy International, told the FT:

Because data requests vary so much, it’s difficult to tell what is really at stake… Companies can play a role in resisting requests… that’s a role they should continue to play.

And Deloitte’s analysis comes less than a year after the Tories passed a “horrifying” law. One which has had worrying implications for every person’s civil liberties.

A darker side to the Tories’ monitoring 

As The Canary previously reported, the Investigatory Powers (IP) Act became law in November 2016. It allows the government to:

  • Force internet service providers (ISPs) to store a record of our web browsing activity.
  • Grant a long list of officials access to those records.
  • Give the security services the ability to hack devices, while also legitimising their own collection of our data in bulk.

Executive Director of the Open Rights Group Jim Killock said at the time:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

It is one of the most extreme surveillance laws ever passed in a democracy. The IP Act will have an impact that goes beyond the UK’s shores. It is likely that other countries, including authoritarian regimes with poor human rights records, will use this law to justify their own intrusive surveillance powers.

But while the Tories want to have unlimited access to the public’s data, they’re not so keen when the shoe is on the other foot. Because, as The Canary reported in August, Theresa May’s government withheld 986 documents from public scrutiny in 2016; more than double the number it kept secret in 2013. The files were due to be published under the 30-year release rule, but the Tories cited ‘national security concerns’ as a reason to keep them hidden.

Big Brother. Rebooted.

The media makes much, for example, of the nature of North Korea’s authoritarian, draconian state. But while the UK trumpets its own ‘democratic’ values, and enjoys spreading them around the world, a look closer to home shows we’re not so free as we may like to think. And if George Orwell were around to rewrite 1984, May’s Conservative government would probably be a good place for him to start.

Get Involved!

– Learn more about how to protect your privacy with the Open Rights Group.

– Support The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.

Featured image via YouTube

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed