UK's intelligence agencies such as MI5, MI6, and GCHQ have been collecting personal information from citizens who are "unlikely to be of intelligence or security interest" since the 1990s, previously confidential documents reveal. The documents were published as a result of a lawsuit filed by Privacy International, and according to the files, GCHQ and others have been collecting bulk personal data sets since 1998.
"These records can be “anything from your private medical records, your correspondence with your doctor or lawyer, even what petitions you have signed, your financial data, and commercial activities,” Privacy International legal officer Millie Graham Wood said in a statement. "The information revealed by this disclosure shows the staggering extent to which the intelligence agencies hoover up our data."
Nor, it seems, are BPDs only being used to investigate terrorism and serious crime; they can and are used to protect Britain’s “economic well-being”—including preventing pirate copies of Harry Potter books from leaking before their release date.
BPDs are so powerful, in fact, that the normally toothless UK parliament watchdog that oversees intelligence gathering, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), recommended in February that "Class Bulk Personal Dataset warrants are removed from the new legislation."
These data sets are so large and collect so much information so indiscriminately that they even include information on dead people."