back to article Of mice, the NSA, GCHQ and data protection

Suppose you see a mouse in your house: is it likely to be the only mouse in your house? The relevance of the question will come apparent when we dig deeper into those infamous “black boxes” allegedly used by the USA’s National Security Agency1, the latest GCHQ mass interception fandango, and the responsibilities of the UK …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google Privacy EULA

    Love the part on Privacy. Didn't see anything in there about conforming to secret laws that we're not allowed to tell you about tho.

  2. Thesheep

    But the NSA can't...

    ...use that exemption from oversight by UK authorities, such as the ICO, if they are breaching UK data law. In fact if they are collecting data in the UK (or possibly UK data held under safe harbour) then they may be acting as a data processor or controller. Parliament should call the head of the NSA to testify... And if they won't come voluntarily then it would be a great test of the mutual extradition treaty we allegedly have.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I tried to lay a mouse trap the other day. But then the mouse came back with a gang of other mice, got me out of bed in the middle of the night, smacked me over the head, stuffed an orange ball in my mouth stuffed me in a sports bag, went round to a coroners house and kicked him in the bollocks until he came out with the following statement:

    "He must have zipped himself in the bag because he's gay and, as all coroners know, when people are unable to cope with being gay, they stuff orange balls in their mouths, zip themselves up inside sports bags and drop dead. That he may have worked for the secret services is entirely incidental and there was no mouse infestation in his house."

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Black boxes

    Have been around for years and years back when I was a lad building rackmount servers....

    Another question would be why allow the release of the information? The government are in cahoots with the press, that is a given and they could quite easily have slapped a d-notice on it and got snowden wherever he was (rendition anyone)

    Maybe they though we have this new shiny toy, lets test it to look for political dissidents or anyone who isn't of the "If your not doing anything you have nothing to hide" persuasion.

    1. Robin Bradshaw

      Re: Black boxes

      "and they could quite easily have slapped a d-notice"

      They did but D-notices dont work any better for the government than they did for Barbra Streisand they merely act as a big neon sign saying there is muck here that need raking but youll have to post the results on said raking on your international news site. << see example

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "allegations relate to disproportionate interception of personal data "

    That should be grossly disproportionate.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How SWIFT works

    SWIFT had two data processing centres, one in Holland and one in the USA. Every week one would be the main one in use, and the other would be on hot standby while getting data patches and upgrades. This was all transparent to the users. With the shitstorm over the NSA tapping into the data in the USA, SWIFT opened up a third data centre in Switzerland and users could choose between flipping between the two EU data centres or one EU and the USA one.

    Many of the countries that chose the two EU centres were predictable. For example, Iran chose the EU ones, but Iraq chose the EU/USA combination. I remember that Canada, that well known member of the "axis of evil" (tm) chose the two EU centres.

    Anonymouse because I used to work at SWIFT, although I think this info is in the public domain.

    1. nsld
      Black Helicopters

      Re: How SWIFT works

      Well, if it wasn't in the public domain it is now!

      Best get used to wearing orange and pissing in a bucket

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: How SWIFT works

      Knowledgeable comments by people in the know are always welcome. Thanks.

    3. Richard Pennington 1

      Re: How SWIFT works

      Of course, Switzerland isn't in the EU.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: How SWIFT works

        For these purposes, EU and EEA are interchangeable. No need to be picky.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice "mouse" analogy...

    But I wouldn't call it a mouse... it's more like a huge nest of rats...

  8. Herby

    Early bird gets the worm...

    ...but the second mouse gets the cheese.

    Maybe this applies here when they show off the captured "first mouse", but there remains many "second mice" floating around to pick up the cheesy tidbits.

    This may have been the original idea anyway!

  9. Mage Silver badge

    Be careful

    Don't just plug any old mouse into your computer

    Taking it apart is no use, you need a USB sniffer.

    Mines the one with a tin foil hat disguised as my lunch wrapper.

  10. WatAWorld

    Spying on innocent members of the public is like beating your wife

    Spying on innocent members of the public is like beating your wife:

    Just because you have the capability to do it does not mean you should do it.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spying on innocent members of the public is like beating your wife

      Yes this is exactly the point - we all (mostly) live our lives governed by some moral compass that limits the negative aspects of our interaction with our fellow human beings, and expect the same from others. The spying that has been revealed recently goes well beyond any expectation of reasonableness and it is the scale that appears to be without justification, done simply as an exercise in technological extremism - we do it because we can.

      What is particularly interesting about many comments here and elsewhere is how folk settle on half-jokes as the only possible response. When members of democracies are that unempowered, things have gone too far, and at the moment we are unable to see control to these activities governed by that moral compass we expect. These wholesale activities MUST stop and the excuse of national interest must no longer be accepted.

      Tux, cos I think I can trust him with anything but fish


  11. Schultz

    Where is the border to a police state?

    So oue governments spy on us. In the case of the US, a good percentage of the population is working for some kind of securoty service (army, police, homeland security, ... and a large associated service industry). There are secret laws authorising the actions of said security service.

    I can' t tell if I should be scared to speak my mind, because I don't know the rules and whether I would make a legitimate target if I get too annoying (who knows what kind of backdoors they have into my computers and I am sure they can find some stuff that would annoy my wife, my employer, my friends and colleagues... and who knows, maybe they could just make my life harder by crashing my email program or corrupting data on my computer).

    So where does the police state begin (police world?)?

    Should I be scared?

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Where is the border to a police state?

      Scared - yes. Allow it to stop what you feel you should morally do no. Their power only exists whilst they persecute individuals. The more of us who protest - the safer we are.

  12. deadfamous

    Nothing to hide - copyright fee only $1000,000 per option to view....

    This is really the only way to handle this, money is all they understand....

    Simply add something like this to all your emails....

    All email issued with the Copyright Holder's knowledge from the '' or the '' webdomains and forwarded by or persisted on servers operated by or on behalf of Google is intended only for those recipients listed in the original email headers. Any copies of those communications made during normal email transport will be transient however where those copies are available for inspection by any Third Party including any Business, Government Agency or Law Enforcement Body operating in any Territory then a fee of $1000000(US) is payable on demand for each copy whether or not the content is inspected.

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