Re: Can't identify the smell
Quite surprised that any superpower would consider that the UK's foreign policy was significant enough to be worth influencing
Powers want to stay or become super based on the political/economic/military might. So the UK is becoming independent and busily setting up trade deals. Alice flies off to negotiate one, gets to the meeting, realises they don't have a copy of their negotiating points. Bob, sitting across the table says "Don't worry, here's a copy".
Or for a relatively recent example.. Security types tell their users to only use official, secure devices. User says "But Crackberry!" and uses that plus their own mail system instead. That gets hacked, emails leaked, ITSEC people around the world bang their heads on their desks. That was only a cabinet level person, so not at all a high value target for state or random hackers.
Then there's industrial espionage, so being able to steal IP or give yourself an advantage. Happens a lot, sometimes with state support. And linked to that, industrial sabotage, so an ability to disrupt critical infrastructure like utilities.
And then there's conflicting policy, like backdoors. Sometimes they're legislated, like my favourite example of CALEA. Kit in the US was meant to comply with those requirements. Cisco did, so just load their CALEA compliant version of IOS onto your routers and you're golden.. Which assumes nobody other than official users could utilise those features, and unofficial ones couldn't do their own unlawful intercepts. Or given it's a software feature, sneakily load it onto a non-US device. Most states have legislation for lawful intercept, but implementation requirements vary.
But that's lead to interesting stories, like 'fake' base stations appearing near sensitive locations. Several companies make those, for sale to official users only.. But unofficial users sometimes get hold of them as well, and then they're reverse engineered, and anyone can play. And if you don't trust the networks, you can (and probably should) encrypt. But that makes law enforcement's job a lot harder, so there's pressure to compromise security.
But throw your data into the cloud, take a seat, and enjoy the security theatre. It's a problem that's existed since the first mugging of a classified courier, and it's not likely to change. One thing I think would be a GoodThing(tm) is if states flexed their legal muscles and levied meaningful punishments on companies that develop insecure 'secure' kit and software. BP spills oil, gets fined billions, MS spills secrets.. and nothing much happens.