Britain's police forces have set up a database which stores images and personal details of thousands of political activists, demonstrators and journalists for up to seven years, according to the Guardian.
Civil liberties campaigners argue that the database may be in breach of the Data Protection Act and Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police - which pioneered the surveillance of protests - told a press conference that he knew where they all lived, before assuring them that the database was merely intended to improve community relations.
"Picture this everyday scenario," he said. "You've left your house in a bit of a rush, and you find yourself without a watch, mobile phone, laptop or Blackberry. The clock in your car's dashboard is flashing a row of zeroes at you, the radio only picks up stations in foreign languages and you live in a county where there are no public clocks.
"You see a Police Community Support Officer further along the road, merrily joshing with some local ragamuffins, so you pull up and ask him for the time. Wouldn't it add that personal touch if he told you, 'Certainly, Mr Smith of 12 Acacia Avenue, it's 0837 hours - and if you turn left at the lights and take the B302 route you'll be just in time for your interview with the green-custard inventor, Leila Deen. She's running a bit late herself actually, so you've got a bit of time to spare. Drive safely now, sir, you wouldn't want to crash into a lorry from Mugabe Removals now, would you?'"
"Of course, you might have every reason to worry about this," he added, "If you had the misfortune to live in some ramshackle third-world country run by an unelected control freak who was obsessed with secrecy, where everyone was treated as a potential criminal and the police were incompetent, swaggering thugs who knew they'd never be prosecuted for slaughtering innocent people."