Emails released by WikiLeaks appear to show the UK Government and London’s Metropolitan Police Service (Met) are involved in controversial surveillance network, TrapWire.
One email in a set stolen from global intelligence firm Stratfor by hactivists Anonymous and leaked via WikiLeaks states:
“We have an agreement in principle with Abraxas (TrapWire) to provide ‘streaming sitreps’ to their clients via their desktop/homepage by the end of July. Their clients include Scotland Yard, #10 Downing, the White House, and many MNC’s (multinational corporations).”
TrapWire is a surveillance service that collates data from CCTV cameras, number plate readers and open source databases. It is understood to use facial recognition technology and reportedly also scours social networks with the aim of catching terrorists in the planning and reconnaissance phases of an attack.
The service is proving controversial, as privacy activists are concerned TrapWire is too intrusive and could be used to profile and store data on innocent people. Additionally, according to a white paper produced by TrapWire’s parent company Abraxas, the bigger the service gets, the more powerful it becomes and emails released by WikiLeaks indicate an intention to unify the service across geopolitical jurisdictions.
Further controversy surrounds the relationship between Abraxas, which provides what it describes as “risk mitigation technology for the national security community”, and Stratfor, which has been described variously as a ‘shadow’ and ‘private’ CIA.
A statement from Anonymous said: “The more we learn about TrapWire and similar systems, it becomes absolutely clear that we must at all costs shut this system down and render it useless.
“A giant AI electronic brain able to monitor us through a combination of access to all the CCTV cameras as well as all the online social media feeds is monstrous and Orwellian in it’s (sic) implications and possibilities. [We] will now put forth a call to arms, and initiate the doom of this evil and misbegotten program.”
A UK Government spokesperson refused to confirm or deny its use of the TrapWire system. A spokesperson for the Met, on the other hand, told IT Pro “We have no knowledge of any contract or discussion re the product.”