back to article Increased gov spy powers are NOT the way to stay safe against terrorism

As various unsavoury characters scrabble to grab the limelight after the Charlie Hebdo mass murders in Paris, the British government is using the atrocities to justify yet more intrusive snooping powers to use against ordinary people. The Home Secretary told Parliament that because the French authorities might have used …


  1. John H Woods Silver badge

    Where is ...

    ... the upvote article button?

    1. dogged

      Re: Where is ...

      I think they took it off as a result of Greens vs Lewis Page and Fandroids vs Orlowski.

  2. Busby

    Whether it's this time or on the 50th attempt it seems the snooper charter will not die and is bound to be passed eventually.

    It's disgusting that they always use the latest tragedy to justify more powers for the security service and Cameron, May et al should be called out publicly for it at every opportunity.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      What I want to know is what have the spooks got on May and Cameron that keeps them dancing to their favourite tune?

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Best joke of the year so far.

    Oh El Reg, you have made me laugh, I wasn't sure I was following where the joke was going until I read the punch line:

    'Let's hope the Tories see sense before the General Election'.

    Hilarious, more like this please.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    General election? Hmmm..

    I too fear that if the mainstream parties continue getting elected, they will just continue to pass out this tripe and depend on the majority's inertia and general lack of access to reasoned debate to ensure that their stupid ideas become reality.

    I spoke with a US friend recently about Dave's brilliant initiative to remove encryption from UK communications. He had the perfect response "You first".

    A permanently hung parliament, or major victories for spin off parties like UKIP, Greens and Pirates might drive the message home though. It's either that or street demonstrations.

    Trouble is, most of the people who actually understand the implications of moronic security posturing are too lazy to leave the keyboard and vote.

    Stay tuned

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: General election? Hmmm..

      I agree with the friend who said: "You first." It's coming to my side of the Pond sure as Hell (which is what we are tending towards). As for getting away from the keyboard and voting, that isn't the problem. They deliver my ballot each election but the problem is who the fuck to vote for. All the choices are shit. Far too often I find myself picking whom to vote against in the primaries and then doing a protest vote in the fall. Don't even get me started on our Proposition process here in California. What to do?

      Which all reminds me of a sig on Slashdot I used to see all the time: Use these boxes in this order. Ballot, Soap, Bullet. [I may have the order of the first two wrong.] And that's damn sad.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: General election? Hmmm..

        "There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty:

        soap, ballot, jury, and ammo.

        Please use in that order."

        Ed Howdershelt.

        Regretably in the modern world:

        nobody listens to the first,

        the second has succumbed to the lure of lobbyist money,

        the third is beyond the financial reach of the ordinary citizen,

        which leaves the fourth...

        1. Mark 85

          Re: General election? Hmmm..

          Thus the actions by all (or it seems like all) governments with regards to citizen snooping and surveillance. Option 4 scares the hell out of them. In the States, the founding fathers believed this was a valid method to control the government. But over the centuries and decades of government's slide downhill to pandering to the voters and lobbyists (who now seem to have all the power) probably 90% would be horrified at that option.

          There's an interesting dichotomy here... we all want security in our affairs, encryption, privacy, etc. Yet government in that very name of security wants to take it away and expose everyone to the doings of those with evil intent.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    "Let's hope the Tories see sense before the General Election."

    Because we so desperately want to see these asshats back in power...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So then we replace the Blue Asshats with the Red Asshats - problem is, they are still asshats.

    2. omnicent
      Thumb Up

      +Upvote for using the word "Asshats" in a sentence. I can use that in scrabble now :-)

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Trouble is, the last time round

    Labour was pushing registration and monitoring for everything. Now it's the Tories' turn... I'm running out of people to vote for.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trouble is, the last time round

      I believe the green party are still an option as they oppose net monitoring

      National Security Agency (NSA) and Snowden, Whistle Blowing and Surveillance

      The Green Party of England and Wales believes that illegal mass surveillance must be opposed. The Green Party will campaign against such surveillance and will act to protect whistle blowers such as Snowden who oppose illegal intrusion by the state.

      If you pull the 'all parties lie' card at me, you will be unduly ignored as a troll.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Trouble is, the last time round

        Sure, the Greens talk some sense, but I'm still not voting for them because I'm in favour of nuclear power and airport expansion.

        1. cantankerous swineherd

          Re: Trouble is, the last time round

          your choices are

          1. nuclear power, airports and a totalitarian govt

          2. something resembling freedom

          your call.

          1. Steven Raith

            Re: Trouble is, the last time round

            Cantankerous - freedom isn't much good if you don't have grid power to heat your home with or perform your encrypted comms on.

            Vote for the Greens is a vote for rolling blackouts, basically. Their energy plans are a bad joke, because they don't see what's wrong with them.

            Edit: To point it's a shame as there is some good stuff in the Greens mini-manifesto. Just a shame it's all practically impossible to implement. Better insulation for all! Live in a listed building (aka a large chunk of NoE ex-mining towns)? Maybe not.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Trouble is, the last time round

            If you don't like the Greens you could always vote for UKPP* (No, not UKIP, that would be reckless)

            *Silly name, but pirate party still believes in freedom, so it's automatically better than voting for Huey, Dewey or Louie.

          3. robin thakur 1

            Re: Trouble is, the last time round

            (Unless you want to drive a car without ridiculous levels of tax being imposed on you and expect the road network to be properly maintained, look what the green ass-hats have done in Brighton, drivers are furious with them!)

            1. Steven Raith

              Re: Trouble is, the last time round

              Don't be silly Robin, the Greens know that nobody *needs* to drive.

              Why, rather than driving to work in 1 1/4 hrs, I could take the train. Then change to another train half an hour after arriving. Then walk 3/4 a mile for a total time of two and a half hours to three hours, assuming the trains aren't late or blocked by three snowflakes.

              Or I could take the bus, which takes two hours and still drops me off half an hours walk from the office.

              Because I love getting up at 0530 to get to the office at 9am.

              Yeah, I'll stick to the car thanks, just like everyone who doesn't have convenient public transport, which is basically everyone who lives outside of the M25, and who doesn't live in a city/town centre.

              1. N2

                Re: Trouble is, the last time round

                @ Steven Raith:

                Because I love getting up at 0530 to get to the office at 9am.

                Perhaps there is a hidden agenda that they want you to remain at work!

                All night meetings followed by working breakfast, lunch & dinner

                Think of the productivity?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I'm in favour of nuclear power and airport expansion.

          Which Labour and Tory governments delivered for you ?

          Thought not.

          Given past performance (because I don't believe a word they say about the future) mainstream parties energy policies have been no better than the Greens.

      2. Efros

        Re: Trouble is, the last time round

        Unfortunately the last Green candidate that stood in an election I had a vote in, quite some time ago, advocated a return to the barter system. Don't know if that's still the party line but I don't believe it's a vote winner, although not being Tory or Labour certainly is for some.

      3. Thorne

        Re: Trouble is, the last time round

        "I believe the green party are still an option as they oppose net monitoring"

        The Greens are never an option as they are a total bunch of fruitcakes. The half a dozen things you might agree with isn't worth the million of stupid things they want.

        Screw living in a cave on recycled tofu..........

        1. Graham Marsden

          Use your brains, please - Re: Trouble is, the last time round

          What on earth are some people thinking? That if they vote for the Greens, suddenly all the nuclear power stations will be turned off? Builders will be told to stop construction on housing projects and start building yurts? Farmers will be forced to grow tofu?

          FFS, people, they aren't going to be forming a bloody goverment, but at least we'll get some people in power who think that the Government snooping and spying on everything we do and everywhere we go and everything we look at and everyone we talk to.

          Sure, not all their ideas are great, but would you prefer another five years of the Tories or the Red Tories or the even more Right Wing Purple Tories or the Yellow idiots who got shafted by the Tories?

          Or, as I've said before, don't vote for a colour or a face, try going to and seeing who actually has policies which you agree with. You might be surprised...

      4. Jess--

        Re: Trouble is, the last time round

        read the wording carefully...

        "The Green Party of England and Wales believes that illegal mass surveillance must be opposed"

        They say nothing about mass surveillance being opposed once it becomes legal

      5. johnnybee

        Re: Trouble is, the last time round

        Yes, but with the Green's forward-thinking energy policy, strong encryption would mean using a large rock to turn your (stone) tablet into a 512 piece jigsaw and then shaking the box.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It is the method favoured by regimes with dark secrets to hide"

    "It is the method favoured by regimes with dark secrets to hide and a vested interest in hunting down those who would unveil those secrets."

    You're spot on. The real aim is not to protect citizens from crime. It's to protect politicians and their friends from citizens - exactly what happens in any dictatorship.

    They don't want scandals become public, they don't want whistleblowers communicate with media to uncover those dark secrets. Who would try to tell somebody something about criminal, illegal, unethical acts or behaviours by politicians & C. if they can be easily snooped with just an approval from a *politician* and appointed by other politicians - not a judge?

    Politics became so remunerative those inside the system will fight to death to keep their place, against their competitors, and those citizens who are so "silly" to believe that politician should act in the citizens interest, not their own only.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem we have at the moment is that short of an act of God (and I've not seen him taking an active role recently) we'll have a Tory government voted in again in a few months. The only question is how far right they will have to go to get the kipper vote. With another five years behind the wheel I can't see any future that doesn't include a snoopers act. This really is a failure of democracy as we currently implement it - people will grudgingly accept a snoopers act because the opposition are even bigger muppets.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: an act of God

      God created Man in His image, with free will and intelligence.

      So stop expecting God to clean up the mess we made ourselves. It's our business, not His.

      1. h3

        Re: an act of God

        The Acid House manages to portray what that actually entails.

        Seems very unlikely somebody with that much power would be as collectively stupid as humans.

      2. Thorne

        Re: an act of God

        "God created Man in His image, with free will and intelligence."

        Maybe he made the first one with free will and intelligence but like a dodgy photocopier the later copies have faded and blurred.

        (I'd even go as far as to say that those most lacking free will and intelligence can be found amongst his followers)

        1. RhetoricComment

          Re: an act of God

          "God created Man in His image, with free will and intelligence."

          Unfortunately most people use their free will to not apply their intelligence to any given situation

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon

            Re: an act of God

            "Maybe he made the first one with free will and intelligence but like a dodgy photocopier the later copies have faded and blurred."

            I think the story is that the first man was ejected from Eden and so lost all his priveledges (like a 1000 year life-span etc.). Honestly, you couldn't make it up....or could you?

        2. Aggrajag

          Re: an act of God

          "God created Man in His image, with free will and intelligence."

          My eyes are tired, I thought that said free wifi and intelligence!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Err... I wish it was

    Quote: "This is a knee-jerk response"

    I hope it is. Have you ever given the through of what if it is not?

    1. Mark 85

      Re: Err... I wish it was

      Maybe those who come up with such schemes need a knee-jerk response in the groin from those they govern?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe the only way to prevent this

    is for every reg reader to vote on a single party and force the conservatives lower down the ranks.

    Suggestions? Or are you telling me all these techies can't at least try to influence the election in some way? Maybe we should try sublminal messaging on websites we work on. =]

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe the only way to prevent this

      You are joking, when you suggest that we techies can or should use devious deceitful means to influence the election, aren't you?

      Leaving aside the unethical nature of your suggestion, I think the politicians have that particular game sown up - we are but children compared to them.

    2. robin thakur 1

      Re: Maybe the only way to prevent this

      Whilst the latest "ban encryption" is a bad joke, I can't imagine anyone who isn't in a union would be willing to hand the reigns of a recovering economy (that is what's important, stupid) to Ed Balls and gap-year-Milly. "Recovering" that is, from the last time they drove it off a cliff. I'd rather vote for UKIP just to see what amusement would follow, but will sensibly vote Tory as usual in the end because we don't want to be responsible for the rise of a 4th Reich.

      1. Rich 11

        Re: Maybe the only way to prevent this

        I rarely have anything good to say about Labour, but to say they drove the economy off a cliff is utter rubbish. The greed and recklessness of the investment banks drove the economy off a cliff. This is why so many other countries also have trashed economies, or are you going to blame Labour for that too?

        1. YetAnotherPasswordToRemeber

          Re: Maybe the only way to prevent this


          Labour, particularly Gordon Brown, certainly helped with light touch regulation of the banks believing they've regulate themselves and, various other government policies that allowed the bankers to do the damage they did. Ed Balls was also complicit in a lot of this stuff as well, as an advisor to Gordon Brown, and he'll be the next chancellor!

          So yes, they're as much to blame for what happened as the bankers

          1. SolidSquid

            Re: Maybe the only way to prevent this

            Light touch regulation of banks which hasn't been strengthened in any meaningful way since they left power (and I believe they discussed weakening them further to "boost the economy"). Labour didn't do particularly well at regulating the banks, but neither did their predecessors and neither have their successors, there's too much banking money in politics for them to be willing to go along with that (if nothing else, a significant number of politicians have immediate family working in banking)

  11. Julian Bond

    "had the Charlie Hebdo murderers under surveillance until six months before". Can you name any terrorist outrage in recent years where the powers that be didn't have the perpetrators under surveillance already?

    I'm amused by the Catch 22 here. If they say they weren't tracking them, we wonder why they aren't doing their jobs better. If they say they were tracking them, we wonder why they failed to take action and so weren't doing their jobs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And the LAST last thing a government wants is to look like they could've prevented a disaster of 9/11 caliber (or even worse) from happening. It's the kind of thing that can destablize the government in power, if not the country itself. After all, if government is powerless to stop a determined existential threat, what's the bloody point of civilization in the first place?

      1. ratfox

        After all, if government is powerless to stop a determined existential threat, what's the bloody point of civilization in the first place?

        You are falling into the trap. Terrorism is not an existential threat. There are orders of magnitude more people who die of car accidents, cancer, or killed by their partners than because of terrorism. Terrorism is flashy; but as a threat, it barely registers.

      2. John Sager

        Terrorism *isn't* an existential threat. The Soviet Union might have been during the cold war but not a bunch of fulminating islamists. They are just a pinprick and we (including politicians) ought to man up and deal with them as such. There will be casualties, but that's one of the prices you have to pay sometimes for living in the sort of free society we do live in. And it is pretty much free, despite government trying to nibble away at the edges.

        I've just been reading a book about Operation Sealion (Seelöwe), the putative German invasion of England in WWII. The restrictions on individual liberty then were pretty much on the scale of a military dictatorship, and people put up with it because of the perceived threat.

        The lesson is that restrictions should be consonant with the threat to be acceptable, and IMHO the threat is real, but overblown.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Is, was, always will be an existential threat for one reason: they're willing to take themselves with you and have "God" on their side saying, "The human race is not worthy!" Plus with the continued proliferation of destructive knowledge, sooner or later one man or some completely insular inner circle will gain the means to force multiply not just by thousands but by millions if not billions. Think a home-built nuke or some kind of superflu grown in weasels. You cannot rule them out because they're low-incidence but high-consequence and the kind of think that can rattle civilization itself like the Black Death did.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            There are a couple of guys killing a dozen people with AK-47s, so we should be afraid of home-built nukes or superflu.

          2. SolidSquid

            Are they really high consequence though? As was pointed out, there are far more people killed by cars every year than terrorists. The fact that a small proportion of murderers claim religious motivation doesn't mean they can somehow wipe out an entire civilisation in the way the Black Death did

            Also home-built nukes are exceptionally unlikely due to the difficulty of enriching uranium. Dirty bomb maybe, but radioactive material which would work with this is dangerous enough and controlled enough that this is pretty unlikely too.

            As for creating their own super diseases grown in weasels, that's just... not how biology works. Cross-species illnesses are exceptionally rare, and without some seriously heavy duty equipment (the kind that throws up red flags to police as potentially being for drug manufacture) the chance of self infection without hitting your target is ridiculously high. It's like suggesting NASA is a threat to civilization because they could potentially redirect a meteorite to land on your country. Yes, in theory and given the right circumstances they could, but the odds are so staggeringly long that it's almost certainly not going to happen

            Most of the power these people have doesn't come from the act of killing itself, but the panic that forms around that. Their entire goal is to generate the most fear with the smallest impact, because small impact is the most they're ever likely to get. Bigging them up as some threat to all civilization just helps them with this goal by exaggerating what they're actually capable of and raising them in people's eyes beyond the simple murderers they are.


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