/ Big Brother watching you- How does that make you feel?

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Blizzard - on 08 Jun 2013
The electronic information that a serious data-miner can glean about any of us is awesome. Before you close your front door behind you, they can know where you’re going, how you’re travelling, whom you’re seeing, what you earn and what you’ve done over the past few years. Microsoft could doubtless read what I’m typing now if they chose.

What is your reaction to these facts?
PopShot on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard: It doesn't honestly bother me. Not being a criminal or terrorist I have nothing to hide and I honestly do not understand why anyone should really care less?
Milesy - on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to Blizzard) It doesn't honestly bother me. Not being a criminal or terrorist I have nothing to hide and I honestly do not understand why anyone should really care less?

Can I ask you a question then. Would you allow a CCTV camera in your living room? Answer this question completely honestly. If you say Yes then you are talking shite :)
Cthulhu on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:
> The electronic information that a serious data-miner can glean about any of us is awesome. Before you close your front door behind you, they can know where you’re going, how you’re travelling, whom you’re seeing, what you earn and what you’ve done over the past few years. Microsoft could doubtless read what I’m typing now if they chose.

What absolute tosh! How can anybody know where I'm going, how I'm going to travel, or who I'm meeting if I haven't arranged it by email?

> What is your reaction to these facts?

Why the hell would anybody bother? I'm really not that interesting!

yeti on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:

when i leave my front door only i know where i'm going, and i can change my mind mid route, and they can't know who i'm seeing, and... there is too much information out there to look through, they only look at you if you're of "interest"
Orgsm on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:

Bollocks, no one knows where I'm going tomorrow , not even me.
yeti on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:

mebbe thats it, i don't twitter, and i don't post my life on face book cos i have too much of a life to find time, though i post stuff on here ....
Blizzard - on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Cthulhu:
> (In reply to Blizzard)
> [...]
>
> What absolute tosh! How can anybody know where I'm going, how I'm going to travel, or who I'm meeting if I haven't arranged it by email?
>

Is it absolute tosh? So you are saying the article I have read is lying or completely exaggerated?
TheDrunkenBakers - on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Milesy:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> [...]
>
> Can I ask you a question then. Would you allow a CCTV camera in your living room? Answer this question completely honestly. If you say Yes then you are talking shite :)

I think you misunderstood his point, which i agree with. I don't care how many cctvs are operational or to an extent what i do on the computer (which is already monitored as soon as i log on to the web).

Nobody of any significance will care what my mundane private life entails so fill yer boots. There must be more interesting people to snoop on.
PopShot on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Milesy: Well I can't see that happening but no for reasons of privacy I would say no. However we aren't talking about a camera inside someones house. We live in dangerous times and I think that the tighter security measures keep us all safe from bad guys basically.
Blizzard - on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Everyone:

NB if you don't know what a data miner is, take a look:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_mining
Milesy - on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

Doesn't matter. Exact same principal. Imagine all the drug dealers, domestic abuse perpetrators etc you could catch if you set up CCTV in everyones home but only used it to watch people of interest.. i.e. people you know are involved in a certain type of criminality. Behind closed doors is where everything happens and the police / security services can only operate on either intelligence or by physically seeing something on the street.
Milesy - on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to Milesy) Well I can't see that happening but no for reasons of privacy I would say no. However we aren't talking about a camera inside someones house. We live in dangerous times and I think that the tighter security measures keep us all safe from bad guys basically.

"who would give up Essential Liberty, to purchase a little Temporary safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety"
-- Benjamin Franklin
PopShot on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Milesy:
> (In reply to TheDrunkenBakers)
>
> Doesn't matter. Exact same principal. Imagine all the drug dealers, domestic abuse perpetrators etc you could catch if you set up CCTV in everyones home but only used it to watch people of interest.. i.e. people you know are involved in a certain type of criminality. Behind closed doors is where everything happens and the police / security services can only operate on either intelligence or by physically seeing something on the street.

I would have no objection to that either as long as it was strictly controlled and not used on non-criminals.
toad - on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard: This might be of interest - not security, not anti-terror

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&
Skol on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:
My Mrs knew this long before the earliest spy!
CCTV doesn't get up earlier in the morning, so that it can hate you for longer:-(
mkean - on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:
It is possible to get lots of information about people from their computer use but it doesn't really bother me. Google knows when I am going to be late for work before I do but as them knowing this doesn't hurt me and they feel they can use it then I couldn't give a rodents colon about them knowing.
Don'tTellHim Pike - on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard: Cameron is a tosser.














































I've now been arrested.
Chris the Tall - on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:
> Microsoft could doubtless read what I’m typing now if they chose.
>
You are typing on a public forum on the Internet. Of course people know what you are typing!

Dave Perry - on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:

If you are that worried, smash your PC up , throw away your mobile, pull the plug out of the land-line, stay inside or only go outside wearing a burka - and when communicating to friends face to face use semaphore only.
ice.solo - on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Beat me to it!:
> (In reply to Blizzard)
>
> Bollocks, no one knows where I'm going tomorrow , not even me.

to a degree. im assuming its based patterns. if 70% of the time you leave your home to go to an office, 20% to the supermarket, 10% to the same friends etc, then its not hard to predict using time, date etc.
the 5% of the times you leave when the window of impulsive, random behaviour isnt that large - made smaller by other options (whats your disposable income? are you likely to randomly visit a nightclub district after 11pm? do you have a passport? how much gas do you tend to by each time etc).
yes, the option of changing your mind exists - but usually within parameters that are observable to those who care enough to.

no one sane is into being intentionally observed in their living rooms. but theres a large spectrum between that and being generally monitored as a mass and then picked out due to aberrations. invading personal space is not the same as watching what goes on in public places.

im not into either, but am not hysterical about it one way or the other. i dont see being occasionally watched as any great invasion when it contributes to things like minimizing terrorism and holliganism - which i see as a bigger intrusion on my existence.
Jim Fraser - on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:

Same old story. Crime is easy. Don't use a phone, computer, car, or go to the town centre.
PopShot on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to Jim Fraser:
> (In reply to Blizzard)
>
> Same old story. Crime is easy. Don't use a phone, computer, car, or go to the town centre.

The Police aren't hard enough on the criminal class in my opinion.
PopShot on 08 Jun 2013
In reply to GrumpySod: So you should be frankly.
Tony Naylor on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> We live in dangerous times and I think that the tighter security measures keep us all safe from bad guys basically.

OK, I'm calling troll right here.

howifeel - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard: I am scared of the law. I fought the law and it won't admit it, does not need to in fact, also now there is money in data sorting and the game is a new one. We will be complaining about things that didn't even exist as fantasies soon. That stalking and hacking and phone tapping is challenged is a laugh, most of us, nearly all of us can only sense it but not prove it. That data compiling and organising happens unchallenged is obvious and there is a career in it so long as any organised society or group can and needs to defend or assert itself.

As we know from how pay rises are defended as sectional interests, teachers, nurses, industries, so too will increasingly we find career data interests. Make an equal society and there are only decent facts to collect. Maintain an unequal society and collect dirt to continue the divide. The new mental attitudes that we will develop as a conscious result are going to be different.

I am not saying it is not important to have records but I do think that as you say we really are vulnerable. Of what, new things are arising mentally and economically, more of the former I think. We have a very big infrastructure to sustain and now from the internet we have a mirror that is being tested every day. It will fall apart but the technology will remain. It is blindingly obvious that the free are a threat to the free elsewhere as usual.

When divided we arise again (Hopefully not from more wars than are global already)various data chasing forms of ID checking will be in operation all at odds with each other and making it difficult if you live in a semi-authoritarian regime or one with privatised security operators selling each other dodgy data.

How can you prove it? I wasn't even there may be the truth but how can you prove it when we already struggle to challenge science in the run up to this.
John_Hat - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:

I work in this field (Big Data), and to be honest, unless the software and hardware that governments use is decades ahead of the market then it isn't possible on a macro scale.

Yes, it is possible if you focus on one individual, pull all the data pertaining to them (their phone records give you most of it and their bank current account the rest) and do a deep dive into their life, but that - for one individual - is a lot of work, and creates stupendous amounts of data.

I suspect that the individuals are identified by traditional means, and then the data is pulled, as the idea of doing macro-scale analysis on billions of humans would reduce most supercomputers to burnt-out wrecks.

Over 200 million emails are sent every 60 seconds. In the same timescale 3000 photos and 30 hours of video are uploaded to the internet. It's just too big for the governments to be doing large scale macro trawls.

Hence, it comes back to, if you are not attracting the attention of the authorities now, then they are not going to pull your data, as they ain't going to be able to find you.

Incidentally, the above I think is true *now*. In five years? Who knows?
Padraig on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to 2halfs:
> (In reply to Blizzard) I am scared of the law. I fought the law and it won't admit it, does not need to in fact, also now there is money in data sorting and the game is a new one. We will be complaining about things that didn't even exist as fantasies soon. That stalking and hacking and phone tapping is challenged is a laugh, most of us, nearly all of us can only sense it but not prove it. That data compiling and organising happens unchallenged is obvious and there is a career in it so long as any organised society or group can and needs to defend or assert itself.
>
> As we know from how pay rises are defended as sectional interests, teachers, nurses, industries, so too will increasingly we find career data interests. Make an equal society and there are only decent facts to collect. Maintain an unequal society and collect dirt to continue the divide. The new mental attitudes that we will develop as a conscious result are going to be different.
>
> I am not saying it is not important to have records but I do think that as you say we really are vulnerable. Of what, new things are arising mentally and economically, more of the former I think. We have a very big infrastructure to sustain and now from the internet we have a mirror that is being tested every day. It will fall apart but the technology will remain. It is blindingly obvious that the free are a threat to the free elsewhere as usual.
>
> When divided we arise again (Hopefully not from more wars than are global already)various data chasing forms of ID checking will be in operation all at odds with each other and making it difficult if you live in a semi-authoritarian regime or one with privatised security operators selling each other dodgy data.
>
> How can you prove it? I wasn't even there may be the truth but how can you prove it when we already struggle to challenge science in the run up to this.

Anyone care to explain WTF this means? I gave up after reading 5/6 words! Jeez....Is it Franglais?
felt - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to John_Hat:

Do you work with yottabytes of information like these guys?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_Data_Center

As I'm sure you know, "to store a yottabyte on terabyte sized hard drives would require a million city block size data-centers, as big as the states of Delaware and Rhode Island."
digby - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:

Big Brother is also very incompetent.
We don't know how many 'terrorist' incidents this has foiled in the states, but it certainly doesn't seem to stop routine massacres by gun toting nuts, which dwarf any other threat. And which bizarrely don't inspire the sort of panic that the former does.
ice.solo - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to digby:

very good point. another 5 killed by a psycho flipping out in a uni yesterday. barely even makes headlines these days.
JSA - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to felt:
That processing power will be slow when they work out how to use Graphene and move away from silicon. The mind boggles at the processing power, which is predicted to be almost infinite.
David Riley - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:

In America there are lots of guns to protect people. But the guns get everywhere so it's actually worse.
Surveillance information will get everywhere too and make us less safe.
gribble - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to 2halfs:

That's a remarkable post.
Cthulhu on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:
> (In reply to Cthulhu)
> [...]
>
> Is it absolute tosh? So you are saying the article I have read is lying or completely exaggerated?

Link the article and we'll make our own minds up. At the moment I think your OP is alarmist and exaggerated.

Yes, people could monitor my emails and phone calls, but that really cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, translate to them knowing where I'm going, by which means, and who I'm meeting, if I choose not to arrange these things by phone or email. Unless you're suggesting that data mining also includes the ability to read my thoughts? You're panicking about nothing.

elsewhere on 09 Jun 2013
Our govt is not the DDR and it shouldn't adopt a DDR scale of snooping just because the technology is there. Our privacy is supposed to be better than it was in the DDR.
Thelongcon - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

This was taken from Reddit.
The question was "I believe the government should be allowed to view my e-mails, tap my phone calls, and view my web history for national security concerns."

This is a reply:

"I live in a country generally assumed to be a dictatorship. One of the Arab spring countries. I have lived through curfews and have seen the outcomes of the sort of surveillance now being revealed in the US. People here talking about curfews aren't realizing what that actually FEELS like. It isn't about having to go inside, and the practicality of that. It's about creating the feeling that everyone, everything is watching. A few points:

1) the purpose of this surveillance from the governments point of view is to control enemies of the state. Not terrorists. People who are coalescing around ideas that would destabilize the status quo. These could be religious ideas. These could be groups like anon who are too good with tech for the governments liking. It makes it very easy to know who these people are. It also makes it very simple to control these people.

Lets say you are a college student and you get in with some people who want to stop farming practices that hurt animals. So you make a plan and go to protest these practices. You get there, and wow, the protest is huge. You never expected this, you were just goofing off. Well now everyone who was there is suspect. Even though you technically had the right to protest, you're now considered a dangerous person.

With this tech in place, the government doesn't have to put you in jail. They can do something more sinister. They can just email you a sexy picture you took with a girlfriend. Or they can email you a note saying that they can prove your dad is cheating on his taxes. Or they can threaten to get your dad fired. All you have to do, the email says, is help them catch your friends in the group. You have to report back every week, or you dad might lose his job. So you do. You turn in your friends and even though they try to keep meetings off grid, you're reporting on them to protect your dad.

2) Let's say number one goes on. The country is a weird place now. Really weird. Pretty soon, a movement springs up like occupy, except its bigger this time. People are really serious, and they are saying they want a government without this power. I guess people are realizing that it is a serious deal. You see on the news that tear gas was fired. Your friend calls you, frantic. They're shooting people. Oh my god. you never signed up for this. You say, f*ck it. My dad might lose his job but I won't be responsible for anyone dying. That's going too far. You refuse to report anymore. You just stop going to meetings. You stay at home, and try not to watch the news. Three days later, police come to your door and arrest you. They confiscate your computer and phones, and they beat you up a bit. No one can help you so they all just sit quietly. They know if they say anything they're next. This happened in the country I live in. It is not a joke.

3) Its hard to say how long you were in there. What you saw was horrible. Most of the time, you only heard screams. People begging to be killed. Noises you've never heard before. You, you were lucky. You got kicked every day when they threw your moldy food at you, but no one shocked you. No one used sexual violence on you, at least that you remember. There were some times they gave you pills, and you can't say for sure what happened then. To be honest, sometimes the pills were the best part of your day, because at least then you didn't feel anything. You have scars on you from the way you were treated. You learn in prison that torture is now common. But everyone who uploads videos or pictures of this torture is labeled a leaker. Its considered a threat to national security. Pretty soon, a cut you got on your leg is looking really bad. You think it's infected. There were no doctors in prison, and it was so overcrowded, who knows what got in the cut. You go to the doctor, but he refuses to see you. He knows if he does the government can see the records that he treated you. Even you calling his office prompts a visit from the local police.

You decide to go home and see your parents. Maybe they can help. This leg is getting really bad. You get to their house. They aren't home. You can't reach them no matter how hard you try. A neighbor pulls you aside, and he quickly tells you they were arrested three weeks ago and haven't been seen since. You vaguely remember mentioning to them on the phone you were going to that protest. Even your little brother isn't there.

4) Is this even really happening? You look at the news. Sports scores. Celebrity news. It's like nothing is wrong. What the hell is going on? A stranger smirks at you reading the paper. You lose it. You shout at him "f*ck you dude what are you laughing at can't you see I've got a f*cking wound on my leg?"

"Sorry," he says. "I just didn't know anyone read the news anymore." There haven't been any real journalists for months. They're all in jail.

Everyone walking around is scared. They can't talk to anyone else because they don't know who is reporting for the government. Hell, at one time YOU were reporting for the government. Maybe they just want their kid to get through school. Maybe they want to keep their job. Maybe they're sick and want to be able to visit the doctor. It's always a simple reason. Good people always do bad things for simple reasons.

You want to protest. You want your family back. You need help for your leg. This is way beyond anything you ever wanted. It started because you just wanted to see fair treatment in farms. Now you're basically considered a terrorist, and everyone around you might be reporting on you. You definitely can't use a phone or email. You can't get a job. You can't even trust people face to face anymore. On every corner, there are people with guns. They are as scared as you are. They just don't want to lose their jobs. They don't want to be labeled as traitors.

This all happened in the country where I live.

Ask yourself a question. In the story I told above, does anyone sound safe?

I didn't make anything up. These things happened to people I know. We used to think it couldn't happen in America. But guess what? It's starting to happen.

I actually get really upset when people say "I don't have anything to hide. Let them read everything." People saying that have no idea what they are bringing down on their own heads. They are naive, and we need to listen to people in other countries who are clearly telling us that this is a horrible horrible sign and it is time to stand up and say no."

Not sure how true it is, but it's definitely something to think about.
malk - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Cthulhu:
> Unless you're suggesting that data mining also includes the ability to read my thoughts? You're panicking about nothing.

Whistleblower was 'Horrified' That Government Could 'Literally Watch Your Ideas Form As You Type Them'



malk - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Andrewmorts: Hague with the 'nothing to hide' argument:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZA1nozrc-fQ
BigBrother - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to digby:
> (In reply to Blizzard)
>
> Big Brother is also very incompetent.

That is a bit blunt :(

malk - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Padraig: we have no power against the machine...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9YS6hVuxhs
malk - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard: how does it feel Zuckerberg?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1IoW_WlXbA
Cthulhu on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to malk:
> (In reply to Cthulhu)
> [...]
>
> Whistleblower was 'Horrified' That Government Could 'Literally Watch Your Ideas Form As You Type Them'

Dear lord! Why don't you conspiracy theorists ever take the time to READ what is written before spouting your half-baked nonsense.

I wrote, quite clearly, that it would be impossible to know my plans IF I CHOSE NOT TO COMMUNICATE THEM BY EMAIL OR PHONE.

IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO READ PEOPLES' THOUGHTS!

malk - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Cthulhu: it's also a trivial task to log and monitor your every cursor movement..
elsewhere on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Cthulhu:
Dear lord! Why don't you read what malk wrote and note the word "Type".

It is perfectly possible to watch ideas form as people type them when those keystrokes get sent to a search engine for predictive search.
Cthulhu on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to malk:
> (In reply to Cthulhu) it's also a trivial task to log and monitor your every cursor movement..

Are you being deliberately obtuse? Is it not clear that not using email also precludes the use of a mouse???

Cthulhu on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to Cthulhu)
> Dear lord! Why don't you read what malk wrote and note the word "Type".
>
> It is perfectly possible to watch ideas form as people type them when those keystrokes get sent to a search engine for predictive search.

Dear lord! Why don't you read back from the original comment and note my specific reference to NOT typing (or using the phone)?

Malk was replying to my original post that there is no way of reading peoples' thoughts. If I choose not to commit those thoughts to written, typed or transmitted media, it is not possible to know where I'm going, by which means, or who I'm planning to meet before I open my front door - which is what Blizzard originally claimed!

Your brains are all addled. I'm out of here...

Mike7 on 09 Jun 2013
Data mining, for any number of reasons, is in practice rather less effective than that Wikipedia article might lead you to believe.

In fact I rather wish people would stop using Wikipedia as some kind of factually accurate, benchmark of reference; it is often very inaccurate and can be quite misleading.
Blizzard - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Cthulhu:

I was citing something I read in a newspaper, they were claiming it. I simply stated it on UKC to see what response it would gain.
malk - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Cthulhu: you're the one being obtuse- vested interests?
Cthulhu on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to malk:
> (In reply to Cthulhu) you're the one being obtuse- vested interests?

Yes that's right. I can see your every move. Stop playing with your willie, and PUT THAT GERBIL DOWN!

Cthulhu on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to malk:
> (In reply to Cthulhu) you're the one being obtuse- vested interests?

In all seriousness, though - how can you not see that even if my emails can be read, and my phone calls listened to, if I don't write or type my plans, and I don't discuss them on the phone, then how can anyone know my thoughts? Seriously?

In reply to Cthulhu: You're arguing an irrelevant technicality.
Cthulhu on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

No, I'm arguing against my original reply being misquoted.
John_Hat - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to felt:
> (In reply to John_Hat)
>
> Do you work with yottabytes of information like these guys?
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_Data_Center
>
> As I'm sure you know, "to store a yottabyte on terabyte sized hard drives would require a million city block size data-centers, as big as the states of Delaware and Rhode Island."

OK, so what are they storing it on? It's an interesting question. And, even more interstingly, what are they storing it on which means that it can be accessed, interrogated, indexed, and basically used? Otherwise your govenment storing everything doesn't mean much.

It's like saying that the government has a bullet with your name on it, and then them showing you a city-sized pile of bullets and a man with tweezers. Whilst technically true, its not an immediate threat(1).

Tapes will do it, but access times are horrendous. Basically if you were to run a query on who wrote the words "we will set off the bomb at" AND is already a registered nutter then all parties, including yourself, would probably have died a natural death before the query stopped running.

I strongly suspect the wiki article is a little over-hyped. Unless someone knows a type of storage medium that will hold trillions of times more data than your average hard drive with access times comparable with solid state storage.

-----------------

(1) One could argue that in this case it is much more effective for the government to choose the bullets at the bottom of the pile nearest them and shoot the people who they name, whether they are guilty or innocent, in the hope that the real villans buried in the pile will worry enough to cease and desist, but that would be far too cynical, wouldn't it.........
elsewhere on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Cthulhu:
> In all seriousness, though - how can you not see that even if my emails can be read, and my phone calls listened to, if I don't write or type my plans, and I don't discuss them on the phone, then how can anyone know my thoughts? Seriously?

The obvious way is to ask those you talk to.
felt - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to John_Hat:

Yes, I find it odd that the photo of the Utah Data Center reveals a set of buildings that will be considerably smaller than the state of Delaware. As to how they are storing it, perhaps they are just writing it in smaller characters so that as it were more words fit on the page, like with certain editions of the Bible (sorry, I don't know the technical names for storage methods).
John_Hat - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to felt:
> (In reply to John_Hat)
>
> As to how they are storing it, perhaps they are just writing it in smaller characters so that as it were more words fit on the page, like with certain editions of the Bible (sorry, I don't know the technical names for storage methods).


Nah, doesn't work that way. Not going to go into the depths of how stuff is stored magnetically, but read here if you are interested.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory_storage_density
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpendicular_recording

elsewhere on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to John_Hat:
Don't get too complacent about data mining, it's gone beyond SQL.

For example, the Google Object Store does the computationally intensive work when the information is stored. Subsequently the far more numerous searches are computationally easy. That's what allows us to search for unlikely combinations of words that Google hasn't encountered before.

It would be interesting to know how much data Google searches compared with much communication metadata is generated (call from, call to, time, duration, locations etc is pretty modest, maybe a kilobyte per phone call or email?).

Technically I think the data mining may be more viable than you think but having enough people to do something useful with the results is another matter.

Even if using data mining against the general public actually makes us safer, I'm still against it. Insert the usual Benjamin Franklin quote here.
John_Hat - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:

OK, but then you have the problem of doing the computationally intensive when stored problem. 200 million emails every minute (and every other kind fo data in their relevent quantities) being the incoming problem.

Also, my comment re query was in relation to recalling the data from tape, and was more about the problem with the medium than the query mechanism.

Basically there's three issues:

Storing at the rate it arrives
Storing the total volume
Searching the stored data.

Whilst metadata etc makes the searches easier, it makes the storing harder (and, of course, creates more data to store).......
aln - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: Troll
elsewhere on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to John_Hat:
> Storing at the rate it arrives
Youtube processes 72hrs video per minute - 72GB/min or 14kB per person per day for every person in the world?
> Storing the total volume
Google 850TB, 130kB per person in world, but 850TB was a 2006 estimate
> Searching the stored data.
Google does that routinely


> Whilst metadata etc makes the searches easier, it makes the storing harder (and, of course, creates more data to store).......
Metadata is structured, compact and easier to store than the communication data.

Overall the numbers are in starting to look sensible, the quoted $20M budget for Prism might be sensible as they're just accessing Google/Facebook etc servers without building Google/Facebook scale infrastructure.
aln - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard: And all argue away with your fannybaws shite semantics bollocks. What about andrewmorts post?
Jim Fraser - on 09 Jun 2013
off-duty - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to John_Hat)
>
> Overall the numbers are in starting to look sensible, the quoted $20M budget for Prism might be sensible as they're just accessing Google/Facebook etc servers without building Google/Facebook scale infrastructure.

http://www.zdnet.com/the-real-story-in-the-nsa-scandal-is-the-collapse-of-journalism-7000016570/
off-duty - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to aln:
> (In reply to Blizzard) And all argue away with your fannybaws shite semantics bollocks. What about andrewmorts post?

It's fannybaws shite paranoid bollocks ?
Blizzard - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:

What is Prism?
elsewhere on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:
Do Google for nsa prism, plenty of newspaper stories.
tony on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:
> (In reply to elsewhere)
>
> What is Prism?

That has to be one of the funniest posts for a long time.
Blizzard - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:

Right, not read the news stories as yet, should they make me feel better or worse? ( I am quite a skeptic when it actually comes to all news that is broadcast, published, as I believe there usually is an angle and spin on it)

Tony, what is so funny about my post?
toad - on 10 Jun 2013
Ken Lewis - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to John_Hat:
> (In reply to elsewhere)
>
>
> Basically there's three issues:
>
> Storing at the rate it arrives
> Storing the total volume
> Searching the stored data.
>
> Whilst metadata etc makes the searches easier, it makes the storing harder (and, of course, creates more data to store).......

Is Google's technology and business model scaleable?

I'd think it is quite easily scaleable for a government with a budget.
malk - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to Jim Fraser:

much respect, but i think i would have told my wife..

malk - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to malk: ahh she could be incriminated if he said he did- duh

any views on the interview? should he be prosecuted?
Boogs on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:

This may help explain PRISM

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-06-06/meet-prism-us-984xn-us-governments-internet-espionage-super...

But I'm sure there are more concise explainations elsewhere online .
malk - on 10 Jun 2013
jkarran - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

> Well I can't see that happening but no for reasons of privacy I would say no. However we aren't talking about a camera inside someones house.

Generally you're talking about several, one or two on most of your web-connected devices and with microphones. How much invasion of privacy are you willing to tolerate? Phone records, email records, phone content, email content, search history, access to 'cloud' stored documents, access to locally stored documents, bank accounts, confidential work, gps logs, live gps data, covert control of your webcams and phone microphone... And there'll be more that people are lobbying for and working at behind closed doors. One bit at a time applied to someone else, someone 'probably' guilty of something and for the greater good doesn't sound so bad but how much of that are you willing to risk being subjected to should you ever deservedly or otherwise attract the attention of the state?

> We live in dangerous times and I think that the tighter security measures keep us all safe from bad guys basically.

Do we and do they? Life's never been safer for most of us. As to how effective our security measures are when compared to more or less palatable alternatives, that's debatable.

jk
Ken Lewis - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to malk:
> (In reply to malk) ahh she could be incriminated if he said he did- duh
>
> any views on the interview? should he be prosecuted?

I have no idea, but I would love to read a history textbook published in 2100 on the subject and see if he is portrayed as hero of the people or villanious enemy of the state.

Ken Lewis - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to jkarran:
> (In reply to PopShot)
>
> [...]
>
> Generally you're talking about several, one or two on most of your web-connected devices and with microphones. How much invasion of privacy are you willing to tolerate? Phone records, email records, phone content, email content, search history, access to 'cloud' stored documents, access to locally stored documents, bank accounts, confidential work, gps logs, live gps data, covert control of your webcams and phone microphone... And there'll be more that people are lobbying for and working at behind closed doors. One bit at a time applied to someone else, someone 'probably' guilty of something and for the greater good doesn't sound so bad but how much of that are you willing to risk being subjected to should you ever deservedly or otherwise attract the attention of the state?
>
> jk


Indeed.

Anyone not understanding jkarran's point should definately read The Silent State buy Heather Brooke*, especially the chapter about criminalising complaint, as applied to complaining to your local authority about things as mundane as a weekly bin collection.

*most difately a good journalist and not a conspirancy loon.
David Barratt - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:Tomorrow, I will be getting up at 7:30am, and get a shower. I will eat three Wheatabix with some fruit. I will watch some news and leave the house at 8:21. I will walk to the Bus stop on Portobello Road in Edinburgh where I will get either the No. 4 or No. 26 to the first stop on the West approach road. I will be wearing an orange Berghaus rucksack which will contain my lunch. My lunch, as always, will include a pork pie....... Sorry, am I boring you?

I suspect nobody would have a great deal of interest in my day as like others, I'm not a criminal or terrorist. Spy away my curious friends. Maybe I'm naive, but I'm just sceptical that the government has the time or inclination to invade Joe Blogs pivacy.
malk - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to Tony Naylor: it bears repeating - from a guy who actually knows what's going on...
EeeByGum - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to David Barratt:

> I suspect nobody would have a great deal of interest in my day as like others, I'm not a criminal or terrorist. Spy away my curious friends. Maybe I'm naive, but I'm just sceptical that the government has the time or inclination to invade Joe Blogs pivacy.

I am kind of with you, but then I heard an interesting theory on Radio 4's More or Less. Imagine for the sake of argument that the intelligence services developed an algorithm that mines recorded data and is able to catch 99% of terrorists. Assume that there are say 3000 terrorists in this country. Obviously almost all of the terrorists would be caught. But so would 600,000 innocent people in this country (assume 60 million population) i.e. the 1% error rate of the algorithm. Now back in reality land, there is no way an algorithm so accurate could be conceived which means the error rate would be even higher.

Add into the mix the secretive nature of anti-terrorist legislation and policy which tends to err on the side of caution by incarcerating first and asking questions much later when you have been locked up for 10 years. Sure, you have nothing to hide, but try telling that to someone when you have been locked up in Guantanamo Bay for 10 years!
RCC - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to David Barratt:

> I suspect nobody would have a great deal of interest in my day as like others, I'm not a criminal or terrorist. Spy away my curious friends. Maybe I'm naive, but I'm just sceptical that the government has the time or inclination to invade Joe Blogs pivacy.

You are probably correct for you and for the vast majority of the public. However, I do think you are naive if you can't foresee any situation in which the habits or communications of a law abiding citizen might be of interest to the government or intelligence services.

You cannot have democracy in which the laws do not apply to the government, and if you wouldn't be happy having a public webcam in your house, then you shouldn't be happy with one that can only be seen by the government.

Tony Naylor on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:
Interesting and formidably informed comment from an NSA whistleblower here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yB3n9fu-rM

I'm intrigued by his comment that surveillance by default allows the state to build a case against you retrospectively. Hadn't thought of that one.
off-duty - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to RCC:
> (In reply to David Barratt)
>
>
> You cannot have democracy in which the laws do not apply to the government, and if you wouldn't be happy having a public webcam in your house, then you shouldn't be happy with one that can only be seen by the government.

The only issue being that currently the laws do apply to the govt. and no concrete evidence appears to have been presented with respect to prism that the government are breaching laws.
RCC - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> The only issue being that currently the laws do apply to the govt. and no concrete evidence appears to have been presented with respect to prism that the government are breaching laws.

I agree, it was a general comment addressing the suggestion that there was nothing to worry about if the government had access to online communication without judicial oversight.

malk - on 10 Jun 2013
EeeByGum - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> The only issue being that currently the laws do apply to the govt. and no concrete evidence appears to have been presented with respect to prism that the government are breaching laws.

Presumably, that is because the only people who have access to GCHQ is the government? But is it ok, because the government say GCHQ are not breaking the law so we should all be reassured.
EeeByGum - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to malk: True - didn't an analysis of friends on Facebook find that the actual number was something nearer to 4 degrees of separation due to certain individuals acting like hubs?
malk - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to EeeByGum: ps. 9 to power of 9 > US population...
ads.ukclimbing.com
malk - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty: so it's arguably within the law- tell us what you really think lawman;)
off-duty - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
> [...]
>
> Presumably, that is because the only people who have access to GCHQ is the government? But is it ok, because the government say GCHQ are not breaking the law so we should all be reassured.

No. Because RIPA legislation covers even the actions of the GCHQ, and I have yet to see any evidence that that is bring breached.
Even the "whistleblower" starts his allegations with some sort of complaint about governments being able to intercept information - which, in the UK at least, is certainly not news.
EeeByGum - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> No. Because RIPA legislation covers even the actions of the GCHQ, and I have yet to see any evidence that that is bring breached.

I agree with this. The problem, is that there is no way of finding any evidence since any request for information would be reject on the basis of national security.

About 15 years ago when I was young, naive and believed in the rule of law, I would have agreed with you, but I am afraid that it wouldn't surprise me if there was a team of people plugged into the telephone network listening to calls in real-time.

The problem these days is there seems to be a whole load of morally questionable stuff going on for which the excuse is "But we aren't breaking the law." If we are to trust our governing institutions, this isn't good enough IMO especially when our own politicians seem to be benefiting personally from such activity.
elsewhere on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
Just because something is legal doesn't mean it is desirable or proportionate. For example, undercover policement (eg Bob Lambert) fathering children with environmental activists may have broken no laws but it was neither desirable nor proportionate.
ex0 - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:

Since no one has mentioned VPN's yet, you can easily anonymize your internet connections so that there's no log of what you do online. Mullvad.net is pretty good, they don't respond to LEO requests because there's no data for them to release. 5E/month for internet privacy isn't half bad.

tony on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to ex0:
> (In reply to Blizzard)
>
> Since no one has mentioned VPN's yet, you can easily anonymize your internet connections so that there's no log of what you do online. Mullvad.net is pretty good, they don't respond to LEO requests because there's no data for them to release. 5E/month for internet privacy isn't half bad.

I hate to say it, but that seems both naive and missing the point, the main point being that you shouldn't have to anonymise what you're doing. And fro all you know, Mullvad might be a front for a government agency which wants to trawl for people who do want to anonymise their internet activity. I certainly wouldn't rely on it being a guarantee of privacy.
off-duty - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:
> (In reply to off-duty

> About 15 years ago when I was young, naive and believed in the rule of law, I would have agreed with you, but I am afraid that it wouldn't surprise me if there was a team of people plugged into the telephone network listening to calls in real-time.
>

And if this was carried out on the basis of an intercept warrant authorised by the Home Secretary it would be entirely legal.

> The problem these days there seems to be a whole load of morally questionable stuff going on for which the excuse is "But we aren't breaking the law." If we are to trust our governing institutions, this isn't good enough IMO especially when our own politicians seem to be benefiting personally from such activity.

Bear in mind the law in question is generally RIPA and the article 6 right to privacy with the requirement that any breach is legal, justified, proportionate and necessary.
Not sure what the examples of politicians benefiting personally are
EeeByGum - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to ex0: Don't get too excited about VPNs. It would appear that if you use an encrypted VPN and the US ask the UK to obtain details about you from the VPN provider, they will simply roll over and kiss your ass goodbye.

http://www.scmagazine.com/hide-my-ass-service-not-as-secret-as-suspect-likely-believed/article/21288...
EeeByGum - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> And if this was carried out on the basis of an intercept warrant authorised by the Home Secretary it would be entirely legal.

But if the US obtained data from the UK by covalent means or otherwise, decided you were public enemy number one and ordered your extradition, you would have no defence whatsoever because the UK would just let you go without question. You would never know if GCHQ or other UK authorities had conspired against you.
David Martin - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

You seem to have a surprising level of trust in government. When it comes to issues that are claimed to be of national security, either with the best or the most sinister if intentions, our govt has proved capable of utterly abusing the means at their disposal.

The Iraq invasion with its spurious WMD threat should provide ample example. Despite the entire human and technical capability of our intelligence apparatus, a political agenda so clear school kids could see it, and massive implications of misinterpreting the information to hand, misinterpretation is exactly what happened, right in front of our eyes, with a gathering snowball effect.
David Barratt - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to EeeByGum: You and RCC both make good points. I was slightly playing devils advocate, but I'd agree that there is potentially for miss/over use of powers. Terrorism does seem to be banded around as a reason for less socially acceptable acts.
off-duty - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
> [...]
>
> But if the US obtained data from the UK by covalent means or otherwise, decided you were public enemy number one and ordered your extradition, you would have no defence whatsoever because the UK would just let you go without question. You would never know if GCHQ or other UK authorities had conspired against you.

Until you stood trial in the US, recieved full disclosure of the case against you as is normal in western legal systems and were protected by US legislation which provides an even stronger defence against evidence obtained inadmissibly ("fruit of the poisoned tree") than the UK legal system.
off-duty - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to David Martin:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
> You seem to have a surprising level of trust in government. When it comes to issues that are claimed to be of national security, either with the best or the most sinister if intentions, our govt has proved capable of utterly abusing the means at their disposal.
>
> The Iraq invasion with its spurious WMD threat should provide an example. Despite the entire human and technical capability of our intelligence apparatus, a political agenda so clear school kids could see it, and massive implications of misinterpreting the information to hand, misinterpretation is exactly what happened, right in front of our eyes, with a gathering snowball effect.

With respect though the WMD story involves the use of the word "intelligence" it has very little relevance to the current discussion about the legality or otherwise of internet "snooping" or "data mining"
EeeByGum - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> Until you stood trial in the US, recieved full disclosure of the case against you as is normal in western legal systems and were protected by US legislation which provides an even stronger defence against evidence obtained inadmissibly ("fruit of the poisoned tree") than the UK legal system.

And that is assuming you can afford to defend yourself I guess? I am sorry but I don't share your optimism for the rule of law or that the rule of law will protect the little guy when he is in the firing line of the state.
teflonpete - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to EeeByGum)
> [...]
>
> Until you stood trial in the US, recieved full disclosure of the case against you as is normal in western legal systems and were protected by US legislation which provides an even stronger defence against evidence obtained inadmissibly ("fruit of the poisoned tree") than the UK legal system.

After a decade in Guantanamo with no charge?
ex0 - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:

Sorry, but nobody in their right mind who knows anything about the internet uses services that connect with the USA in any way.

In the same way no one should be using BT for anything because they release details without a court order.

Routing traffic straight to a european country (avoiding Germany because their data protection laws are shit) is both cheap and effective. And like I said, any VPN provider worth using doesn't keep details of anything - all they know is you connected to the VPN on whatever IP and that's it. No data to obtain.
David Martin - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to ex0:

Really? My place of work deals with sensitive intellectual property. We accepted Google's offer of hosting our email system, despite it all being routed through in the US, on account of the "safe-harbour" arrangements. This was done after much discussion between people in their "right minds". I think many will have fallen into similar traps, believing their data was safe.
David Martin - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to David Martin)
> [...]
>
> With respect though the WMD story involves the use of the word "intelligence" it has very little relevance to the current discussion about the legality or otherwise of internet "snooping" or "data mining"

I think the two are very closely linked. The GWOT acts on data obtained through numerous means. I expect email communications and internet snooping to be used as readily as intercepted mobile phone coms when it comes to arrest, rendition or drone strikes.
off-duty - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to ex0:
> (In reply to EeeByGum)
>
> Sorry, but nobody in their right mind who knows anything about the internet uses services that connect with the USA in any way.
>
> In the same way no one should be using BT for anything because they release details without a court order.
>
> Routing traffic straight to a european country (avoiding Germany because their data protection laws are shit) is both cheap and effective. And like I said, any VPN provider worth using doesn't keep details of anything - all they know is you connected to the VPN on whatever IP and that's it. No data to obtain.

As long as the internet continues to produce this amount of ill informed "expert" advice, the government won't need a "snoopers charter" ;-)
RCC - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> And if this was carried out on the basis of an intercept warrant authorised by the Home Secretary it would be entirely legal.

Legal yes, but right?

I find it slightly sinister that a member of the government has the power to issue warrants; a power that (for good reason) is normally given only to the judiciary.
off-duty - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to RCC:

Unelected judiciary or elected secretary of state, you pays your money you takes your choice.

Bear in mind intercept warrants must initially be authorised by (for the police) the chief constable as well.
Further oversight also provided by the Interception of communications commissioner and also the investigatory powers tribunal.
tony on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to RCC)
>
> Unelected judiciary or elected secretary of state, you pays your money you takes your choice.
>
> Bear in mind intercept warrants must initially be authorised by (for the police) the chief constable as well.

Who is unlikely to oppose an application for a warrant originating from his or her own force, I would imagine, especially if there is any sniff of a terrorist issue.

> Further oversight also provided by the Interception of communications commissioner and also the investigatory powers tribunal.

After the event, if a complaint is made, which is only going to happen if an individual knows their communications are being intercepted.

RCC - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> Unelected judiciary or elected secretary of state, you pays your money you takes your choice.


It isn't about elected vs unelected, it's about separation of powers (something we have little enough of in the UK as it is).

If the home secretary can issue warrants, then in one person, you have legislative, executive and judicial powers. I think that is a bad idea.
RCC - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:


Besides, if the fact that the home secretary is elected offers us some safeguards, can you point me to a list of warrants that have been issued by her under RIPA along with the circumstances of each so that we can hold her accountable?

off-duty - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to tony:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> [...]
>
> Who is unlikely to oppose an application for a warrant originating from his or her own force, I would imagine, especially if there is any sniff of a terrorist issue.
>
> [...]
>
> After the event, if a complaint is made, which is only going to happen if an individual knows their communications are being intercepted.

There's a lot of "imagining" going on. The IOCCO engage in proactive regular reviews and auditing of warrants that have been issued.
And, perhaps ironically, this can all be read about on the interwebs.
off-duty - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to RCC:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
>
> Besides, if the fact that the home secretary is elected offers us some safeguards, can you point me to a list of warrants that have been issued by her under RIPA along with the circumstances of each so that we can hold her accountable?

Obviously giving the exact details would kind of defeat the whole point of intercept in the first place, but why not look at the report published by IOCCO on their website.
John_Hat - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to John_Hat)
> [...]
> Youtube processes 72hrs video per minute - 72GB/min or 14kB per person per day for every person in the world?
> [...]
> Google 850TB, 130kB per person in world, but 850TB was a 2006 estimate
> [...]
> Google does that routinely
>
>
> [...]

Ho-hum. Yes, but we were talking earlier about yottabytes, not what you mention, i.e. a petabyte (~1000TB) which is a billionth of the size.

Slight difference is magnitude. I could hold a petabyte in 250 hard drives, which would fit in a room in my house. That amount of data is pretty easy to live with, index and query. Yotta? I'm not so sure. How do you store the bl**dy stuff for starters?

250 billion hard drives? Not going to happen. Tape could store the data, but then you have a *huge* latency issue that effectively makes the use of the data impossible.

Which is kind of the point I was starting with and why I was saying that a yottabyte data centre sounded fishy to me. Your turning around and saying that google stores a petabyte hence its easy to scale up I don't think holds.

This article:

http://singularityhub.com/2009/11/03/enter-the-yottabyte-one-billion-petabytes/

Makes the point:

A yottabyte would equal about 1 million times the current storage capacity of Google, or about 2000 times the storage capacity of every personal computer in the world in 2009.

off-duty - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to David Martin:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> [...]
>
> I think the two are very closely linked. The GWOT acts on data obtained through numerous means. I expect email communications and internet snooping to be used as readily as intercepted mobile phone coms when it comes to arrest, rendition or drone strikes.

If you are suggesting that the interpretation of the data obtained by intercept and other intelligence sources is wrong eg WMD, then surely that is an argument to collect more and better data?
tony on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to David Martin)
> [...]
>
> If you are suggesting that the interpretation of the data obtained by intercept and other intelligence sources is wrong eg WMD, then surely that is an argument to collect more and better data?

Surely the problem with the WMD was that the available data didn't fit the political agenda and was put to the side, and the made-up nonsense was wheeled out to meet the political needs at the time?
off-duty - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to tony:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> [...]
>
> Surely the problem with the WMD was that the available data didn't fit the political agenda and was put to the side, and the made-up nonsense was wheeled out to meet the political needs at the time?

I have to admit I am not as au fait with the exact details of the WMD debacle as I could be, but what I am aware of is it's irrelevance to a discussion about oversight of interception of communication.
RCC - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> Obviously giving the exact details would kind of defeat the whole point of intercept in the first place, but why not look at the report published by IOCCO on their website.

The same commissioner who is appointed by the home secretary's boss, and who has to go back to the home secretary's boss every few year and ask if they can keep their job?

I'm not arguing that the current commissioner doesn't provide appropriate oversight, or that the current home secretary is up to no good, but even by UK standards, it does not seem like a particularly robust system.
elsewhere on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to John_Hat:
Facebook has 1.1 billion users now showing the storage & processing technologies have already scaled to a significant fraction of the world's population.

Trebling that sort of number is no huge leap in technology and would cover every phone & internet user.

Yottabytes are a silly irrelevance to the requirements of communications metadata. A yottabyte is 45 years of 1MB/s video for everybody on earth or a lifetime of personal CCTV recording!

10e24/7e9/1e6/60/60/24/365 = 45

Do you think yottabytes are relevant and what is your estimate of the storage requirements for communications metadata?
Wookster - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:
I'm not going to make a comment - they might see it !!

off-duty - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to RCC:

You are aware that the commissioner is typically an extremely senior retired judge?
You know it's a 3 year fixed term, (though it can be renewed)?
Who would you suggest should have oversight (bearing in mind we are talking about access to top secret classified intelligence) ?
RCC - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> Who would you suggest should have oversight (bearing in mind we are talking about access to top secret classified intelligence) ?

You've already pointed out that the commissioner is a judge or retired judge. As such, why shouldn't a judge issue warrants in the first place? The application of the law is, after all, their job.

off-duty - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to RCC:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
> [...]
>
> You've already pointed out that the commissioner is a judge or retired judge. As such, why shouldn't a judge issue warrants in the first place? The application of the law is, after all, their job.

Because generally, one of the important things about top secret intelligence is that as restricted a number of people get to view it as possible. So the likelihood is that one judge would be appointed to approve the application and we are back to allegations that they are only approving warrants to keep their position....
felt - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to John_Hat:

This is the article that the Wiki page on the Utah Data Center used as a reference for the yottabyte claim.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/1

Seems kosherbyte to me.
RCC - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> Because generally, one of the important things about top secret intelligence is that as restricted a number of people get to view it as possible. So the likelihood is that one judge would be appointed to approve the application and we are back to allegations that they are only approving warrants to keep their position....

There would not have to be a single judge responsible for issuing ALL warrants though. Furthermore, a judge appointed to an appropriate court cannot be sacked by the PM, and doesn't have to ask to keep his job every few years.
Blizzard - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to Boogs:

Thanks for that.

Its facts like this that I dislike:

Formally, in exchange for immunity from lawsuits, companies like Yahoo and AOL are obliged to accept a “directive” from the attorney general and the director of national intelligence to open their servers to the FBI’s Data Intercept Technology Unit, which handles liaison to U.S. companies from the NSA.

Not sure how this directly equates to the UK, but nevertheless, its not good.
malk - on 10 Jun 2013
Blizzard - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to malk:

and

There has been “continued exponential growth in tasking to Facebook and Skype,” according to the 41 PRISM slides. With a few clicks and an affirmation that the subject is believed to be engaged in terrorism, espionage or nuclear proliferation, an analyst obtains full access to Facebook’s “extensive search and surveillance capabilities against the variety of online social networking services."

Not that I have anything to hide, but perhaps people are monitoring the conversation I am having on FB right now. That's plain spooky.
Ridge - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to ex0:
> (In reply to Blizzard)
>
> Since no one has mentioned VPN's yet, you can easily anonymize your internet connections so that there's no log of what you do online. Mullvad.net is pretty good, they don't respond to LEO requests because there's no data for them to release. 5E/month for internet privacy isn't half bad.

Or simply use a paper based single use encryption system such at BATCO.

3E AQ FGH GRID 6M DF SD AS OVER...

Or get a life?
dissonance - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to Ridge:

> Or simply use a paper based single use encryption system such at BATCO.

you need to distribute those though and not sure how you think it would work for internet traffic?
Be interesting to see how much information they are gathering. If they really do have decent inroads into email providers etc that could knacker the cunning save messages as draft and share them that way. Since would be an easy scenario to start targeting.


> Or get a life?

Can see plenty of peeps, especially businesses being more than slightly upset with these stories. Seems like Echelon and then some.
off-duty - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to RCC:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
> [...]
>
> There would not have to be a single judge responsible for issuing ALL warrants though. Furthermore, a judge appointed to an appropriate court cannot be sacked by the PM, and doesn't have to ask to keep his job every few years.

The IOCC can be "sacked" only in the same way that a judge can be sacked.
It seems a pity that these respected and trusted judges, considered worthy of making decisions on intercept warrants suddenly become lackspittle bootlickers of the government, desperate to keep their jobs, following retirement and appointment as IOCC.

And there is still the problem of appointing one judge to deal with top secret intercept warrants, even if you allow "any" judge to deal with your common or garden serious organised criminals - still at least that makes it easier for the police than having to go via the home sec.
Trevers - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:
> (In reply to David Barratt)
>
> [...]
>
> I am kind of with you, but then I heard an interesting theory on Radio 4's More or Less. Imagine for the sake of argument that the intelligence services developed an algorithm that mines recorded data and is able to catch 99% of terrorists. Assume that there are say 3000 terrorists in this country. Obviously almost all of the terrorists would be caught. But so would 600,000 innocent people in this country (assume 60 million population) i.e. the 1% error rate of the algorithm. Now back in reality land, there is no way an algorithm so accurate could be conceived which means the error rate would be even higher.

That doesn't make sense.

'Catch 99% of terrorists' is not the same thing as 'definitely make a mistake 1% of the time'.

Which isn't to say that I would agree with a terrorist catching algorithm, or sleep safer in my bed, but I think that vastly oversimplifies things to try and scare people.
Lantys Tarn - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:

personally I don't have a problem, I don't have anything to hide and if monitoring the internet catches / prevents terrorism / terrorists or criminals then I have no problem with it, I assume most other law abiding people wouldn't either.
RCC - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> The IOCC can be "sacked" only in the same way that a judge can be sacked.

That just isn't true. You do know the process by which a high court judge can be dismissed I presume?

> And there is still the problem of appointing one judge to deal with top secret intercept warrants,

I still don't see why that is a problem. Regardless of which judge issues the warrant, the intelligence (for each request) will still be seen by no more people than currently see it. It would also have the advantage of being handled by someone with legal training and some time to actually consider the case. Apparently, the home secretary issues 5 or 6 warrants per day. Presumably she has other duties as well!


In any case it seems fairly self evident to me that it is a fundamentally bad idea for the person who makes the laws to be the same person who applies them and enforces them.

John_Hat - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Lantys Tarn:
> (In reply to Blizzard)
>
> personally I don't have a problem, I don't have anything to hide and if monitoring the internet catches / prevents terrorism / terrorists or criminals then I have no problem with it, I assume most other law abiding people wouldn't either.

erm, most people (I think) find that the government monitoring your every movement, monitoring and reading emails you send to family and friends, and constructing a database of the above, including who you phone, when you phone them, and for how long [1], is

a) slightly creepy
b) an unacceptable intrusion of the governemnt into our private lives
c) a destruction of civil liberty
d) makes it look like 1984 didn't go far enough

[1] Which is exactly what has occurred, to US citizens by the US governement for definite, to UK citizens by the US government probably, and to UK citizens by the UK government possibly.

I am genuinely extremely worried about where our society is going, and very concerned about how this appears to have been put in place with little oversight.
TryfAndy on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Lantys Tarn:
> (In reply to Blizzard)
>
> personally I don't have a problem, I don't have anything to hide and if monitoring the internet catches / prevents terrorism / terrorists or criminals then I have no problem with it, I assume most other law abiding people wouldn't either.

So you'd be happy if I pop round later tonight to check your browser history then?

As for 'preventing terrorism', don't be so stupid; that's a convenient excuse that gets people scared, and scared people are easier to control. Setting up such mechanisms for mass observation under the umbrella of 'protecting us' is just putting Orwellian apparatus into place without the mass populace realising it.
EeeByGum - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Lantys Tarn:

> personally I don't have a problem, I don't have anything to hide and if monitoring the internet catches / prevents terrorism / terrorists or criminals then I have no problem with it, I assume most other law abiding people wouldn't either.

And what if you are arrested because the security services make a mistake? Ok, so you are innocent and hopefully your court ruling held behind closed doors would find you not guilty, but that doesn't mean your life might not be completely wrecked.

You only have to see how the innocent nurse Rebecca Layton has had her life and career destroyed by false accusation.

Presumably that is ok by you? That you can be arrested because someone else planted dodgy software on your PC that was seen as a security threat?
MG - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Lantys Tarn:
> (In reply to Blizzard)
>
> personally I don't have a problem, I don't have anything to hide

You must be a very boring person if that is really true. I have lots of things to hide (my finances, my employment contract, what I discuss with my wife, sex, going to the loo) but that doesn't make me a criminal. Lots of things are nobody's business but mine and I don't want others snooping on them, particuarly seceretly.

On the other hand, clearly some level of monitoring is needed for society to be sustained. A balance is needed and it is a tricky one which the government and society to try to get right. Those shrieking that *all* monitoring is self-evidently terrible, are wrong; but those claiming that any level of monitoring is OK are also wrong (or deluded).
ex0 - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to John_Hat:

You should be more worried about how a lot of people (even displayed in this thread) simply don't care if they are being snooped. 'If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear' is dangerous rhetoric but seems to be depressingly effective.
Sir Chasm - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to EeeByGum: But surely Rebecca Layton had her "life and career destroyed" because it was done in open court? If it had been done behind closed doors no one would have known about it and not being found guilty would have been the end of the matter.
Jimbo W on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to MG:

What concerns me most is the possibility, once for whatever reason flagged, of retrospective data trawls. These have the capability of producing a highly unbalanced view of "me", and my ideological leanings, and could be used selectively to produce an unjustified, but apparently evidenced, narrative or bias that could be made to support the flag. Such selection bias makes self justification of a program of invading privacy very easy, potentially productive, but not necessarily at all accurate.
Jimbo W on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to MG:

The other thing that concerns me is the motive of those looking at the data. It seems there are a few private companies contracted to carry out data collection and formatting for the NSA. Can individual people, companies or agencies viewing this data be trusted not to use it for particular agendas, political or otherwise... ...I'm thinking of leaking details of unfavourable, but private details, e.g. the extramarital affairs of political candidates who would be expedient to undermine.
MG - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Jimbo W:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> What concerns me most is the possibility, once for whatever reason flagged, of retrospective data trawls. These have the capability of producing a highly unbalanced view of "me", and my ideological leanings, and could be used selectively to produce an unjustified,

Are you trying to say you are not a raving religous-nut-self-building-treehugging-communist-ecoloon :-)
Jimbo W on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to MG:

Quite so! ;)
robthered - on 11 Jun 2013
The main issue here is the 'exception paradox'. It works best in relation to spatial organisation but translates to online activity too.

Basically, citizens expected everyday rights are suspended by exceptional means in order to prevent, and protect citizens from, something exceptional (terrorism/rioters etc) disrupting citizens expected everyday rights.

What, essentially, is taking place is a proliferation of conditions which demand the citizen proves their innocence in advance of entry or acess to a given 'enclave'. This requires submitting information and handing over privacy at every turn - from airport scanners to the kinds of data trawling/storing analytics being discussed here. Many will put forward the 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' argument but the fact is that measures which are introduced with the rhetoric of protection are increasingly placing the innocent in the same category, and the same conditions, as the guilty and the perceived threatening Other.

It's also worth saying that it's not that 'they' know what you're going to do next. It's that 'they' have increasingly sophisticated recognition and detection algorhythms for what 'we' do most of the time. From online activity, from how long people usually spend standing still in public places, there are metrics which assume a central normativity in action. And this modelling of the 'normal' citizens has serious repercussions for identity, difference/diversity and equality.
John_Hat - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to ex0:
> (In reply to John_Hat)
>
> You should be more worried about how a lot of people (even displayed in this thread) simply don't care if they are being snooped. 'If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear' is dangerous rhetoric but seems to be depressingly effective.

It is depressing isn't it? I do wonder if there is an age split, with younger folk feeling more comfortable with their lives on view (livejournal/myspace/facebook/etc) and older folk who grew up before t'internet being more horrified...
TryfAndy on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to John_Hat:
> (In reply to ex0)
> [...]
>
> It is depressing isn't it? I do wonder if there is an age split, with younger folk feeling more comfortable with their lives on view (livejournal/myspace/facebook/etc) and older folk who grew up before t'internet being more horrified...

I'm in my mid-20's and have no desire for my web browsing to be monitored by any government.
ads.ukclimbing.com
MJ - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to TryfAndy:


I'm in my mid-20's and have no desire for my web browsing to be monitored by any government.

I'm in my mid-40's and don't really care if they do. They're also welcome to rummage through my dustbins to their hearts content and tap my telephone calls.
In answer to a similar post you replied to earlier. No, I wouldn't let you (or any general member of the public) do the same.
TryfAndy on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to MJ:
> (In reply to TryfAndy)
>
> In answer to a similar post you replied to earlier. No, I wouldn't let you (or any general member of the public) do the same.


I don't see them as any more special or welcome to go through my stuff than any member of the public; just because of their job, I don't grant them any higher status to intrude into my privacy than any other person.
ex0 - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to MJ:

I've always been of the opinion that the younger are more likely to be the ones that guard their privacy. From what I've seen here (checking a couple profiles) those that don't care either way tend to be older. My situation is the same as TryfAndy's.
MJ - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to TryfAndy:

just because of their job, I don't grant them any higher status to intrude into my privacy than any other person.

It's because it's their job that I would let them.
Trained to ignore the vast majority of content, even if it's unpleasant, immoral, disgusting or repellent to them. That's what makes them different to the General Public.
TryfAndy on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to MJ:

What I do online is nobody's business but my own. I've not consented to be monitored, and never will. If it was my job to kick you in the nuts, would you be happy with me doing so?

If only preventing gov't monitoring was as easy as this...
https://twitter.com/julesmattsson/status/344496340375568384/photo/1
Ridge - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to ex0:
> (In reply to MJ)
>
> I've always been of the opinion that the younger are more likely to be the ones that guard their privacy. From what I've seen here (checking a couple profiles) those that don't care either way tend to be older. My situation is the same as TryfAndy's.

I'd disagree completely with that. I'd say the young are quite happy to upload pretty much anything and everything with no thought to how it could be used or what terms they're accepting when they tick the 'I agree' box.
Here's a picture of me, my house, when we're on holiday. he's what I think of my employer, here's me with my knob out, here's the girlfriends muff, here's my strava profile showing the very expensive bike I ride, when and where I ride it and where my house is. Absolutely massive internet footprint.
MJ - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to TryfAndy:

What I do online is nobody's business but my own. I've not consented to be monitored, and never will.

I haven't consented either, just don't care if they want to have a look at my browsing history if they so wish. In fact, it's easier for them to do it 'secretly'. At least that way, I'll never have to go through the hassle of having to be issued with a Warrant etc.
Think there is a difference in philosophy here. You see the Government/Police/Intelligence Services as being malevolent, I see them simply as doing a job.
dek - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:
>
> What is your reaction to these facts?

About time we had a gubmint that 'listened' to the people.
Ridge - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to MJ:

Pretty much my take on it. I can certainly see the potential for abuse of such technology, but the idea there's a huge shadowy organisation where black-clad figures sit in darkened control rooms monitoring TryfAndy's online orders from Argos is laughable. I think people like to believe that though, it adds a certain frisson to think you're fighting the state with every click of the mouse. Unless you're uploading a youtube clip with the text ME AN JAMAL BEHEDDIN A KUFIR INNIT BLUD LOL!!!! I suspect no-one in MI5 is really fussed.
Jim C - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Cthulhu:
> (In reply to Blizzard)
> [...]
>
> What absolute tosh! How can anybody know where I'm going, how I'm going to travel, or who I'm meeting if I haven't arranged it by email.

Maybe not know before hand, but the can easily track you using software that is legal for tracking your kids, or employees not sure about the legality of using it elsewhere ( like your partner,)

Either way, the security services can track you by your phone movement ( and so can others)
Dauphin - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Ridge:
> (In reply to MJ)
>
> Pretty much my take on it. I can certainly see the potential for abuse of such technology, but the idea there's a huge shadowy organisation where black-clad figures sit in darkened control rooms monitoring TryfAndy's online orders from Argos is laughable. I think people like to believe that though, it adds a certain frisson to think you're fighting the state with every click of the mouse. Unless you're uploading a youtube clip with the text ME AN JAMAL BEHEDDIN A KUFIR INNIT BLUD LOL!!!! I suspect no-one in MI5 is really fussed.

Depends dunnit, blud. Plenty of previous form with suppression of democracy, trade union & political party infiltration. No, nothink to worry about there blud.

d

dissonance - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Dauphin:

> Depends dunnit, blud. Plenty of previous form with suppression of democracy, trade union & political party infiltration. No, nothink to worry about there blud.

or if the papers slip them a few quid.
off-duty - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to TryfAndy:
> (In reply to MJ)
> [...]
>
>
> I don't see them as any more special or welcome to go through my stuff than any member of the public; just because of their job, I don't grant them any higher status to intrude into my privacy than any other person.

And the best thing is, if a company or commercial data miner wants to look at your internet footprint then all they need is the tick on the terms and conditions box when you start using the software.
If a member of the public wants to stalk you or do you harm then they can view your open profiles or hack away using YouTube videos as instructions and free software.

But if "the government" wants to look at what you are doing it has to at the very least make a request under RIPA and have a justified, necessary and proportionate reason for doing so.
I think that's a fair amount of checks and balances to start with.
off-duty - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Ridge:
> (In reply to MJ)
>
> Pretty much my take on it. I can certainly see the potential for abuse of such technology, but the idea there's a huge shadowy organisation where black-clad figures sit in darkened control rooms monitoring TryfAndy's online orders from Argos is laughable. I think people like to believe that though, it adds a certain frisson to think you're fighting the state with every click of the mouse. Unless you're uploading a youtube clip with the text ME AN JAMAL BEHEDDIN A KUFIR INNIT BLUD LOL!!!! I suspect no-one in MI5 is really fussed.

The most frightening thing for the paranoid internet activist is the thought that nobody actually cares about them... ;-)
dissonance - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> The most frightening thing for the paranoid internet activist is the thought that nobody actually cares about them... ;-)


well unless they are randomly associated with a newspaper story, probably cos they live in the basement and then the papers decide since they are eccentric they must be guilty and slip a few quid to some private investigator for the details.
Its not really a difficult concept that although someone would need to be really bored to spy heavily on me that I understand plenty of people do have things to hide and that the more extensive the surveillance options then the more chance for misuse.
off-duty - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to dissonance:

Maybe I should have been clearer, when I said "nobody", I was referring to the shadowy cabal of figures in darkened rooms gazing at flickering screens, supported by armies of black helicopters with covert capabilities.

We really don't care about you.... ;-)
dissonance - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> We really don't care about you.... ;-)

bugger i was hoping you were. I feel unloved now.

I am always curious as to whether it is deliberate, confusing conspiracy theorists with privacy advocates?
ex0 - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to dissonance:

I wouldn't hold it against him, I don't think he's doing it on purpose. Some people just can't see / don't want to see the difference.
off-duty - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to dissonance:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
> [...]
>
> bugger i was hoping you were. I feel unloved now.
>
> I am always curious as to whether it is deliberate, confusing conspiracy theorists with privacy advocates?

No, it's just a natural consequence when the two points of view become conflated and for example, people start complaining about being watched, rather than the regulation of the watchers.

Unless you are planning on just poking my eyes out....
;-)
MJ - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to dissonance:

confusing conspiracy theorists with privacy advocates?

Obviously depends on your personal definition of private. I wouldn't want my neighbours looking through my windows with binoculars, but can't see any harm with my Internet usage being occasionally and discretely monitored.
On the other hand, some people by sheer principal, would see any such action as a breach of their privacy.
off-duty - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
Meanwhile the Guardian continue to retract their allegations:-

The Guardian revealed last week that seven technology companies – Google, Facebook, Skype, PalTalk, Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo – were involved in the Prism surveillance scheme run by the NSA.
The Guardian understands that the NSA approached those companies and asked them to enable a "dropbox" system whereby legally requested data could be copied from their own server out to an NSA-owned system. That has allowed the companies to deny that there is "direct or indirect" NSA access, to deny that there is a "back door" to their systems, and that they only comply with "legal" requests – while not explaining the scope of that access.


Tony Naylor on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to ex0:
> Some people just can't see / don't want to see the difference.

Yep. Quite why believing you have a right to privacy makes you a paranoid loon or a 'conspiracy theorist' is beyond me.
dissonance - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> Meanwhile the Guardian continue to retract their allegations:-

sorry, where is the retraction?
off-duty - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to dissonance:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
> [...]
>
> sorry, where is the retraction?

Yep. I was looking for a nice formal retraction too.
There's a big difference between "the government have a secret back door into all the service providers data with their complicity" and "the service providers ftp data to the state when it is legally requested"
tony on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

Where does this quote come from:
"the government have a secret back door into all the service providers data with their complicity"

I've had a look but I can't find it in any of the Guardian pieces. Do you have a source?
elsewhere on 12 Jun 2013
I'm amused to think that maybe my work emails are setting of triggers. We use a TLA that's benign & innocent in the field but normally military or terrorist related. It's a bit like starting emails with "Dear IED User".
MJ - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:

I'm amused to think that maybe my work emails are setting of triggers. We use a TLA that's benign & innocent in the field but normally military or terrorist related. It's a bit like starting emails with "Dear IED User".

They might look at it once, realise the context and source is benign and then ignore it in future.
off-duty - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to tony:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
> Where does this quote come from:
> "the government have a secret back door into all the service providers data with their complicity"
>
> I've had a look but I can't find it in any of the Guardian pieces. Do you have a source?

The two quotes in my post were summaries of the Gaurdian's position. I had hoped this was obvious as the second quote summarises the direct quote from the Guardian in my 0908 post.

{Edited this reply - due to finding the article I was looking for}

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data

Taken from the headline "Top-secret Prism program claims direct access to servers of firms including Google, Apple and Facebook"
and within the article various claims that
Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies - the existence of a back door is denied by the companies.

The subsequent 10th June article :- http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data
contains a number of quotes where senior execs are attempting to deny the existence of a back door - with the implication that either they or the US govt are lying.
dissonance - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> The two quotes in my post were summaries of the Gaurdian's position. I had hoped this was obvious as the second quote summarises the direct quote from the Guardian in my 0908 post.

I am not really sure why you feel the Guardian should retract an interpretation you make but lets have a look.

> Taken from the headline "Top-secret Prism program claims direct access to servers of firms including Google, Apple and Facebook"
> and within the article various claims that
> Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies - the existence of a back door is denied by the companies.

Ok, so which bit do you think the Guardian should retract?
The bit about direct access is taken from the powerpoint presentation from, alledgedly the NSA. So whilst apparently slightly inaccurate it is not the Guardians failing but instead the power point writer exaggerating.

> contains a number of quotes where senior execs are attempting to deny the existence of a back door - with the implication that either they or the US govt are lying.

Again, which bit is wrong? Its worth noting as well the companies are stating they are being gagged for some reports.
As tech stories go particular since they couldnt exactly get the exact details fact checked in advance seems pretty accurate.
tony on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to tony)
> [...]
>
> The two quotes in my post were summaries of the Gaurdian's position. I had hoped this was obvious as the second quote summarises the direct quote from the Guardian in my 0908 post.

They're not necessarily very accurate representations.
>
> {Edited this reply - due to finding the article I was looking for}
>
> http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data

The only place in that article where the words 'back door' occur is in the statement from Google. I'm not sure how that translates to a Guardian position.
ads.ukclimbing.com
off-duty - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to tony and dissonance : -
Indeed I apologise profusely. The fault is all mine.

In no way did the Guardian ever intend to imply or suggest anything other than that the US agencies had set up a file transfer system to receive legally obtained data from the service providers.

All this talk about "direct access to servers", "back doors" and circumventing legal procedures was entirely creations of my own fertile imagination and in no way suggested or implied by the Guardian (or indeed the Post)

(Even by articles like this :- Technology giants struggle to maintain credibility over NSA Prism surveillance http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/09/technology-giants-nsa-prism-surveillance )
dissonance - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> All this talk about "direct access to servers", "back doors" and circumventing legal procedures was entirely creations of my own fertile imagination and in no way suggested or implied by the Guardian (or indeed the Post)

The direct access to servers is a direct quote from the NSA internal document.
Since this was denied by the companies there would be three possibilities.
Either it was a secret backdoor, the companies were gagged or the power point writer (not the newspapers reporting it) was in error.
I suggest you write to the NSA and request the person who wrote it be disciplined.
tony on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

You're not really helping yourself.
douwe - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
Just give it up, you can't be always right. You might even be mostly wrong.
elsewhere on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
NSA access isn't illegal if it is to johhny foreigners like ourselves or US citizens communicating with johhny foreginers like ourselves.
off-duty - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to dissonance:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
> [...]
>
> The direct access to servers is a direct quote from the NSA internal document.

It's an interpretation of what the slide actually says :-
"The tech companies' denials have concentrated on suggestions that they had given the NSA "direct access" to their servers. The phrase comes from a Prism presentation slide that states: "Collection directly from the servers of these US service providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.""

> Since this was denied by the companies there would be three possibilities.
> Either it was a secret backdoor, the companies were gagged or the power point writer (not the newspapers reporting it) was in error.
> I suggest you write to the NSA and request the person who wrote it be disciplined.

Or possibility 4 - that the journalist has misinterpreted the slide.

When I saw the slides I though it sounded like some sort of internal collation/data mining tool for examining service provider data held by the agency, or a tool for making requests for that data from the service provider. I took the first slide to be explaining - If you want to know all about your suspect then use all the live data intercepts etc to see what he is doing now (UPSTREAM) and then use PRISM to view everything that is held on him/by him by the various service providers.

I was a bit surprised that the slides were labelled as Top Secret, Not for foreign dissemination as they didn't appear to be THAT revelatory.
Obviously if there was direct access, unauthorised access or similar then the Guardian would have had a well deserved scoop, and a very big scandal would have been exposed.

You would hope that the Guardian might have had some more information to clarify their position - given their access to 1)the remainder of the Powerpoint which presumably explains PRISM in more detail 2)access to the whistleblower who is presenting himself as some kind of NSA computer specialist 3)possibly the other documentation that they have had leaked to them.

They certainly appear to have chased down the "direct access to servers" trail as hard as they were able, going after your suggestions 1 and 2 - before recanting in their subsequent article.



off-duty - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to tony:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
> You're not really helping yourself.

Am I to take it that your viewn is that the Guardian has maintained an entirely consistent position through all their reports?
off-duty - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> NSA access isn't illegal if it is to johhny foreigners like ourselves or US citizens communicating with johhny foreginers like ourselves.

I believe so. I guess that is the hazard of using US based social media.

A potential scandal might be if the UK has been requesting the NSA to use this access to provide GCHQ with intelligence on UK suspects that WERE NOT being looked at already by the NSA.
This probably would be a circumvention of the UK legal process.

(Though I suppose the wriggle-around might be if the UK spies were to inform the NSA that there was UK based terrorist with US connections/US targets - then the UK suspect might fall under the NSA spotlight.....)
Duncan Bourne - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Andrewmorts:

Hear hear very well said!
Duncan Bourne - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to Blizzard)Not being a criminal or terrorist I have nothing to hide

You are already a criminal it's just that no body has yet found out or has decided which part of your ordinary life to criminalise yet.
Ridge - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to dissonance)
> [...]

> I was a bit surprised that the slides were labelled as Top Secret, Not for foreign dissemination as they didn't appear to be THAT revelatory.

You've never worked with our American friends, have you. Everything ends up with stuff like NATO TOP SECRET AUSCANUKUS EYES ONLY stamped all over it, the bloody weather forecast, a collection of open source newspaper articles translated from the Bratislava Telegraph & Argus...
dissonance - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> It's an interpretation of what the slide actually says :-

ah so you think they should read collection directly from the servers as not being, well, direct access.
If they were using a jump box or other access then that isnt collection directly.

> Or possibility 4 - that the journalist has misinterpreted the slide.

if you say so.

> Obviously if there was direct access, unauthorised access or similar then the Guardian would have had a well deserved scoop, and a very big scandal would have been exposed.

you do realise that wasnt the only part of the story broken?

> You would hope that the Guardian might have had some more information to clarify their position - given their access to 1)the remainder of the Powerpoint which presumably explains PRISM in more detail 2)

not necessarily. You seem to be busy inventing scenarios and then going aha!

> access to the whistleblower who is presenting himself as some kind of NSA computer specialist

you do realise computer specialist covers a huge range of disciplines?
From what I have seen he was sys admin so generally wouldnt be an expert in any particular user application although could have a scary amount of access depending on the system build.

> 3)possibly the other documentation that they have had leaked to them.

yes they could but they could also have a secret moon base. Shall we stick to what is known?

> They certainly appear to have chased down the "direct access to servers" trail as hard as they were able, going after your suggestions 1 and 2 - before recanting in their subsequent article.

Apart from they havent, all they have done is built on the story as more information has emerged.
They published the facts as they had them it isnt like they could phone up the f*cking NSA and ask for them to confirm is it.
dissonance - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> I believe so. I guess that is the hazard of using US based social media.

or cloud based applications, voip etc etc.

elsewhere on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
We can rely men like Norman Bettison who "would have faced dismissal for gross misconduct if he had not quit with his full pension, the police watchdog has found" to act with integrity and protect our freedoms. We can rely on the people who ran the infiltration of climate change groups who have never planted a bomb or shot anybody to maintain sense of proportion and avoid general surveillance of the public.
Padraig on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

LOL I REALLY do hope you are paid to trawl through this shite...If you are, ya ain't getting paid enough! Snowden says we can do it (RIPA providing) on-line. Off-duty on-line? Gotta be a joke there........BUT I like ya style
off-duty - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to dissonance:

The Guardian got their story wrong. You can blame a badly written leaked slide presentation if you want, but they appear to have let their eagerness to get a scoop over-rule any professional duty to report responsibly.

Undoubtedly there are other aspects to the leaks that are interesting and more than news-worthy but the true scandal was in the allegations of direct back door access to service providers and the potential circumvention of the legal process.

If you consider that following up a series of stories containing headlines impugning the credibility of the service providers, suggesting legal processes were likely to have been circumvented and proclaiming the existence of "back door access", with a story where they actually admit that the access isn't direct, the service providers were telling the truth and the legal process is actually followed is "building on a atory" then you are perfectly entitled to your opinion.

By shooting for (and missing) the big scandal they have undermined the impact of the other information leaked.
off-duty - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> We can rely men like Norman Bettison who "would have faced dismissal for gross misconduct if he had not quit with his full pension, the police watchdog has found" to act with integrity and protect our freedoms. We can rely on the people who ran the infiltration of climate change groups who have never planted a bomb or shot anybody to maintain sense of proportion and avoid general surveillance of the public.

What is your solution? With respect to surveillance I would suggest robust legislation which delineates and defines their powers, a system of outside inspection, parliamentary committees with oversight and a free press that is keen to expose any misdeeds.

I don't want to defend Bettison but his resignation prior to any disciplinary hearing was required by the Police Authority - he wanted to stay on.
As an aside - what a bizarre enquiry though - gross misconduct because of a dispute over whether he could refer himself to the IPCC before the Police Authority did.



off-duty - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to Padraig:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
> LOL I REALLY do hope you are paid to trawl through this shite...If you are, ya ain't getting paid enough! Snowden says we can do it (RIPA providing) on-line. Off-duty on-line? Gotta be a joke there........BUT I like ya style

Um, thanks ?
dissonance - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> The Guardian got their story wrong. You can blame a badly written leaked slide presentation if you want, but they appear to have let their eagerness to get a scoop over-rule any professional duty to report responsibly.

They really didnt. They stated what they knew at the time.
I look forward to you applying the same standards to the police.

> Undoubtedly there are other aspects to the leaks that are interesting and more than news-worthy but the true scandal was in the allegations of direct back door access to service providers and the potential circumvention of the legal process.

no it really wasnt. For example some people are more concerned with the blanket handing over off all phone records by Verizon (and possibly others).

> If you consider that following up a series of stories containing headlines impugning the credibility of the service providers, suggesting legal processes were likely to have been circumvented and proclaiming the existence of "back door access", with a story where they actually admit that the access isn't direct

Genius. So they should keep up a story even when further information comes out? I recall that working well for the Met with regards to phone hacking.
Remember of course the service providers were gagged anyway. So for starters there is one positive outcome, that the providers can now actively complain about it.

> By shooting for (and missing) the big scandal they have undermined the impact of the other information leaked.

only for those who would prefer to ignore it anyway.
off-duty - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to dissonance:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
> [...]
>
> They really didnt. They stated what they knew at the time.
> I look forward to you applying the same standards to the police.
>
> [...]
>
> no it really wasnt. For example some people are more concerned with the blanket handing over off all phone records by Verizon (and possibly others).
>
> [...]
>
> Genius. So they should keep up a story even when further information comes out? I recall that working well for the Met with regards to phone hacking.
> Remember of course the service providers were gagged anyway. So for starters there is one positive outcome, that the providers can now actively complain about it.
>
> [...]
>
> only for those who would prefer to ignore it anyway.


There seems no point continuing to discuss this.

Unfortunately for the Guardian (and the Post) their "smoking gun" story as promised by their initial "revelations" and angle on dodgy dealings and back door access has proved to be wrong.
I have never suggested that they should have "stuck to their story" when proved to be wrong, not sure where you get that from.

Your position appears to be that it is perfectly okay for the Guardian to fling around allegations and implications, as long as they alter their story when they eventually uncover the true account.

I think we both agree that it was a good expose of the way the US spies are exploiting the powers given them by the legislation. It has highlighted to a greater audience what the US govt are legally entitled to do - and raised a greater level of awareness and debate, not to mention some constitutional challenges to the existing law.


I am not sure where you are coming from with your suggestion that the police aren't held to the same standards as the Guardian when releasing information "as they believed it to be at the time".
I imagine you can remember the furore and various inquiries in relation to the handling and release of information by the police around De Menezes and Tomlinson, not to mention the scrutiny around the allegations that the police had lied about the Duggan shooting. I can only hope you are asking for an equivalent scrutiny of the Guardian story - but I am guessing you aren't...
dissonance - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> There seems no point continuing to discuss this.

I agree and, unlike yourself, I wont bother responding to your continued arguments.
If you want to set impossibly high standards for media, when dealing with secret organisations thats your prerogative. I will look forward to you applying the same standards consistently though.


off-duty - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to dissonance:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
> [...]
>
> I agree and, unlike yourself, I wont bother responding to your continued arguments.

I think you will also agree that it takes two posters to have a disagreement.

> If you want to set impossibly high standards for media, when dealing with secret organisations thats your prerogative. I will look forward to you applying the same standards consistently though.

I'd disagree with "impossibly" - they got the story right in the end didn't they. Not sure where I have argued that standards shouldn't be applied consistently,I would welcome a similar level of scrutiny to media stories as received by police press briefings.

elsewhere on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
Given that the threat to us is so laughably* low (certainly compared to road traffic or what my grandfather faced at the Somme or my father in Normandy) my solution is to publish lots of posters that say "Keep calm and carry on but drive carefully". The threat of terrorism is the lowest or near the lowest it has been in my lifetime. I'm happy that I no longer dread the news from Northern Ireland.

We know that the current police/security services plus the oversight can't be trusted to maintain a sense of proportion and as a consequence their judgement lacks credibility. This was shown when they employed infiltration against climate change groups who did things like dress up as clowns and have never planted a bomb or shot anybody.

Was that infiltration for police officers too stupid, too cowardly or too sensible to face terrorists? Even when they were discovered they got a stiff talking to rather than being beaten & shot or beheaded by terrorists.

Given that life is so safe, interception should be targetted and require a judicial warrant based on reasonable suspicion (maybe within 48hrs to allow immediate start). Interception without a warrant, without reasonable suspicion or broad un-targetted interception should be a criminal offences. Interception should never encompass more than a small or very small proportion of the population as the vast majority of people are not dangerous in a democracy.

Communication data (like any other data) should be deleted once it has been used for the purpose it was gathered for (eg billing).

The UK is not the DDR and just because technology gives us the capacity of the Stasi we should not embrace that capacity.

It can all be summed up by one of the variants of the usual Benjamin Franklin quote:
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

*laughably in numerical terms but not in terms of individual trajedy.

> What is your solution?
The quick answer is that there are no solutions for human vices that are with us now despite being described in holy books thousands of years ago.
Duncan Bourne - on 14 Jun 2013
malk - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard: if you split the cable before it gets to facebook etc then it wouldn't be direct access?
malk - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere: still relevant..

"In 200 years will people remember us as traitors or heros? That is the question we must ask."
Benjamin Franklin, letter to Thomas Jefferson
off-duty - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to off-duty)

interception should be targetted and require a judicial warrant based on reasonable suspicion

We've got a requirement for the application to be authorisated by the Chief Con or Head of the security service, but can only be issued by the Secretary of State (or administratively by a senior official on the Home Secs explicit instructions if it's an urgent case)
The reasonable suspicion is addressed by examining the interception data requested, the necessity for it, an explanation of it's proportionality and jusitfication of why the intercept is necessary.

(maybe within 48hrs to allow immediate start).

An urgent procedure enables authorisation by a senior official with the express and specific permission of the secretary of state - but it only lasts 5 days before it must be correctly authorised (and thus could be refused as well).

Interception without a warrant, without reasonable suspicion or broad un-targetted interception should be a criminal offences.

RIPA Section 1 "(1)It shall be an offence for a person intentionally and without lawful authority to intercept"


Interception should never encompass more than a small or very small proportion of the population as the vast majority of people are not dangerous in a democracy.
>

The warrant will be issued for specific subjects only.

In order for a warrant to be issued the authorising officer must be satisfied that :-
it is necessary for :-
(a)in the interests of national security;

(b)for the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime;

(c)for the purpose of safeguarding the economic well-being of the United Kingdom

AND

the conduct authorised by the warrant is proportionate to what is sought to be achieved by that conduct - and justfied with reference to Article 8 of Human Rights Act.

When authorising a warrant consideration must also be given to any collateral intrusion on persons not subject to the warrant, including an explanation of what is likely and how it will be minimised or prevented.


Communication data (like any other data) should be deleted once it has been used for the purpose it was gathered for (eg billing).


The safeguards on the handling of the data are detailed under s15 of RIPA.

Currently the retention of data by the service providers is governed by the European directive (implemented as :-The Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009). It is retained for 12 months.

The UK is not the DDR and just because technology gives us the capacity of the Stasi we should not embrace that capacity.


Conversely - the technology exists - do we want our investigators to be ham-strung luddites and criminals (not just terrorists) to be the only people able to use (let alone exploit this technology)


Hopefully my summary of the current regime of RIPA shows we are certainly not a million miles from what you suggest is necessary - and that doesn't include the various levels of review and oversight that are also in place.

> It can all be summed up by one of the variants of the usual Benjamin Franklin quote:
> "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety"

I think Duncan Bourne's cartoon summed that up pretty well.
owlart - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> We've got a requirement for the application to be authorisated by the Chief Con or Head of the security service, but can only be issued by the Secretary of State (or administratively by a senior official on the Home Secs explicit instructions if it's an urgent case)

In the past year, how many applications were made, and how many were granted?
off-duty - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to owlart:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> [...]
>
> In the past year, how many applications were made, and how many were granted?

Not sure if figures of refused warrants are readily available but 2911 were granted in 2011.

http://www.iocco-uk.info/
elsewhere on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
Senior police such as Bettison, RIPA, RIPA, RIPA and the current checks & balances lack credibility because there was no reasonable suspicion that climate change activists were terrorists or similar.

>Conversely - the technology exists - do we want our investigators to be ham-strung luddites and criminals (not just terrorists) to be the only people able to use (let alone exploit this technology)

My answer to that answer to that question is undoubtedly YES unless investigators are able to sensibly distinguish between dangerous people and the majority or climate change activists who have no history of planting bombs & killing people.
ads.ukclimbing.com
owlart - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to owlart)
> [...]
>
> Not sure if figures of refused warrants are readily available but 2911 were granted in 2011.
>
> http://www.iocco-uk.info/

> The reasonable suspicion is addressed by examining the interception data requested, the necessity for it, an explanation of it's proportionality and jusitfication of why the intercept is necessary.

And the Secretary of State personally granted each one (that's at least 8 per day, every single day of the year), after examining each carefully to ensure that it was appropriate according to the criteria you set out above?
elsewhere on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
Me:
> The UK is not the DDR and just because technology gives us the capacity of the Stasi we should not embrace that capacity.

You:
> Conversely - the technology exists - do we want our investigators to be ham-strung luddites and criminals (not just terrorists) to be the only people able to use (let alone exploit this technology)

There is no "conversely" when referring to the Stasi. That capacity is not desirable.
off-duty - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to owlart:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> And the Secretary of State personally granted each one (that's at least 8 per day, every single day of the year), after examining each carefully to ensure that it was appropriate according to the criteria you set out above?

The secretaries of state - split between the Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary, Sec of state for defence, NI Home Sec, Scottish Ministers.

Perhaps a (slgihtly) better indication might be in the 2010 report which suggests that the Home Sec has authorised 1682. Bear in mind one warrant = 1 subject (RIPA section 8) so a reasonably complex investigation will be one set of circumstances case with a number of very similar warrants.

From the IOCCO reports the process is further clarified :-
1)Based on intelligence and operational need,
desk officer identifies target for potential
interception warrant

2)Authorisation paperwork commenced
Warrant passed to Head of Unit
Scrutiny of necessity and proportionality-
intelligence need-HRA and whether
information could be gained through other
less intrusive means
(Legal advisers consulted)

3)Warrants passed on to Sponsor
Government Department (e.g. Home
Office) who check it meets RIPA criteria.

4)If case approved by senior official it is
put forward to Secretary of State with
comments of senior officials highlighting
risks and legal issues

5)Warrant passed to Secretary of State for
signature. Secretary of State may request
oral briefing or further information. If
satisfied Secretary of State signs warrants
for 3 months for serious crime, and 6
months for national security
MJ - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:

There is no "conversely" when referring to the Stasi. That capacity is not desirable.

Surely, the important thing is how the information is used. In that context, I think it would be very disingenuous to compare the UK Police/Intelligence Services to the Stasi.
off-duty - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> Senior police such as Bettison, RIPA, RIPA, RIPA and the current checks & balances lack credibility because there was no reasonable suspicion that climate change activists were terrorists or similar.
>

Not sure that this makes sense but I am guessing the thrust of what you are saying is that because you believe Bettison was guilty of misconduct in relation to a dispute about his handing himself over to the IPCC, and because you believe that there was no grounds for infiltration of climate change protestors by the NPOIU, then the secret services and the police shouldn't be able to use surveillance evidence?

>
> My answer to that answer to that question is undoubtedly YES unless investigators are able to sensibly distinguish between dangerous people and the majority or climate change activists who have no history of planting bombs & killing people.

Have you looked at, for example, the examples in the IOCCO reports to judge whether investigators are able to make that distinction or are you continuing to make your decisions on the use of intercept evidence on the basis of one example of the incorrect use of a different police power - deploying undercover officers?
off-duty - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to off-duty)
elsewhere:
> The UK is not the DDR and just because technology gives us the capacity of the Stasi we should not embrace that capacity.

offduty:
> Conversely - the technology exists - do we want our investigators to be ham-strung luddites and criminals (not just terrorists) to be the only people able to use (let alone exploit this technology)

There is no "conversely" when referring to the Stasi. That capacity is not desirable.

Ignoring the hyperbole involved in a comparison with the Stasi, you will no doubt be aware that they existed prior to the internet and relied on informants and surveillance.
Is your proposal that the police should now operate exclusively in uniform and use no surveillance techniques at all to ensure that the privacy of members of the public is preserved?


elsewhere on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to MJ:
Indiscriminate data collection on the population is just as undesirable in the UK as it was in the DDR.
off-duty - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to MJ)
> Indiscriminate data collection on the population is just as undesirable in the UK as it was in the DDR.

I think you mean "Indiscriminate data collection by the state on the population is just as undesirable in the UK as it was in the DDR."

Unless you don't want to use google, Facebook, mobile phones, internet subscriptions, club cards, bank accounts, a car, driving licences....

elsewhere on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
as I said to MJ, indiscriminate data collection on the population is just as undesirable in the UK as it was in the DDR.

Are you saying that Stasi scale information gathering is good because we use bytes? Why are bytes good and informants bad?

The police should operate mostly in uniform and deploy surveillance, interception or monitoring against suitably serious criminals or terrorists. Surveillance, interception and monitoring should not be used against the general population or minorities such as climate change activists who have no history of bombing & shooting.

elsewhere on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
I'm all in favour of free choice to use google, Facebook, mobile phones, internet subscriptions, club cards, bank accounts, a car, driving licences....
off-duty - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> as I said to MJ, indiscriminate data collection on the population is just as undesirable in the UK as it was in the DDR.
>
> Are you saying that Stasi scale information gathering is good because we use bytes? Why are bytes good and informants bad?
>

I agree with you that, in general, indiscriminate gathering of intelligence is worrying if it is carried out by commercial companies, and bad if carried out by the state. There are obvious corollaries to that - should we have a national insurance database to show that a driver is insured? Should vehicles be associated with their owners on the police national database?


> The police should operate mostly in uniform and deploy surveillance, interception or monitoring against suitably serious criminals or terrorists.

We do.

Surveillance, interception and monitoring should not be used against the general population or minorities such as climate change activists who have no history of bombing & shooting.

Again hard lines to draw (though obviously in the UK "interception" is certainly not carried out on the general population). Should we remove all CCTV cameras? Is a climate change activist who wants to close down a power station a "lawful protestor" or a "major threat to national infrastructure"? Should we engage actively in monitoring EDL protests because of the risk of violence? Could we infiltrate a fringe peaceful group in order to get into a more serious violent group?
MJ - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:

Indiscriminate data collection on the population is just as undesirable in the UK as it was in the DDR.

Maybe/maybe not. I personally don't really care either way.
However, will you at least concede, that the Stasi would probably have used the information for 'sinister' means, whereas the UK Police/Intelligence Services certainly wouldn't.
dissonance - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> I think you mean "Indiscriminate data collection by the state on the population is just as undesirable in the UK as it was in the DDR."
>
> Unless you don't want to use google, Facebook, mobile phones, internet subscriptions, club cards, bank accounts, a car, driving licences....

Those are all discrimintating methods though and you will find plenty of people also use methods to make it somewhat more difficult for them to be tracked.
Although since you mention mobile phones thats another good example of when it goes into indiscriminate data collection. Mori and EE were in the headlines recently for selling datasets about the mobile phone usage.

Which if you have kept up to date on data mining methods you will know that attempts to anonymise datasets are often unsuccessful.
elsewhere on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
"major threat to national infrastructure" - don't be so bloody silly! Bob Lambert was fathering children with environmentalists 30 years ago. Just remind me how many power cuts you've had due to this "major threat to national infrastructure" in those three decades.

I repeat - don't be so bloody silly!

After 30 years of infiltration you should be able to decide this "major threat to national infrastructure" has destroyed no more power stations than the WI and caused no more power cut than the Rotary Club.

I repeat - don't be so bloody silly!
elsewhere on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to MJ:
> (In reply to elsewhere)
>
> Indiscriminate data collection on the population is just as undesirable in the UK as it was in the DDR.
>
> Maybe/maybe not. I personally don't really care either way.
> However, will you at least concede, that the Stasi would probably have used the information for 'sinister' means, whereas the UK Police/Intelligence Services certainly wouldn't.

Think about your words "certainly wouldn't" as you read the following.

Most importantly, Sir Desmond says he is “left in significant doubt as to whether Patrick Finucane would have been murdered by the Ulster Defence Association in February 1989 had it not been for the different strands of involvement by elements of the State.”

He finds that “a series of positive actions by employees of the State actively furthered and facilitated his murder…”

Text from Prime Minister David Cameron statement on Patrick Finucane

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-minister-david-cameron-statement-on-patrick-finucane--2
off-duty - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> "major threat to national infrastructure" - don't be so bloody silly! Bob Lambert was fathering children with environmentalists 30 years ago. Just remind me how many power cuts you've had due to this "major threat to national infrastructure" in those three decades.
>
> I repeat - don't be so bloody silly!
>
> After 30 years of infiltration you should be able to decide this "major threat to national infrastructure" has destroyed no more power stations than the WI and caused no more power cut than the Rotary Club.
>
> I repeat - don't be so bloody silly!

I'm not entirely sure that the activities of these groups can be compared to those of the WI or Rotary Clubs.

The tactics used against them have to be proportionate - I totally agree- and that argument could reasonably be used to refuse permission for undercover operations, but is is disingenuous to suggest that they are don't cause or intend any harm eg Drax, Hinkley, West Burton.

The ALF similarly can't be described as committed to lawful and peaceful protest.

Similarly - tainting many peaceful protests and marches these days are those identifying as "black bloc" and similar groups seemingly intent on disruption, regardless of the aims of the protest.
Would it be reasonable to infiltrate more peaceful groups as a means to get to more violent ones?

All that aside, the actions carried out in the 80's were prior to formal legislative guidance around undercover work - making the scandal of Kennedy and the poorly regulated NPOIU in the 2000's much worse and quite rightly deserving of the HMIC criticism :- http://www.hmic.gov.uk/news/releases-2012/0042012-stronger-controls-needed-for-authorisation-of-unde...

It would be naive or even "bloody silly" to extrapolate from that, that everything the policed did whilst not wearing a uniform should be stopped. There are numerous examples of effective, legal and entirely justifiable use of surveillance tactics in the papers every day :- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-22904044

not to mention those case studies in the IOCCO annual reports.
MJ - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:

Think about your words "certainly wouldn't" as you read the following.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-minister-david-cameron-statement-on-patrick-finucane--2

Not sure exactly what you think that achieves.
All it shows, is that the UK/NI Government and its various departments were using 'dirty tricks' to get a result which benefitted them.
Hardly news, it's the sort of thing that can be expected in times in what was all but war. I'm pretty sure a lot worse things happened than that.

Anyway, you still haven't really answered my question: -

Would the UK Police/Intelligence Services use any information gained in the same way the Stasi would have?
elsewhere on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to MJ:
> However, will you at least concede, that the Stasi would probably have used the information for 'sinister' means, whereas the UK Police/Intelligence Services certainly wouldn't.

If you don't think the UK Police/Intelligence Services facilitating murder is a 'sinister' use of information then you don't understand the English language.

elsewhere on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> Would it be reasonable to infiltrate more peaceful groups as a means to get to more violent ones?

Probably not, 'disruption' is a trivial or serious part of everyday life and far too broad and far to convenient a reason to justify infiltration. The Police destroyed the credibility of their judgement by infiltrating climate change groups who after 30 years still haven't turned off my electricity supply.
off-duty - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> [...]
>
> Probably not, 'disruption' is a trivial or serious part of everyday life and far too broad and far to convenient a reason to justify infiltration. The Police destroyed the credibility of their judgement by infiltrating climate change groups who after 30 years still haven't turned off my electricity supply.

Rereading my post I might not have been clear. Amongst the broad sweep of protesting groups there are some who are intent on using violent means to disrupt protest and destroy property. I am not talking about disruption by peaceful protest. I agree that a trivial level of peaceful disruption is part of the inconvenience necessary to be endured by the majority to enable the right to free speech
by the minority. I don't think it would be proportionate to use undercover infiltration to prevent that.

From the HMIC press release - " HMIC found that while there was only a handful of this kind of undercover deployment active at any one time, the intelligence these officers gathered allowed the police to prevent bombs being planted; recover explosives; prevent arsons and serious violence being committed; seize weapons and equipments; and frustrate attacks on the national infrastructure."

I don't know the intelligence case for the deployment, nor do I know the product of the deployment - the HMIC did have access to that information, and their report was critical of the running of the unit.
You do realise the difficulty for us on the outside in passing judgement on the success of a tactic designed to prevent crime, by the fact that no crime has happened?

It would still seem "bloody silly" to prevent all undercover operations on the basis of an example of a very badly run, but very specialised use of the tactic.

The extrapolation about "police credibility" isn't clear either. Is your suggestion that all police have lost their mandate for surveillance and intercept because you disagree with one unit's use of an undercover officer?
elsewhere on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
I'm glad we agree that 'disruption' is far to vague to justify infiltration.

Infiltration of climate change activists went on for about 30 years. For a generation nobody in the whole police or the political/judicial oversight seems to have said "Hang on, the lights are still on and nobody is shooting power station workers". The taint and the lack of credibiity extends to ACPO and all political/judicial oversight.
owlart - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to owlart)
> [...]
>
> The secretaries of state - split between the Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary, Sec of state for defence, NI Home Sec, Scottish Ministers.
>
> Perhaps a (slgihtly) better indication might be in the 2010 report which suggests that the Home Sec has authorised 1682. Bear in mind one warrant = 1 subject (RIPA section 8) so a reasonably complex investigation will be one set of circumstances case with a number of very similar warrants.

So the Home Sec alone looks at around five requests per day. Now assuming that they aren't evenly distributed over the year, then some days it's going to be significantly more than that. And they have time to study them in enough detail to be sure that all the conditions you mentioned are met as a final 'check & balance', or do they just rubber stamp whatever's pushed in front of them assuming the previous 4 steps have been carried out properly? Interesting that you couldn't give any figures for how many requests they turned down.
off-duty - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> I'm glad we agree that 'disruption' is far to vague to justify infiltration.
>
> Infiltration of climate change activists went on for about 30 years. For a generation nobody in the whole police or the political/judicial oversight seems to have said "Hang on, the lights are still on and nobody is shooting power station workers". The taint and the lack of credibiity extends to ACPO and all political/judicial oversight.

As I previously mentioned - it is very hard to judge a tactic which prevents crime by the fact crime has not occurred. The operations appear to have been producing useful intelligence product as described in the HMIC report. I would expect that had it stopped producing useful intelligence then this operation would have been flagged up and the tactic should have been stopped.

Bear in mind that RIPA was only implemented in 2000 so operations prior to that didn't have a legislative framework. With respect to Kennedy the criticism appears to focus on his unauthorised actions and his poor direct supervision. The HMIC report to an extent agrees with you in suggesting an independent external review system prior to any authorisation.
off-duty - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to owlart:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> [...]
>
> So the Home Sec alone looks at around five requests per day. Now assuming that they aren't evenly distributed over the year, then some days it's going to be significantly more than that. And they have time to study them in enough detail to be sure that all the conditions you mentioned are met as a final 'check & balance', or do they just rubber stamp whatever's pushed in front of them assuming the previous 4 steps have been carried out properly? Interesting that you couldn't give any figures for how many requests they turned down.

The process is detailed in the IOCCO reports. These also contain the commisioners opinions on the oversight and role of the various secretaries of state. Why not read them if you are interested in the process.

The figures you mention don't appear to be published. My impression would be the system weeds out requests which clearly don't meet the criteria at early stages.
That is not to say that just because I want an intercept I am going to get it, rather that I am going to have to convince a large number of people that I have a sufficiently good case, so that by the time it reaches the sec of state's desk the points that they would like addressed should be clearly laid out in black and white to enable them to decide.
MJ - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:

If you don't think the UK Police/Intelligence Services facilitating murder is a 'sinister' use of information then you don't understand the English language.

As I said in my reply to you, we were in an all but war situation in Northern Ireland and some unpleasant things happened. To use that incident to try and compare the current situation to the Stasi is disingenuous.

Anyway, you still haven't really answered my question: -

Would the UK Police/Intelligence Services use any information gained in the same way the Stasi would have?


owlart - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to owlart)
> [...]
>
> The process is detailed in the IOCCO reports. These also contain the commisioners opinions on the oversight and role of the various secretaries of state. Why not read them if you are interested in the process.

My point being that your assertion that everything must be above board and correct just because they are signed by the Secretary of State doesn't really mean much if they see so many of them at a time that they don't/can't possibly check them in any sort of detail, but just rely on those further down the chain to have passed them the 'good' ones. Whatever the process is, however good it might be, that final 'check and balance' of being signed off by the Secreatary of State means nothing if they're just rubber stamping them.

> The figures you mention don't appear to be published. My impression would be the system weeds out requests which clearly don't meet the criteria at early stages.
> That is not to say that just because I want an intercept I am going to get it, rather that I am going to have to convince a large number of people that I have a sufficiently good case, so that by the time it reaches the sec of state's desk the points that they would like addressed should be clearly laid out in black and white to enable them to decide.

So the fact that the figues aren't published means that they must have a 100% good record and nothing gets refused? That's an interesting assessment, drawing a conclusion in your favour from no evidence whatsoever. An equally valid assumption would be that so many are refused that they're embarrassed to publish the figure. I'm not saying that's correct, but it's just as valid a conclusion as the one you're jumping to.
elsewhere on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
"HMIC found that while there was only a handful of this kind of undercover deployment active at any one time, the intelligence these officers gathered allowed the police to prevent bombs being planted; recover explosives; prevent arsons and serious violence being committed; seize weapons and equipments; and frustrate attacks on the national infrastructure."

Does any of the above refer to climate change activists?

To believe climate change activists were a genuine threat I would also have to believe that infiltration & policing defused that threat for 30 years without ever producing a criminal conviction for something like terrorism.

To completely neutralise a dangerous organisation for three decades would be an incredible achievement.

It is much more plausible that climate change activists were not a genuine threat and that the 30 years of infiltration was not stopped by the official checks & balances.
off-duty - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to owlart:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> [...]
>
> My point being that your assertion that everything must be above board and correct just because they are signed by the Secretary of State doesn't really mean much if they see so many of them at a time that they don't/can't possibly check them in any sort of detail, but just rely on those further down the chain to have passed them the 'good' ones. Whatever the process is, however good it might be, that final 'check and balance' of being signed off by the Secreatary of State means nothing if they're just rubber stamping them.
>


I'm not sure that I have ever asserted that everything must be above board and correct. I have tried to explain the process involved in obtaining an intercept and the oversight of it.
I agree - the system means nothing if the Secretary of State merely rubber stamps them.
The warrant isn't a simple set of tick boxes requiring a rubber stamp though. It should contain a concise but detailed description of the relevant areas required by law, and in justification of the request. I would hope that they take their time to review it and approve it or otherwise. How long that takes them to do that I don't know. What I do know is what the IOC Commissioner remarks in his report (which I am sure you have read...) : -
"I am satisfied that the Home Secretary takes care before signing interception warrants that
potentially infringe on the private lives of citizens. It was apparent that she took time to read
submissions throughout the day, often requesting further information and updates from officials
in relation to certain warrants. The Secretary of State does not ‘rubber-stamp’ authorisations. "

They certainly won't have been simply "rubber stamped" as they pass through the police chain of command prior to leaving the force.

>
> So the fact that the figues aren't published means that they must have a 100% good record and nothing gets refused? That's an interesting assessment, drawing a conclusion in your favour from no evidence whatsoever. An equally valid assumption would be that so many are refused that they're embarrassed to publish the figure. I'm not saying that's correct, but it's just as valid a conclusion as the one you're jumping to.

No, I didn't say that at all. I would hope that some are refused. I make no comment on the percentage that are successful.
However my experience in the police would suggest that the hurdles to get approval from unit and department heads would weed out the rubbish prior to even hitting the chief constables desk.
The process, as described in the IOCCO reports would suggest there are a fair few places where requests that are not up to standard are weeded or returned for more information.

I think it's probably worth bearing in mind that a lot of these intercept requests might also be a fairly clear cut decision - certainly in crime cases - very nasty man involved in very nasty crime, with a corroborated and strong intelligence case to support those allegations.
It might be wroth re-iterating that one intercept warrant = 1 subject so as detailed in the reports (which I am sure you have read..) one SOCA operaiton involved the issue of 60 intercept warrants.
off-duty - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> "HMIC found that while there was only a handful of this kind of undercover deployment active at any one time, the intelligence these officers gathered allowed the police to prevent bombs being planted; recover explosives; prevent arsons and serious violence being committed; seize weapons and equipments; and frustrate attacks on the national infrastructure."
>
> Does any of the above refer to climate change activists?
>
> To believe climate change activists were a genuine threat I would also have to believe that infiltration & policing defused that threat for 30 years without ever producing a criminal conviction for something like terrorism.
>
> To completely neutralise a dangerous organisation for three decades would be an incredible achievement.
>
> It is much more plausible that climate change activists were not a genuine threat and that the 30 years of infiltration was not stopped by the official checks & balances.

Here is a link to the HMIC page containing details of the report : -
http://www.hmic.gov.uk/publication/review-of-national-police-units-which-provide-intelligence-on-cri...

With respect specifically to climate change protestors The HMIC said :-
"Environmental activists have been convicted of a range of offences over the last 10 years, associated with protests against(for instance)genetically modified crops the burning of coal and the expansion of aviation. Notable incidents have included the hijacking of a coal train in 2009 and conspiracies to disrupt power supplies."

They also highlighted :- "the deployment of undercover officers to tackle serious criminality associated with domestic extremism should not be conflated with policing protests generally, as it is unlikely that the tests of proportionality and necessity would be readily satisfied in the latter case."

It was a critical report. It was also able to highlight differences between the nature of this work and the way the unit was run in contrast to other units doing a different undercover role.
elsewhere on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to MJ:
> Would the UK Police/Intelligence Services use any information gained in the same way the Stasi would have?

Given the admitted involvement in murder which is crime even in time of war nothing can be excluded.

In the UK intimate informants such as Mark Kennedy were used against people who were not a threat to the state.

In the DDR intimate informants were used against people (eg courageous democrats) who were a threat to the state and more indiscriminately against people who were no threat.

"in the same way the Stasi" - you'll have to be more specific if you want me to go beyond well known generalities about what 90,000(!) Stasi employees did during those 40 years.

ads.ukclimbing.com
elsewhere on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
>as it is unlikely that the tests of proportionality and necessity would be readily satisfied in the latter case

Thanks, that's a handy quote.
MJ - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:

By your own admission (the very fact that you can name individual cases), the UK's Police/Intelligence Services have been involved with 'Dirty Tricks' in only a few isolated incidents.

The Stasi had a systematic system of intelligence gathering, which it readily used to subjugate and control the population as a whole.

That's why I say using the Stasi in the same context as the UK's Police/Intelligence Services is disingenuous. You just can't compare the two and I think some quarters are being deliberately provocative in doing so.
off-duty - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to MJ)
> [...]
> In the UK intimate informants such as Mark Kennedy were used against people who were not a threat to the state.
>

Jobs where Mark Kennedy provided intelligence : -

A European-wide protest group whose aim was to unite the most violent of European protesters in order to take part in combined
protests in cities which they perceived to be subject to political unrest.
This group had the capability to create and use improvised explosive
devices(home made bombs)

An anti fascist group whose main objective was to disrupt the activities
of the extreme far right wing groups and political parties.
They planned and carried out physical attacks on members of such groups.

A network of anarchist groups set up to disrupt the 2005 G8 summit in
Gleneagles. The associations and relationships made were utilised to
continue the campaign against further G8 gatherings throughout
Europe
elsewhere on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to MJ:
Although I wrote "Our govt is not the DDR" on 9th June but you can certainly compare the use of intimate informers and contrast the far greater information gathering rate in the digital era.

Privacy was desirable in the DDR and is desirable now in the UK.
Democracy and the internet don't change that desirability.
elsewhere on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
Thanks, I also believe Saddam had WMD and other self serving published reports of intelligence gathering.
off-duty - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> Thanks, I also believe Saddam had WMD and other self serving published reports of intelligence gathering.

The intelligence report about WMD appears to have been wrong. The "report of intelligence gathering" about WMD that you refer to was presumably the Butler Review - which highlighted that this intelligence was unreliable.

I'm not sure that an HMIC review on undercover policing could reasonably be described as "self serving", but is it your suggestion that when offered the opportunity to review what actual intelligence had been submitted by Kennedy, and what it had lead to - the HMIC decided to just make stuff up?
Or are you suggesting that the consequences described by the HMIC just didn't happen?
elsewhere on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
"intelligence report about WMD appears to have been wrong". Don't talk rubbish. You mean the WMD threat made up by an Iraqi defector who told the story the listeners wanted to hear.

I'm stating that since I observe that life is safer now than most of the last century I take intelligence reports with a pinch of salt. I'm stating that the police/security service is discredited by telling me the UK is in danger. I'm stating that HMIC saying they haven't opened a can of worms doesn't surprise me.
off-duty - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> "intelligence report about WMD appears to have been wrong". Don't talk rubbish. You mean the WMD threat made up by an Iraqi defector who told the story the listeners wanted to hear.
>

Ok - "The intelligence report about WMD was wrong". That doesn't detract from my point that it was the Butler Review that confirmed this.

> I'm stating that since I observe that life is safer now than most of the last century I take intelligence reports with a pinch of salt. I'm stating that the police/security service is discredited by telling me the UK is in danger. I'm stating that HMIC saying they haven't opened a can of worms doesn't surprise me.

Your "argument" appears to skip around so many different and unrelated areas that I am struggling to see where you are coming from.

You don't believe that the police should do anything because you don't trust them and you don't believe any reports or reviews of their behaviour appears to be the essence of it.

That lack of trust appears to stem from a few widely publicised, highly criticised incidents and your observation that "life is much safer now".

You don't appear to consider it is worth viewing this in any context - by comparing these incidents with similar types of operations or even of similar types of tactics (for example- surveillance and undercover deployment being two very different fields).

As for the HMIC "saying they haven't opened a can of worms" - I suggest you read the report, the criticisms and the proposed changes.

elsewhere on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
I believe privacy is important. I don't think the police should be doing anything against the public as a whole.

The annual death toll due to terrorism tells me that the threat is about one hundred times less than it was 40 years ago. That is a my assessment of how terrorised I should feel.

Any intelligence estimate or justification for a snoopers charter that goes against that hundred fold improvement lacks credibility. In my opinion such estimates or justifications smack of self serving empire building or contemptible cowardice in the face of a historically low threat.

I believe surveillance or infiltration should be highly target and in response to reasonable suspicion of serious danger only.

I do not believe that the removal of technological barriers brought about by digital media & communications should mean that surveillance and monitoring should be more widely applied. I do not think digitisation means my friends, neighbours, colleagues and the average person on the street is a danger to democracy.
off-duty - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> I believe privacy is important. I don't think the police should be doing anything against the public as a whole.
>

I agree. I don't see any evidence that this is occurring in the UK - though I suppose it could be argued that allowing the police access to a database of people's names and addresses, or access to a database linking owners and insurance details to vehicles might count as "the public as a whole".

> The annual death toll due to terrorism tells me that the threat is about one hundred times less than it was 40 years ago. That is a my assessment of how terrorised I should feel.
>

Your assessment of the threat might be right. The problem with any assessment of threat is that we simply don't know how successful (or not) the security services are.


> Any intelligence estimate or justification for a snoopers charter that goes against that hundred fold improvement lacks credibility. In my opinion such estimates or justifications smack of self serving empire building or contemptible cowardice in the face of a historically low threat.
>

You are entitled to your opinion - but I am not sure that allegations of "self serving empire building" or "contemptible cowardice" add anything to any debate.
The debate is always going to be hampered as "the state" have their hands partially tied behind their back when trying to bring evidence of secret operations to the discussion.
There is a danger both that the threat is over-estimated and that it is under-estimated.

We do know that the threat is now multi-national (as opposed to the previous threat predominantly from the IRA). We do know that resources such as the internet and mobile phones now exist to facilitate communications between terrorist groups.

We also know that serious organised criminals also use technology (just like the rest of us)

I certainly haven't brought up the "Snooper's charter" - I would have thought that bringing an argument about hypothetical powers doesn't really inform a discussion on the current position.

> I believe surveillance or infiltration should be highly target and in response to reasonable suspicion of serious danger only.
>

I have tried to outline the structures in place for the use of intercept evidence, and have expanded a bit to try and show some of the structures that underpin undercover operations. THe HMIC report details the problems with the deployments of undercover operations to tackle domestic extremism and public order - one of the points highlighted being that undercover deployment should be to tackle "serious crime" but that a similar criteria was not specified for public disorder.

I would like to think that there is evidence that surveillance, intercept and infiltration is carried out in a targetted way in response (with the the proviso I highlighted) to serious crime.

> I do not believe that the removal of technological barriers brought about by digital media & communications should mean that surveillance and monitoring should be more widely applied. I do not think digitisation means my friends, neighbours, colleagues and the average person on the street is a danger to democracy.

I haven't seen any suggestion that in the UK, there has been any wider application of surveillance and monitoring, nor suggestions that the average person on the street is a "danger to democracy".

I do think it is reasonable that if I am investigating you for a serious offence and relevant evidence exists as a result of your use of digital media, or telecommunication devices - then there should be some method, requiring justification and subject to authorisation and scrutiny, that enable me to recover it.
In a similar way that if I am investigating you for dealing drugs I should have a facility (again subject to scrutiny) to breach your right to privacy by covertly observing you or searching your house if we believe there is likely to be relevant evidence there.

I do think there is a danger that the "threat" to individuals privacy by the state can also be exaggerated. It is a traditional and easy line to take with many receptive listeners.
The good thing about an open democracy is that there is a lot of information available from the source eg - the legislation itself is published, the office of the surveillance commissioners and IOCCO publish annual reports, the investigatory powers tribunal also publish information about rulings and reports.

Equally the good thing about a democracy with a free press is that journalists are always able to dig, probe and expose any excesses of "the state".
elsewhere on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> The problem with any assessment of threat is that we simply don't know how successful (or not) the security services are.

At the extremes either the threat is 100 times lower or the security services have 100 times fewer failures. I think the former is more plausible.

>We do know that resources such as the internet and mobile phones now exist to facilitate communications between terrorist groups.

What absolute rubbish and what a perverse view! The internet and mobile phones exist to facilitate communication. Why not cars and underpants exist to facilitate terrorism too since they've both been used for bombs?

>I haven't seen any suggestion that in the UK, there has been any wider application of surveillance and monitoring

ANPR is an example where the general public are monitored and I don't think the data is deleted if an immediate check for stolen/insurance/wanted is passed. The proposal for wider surveillance or monitoring is commonly called the snoopers charter - indiscriminate storage of communication data for the whole population.

If you have reasonable grounds to investigate I have no problems with normal policing like you describe for a drugs investigation. However I would have big problem if those investigation techniques were applied to the whole street/city/country.
off-duty - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> [...]
>
> At the extremes either the threat is 100 times lower or the security services have 100 times fewer failures. I think the former is more plausible.
>

We could also look at the relative size of the units that exist to investigate terrorism. We have many more people investigating it now (easily a hundredfold more). We could also look at the difficulties in investigating terrorism then and now - due to the different communities and countries that appear to be involved.

But, yes, equally - we could have put ourselves in position where we have a huge anti-terrorism capability that tackles basically nothing.

> >We do know that resources such as the internet and mobile phones now exist to facilitate communications between terrorist groups.
>
> What absolute rubbish and what a perverse view! The internet and mobile phones exist to facilitate communication. Why not cars and underpants exist to facilitate terrorism too since they've both been used for bombs?
>

Sorry, I took it as self-evident that they obviously did not exist purely for communications by terrorists.
Maybe I should have highlighted the word "now" - as in - "Now, as opposed to previously, terrorists are able to communicate using a wide range of communications such as the internet and mobile phones, which did not exist then"

> >I haven't seen any suggestion that in the UK, there has been any wider application of surveillance and monitoring
>
> ANPR is an example where the general public are monitored and I don't think the data is deleted if an immediate check for stolen/insurance/wanted is passed. The proposal for wider surveillance or monitoring is commonly called the snoopers charter - indiscriminate storage of communication data for the whole population.
>

ANPR retention is 2 years maximium (unless retained as evidence).
Thinking about it - CCTV as well - though that is also subject to a retention limit.
Again - discussion of the expansion of surveillance and the introduction of a snoopers charter - wasn't something I had brought up on this thread, or promoted as a desirable goal.

> If you have reasonable grounds to investigate I have no problems with normal policing like you describe for a drugs investigation. However I would have big problem if those investigation techniques were applied to the whole street/city/country.

So would I.
elsewhere on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to MJ:
> However, will you at least concede, that the Stasi would probably have used the information for 'sinister' means, whereas the UK Police/Intelligence Services certainly wouldn't.

It's not as sinister as the Finucane murder but blacklisting is very Stasi style. Are you aware that the relationship between The Consulting Association and the police/security services is being investigated?

elsewhere on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
>We could also look at the relative size of the units that exist to investigate terrorism. We have many more people investigating it now (easily a hundredfold more).

A factor of 100 doesn't pass the numerical sanity check. I doubt you can have percentage of police time/budget/officers on anti-terrorist now and then divide by a 100 and still have both the now and then percentages plausible.

> We could also look at the difficulties in investigating terrorism then and now - due to the different communities and countries that appear to be involved.

And yet the deaths are thankfully rare, maybe because the Jihadis are relatively unsophisticated compared to the IRA. The investigations must be relatively easy compared to the IRA to produce a relatively large number of convictions. There must many NI murders that did not result in convictions but I don't think there's any unsolved Jihadist murders.
off-duty - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> >We could also look at the relative size of the units that exist to investigate terrorism. We have many more people investigating it now (easily a hundredfold more).
>
> A factor of 100 doesn't pass the numerical sanity check. I doubt you can have percentage of police time/budget/officers on anti-terrorist now and then divide by a 100 and still have both the now and then percentages plausible.
>

Fair point re the exact numbers, however... The burgeoning threat largely from Islamic fundamentalism has resulted in the expansion of Special Branch exponentially and its merger with, as well as the creation of, extremely large regional counter terrorism units. I would suggest that this expansion be set against your estimated risk as being a hundred-fold less based on fatalities - I'm fairly confident that we are not looking at more 5000 fatalities prior to the rise of the current threat and the alleged demise of Irish terrorism.


>
> And yet the deaths are thankfully rare, maybe because the Jihadis are relatively unsophisticated compared to the IRA. The investigations must be relatively easy compared to the IRA to produce a relatively large number of convictions. There must many NI murders that did not result in convictions but I don't think there's any unsolved Jihadist murders.

It is also too simplistic to judge the work of the counter terrorist officers and, more importantly, the threat of terrorism simply on number of murders.
The current threat is international - with threats to Britons (and others) overseas, fund raising and radicalisation activities providing fuel to fires causing fatalities worldwide. The relative stability, security and strong human rights record of the UK means that we also are seen as a relatively secure base for exiles with issues against their own countries - sometimes entirely legitimately, sometimes more sinisterly triggering the interest of the UK (and other's) security services.
In addition the modern threat operates within a community that is harder to penetrate than the "old" terrorist factions, benefiting from learning from any organisational and operational mistakes they might have made.
The current terrorist networks are able to benefit from modern technology (hence how this whole thread started) operating across international boundaries with relative ease.
The also appear happy to commit suicide-type attacks without any thought to their own survival and without any warning making it worth striking prematurely as the consequences of striking too late are horrendous.
Finally they operate without any real negotiating position - a generalised religious justification for atrocities, motivated largely without any desire to obtain specific goals.

Counter terrorism investigations must encompass all of these aspects and, as previously, cannot be summed up simply on the basis of "detected murders".
elsewhere on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
You'll have noticed, I trust numbers.

You discuss large teams, complexities, technology, suicide tactics and terrorist motivation but none of that changes the historically low death toll or make me think that technology broadens the definition of "reasonable suspicion" for surveillance.
off-duty - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> You'll have noticed, I trust numbers.
>

Perhaps you could provide some clarification then. Is your "hundred-fold safer" including the deaths and injuries of those in the London bombings?
Do you factor in the threat to soldiers overseas?
What about our responsibilities towards other countries - e.g. arrests of individuals trying to travel from the uk to terrorist training camps and subsequently take part in jihadist campaigns overseas such as Syria?
elsewhere on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:
Northern Ireland (all casualties) at its worst was almost 500 deaths in one year and was then consistently about 60-100 per year until the 90's.
Almost all of the terrorists deaths in the UK in the last decade were on 7/7, most years there are none so "fewer than 5" terrorism deaths per year is a realistic estimate. I apologise to anybody offended by that insensitive numerical logic.

The ratio of 100:1 improvement is 500 compared to "fewer than 5".
That ratio could be 500 compared to 55 (worst years but not very representative?) or 80ish compared to zero (representative years but infinite improvement isn't a realistic estimate).

I think 300:1 would be overstating the improvement and 30:1 would be understating the improvement - 100:1 is an order of magnitude estimate and no more precise than that.

Soldiers overseas - I've not included them in the above calculation for the threat within the UK. I very much doubt that policing/security services within the UK mas much impact on UK casualties in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Responsibilities to other countries - I'm all in favour of investigating people when there's a reasonable suspicion they're going to get involved in terrorist training or jihad overseas.
malk - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard: surprised no comment or new thread on latest news about GCHQ..

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/21/gchq-cables-secret-world-communications-nsa
elsewhere on 22 Jun 2013
HERYE OQKRJ CRMOQ NIWTR DAFLS XIYGQ KUAHO TRRTU FWFBY SZTUB
AAJGZ DKFZX PVXNZ PCLIG NEVTM PPDER OEUZM PURQO DKOYN CDQWP
DDZYR GCFXH XCWUO PPSJE TDUHZ QGCGT PVVUS UVGWN SRESW ZCZXW
PROEW IVCUX NIJSQ GYRZD OISQX BOBNH WVGZU POSZX OZXJT ZKEDP
XEOYA ZXAAS WOISD RTJOQ MKSJI JKRUZ FMBEB TXYCX IRARN AOLEN

lol!
PopShot on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Blizzard:

How does it make me feel? Protected? Safe?
malk - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: you're happy for all your data to be collected to make you feel protected?
PopShot on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to malk:
> (In reply to PopShot) you're happy for all your data to be collected to make you feel protected?
>

Yup. After all I'm not a terrorist or a criminal and that's all they are interested in. I have nothing to hide therefore nothing to fear.
Tony Naylor on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> I have nothing to hide therefore nothing to fear.

<speechless>

elsewhere on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> I have nothing to hide therefore nothing to fear.

So how about a mandatory national register of adulterers, sexual partners and all those other embarrassing stupid things everybody does at some point? After all, if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.
elsewhere on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> After all I'm not a terrorist or a criminal and that's all they are interested in.


That's all they should be interested in but a couple of quotes from that Guardian article suggest the net is thrown much wider.

An indication of how broad the dragnet can be was laid bare in advice from GCHQ's lawyers, who said it would be impossible to list the total number of people targeted because "this would be an infinite list which we couldn't manage".

One internal document quotes the head of the NSA, Lieutenant General Keith Alexander, on a visit to Menwith Hill in June 2008, asking: "Why can't we collect all the signals all the time? Sounds like a good summer project for Menwith."
TryfAndy on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to malk)
> [...]
>
> Yup. After all I'm not a terrorist or a criminal and that's all they are interested in. I have nothing to hide therefore nothing to fear.

So you'd be happy to have CCTV cameras put in your house then, just to make sure you're following the law? That'd be the obvious extension of your willingness to let your every move be monitored.

You could also have a bit of fun by using all of these words as your email signature every time you send a message, just to make sure they are watching you properly.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/reuvencohen/2012/05/26/department-of-homeland-security-forced-to-release...
MJ - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to elsewhere:

HERYE OQKRJ CRMOQ NIWTR DAFLS XIYGQ KUAHO TRRTU FWFBY SZTUB
AAJGZ DKFZX PVXNZ PCLIG NEVTM PPDER OEUZM PURQO DKOYN CDQWP
DDZYR GCFXH XCWUO PPSJE TDUHZ QGCGT PVVUS UVGWN SRESW ZCZXW
PROEW IVCUX NIJSQ GYRZD OISQX BOBNH WVGZU POSZX OZXJT ZKEDP
XEOYA ZXAAS WOISD RTJOQ MKSJI JKRUZ FMBEB TXYCX IRARN AOLEN


Not wishing to be pedantic, but shouldn't that be: -

HERYE OQKRJ CRMOQ NIWTR DAFLS XIYGQ KUAHO TRRTU FWFBY SZTUB
AAJGZ DKFZX PVXNZ PCLIG NEVTM PPDER OEUZM PURQO DKOYN CDQWP
DDZYR GCFXH XCWUO PPSJE TDUHZ QGCGT PVVUS UVGWN SRESW ZCZXW
PROEW IVCUX NIJSQ GYRZD OISQX BOBNH WVGZU POSZX OZXJT ZKEDP
XEOYA ZXAAS WOISD RTJOQ MKSJI JKRUZ FMBEB TXYCX IRARN AOLEM

PopShot on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to All: On seconds thoughts I wouldn't want a list of my sexual partners to be retained by a goverment agency or a CCTV camera in my house. However I do have nothing at all to hide and have never done anything seedy or illegal. I'd be absolutely happy if they popped a CCTV camera in the house of that Choudary fellow who is preaching terror.
Tobias at Home - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to John_Hat: i think it is a safe bet to assume that NSA/GCHQ etc. are a decade ahead of the public domain with technology. They certainly are when it comes to crypto.

Personally, I think it probable they have working scalable quantum computers happily decyphering RSA. If academics can make QCs with a handful of qubits, it doesn't seem tinfoil territory to think the military/spies with a much larger budget have got something useful.
elsewhere on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to MJ:
No, it's definitely "Peaks".

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