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Anonymity protesters besiege GCHQ, drink own urine

An online activist group known as We Are Anonymous has camped outside the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in protest at the UK government's use of its "Tempora" computer system and associated mass surveillance systems.

Far fewer than the predicted 9,000 protesters showed up. However, that may have been partially due to police officers waiting at the local train station allegedly telling protesters that the demonstration was cancelled. The Facebook page suggested that 724 people were "going" to the event, but reports from the site indicated far fewer.

Read more: Civil liberty groups challenge the legality of GCHQ's Tempora snooping programme (opens in new tab)

When police refused to provide a portaloo for the event due to the low turnout, protesters apparently presented police with a potty of urine to give to the GCHQ. The police declined the offer, prompting the protesters to drink from the potty. Protester Mitch Antony explained, "This is a dirty protest against the government taking the p**s. So now we're giving the p**s back."

The website (opens in new tab) publicising the event provided the reason for the protest: "We are told this measure worthy of Orwell is for our own protection we feel that this is simply another lie spun to us and that this massive invasion of privacy is nothing but a method of gathering intell[sic.] to allow greater control of the worlds civil population. The tyranny must end, 1984 was not an instruction manual."

Read more: GCHQ shocked by "intimate bodyparts" while spying on millions of webcams (opens in new tab)

The protest is a response to the documents leaked by Edward Snowden, which detailed the Tempora computer system that allegedly allows access to phone calls, email messages and Facebook data.

The protest may have had some effect on GCHQ, with the BBC (opens in new tab) reporting that staff were driven onto the facility rather than being dropped off outside the complex.