A student from Horsham has devised a way of using ‘snooper’s charter’ surveillance technology to pinpoint people’s lifestyles and personality.
The spy-like technology has been thought up by Horsham student Joe McAlister who is currently studying digital arts computing at Goldsmith’s, University of London.
It means that users can find out almost everything about a person’s life with just a few clicks on a computer.
The ‘spying’ is a project by Joe dubbed ‘You Probably Live In Horsham’ and is achieved with a downloadable plugin that mines computer users’ browsers for data and then builds a profile of the person.
“The Home Secretary’s Investigatory Powers Bill demands web and phone companies log the IP addresses, URLS and connection times for every citizen for a year,” said Joe.
“Theresa May has emphasised how ‘terrorists’ are using the internet to evade detection and by using blanket surveillance they can help prevent this.
“But at what point does this ‘harmless’ state surveillance become the precursor to something resembling a totalitarian state?”
Behind the scenes of ‘You probably live in Horsham’ it’s a complex system: After the user installs a plugin, it injects a file into every website that’s visited.
This will then collect the IP address, URL and timestamp of every web address.
The data is then formatted and analysed. After running the program for a short time on his own computer, Joe’s report proved remarkably accurate, guessing among other facts that he went to Goldsmiths, travelled from Horsham in around 72 minutes, worked a lot late at night and was probably thinking mostly about ‘Southern Rail or big data.’
Joe said: “From just a few dozen URLS, ‘You probably live in Horsham’ can generate huge amounts of data, and the longer you use the plug-in, the more accurate that data will be.”
If you want to try out the kit for yourselt, visit ‘the org – a collection of net art from Goldsmiths students’ and follow the instructions to install ‘You probably live in Horsham’.