The path to the beach at Porthcurno, Cornwall. The diamond-shaped sign indicates the presence of underground cables, of which there are many buried under the beach, this place being the landfall of many cables under the Atlantic Ocean. The small building houses the terminals of these cables.
Here on Liberal Democrat Voice, we often debate the subject of government surveillance. But do we ever consider the actual physical network of cables and buildings which underpin that surveillance?
Videographer Mark Thomas has published an extraordinary video on You Tube which shows cables, manhole covers, buildings and the like, to give a detailed picture of how the network, which presumably facilitates surveillance of data, works on the ground.
The film, “The Secrets of Cornwall” is below. It’s nearly an hour-long and is heavy on technical minutiae. It’s worth a bit of patience to watch it the whole way through. Mark Thomas has spent four years tenaciously piecing together publicly available information to produce an extremely thorough and comprehensive piece of work. The facts, plus some informed speculation, are presented in a very attractive way, woven as part of a methodical geographic, south to north, narrative.
Many of us live in or travel around Cornwall, oblivious to its importance as a communications hub. It is remarkable to see that, hidden amongst the charming country lanes, pretty cottages and crowded beaches, there are cables and buildings with massive amounts of data whizzing through them.
It should be emphasised that Mark Thomas carefully liaised with the police and security agencies to produce the video, as he told CornwallLive:
We were working with Special Branch to ensure that we did not endanger national security and we have been given the green light to release the film after it has been with the security services for review.
* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is a councillor and one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.