back to article NSA: Inside the FIVE-EYED VAMPIRE SQUID of the INTERNET

One year after The Guardian opened up the trove of top secret American and British documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) sysadmin Edward J Snowden, the world of data security and personal information safety has been turned on its head. Everything about the safety of the internet as a common communication …

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  1. JimmyPage
    Headmaster

    "Enabling"

    A word that *so* desperately wants to be paired with "Act"

    The third word :( -->

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Enabling"

      Possibly tangential - but a certain "Enabling Act" was passed by a democratic political elite with the best of intentions. Purely intended as a precautionary contingency against extremists' disruption. The extremists then formed a minority in a coalition government - and their leader invoked the Enabling Act to rule by his dictatorial decree. The rest - as they say - is history. Very bloody history.

  2. Warm Braw Silver badge

    D-Day

    Perhaps we should be commemorating that much-propagandised operation, of which tomorrow is the 70th anniversary, as the start of our conquest and not of our liberation.

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: D-Day

      For that, you'd be 'celebrating' the end of World War 1 - that's when we went in hock up to our elbows

  3. Jim 59

    Outrage

    Yes, it is a personal outrage that the NSA/GCHQ is spying on you.

    Unfortunately, the techniques you and I use to keep our secrets (encryption) are the same techniques used by those who would plan your demise. So there is a problem - how to break one while respecting the other ? It can't be done. There is no way of intercepting (say) an email from Boko Haram giving the location of the Nigerian girls, without intercepting everybody else's email as well.

    Can anybody suggest a way of spying on baddies while not looking over goodies' shoulders too ?

    1. Colin Brett
      Big Brother

      Re: Outrage

      "Can anybody suggest a way of spying on baddies while not looking over goodies' shoulders too ?"

      They used to call it HUMINT.

      Colin

    2. corestore

      Re: Outrage

      Yes. Good old-fashioned human intel.

      The alternative - what we have at present - is far, far too amenable to misuse, however benign the proclaimed intentions, however laudable the alleged purposes.

      Intelligence work has to be based on capabilities - what your adversary CAN do to you, not what you think they WANT to do to you. And it's very clear, the security state has become the adversary here, and what they CAN do to ALL of us has gone so far over the line that the line is now a dot on the horizon.

      "1984 was a WARNING, not a bloody INSTRUCTION MANUAL!"

      Mike

      1. Jim 59

        Re: Outrage

        They used to call it HUMINT.

        HUMINT was partly responsible for capturing Bin Laden we are told. But only partly responsible. HUMINT doesn't address my question about digital spying. Once again, how to spy on your enemy without spying on your citizens, when they are using the same copper ?

        Perhaps our enemies are off-net, like Bin Laden was ?

        Corestore's point about misuse and abuse obviously correct. Though I disagree with the rest of his post.

        1. Graham Marsden
          Big Brother

          @Jim 59 - "how to spy on your enemy without spying on your citizens"

          How about not treating everyone as potentially guilty unless they can prove their innocence?

          1. Jim 59

            Re: @Jim 59 - "how to spy on your enemy without spying on your citizens"

            Super. And how does this attractive platitude translate into practical action ?

            Some 'tards in here prefer headbanging to the smell of their own outrage than answering a tough question. How do you spy on your enemies without spying on your own citizens too, when the global internet puts them on the same copper, encrypted? A 1975 answer won't do.

            The govt has answered the question with a sledgehammer - ie, spy on every doggone thing you can, all the time. Which apalls the innocent who are spied on wrongly. But everyone agrees we must do some spying, so what's the answer ? I try to think of a compromise but encryption makes that difficult.

            NB - the answer is not an irrelevent 3 page up-the-workers rant.

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Gimp

          @Jiim 59

          "Perhaps our enemies are off-net, like Bin Laden was ?"

          Which rather suggests most of this effort is a waste of time, does it not?

          Unless the "catching paedoterrrorists" claim is just an excuse for a massively out of control surveillance apparatus supported by politicians who were clearly much more terrified of a few Saudi Arabians than any of their constituents.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      From what I gather

      Boko Haram sports a good chance of being just as supported by The Company from Virginia as Al-Qaeda.

    4. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Outrage

      In 1973 I passed by the Old Bailey bomb about 15 minutes before it went off, I also worked for a Daily Newspaper in the early '70s that was outspoken against the IRA, we received bomb threats on an almost daily basis, some real some not.

      Nobody I worked with was particularly fazed by them just took sensible precautions.

      I also served with the British Army at a time when the Red Brigade and the Bader Meinhoff group were running around .

      Not then nor at any time since would I agree to our government or any other having the carte blanche right to spy on all of us in the hope that they could thereby catch a few discontents. If the intelligence services (or you) really believe they can win the so called war against terrorism by such methods, they have become such lard arsed, lazy fools that the whole thing should be disbanded and started again.

      Any serious terrorist is not going to be using any communications that can be hacked, tapped or otherwise easily intercepted, the old fashioned field craft practiced during the cold war using cells and dead letter boxes worked then and arguably ( given the ridiculous levels of electronic interception and the reliance thereupon) works as well or better now.

      Benjamin Franklin wrote this in 1755, it still has as much value today:

      They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Outrage

        Well put Mr G. Would upvote you twice if I could.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Outrage

        Well put, Chris. Real terrorism is something you just deal with. What we are presented with these days, this preposterous war on stuff, is for the most part nothing but a smokescreen, installed for Mil-IC gain, global dominance over the precious black liquid – and mass-control, because the worst thing that could happen is that larger parts of the population became aware about how they are paying with their own freedom, blood and taxes for measures that in general terms do not work to their advantage. The web does its part in changing the latter aspect, which is why it is so very important to collect all that data.

        It tells you a lot about the loss of trust in a system when the first response to anything terror-related is "false flag" and it always takes some time to realize that real people where hurt, no matter who actually made or let something happen.

      3. Nym

        Re: Outrage

        He should have said, "Those who labor under the illusion of either Liberty or Safety have little hope when Reality comes unkindly upon them."

      4. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: Outrage

        "They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

        It would be nice if one of those who repeat the several versions of this would explain, in some detail, exactly whose essential Liberty is limited, and in what ways, by NSA's* collection and analysis of communication data. I would not want to argue that it appears likely to be effective or cannot be evaded with fair success, but the link to tyranny that more than a few seem to think obvious really is fairly tenuous. There quite a few tyrannies, after all, before the invention of the telegraph.

        * As a representative example of the SIGINT agencies that exist in nearly every nation with a communication infrastructure of any size.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Outrage

          > It would be nice if one of those who repeat the several versions of this would explain, in some detail, exactly whose essential Liberty is limited, and in what ways, by NSA's* collection and analysis of communication data.

          The ways are subtle and sinister, notwithstanding the fact that it is a *huge* drain on resources and constitutes a large portion of the tax take; here are a few:

          1) As a race we have a need to privacy, that is a belief that we can disappear if we wish. It is a very basic need. Society would (and is currently doing so) break down without this need being fulfilled.

          2) Free speech is chilled by the threat that all is recorded. It means that people are not permitted to make mistakes, not permitted to speak in the heat of the moment and later retract without the regret of it being recorded forever. That your speech can be used against you. The whole point of this enormous arsenal of data storage is to sift for those that might "threaten" the state. How do you tell the difference between a private conversation between friends and a public broadcast if all is made the same?

          3) It gives the illusion of security while providing none. Evidence here and elsewhere has proven that broad collection of data is not helpful in the fight against those that would genuinely like to harm us. That threat is a *lot* smaller than most politicians would admit. Targeted intelligence is far more efficient and helpful in this regard.

          I'm sure better commentards than I could expand this list somewhat.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: skelband Re: Outrage

            ".....As a race we have a need to privacy..." Apart from the fact that is not illustrating a loss of 'Liberty', you lot also dump tons of private data onto social media such as Twatter, Faecesbook, etc., with gusto.

            "....Free speech is chilled by the threat that all is recorded...." Again, you have failed to show that it is actually being chilled at all. Indeed, going by the amount of complete cobblers passed off as 'free speech' on these forums, you're once again talking male genitalia.

            "....It gives the illusion of security while providing none....." So you really don't understand that this IS the mechanism that provides the targeting information for more focused activities. Major fail.

            1. Graham Marsden
              Big Brother

              @Matt Bryant - Re: skelband Outrage

              > you lot also dump tons of private data onto social media such as Twatter, Faecesbook, etc., with gusto.

              First mistake: Not everyone does that.

              Second mistake: Assuming that if people *do* put information on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else, it gives permission for the authorities to say "well, if they do *that* it justifies us looking at *everything* they do simply because we can".

              > you have failed to show that it is actually being chilled at all

              Third mistake: Try looking at what's happening in China. Or Bahrain. Or Syria. Or Vietnam. Or any of the many other countries where access to information is being blocked or controlled or monitored such that anyone who steps out of line by looking at "unapproved" material or expressing views which contradict those of the state apparatus can be subject to legal (or illegal) sanctions, imprisonment, torture or even death.

              The Right to Privacy and the Right of Freedom of expression are two sides of the same coin. If you are not free to express your thoughts because those in power are monitoring what you say and to whom, then your freedom of speech is being chilled because you will be inclined to self-censor.

              Try reading this report by Frank La Rue "on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression" the UN Special Rapporteur made to the UN in 2013 which states, for example:

              "Inadequate legal standards increase the risk of individuals being exposed to violation of their human rights, including the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression. They also have an adverse impact on certain groups of individuals – for example, members of certain political parties, trade unionists or national, ethnic and linguistic minorities – who may be more vulnerable to State communications surveillance. Without strong legal protections in place, journalists, human rights defenders and political activists risk being subjected to arbitrary surveillance activities."

              and:

              "Even a narrow, non-transparent, undocumented, executive use of surveillance may have a chilling effect without careful and public documentation of its use, and known checks and balances to prevent its misuse."

              and has amongst its conclusions:

              "States cannot ensure that individuals are able to freely seek and receive information or express themselves without respecting, protecting and promoting their right to privacy. Privacy and freedom of expression are interlinked and mutually dependent; an infringement upon one can be both the cause and consequence of an infringement upon the other. Without adequate legislation and legal standards to ensure the privacy, security and anonymity of communications, journalists, human rights defenders and whistleblowers, for example, cannot be assured that their communications will not be subject to States’ scrutiny."

              > you really don't understand that this IS the mechanism that provides the targeting information for more focused activities

              Fourth mistake: Assuming that it makes it easier to find a needle in a haystack by making the haystack even bigger. All this achieves is to swamp any "signal" that may be there with massive amounts of "noise" that totally drowns it out and you end up wasting time and resources chasing more and more False Positives.

              This is not "targetting" anything, unless you think that if you make enough targets you're guaranteed to eventually hit *something*...

              Oh and PS to quote from your next post "as admitted in Snowjob's own 'revelations', the vast majority of the data is never even looked at before being deleted."

              Excuse me? So this information which "IS the mechanism that provides the targeting information for more focused activities" is thrown away without being looked at?

              Does this mean that a) it's not actually as useful as you think or b) our Security Services are failing because they're not using it for their "focussed activities"? Just wondering...

              PPS You forgot to come up with an "amusing" variant on skelband's name. Tsk, you're slipping...

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                FAIL

                Re: Marsbarbrain Re: @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                Oh dear, Marsbarbrain has to disagree because.... well, because he just has to disagree with anyone that is not in the flock.

                "....First mistake: Not everyone does that....." Agreed, I certainly do not. The amount of sheeple that do and then moan about it seems to be a massive correlation though. I used to work with people that used to set up honeypots, they also used to have success setting up fake Facebook and MySpace groups and 'underground' chatrooms to help them find new skiddies and card cloners hitting the scene, and it was amazing just how stupid some of these people were with their privacy information. It may have escaped your notice that a massive chunk of the NSA's efforts were in gaining access to the unencrypted Google backend because they know that some of the people they need to find are just as naive about security as the average sheeple Not all of them, but some of them definately.

                ".....Assuming that if people *do* put information on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else, it gives permission for the authorities to say "well, if they do *that* it justifies us looking at *everything* they do simply because we can"....." Apart from the fact THEY ARE NOT LOOKING AT EVERYTHING, they simply do not have the bandwidth, if you put stuff up on any public social media you give EVERYONE the right to look at it - the Mafia, the skiddies, the PETA morons (oh, you uploaded a picture of your girl in a fur coat?), the marketing junkies (he likes fur, quick, send him lots of fur-related marketing). Oh, and Google/Facebook/MySpace/etc retain the right to give your info to anyone that pays for it, regardless of how private you think it is. Just look at the current noise about the right to be forgotten (which Google et co will use their cash to make sure only ever gets implemented in the lightest of forms).

                ".....Fourth mistake: Assuming that it makes it easier to find a needle in a haystack by making the haystack even bigger....." So, you would be happy with Police that only patrolled one street in every city? Sure, it would make them really great at fighting crime on that one street, but the rest of the city might be a bit upset at the way crime was ignored and allowed to mushroom elsewhere. That is EXACTLY the problem the NSA and GCHQ face - there is not just one tiny little niche that could be used by terrorist or criminals for communication. Whilst it is easy to say 'just watch the mujahadeen websites and you'll pick up all the sympathisers' (which they do), it does not cover the experienced mujahadeen that might steal other people's online identities and create email accounts and other websites in their names. Serious crime types have been working on anti-surveillance for years, they often employ security experts to try and keep their coms 'clean'. Even the 'amateurs' are getting better at hiding, the Police already have examples of this with paedos hiding their pic exchange websites behind legitimate websites the paedos have hacked. And then we have the other responsibility of the NSA and GCHQ - finding foreign spooks - do you really think the foreign spooks are not hiding amongst the daily traffic, that they use specially designated 'spy-only' coms?

                So, saying that they are just making the haystack bigger is moronic, the authorities actually need to cover the whole field as much as possible. The problem then becomes one of analysing the data because NO-ONE HAS THE RESOURCES TO LISTEN/READ/WATCH EVERYTHING, let alone store it. Go back, actually READ the Snowjob 'revelations', you might notice that the vast majority of the data is sifted and deleted without ANYONE actually reading/watching/listening to it BECAUSE IT IS OF NO INTEREST TO THEM. No-one, and I really mean no-one other than your equally deluded flockmembers, have even teh slightest interest in your moronic dribblings. GET OVER YOURSELF.

                ".....This is not "targetting" anything, unless you think that if you make enough targets you're guaranteed to eventually hit *something*..." So, how do you expect them to find terrorist or foreign spies or criminal coms? How do you think the Police do preventative work, do you really think the coppers all sit around waiting for a crime to happen before they start looking for criminals? Would you really want the authorities to wait until AFTER another 9/11, or 7th July Tube attack, or Madrid train bombing? No, even the sheeple want to be protected. Do you really think the 'bad guys' make it easy for the authorities, that they only use a specific tool or one IP address? Instead of shrieking and whining imaginary fears, if you think there is a better way to do it then please do post it instead of your moronic bleating.

                ".....Try looking at what's happening in China....." And saving the best for last, there we have the standard sheeple response when challenged to show how the NSA or GCHQ actions are directly affecting them - 'look at China'. Which has nothing to do with the US or UK. It's a separate country with its own and unique security apparatus, moron. There is simply no comparison with either the UK or US, no matter how desperate you are to try and make one. The truth is you KNOW you can't show any harm or 'chilling of liberty', just like you cannot show any actual benefit to the laughable idea that the spooks are building up 'blackmail files' on us all. You want to pretend that your freedom of speech is curtailed yet you bleat all kinds of stupidity right here in these forums without restraint, which would seem to show YOU ARE TALKING MALE GENITALIA. Because the 'harm and the 'chilling' and the 'blackmail files' only exist in the paranoid delusions spoonfed to you and you have zero actual proof of any of the 'nastiness' you claim.

                1. Graham Marsden

                  Re: Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                  > Marsbarbrain has to disagree because.... well, because he just has to disagree with anyone that is not in the flock.

                  No, Matt, I disagree with you because I think you are *WRONG*. But you can't handle that, so you have to resort to calling people names and using Straw Man arguments to try to discredit them when they point out your mistakes.

                  > "....First mistake: Not everyone does that....." Agreed

                  Thank you, you at least can admit you have made a mistake. Well done. The rest of your response, however is completely irrelevant to the point, so I won't waste time addressing it.

                  > Apart from the fact THEY ARE NOT LOOKING AT EVERYTHING, they simply do not have the bandwidth

                  Oh dear, Matt, you rather miss the point. It is not whether they are "looking at everything", it is that they are *trying* to do so to the best of their abilities in the hope that, somehow, troughing down huge amounts of data in the vain hope that, somehow, they'll actually be able to find something useful (except, of course, as you later admit again, they often have to throw much of it away because they can't process it)

                  (More irrelevancies ignored)

                  > how do you expect them to find terrorist or foreign spies or criminal coms?

                  Well firstly I'd say that they should do this by actually using targetted intelligence instead of a massive dragnet that treats *everyone* as a suspect and then trying to somehow eliminate everyone who doesn't send messages to others saying "Ok, we're going to blow up the building next week, Allahu Akhbar!"

                  Amazingly enough, the Security Services and Police and other such agencies *have* actually been able to do this in the past without considering that we are all potential terrorists. Of course they have also utterly *failed* to prevent attacks *even when* they had the information because it got ignored or mis-filed or swamped by too much other data, but that's not going to happen if they make their haystack bigger, is it...?

                  > Would you really want the authorities to wait until AFTER another 9/11, or 7th July Tube attack, or Madrid train bombing?

                  Ah, the classic cry justifying State snooping. Why not add "Won't you think of the children" whilst you're at it?

                  > 'look at China'. Which has nothing to do with the US or UK. It's a separate country with its own and unique security apparatus, moron

                  Oh dear, calling people names again, Matt, as if that somehow makes your arguments more intelligent (or cogent, or credible). Trying to dismiss examples of what is happening in other countries as irrelevant just shows that you are simply attempting (as always) to move the goalposts to where you've "won".

                  > The truth is you KNOW you can't show any harm or 'chilling of liberty',

                  ITYM "can't show any that you will actually listen to".

                  Like people being convicted of a crime for failing to reveal their passwords *even when* charged with non-terrorist offences. Like someone being arrested and charged for threatening to blow up Robin Hood airport. Like the Government wanting ISPs to pre-emptively block "unacceptable" web content based on a secret filter list. Like the State being able to require telecommunications providers to give them people's communication data without any evidence of wrongdoing. Like interception of communications and data being permissible without a warrant. Like...

                  According you, it seems, we should not be concerned about any of these because they're all being done for our own good and there's *no way* that an innocent person would ever be affected by any of these, so we shouldn't object.

                  Well, sorry, Matt, but some of us are not so blindly accepting of the State's intrusion into our business and private lives and we don't fall for the "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" that certain people are trying to spoon-feed to us...

                  PS You *still* didn't post an amusing variation on Skelband's name. Go on, we all know you want to, so give us the benefit of your amazing wit...

                  1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                    FAIL

                    Re: Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                    "....I disagree with you because I think you are *WRONG*...." Oh, I know you want to baaaah-lieve I'm wrong, it's just you hate the fact you can't prove I'm wrong. You're now going to post paragraph after paragraph of denial rather than admit (a) people put their secrets up online all the time, and (b) you cannot provide any proof that your coms have been listened to, because (c) you cannot show any harm or the 'chilling of liberty' you insisted is happening.

                    "....The rest of your response, however is completely irrelevant to the point, so I won't waste time addressing it....." Actually it is very relevant, it's just you CAN'T disprove it, so you pretend you don't have to.

                    ".....It is not whether they are "looking at everything"...." You insisted the NSA and GCHQ already are. Backtrack much?

                    "...,., it is that they are *trying* to do so...." Bullshit. Why on Earth would ANYONE be interested in your bleating? Please do post even one slightly believable reason why you would be of interest to anyone other than a psych major doing a thesis on paranoid delusions? Please show in any of the Snowjob 'revelations' where it states the NSA or GCHQ want to read everyone's coms. Once again, I expect you to avoid answering that and divert off into another bleating denial.

                    ".... Well firstly I'd say that they should do this by actually using targetted intelligence ...." And how do you expect them to get that targeting intelligence, by calling 0800-finda-jihadi? This IS one of the targeting systems.

                    ".....the Security Services and Police and other such agencies *have* actually been able to do this in the past ...." Big hint - this IS what they have been using for decades! What, you thought the SAS got the Gibraltar Three because they kindly sent a postcard telling Special Branch they were planning a bombing in Gib? You are simply too clueless and naive for words.

                    "....,Ah, the classic cry justifying State snooping. Why not add "Won't you think of the children" whilst you're at it?....." And why don't you try actually answering a point instead of just evading it. Well, actually it's patently obvious you can't.

                    "......Trying to dismiss examples of what is happening in other countries as irrelevant just shows that you are simply attempting (as always) to move the goalposts to where you've "won"....." And again, no answer, just denial and evasion. YOU mentioned China as justification for your claim the NSA and GCHQ were 'chilling liberty', now you just don't want to admit what a stupid thing it was to bleat. Yes,I I am 'winning', mainly because you haven't the capability or knowledge to be able to fight back, hence your continued evasions.

                    ".....Like people being convicted of a crime for failing to reveal their passwords *even when* charged with non-terrorist offences....." Apart from the fact that has nothing to do with the NSA or GCHQ, I note you studiously avoid supplying any details. What, don't want to admit your desperate denial is based on paedos?

                    "......Like someone being arrested and charged for threatening to blow up Robin Hood airport...." Complete failure! That case had NOTHING to do with the NSA or GCHQ, the moron's statement was reported by a member of the public. So you still have provided zero proof off this 'chilling of liberty'.

                    ".....Like the Government wanting ISPs to pre-emptively block "unacceptable" web content based on a secret filter list....." What secret list? The Government has been very open about what illegal activities, such as paedo photo exchanges, it wants to stop. Once again, just because you have a paranoid delusion does not make it reality.

                    ".....Like the State being able to require telecommunications providers to give them people's communication data without any evidence of wrongdoing...." You mean under a warrant, as part of a criminal investigation to find evidence of a crime? If you want to pretend otherwise then please provide a verifiable case of it happening or admit you're just making stuff up.

                    ".....According you, it seems, we should not be concerned about any of these...." Oh, I think your doctor should be very concerned. Enough to refer you for psychiatric treatment.

                    ".....but some of us are not so blindly accepting of the State's intrusion....." Not only do you blindly baaaah-lieve in this imaginary 'State's intrusion' into your private affairs, you do so even when you cannot provide a shred of verifiable proof. Every point I challenged you to provide proof on you have simply ducked. TBH, that's just sad.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                      Matt, I'm not being sarcastic here, but I have two serious questions:

                      1) Do you truly believe what you say or are you being contrary for argumentative sake.

                      2) At what point would you draw the line in terms of what government should be allowed to do under the umbrella justification of "protecting our freedom" and how would you draw it?

                      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                        Facepalm

                        Re: skelband Re: Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                        ".....1) Do you truly believe what you say or are you being contrary for argumentative sake....." What, that the NSA and GCHQ have zero interest in building 'blackmail databases' on everyone? As I pointed out, apart from the unfeasibility of the whole idea, why would they want to? Do you really believe you are so important, such a keystone of society, that The Man would see value in blackmailing you? Please do explain what it is you do or know that would be of any value to the spooks, because I'm willing to bet a large sum the answer is a big, fat nothing.

                        ".....2) At what point would you draw the line in terms of what government should be allowed to do under the umbrella justification of "protecting our freedom"....." Well, in answer, do you insist the coppers walk down the streets blindfolded and with their ears stoppered? Would you expect a copper to be able to spot a suspected mugger without the ability to see him or hear his victim's calls? Do you accept that there is a benefit to society in the Police not being so hampered? Yet the copper on the beat will see and hear plenty of non-criminal activity. They may see a couple and realise the woman is not the man's wife, but does that mean a secret has been outed, that their privacy has been invaded, and the man's marriage is now doomed, or that the Police will blackmail him? Maybe in some Third World country, but not the UK or US. In effect, the NSA and GCHQ are policing the Internet, but they are not doing so to blackmail Joe Average. You may argue that the Police do not gather intelligence on criminals abroad but, actually, they do, and they also share plenty of intelligence with other countries' without revealing the details to the public. It is very hard to find both terrorists and serious criminals, but intercepting their communications is one way. The problem is, just like when the beat copper has to walk down the street with his eyes open to see the criminals, the spooks have to capture all the coms in order to sift out the targets they need to concentrate on for proper surveillance. There simply is no other way to do it without crippling their efforts.

                        ".....how would you draw it?" We already have plenty I'd safeguards in place. The people insisting on bleating that the spooks are running amuck are those that simply have no insight into the realities of those controls or the situation, they just enjoy bleating.

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: skelband Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                          > What, that the NSA and GCHQ have zero interest in building 'blackmail databases' on everyone?

                          Well, let's have a look at some real evidence, then:

                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnPhpPIeL6w&list=PLI46g-I12_9p7quGXXanTK2zEWLiOZQvZ&index=5

                          I guess most of it won't interest you, but have a look from 20:29 and see how the government treats people that don't want to shop and peacefully demonstrate about corporatism in the US. I *suppose* you could consider them a threat if you are a big company, not quite sure if they could be usefully called terrorists though.

                          Perhaps you just watch Fox News though....

                          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                            FAIL

                            Re: skelband Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                            ".....let's have a look at some real evidence, then...." And no evidence again. And you want to use RT as a credible source!?!?! No wonder you are confused. Fusion centres are nothing to do with the NSA or GCHQ, indeed a fusion center could be completely made up of commercial companies in an area or particular market segment (such as retail) sharing information on 'activists' and other troublemakers (such as serial shoplifters), something the RT report goes to great lengths to avoid admitting. The whole report even fails to identify any official engagement in the fusion center involved, but likes to leave the impression there was police or FBI or DHS involvement. Indeed, half-way through her little propaganda routine, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard let's slip the actual report she is using for her scaremongering came from a trade association, not the authorities. So, no, this is not evidence at all, just more spoonfeeding of the sheeple. You really should read more about what real news journalists think of RT 'News' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RT_(TV_network)#Criticism

                            1. Anonymous Coward
                              Anonymous Coward

                              Re: skelband Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                              > Fusion centres are nothing to do with the NSA or GCHQ, indeed a fusion center could be completely made up of commercial companies in an area or particular market segment (such as retail) sharing information on 'activists' and other troublemakers (such as serial shoplifters), something the RT report goes to great lengths to avoid admitting.

                              Wow, this is so far off the mark, I don't even know where to start.

                              Fusion centers are a collaboration initiative between a number of government departments including all the main drivers of the surveillance state including primarily the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, the NSA and various others.

                              The main point of the article, which you seem to have missed, is that these centers were primarily created to deal with the organisation and dissemination of terrorist threat information, which are now being co-opted into fact finding investigation into people doing nothing more than peaceful demonstration with the collusion of trade groups who have an interest in silencing their critics.

                              This is clearly a departure from what was originally intended.

                              > Mara Verheyden-Hilliard let's slip the actual report she is using for her scaremongering came from a trade association

                              Go back and have another listen. This report was produced *for* the trade association by the fusion centers using, among other things, information supplied by them. As far I am aware, FOIA requests do not normally apply to private trade associations.

                              > You really should read more about what real news journalists think of RT 'News'

                              RT certainly has its biases, but that is true of all news agencies, you just have to be aware of them. On the other hand, Fox and ABC are regularly pilloried for their absurdly conservative, corporation arse-linking perspective on the world.

                              Since you like Wikipedia, perhaps you should look at what they have to say about them.

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

                              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                                FAIL

                                Re: skelband Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                                ".....Fusion centers are a collaboration initiative between a number of government departments including all the main drivers of the surveillance state including primarily the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, the NSA and various others....." LOL! A PUBLIC fusion center is simply a neighbourhood watch scheme and nothing more. The idea that the NSA gives unfettered access to their information to public businesses is just the whimsical fantasises of the most deluded anti-capitalists. They are little more than trade associations on steroids.

                                "......these centers were primarily created to deal with the organisation and dissemination of terrorist threat information...." The government uses them to disseminate terror warnings, the members of the centers, mainly local businesses, use them to disseminate information on threats to local businesses, like the hooligans of Occupy.

                                ".....This report was produced *for* the trade association by the fusion centers...." So you should be able to show that it was produced by the NSA then? Oh, no you can't, because it wasn't. It is far more likely it was compiled by private investigators working for the trade association for the express purpose of tracking such activist groups. If you want to pretend otherwise, please do post proof (not just your paranoid fantasises) that the NSA was involved. Because that is your core claim, that this is proof of the NSA's activities 'chilling liberty' and, just like the ridiculous reference to China, it has SFA to do with the NSA.

                                ".....FOIA requests do not normally apply to private trade associations....." A Freedom of Information Act request is nothing more than a request for the authorities to provide the details on what data they hold on a particular subject. Anyone can make an FOIA request on any subject, it in no way means that actual information exists or is rooted in reality. If I wanted to waste my money I could go make an FOIA request asking the authorities if they hold any information on little green men on Mars (actually a quite popular request with the conspiracy nutters), the answer will come back 'we have no such information' - the request does not guarantee the subject is actually a reality. It is a common tactic of anti-government activists like Mara Verheyden-Hilliard to make bogus FOIA applications when they know there is no actual government involvement, just so they can wave it in front of the sheeple and claim 'cover-up' and pretend at government involvement. If you want to claim there was such involvement, please do post the results of the FOIA (without claiming 'cover-up' when they come back as nothing).

                                ".....RT certainly has its biases...." RT is Putin's personal propaganda tool and nothing more. Anyone that wants to pretend otherwise, or tries to insist it is no worse than other news channels, is simply deceiving themselves.

                                So, once again, you have failed to show any proof of the 'chilling effect' due to the NSA you want to baaaah-lieve is happening, and have only shown how you base your baaaah-liefs on sources from hysterical Leftie agit-prop groups and Putin's propaganda machine. You are scoring highly only in the area of complete failure.

                    2. Graham Marsden

                      Re: Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                      > Oh, I know you want to baaaah-lieve I'm wrong, it's just you hate the fact you can't prove I'm wrong.

                      No, I've already done it, but you just won't accept it. I'll do it again, but you'll dodge and evade and move the goalposts and bring up more irrelevancies to desperately avoid admitting it.

                      > You're now going to post paragraph after paragraph of denial

                      Oops, wrong!

                      > rather than admit (a) people put their secrets up online all the time,

                      Some people do, Matt, but as skelband (what, *still* no "amusing" variation on his name?) has said, he doesn't. Nor do I. Nor do a lot of other people, but, of course, that's not good enough for you because you want me to prove a negative.

                      > and (b) you cannot provide any proof that your coms have been listened to,

                      Again you want me to prove a negative.

                      > because (c) you cannot show any harm or the 'chilling of liberty' you insisted is happening.

                      I've already given examples, but you won't accept those because they don't fit in with your mindset, so how about this quote from David Cameron in Parliament: “We have had repeated meetings of the extremism task force — it met again yesterday — setting out a whole series of steps that we will take to counter the extremist narrative, including by blocking online sites.”

                      So if an online site is determined to be "extremist", it can be blocked and those who run it (and, presumably those who try to access it) can be watched and monitored even if they only came across it by accident or were conducting legitimate research as happened to the "Nottingham Two", a student and a staff member who looked at an "Al Qaeda training manual" and were subsequently arrested even though it was freely available on US Government websites.

                      This is no figment of my imagination, these are demonstrable *facts* and the end result of these is that anyone who knows of this case will be given pause to think "hang on, if I look at X or Y or Z I risk being arrested too, maybe I shouldn't do so..."

                      And that, Matt, is a Chilling Effect, whether you accept it or not.

                      > Please show in any of the Snowjob 'revelations' where it states the NSA or GCHQ want to read everyone's coms.

                      Hmm, to quote from the Guardian (who published them): "The documents show the NSA, intent on exploiting the communications revolution to the full, developing ever more intrusive programmes in pursuit of its ambition to have surveillance cover of the whole planet: total command of what the NSA refers to as the 'digital battlefield'."

                      > Once again, I expect you to avoid answering that and divert off into another bleating denial.

                      Once again you're wrong, Matt.

                      > And how do you expect them to get that targeting intelligence, by calling 0800-finda-jihadi? This IS one of the targeting systems.

                      I've already pointed out the fallacy in that argument, but still you won't accept that building a bigger haystack will make it easier to find a needle.

                      > why don't you try actually answering a point instead of just evading it. Well, actually it's patently obvious you can't [...] hence your continued evasions.

                      ROFL! Paging Mr Pott and Mr Kettle-Black!

                      > What secret list?

                      You *really* do have a problem, Matt, don't you? I can't prove a negative, therefore you win the argument! (Why not try the Chewbacca defence next?)

                      > ".....Like the State being able to require telecommunications providers to give them people's communication data without any evidence of wrongdoing...." You mean under a warrant, as part of a criminal investigation to find evidence of a crime? If you want to pretend otherwise then please provide a verifiable case of it happening or admit you're just making stuff up.

                      To quote from Big Brother Watch "When details recently emerged in the media about the Prism and Tempora programmes, codenames for previously secret online surveillance operations, it was revealed that GCHQ has the capacity to collect more than 21 petabytes of data a day – equivalent to sending all the information in all the books in the British Library 192 times every 24 hours. The disclosures have raised serious parliamentary concerns both in Britain and at the EU level."

                      Now, Matt, are you *honestly* trying to tell me that a warrant has been granted to cover *every* single piece of information collected by GCHQ under Tempora??

                      In any case, once again, Matt, feel free to get the last word (well, ad hominem attack) in. It's as clear as ever that you will not (or perhaps that's "cannot"?) listen to anything that goes against your blinkered viewpoints and your mindless acceptance that the State is only ever there for our good so we must accept every intrusion on our privacy and every infrigement of our liberties without question like good little proles.

                      PS perhaps "Numbskullband" would be a good variant? What do you think...?

                      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                  "Would you really want the authorities to wait until AFTER another 9/11, or 7th July Tube attack, or Madrid train bombing?"

                  Shame they didn't stop them in the first place.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: skelband Outrage

              > you lot also dump tons of private data onto social media such as Twatter, Faecesbook, etc., with gusto.

              Sorry? Me? I use neither Facebook, Twitter nor any of the social media sites. I prefer to keep life my own. The fact that others choose not to do so is an essential part of their liberty.

        2. YetAnotherLocksmith

          Re: Outrage

          Do you not realise that your liberty is completely gone if someone else had every scrap of data about you, your family and the political elite tucked away for use on a whim?

          I see you as a 'threat' so have a close look at your file. Assign a few people to have a dig. How many laws can you be arrested for breaking in a week of close surveillance? But that costs money. Easier to just query the file, and have plod take you away.

          Even if squeaky clean your kid might not be. What father wouldn't consider a polite request for a set of the encryption keys for a decode if lent on with threats to their son or daughters liberty?

          Failing even that, just call up the local political elite and use some of the data on them to have a nice law passed. Consider this gem: they could revoke your right to travel out the country by adding you to the football list, worth nothing more than a word and a name. Hand in your passport or else, and attend the police station during matches. Even if you didn't give a damn about football. .. Add your name to the 'No fly' list. Revoke your firearms or shotgun certificates, even your driving license, then make sure a copper is there at the right time, and sure, it might be a 'clerical error' eventually, but you'll enjoy the ride through the police station, courts and custody chain, even knowing it is a set-up. Just tweaking the results of your CRB or credit record could ruin your job or your life.

          So yes, mass surveillance is a bad thing. Especially when those doing it are hidden from any oversight whatsoever.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: YetAnotherCluelssSheep Re: Outrage

            "Do you not realise that your liberty is completely gone if someone else had every scrap of data about you....." Seriously, unwrap the tinfoil. Do you sit down every day and dictate your life-history in an email, web chat or phone call? I know you sheeple have some serious paranoid delusions, but please do explain how Big Brother is supposed to find and store that data on EVERYBODY as you want to baaaaaaaaaah-lieve. TRY THINKING BEFORE BLEATING!

            ".....I see you as a 'threat' so have a close look at your file....." Ignoring the fact, as admitted in Snowjob's own 'revelations', the vast majority of the data is never even looked at before being deleted. It would seem you need to do less hysterical bleating and a lot more reading before you form another 'theory' - and it is generous to describe the drivel you posted as a 'theory'!

            ".....just call up the local political elite and use some of the data on them to have a nice law passed....." Yeah, that would work so well, right up until you hit the politician that decided they could make better ratings by exposing the attempted blackmail. And again, if a politician had such a big secret, why the fudge would they be dictating it down a phone line?

      5. FuzzyTheBear
        Pint

        Re: Outrage

        Who's the tard that downvoted this post ? Confess to your sins ! :)

        The intel agencies have all the details of your connection .. which they wouldn't had you used one of the aforementioned old trusty and reliable techniques. lol

        Have a great weekend.

    5. Bernard M. Orwell

      Re: Outrage

      "There is no way of intercepting (say) an email from Boko Haram giving the location of the Nigerian girls, without intercepting everybody else's email as well."

      Even with all of this surveillance infrastructure, nothing could be done to locate these girls. In fact, I *keep* seeing incidents of "terrorism" of this nature happening. I thought that empowering the TLA's was intended to protect people? If thats so, then the system they've designed IS NOT WORKING and is therefore just a collosal waste of money... ...unless it has another purpose of some kind?

      7/7, the murder of Lee Rigby, the time it took to find Bin Laden (Eventually found after an informant changed sides), the rise of Boko Haram, even 9/11 itself have ALL occured since the founding of 5i, Echelon and many of the systems and methods described by Mr Snowden.

      If nothing else, surely this indicate that the system is simply not fit for purpose and is a burden on taxpayers that need not exist?

      On a closing note; can all of you saying "well, we all KNEW they were spying, why are we suprised?" just shut the hell up? Some of us have been warning of mass surveillance and government cover-ups for years...

      ....you called us "Conspiracy Nuts" and dismissed us as "tin foil hat wearers".

      Finding the Red Pill a little more tasty now are you?

  4. corestore

    Interesting...

    "Documents provided by Snowden show that GCHQ particularly prizes the data they get from Sweden..."

    I wonder, I just wonder, if this apparently exceptionally close relationship between US spooks and Sweden could have any bearing on the Assange situation?

    I don't LIKE the guy, I think he's a prize plonker with an ego the size of a small planet, but his situation and circumstances seem... convenient. Very convenient.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just about ready

    To erase Windows. I run Mint too but prefer Windows. It's not as easy as that, though, is it. I've got several VMs running in VirtualBox. I think most of the rest of the software I run is safe - morally, that is - but I need to look into the hardware. AMD? Western Digital? AOC? Etc, etc.

    Just shows how long it takes (for the sickness to reach the stomach). This has been coming since before the internet. We make our excuses to ourselves that, no matter how we repackage them to maintain the illusion of our integrity, amount to i). that we don't want to give up our toys, and ii). that we support these companies with our continued patronage. We will do nothing effectual lest we lose our job and argue that losing that job wouldn't help; so, carry on, living as a slave. Cue indignant retorts explaining why 'I' am not a slave, 'speak for yourself, mate!', and each argument just a continuation of that effort to maintain the illusion of a justification for self-respect. Like Depression sufferers refusing to see their problem and convincing themselves this is 'normal', how it's meant to be.

    Whether or not you have a family, the choice is whether or not to be a collaborator.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just about ready

      Whether or not you have a family, the choice is whether or not to be a collaborator.

      WOW, that's casting the net wide.

      I'm all for vocal criticism, but I'm not sure you can blame everyone just for being part of society. I try to assign 'blame' to those who actually commit the acts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        He has a point though

        Yes, he is casthing the net very wide. Yet… look around. How many do you know that are complacent about these issues, the "nothing to hide" and "more important things to do" and "why would I care" and "I just need lager, telly and soccer" crowd. It is sickening that these people do not realize that they are letting the whole framework of why they can live and act that way in the first place slip away.

        We are losing what defines us as a society, what makes us what we are, the reasons why "here" is better than elsewhere.

        It is not about being blamed for being part of society, it is being blamed for not giving a shit about what makes our society.

        1. Lapun Mankimasta

          Re: He has a point though

          Interesting, the mention of the "Nothing to hide" meme. Should really be asking the snooper scoopers, if they aren't doing anything wrong, then since they have nothing to hide, they by extension, have nothing to fear from being completely free and open with us.

          Or is it the fact that they are hiding everything they possibly can, proof positive that they are doing something terribly wrong? What a place to hide, for ... various sexual predators ... amongst the machinery that snoops on everybody else.

  6. AndyFl

    You can guarantee everyone at ElReg is now on the list

    Batten down the hatches, encrypt the sh1t out of everything and only buy your IT kit anonymously from high street retailers now. Also do not use Outlook or IE for anything.

    I guess the same goes for all comment contributors too and maybe everyone reading the comments being traced via their IP address.

    It is time for TheRegister to go https, marginal additional security but will make the GCHQ computers work harder, come on guys it isn't that difficult to setup https.

    Finally lets have PGP public keys for all addresses linked from TheRegister contact page too.

    andy

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon
      Holmes

      Re: You can guarantee everyone at ElReg is now on the list

      "Finally lets have PGP public keys for all addresses linked from TheRegister contact page too."

      I know at least one Reg hack as a public key (since I have it) but I don't know if they are published anywhere - but it's a bloody good idea.

      @Chris, sort it out :)

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: You can guarantee everyone at ElReg is now on the list @ Sir Runcible Spoon

        For all those with a Mac and wanting to play with PGP encryption, here be a fine primer making things much easier to understand and implement than many other sites have tried to explain ...... http://notes.jerzygangi.com/the-best-pgp-tutorial-for-mac-os-x-ever/

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You can guarantee everyone at ElReg is now on the list

      Actually, as a averagely pseudonymous ElReg commenteer since the 'mad' Mike years I have recently (& surprisingly) been interviewed by a {redacted} security service worker "So, what is your opinion of the Snowden situation?" - was the plum question of the evening! The fact that I'm from country 'A', living in country 'B' and this "interview" was in country 'C' - where I was visiting for 1.5 days to discuss HPC, indicates some nifty footwork from the agencies. (evidence of collecting agencies “Royal Concierge” service??)

      This particular agent was a very nice guy, his tradecraft a bit rusty - he didn't have a business card for the company he claimed to work for but he paid for the beer! I can confirm that forums.theregister.co.uk is a digital 'watering-hole' and that 'the list' is pan-EU, if not global.

      From their point of view, lets face it, for years in the UK , MI5 was opening a file on anyone who wrote a complaining letter to the local evening newspaper....

      p.s. I still don't trust & use PGP - even having chatted to Phil Dylan about it - for me that's digitally signed 'secret' evidence! I do everything in the open, assuming that at least one 'frenemy' is in-the-system.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You can guarantee everyone at ElReg is now on the list

        This is why anything security related that I post on The Register is just ill-informed comment. Perhaps I should apologise for wasting spook time but, no, I didn't actually ask them to read it.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon

          Re: You can guarantee everyone at ElReg is now on the list

          Unfortunately when we get into discussions about security theater a lot of commentators want to reduce the argument to black and white terms so that they can feel secure in their chosen position.

          I know from bitter experience that the more certain I am that I am right, the more likely I am to be wrong. It is only on the balance of probabilities (accepting new information that can sway those probabilities and thus re-assess ones position) that we can discuss the subject without rancour.

          I have the greatest respect for people who serve their country and believe what they are doing is for the benefit of everyone, however the longer this whole fiasco goes on the more I see the intelligence services (all of them) absolutely certain they are right - which worries me.

          Given the kind of power at their disposal and the evidence we have of them obfuscating the truth to their political masters (and thus the people at large who pay their wages) we can't afford to have people in those positions who are absolutely certain that they are 'right'.

          It's one of the main reasons I clash keyboards with Matt sometimes, not because he doesn't sometimes have a point, but it's his reducing the argument to a, how can I say this politely, simpler level draws debate away from the subject and onto personalities - which is effectively propaganda.

          If the security services read these forums (and I know they do) then I'm confident they can spot the real potential trouble-makers (I can only think of one off the top of my head and it probably isn't who you think).

          I have the technical capability and learning capacity to bury my tracks if I chose to, but I don't because I actually don't have (much ;) ) to hide. That doesn't mean I'm not afraid (to paraphrase the oft quoted excuse for mass surveillance).

          I'm not afraid that the spooks can tap into everything, I'm afraid that without sufficient checks and balances their peculiar mind-set will lead them slowly but surely towards a more authoritarian stance. Whether they are directly or indirectly controlled by the $monied I can't be sure. I'd like to think there were people of high morals (yet having to make difficult choices) in the corridors of power, but the complete lack of evidence to support that stance makes it more likely to be the opposite, and it's these people who have the keys to kingdom.

          If they need more power, they simply open another door, and that ability should scare the piss out of everyone, including them if they had any sense - because they and their families will be living in the same world overall (albeit better protected and provisioned). Kings of the shit-pile, how wonderfully glorious that must feel.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Incorrect title of boo

    The book is actually named "No Place to Hide" and not "Nowhere to Hide".

    TheReg..you're getting sloppy.

  8. steward
    Holmes

    Not that I particularly like being spied on, but...

    Does anyone -really- believe that the US DOD's Advanced Research Products Agency hired BBN to put together a system to trade cat pictures? My fellow students at Rutgers in the 1980's certainly didn't believe the reason for ARPANET / NSFnet was so that we could chat easily from building to building or across the country - most of us assumed that everything we did was being stored by NSA or FBI.

    The naïveté revealed by the general public in response to the Snowden revelations is astounding. This was a Defense project, not a Commerce or a National Foundation for the Arts project!

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