UK MoD data strategy calls for social media surveillance on behalf of ‘local authorities’

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The Ministry of Defence has published a data strategy that calls on the British armed forces to make better use of its “enduring strategic asset” – by spying on social media and dobbing in dissenters to local councils.

In a move bound to fuel tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists, the MoD’s Data Strategy for Defence document [PDF] published this week says the military ought to be carrying out “Automated scanning of social media platforms” to detect “change in population sentiment.”

“Decision making is enhanced by local surveillance of groups of interest,” notes the strategy document, adding that spying on irritated citizens’ Facebook rants helps “local authorities” impose “heightened readiness measures”.

Nowhere does the document explain why a strategy paper has gone so far off the beaten track that it promotes collecting data the MoD doesn’t have and using it for decidedly non-military purposes.

In addition, the private sector has been carrying out social media sentiment analysis for more than a decade,

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