(MENAFN) In a startling revelation, The Observer reported on Saturday that a minimum of 15 British government departments has allegedly orchestrated a deliberate campaign involving social media and internet profiling against public experts across various fields. The objective? To hinder critics from participating in cabinet-sponsored events. Citing a comprehensive collection of data, the newspaper disclosed that government officials in each department were issued specific guidelines, directing them to conduct in-depth searches and compile what the paper termed as "secret files" on speakers deemed critical of the cabinet.
The profiling tactics reportedly encompassed a thorough examination of individuals' social media accounts, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Additionally, officials were allegedly instructed to conduct Google searches using keywords such as "criticism of the government or prime minister." The parameters of these searches extended to scrutinizing up to 10 pages of search results or a time frame spanning three to five years, as outlined in the report.
The UK Education Department, identified by The Observer as one of the participants in this alleged profiling campaign, vehemently denied employing such practices in response to a freedom of information request filed by the Privacy International group last year. Privacy International's legal director, Caroline Wilson Palow, characterized the reported actions as "directed surveillance," emphasizing the concerted effort involved in seeking negative information about individuals.
Details of the purported scheme were brought to light by law firm Leigh Day, currently pursuing legal action against the government on behalf of at least two individuals allegedly affected by these practices. The revelation raises significant concerns about the transparency and accountability of government actions, particularly in terms of civil liberties and freedom of expression. As accusations swirl, the controversy underscores the delicate balance between national security concerns and the protection of individual rights, prompting a closer examination of the government's methods in monitoring and responding to critics.
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