back to article GCHQ gros fromage stays schtum on Snowden and snooping

A top GCHQ official opened the Infosecurity Europe trade show in London with an on-message keynote that focused on promoting best practice rather than dealing with Edward Snowden and the ongoing controversy over the so-called Snoopers’ Charter. Ciaran Martin, director general of cyber-security at GCHQ, gave a broad overview of …

  1. Mystic Megabyte
    Big Brother

    Ipcress2

    "A delegate asked if GCHQ could be considered a threat actor due to its promotion of backdoors in products"

    Has the delegate been seen since? They're most likely being re-educated in an "Albanian" prison.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Ipcress2

      Egypt does torture so much better though...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An intelligent Intelligence boss?

    Makes a nice change from those idiots the Americans keep wheeling out.

    Doesn't change much, except I feel slightly reassured that the person in charge of the bin sniffers isn't easily outwitted by a direct question.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An intelligent Intelligence boss?

      "I feel slightly reassured that the person in charge of the bin sniffers isn't easily outwitted by a direct question."

      Maybe the questioner had drafted the question on his laptop before the meeting...

    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: An intelligent Intelligence boss?

      By "not outwitted by a direct question", do you mean avoiding any meaningful answer of it? Where are the actual studies - or even study - that shows that the increasing surveillance isn't having an effect on people's willingness to do business here?

      I have no knowledge of anybody being discouraged from doing business in the UK by our proposed or actual snooping. However, I do have knowledge of at least two significant deals that fell through with American companies because of lack of trust in the US government not snooping. It's not a small issue for US businesses at the moment. And the UK has been behaving similarly to the USA so I would not be surprised if there were a similar reaction.

      I would want more than anecdotes from a few of this guys friends on this before I considered it actual data.

  3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Great Attraction ..... in a Nonsensical Comment

    Martin didn’t answer the question directly in his own capacity, instead referring to comments by business leaders that surveillance was having no effect on the growing UK IT industry.

    So the answer to the question is in the positive ....... and who in a right frame of mind would ever believe that surveillance on business leaders has no effect. It delivers fabulous third party leverage and remote virtual command and control.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: The Great Attraction ..... in a Nonsensical Comment

      I would say that there had been tremendous growth in the VPN and security product sectors :)

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: The Great Attraction ..... in a Nonsensical Comment @ Sir Runcible Spoon

        I would say that there had been tremendous growth in the VPN and security product sectors :) ... Sir Runciple Spoon

        And in the private and pirate and mercenary entrepreneurial sectors, Sir Runcible Spoon ..... http://www.thenation.com/article/208481/how-private-contractors-have-created-shadow-nsa

        And a fabulously rich environment for the virtual warrior class with smart hackers and code crackers too.

  4. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    The real answer being

    We dont give a shit about the collateral damage to personal liberties and business interests as long as it gives our bosses and politcal masters the illusion of control.

  5. Graham Marsden
    Devil

    "best practice..."

    In other words: "You let us slurp all the data we want and we promise not to do anything too bad with it..."

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perpetuating ignorance

    Eventually the media and general public will come to understand that Snowden's claims are meant to mislead the populace and elevate this miscreant to a status higher than the bottom feeder that he is.

    Unfortunately the bad guys are growing exponentially as a result of technology that makes communication easier for most people. As a result it's not only necessary but critical for national security for responsible entities to properly monitor mass communication. More than ever people need to understand the bad guys are growing in numbers disproportionately - because they can use tech to achieve evil.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Perpetuating ignorance

      I'm not aware of anyone in either the for or against camp that is advocating that GCHQ stop monitoring communications. To suggest otherwise is just a straw-man argument.

      I would, however, like there to be a lot more scrutiny and oversight as to what they are up to.

      After all, if we get saddled with an oppressive extreme left/right wing government and want to organise a protest you might want some freedom to express yourself.

      Or, you might come up with a new way to harness energy that could change the world - except that knock on the door at 3am with you and all your research notes being bundled into the back of a van courtesy of corporate interests who know what you are up to.

      You never know.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Perpetuating ignorance @ Sir Runcible Spoon

        Or, you might come up with a new way to harness energy that could change the world - except that knock on the door at 3am with you and all your research notes being bundled into the back of a van courtesy of corporate interests who know what you are up to.

        You never know. ... Sir Runcible Spoon

        :-) Share what you are doing freely with every man and his dog and the knock at the door will not be unexpected, but thoroughly welcomed.

    2. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: Perpetuating ignorance

      "Unfortunately the bad guys are growing exponentially"

      Ah, poor little frightened child. There have always been "bad guys", but they are most certainly NOT "growing exponentially". For goodness' sake, a few bods from this forum could cripple significant amounts of UK infrastructure in a week; your so-called "Bad Guys" just aren't that frightening.

      Frinstance:

      Some nutters:

      Anders Brevik: Lone nutter killed 77. Virginia Tech weirdo, ditto, 32 deaths. GermanWings shithead pilot, 150 deaths.

      Now, some frightening terrorists:

      Boston Marathon: guys with bombs and guns in a huge crowd, managed to kill 6.

      Hebdo Attackers: 4 guys in body armour, AK47s, SMGs, and a fscking rocket/grenade launcher: 12 deaths.

      On a militaristic level, that is pathetic. 3 deaths each? If I didn't care about what happened to me, because I was going to "heaven" or some other childish afterlife, I could kill more people in the supermarket armed with a kitchen knife, probably even with my bare hands, let alone fscking body armour and an AK. Yet we are terrified of these people, why? In 2013 more Americans were killed by toddlers than terrorists. We are absolutely not swamped by jihadis.

      Of course, you MAY be killed by a terrorist. But your irrational fears aren't getting paid for with my liberty. If you hunt all sharks to extinction, you won't get killed by a shark, but the collateral damage would be colossal. Maybe you don't care about sharks, and maybe you don't care about liberty. But if you're going after either, you'd better have a more rational argument than "oh my god i'm so frightened..."

      1. Vic

        Re: Perpetuating ignorance

        In 2013 more Americans were killed by toddlers than terrorists.

        That's a corking stat, and I fully intend to repeat it. Got a reference to fend off the inevitable question?

        Vic.

        1. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re: Perpetuating ignorance

          Hi Vic,

          According to this page from the US Department of State, there were 16 deaths of private US citizens at the hands of terrorists, worldwide: 12 in Afghanistan, 3 in Algeria and 1 in Lebanan. NB: 0 deaths in the USA.

          Now I think there were more than 16 deaths caused by children aged 5 or under in the USA that year but it's tricky to track down (wonder why?) and I'm on my coffee break so time is limited. But there were definitely more than zero (the number of Homeland deaths) --- in April 2013 alone I've found, in the time it takes to drink a latte, Brandon Holt (6), NJ; Josephine Fanning (48), TN; and Caroline Sparks (2), KY. --- I did put the hrefs in an earlier version of this message but lost it when I accidentally hit the back button. But if you Google the name and state in each case you will find the stories.

          I also found this statistic on CNN: "In 2010, 13,186 people died in terrorist attacks worldwide; in that same year, in America alone, 31,672 people lost their lives in gun-related deaths, according to numbers complied by Tom Diaz – until recently, a senior analyst at the Violence Policy Center. "

      2. Andrew Meredith

        Re: Perpetuating ignorance

        "In 2013 more Americans were killed by toddlers than terrorists"

        Upvote Upvote Upvote Upvote Upvote Upvote Upvote Upvote !!

        Every year for as long as I have checked, more people have been killed by ladders in the UK than by trrrsts .. by a good factor as well.

        This whole panic about Al-Whatsit, ISIS/ISIL/IS etc is pure emotion. If we get down to what is actually a threat to the subjects of this fair realm, trrrsm would come way waaay down the list. Why then are we scrapping our way of life in response to this "threat" ?!

    3. Vic

      Re: Perpetuating ignorance

      it's not only necessary but critical for national security for responsible entities to properly monitor mass communication

      ODFO...

      Vic.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Perpetuating ignorance delivers autocratic meritocracy and autonomous proaction in smarter systems?!

        it's not only necessary but critical for national security for responsible entities to properly monitor mass communication ..... Vic

        Methinks it is vital, and the present problem is the current lack of its deployment with IT and media command and control for remote power and practical energy, for responsible entities to properly mentor mass communications ....... although who and or what would be responsible and considered fit and proper and working towards what specific end[s], is always going to be a position assumed and presumed rather than collectively decided upon.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "the balance between security and privacy is a matter for debate in parliament"

    That sounds like a recipe for ending up with neither.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gay Russian

    When ever privacy is debated I tend to think along the lines of Goodwin's law.

    But let's bring this up to date...

    2010 and you are a gay Russian.

    The world isn't perfect but you can be tolerated and "out", at least to select friends on FB, possibly grinder, and e-mail.

    2014 those online profiles are now a threat to your liberty, freedom and future existence.

    .

    This can be applied to whichever prejudice a political part wishes to exploit and a very easy way to find, mark, track and round up " offenders".

    Remember: "For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens 'as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone'." - David Cameron

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon
      WTF?

      Re: Gay Russian

      You've just reminded me about the massive Police operation in Suffolk last week where several forces combined and deployed APNR and spot checks etc. to "disrupt the criminal community".

      Brilliant, you might think. What they actually did was nail about 60 people for using mobile phones or not wearing their seatbelts, a few of those they pulled were driving without insurance.

      Not sure how much the whole operation cost (>100 Police) but the "criminal community" are apprently so scared now that some of them have stolen some hands-free kits to slip the net next time.

      Linky

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bad Guys

    One way that terror works is to cause a Gov to use excessive repressive actions in order to smack the gadfly - this derives a wedge between the Gov and its citizens who can no longer see who the bad guys actually are as the Gov looks more and more similar to the advocates of terror (there is Gov sponsored terror after all)

    so who are the Bad Guys from a citizens POV, it could include GCHQ and from this forum it appears it does

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Bad Guys

      The real question is: Does this conform to the law of intended, or unintended, consequences?

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