Privacy bogeyman: Putin’s face invades London in campaign against controversial UK spy bill

Warning Brits about the dangers of a new surveillance bill, UK campaigners have flooded London with sinister captioned portraits of Vladimir Putin. The choice of bogeyman however could be better, given the notoriety of Western global spying operations.

The posters and billboards which have been recently appearing all across the British capital, and also in newspapers, including the Guardian and The Telegraph, feature a very distinctive face with a caption that reads: “A government that spies on its citizens. What’s not to like?”

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The Don’t Spy On Us Campaign, which is behind the billboards, is trying to warn British citizens about the danger of the UK governments’ Surveillance Bill currently going through parliament. If passed, it would give “government, intelligence agencies and police the kind of powers you would expect in an authoritarian regime,” the campaign said on its website.

The state will “snoop on our private communications and internet use,” collect and store “data about your emails, phone calls, texts and internet use,” while security agencies will be allowed to hack people’s computers and phones, campaigners stressed.

The Don’t Spy On Us Campaign, a coalition of several pro-privacy organizations, also launched an online petition urging the reformation of the surveillance bill. Photographs of Chinese and North Korean leaders were also used by campaigners, but drew less attention, RT’s Harry Fear reported from London.

“Of course, Putin’s face and the Russian brand, if you will, have resonance here in the UK given all of the demonizing in politics and the media,” Fear said. He noted however that “the British public on average knows a great deal about the American surveillance program, not the Russian or Chinese.”

Indeed many on the internet are puzzled by the choice of the Russian president as the face for the campaign, calling the whole affair “a bit peculiar.”

In particular, some mocked the campaigners’ choice of images, saying that faces of other leaders, such as US President Baraсk Obama or UK Prime Minister David Cameron would have been more suitable.

Mass surveillance practices by the US national Security Agency made headlines worldwide after they were unmasked by whistleblower, Edward Snowden, with the help of the Guardian, back in 2013.

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“Some are saying that comparing the UK, perhaps, uncertain security state future to the American’s campaign and having Obama’s face instead of Putin’s face here may have been a more appropriate marketing and campaigning choice,” Fear said.