back to article PRISM leaks: WTF, you don't spy on your friends, splutters EU

Berlin has accused Washington of treating it "like a Cold War enemy" after it emerged that US spooks spied on targets from friendly European countries. Vice-president of the European Commission, Neelie Kroes, told BBC: Of course it is a shock and it's not acceptable at all. It's not acceptable because it is a friendly …

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  1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Big Brother

    "We are no longer in the Cold War."

    Should we be worried here that Merkel implies that it would have been acceptable back then? Or did no-one tell her that Germany re-unified?

    And of course there'd be no need to bug the UK anyway, as we seem to do as we're told by them and believe everything they tell us. Or at least our lords and masters do.

    1. P_0

      Re: "We are no longer in the Cold War."

      I'm pretty sure US intelligence officials regularly sit in on UK intelligence meetings, meaning there is not much to spy on since they pretty much know it all any way.

    2. El Presidente
      Holmes

      Re: "We are no longer in the Cold War."

      Merkel would know all about that, being a former GDR party apparatchik. Some say a plant.

      Her wikipedia entry is an unsurpassed masterpiece in hagiography.

      I'd be more annoyed if we found out that the vast budgets the intelligence agencies have were being spent on anything other than spying and, as the old, saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Not News

    Is this really a surprise?

    Mine's the one with 'Spying for Dummies' in the pocket

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Not News

      You got the wrong book - the one you want is "Spying on Dummies".

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Not News

      Not News

      I wonder what counts as news today?

      A new Lohan event?

      Lizards discovered during a politician's lobotomy?

      Someone denies the Holocaust sotto voce in a bar in Devonshire?

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: Not News

        Personally I think it's news when the entire justification (since 9/11) for this wire-tapping is TERRORISM.

        I don't recall anyone saying anything along the lines of

        "We must make sure we have the upper hand when negotiating trade agreements with the EU in order to prevent terrorism".

        It's all bollocks and you can't believe a word they say.

        1. Pypes

          @SRC

          The US (and by proxy the UK) has been in a perpetual state of "War" since the 1940's

          First it was Nazis

          Then It was Commies

          Now it's HurrDurr Terrorism

          Throw in a few Sadams and Norks to fill out the gaps.

          It's nice to always have some sort of external threat to blame your domestic policy on, especially if it's something suitably intangible and/or un-quantifiable like alternative systems of government or Islam.

      2. Flakey

        Re: Not News

        Devonshire? someone changed the map of England while I've been away?

        1. PJI
          Alert

          Re: Not News

          Devonshire is thet shire often abbreviated to just, Devon. Once third largest county. Just before Cornwall at the bottom, far left. I grew up there and still have family there. I suppose you think Shropshire is really called Salop and Yorkhire Yorks and Hanpshire Hants. Daft grockel.

          1. Alex Hearl
            Facepalm

            Re: Not News

            Devon has never EVER been known as "Devonshire" (except by the ignorant). It isn't a shire nor was it ever.

            Your analogy of Shropshire and Yorksire is laughable (and puts you firmly in the aforementioned exception).

            I don't mind foreigner making the mistake, but for someone claiming to have "grown up there" to get it so wrong just beggars belief.

    3. veti Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Not News

      It's not news that diplomats are spied on. The Vienna Convention contains a number of loopholes, I assume deliberately, to allow for that.

      The convention does list some things that are supposed to be "inviolable". One of these is "the official correspondence of the mission". However, it also explicitly allows for that correspondence to be conducted in code or cipher - hence, it implicitly assumes that "inviolable" doesn't necessarily mean "will not be read by third parties".

      There's a fine line there. But really, what's going on here is that the Europeans have got cold feet about a free trade deal at this politically difficult time, and Snowden's revelation is an excuse for dumping it.

  3. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Sauce for the goose

    > bugging friends is unacceptable

    Isn't that exactly what citizens keep telling their governments whenever a new, more intrusive, form of surveillance is announced.

    1. Malmesbury

      Re: Sauce for the goose

      Some years ago, a US trade delegation deliberately said some things in a location that they suspected was bugged.

      The French government was actually upset when it turned out it was a deliberate setup to stuff a French company.

      1. Dom 3

        Re: Sauce for the goose

        And there's long-standing accusations that the NSA help out Boeing etc:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON#Controversy

      2. John Hughes

        Re: Sauce for the goose

        [ citation needed ]

    2. Robert Helpmann??
      Childcatcher

      Re: Sauce for the goose

      Isn't that exactly what citizens keep telling their governments whenever a new, more intrusive, form of surveillance is announced.

      It's not spying if you are required by law to turn yourself in. It also helps keep the government's budget small as they are freed from having to send someone to your residence to install monitoring equipment. If you are compelled to do it yourself, it's that much less out of your pocket in taxes.

    3. kventin

      Re: Sauce for the goose

      """

      Isn't that exactly what citizens keep telling their governments whenever a new, more intrusive, form of surveillance is announced.

      """

      there's a difference, you know? citizens telling their governments is how things are supposed to be.

      but in this case them, the government, were surveilled and that's clearly unacceptable. furthermore they had no idea, which is just shaming. and they weren't invited (obviously), which is a disgrace.

      i mean how come americans have all the toys and get to play soldiers and stuff. europe is a power too! (one of these days we're find out power of exactly what, and then they'll see)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sauce for the goose

        Please use a capital letter when starting a new sentance and for proper nouns, such as Europe.

        Thank you.

        1. Norman Hartnell
          Facepalm

          Re: Sauce for the goose

          @AC "sentance"

          McKean's law!

        2. Tom 35

          starting a new sentance

          Was it a capital offence?

    4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Sauce for the goose

      "> bugging friends is unacceptable

      Isn't that exactly what citizens keep telling their governments whenever a new, more intrusive, form of surveillance is announced."

      But that's different.

      Under the Newspeak dictionary the term "Citizen," is replaced by "Suspect."

      Your assistance (or lack of) in this matter will be noted citizen suspect.

      (Signed) MinLove.

    5. Joe User
      Flame

      Re: Sauce for the goose

      This is what happens with lack of oversight, plus politicians holding meetings behind closed doors. You can't trust f---ing politicians any further than you can throw them....

  4. Jediben
    Black Helicopters

    Well I would post a comment...

    But at this rate, they probably already know what I am going to say.

  5. Frankee Llonnygog

    Why the need for spying anyway?

    They can find out what terrorist actions are planned from the undercover cops who seem to be the prime movers in just about every UK activist group.

    Such nefarious activities ranging of course from writing leaflets, to asking police to hold an enquiry. Is there no end to terrorist iniquity?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    So..

    When the Americans demanded access to every bit of privacy sensitive information regarding EU citizens then there was no problem at all. I've never been to the US and quite frankly with the current state of affairs I also wouldn't want to go there, but even so the US government still wanted to gain access to my bank accounts. We all might be terrists after all.

    But now, when its happening to the upper brass themselves, all of a sudden we're in a panic. How typical.

    To be honest, given the -IMO- paranoia state of the US I can to some extend understand that they're bugging buildings in Washington. I don't agree with it, but I can see where it's coming from. In fact, I think it was to be expected. After all; its not as private as an embassy.

    Still, the rumours that they even infiltrated in several buildings in Brussels is taking it one step too far in my opinion. That almost brings back memories of old Mother Russia where diplomats simply expected to be bugged.

    I recall reading a story about a Dutch politician who was on a business trip to Moscow (we're talking the 70's here) and on the last day in his hotel he started talking to his wife how cool it could be if the Russians would give him some Caviare as a 'going away present'. Even mentioned a completely random brand which he just read about that very day in a paper.

    Guess what he got before departure, with compliments of the Russian state?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So.. (Dutch politician who was on a business trip to Moscow)

      This urban myth stems from a Russian (Soviet) joke: a group of conference participants from a Soviet satellite state (Polish, German, Czech, whatever) stay in a nice Moscow hotel, and have a bit too much to drink in their room. They run dry and one of them standing in the middle of the room sighs; I wish we had some more vodka!

      Less then a minute later a knock on the door is heard, and an immaculately looking room service girl delivers a few bottles, with an appropriate note ("on the hotel, to our dearest guests"). While somewhat baffled, they don't waste time and when the news bottles are dry, one of them cracks a joke: "Oh, I wish we had some champagne too!"

      To some consternation room service appears promptly again, this time, with - but of course - a selection of "champanskoye" (local imitation of champagne), and another note, which says:

      "The Colonel congratulates the comrade in the middle on the excellent sense of humor!"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So..

      "That almost brings back memories of old Mother Russia where diplomats simply expected to be bugged"

      Those days haven't one away, you know. One of my friends spent a few years doing diplomatic work for the EU in Moscow, and was informed from the very beginning that the apartment she would be renting would inevitably be filled with bugs and she should not be treating it as private.

      I doubt the Russians are particularly unusual in that regard.

  7. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    spying ≠ illegal ?

    "Europeans "should look first and find out what their own governments are doing" before becoming outraged"

    The thing is, everything I have read just says "GCHQ does not carry out illegal activities. There is no mention of spying or not, or what any spying might involve.

    Similarly, when all this rukus started, NSA only seemed to say that the system could not be used for blanket spying on Americans in America (which would be illegal), but further than that, there is not much.

    There are lots of allegations from USA about spying by China. Presumably, if this is not against the illegal in China, then it is OK too?

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    NSA boasted of targeting "third party partners", which do not include second-party countries like Canada, the UK or Australia

    Did they mean "third class partners"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: third party partners

      Sounds like a misprint but, no, they really do mean third party.

      For signal intelligence from the US standpoint the US itself is the first party. The UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are second party, and so it radiates to third party including France and Germany.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This tells you all you need to know

      In this context you can read 'third party partners' as code for 'countries that won't bend over when we tell them to'

      What this says is that Canada, the UK and Australia voluntarily share all their citizens details with the US so there's no need for covert action.

      1. Tom 35

        Re: This tells you all you need to know

        For Canada I expect they get full access in exchange for a report listing all the people who say bad things about the government, big banks, and the oil sands. Saves a lot of work trying to dig that stuff on their own.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. mike2R

    The dog in the nightime

    The interesting bit will be who *doesn't* protest so vehemently.

    Doesn't seem to have been much from the French president outside something on French television.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: The dog in the nightime

      Would anyone else know who he is?

      His profile isn't exactly that high.

    2. John Hughes
      Mushroom

      Re: The dog in the nightime

      What are you expecting? An M51 on Washington?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From BBC (and not)

    "The problem though here is three-fold. Firstly the very public disclosure of what has been going on; secondly the level of detail; and thirdly the scale and scope of the US operation. This appears to have genuinely shocked EU leaders." (only the completely stupid ones - no, BBC didn't say that, but they should have done)

    "The revelations will inevitably influence the climate of negotiations for the new US-EU trade deal. Such an agreement is good news for both sides and is unlikely to be jeopardised President Hollande's threat notwithstanding. But reaching a deal in this new context could be much harder." (correction, 'and should never have been jeopardised for such moronic notions as protecting one language over others, but as that was ok with M Hollande, then this is just fine, he can't have it both ways, even if he is a politician')

    1. BrownishMonstr

      I can't help but think that if they didn't speak out, then maybe it's an admission of guilt, that they do it too to other nations.

  11. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Pot kettle?

    Didn't Maggie brag about how MI5 had bugged the Eu commisioner Mr Fischler when they were negotiating some UK deal on agriculture or something tedious?

  12. Schultz
    Black Helicopters

    Paranoid

    The US seems to be quite paranoid and they try hard to make the rest of the world paranoid too. Not nice.

    1. dssf

      Re: Paranoid... haven't we all heard...

      "Misery likes company".

      Crabs in a boiling pot tend to claw back on those almost able to escape.

      Reading that South Korea was also bugged makes me think that this is how the USA promoted its interests in its own defense contractors. The NSA probably funneled negotiation info to Boeing, et al, so they could more conveniently strong arm SK into paying more for US-made/licensed weapons and communications systems. Probably even leaked info on the shortcomings of European systems.

      Still, SK may have equally adeptly snooped in on the US defense contractors, and reinforced their own bargaining positions.

      There may have been an emotionally-charged collision at some point, and hence on one of these recent deals, the Euro team won, to the possible apoplexy of the US team.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Paranoid

      Agreed, but the real instability is due to the lack of real leadership and constant distraction from national issues. "Beer summits" were the start of it all IMO. Obama likes the job title...but does not want to do the work. He's comes across more of a public figure than a leader IMO.

      America is in a downward spiral (financially and socially IMO). They have moved away from being a world leader and now resemble "What not to do". They are a young nation, so perhaps this is simply an evolutionary speed-bump for their country.

      They may be heading towards an anti-government revolution of sorts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Paranoid

        re: revolution: Ever been to Cascadia? ELF/ALF/Black bloc are alive and well despite cointel infiltrations and occasional snitches and takedowns.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: America is in a downward spiral (financially and socially IMO).

        I don't get why you lot are whinging about this all the time. You finally got what you wanted: a European style leader of the US doing European style things and most importantly, knocking the world's first hyperpower down to a size where you lot aren't afraid of us. Why are you surprised when he adopts the rest of your characteristics? If you want better out of us, let us elect a real American next time instead of a wanna-be-a-European American.

  13. Nigel 11

    Show them you mean it

    A suggestion for Angela Merkel. Give Snowdon asylum in Germany. Quote the national-interest exception to any extradition treaties if the USA asks for him. That's how to find out every last detail, and also how to send a very strong signal that we really really are not amused.

    Of course, it won't happen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Show them you mean it

      She may.

      Several political parties have requested it on his behalf in both Germany and France.

      In any case, he does not deserve assylum as he is only a mouthpiece. This is _WATERGATE_2_, not Snowdengate. For those who have forgotten their history, Nixon got nixed for bugging _everyone_ including bugging his office to achieve that. The blooper at the democratic party HQ was just a minor transgression compared to his other bugging antics. As a result of the investigation NSA and CIA powers were curtailed via several acts of congress to their remit of "no spying on americans allowed" (something they have been fighting back ever since). The reason the whole clusterf**** unraveled however was Deep Throat - press had a source in the Nixon administration which carefully guided them to show all the efforts of all the king's men.

      So coming back to Snowden. With all due respect there is no f*** way in hell a contractor will pick up documents on 4 unrelated programs (international exchange - GCHQ, domestic rampant violation of US constitutional rights - ATT, Verizon, cloud companies, offensive - China and black ops on US soil - bugging Eu). My educated guess is that these are from different departments, on different ACLs and just searching for them would have raised a red flag or two. Someone is uncomfortable with the current violation of civil rights in the USA (and the world following led by the UK). Someone is uncomfortable that we have reached and exceeded the Nixon level of crookedness (The Haliburton wars make all of Nixon corruption pale by comparison). That someone is a Deep Throat 2 and he has organized Mr Snowden to get his mits on the docs. That person deserves assylum, not Mr Snowden.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Show them you mean it

        @AC - I think you mean *both* of them (i.e. Snowden, the man with his head on the block, and your putative "Deep Throat" operative). Snowden did the hard work here - why do you want to throw him to the lions? Equally, even if "Deep Throat" does exist (something I'm not willing to stipulate at this point, because it sounds a bit fantastic), he doesn't need asylum because he hasn't been caught.

        You need a bit of practice at logical thinking.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: Show them you mean it

          You need to keep up on your intel:

          http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/19/washington/19felt.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

          You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!

          The truth is Nixon was axed because he pulled us out of Vietnam. The Progressives never forgave him for that. By their count, a few more years and we would have been ready for harvesting. The machines Nixon used for the taping were installed by Kennedy. Nixon just figured they'd be an easy way for historians to judge him after he was dead and gone. The break-in and pilfering of the debate papers at the Watergate hotel was standard (if badly managed) political intrigue. Same shit happens today only we call it by different names - Palin's private email, Gingrich's phone call in Florida about legislative strategy, and The Big 0's crack about bitter gun clingers.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Show them you mean it

        Or the more paranoid, cynical and probably accurate conspiracy

        The NSA wanted this information out there because it has a chilling effect. You might think twice about clicking on the EFF/Peta/GreenPeace link if you think it's going to get logged by the government.

  14. g e
    Holmes

    Euro countries "should look first"

    And be suitably smug that none of _their_ employees feel they're doing something so out of order against their own populations that it needs a good leaking.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Euro countries "should look first"

      They are, and I'm waiting for the brave Eurospook to stand up and be counted. I'm not holding my breath, though ...

  15. Ian 62
    Unhappy

    If everyone is so shocked and horrified

    How about one of the concerned EU governments steps up and offers to grant Snowden asylum with guarantee of protection against extradition?

    But I doubt they will, as they'll be worried that the next leak is about their spying/filtering/monitoring of their own security services.

  16. Evil Auditor
    WTF?

    "Friends"

    How naive can one be?!

    1. James Micallef Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: "Friends"

      " "The more they know, the more comfortable they will feel," Hayden said "

      Or not

    2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: "Friends"

      EU: WTF??? you don't spy on your friends!

      US: WTF "you don't spy on your friends"??? Of course you do...

    3. Captain Queeg
      Alert

      Re: "Friends"

      "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." - Sun-Tzu

      I wonder what this tells us about the US Government's view of, erm, just about every other country on the planet it seems? Paranoia seems like the right description.

      Speaking as a Briiton, I think the USA as a country is going to have to realise that it's time as The Superpower has passed, just as the UK had to come to terms with the same in the 20th Century, so will the US in the 21st.

      Suez did a great job of downsizing British Imperial ambition by jolting the UK Government into a realisation that actually Britannia didn't still rule the waves and that to continue to act as if it did was at best a bit dumb.

      Something is going to have to help the USA to come to terms with the fact that while they may have "owned" the 20th century, the 21st will belong to China and others on the Pacific Rim and that as a world power, whilst still important and influential they'll become less and less relevant and need to behave in a less hostile way.

      I just hope it isn't any form of military action that's the catalyst.

      1. Rol Silver badge

        Re: "Friends"

        Well said Captain Queeg

        While America still has some international clout, it might want to start agreeing with and proposing some international measures that are intended to protect everyone universally, rather than begging for fair treatment after it has lost its world status.

        1. Naughtyhorse

          Re: "Friends"... fair treatment?

          Now why would the school bully propose such a thing?

          The main reason there is no 'international law' is that the school bully insisted that it's contractors/war criminals should be exempt. to which everyone else said 'fuck that!'

          and here we are

      2. fpoole

        Re: "Friends"

        Queeg 5000 FTW.

    4. Tom 13

      Re: "Friends"

      Well, most people forget Lord Palmerston's dictum that countries have neither permanent enemies nor permanent allies (aka friends), only permanent interests.

  17. Solly
    Holmes

    It's not just terrorism y'know

    I'd bet that one of the trigger words which flags an individual for closer inspection is "invention", no matter where they are in the world...

  18. sisk
    Coat

    You're surprised?

    The NSA even spies on other Americans. You're surprised they're spying on Germans?

    Mine's the one with the white noise generator in one pocket and the tin foil hat in the other.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: You're surprised?

      Doesn't the echo bother you?

  19. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "American spies bugged the EU embassy in Washington"

    Hey, that rings a bell. Wasn't there some big hoopla way back when about something similar ? Wasn't some US President impeached about it ? It was reaaaallly big, back in those days, wasn't it ?

    More recently we had a biiiig hoopla about some cigar or something, with public explanations, tears and apologies and no impeachment, but while the US media went hog-wild about it all the rest of the world politely stopped turning for about six months until they got over it.

    Now we just get "how shocking" articles from international newspapers.

    Progress ?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Frau Merkel

    You didn't seem to be so fussy about legal matters last year, when your own secret service paid that Swiss banker to steal the data on German tax dodgers from his bank (good old CD format, nothing too complicated like a secure link, etc). So, I guess, one good turn deserves another, usw.

    Respectfully Yours

    Your (almost) Bestest Friend and Ally,

    xxx

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it's funny, really,

    how since the beginning of this "Snowden affair", the EU-crats (crates?) have remained unruffled about the fact that the US is spying on their citizens. Until it turns out that, ouch, the US are spying on the EU-crats too...Oh, the indignity!!!!! This is, like, TOTALLY unacceptable, and yeahbutnobutyeahbutnobut we must act, and act NOW!!!

  22. Big_Boomer Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Friends??? <ROTFLMNO>

    Bloody hilarious that is. How can a country be "friends" with another country? Friendship is a person to person relationship and cannot be applied to countries, companies or any other legal fiction. As for the spying, everyone is spying on everyone else although the degree of spying will vary according to how threatening the other country is. What Merkel, Holland et al are upset about is that their spies & technology isn't as good as those of the USA, and that they don't have the budget that the USA has. The sooner we find a way to abolish nations, flags and companies the better. No, I don't have any ideas either but there has to be a better way than this.

  23. Rol Silver badge
    Megaphone

    www.europe.usa?

    If we are to learn anything from recent events, then surely the integrity of our IT infrastructure deserves an overhaul.

    At present much of our internet traffic goes through the USA or via services owned by American companies, who, understandably, are subject to American laws and their questionable interpretation of them.

    Europe needs to up its game by funding and promoting a eurocentric IT structure, having the Google, Facebook and all else equivalent, that is more readily answerable to European governments and our local take on privacy and human rights.

    The alternative is to create an international space for international companies to exist, complete with internationally agreed rules and regulations that cannot be circumvented by local politicians and agencies that are "acting" in our best interests.

    Sounds very reasonable indeed, however I guess America would be unwilling to let its pet off the lead in a communal park.

  24. Amorous Cowherder
    Facepalm

    "It's not acceptable because it is a friendly relationship... "

    Ha ha ha! What with the US intelligence infrastructure? LOL! Ha ha! best laugh in years!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Britain 'under attack' in cyberspace

    "Britain is seeing about 70 sophisticated cyber espionage operations a month against government or industry networks, British intelligence has told the BBC. GCHQ director Sir Iain Lobban said business secrets were being stolen on an "industrial scale". Foreign hackers have penetrated some firms for up to two years, he said. And he denied that his organisation had broken the law in receiving information from the Prism spy programme."

    And Prism will somehow protect us from attacks in 'cyberspace` how ?

  26. Beauchamp
    Unhappy

    Perspective on spying.

    I think some perspective is required here from the plebians' point of view.

    Our tiny local branch-line rail station has 16 CCTV cameras, some of which have microphones in them.

    All the roads around here have large-scale ANPR camera coverage, as do many of the local side streets.

    All of the shopping arcades, malls and pedestrian only zones have CCTV which is not only ubiquitous but deliberately made to stand out clearly (as a threat). Many of the podia used also have microphones.

    Even though it is done blatantly and much of it by private companies, this is all apparently fine.

    But when an embassy is bugged, it is a major issue.

    1. Fink-Nottle

      Re: Perspective on spying.

      CCTV cameras are openly acknowledged, visible and legal.

      An embassy bug is the antithisis of public CCTV - it is undisclosed, concealed and illegal.

      There is a huge difference between open and covert intelligence gathering.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Perspective on spying.

        Legal != Justified

  27. Don Jefe
    Meh

    Traditional Activities, Traditional Punishments

    Countries spy on one another, even friends. Everyone knows it, but they also know there is a long standing tradition of not getting caught.

    If you are caught there are visible and tangible consequences. We don't hang or shoot spies anymore, but diplomats can be recalled, trade preferences can be renegotiated, travel restrictions can be put in place, etc... If nothing is done, if there are no consequences, then nothing will change.

  28. xyz Silver badge
    Devil

    I watched Die hard 2 the other night...

    ...and the TV in 1990 was bleating out "The War on Drugs" which was the base for the plot line. All you had to do was change "Drugs" to "Terror," slap some beards on the baddies, give everyone an iPhone and you'd think it was really 2013. I wonder how many of our leaders read 1984 at school and thought..."fah..sci-fi rubbish" and how many thought "mmmm...I quite fancy that"

  29. asdf

    merkin bashing

    Not even worth reading the comments on this one as the usual Merkin bashing will be in full force even if well deservedly earned by our government. Still remember their are merkins like this one that might not think Snowden is a hero but definitely are enjoying him making the badly bloated out of control post 9/11 Stasi agencies of the US government squirm.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...

    So when is the UN being moved to a country more adept at not being found out?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ...

      UN Beijing 2015?

  31. Stuart 14

    DOH

    We live in the age of date, big data. Oh yes the data should be locked down, now there's a joke. I'm a sys admin and all their data is mine. Lucky for them I care. OK so the bag of shit is finally in the open and attracting flies. I'm just a bit confused at the surprise and outrage. Don't get me wrong, I'd have happily had all the data they held on me put on a hard drive so I could ram it up any civil servants/politicians arse who thought it was acceptable to spy on me; 20 years ago before data blood sucking got to the ridiculous point it is today. Pissed off yes, outraged and surprised; no not that fucking stupid.

    Don't use facebook/twitter or any of that crap (got good friends to talk to at the pub); certainly not a terror threat. But I probably will fill a good number of hard drives.

    I'll file the corners to a point and somebody start passing me the civil servants/politicians; while where at it lets include a few big stock holders in those big data sucking corporations. Don't worry about Vaseline, I'm sure I can find a hammer around her with "vengeance is mine" written on it somewhere.

    The point is we knew, maybe not Eadon, he was preoccupied with hating the office ribbon. But the rest of us did.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DOH

      +1 for the ribbon. "Never forget!", etc.

  32. Pat Volk
    Meh

    Evil?

    Countries are a lot like businesses, they like to know what the competition is up to. Are they releasing a new product, or cutting prices, or hiring to expand.

    I remember being warned that the largest perps of espionage against the US (mid 90's) was.... France! Understandable, it's what countries do. You like to know what your neighbors are up to, or the folks in the good, or bad part of town.

    1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Evil?

      ...I remember being warned that the largest perps of espionage against the US (mid 90's) was.... France!...

      I remember people who believed what I told them. You could sell them any old rubbish about where the threat was coming from, so long as it was about spies...

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    "The member states should sit together..."

    So the committee report might be ready in, say, 2025?

  34. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Where the problem lies...

    Why do people think that the politicians (of any country) are behind this? Or in charge of it?

    I'm old enough to remember the late 60s/early 70s, when the UK Security Service were effectively out of control. They do the things that they want, and what they want is a big spying empire. The politicians just mutely agree - if they didn't, the Security Service have the entire set of politicians secrets in their databases, ready for leaking...

    I don't know what you could try to stop this. Perhaps bringing back capital punishment for spying would help...

  35. jonfr

    Windows at work

    Lesson. Never use Windows for sensitive data. Use PC-BSD (desktop friendly), NetBSD, OpenBSD or FreeBSD.

    Why not Linux you might ask. It is too buggy in my view as it is today and it is has been going downhill for the past few years due to pimping up version numbers on their releases, rather than making good software that works and is stable.

    1. Don Jefe
      Unhappy

      Re: Windows at work

      Wow. One goes away and in comes another. You'd almost think there was a factory somewhere pumping out commentards who can't see the difference between surveillance of allies by a 'friendly' country and some uber personal crusade against a form of software versioning. Stunning really.

  36. C. P. Cosgrove
    FAIL

    Naive, or what

    Of course you spy on your friends and allies. Two reasons. The first is that you know where your enemies are - they are your enemies, but you don't know when your friends are going to change sides. The second is that it is generally safer and easier to spy on your friends and allies - they tend not to think you are going to do it, and the penalties for getting caught are less.

    Naive, or what ?

    Chris Cosgrove

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Naive, or what

      Do *you* spy on your friends? I doubt it, so why let countries off the hook?

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Naive, or what

        I know at least one person I don't want to be friends with.

  37. panhead20

    "The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer."

    - Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State and US National Security Adviser [March 10,1975 Ankara Turkey]

    "Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government. Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart."

    Justice Robert Jackson, chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials

  38. Wzrd1

    Wow, just wow.

    SO ignorant is the populace.

    Small hint, *every* nation on the planet that can afford to have a spy has at least one.

    One spies on enemies, obviously. One also spies on friends. I've countered multiple EU agents over the decades.

    TO be really blunt, spies keep everyone honest.

    As reminder, when Reagan pushed all of the USSR "buttons", all learned how horribly a certain war game was nearing.

  39. cortland

    And Gentlemen

    -- "Partners do not spy on each other," said EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. --

    "Gentlemen do not read each others' mail." -- Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson (source below)

    The Cipher Bureau otherwise known as The Black Chamber was the United States' first peacetime cryptanalytic organization, and a forerunner of the National Security Agency. ... "

    "... Its most notable known success was during the Washington Naval Conference during which it aided American negotiators considerably by providing them with the decrypted traffic of many of the Conference delegations, most notably the Japanese. ..." (emphasis added)

    -- Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Chamber

    It can be argued that Secretary Stimson's distaste for "reading each others' mail " was one contributor to the US being surprised by the Japanese in 1941.

  40. JMB

    I am sure plenty of EU countries are also active in spying on supposed allies - the French are notorious for it.

    I keep wondering whether the EU has its own spying operation, it would not surprise me if there was a secret operation spying on its own member states as well as other countries.

  41. Volker Hett

    Imagine you're Airbus Industries

    Would you store any document in a cloud ready for the NSA to channel it to Boeing?

  42. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Benjamin Disraeli put it this way.

    Countries have no permanent friends, only permanent interests.

    You might hope for friendly treatment, but you should not rely on it.

    BTW Suez was the point at which both the UK realized it no longer ruled the waves and the US did.

    The behavior of all parties in the matter shaped a large part of the 20th century.

  43. John Savard Silver badge

    Everybody does it?

    Well, in that case, why is Jonathan Pollard still behind bars?

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unless other schoolyard bullies...

    ... the US is hellbent to turn away _every_ friend it has.

    After all, with all their power, and the proven ruthlessness in using it, what do they need friends for? Enough if everyone is scared enough to let them have their way, isn't it?

    I met such bullies in the schoolyard, and be assured there is a (non violent!) way to put them in their place- the rest just has to band together and decide not to be bullied anymore!

    Since 9/11 things have turned to the point where the world is not concerned about the next terrorist attack, but about what the US is going to do next. I wonder if they can't see that, if they don't care, or if that's how they want things to be.

    Seemingly limitless resources and power with the declared will to use it for ones benefit, a blatantly chauvinistic attitude of the authorities combined with a patriotism on the base that seems to justify just anything as long as it is "us against them", and put on edge by all the enemies they have themselves created by just that...

    THAT scares the crap out of me!

    More, as every psychologist can confirm, eavesdropping is often a sign of paranoia fueled by the awareness of ones wrongdoing, having a need to check whether others are talking behind ones back, and whether they are on to the eavesdropper.

    I believe that is exactly what PRISM is.

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