It's recently been announced that MI5 is going to start sending out terror alerts by e-mail. Subscribers to the new service will get an e-mail whenever the threat level increased. Whilst I welcome this as an innovative way to keep the public in a permanent state of alarm, I do feel that much more could be done.
My idea is that we create a new group of officials called Public Panickers. There could be one in every town and city. The Public Panicker’s duty would be to spread alarm and despondency on receipt of an alert from MI5.
The Public Panickers could be stationed in the center of each town. Perhaps they would have a little box to stand in while they were waiting, something like a sentry box. On receipt of an SMS alert from MI5 it would do their duty to leap out of their box and run around shrieking at the top of their voices and rending their clothes. Perhaps a little uncontrolled widdling might also be appropriate. They could also shout appropriate public announcements, such as, ‘you're all going to die’, and ‘only MI5 can save you’. Perhaps they could be equipped with some buckets of stage blood and a few powerful fireworks to help them get their message across.
I've also been thinking about where we could recruit these Public Panickers. I think the answer is to turn to all the journalists who have recently been made redundant. Their previous occupation will have given them good training in the skills needed to be an effective fearmonger. After all, they will have been doing this most of their working lives, especially if they have been employed by one of the tabloids.
ps - An investigation by Spyblog has found that “MI5 new e-mail alert service sends web subscription forms to the US without encryption.
Worse than being of limited value, Spyblog discovered data submitted to the form is sent to US email marketing and tracking firms without the informed consent of subscribers, evidence of either incompetence or "indifference to the privacy and security of the general public". The privacy campaign website described the heavily promoted service as a "rush job" and a "shambles".
"Astonishingly, MI5, the Security Service, part of whose remit is supposed to be giving protection advice against electronic attacks over the internet, is sending all our personal details (forename, surname and email address) unencrypted to commercial third party e-mail marketing and tracking companies which physically and legally in the jurisdiction of the United States of America, and is even not bothering to make use of the SSL / TLS encrypted web forms and processing scripts which are already available to them,"