back to article Brit spymasters: Cheers, Snowden. Terrorists are overhauling their comms

Terrorists in Afghanistan and the Middle East are discussing changing their communication systems as a result of Edward Snowden's revelations, the boss of GCHQ said on Thursday. Sir Iain Lobban, director of the UK's eavesdropping nerve center, made the claims during a meeting in London with MPs and lords on Parliament's …

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  1. DF118

    Pretty much as expected then

    Can you say "lip service"?

    1. Psyx

      Re: Pretty much as expected then

      Not without it being intercepted, no.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: Pretty much as expected then

        I wasn't even aware that it was the job of GCHQ to catch paedophiles, I thought that was up to the Police?

        Anyone got a copy of their remit that says this? (Other than some shite the Home Secretary spouts off)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pretty much as expected then

          Also their job to watch some amateur porn. i.e., via webcams. Nah, just kidding, I don't want them watching me.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmmm

    I'm looking at upgrading my email crypto and moving to an offshore provider in a country with severe privacy laws. Does that make me a terrorist?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, of course it does.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Are you a voting american from one of the red states who goes to church every sunday and has a wife with 2.4 children? If not then you might be a terrorist.

        1. Lapun Mankimasta

          2.4 children?

          How do you get 2.4 children? How do you get half a child?

          Oh, I see! King Solomon and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre! The red states! I see, perfectly!

          1. Dr. Mouse

            Re: 2.4 children?

            How do you get 2.4 children? How do you get half a child?

            Reminds me of an amusing incident.

            An incredibly intelligent friend of mine (who used to be a programmer on mainframes for the banking sector) is currently out of work. The job centre sent him on a basic maths course. Now, I should mention that this friend has a very dry sense of humour, is very quick witted, and gets bored very easily... Not a good combination in this instance.

            Not far into this course, they were doing fractions. One sum came out at 13.5. The tutor explained that you needed to use your common sense in applying the results.

            "For example, you couldn't have half a child," she said.

            My friend's immediate response: "Tell that to Jamie Bulger's parents."

            Unsurprisingly, he was asked to leave the training facility and never return.

    2. Amiga500

      No it makes you a paranoid fool

    3. Ken 16

      I moved to a German hosted internet provider a few years back, I like their rules (and trust they will follow them).

    4. Bill Gould
      Trollface

      No, but it's not really likely to work either. You would need a self created, or at least very new, crypto method because the NSA et al have backdoors into any of the existing ones.

      You could always email in code where the receiver knows the code and can understand the message. Or use a dead, or nearly dead, language. The American Dad episode where the criminal was using Tolkien's elvish and the CIA couldn't decode it springs to mind. Navajoes worked in the past as well.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > Everyone is overhauling their comms

    There you are. No charge.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Childcatcher

    "battle sexual exploitation of children"

    Oh God Snowden, What Have You Done ? The Children ! Think Of The Children !

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The impertinence of these people.

    I have no words.

    1. Tim Parker

      Re: The impertinence of these people.

      "the impertinence - of these people I know no... - words" anonymous

      Adding authors name - makes obviously false thought - almost a Haiku.

  6. binsamp

    Field Agent Communications

    "Field agents are in constant communication, he said."

    As a field agent in GCHQ or NSA, I'd be leery of sending anything via email.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Field Agent Communications

      they use the 'Gabriel' technologies, an obfuscated form of SIP/RTP (SIP session initiation protocol by Professor Henning Schulzrinne ), that spreads the data packets across thousands of virtual IP addresses - invented by SAIC (In-Q-Tel/VirnetX) mentioned in the proceedings of the US National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee “Research and Development (R&D) Exchange Workshop September 28 - September 29, 2000 Tulsa, Oklahoma.” if you can find your copy! (hint: filename contains "nstac_rdexchange")

      A recent CISCO court-case mentioning netEraser style technologies is here http://www.investorvillage.com/uploads/81835/files/181-1120211.pdf (they wished to use some SIP features - but for some reason this obfuscated SIP etc seems locked down by patents and not licensable?) The court pdf includes CISCO demanding "all documents related to VirnetX, NetEraser, Net Cloaker"..."all communications concerning SAIC relationship with ANX, In-Q-Tel, Central Intelligence Agency"...

      What's not exactly clear from the Snowden documents is does PRISM/BULLRUN actually full-take 'Gabriel/netEraser' protocols - or is this the one and only family of really protected channels? ...... I'd bet that NSA/GCHQ still record even friendly spooks

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Cretins!

    "Terrorists in Afghanistan"

    Right. You mean the guys who blow up germanscoalition troops in their home country? They may not be sane or wholesome but why not let the Afghans take out the trash themselves.Meanwhile I fail to see why local and foreign burghers (some to be burgerized in the future by the business end of ordinance issued from a US factory, I am sure) and their political hierarchy need to be summarily listened to in order to get terrorists in Afghanistan.

    And one more thing...

    They are financed largely by Saudi Arabia (and Pakistan. Iran, not so much, if at all, even though the media is full of innuendo about this; yes, these are planted "News Articles" pumped out by neocon think-tanks and similar riffraff... "experts say...")

    This is the Saudi Arabia that needs to be "reassured" that the US will bomb and main Shia countries on its behalf. The Saudi Arabia that told Putin he better loosen up on Syria otherwise an "accident" might occur during the Winter Olympics. Where Signore Kerry, mostly known for talking loosely and metaphorically falling down stairs, just touched down in Arseforce 1 for a round of "deep reassuring" that causes one to puke in disgust. They also get several billion USD per year in reassuring money transfer (i.e. extra cheap US weapons systems).

    DO WE LISTEN TO THEM INSTEAD OF TERRORISTS IN AFGHANISTAN? DO WE???

    Yes, we have our priorities right.

    1. Gerhard Mack

      Re: Cretins!

      Not exactly true. Iran funds competing terrorist groups (ex Hisbollah, the Mahdi Army in Iraq etc). The problem is that there has been a Sunni vs Shia proxy war using terrorist groups for decades and the west keeps blundering into the middle of it without realizing what the full consequences will be.

      Quite frankly, no one involved in the middle east has clean hands

    2. Amiga500

      Re: Cretins!

      The majority of the insurgency in Afghanistan is not of Afghanistani origin, they are out of area fighters so your arguement doesn't work.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cretins!

      Why can't we just get rid of all of the Muslims? They're mostly a bunch of greedy, self-serving, arrogant hypocrites with no regard for modern education and progression, even if it would serve their own countries better.

      Oh, yeah, shit, I forgot I'm a Muslim.

      Still, the aid to other countries, especially Muslim ones, should be cut, as Imran Khan said, the aid to Pakistan fuels corruption, anyway, some of it probably going to the terrorists.

  8. heyrick Silver badge

    No dude, it is all YOUR fault.

    If you spooks just kept tabs on The Bad Guys, that would be within the remit of spookery and thus nothing much worth reporting.

    Instead, you are looking at everybody in... in...in what? The hope you might catch somebody that wasn't a target downloading some kiddie porn? The hope that you might catch some loner teenager reading a way outdated copy of The Jolly Roger Cookbook? Is that how far intelligence gathering has sunk, that you want to dragnet The World to see if anything interesting turns up?

    You guys way overstepped your boundaries. That you apparently don't get this shows what a dickhead you must be.

    Or, to put it another way - it is a case of "cause and effect". You made the cause, this is the effect. Happy with the result?

    1. Grogan

      Re: No dude, it is all YOUR fault.

      You pulled the words right out of my arse. Now I don't have to comment. Oh wait... I just did :-)

    2. WraithCadmus
      Megaphone

      Re: No dude, it is all YOUR fault.

      Have an upvote for putting it much more succinctly than I would have done.

    3. Thorne

      Re: No dude, it is all YOUR fault.

      It's a total load of crap anyway. Everything that's been reported shows they've been using encrypted flash drives delivered by courier for years

  9. Frumious Bandersnatch
    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: An oldie, but a goodie

      Thanks for that clear and concise share, Frumious Bandersnatch.

    2. dogged

      Re: An oldie, but a goodie

      On the subject of crossbows - and I realize I'm off topic here but I feel a rant coming on -

      This guy is a massive dickwad. He sees crossbows as empowering the peasantry? In fact, they achieved the exact opposite. The crossbow disarmed peasants, put skilled archers out of work and fixed powere even more firmly in the hands of feudal lords.

      As the author states, any bellend can be reasonably certain of hitting their target with a crossbow. This means you can round a bunch of brainless thugs and use them rather than pay money for soldiers who've spent years learning how to shoot properly with a longbow. Nice, right? Suddenly the people are free?

      Not exactly. Think it through.

      Compared to a longbow - which is, when all is said and done, a stick - the crossbow is a fiendishly complicated bit of machinery. You need to make steel arms for it. You need a rolling or winding trrigger. You need a cocking mechanism that can actually bend those steel arms without shattering them or ruining them. You need some seriously hardcore cable to be able to cope with the release strain.

      What a crossbow actually is, is "seriously fucking expensive".

      And any cretin can use one. But only the nobles can afford one.

      So you get rid of your skilled retainers, hire a bunch of thugs, issue them with crossbows for the duration of any time spent in missile combat and then collect them all up again afterwards. Nobody else has one. Nobody else can afford one. You can easily make them illegal in your demesne and have your thugs with your crossbows kill anyone who bought their own.

      Or anyone who has a longbow because hey, outnumbered!

      The crossbow was not an instrument of anyone's freedom but an iron boot on the neck of the peasantry.

      I am unwilling to read this pdf any further because Chuck Hammill is clearly an idiot.

      1. Alan Edwards

        Re: An oldie, but a goodie

        > Compared to a longbow - which is, when all is said and done, a stick

        No, there's engineering in a decent bow. It has to be flexible enough that a human can draw it but give the arrow serious acceleration. It also has to twang back to it's previous shape evenly so the arrow goes straight.

        > And any cretin can use one (a crossbow)

        What a crossbow does is automate the drawing and release. It doesn't negate the skill needed to get the arrow to go where you want it to. It's also slower to "reload" than a longbow. Miss with your crossbow shot and the archer you were trying to hit will put 3 arrows in your arse before you can reload..

        > I am unwilling to read this pdf any further because Chuck Hammill is clearly an idiot.

        I'm inclined to agree there.

      2. Psyx

        Re: An oldie, but a goodie

        "The crossbow disarmed peasants, put skilled archers out of work and fixed powere even more firmly in the hands of feudal lords."

        That's a bit of a simplistic over-reach tainted by modern mythology surrounding both weapon systems. I don't disagree that the author is an ass with a stupid view of history, but not strictly for the reasons you outline.

        Firstly, the crossbow didn't kill off the longbow in the medieval period in Britain *at all* (there wasn't anything to kill off elsewhere, so I'm assuming we must be talking about Britain). The 100 year war came to the end and reduced the need for quite such a large dedicated corps of Yeoman, but they carried on in use as the primary ranged weapon of armies in Britain until gunpower took over, as evidenced by the findings on the Mary Rose and plenty of sources. So the author was flat-wrong there.

        "As the author states, any bellend can be reasonably certain of hitting their target with a crossbow. This means you can round a bunch of brainless thugs and use them rather than pay money for soldiers who've spent years learning how to shoot properly with a longbow. Nice, right? Suddenly the people are free?"

        The author is mistaken and playing to longbow vs. crossbow mythology. Crossbows are not magically immune to windage or trajectory or flight-time. Genoa was famous for its crossbowmen for a reason: It's a skilled job, still. So much so that it was worth paying guys to protect crossbowmen and even sometimes do the loading for them. Don't think that shooting with a crossbow is any less skilful than using a bow. Remember also that the longbow was the machine-gun of the era, used for firing indirectly at tight formations, not for robin-hood style antics as portrayed in film. Archers shot at flat targets on the ground, not nicely upright ones at close range, like we see today. Hitting a dense formation is not hard.

        The reason why Yeoman were valuable isn't because of some uber-level of hand-eye coordination: It was physical strength and grunt-power. Firing a powerful longbow requires powerful shoulders. THAT'S where the training comes in: You need strong and practised men to bend a bow. Crossbows were an easier weapon system to use because you didn't need to be as strong to load them, and you could still load them while hungry and suffering from dysentery. You can pick up a crossbow and use it, but it takes skill to hit anything, especially given the kick they give.

        “Compared to a longbow - which is, when all is said and done, a stick”

        Not really. It required skill to make. It required specific materials to make, which were a major import to the UK. We purchased an awful lot of bowstaves from the continent to fill the need, and they also wear out and break pretty quickly so yeomen needed to carry spars on campaign. Then there’s the materiel: Arrows. Again, not just sticks. And the rate of fire of the bow (machine-gun, remember), required that a bow-equipped army needed to be supported with a staggering amount of ammunition. We made bows and arrows on an industrial scale, and with a great deal of effort.

        “What a crossbow actually is, is "seriously fucking expensive".”

        That is correct. They were not a peasant weapon. Even though Europe was nicely deforesting itself in order to make steel on an industrial scale, the crossbow was expensive, and most certainly NOT a peasant weapon, in the same way that mail was not peasant armour. (If you want ‘seriously expensive’ kit, consider how long it takes to make a mail shirt without access to spools of wire and having to rivet every single ling!)

        “So you get rid of your skilled retainers, hire a bunch of thugs, issue them with crossbows for the duration of any time spent in missile combat and then collect them all up again afterwards.”

        Except they didn’t do that. Again, your view of crossbows is tainted by modern, incorrect views.

        “Or anyone who has a longbow because hey, outnumbered!”

        If the Hundred Years War taught us nothing else, it’s that longbowmen don’t give a sh!t about being horribly outnumbered!

        “The crossbow was not an instrument of anyone's freedom but an iron boot on the neck of the peasantry.”

        It wasn’t anything like that. The Feudal system was the iron boot. The Church and Serfdom were iron boots. The crossbow did nothing at all to repress peasants. If you wanted to repress peasants, you just rode up and burned everything: It worked for William in Yorkshire, just as it worked on the French in the Hundred Years. You don’t need a crossbow.

        Mind you, workers wages actually rocketed in late-medieval times due to the plague and lack of skilled workers. Far from it being a time of increased repression, workers suddenly had a power that they never had before.

        1. dogged

          @Psyx

          As a reenactment archer - heavy war bow, 210lb - I can assure you that I can teach anyone to be reasonably competent with a crossbow in under ten minutes.

          The longbow? Not so much. You do need strength but much more technique. And actually putting an arrow where you want it to be is not trivial. One of the questions I'm most frequently asked is "how do you aim?"

          The answer is that I don't. I don't even think about it. I nock, draw, loose, the arrow goes where I wanted it to go. That stuff is learned over years.

          1. Psyx

            Re: @Psyx

            "As a reenactment archer - heavy war bow, 210lb - I can assure you that I can teach anyone to be reasonably competent with a crossbow in under ten minutes."

            That's a proper big-a$$ bow. :)

            Reasonably competent != someone you'd want on a battlefield in your retinue, though. That's a level of bare capability which would totally disintegrate into zero capability under battle-stress due to lack of muscle memory and drilling. They're not 'a crossbowman' so much as a liability grasping a very expensive and effectively useless weapon.

            Additionally, we're not discussing a comparison between a reasonably competent crossbowman training in an afternoon and a skilled archer, but two equally skilled marksman. You can't be as skilled a marksman with a crossbow as a trained archer in an afternoon of training, despite what our modern mythology teaches us. I stand by my comment that crossbowmen were skilled and practised and not idiots with magically self-targeting weapons. Yes: The bowman requires more training and more muscle than the crossbowmen, but crossbowmen are much maligned as regards their skills in a completely fictitious manner, as the external source cited demonstrates.

            I still dispute completely the concept of just rounding up some idiots and giving them crossbows, and that this strategy (or anything else prior to pike and shot, really) outmoded the longbow. The longbow was a great weapon, but the crossbow wasn't as bad as armchair historians think it is. It held its own against gunpowder weapons for quite a while and was good enough for most of Europe.

        2. Ken 16

          Re: An oldie, but a goodie

          Yes to this analysis, as an old crossbow shooter - think sniper rifle vs infantry assault rifle, crossbows were banned because they targetted knights/officers but the people using them were professionals, not peasantry. They were expensive to make, complex to maintain, slow to load but powerful and accurate.

  10. i like crisps
    Big Brother

    Nothing to see here...move along.

    They pulled out the ' crowd pleasers'

    Pedophile, Terrorist.

    Terrorist, pedophile.

    Pedophile Terrorist...Terrorist Pedophile...etc.

    1. Amiga500

      Re: Nothing to see here...move along.

      What do you think they are looking for?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    actually...

    more people are overhauling their comms and using VPNs and other proxy / encrypted services by default because of all the site blocks we're seeing lately.. that's going to be drowning out other similar traffic in noise too, if that porn filter goes ahead I'd expect to see even more people using them.

    oh and of course even if they want to blame snowden they should remember who created the problem in the first place.. who was doing all the spying, and why your perfectly average british citizen is also now wanting to see improved encryption / anonymity services etc.

    yes, investments in this kind of technology probably helps the terrorists too, but maybe they should have thought about that first.

    1. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: actually...

      "more people are overhauling their comms and using VPNs and other proxy / encrypted services by default because of all the site blocks we're seeing lately"

      And the thing is, these are no longer just 'tech savvy' users. I've had so many requests for advice from people who have traditionally put their entire lives up on FarceBook who now want to become a little more anonymous. Some of this is because their pictures have started appearing against endorsements for products they wouldn't use with a gun to their head, but there's a significant undercurrent of 'I don't want the yanks looking over my shoulder' requests

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "UK's enemies rubbing their hands with glee"...

    ... at the enormous own goal our security services have scored by engaging in the world's biggest fishing expedition and getting caught in (as one ex US VPOTUS put it) "crimes against the constitution".

    Anonymous Coward because I suspect it makes no difference.

    1. P. Lee

      Re: "UK's enemies rubbing their hands with glee"...

      or indeed, at our getting ourselves so far into debt that we're likely to financially implode with no effort from themselves.

  13. Charles Manning

    The publicity must be hurting the spooks

    Of course these spook talks are just posturing. The Bad Guys have known for a long time that the spooks are watching them, and the spooks have been admitting it for years. No doubt spooks with something really worth talking about have been using reasonable cryptography for ages.

    But where all the publicity really hurts is that now Joe & Jane Sixpack are getting concerned about uncalled-for observation by the the spooks and are starting to use encryption for mundane conversations.

    Although the spooks *can* break encryption, that is likely to only come at high computational cost. Munching on an encrypted email is expensive whether it contains terrorist target information or cute kitty pictures.

    That surely increases the size of the haystacks that the needles are buried in, which reduces the spooks' ability to be effective.

  14. Arachnoid

    Looks like

    The NSA needs to open a few more server farms offering special deals to foreign companys

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    blah blah blah Snowden blah blah blah.

    Yeah we can't track these people because of Snowden giving the game away.

    What utter BS.

    As we found out OBL could not be found because he did not use electronic media.

    I think most of the real terrorists already strongly suspected this.

    Still there's always the rest of us.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: blah blah blah Snowden blah blah blah.

      As we found out OBL could not be found because he did not use electronic media.

      I think most of the real terrorists already strongly suspected this.

      Not so sure ..... around start of Afghan campaign US intelligence etc made a big deal over "international PAYG SIMs" being a big security threat as people could buy them for cash so that they couldn't be traced - parts of AQ seemed to have believed this and used phones with this type of SIMs to communicate as a couple of years later a US general gave the game away and rather unwisely told some journalists that they'd found the target of a recent raid because they just monitored all the cell phone traffic and as soon as a SIM from certain brands connected they were pretty sure they'd got a location on an AQ unit. Problem was with that cat out of the bag AQ almost immediately stopped using mobiles and relied on direct person to person contacts only.

    2. Amiga500

      Re: blah blah blah Snowden blah blah blah.

      Hmm so their finances are not using electronic bank transfers, it doesn't have to be a straight forward communication there is an entire terrorist network using the internet, you tube social media etc to fuel and fund their campaign.

      1. Mayhem

        Re: blah blah blah Snowden blah blah blah.

        Of course their finances use electronic bank transfers.

        The difference is that the money tends to route via Governments which breaks the trail nicely.

        Saudi Arabia for example, or in the case of the IRA towards the end of the war ... the UK government.

        How else do you think they manage to pay for the arms they need? Suitcases full of cash are heavy and too easy to trace.

  16. JohnA 1

    if only

    If only people would give up every ounce of freedom, they would be safe..

  17. Gannon (J.) Dick
    Stop

    Thanks a lot, El Reg.

    I'm flashing on 'Q' perusing apps at the iPhone Store.

    At long last you have killed Bond and changed Moneypenny from an object of desire to an accurate assessment of my financial position once I pay to have the nightmares treated.

    Thanks again.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do all the paranoid people on here think we simply shouldn't have intelligence services? Either we have them and they do a job which requires them to make calls about privacy (and perhaps the limits to this are something worthy of debate) or we don't and accept that we don't do this spying thing because it's simply not cricket.

    The idea of collecting absolutely no information about potential targets until you're sure that's what they are is patently ridiculous.

    AC because I know very well that these comments are not welcome here!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do you believe that security is more important than everything else? That the spooks should be able to kill with impunity, break any law they like? Of course not. You expect them to work within a legal framework. You also expect them to limit themselves to their core function. That doesn't include mass surveillance, or trying to silence political and journalistic opponents.

      I don't care about them spying on targets, but the entire internet is not a legitimate target.

      1. jubtastic1
        Holmes

        The problem with your argument

        Is that it requires completely incorruptible security services and government, forever.

        We find ourselves in a situation where our security services and by extension our elected leaders have access to information about us that we might not even be aware of ourselves. In the wrong hands unimaginable levels of pressure could be applied to opposition politicians, judges, policemen, businessmen, journalists, or anyone else that wandered into the firing line.

        Put another way, If your goal was to swiftly switch your country from a western democracy into something more like China or Russia, this dragnet would be your absolute best course of action.

    2. Mephistro
      Flame

      @ AC 7th November 2013 22:34 GMT

      "Do all the paranoid people on here think we simply shouldn't have intelligence services?"

      You don't need to be paranoid to see where this could take us. A government agency with the power to spy on everyone and blackmail everyone? Without effective checks and balances? Working in a deliberately diffuse legal framework that allows said agency to, basically, ignore previous Laws?

      In my opinion, it's either we fight -and defeat- this kind of shit or we'll be building concentration camps inside the next two decades.*

      *: Yes, a Goldwin. So what?

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        @Mephisto

        "You don't need to be paranoid to see where this could take us."

        Where it already has taken us, surely?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Where it already has taken us, surely?"

          No, the next step beyond full intelligence take is criminal misuse of such database.

          Only in faraway places like Prague & Sofia[0] have the police/lawful intercept/military intelligence collection groups/prime ministers recently been sanctioned for blatant misuse of their citizen-data-capture systems.

          It's the next step that I'm worried about, as I currently trust Rt.Hon's DC & NC as average parliamentarians, the next step is to abuse the search function of your massive database and slightly make things worse for your targets/targetted groups/citizens. (France has admitted that they can keyword search an entire year of their citizens' internet history for a particular phrase or word)[1]

          imagine a national blacklist - much bigger and nastier than the intelligence led Consulting Association Blacklist[2] - with someone nastier than dame Shirley Porter[3] in charge of the keywords and the subtle reverse-lottery prizes - this bad place is a place that UK is coming perilously near with the current NSA/GCHQ TIA fuckup[4]

          but don't worry as Sir Malcolm, KCMG, QC will protect us?[5]

          [0]http://www.novinite.com/articles/149591/Bulgarian+Prosecution+Hints+Spying+Breaches+Begun+with+GERB

          [1]http://owni.fr/2011/08/31/amesys-amnesie-dpi-libye-kadhafi-surveillance/

          [2]http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/oct/12/police-blacklist-construction-workers-watchdog

          [3]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homes_for_votes_scandal

          [4]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_Awareness_Office

          [5]http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/10/31/malcolm-rifkind-isc-snowden-guardian_n_4184238.html "Rifkind ...barely knows what day of the week it is"?

          1. BrownishMonstr

            Re: "Where it already has taken us, surely?"

            Sigh, the country's in the shitter. Let's scrap it and start again. Britain 2.0.

    3. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Unfortunately, in the kind of world we live in, intelligence services are part of the package. But it seems this is no longer a case of operations to determine threats to national security, or to track known terrorists/criminals/paedophiles/liberals.

      I don't accept your two implied arguments here:

      1. There is no indication of ANYONE 'making a call' about privacy. It seems our intelligence services are in a mad dash to collect absolutely every bit of data, no matter how insignificant, about absolutely everyone on the bloody planet, and then store it forever. That's not 'making a call', it's indiscriminate snooping.

      2. You appear to believe there are only two options here: to collect absolutely everything about everybody, or to collect no data at all. Surely those are only options for people who are incapable of applying any common sense or judgement, and if that's the sort of person our intelligence services are recruiting these days, maybe it's high time we turned the spotlight on them.

      And THANKYOU El Reg for the edit button. Sometimes the rabid froth obscures the screen and hides my typos.

    4. T. F. M. Reader

      the limits ... are something worthy of debate

      Those limits are the only thing that is being debated. Everything else in your post is a figment of your imagination.

    5. a53

      Land of the free ?

      So in your eyes, we're all guilty until we manage the impossible task of proving ourselves innocent. And as that's a position that could obviously change at any time, we're all permanently guilty.

      The argument you're making has an analogy: That of wholesale fishing in our oceans which all but wiped out huge varieties of fish stocks from which they're struggling to recover. Short term thinking that has decimated fishing boat numbers.

      Not a world I want to live in.

  19. Petersbear

    Remember when Bin Laden knew his sat phone was being tracked he moved to courier using a USB device. That is why it took so long to track him down. We can argue about the way the USA tracked him down and killed him but tracking was delayed by several years.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EDWARD SNOWDEN LEAKS COULD HELP AUSTRALIA WIN THE ASHES!

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Have an upvote. This is far more believeable than what the spooks are saying.

      1. James Hughes 1

        Only if you believe the Aussies have the remotest chance of winning the Ashes...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They left out the kitten-stranglers!!

    They left out the kitten-stranglers!!s societal damage due to kitten snuff film rackets, can we?

    Intelligence, yes. Surveillance with due process, sure! Forming the basis of a modern police state, Hell no!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear GCHQ outpost of NSA

    What's the excuse for not tracking down those who 'suicided' David Kelly and one of your own, Gareth Williams, and those who murdered the al-Hilli family. All of which are very 'spooky' affairs.

  23. Roger Stenning
    Headmaster

    I'm not...

    ...about to comment on the report, other have already done that to death. I will, however, say that you need a better dictionary. You do not spell it "defense". That's the American spelling. Over here, old boy, we spell it "defence".

    1. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: I'm not...

      Well said sir! Have an upvote for being my kind of pedant!

      Or is that 'up-vote'? Up Vote'? 'Vote Up'? just 'Vote'? and should it be 'kind' or 'sort'?

      Bugger this grammer naziism is tough!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm not...

        It's "Nazism".

      2. Irony Deficient Silver badge

        grammer?

        Grammar.

  24. Old Handle

    Don't Forget

    Their definition of "terrorist" includes journalists, so this news isn't as alarming as it first appears, and in fact may be a good thing.

    1. Mephistro
      Devil

      Re: Don't Forget

      "Their definition of "terrorist" includes journalists"

      True! . But that gets balanced, somehow, by that funny definition of 'torture' that doesn't include waterboarding. ;-)

  25. Graham Marsden
    Facepalm

    "We have seen chat among terrorist groups...

    "...discussing how to avoid what they now perceive to be vulnerable," said Sir Iain.

    Thus revealing valuable intelligence to the Terrorists...

    1. dogged

      Re: "We have seen chat among terrorist groups...

      And clearly, they're not fixing the right things or MI6 wouldn't have seen it.

  26. MrDamage

    Upgrading?

    They are probably downgrading more than likely.

    Going back to the good old snail mail approach, using a cipher that is disguised as a recipe for Aunty Fatima's Goat and Lentil stew.

  27. Nick Kew

    A cunning plan ....

    So the whole Snowden thing is really a charade. Shake peoples belief in cryptographic security, and nudge those who have something to hide towards denying themselves the power of modern communications. Granny Weatherwax would be proud of the headology.

    Well, maybe. I wouldn't care to say, one way or the other. But if "NSA can work around internet crypto" were true (beyond what they can get by traditional blackhat methods like social-engineering), then surely talking it up like this is the *last* thing either the spooks or the politicians would be doing.

  28. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    State Secret? Or Well Known Leak?

    I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to have the public figureheads of national intelligence and cyber security and virtual protection and Parliamentary watch dogging parade their significant inadequacies and vast swathes of global control inexpertise on television for all to see and hear, but to imagine that its impact and damage to national security and international reputation be any less than that which is being attributed to Snowden memorabilia, is to be fooling oneself to an idiotically dangerous and easily manipulated degree.

    So, who was that bright spark/shadowy mole?

    And quite why none or all of the three stooges didn’t unambiguously reply to that unnecessarily revealing Parliamentary ISC chaired request with a robust and COSMICally understood “FCUK OFF”, is surely something which identifies all instrumental and starring in the show as unfit for present rapidly evolving security protection office and most definitely its developing revolutionary formats with revised hyperdriver protocols for More Purposeful Future Greater IntelAIgent Games Use in Beta AIMissionary Expeditions.

    And No, that is not a BAE Program and Cyber Project‽. And Yes, that is not yet a BAE Program and Cyber Project‽.

    1. M Gale

      Am I high?

      Because that Martian post nearly made sense.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Am I high?*

        Am I high?

        Because that Martian post nearly made sense. .... M Gale Posted Friday 8th November 2013 06:10 GMT

        Nearly made sense, M Gale? What be the hurdle to your leap in understanding with what can now be easily done for the primitive and primeval prime and sub-prime being with Creative CyberSpace Command and Control of IT and Media for Virtual Reality AIMissions with Communications and Computers .... Quantum Field Global Operating Devices?

        Oh, and still no acknowledgement of receipt of message introducing such as the above and Sublime Application of ProgramMING from this government money pit/crazy quango/mad sinecure/rad phish/empty head office ...... cyber@ukti.gsi.gov.uk

        * Give yourself a break, MG, and accept that you are probably getting smarter because of what you read and are being fed/seeded with.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Pint

        Re: Am I high?

        It made as much, or more, sense than quite a few of the posts above it. Personally, I can usually spot a martian post, and therefore skip it, within the first sentence. This time, I got all of the way to M Gale's post before without noticing.

    2. Valeyard

      Re: State Secret? Or Well Known Leak?

      Aw man that reminds me. I've still to write that greasemonkey script to get rid of you.

      Keep going though, fill those GCHQ servers up with junk for us, you damn fine figure of a man

      *wipes away a tear proudly*

  29. Schultz
    WTF?

    Let me get this straight

    The spooks were allowed to secretly spy with the explicit job to catch terrorists. They misused that freedom to spy on all and sundry. An upright citizen from the land of the free saw this misuse of authority and revealed it. As a result, the spooks' work got harder. Sounds like some heads should roll: Who authorized the excessive spying? Who allowed the system to grow to ridiculous proportions without checks and balances -- causing the public outrage driving the whole affair? Who neglected the security of the whole thing to a point that a single sysadmin can bring down the whole thing? There is a lot of blame to go around, but none of it belongs to Mr Snowden.

  30. Chris Sake
    FAIL

    Sir Iain

    Security by obscurity is NOT security.

  31. titleist

    Gingerbread and Snowden

    Disclosure I don't work for the NSA, a couple thread contrarian thoughts to stir the pot:

    1. The first question blasting out of everyone's mouth after a 911 - " What the f*ck was the NSA doing? Lives were lost and they got too aggressive. Just don't swing the pendulum too far the other way I doubt your gingerbread recipe is that precious and if it is it shouldn't be on the internet.

    2. Snowden is part hero / part traitor, there must have been sympathetic audiences inside the government he could have aired concerns to first instead of broadcasting to the world. Instead caused damage and living in Russia / lost credibility.

    Trev

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Gingerbread and Snowden

      1. Even wehen spying on the whole world,m they still managed to miss 9/11

      2. How do you find a sympathetic audience, even if there is one? Choose the wrong one, and you go straight to jail, do not pass go, and do not collect £200

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gingerbread and Snowden

      Well, we've now seen and heard from a lot of the big cheeses in the system to whom Snowden would have had to complain. I don't hear any of them sounding sympathetic, do you?

      Which of them has said "Yeah, that Snowden was spot-on. We really do need to cut back this spying stuff, silly of us not to see that before. It's just a pity he didn't draw our attention to it a bit earlier, then we could have done something." ?

  32. Lapun Mankimasta

    " The GCHQ director rarely, if ever, speaks in public, just like his staff, but he added: "I don't think secret means sinister." "

    And this after they tell us, "If you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to hide" and the like. I take it as read that he's just confessed to criminal intent.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "battle sexual exploitation of children"

    I've seen people describe this as not a matter of National Security. But this is Serious Business. After all the future of a nation depends on its children, and if we don't protect our children then we don't protect our future. Thus making this a matter of National Security.

    On next post I will explain how not recycling an used paper pad is a matter of National Security too, and how for our own good our purchases of paper pads must be tracked.

    Be assured the GCHQ, NSA and other countries' government agencies are diligently working to track your pads, and due to recent traitorous revelations from terrorist Snowden they will justifiably be requesting an increase in budget in order to protect National Security.

    Yes, a few radicalized minds have said Snowden is a patriot and not a terrorist. But I ask you, do you feel safer after that bad man Snowden leaked National Secrets endangering National Security? Do you feel safe? You don't! He's spreading fear! Terrorist I say! Burn him! Burn him!

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      "Yes, a few radicalized minds have said Snowden is a patriot and not a terrorist. But I ask you, do you feel safer after that bad man Snowden leaked National Secrets endangering National Security? Do you feel safe? You don't! He's spreading fear! Terrorist I say! Burn him! Burn him!"

      Nice parody.

      Have an upvote.

  34. JCitizen
    Pirate

    I can only look at it in 911 eyes...

    Did we know that terrorists were in the US training on airplane simulators - yes - why did we not react? - purposeful disengagement created by abuse in the past during the '60s and '70s war with the "Weathermen" anti-war movement and other so called radical groups like the Black Panthers. - So all we needed was a small tweak in the US to avoid, or at least mitigate past abuse, but still share just enough information to bust the terrorists. Why did we need the 'The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004'? We didn't - we just needed a small tweak! Leave it up to shrill cry babies to get the evil empire started! We don't need no stinking Home Land Security, we already had the upper hand - this NSA thing is a violation of our 4th, 5th, and 10th Amendment rights in the US Constitution. Mark my words - they will rue the day they did this! They already are!

  35. DJO Silver badge

    Hypocrisy

    "We have seen chat among terrorist groups discussing how to avoid what they now perceive to be vulnerable," said Sir Iain.

    So Snowdon was a traitor for revealing that the spooks are using various methods to spy on the terrorists while Sir Iain has in that statement revealed that they definitely are listening in to wherever the bad folks are discussing these matters in which case his revelation is far more damaging. Or he was making it up and was guessing the bad folk are discussing in which case he is guilty of misleading Parliament which is treason.

  36. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Both GCHQ and NSA are outgrowths of WWII agencies whose remit was "collect all."

    Trouble is neither of them seems to have dialed it down since.

    If they were honest they'd say "We couldn't spy on everyone 24/7/365 because the technology was not up to it not because we didn't want to. But now the tech is up to it, so we can."

    Funny how spooks away play the "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" card is it not?

    Politicians should all know the reply is "Give me 6 lines from an honest man, and I'll find something to hang him."

    Note the "crime" in the latter case is simple. I don't like him.

    And that's his only crime. The rest is simply finding a "legal" excuse to hang him.

  37. JaitcH
    WTF?

    The Three Monkeys on display

    Why should ANYONE believe this Pony & Cart show - except gullible people?

    Obviously they have learnt from the US version with 'Clap-Trap' Clapper and Alexander admitting to lying. Likely pre-scripted questions with the force of cotton-balls. Just another act in Security Theatre.

    And what was the purpose ... to accuse an American of leaking UK secrets?

    That their 'secrets' leaked out was the problem with NSA and NSA' ability to keep things confidential. These things should have been kept on a UK-controlled server.

    Given that Ms. Manning had previously outed all the secrets from the State Department, The Three Monkeys should have wised up and had a chat with their friends in the USA. Obviously they failed in their duty.

    One thing for sure, never have either UK or US security agencies ever stood so exposed.

    Thank you, Edward Snowden.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    here's THE proof

    a transcript of a conversation held by the Terrorist 1 and Terrorist 2 (undisclosed identity, as it's an operational matter, as you all MUST clearly understand) at an undisclosed location (see above, but we can make an exception: it's in AFGAHNISTAN!). The conversation went like this:

    T1:

    Dude, this guy Snowden gave me and idea, man!

    T2:

    Oh, like to beef up our security measures, right?

    T1:

    yeah, exactly.

    T2:

    Done. Where would we be without Snowden, huh?

    T1:

    Yeah, Snowden, he's our savior, man!

    T2:

    With Snowden we'll be able to bring the death to the infidels, at last!

    T1:

    Snowden rulez!

    T2:

    yeah, Snowden, SNOWDEN, SNOWDEN...

  39. teebie

    "The spy chief said he would only go into the specifics if the committee held a session closed to journalists and the public"

    Because speaking in front of someone with an ounce of credulity would "harm... britain... terrorists... paedophiles...etc"

    "34 terrorist plots had been thwarted in the UK "

    Thwarted by whom? I bet several of the ones that were actual plots were by the 'terrorists' themselves.

    I can't remember the source (*), so don't think this is reliable, but I heard a story of bombers strapping on their vests, then having one last group hug...a very last group hug. The tag line was something to do with the downside of supporting a cause that hates education.

    (*) and sadly searching "terrorist hug explosion" was no use outside of band-naming duties.

  40. w lutchman

    bill

    These aholes must think us all simpletons who are convinced in our tiny little moronic minds that the terrorist community never had any idea whatsoever that the nsa gchq et all were spying on them, and were quite happily paying them no attention until the nasty little man exposed it all.

    Is this what we are paying them for? Where's Frank spencer / Fred carno when you need them?

  41. This Side Up

    Maybe...

    if NSA and GCHQ had targeted the terrorists instead of slurping all and sundry they wouldn't have had the whistle blown on them.

  42. JaitcH
    FAIL

    The Three Monkeys on display

    Why should ANYONE believe a Pony & Cart show - except gullible people?

    Obviously they have learnt from the US version with Clap-Trap Clapper and Alexander admitting to lying. Likely pre-scripted questions with the force of cotton-balls. Just another act in Security Theatre.

    And what was the purpose ... to accuse an American of leaking UK secrets?

    That their 'secrets' leaked out was the problem with NSA and NSA' ability to keep things confidential. These things should have been kept on a UK-controlled server.

    Given that Ms. Manning had previously outed all the secrets from the State Department, The Three Monkeys should have wised up and had a chat with their friends in the USA.

    Obviously the Monkeys don't understand/accept they have broken the public trust and they have much work to do to restore even a modicum of trust.

  43. Dropper

    words fail me..

    "spies don't go out into the field and report back two months later with a new blonde"

    Does this mean the terrorists have indeed won? I thought it was the duty of every spy (male or female) to be a sex-crazed, hedonistic gambler with a drinking problem. It saddens me that this might not be true.

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