Garvan Walshe was National and International Security Policy Adviser to the Conservative Party until 2008.
Another languid day at the L.A. offices of Kraus & Greenberg film productions. Ceiling fans, rotating slowly, smoke wafting through the air, blinds filtering the amber sunlight.
“What’ve we got, Joe?”
Joe leafs through a pile of scripts. “A couple of romcoms, an arachnoid alien invasion…oh, how about this, The DRIB file?”
“The DRIB file?”
“An Anglo-Chinese spy thriller. Suave Brits, sinister Chinese military hackers, a jilted but devastatingly attractive nuclear scientist bent on revenge. Explosions. Take a look, Dan.”
Dan Greenberg opens a page at random…
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UNIT 61398 — PEOPLE’S LIBERATION CYBERWARFARE COMMAND
PUDONG, SHANGHAI, PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
*A basement conference room. Pools of light illuminate the staff’s working spaces but keep their faces in relative darkness.*
LT GEN WONG points to map displayed on huge plasma screen.
WONG: England is our way in. They are so desperate to make money.
WONG Turns to the officer on his left.
WONG: Major Jiang-
JIANG: We should concentrate on their nuclear infrastructure. We will get good access to their systems, and be able to understand how to disable them from the inside.
WONG: Good. But MI5 will make it difficult. The British intelligence services are better than they were in the Cold War. It won’t be like the Cambridge spies.
WONG: Blackmail? But nobody there cares if you’re gay or used drugs. The English are a depraved people. From spanking to farm animals, nothing bothers them. You have to do something really bad to want to hide it.
JIANG takes a manila folder on which large red Chinese characters are written.
*Close-up of the file. “DRIB” displayed as subtitles.*
JIANG: It’s a new Government database.
WONG: Good to see the Brits are coming around to our way of doing things. What does it store?
JIANG: Every website everyone visits.
WONG: How can they possibly afford that? They couldn’t even build a computer for their health service.
JIANG: The government won’t do it themselves. They’re making every internet company keep the records for them.
WONG: So we can break into them and see what everyone in Britain is up to?
JIANG: Yes…but even better…
*Close-up of a grinning Major Jiang*
JIANG: We can put stuff in there. Look at how some kid hacked into TalkTalk. We can make it look as if people visited terrorist pages, or child porn sites. Or looked into tax evasion [the revenue will be able to use the database, too].
WONG: Tax authorities? Remind me to get onto my accountant about my daughter’s flat in Kensington.
JIANG: Yes, sir.
WONG: So we can rewrite their history, and compromise people.
JIANG: Yes, you know how the British press are: “leaked internet records for the MP for wherever suggest links to indecent images”
WONG: But they won’t prosecute unless they have real evidence, right? They have proper judges, like those irritating ones in Hong Kong.
JIANG: Maybe not, but they’ll have to investigate. We can get troublesome officials taken off sensitive work, and let people know that if they behave well they won’t fear an inquiry.
WONG: It could help our companies bidding for contracts too. We can influence procurement officials by having them accused of corruption.
JIANG: Just like we do here.
WONG points to the ceiling, mouths “bugs”
WONG: And besides, it will sow paranoia and distrust, while distracting their police from real threats. Any real terrorist will spoof his IP address and use encrypted connections anyway.
JIANG: Did you know they wanted to ban encryption?
WONG: Ban encryption? Even we don’t go that far. You might as well try and ban maths. But you’re plan’s a good one. You’d better brush up on your English.
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“I’m not sure it’s plausible Joe. A database of every website everyone’s visited is too obvious a honey pot for hackers. I mean, no serious government would do something that ridiculous. And the whole idea of the Chinese building British nuclear power plants, you’ve got to be kidding…”
“Even if Lucy Liu plays Major Jiang?”
“Now you’re talking, Joe…”