back to article MI5 boss: Snowden leaks of GCHQ methods HELPED TERRORISTS

MI5's newly appointed boss has suggested that his predecessor might have spoken too much about cyber-attacks rather than conventional terrorism in a speech attempting to justify controversial surveillance programs by GCHQ and the NSA. Andrew Parker, director general of the security service, made the remarks in a speech to the …

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    1. Brian Morrison

      Re: He doesn't get it...

      While free access to the data is deeply concerning, the mere presence of vast amounts of such data means that it is there for exploitation in the future by whoever is in a position to do so. It makes no difference whether the people that do this are psycopathic politicians who have a massive ego trip and think that they can rule over their minions or that they are criminals who can search through the databases and use it as a means to blackmail people and hold their misdeeds or predilections over them.

      If the data is not stored in bulk and for long periods of time then neither of these threats can come to pass.

      If the price of detecting people who will be lucky to kill as many people as die on the roads in a week is so high then I'd prefer to take my chances rather than have the certainty that everything I have ever done is held somewhere that it could be misappropriated.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He doesn't get it...

        Indeed, the threat is not that he can find out who has visited the Rape Crisis UK website, it's that he's left a list of visitors to the Rape Crisis UK website where malefactors can find it.

        I don't believe our national security justifies giving organised crime access to lists of rape victims. Maybe I'm in the minority, I don't know.

  1. Circadian
    FAIL

    Mandy Rice Davies...

    ..."He would, wouldn't he?"

    Rev. Spooner (unattributed) - "Cucking Funt."

  2. Anonymous Bastard

    For now ignore the cost to our freedoms.

    What is the monetary cost of all this surveillance and how many lives has it saved? MI5's state this year's budget was £1991M (https://www.mi5.gov.uk/home/about-us/who-we-are/funding.html). They don't say which plots they have prevented so let's imagine a worst case scenario was stopped, one 9/11 type attack, the last of which accounted for 2996 deaths. This means counter-terrorism is costing us £644.5K per head!

    Now compare that to the benefit of shelters for the homeless and abused, drug rehabilitation clinics, basic sanitation, flu vaccines, sexual health awareness, community policing, street lights (similarly more cost effective than CCTV), children's rights, ambulances and nuclear disarmament.

  3. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    I don't understand something...

    The US intelligence knew and watched the perps of the 9/11 attack. Our intelligence knew about and monitored the 7/7 perps. The Boston bombers were flagged as a risk (by none other than the Russian intelligence). The killers of Lee Rigby were known to the UK intelligence, who even tried to recruit one of them as an informer.

    They already knew enough, yet the attacks happened, what's the point in them knowing more?

    Why do they claim they need more information? How would them watching selfies exchanged by teenagers add to the security of this country? How would them knowing what my wife orders on Amazon help to stop terrorists in their tracks? Why do they need to know what my favourite pr0n site is in order to prevent an attack?

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: I don't understand something...

      They didn't stop them because nobody can predict the future or the actions of any terrorist. The odds of a terrorist attack are unbelievably low to begin with and when you toss in the random loon factor you've got a situation that absolutely cannot be predicted.

      Even if 'they' could read your mind, the chances of preventing a crazy attack (all terrorism is crazy as evidenced by the displacement/misdirection of rage onto an imagined enemy instead of the actual enemy) are astronomically low, and the authorities know it. They know they are powerless but are desperate to be seen doing something. They'd have better luck and save a lot if money if they tried to control the weather.

      1. btrower

        Re: I don't understand something...

        @Don Jefe:

        Re: "They'd have better luck and save a lot if money if they tried to control the weather."

        That is not their department, but no worries; plenty of budget is going to the project to control the weather.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: I don't understand something...

      That's the problem with such widespread surveillance.

      If you have every Muslim and Catholic in the country listed as a potential terrorist and every Chinese/Russian listed as a potential spy then inevitably whenever anything happens you will have been "watching them" and missed the signs. And so you need more surveillance.

      You could of course just round up everybody of the appropriate religion and put them in camps - but I think that was patented.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't understand something...

        Yes, by the British against members of the Dutch Reform Church during the Boer War.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most members of the IRA are on ceasefire. However, dissident splinter groups emerged as some Provisionals thought the Good Friday Agreement was a betrayal. So they continued bomb & gun attacks. These are more sporadic, but there are still regular security alerts & attempts to kill members of the police & army. It helps the security situation that they are fragmented & heavily infiltrated by informers, but they still exist. Also the Irish Republic has seen a sharp rise in the use of IEDs in criminal feuds- some thanks to ex-members of the IRA putting their knowledge to "good" use.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      True - but how many of these are planned on facebook?

      How does the GCHQ havign a list of which library books I take out or which netflix movies I watch, stop the PIRA?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe if the government stopped closing Coastguard stations and fixed our leaky borders it would prevent terrorists. They would probably sell it to Serco, jobs for the boys an' all that

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Andrew Parker

    Stop spying on us, you little scaremongering turd!

    You work for the NSA, Snoopers Charter is not law, neither was its forrunner, the 'Internet Moderisation program" you are working ILLEGALLY, you are a spy for a foreign power. You hid that from Parliament, you hid it from the Cabinet too it turns out.

    You should be in a dungeon in the tower and your attacks new on journalists and attempted scaremongering do not work.

    Just because the NSA feeds you talking points, doesn't mean you have to say them!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey Andy, mate, don't you realise that we're all just giggling like little girls at everything you have to say?

    Well I know I am.

    The NSA, MI5, MI6, GCHQ, you've lost all credibility with the general public. Your speeches are such a load of old twaddle, we just don't believe a friggin' word you say.

    It is painfully obvious that you don't know what on earth you're doing, and you're spending a ton of cash to do it.

    Do us all a favour and do something that makes money, rather than just pissing it down the drain please?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: "do something that makes money"

      Well, what do you think the drug trade is for ?

  8. JP19

    "We only apply intrusive tools and capabilities against"

    "We only apply intrusive tools and capabilities against terrorists and others threatening national security"

    Well if he knows who these people are why doesn't he just have them locked up?

    He left out the word SUSPECTED which means his intrusive tools and capabilities get applied to all of us.

  9. NomNomNom

    i worry where my data and intelligence are going. is nothing private anymore? a photo of a child's smile, notes about a disturbing breakfast, the sound of mirrors shrieking in the abyssal zone. Are all these things now deemed fare for the eyes of MI5? Then I simply won't upload them.

  10. Kit-Fox

    How about all these stasi wannabe types understand one thing;

    All of these surveillance programs & 'enhanced' spying capabilities damage the very ideals of Democracy; Privacy; Freedom; Innocence; Rule of Law & every Civilized society in the world, including the one all of these agencies claim to be protecting.

    or to put it more bluntly;

    Not in my sodding name, now would all of you bloody spooks & legalised criminals please sod off & die

  11. Katz

    Yes because those terrorists out there would have had no idea that they might be being watched, nor would they have ever thought that their internet activity could/would be monitored. Statements like that just absolutely p*ss me off and insult people's intelligence.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In recent times there's been many incidents where the perpetrators were known to the authorities. They were considered low risk and therefore nothing was done.

    So it seems to me they have too much information to deal with and not enough people to track suspects in real life.

  13. Wanda Lust

    Internet's not for ter'sts

    The terrorists don't need real time communications and tweets and books of faces.

    They just need to send a little group of sleepers off somewhere to blend in with the locals, or even stick out like an amiable foreigner to the locals, before the sleepers execute their intended act.

    No VPN's, no TOR, no emails, maybe just a post card from Great Uncle whatyamacallhim in Whatzistan at the end.

    The ones pratting around on the Internet are just creating noise to fool the likes of this new boy at the top (and, of course, the Americans).

  14. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I'll take my chances

    So the (supposed) choice is between 1) Risk of terrorists or 2) A secretive organization* that runs amok with no accountability and no checks and balances, because they can say every aspect of their operation is secret -- and still a risk of terrorists. I'd rather take my chances with #1.

    *Well, really, several; GCHQ, NSA, and Australia and Germany's counterparts, at least, since they seem to closely cooperate.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: I'll take my chances

      That's the whole thing, the chances of being in a terrorist attack are unbelievably low. Like being crushed by a walrus that's fallen from a zeppelin low.

      It is arguable everything that's being done now is only putting everyone in more danger. We are acquiescing to the terrorists will every time something is done in the name of 'anti-terror' or safety. All of our current actions were previously understood to play into the hands of terrorists and that hasn't changed. What has changed is that people have lost the ability to assess risk.

      1. hplasm
        Thumb Up

        Re: "Like being crushed by a walrus that's fallen from a zeppelin low."

        Can we have this as an new Reg measure of 'not likely to happen'?

        ta.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WAAAAAAAH! We got caught with our hands in the till and don't like it when people do it to us. WAAAAAAAAAAH!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    James Clapper, Keith Alexander, and now...Andrew Parker

    The first one lied under oath to Congress. The second one was very "economical with the truth".

    And now there's Andrew Parker.

    I don't believe a word any of them say....and nor should you. All of this surveillance is self-serving for the Andrew Parkers of this world, and a huge bonus to the other animals feeding at the technology trough....IBM, ORACLE, Microsoft, CSC, Accenture, etc. etc. etc.

  17. Don Jefe

    WMD's

    I didn't realize they had pressure cookers in the UK too.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: WMD's

      It's the secret of British Cuisine.

      You can't trust vegetables - the only way to be sure is to pressure cook them for a week.

  18. btrower

    The State is going to its fallback position

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Lie

    How do you know when a politician is lying? His lips are moving.

    How do you know that he is telling a real *whopper* of a lie? He starts advertising his message.

    They consider us the terrorists.

    Corporations and the states that now serve them are evil robots. They are not human. They are corporate entities and as such have no conscience, no moral compass and as we can see, not even a shred of human decency.

    These guys do not represent me and I submit the do not represent you either. They don't even represent themselves. They are the instruments of a remorseless State that understands one thing and one thing only: Power. The State and its corporate fellow travelers have it, you and I don't.

    The power belongs to us. We have lost control of it, but it still belongs to us. The State has no legitimacy to exercise power except as a proxy for our wishes. To the extent that it strays too far we have not only a right, but a duty to bring it back under control. To the extent that the State undertakes illegal activities or even activities that are clearly in conflict with the informed will of the people, its activities are illegitimate and functionaries committing these crimes should expect to be eventually held accountable. Everything the people sentenced at Nuremberg did was sanctioned by the Nazi State. They were prosecuted anyway because we recognize that some orders are not legitimate regardless of what the people running the apparatus of the state say.

    The 'national security' states -- at least the U.S. and the U.K. -- have strayed well beyond any reasonable boundaries to the point that they and their minions no longer understand boundaries at all. The U.S. State, we know, has illegally invaded its citizen's privacy, illegally searched and seized property, illegally detained people against their will without charges or representation. They have tortured people and in hundreds of incidents they have illegally executed, without due process or any real process at all, *thousands* of people, many of them innocent of wrongdoing. Well, without due process, all of them were innocent at the time they died. The current execution of people being carried out by executive fiat has no support in law. It is contrary to the U.S. Constitution, The Canadian Constitution and the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    The Canadian State allowed one of its citizens to be illegally detained and tortured. The Supreme Court declared this to be contrary to law. Their last decision on the matter contained this text:

    "The deprivation of [Khadr's] right to liberty and security of the person is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. The interrogation of a youth detained without access to counsel, to elicit statements about serious criminal charges while knowing that the youth had been subjected to sleep deprivation and while knowing that the fruits of the interrogations would be shared with the prosecutors, offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects."

    The Supreme Court stopped short of ordering the Government of Canada to bring him home, but only because this would be an improper extension of its own powers. It cannot dictate things beyond the reach of its mandate. The next line of defense is us. We need to bring our Government back under control.

    1. Nanners

      Re: The State is going to its fallback position

      I'm not going to read that. This is the comments section of an Internet site. Not a literary class.

      1. btrower

        Re: The State is going to its fallback position

        Re: "I'm not going to read that. This is the comments section of an Internet site. Not a literary class."

        I up-voted you for that. I thought it was funny. The voters here can be a tough crowd.

  19. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    What I find 'terrifying' is that there are large numbers of people out there that swallow this crap whole.

  20. Mike Richards Silver badge

    To quote Mandy Rice-Davies

    'He would, wouldn't he?'

    If the head of GCHQ said Snowden's revelation of the scale of their unsupervised interceptions had no consequences whatsoever, he'd be hard pressed to explain why it is necessary to continue.

  21. Nanners

    Yep

    Absolutely zip, zero, nada, goose egg came from these leaks. If you didn't know this was going on before the leaks you where/are stupid. Nothing changed.

  22. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    East Germany?

    East Germany?

    How old and up to date is this MI5 geezer?

    And isn't it a bit like the burglar saying if you had not caught me I'd have got away with it?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "In some quarters there seems to be a vague notion that we monitor everyone and all their communications, browsing at will through people's private lives for anything that looks interesting. That is, of course, utter nonsense."

    In order to find the interesting stuff don't you have to go looking for it in the first place?

  24. calumg

    A free society?

    Ironic how he talks about protecting our free society, then advocates total state surveillance. What part of freedom does he not understand?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    bureaucratic shroud waving by an arch bureaucrat.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whats wrong with surveillance

    If you ask me, everyone should have to hand over their PC, laptop, smart phone etc to the plod for "routine checks" when asked. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: Whats wrong with surveillance

      Says the anonymous coward...

      1. Russell Clarke

        Re: Whats wrong with surveillance

        ...And isn't it weird how 'plod' never hands over his PCs, phones and so on to us... after all shirley 'plod' have nothing to hide...? Oh wait....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whats wrong with surveillance

          > ...And isn't it weird how 'plod' never hands over his PCs, phones and so on to us...

          Nor should they have to, of course. It'd just be useful if they weren't hiding their badges when clubbing protestors at perfectly legal demonstrations. --> http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1198038/Police-confrontational-hide-badge-numbers-finds-G20-kettling-report.html

  27. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    Top Spookocrat "You're in danger. We need more powers and less oversight"

    Why?

    Because we do

    What's that?

    £500m/yr to save £150m/year (how?) and (maybe) the number of people that die on UK farm accidents a year.

    But surely you know you can't put a price on human life.

  28. Lostintranslation

    Majoring???

    "This evening I am majoring on terrorism".

    WTF?

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Majoring???

      It's hard to get in the program though. It takes a very special type of person to terrorize your fellow citizens by directing your nations top military intelligence resources at them. Most people stand a better chance of winning a lottery prize than they do of getting accepted into the Terrorize Your Countrymen graduate program.

  29. Yes Me Silver badge

    Snowden leaks of GCHQ methods HELPED STUPID TERRORISTS

    The ones who aren't stupid, presumably the most effective ones, have surely known for years that Five Eyes were reading their traffic. If they didn't know it before Rumsfeld talked about "chatter in the system", they certainly knew it then. But I presume they already used strong cryptography long before.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Snowden leaks of GCHQ methods HELPED STUPID TERRORISTS

      or didn't use any electronic comms at all ...

  30. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    A Simple Enough Question it would be Surely Absurdly Stupid to Avoid Answering ....

    ..... in these Accelerating Technology Times/Spaces

    "We are facing an international threat …. " ….. Andrew Parker, director general of the security service [MI5]

    Everyone is confronted by a flexible fabless friend, and/or fearless fearsome foe which be both APT and ACT in ITs Ethereal Existentialist Phorms whenever badly phished and pharmed for Exclusive Singular Profit and Inequitable Executive Advantage, rather than gracing global stages with more fabulous edutainments which deliver constant creative content with mutually satisfying benefits.

    Does MI5 have the virtual means and memes wherewithall to engage constructively with such a novel future derivative development with AI in CyberIntelAIgent Fields and Greater Games Theory ….. or are they reliant on and/or vulnerable to that being provided by seconded intelligence supply from GCHQ and/or private pirate renegade rouge parties into Advanced Internet Mastering and Astute Artful Active Anonymous Autonomous Mentoring …… AAA++ NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive IT?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just drumming up 'sizzle' for the spy industry

    He is just getting the message out there.

    There's nothing these guys enjoy more than the odd 'terrah' incident.

    It gives them a chance to wear special sun glasses, that dark suit and turn on the flashing lights.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Just drumming up 'sizzle' for the spy industry

      Not to say demand increased funding from the Government...

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