According to a recently published Snowden leak, a state-funded British agency has been tracking and storing every bit of information you left online since 2007. The information is located in a huge database dubbed the ‘Black Hole’ which engulfs more than 50 billion browsing sessions and Internet history data every single day.
Apparently, the U.K.’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), or the European version of the NSA, has more ambitious plans than its American counterpart since its data-collecting program dubbed Karma Police plans to gather data on every “visible” Internet user.
The program, which was named after a 2009 hit from the popular English rock band Radiohead, was launched in 2007 with the purpose of monitoring listeners of online radio stations that promote Islamic radicalism. Back then, people who listened to religious Islamic radio stations were fully profiled, but the program was mysteriously extended to include radio stations that had nothing to do with terrorism such as a famous French pop-rock online radio.
But as the program continued, British spies had the idea of tracking just about everyone with an Internet connection on the globe. In 2009, an agency’s report showed that the monster database at GCHQ stored more than 1 trillion web browsing sessions including download history, cookies, and posts on social media accounts.
In 2010, traffic volume reached 30 billion separate ‘events’ every day, while a couple of years later the volume topped 50 billion on a daily basis. Under the “Karma Police” program, the British agency records IP addresses and cookies and browsing history linked to those addresses.
Users’ cookies contain valuable data on what sites they prefer to access and web search history. Google, on the other hand, uses such cookies to personalize ads depending on Internet browsing history.
In the leaked document, British spies praised the cookies as a valuable tool of identifying the users behind the IPs. Some of the sites that provided the British government with the most accurate data on Internet habits are Google, Yahho, Facebook, YouTube and a cohort of porn sites and top-ranking news outlets including Reuters and CNN.
Karma Police agents also harvested e-mail addresses and other sensitive data users often type in their web search engines. For instance, the agency profiled an Egyptian Muslim and found everything he wrote or did on Facebook, YouTube, Blogspot, a popular adult site, and several Arab news sites. An Internet user from Sweden was also tracked because he googled info on GCHQ’s spying programs.
Image Source: Wikipedia