The occupation of Jacqui Smith’s inbox

Everybody knows that email can be a bind. It might be the IT service most people would struggle to live without, but it is also a frustrating source of distraction and interruptions.

And now, a group of political agitators has turned that frustration into a tool of civil unrest.

In January 2009, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith released a consultation paper discussing plans to intercept and record all communications, whether emails, texts or telephone calls, made by UK citizens – all in the interest of national security.

One scenario mooted in the document envisaged a private company managing the database containing all the intercepted communications.

This document was understandably met with considerable opposition. But perhaps the most ingenious reaction was a plan, organised on Facebook, to get as many people as possible to copy Smith in on all of their emails, for a day.

‘CC Jacqui Smith Day’ is set for 15 June, and the plan already has 2,500 supporters on Facebook. According to a survey published in January, the average UK worker sends 24 emails a day: the Home Secretary can therefore expect at least 60,000 emails on that date. 

Whether this will have any effect is up to Smith, but the very fact that email can be used as an offensive weapon says something about its popularity.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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