The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Britain has been spying on “every visible user on the internet”, as new documents have revealed the nature of a British government operation called KARMA POLICE. The operation was named after the popular rock band Radiohead’s song of the same title.
The operation was put into place in 2009. The British Parliament was not consulted, and the matter was not brought to public attention. The operation recorded the browsing habits of every internet user without having legal permission.
Construction of the operation took place between 2007 and 2008. It was developed with the full intention of matching-up every visible web user with every website that they visit.
By doing this, KARMA POLICE was able to construct a web browsing profile for every visible internet user and a visitor list for every visible website on the internet.
The study reportedly focused on people listening to certain online radio broadcasts, particularly ones that recited passages from the Quran, which is the holy book of Islam.
However, attention was also apparently paid to people who visited the information website Cryptome.org and the popular pornography site known as RedTube.
Statistics show that KARMA POLICE affected nearly 225,000 unique IP addresses during a period of three months. By 2012, the operation was reportedly obtaining 50 billion records on a daily basis. More than 1.1 trillion records were collected between August of 2007 and March of 2009.
Meanwhile, a separate operation called BLAZING SADDLES focused on particular radio broadcasts to understand the trends and behaviors of listeners.
The operations allegedly targeted some users under the suspicion that they were involved in terrorist related activities. However, most of these internet users were innocent, having simply visited some social media websites in Arabic.
These scary revelations show the capabilities that big governments have over their citizens. While protecting citizens against terrorism is widely viewed as a good thing, this is probably going too far, as privacy on the internet needs to be protected.