back to article Leaked docs: GCHQ spooks secretly haul in more data than NSA

The spooks at Brit intelligence agency GCHQ have been secretly tapping hundreds of fibre-optic cables to slurp data, according to leaked documents seen by The Guardian. This massive interception effort operates under two programs titled, rather modestly, Mastering the Internet (as reported on by El Reg four years ago – Ed) and …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We have a light oversight regime compared with the US

    Based on some experience of this, we have NO oversight regime compared to the US.

    And GCHQ are happy to share with the rest of the Big 5 and even Special Branch.

    Anon. Not that it helps but, y'know.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Holmes

      Re: We have a light oversight regime compared with the US

      >"Anon. Not that it helps but, y'know."

      Yeah - GCHQ knows EXACTLY who you are, pal.

      Heh. Puts the whole "Anonymous Coward" posting thing in a new light, eh? Might as well do like I've always done - put your name on it - and don't say it if you don't want someone to know you said it.

      Anyone who ever thought they were truly "anonymous" while putting data on a network backbone first created under US Dept. of Defense oversight is seriously fooling themselves.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We have a light oversight regime compared with the US

        It's not GCHQ who bother me about posting on the internet, it's the rather unhinged people who think that if you disagree with their choice of OS, you're somehow the enemy and the lack of impulse control some of these people sometimes exhibit really leads me to think that they might try to find out who I am...

        I work on the principle that, if I'm of interest to "The Man", they already know more about me than I do and that I wouldn't even know that I'm being investigated. I don't think "The Man" would put a flaming dog poo on my doorstep...

        1. Eddy Ito
          Coat

          Re: We have a light oversight regime compared with the US

          So, you're saying Eadon has access to dog droppings and matches? You're right, that is rather worrisome.

          OH! What's this in my pocket?!

  2. Anomalous Cowshed

    No bureaucracy

    It's refreshing to know that at least something in the UK is free of bureaucracy - and it makes sense. If you are going to take the liberty to spy on your citizens and thus impinge on their so-called rights on an industrial scale, unbeknown to them (it has to be more or less unbeknown in order to work properly), then why pretend and introduce bureaucratic red tape to make your own life difficult? You have the power, you use it, regardless of what anybody might think. Isn't that so? And then if someone finds out, you say it's to prevent 'terrorism'. And surprisingly, it works. Most people believe you and they love you for it.

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: No bureaucracy

      Hey! I'm sure there is a health and safety officer at each GCHQ analyst's workstation, on the lookout for repetitive motion injuries and papercuts! :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Facepalm

        GCHQ health and safety officer?

        Not at all, they wouldn't even notice if you went missing for weeks and even then they'd give the local bobbies a bell to do the inquiries.

        --

        "We currently do not have any jobs open for application due to maintenance".

        Damn ...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      Re: No bureaucracy

      The tragedy is that despite this industrial scale monitoring, they've still not been able to make much inroads in the more obvious areas like drugs and organised crime. Which leads me to the conclusion that either they don't care because the programme IS aimed at monitoring the peasants rather than protecting them. OR the programme is largely ineffectual.

      Based on my engagement with government I suspect the latter. We're paying for this programme, but actually it's ineffectual, bureaucratic, and generally incompetent. Think of it as a "public service" and maybe that makes it OK.

      1. Otto is a bear.

        Re: No bureaucracy

        For those of you who don't follow the news, there are things called Dark Nets which are very difficult to detect unless you trawl a lot of messages, these nets are what criminals use. Do you think that these networks don't have access to bright people who do their best to keep the nets from being found and hacked.

        Dark Nets are by their very nature transient, and difficult to find, unless you know where to look, they don't advertise themselves on normal DNS services, they don't have fixed IPs, they aren't there 24/7.

        Now what would you expect to happen if one such net was found? I somehow don't think you would read about it in the Grauniad.

      2. JohnMurray

        Re: No bureaucracy

        Drugs and organised crime are big business.

        Nothing is "ineffectual" in government, which is why this trawling of any, and all, data is taking place. It may be ineffectual TODAY, but tomorrow ?

        Just because the gov.uk has not had its own "Utah" operation revealed does not mean it has none....it is probably called "The Home Office Personal Data Backup Storage" site...

        The UK gov invented the meaning of the "right hand not knowing what the left is doing", and extended it to the "right hand not only not knowing what the left is doing, but does not know the left even exists", and denies it if anyone says it"

        1. h3

          Re: No bureaucracy

          If they just taxed the drugs like they do alcohol and tobacco then the organised crime wouldn't be a problem (At least anything like the same and as well resourced. You still get people selling fake illegal cigs/booze in some places but its not the same.)

          That is the stupid thing about it there is enough money in that black market to pay off all our debt without changing anything else. They could beat it using the same type of tactics the supermarkets use with price wars. They could get them legitimately made for nothing kill off the black market and then increase the price gradually.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Ledswinger

        But you've no idea what inroads they're making into drugs and organised crime - you probably open up your copy of the Daily Mail, notice all the stories about immigrants taking our council homes while getting let off lightly from stealing from the local supermarket to fund their drug habits which were a result of drug dealers getting their hooks into them, and assume the police and intelligence services do NOTHING, and achieve ZERO.

        As for terrorism, well, all a big fuss over nothing, I'm sure you think - after all, we've not had any terrorism in the UK for ages. Duh.

      4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: No bureaucracy

        But they do keep us safe from tigers.

        Since the introduction of this program there have been very few tiger attacks on Britain's streets

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No bureaucracy

          "they do keep us safe from tigers.

          Since the introduction of this program there have been very few tiger attacks on Britain's streets"

          Same principle as nuclear deterrence then, innit. Gotta work.

      5. plrndl

        Re: No bureaucracy

        Yes, but it keeps the Daily Mail readers onside

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No bureaucracy

      "He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother"

  3. Dazed and Confused

    Enviable position

    Of course they made a lot of effort to ensure they were in this enviable position way back at the start of the communications revolution. Its quite amusing how little that map has changed since the 1901 version.

    All that's happened is the line have gotten faster.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They've been intercepting since before the Kaiser dropped bombs from zeppelins.

    Things only get worse with time and technology.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    makes sense, spy on uk and pakistan

    Where better to listen to world terrorists than 'New Islamabad' , Redbridge.

    1. g e
      Holmes

      Re: makes sense, spy on uk and pakistan

      More likely that we're the utterly complicit Israel of Europe, being a pathetically willing extension of US intelligence into our poor European cousins under the 'Special Relationship' which, I suspect, is more akin to cock-in-arse than being a 'dialogue' with our Western 'cousins'.

      *Waves at GCHQ*

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    So *that's* what "Mastering the Internet" meant

    It was usually described as being part of the IMP.

    Note that rule.

    "We can only intercept (data) calls where they are talking to someone abroad"

    Exactly like the US FISA act.

    And for exactly the same reason.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: So *that's* what "Mastering the Internet" meant

      "We can only intercept (data) calls where they are talking to someone abroad"

      Interestingly, The NSA and GCHQ share data that they gather, and the US and UK are 'abroad' from each other.

      So... Don't actually spy on your own, just let your buddy do it and pass along the data, right?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You have to ask

    why there is a push to bring in IMP when its already being done on such a scale. I guess the key issue is a lack of storage on the part of the government hence the plan to get the ISP's to store the data.

    The other part of this is that the ISP's must have been fully aware of the extra kit being inserted onto the networks they run and you have to wonder what deals where done to make this happen and to keep it under wraps.

    What it also shows is that the past and present home secretaries calling for IMP to be implemented on the basis of the murder of Lee Rigby knew all along they where already doing this and it made no difference. The misuse of his tragic murder for political aims is as shocking as it is wrong. At least in Japan when caught out like this they do the honourable thing!

    1. ElNumbre
      Big Brother

      Re: You have to ask

      When much of the UK traffic routes around the UK on one companies pipes, and that company is still to really shake off its pre-nationalisation history, its probably relatively easy to get your interconnects setup. Especially when you also provide interconnectivity for the MOD too. Even independent providers have peering points in friendly locations, and failing that, would they come and investigate if there was a 'brief' blip in the network link (whilst the tap was inserted).

      Its funny, I'd always assumed they were doing this anyway, despite all their protestations to the opposite.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You have to ask

        There are 'special' rooms in this organisation.

        Rooms you cannot go into, in fact, forget you ever even heard about them.

        In fact, just where DID you hear about them? No, don't tell us, we just need to pull up your file.

    2. JaitcH

      Re: You have to ask

      @AC: said: "The other part of this is that the ISP's must have been fully aware of the extra kit being inserted onto the networks"

      These 'taps' are not done at ISPs but rather at the carriers facilities.

      I have a friend who is a senior supervisor and he says it is common knowledge which fibres are fed off to GCHQ and his men (and women) make a point of bending, crimping GCHQ feeds thereby damaging the fibres and reducing their throughput. It often takes, he told me, a month or more before GCHQ figures out they have a damaged cable.

      The GCHQ cables, along with other high priority circuits, are flagged with special coloured 'protectors' that clip on to connectors.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: You have to ask

        ".....I have a friend who is a senior supervisor and he says it is common knowledge which fibres are fed off to GCHQ and his men (and women) make a point of bending, crimping GCHQ feeds thereby damaging the fibres and reducing their throughput. It often takes, he told me, a month or more before GCHQ figures out they have a damaged cable....." I call male bovine manure - it takes seconds for a circuit check to show up a damaged cable, and anyone damaging a cable would be out of a job very quickly. Do you have any other imaginary friends you want to add, just for the comedy value?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You have to ask

      Well all the people at the ISP have to sign the official secrets act before the big black boxes get installed.

      Everyone that is except contractors it seems, who also go into the data halls and ask, what's that big black box for?

      I think the deal is possibly along the lines, if you want to continue in operation, then install these and don't talk about them; you wouldn't want a multiple government investigation into your business would you?

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: You have to ask

        "Well all the people at the ISP have to sign the official secrets act before the big black boxes get installed....." The OSA is a legal act and therefore a national law, just like laws on speeding or murder. All British citizens anywhere in the World are subject to it. When you "sign the OSA" you are just signing a statement that says you have been made aware of the legal implications of the Act, a citizen can still be prosecuted under the Act even if they haven't signed a statement. That is because the one get out clause is to say you were not reasonably aware it was a secret when you disclosed whatever you disclosed. So, it would not be necessary for all the ISP staff to sign the OSA statement for the black box, but if one went and disclosed what the black box did then they would still be liable. An ISP employee in the UK dropping an email to Laura Poitras in America, telling her about the black box in their ISP that was slurping Internet data, would be a breach of the Act despite their not having signed a statement.

  8. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Sadly, i suspected this was coming.....

    There's a reason that every Brit government has jealously guarded the "special relationship" ever since Churchill was PM. Going beyond being able to train at u.s. bases and having a premium account at the pentagon help line, Britain and the u.s. have been sharing intercepts (you eavesdrop on the Nazis and we'll decrypt the Japs!) since before Pearl Harbor.

    Only now its aimed at the population in general......

    1. Christoph
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Sadly, i suspected this was coming.....

      It's standard practice for the US and UK to swap intelligence

  9. Vimes

    From the looks of things this could include websites aimed at users within the UK and from the point of the view of the user would be considered domestic traffic. A few random examples: the foreign office website is hosted in the US. Amazon.co.uk is hosted in Ireland. pcworld.co.uk is hosted in France.

    The list goes on. All of them would be intercepted under this scheme.

    What's even more interesting though is the lack of any interest from most of the mainstream media outside of this website and the guardian itself. Go ahead - have a look. Searching for 'GCHQ' on the telegraph's website for example returns a handful or articles with the first one conveniently accusing Snowden of being a traitor. Most of the others seem to be more obsessed with that teacher that was sentenced today.

    Scratch that, the BBC just mentioned it as I was typing this, although in typical pro-government BBC fashion it was very succinct and kept to a minimum and also stressed how GCHQ were repeating how they were scrupulous in following the law.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Watch out, there's a D Notice about

      "the lack of any interest from most of the mainstream media outside of this website and the guardian itself."

      You do know HMG has issued a D Notice on the subject to keep the media in order, right?

      Our "free speech" in the UK, isn't. What a surprise.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/17/defence-d-bbc-media-censor-surveillance-security

      and before that:

      http://order-order.com/2013/06/08/d-notice-june-7-2013/

      from

      http://www.andmagazine.com/content/phoenix/13003.html

      echelon green bush lodge blair orwell

      1. Vimes

        Re: Watch out, there's a D Notice about

        Except that there are precedents to say that once something is in the public domain it can't be considered secret and as a consequence could presumably not be covered by a D notice.

        Take this case for example from back into 2001:

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1319549/Judges-open-secrets-floodgates-as-paper-wins-MI6-book-battle.html

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Watch out, there's a D Notice about

          "once something is in the public domain it can't be considered secret and as a consequence could presumably not be covered by a D notice."

          OK, but the D Notice also makes it clear that HMG don't want a particular topic covered, whether it's legal to cover it or not. Do you think that carries much weight with the taxpayer-funded BBC, for example? I'd guess it might. And with newspapers that get lots of government advertising money? And so on.

          Wheels within wheels.

          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: Watch out, there's a D Notice about

            The BBC are considered to be untrustworthy by all sides, so they either a) try to be meek and mild (but still get criticised for not reporting the "right things", or b) make sure that they are still around in 20/30/40 years' time (the events regarding Greece's national broadcaster will not have gone unnoticed). I don't care - at least it isn't owned by Murdoch.

  10. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
    Flame

    Over 300 GCHQ and 250 NSA analysts sift through the data, which they use to identify communications relating to security, terror, organized crime, and economic well-being

    Well they did a grand job of preventing the UK from being affected by the global economic banking screw-up.

    1. g e

      No shit

      But, where do you think all that 'imaginary money' disappeared to...

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: No shit

        But, where do you think all that 'imaginary money' disappeared to...

        Aston Martin car pool for the 00s ? They've been a bit reckless recently...

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: A Non e-mouse Re: No shit

          ".....Aston Martin car pool for the 00s ?....." I reckon it went on that really long runway in Spain for the Fast & Furious 6 movie.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is anybody really surprised...

    ...that the Government Communications Headquarters is intercepting communications? Really?

    It's what they exist to do. I would be more concerned if they weren't doing it.

    There are some important issues around this but the fact that the media is shocked that it is happening surprises me.

    1. Ben Holmes
      Go

      Re: Is anybody really surprised...

      I had similar thoughts. With a name like that, I'd be really p*ssed off as a tax payer if they weren't intercepting communications.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you've got nothing to hide, then you've got nothing to fear.

    1. kparsons84

      Well done Sir! That's the spirit we need in our Police State!

    2. Vimes

      The innocent have everything to fear, mostly from the guilty but in the longer term even more from those who say things like "The innocent have nothing to fear". - Terry Pratchett

      1. Charles Manning

        Quoting Terry Pratchett???

        "My that's a big hat!", said Big Ears to Noddy

        Quoting fiction writers does not make a compelling argument.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. charlie-charlie-tango-alpha
            Thumb Up

            Re: Quoting Terry Pratchett???

            Good grief. I agree with Eadon.

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Quoting Terry Pratchett???

          Today's new word is "Orwellian". Look it up.

        3. g e

          Re: Quoting Terry Pratchett???

          So, to quote yet more fiction...

          The concept is valid no matter where it originated

          Dark Star

          1. Grikath

            Re: Quoting Terry Pratchett???

            or yet even more fiction: If This Goes On. R.A. Heinlein

    3. M.D.
      Facepalm

      "If you've got nothing to hide..."

      I'd like to spend the time explaining the oh so many ways in which your statement is superficial, 1-dimensional and without serious merit of any kind. However, given your evident intellectual limitations, I think instead I will respond with a depth of clarity commensurate with your original statement:

      You're an idiot.

      (if, on the other hand, your statement aligns to your choice to go AC and therefore underscores a brilliantly subtle satirical irony - why didn't you give us a clue you bounder? :-0 I have to admit my bets on the former)

    4. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    5. The obvious
      Black Helicopters

      If you've nothing to hide and nothing to fear, you've got nothing - so why are they still listening?

    6. Jos

      Right

      So I suppose you also don't close your street-side curtains at night then eh?

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you've got nothing but fear, then you've got nothing to hide.

    8. Potemkine Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Very good!

      So come here to have your surveillance chips implanted please. Also, you would not mind if we put some cams in your bedroom I guess, you've got nothing to hide, right, mister AC?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Very good!

        "So come here to have your surveillance chips implanted please. "

        Okay, if they did that, then lets have a think about what it would mean:

        No more crime - it would be impossible to commit a crime and not be caught, so the end of murders, violence, abuse and theft.

        No need for any locks or any other kind of security.

        And at what price? Our privacy? You can already be legally put under 24/7 surveillance and cameras are everywhere. Downvote me as much as you like, but for me personally the "pros" of a surveillance chip, would far outweigh the "cons"

        1. Down not across Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: Very good!

          "No more crime - it would be impossible to commit a crime and not be caught, so the end of murders, violence, abuse and theft."

          Erm. Really? Surely you can not be naive enough to think it would be that simple. Human nature is a funny thing. Many crimes are committed without getting caught playing any part in it.

          "No need for any locks or any other kind of security."

          Suit yourself. I will keep my locks on the doors thank you very much.

          "And at what price? Our privacy? You can already be legally put under 24/7 surveillance and cameras are everywhere. Downvote me as much as you like, but for me personally the "pros" of a surveillance chip, would far outweigh the "cons""

          "

          The highest price. Obviously. You might not care, but you see, I do care. And that to some extent proves the point, we don't all think or behave alike.

        2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: Very good!

          I'm confused - the "no crime" AC seems to want a job as Home Secretary, but can't really want that, because he hasn't put his name to it , so can't want to be a Home Secretary ...

          Ohhhhh, got it - he wants to be a civil servant in the department of minding everybody else's business. Still a tosser, though.

        3. Irongut Silver badge

          Re: Very good! (AC 07:59)

          Until the government decides that posting as an Anonymous Coward on The Register is a crime and locks you up. At that point you might rethink your willingness to be implanted witha surveillance chip.

    9. scrubber

      Re: If you've got nothing to hide, then you've got nothing to fear.

      If you've got nothing to hide, then you're doing it wrong.

    10. alain williams Silver badge

      Nothing to hide ?

      If the governments have got nothing to hide, why are the pursuing the leakers like Edward Snowden ?

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: alain williams Re: Nothing to hide ?

        ".... why are the pursuing the leakers like Edward Snowden ?" Gee, you don't think that whole breaking the law thing might be a reason? Beyond HTH.

  13. kparsons84

    Though I have to say, some of the details coming out make GCHQ sound quite a fun place to work. A 5m by 3m screen in their 'operations centre'. I always imagined that kind of spy film cliche was just that - apparently truth is right up there with fiction this time.

    And think of all the crazy shit that goes on there that we'll NEVER know about. Their pay may well be crap, but such sights to see....

    1. Vimes

      Or if you're like Gareth Williams you could end up having your dead body found in a holdall and your private life dragged through the media.

      Funny how the government treats GCHQ so carefully with D notices which seem to be aimed at scaring the media but at the same time seems to show little if any care towards the individuals that actually work for them.

      I think it's more than crap pay that they have to worry about.

    2. Mephistro
      Unhappy

      (@ kparsons84)

      Their pay may well be crap, but such sights to see....

      I'd bet good money that many of 'them' are complementing their meagre pay with blackmail, industrial espionage and some 'insider trading' at the stock market.

    3. JohnMurray

      It's:

      much more fun at the place where most of the "work" is done.

      GCHQ Hanslope Park

  14. RonWheeler
    Windows

    Really?

    Live nearby. Know many GCHQ staff personally. Chances of enough of them not being on long-term medical leave or sitting in planning meetings to actually pull anything useful with this off - small digit next to zero. Thank god for British bureaucracy!

  15. Sammy Smalls
    Paris Hilton

    That's an awful lot of porn for anyone to watch.

    But I'm sure they're giving it a damn good try.

    1. Adam 1

      Re: That's an awful lot of porn for anyone to watch.

      Why Pa.... Nevermind.

  16. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Guardian only slag off the tory govts.

      Well, to be fair the Guardian has been beating up Obama pretty heavily over the U.S. side of these revelations. He's the most leftist U.S. president since at least Jimmy Carter, and quite,possibly since FDR.

      1. shawnfromnh

        Re: Guardian only slag off the tory govts.

        They're all the same. Congress was corrupted fully when they created the committees with Chairmen for each.

        This way you don't have to control the entire Congress but just have one person who is either loyal or has enough dirt on him to put him in jail for life. Then the Administration put on a show pushing stupid issues as in good vs evil to keep the morons "extreme left or right voters attention" and then avoid passing any good laws and just keep pushing oppressive laws or secret ones. Set up a few faux courts with rubber stamps and put a few candidates up for presidents that with electronic voting and voting law restrictions and you have a figurehead and nothing more to do whatever the people pulling the strings want.

        Sure Congress might get something done but they would have to have all the committee heads, the speaker of the house, and whoever runs the senate removed or somehow have their power stripped or neutralized.

        If something does pass the President just vetos it or the Courts call it illegal and nothing happens.

        Unless the populations just rise up "unlikely" and make them physically or by means other than by current laws this will keep going.

        I see it and I'm starting to not care about it, me, or anything anymore since giving a crap does nothing and most people can't even comprehend anything past what the news tells them or their church. We're screwed and we can't do a thing about it.

    2. nsld
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Guardian only slag off the tory govts.

      "Why didn't the guardian tell us this stuff when Labour were in power? EH?

      GUARDIAN LEFTIE BIAS FAIL"

      That would be down to the minor issues they are currently having with time travel in order to be able to take the story which broke this month and then travel back 2 years to tell the story when labour was in power!

      Rumour has it the DeLorean failed its MOT and that's whats stopping them. That and the carbon footprint of doing over 80mph in a classic sports car is too much for them to handle.

      Paris, just because......

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TL;DR

    The UK really hates freedom; after all...

    * It's Illegal to possess _drawings_ of underage children naked (or having sex) which criminalizes a lot of Japanese anime/manga/visual novels (erotic or not erotic)/etc.

    * Illegal to use Encryption (Okay, it's not illegal; failing to hand over keys is, so you might as well say it is...)

    * Have no right to silence if you'r being investigated for Terrorism or Fraud (This could easily be abused - "He's not talking. We think he murdered his wife." "Make it a terrorism charge, then he has to talk.")

    * Have no Double Jeopardy (Abolished to make terrorism charges "stick")

    * Have the Police kicking down your door the next morning if you say anything remotely "offensive" or disagreeable on Twitter/Facebook

    * They've made it so all porn has to be censored by default before the end of 2013, and if you want porn, you have to opt-out (which most likely has you appearing on some kind of "is a pervert/child molester" list - all because parents are too lazy to monitor their own kids)

    * Blocking websites (mainly torrent sites, but we all know it won't stop there)

    * Female ejaculation is illegal (because female ejaculation is classified as "urination" and urination in a sexual content is illegal under UK obscenity law)

    * ISPs have to retain logs of every site visited etc. by somebody for over a year

    ...I could go on.

    The UK is in dire need of a revolution.

    But everyone is too lazy or disagrees.

    So maybe they deserve to live in the fascist, 1984-style mess they've created for themselves.

    1. PT
      Big Brother

      Re: TL;DR

      The UK is in dire need of a revolution.

      Can't disagree, but how would you organize one? Can't use the phone, can't use email. If you walk from house to house the cameras will identify you. If you use carrier pigeons the Government will probably invest in nets.

      The irony is that if the Internet had existed in 1776, America would probably still be a British colony.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        TaLe;DiRect

        Does America need British Recognition and Recolonisation to Share Fabless Success Freely with AI and Virtual Machines in Full Autonomous Control of Territorial Systems?

        Would an intelligent friend not openly share secret intelligence systems so that benefits and deficits are inclusive with executive action rather than it remaining exclusive to private pirate use and public misuse ..... Collective Systemic Abuse.

        Is that one of the tales winging its way to Moscow DiRect from Hong Kong?

      2. I Am Spartacus
        Linux

        How to organise a revolution.

        Use TOR.

        1. Irongut Silver badge

          Re: How to organise a revolution.

          hahahaha

          You really think TOR would keep you safe?

          You think the governement doesn't have it's own nodes in the network?

          Would you like to buy a bridge? Just one careful owner.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TL;DR

      My SSID is published and I don't restrict access to my WiFi using WPA etc.

      If we all did this, tracking/logs would be meaningless.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TL;DR

      "It's Illegal to possess _drawings_ of underage children naked (or having sex)" - I don't think that's anti-freedom. I am happy with this being illegal.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: TL;DR

        Nice Botticelli alterpecee you've got there - you're knicked you perv

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TL;DR

        By this logic, racing games should be illegal. After all, speeding is a crime.

        First person shooters too. Again, murder is a crime.

        1. Bernard M. Orwell

          Re: TL;DR

          Murder isn't illegal if the state provides you with the weapons and a uniform and points you at the brown people over there. It's like killing zombies; guilt free murder for everyone!

          Therefore expect games like "GTA" and "Watchdogs" to be hit with massive criticism whilst CoD and MW games are held up as paragons of technology and design.

      3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: " I don't think that's anti-freedom. I am happy with this being illegal."

        Then you REALLY don't grasp the realities of the situation. If no harm is done (and a drawing causes no harm), then there is no need to prevent it. If we could get the lawmakers to realise this, then we'd be a lot better off.

    4. squigbobble
      Megaphone

      Re: TL;DR

      "The UK is in dire need of a revolution."

      But the cops are too effective. Look at all the effort they put into spying on leftie groups and eco-nutters with undercover cops and agent provocateurs in there for years. I wonder if they'd try putting an undercover cop in a group of people who might actually hurt them if their cover was blown or if the DCI's H&S paperwork would be too daunting.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Uses of intelligence data ..

    "Over 300 GCHQ and 250 NSA analysts sift through the data, which they use to identify communications relating to security, terror, organized crime, and economic well-being"

    Such data being correlated and then passed on to a select few top US corporations. For instance, in a bidding war, it helps if you know before hand what the other fellas negotation strategies are or the minium bid on a contract is going to be.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Uses of intelligence data ..

      Guardian actually mentioned that the GCHQ product is passed to eight hundred and fifty thousand NSA workers!

      (There may well be just 550 top analysts but this enormous treasure trove of our data needs nearly a million UKUSA-Staatssicherheit employees to look at it in depth)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Uses of intelligence data ..

        Presumably, one who can read, one who can write and 848,998 to keep an eye on the two dangerous intellectuals.

        Nice to have an opportunity to recycle an old stasi joke.

  19. h3

    The UK never really cared about freedom apart from for the aristocracy.

    The US only pays lip-service to caring about freedom because they cannot be seen to ignore the constitution.

    In reality they only care about it when it is affecting what they want. All this type of stuff was exactly why they hated the soviet union. (and they complain about China doing exactly the same type of thing but at least not lying about it).

    (And the people setting up America realised that it was fairly likely sooner or later that without checks their government one would be the corrupt one. Now nearly all of the constitution is basically ignored. The thing is if they actually followed it they would be what they pretend to be no need to b*llsh*t about it.)

    I think eventually the Chinese way will be better due to the people in power not being lawyers but engineers and people who actually can systematically solve problems.

  20. Dr U Mour

    It's not about boring old "me"

    Before we get flooded with "I've nothing to hide/doesnt affect me" posts -What about your independently minded MP or other Union/Professional representative? think what pressure might be brought to bear on them from this surveillance. What about Researchers/ Opinion leaders. There are many people that we rely on that could be neutralised by this surveillance....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Devil

      The uses of surveillance ..

      "what pressure might be brought to bear on them from this surveillance. What about Researchers/ Opinion leaders. There are many people that we rely on that could be neutralised by this surveillance"....

      There's a story that J. Edgar used bring each new President into his office and get show his own F.B.I folder. Don't worry says J. Edgar, your little indiscretions are safe with me. Now what's your position on increasing state surveillance powers and upping the F.B.I budget and you will keep me on as dictator..I mean director ...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "many people that we rely on that could be neutralised by this surveillance...."

    Spot on (e.g. President's own FBI folder)

    Each day that passes, this looks more like a cross between 1984, Animal Farm, and (Gilliam's) Brazil. And not in a good way.

  22. returnmyjedi

    Post Levinson

    The media are only annoyed that they can't tap or hack into people's conversations anymore. Given the chance, Murdoch's press gang would be tapping the fibrous cables of minor celebrities before you could say Lord Levinson.

  23. Otto is a bear.
    Facepalm

    Grow up people

    What exactly do you expect your intelligence and law enforcement agencies to do with the Internet and any communications medium?

    I expect them to monitor chatter looking for interesting key words and then apply for a warrant to then read such interesting data, and find out 99%, probably, that it isn't.

    For that 99% I expect them to treat it as confidential information, and forget it, which they do.

    For the 1% I expect them to act.

    And in fact that's what I expect them to do for everything, and that's what they always have done.

    What do you expect them to do, how else do you expect them to do it? Even if you have a warrant for a specific person, you still have to find that person's traffic, and how do you issue a warrant for an unknown group, if you you can't monitor chatter to find them.

    1. Alfie Noakes
      Big Brother

      Re: Grow up people

      "I expect them to monitor chatter looking for interesting key words and then apply for a warrant to then read such interesting data, and find out 99%, probably, that it isn't."

      I am sure that most people won't have a problem with the authorities listening in to "public" chatter - that's what the old "Bobby on the beat" used to do, as in, keep an eye open for anything (publlically) suspicious.

      What people DON'T want is the authorities steaming open our letters, installing cameras in our bedrooms and generally treating everyone (apart from said "authorities") as a latent crimimal!

      They also don't want plod to be kicking their door in because they happened to twit the word "darkie" or "bomb" or "prism".

      mb

    2. I Am Spartacus
      WTF?

      Re: Grow up people

      So, it's the age old argument that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. Cute but stupid.

      The assumption that the spooks just doing a massive data trawl is somehow smarter that the people they are trying to catch is a nice idea but some how you are living in a rather cosy fantasy world. Ask yourself, what would happen if the blackhats decided to use TOR? After all, this can't be bad can it, it was developed by the US Navy. Then you can't tell what is being said to whom. Source and destination are scrambled and the payload is encrypted. Even if they present you with a message you have sent, you CAN'T give them the keys because you don't have them.

      What the spooks in the UK/US are doing is the equivalent to steaming open every bit of mail sent, in the hope that some will lead to finding a blackhat. Not too much between this and some spy interpreting what was said as some indication of a terror plot, and getting you arrested for the fact that they think you might be saying something wrong. Guilt by incorrect interpretation.

      Security has a price. In by view we are paying too much for it these days. We have given away privacy and with out privacy we have no freedom.

      Oh, and before you ask, I am on right of centre in politics and even I feel this.

    3. JonP

      Re: Grow up people

      Which would be all well and good but it seems to be getting far to easy to get arrested for saying or looking at the wrong thing in the UK at the moment, that coupled with the governments penchant for making laws retrospective, makes all this data surveillance a little disconcerting. Sure maybe I've got nothing to hide today but who's to say what will be illegal tomorrow?

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: JonP Re: Grow up people

        ".....getting far to easy to get arrested for saying or looking at the wrong thing in the UK at the moment...." Really? Like who? Please do loosen up the tinfoil and supply some evidence of all these people you claim are being arrested in the UK for saying or looking at the wrong thing. Otherwise it might be presumed you are just talking out of your paranoid rectum.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They throw a lot of traffic away!

    Their DPI boxes (which are remotely pre-loaded with 40thousand UK search terms & 31thousand US/5eyes search terms) cannot handle the volume of traffic, according to Snwdn, they first dump much of the P2P traffic(high volume, low interest). This immediately gives rise to a project to stega our data randomly within assorted P2P streams? Come on boys/girls/indeterminates - who can write an open-sauce mesh P2P App family to allow proportionate private correspondence with low risk of unreasonable seizure?

    Also, one document mentioned the twelve partners of 5eyes - would we be able to speculate that this could be the dozen pre-expansion EU member-states plus maybe CH? Any better thoughts?

  25. Glostermeteor

    Old news

    Anyone seen the film Enemy of the State with Will Smith and Gene Hackman? They've been doing this for decades

  26. i like crisps
    Big Brother

    IT'S POKEMAN!

    "Gotta get them all", and in this case it would seem that GCHQ have done just that.

    I wonder if they are all in there today (the doughnut) tossing off a wank salad all over their little monitors

    when they find the porn history of someone famous from the world of Sport, Politics or Entertainment?

    You can see why the Home Secretary is desperate to get the Snoopers Charter through, i bet there's a

    'Get Out Of Jail Free Card' in a subsection within a subsection that retrospectively protects GCHQ's

    Fibre-Tapping activities, which they haven't got now.

    I wonder if all of this illegal state sponsored hacking was the reason they killed Gareth Williams the "Maths Spook"? Maybe he got cold feet? Maybe he had a crisis of conscience? What surprised me was how quick

    the newspapers got inside information about the case in particular his ALLEGED Transvestisism and his

    ALLEGED BDSM fetish. It's not enough to kill someone anymore, you've got to kill their character as well.

    How many people soon forgot about this man when they found out he might have been some kind of "Perv"?

    If i had to work at GCHQ i would demand some form of Gas Mask as i wouldn't be able to cope with the

    stink of all the JIZZ and SHIT they generate every fucking day.

    1. Bleu
      Gimp

      Re: IT'S POKEMAN!

      Mr. Williams certainly had expensive tastes in fashion, always found the `oh, he was just collecting them to give away as presents' line patently false.

      Manner of the poor bloke/girl's demise, on the other hand, hard to see how a lone person could have managed that.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In a "Nobody expects" voice -

    The Mission

    That is our mission.

    So, safeguarding Britain's electronic communications and digital space, we intercept and interpret information.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if GCHQ has told France...

    ...how often Paris is mentioned in these comments? Sacre bleu!, as I believe the vernacular goes.

  29. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    That is nothing doodz?

    Okay, ICT comms is snatched, held available and snooped upon formally and informally, or so it seems.

    But that is probably just the ICT side of stuff - what about the other stuff such as income, address, employer, images, videos, ... ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That is nothing doodz?

      Well that soft fuzzy identity stuff comes from the (secret) gov data-pipelines into supermarket loyalty card operators and aggregators (Nectar card database & equifax/experian etc.) E.g. your weekly spend at the supermarket algorithmically gives your *real* salary & disposable income to the marketers and the spooks. Like others have said - with all this GCHQ/NSA datagrab it's a surprise that there are still druggies/criminals and originators of kidpron on the streets. Pratchett's 'Thieves Guild' in reality?'

  30. colinvj
    Angel

    What the whistle blower has highlighted, is the fact that British Governments have been trying to get a bill through parliament for Internet providers to keep information on us for a month, when in fact they already have it , what they want is to have a legal law, to cover what they are doing illegally, I can assure you that within GCHQ there are many US citizens working there, on one site they had their own office block, and the site had plenty of of USA cars in there. The Ministers are trying to bluff you that first of all the UK didnt get information from the NSA in the USA, well that's technically correct as the NSA are within GCHQ so all information would be obtained in these uk offices within GCHQ, so dont believe this Government, they have been monitoring the UK ciitizens for several years with the NSA in GCHQ, Its a joint venture . The whistle blower now being hounded by the USA and this UK Government is a threat to them , because at last we can discuss the subject with a degree of fact , before, this government would have denied it was going on. If you want to ovoid some of this, use encryption on emails that are sensitive to you or others, the system relies on Key words in documents being scanned constantly , just think on the key words there would be loads and in combinations, just for the hell of it keep adding a few in your emails,coupled with a message to these spies monitoring your mail, then the system will be bogged down , to much data is also a threat to them .

    What a country we live in. we have a Government in this country that would like to control you and stop you having any other view than their official view , sounds familiar doesnt it?, just like China whats the difference, and Oh by the way these messages will also be scanned so make your points known.

  31. Dropper

    Didn't we already know this?

    I remember as a kid being told if you said "bomb" during a telephone call GCHQ would immediately send in the black helicopters and start recording your call. It was of course a childish myth, but the fact remains we've known GCHQ monitors our communications for as long as GCHQ existed. The fact they also vacuum up internet communications should come as a surprise to precisely no one. I don't pretend that I left the country because of this.. my reasons were far more prosaic.. but I've long held the belief that a country like Britain or the US has the government (and therfore the laws) it deserves, as a very simple method of change can be put into practice every 4-5 years. Don't like what you've got, don't vote for anyone that currently holds office. Personally I stopped voting for the party I though I believed in as soon as I realised they're all just as bad as each other. Every time I cast my vote, it's for someone who has never held office before and will repeat this process until elected officials understand they're only getting one term unless they're willing to write legislation that is consistent with living in a free society. My actions might be pointless, but I still hold out hope that a revolution-by-ballot can occur if enough people get fed up enough to do something about it.

  32. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Meanwhile, in Palace Barracks, a Titanic Colossus Awakes to Play Greater Great Games?*

    with GCHQ lawyers allegedly telling NSA spooks, "We have a light oversight regime compared with the US".

    With GCHQ IC Enterprises US advising NSA spooks of light oversight regimes with dDeep Undergound Channels Control of Real Virtual Power ….. NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive IT Energy.

    Which is Novel Fuel and Notably Nobel and APTly Explosive and Disruptive in Wild and Raw Creative Mode ….. Virgin Alien Territory‽

    A Great AI Game Changer?… :-)

    Poe's Law Rules

    *And that question to Andrew Parker, Director General of the Security Service

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here's a thought...

    ... my being anonymous doesnt mean anything.. I'm no anon to packet sniffing governments at all.

  34. Stephen Channell
    Coffee/keyboard

    IP6 changes things

    The problem with IP4 is that all those NAT & transparent proxies means you can't identify the source/destination by inspecting packet headers & have to look inside which means caching it. Any terrorist VirginMedia customer looking up the latest recipe for sarin will get their traffic mixed up with Facebook updates because all port 80 traffic goes through a transparent proxy.. It's a binary choice everything or nothing.

    It is however a temporary problem because IP6 does away with the need for NAT, enabling the targeted monitoring of end-points.. Instead of getting excited by the drivel of attention seekers, we should legislate once IP6 is widespread.. and the place to legislate is the UK because the pacific rim & anchor damage (in the English channel) makes the UK a natural hub for global comms

  35. alain williams Silver badge

    NAT is available for IPv6

    It is implemented in the Linux kernel, the main motivator seems to be privacy:

    https://lwn.net/Articles/452293/

  36. cs94njw
    WTF?

    Or another way to interpret this...

    ...The GCHQ are BETTER than the US.

    And they probably have access to any European intelligence too.

    They are involved in intelligence gathering. If they didn't do the things they did, where would they get all their intelligence? A man in the pub? The police? (ho ho - my little joke).

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh how people would complain if GCHQ failed to stop terrorists!

    Can you just imagine the outcry if GCHQ and the rest failed to prevent any acts of terrorism, "Why are they wasting government money?", "What good are they as a spy organisation if they can't stop these people?", etc.

    So what's the big deal if GCHQ intercepts Internet traffic to foil terrorist plots. In the modern world it is far too easy for terrorists to organise attacks using the internet, with terrorist material abundantly available to sway the weak minded. I am happy to forgo a little privacy to prevent just one terrorist attack, and if you have nothing to hide do you really think they care about you when they are slurping 46*10Gbps, get real and turn down the ego a notch or two.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what's the big deal

      "So what's the big deal if GCHQ intercepts Internet traffic to foil terrorist plots"

      1) There is currently no legal authority for the GCHQ spooks to do what they have been caught doing.

      2) There is currently a proposal going before Pariliament to authorise new funding so that the GCHQ spooks can build an infrastructure to do bulk interception. It emerges that GCHQ have been doing bulk interception for years. Is there not something strange about that? Our so called democratic authorities have either been lied to by GCHQ, or they have been lying to the people, or both?

      3) Is there any real evidence that the bulk interception has actually stopped any terrorist acts?

      No big deal?

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: AC Re: So what's the big deal

        "1) There is currently no legal authority for the GCHQ spooks to do what they have been caught doing....." Caching data for a limited period, which is what Tempora allegedly does, is not illegal, otherwise every switch and router in the UK with cache would be similarly illegal. It is specifically catered for by 2000 RIPA, as noted in the article. Targeted analysis of the data gathered under a warrant is also not illegal. You have failed to show that the analysis of the data is happening outside of current and completely legal parameters.

        ".....2) There is currently a proposal going before Pariliament to authorise new funding so that the GCHQ spooks can build an infrastructure to do bulk interception...." The IMP (Interception Modernisation Programme) at GCHQ has been on the cards since 2008 and was reported on at El Reg (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/08/19/ukgov_uber_database/), so hardly a big secret. The funding question popped up again in the Strategic Defence & Security Review a few years ago, but there is currently no specific bill or proposal regarding IMP at Westminster I am aware of or can find. There was an early day motion "expressing disquiet" (http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/1247) in January 2011 but that's about it. Were you confusing it with the the Interception of Communications (Admissibility of evidence) Bill?

        ".....3) Is there any real evidence that the bulk interception has actually stopped any terrorist acts?" If it had do you seriosuly think the security services would be blowing the possible follow up investigations by telling all and sundry about it?

  38. colinvj

    whistle blowing

    Its seems that the people doing this spying with a concience are in short supply apart, from the current guy , why aren't more of them being honest instead of working for people who couldnt give a damn about them, come on you guys and girls in GCHQ do your self's and us a favour and tell us more about what else is going on in this shabby establishment. I saw some woman from GCHQ on tv tonight saying how awful it was that people were making their employees feel unwelcome, GOOD, work for the devil pay the price You choose to work for these organisation's doing illegal actions then pay the price.

    All the media in the UK and the USA have been pressured to concentrate on the chase for the whistle blower and not to say to much about the actions of the NSA and GCHQ, we should'nt allow this we need to make sure our governments are made to account honestly or kick em out, any party who has deliberately known and been using the system illegally spying on us, need to be brought before the courts, dont let them get away by concentrating on the whistle blower , the messages from Washington state department towards China and Russia was arrogant, I hope the Chinese kick their asses, the Chinese own more of the USA than the USA government.

  39. quad50

    The reason they only slurp international lines is that there is nothing interesting in internal UK communications.

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