If you’re campaigning for social justice, animal rights or to protect the environment or part of a leftwing group, then it’s likely you’re already on a police database and classified as a “domestic extremist”. As previously mentioned, this term is deliberately vague and can be applied to anyone who’s challenging the existing order and wants to build a fairer, more just and compassionate society.
According to the Network for Police Monitoring – Netpol – “secret police databases may hold information on up to 9000 people, many with no criminal records, although the number could be far greater.” The group is suggesting people find out what information is held on them by making a subject access request under the Data Protection Act.
Because the process involves handing over personal information such as your name, address and date of birth, you should only consider it if you have good grounds to believe your details are already on file. Otherwise you would be “feeding the surveillance officers with information they don’t already possess.”
Why bother? Netpol say “if you discover inaccuracies or trivial information in any data that the police hold, we would like to work with you, in confidence, to expose this.” So basically it’s about shining a light up to the secret state, exposing and discrediting it.
Some would argue this is irrelevant to the struggle for building a free, liberated world. I can see their point to some extent. It’s easy to become obsessively paranoid and then end up doing the state’s job for as we close ourselves off to the rest of society by being insular and conspiratorial.
Nevertheless with the revelations of recent years over state/corporate spying and surveillance, we have to recognise the extent to which we can be targeted. Or as someone once put it to me: “We had no idea we were as important as they thought we were”.
If you want to make a subject access request, Netpol have a guide on how to do it here: https://netpol.org/campaigns/dont-be-on-a-database/making-an-sar/