back to article Bulk interception is NOT mass surveillance, says parliamentary committee

Parliament's intelligence committee report into security and privacy has concluded GCHQ's bulk interception of net traffic is not mass surveillance, and so permissible. However, it also called for new umbrella laws to regulate the actives of spy agencies and provide greater transparency. The Intelligence and Security …


  1. OllyL

    Not read, but not forgotten either?

    I note they highlighted that not everything is seen by human eyes. I do wonder if it's ever deleted though (such that if in future someone becomes 'politically interesting' their past can be dredged through to see if there is any 'leverage' to be had)

  2. b166er

    'primarily in order to uncover threats'

    Evidence that they have found ANY?

    Weapons of mass surveillance

  3. Someone Else Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Of course...why didn't I think of that?

    Parliament's intelligence committee report into security and privacy has concluded GCHQ's bulk interception of net traffic is not mass surveillance, and so permissible.

    Also, In other news...

    We're not at war with Eurasia, we're at war with Eastasia, We've always been at war with Eastasia.

    War is Peace

    Ignorance is Bliss

    That last one is the most important...

    Clearly, the members of your "parliamentary committee" are graduates of the Antonin Scalia Governmental School of Semantic and Logical Dissonance. Fuckwits!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GCHQ is not collecting or reading everyone’s emails

    I believe you.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ain't so bad

    Do people really think their email is being read? Let's take a conservative estimate of 40M active email accounts in the country. You could put 10 thousand spooks in a huge room and they'd still each have to read 4000 people's email every day. The idea just doesn't make any sense at all. More likely, the only way to get the 0.0001% of emails you want is to catch everything and then discard the majority long before it reaches anything human. Not so different to real policing - coppers walk around with their eyes open whether a crime is in progress or not.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ain't so bad


      It is different. Coppers don't walk around watching everybody and everything with a nearly infallible, digital storage medium and memory which they can then use to:

      1) Correlate patterns (who you see, who you speak to, what you read, where you shop, what you buy, what you write in emails, facebook, sms etc).

      2) Drag that information up years later to build a case against you.

      3) Perhaps modify the data to build up a case against you, once everyone has accepted 2).

      4) Give that data to anyone with enough clout or money who can then use it against you.

      It's hard to imagine we might all one day be living in a police state with no civil rights (some think we do already) where this nightmare becomes reality. But unbridled. unregulated information gathering and control is the first step towards that nightmare.

      We must never let that happen.

      Don't forget that once a power base gets in that doesn't like you, they can access all that data and those tools. Imagine what a Stalin or Hitler would have done with that kind of power. Look what they managed to do without it. Then tell me you still feel comfortable with that possibility.

      These "elected" idiots who think we need more bulk/mass collection/surveillance need to be shown the door. They are not fit to be running a democratic state. These are evil people who either do not understand the consequences of their decisions or don't care. Vote them out, now, before it is too late.

      1. Vic

        Re: Ain't so bad

        Vote them out, now, before it is too late.



    2. Emperor Zarg

      Re: Ain't so bad

      The problem is that, in order to make it palatable, they have built the apparatus of mass surveillance, under the guise of counter-terrorism. However, other than mere hearsay, no proof has been provided that such apparatus has prevented a single terrorist incident.

      Therefore, the logical conclusions we might draw are:

      1 - The apparatus is ineffective and a waste of taxpayer's money

      2 - The primary function of the apparatus is not the prevention of terrorism

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Ain't so bad

        In the 70s and 80s we didn't have email or interception and we had the IRA, RAF, ETA, Bader Meinhoff, Black September, FLQ

        Now that we have email and interception we don't have any of those - simple proof that the policy works.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GSHQ don't tap many cables

    Just the few entering/leaving the country and the 2 LINX LANS should cover it.

  7. JRBobDobbs

    Does this apply to everyone?

    Am I allowed to intercept and collect other people's communications as long as I don't read them / look at them?

  8. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Revolutionary Thoughts from Sensible Questions

    Is it intelligent of Security and Secret Intelligence Services to allow and assist politicians and Parliamentarians in the scam of running the country and phorming future policies which fail expensively?

    Methinks such is a folly for fools to follow and useless tools to maintain and sustain.

    What say y’all?

    [NB … let it be known that there be no padlockable red North Face bags here.]

    1. Mark 85

      Re: Revolutionary Thoughts from Sensible Questions

      It may be folly but it keeps the Security and Secret Intelligence Services gainfully employed and also keeps their bosses in power. However, in the timescale of civilizations, it's a drop in the bucket and they too shall pass into the pages of history. What will come after is a different question that many will not be prepared for the answer. I believe "this won't end well" is a good answer.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Revolutionary Thoughts from Sensible Questions

        It also encourages ordinary people to think about security, web sites to use HTTPS by default, to be careful of giving any information to, or cooperating with, the police - so in all it's a good thing ;-)

        1. T. F. M. Reader

          Re: Revolutionary Thoughts from Sensible Questions

          @YAAC; "It also encourages ordinary people to think..."

          ...about the possible consequences of saying this or that, to censor themselves, and to generally conform and toe the "party line". The holy grail of a totalitarian state.

          "It's a good thing," you say?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Revolutionary Thoughts from Sensible Questions

        Pass into the pages of history? Methinks not. Not even a footnote for the lot, let alone any individual. That's merely their conceit talking.

  9. Neil Alexander

    There's an awful lot of "The government think this!" and not very much of "The people of this country think this!"

    If the government bothered to ask our opinion every while, they might be surprised at how few of us want this kind of "protection".

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      In fairness they do ask for our opinion every five years or so. The question they ask is "do you want Authoritarian Party A to decide how you're going to be spied on, or do you want Authoritarian Party B to decide how you're going to be spied on?"

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What ass clowns...

    If you can't figure out the difference between monitoring crim com traffic and mass surveillance, you should not be commenting because you're ignorant and clueless.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: What ass clowns...

      WELL SAID, anon!

      However, the thing is, it's the government not us that don't seem to know the difference, and as they aren't here commenting, I'm puzzled about who you could be referring to.

  11. All names Taken

    C'mon peeps - give em a brake?

    Is Hansard mass surveillance of MPs activities?

    Or is it just bulk interception of what they spake in t'ouse while in formal capacity?

    (this isn't going as I thought it would - the point I am trying to make is that bulk interception is not mass surveillance but it does have potential to be both surveillance and bulk surveillance and targetted surveillance (did I tell you I can't count?))

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Wot. 100 psts in and *nothing* from our favorite apologist for mass interception?

    Someone on the naughty step again?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wot. 100 psts in and *nothing* from our favorite apologist for mass interception?

      It's a puzzle isn't it? He even posted a thoroughly reasonable and useful comment the other day which got nothing but up-votes.

      Maybe he's become a born again something or other.

  13. Roj Blake Silver badge

    Not Blanket Surveillance

    It's more like a duvet.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Damage limitation

    The thing that wrankles with me the most is, we would not even be having this discussion if Edward Snowden had not exposed their dirty laundry.

    It would be business as usual for GCHQ and the public would be none the wiser AT ALL.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "This may require the Agencies to sift through 'haystack' sources......."

    The statements on Page 25 give the game away. ISTM that 'haystack' sources can not be effectively searched for 'needles' unless he entire 'haystack' is collected and examained. If you ignore any part of the 'haystack' you run the risk of missing all the 'needles'.

    Is this initial 'sifting' not effectively mass surveillance?


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