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Checking the post this morning, I found that a package I’d been expecting from France had arrived. It’s a software CD, sent by a French friend, containing some audio software which he could no longer use as it won’t run on his new Vista64 machine, which he’d sent me because my very old copy of Cubase VST won’t run on my XP machine (it would run under Win98, but I can’t be bothered to dual boot, and if I did many of the newer toys wouldn’t run anyway on 98, etc, etc).

The CD was in a card envelope, standard 100g one. That in turn was in a Royal Mail plastic bag, upon which were the words-

Our Sincere Apologies

Dear Customer,
I am sorry that the enclosed item, addressed to you, has been damaged whilst in our care. Although we do all we can to prevent such damage, it does occasionally occur.

etc etc

Except the envelope hasn’t been damaged. It has been opened- neatly along the perforations along the top.

Now it doesn’t need much imagination to conclude that this was so somebody could take a look at what was on the CD inside. Was somebody looking for kiddie porn, or “terrorist” plans, and disappointed mightily by the discovery of nothing but Cubasis 4? What I find depressing was my own reaction; the presumption that a functionary of the State has opened my mail.

Now of course I can’t prove that’s true. Maybe it was a post office worker hoping for porn, but it seems to me we’ve now reached the stage where nobody would be surprised at the State routinely going through our mail. We used to criticise the Soviet Union and other dictatorships for such things. Now, we are so beaten by the State that we accept it here. Or at least, I do.

We’re already in a police state, aren’t we?


  1. Pa Annoyed says:

    Customs and Excise can open and examine parcels, to check that duty has been paid on the contents. It’s a bit of an issue for HMRC nowadays, what with eBay allowing anyone to trade across borders, and most people not knowing about all the the tariffs and taxes you are supposed to pay. Lots of people think they can just pop their own possessions in the post and have them pass from one country to another. But even free gifts get taxed if they’re over £7.

    They do spot checks to ensure the paperwork has been filled in correctly and the correct fees paid.

    See the customs and excise site here for the rules – particularly 2.8.

    Nothing so wholesome as mere security forces… you have been touched by agents of The Revenue.
    I feel the need for a shower now, even typing it.

    Not so much the police state, as the tax-everything-that-moves state.
    Death and taxes, my friend,… death and taxes.

  2. IanB says:

    Yes, I think I need a shower too.

    But I’m left to ask, why say it has been damaged, when it has been inspected? Why not say, “this was knowingly and deliberately done”?

  3. RAB says:

    How big is that shower?

    I recently had a package of cds from a friend in the States that had been tampered with too.

  4. Pa Annoyed says:


    Don’t know. Maybe it saves on forms?

  5. IanB says:

    Well, if we’re all taking a communal shower, let’s hope Alisa has had some mail tampered with recently too.

  6. HSLD says:

    The security services have had the ability to covertly open letters and parcels for decades. You have to ask yourself why they would have stopped using it.

    So I also reckon it’s the HMRC.

  7. RAB says:

    I love the post office though, dont you!

    They are right at the forfront for Equal Opportunities Employers.

    They employ dyslexics as postmen.

    How do I know this?

    Well at least half my post is addressed to someone else in another part of Bristol entirely.

    The only thing they have correct is the friggin house number!

    I wonder where all mine are going?

  8. J.T. Wenting says:

    Or the French opened it to see if there was contraband on that CD.
    France has rather strict export regulations for software and other intellectual property, especially relating to encryption technology (I wonder why, they suck at it), and thus it arrived damaged in the UK and was marked as such by HM Royal Mail.

  9. Tatyana says:

    Re: the stamp – it probably has legal explanation, as in it’s a standard issue CYA from lawsuits.

  10. JuliaM says:

    If they wanted you to not know that the package had been opened, you wouldn’t know…. ;)

  11. APL says:

    Arriving back from the US some time ago and unpacking my case, there smack dab on top in the middle was a notice by US customs -

    “We are sorry your luggage has been opened, but …….”
    Bla bla bla …
    ” If you would like assistance with securing your possessions in future please contact …” bla bla.

    Which I thought was amusing in a kinda sick sort of way.

  12. Shigella says:

    No, IanB. Not paranoid.
    My Mum in Oz recently sent me a DVD of her holiday photos. It had been opened and resealed with black and yellow tape saying ‘Security Inspected’. More honest than your mail snoop, I guess.

    I hope they enjoyed the piccies of my 73 year old mother on holidays.
    I also hope the ‘Security Inspector’ wasn’t a kiddie-fiddler himself because there were also pics of her 2yo and 5yo grandsons.

  13. [...] Ian B @ CCinZ appears to have had a CD-ROM scanned by his government as it went through their postal service. [...]

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