Back

‘This Is What You’ll Get…’

Material: Archival pigment print on Alu-Dibond

Dimensions: variable

Year: 2018

A sequence of partially-rendered images from the first nine posts of GCHQ’s Instagram channel, scraped from the account when the secretive surveillance agency launched its official channel in late 2018.

Captured in motion between a server, GCHQ’s surveillance architectures and a smart phone, this sequence interrogates a contemporary form of state-level propaganda and the hidden digital surveillance architectures of the UK government.

Viewed on mobile devices and laptop computers, these images – alongside all other Instagram users’ published content and browsing activities – are systematically surveilled, copied and analysed by GCHQ as part of their global internet mass surveillance programme entitled ‘Karma Police’.

Named after a Radiohead song, the existence of ‘Karma Police’ was revealed in leaked documents by whistleblower Edward Snowdon.  As of 2012, the programme was building profiles of all individuals online by scrutinising their web browsing habits and collating vast quantities of meta data – at a rate of 100 billion records a day, without any public knowledge, debate or scrutiny.