back to article GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine

A number of protesters haranguing UK spies stationed at the country's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have taken to apparently drinking human urine to publicise their disgust with the eavesdropping nerve centre's surveillance tactics. A video has been posted online that appears to show activists from the We Are …

  1. Rol Silver badge

    Was it or wasn't it?

    My money is on it being English larger, so I suppose, yes it was.

    1. Martin Summers

      Re: Was it or wasn't it?

      Fail whilst taking the piss. Ironic.

      1. Rol Silver badge

        Re: Was it or wasn't it?

        Lack of taste or lack of humour?

      2. Rol Silver badge

        Re: Was it or wasn't it?

        Have you ever tasted English larger Mr Summers 'cos I think your humour chip needs a reboot

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Was it or wasn't it?

          I suspect it was more around the fact you used "larger" instead of "lager" to describe the piss like british drink...

          1. Martin Summers

            Re: Was it or wasn't it?

            Correct AC.

            1. Rol Silver badge

              Re: Was it or wasn't it?

              Ha ha, yes it has been a while since I took a pedant spanking. Oh well.

              Thank you sir, please can I have some more.

              1. Titus Technophobe

                Re: Was it or wasn't it?

                The local newspapers suggest it was cider ... which makes sense given the West Country theme.

                1. greenawayr

                  Re: Was it or wasn't it?

                  Er, Cheltenham? West Country? Really?

                  South-West, just about, but not Westcountry!

                  West Midlands more likely.

                  Having lived in the Westcountry, South-West and Cheltenham at various times in my life, I can assure you, they don't get Points West in Cheltenham, the true guide as to whether yer westcountry bauy!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Was it or wasn't it?

      "My money is on it being English larger, so I suppose, yes it was."

      Not quite sure what you think was larger. My money is on the 'piss' being American beer though - it bears a remarkable similarity.

    3. Andrew Moore

      larger than what?

      or did you mean lager?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another 'could be' law?

    Is this another Public Relations statement about 'could be' laws? Like the 'it could be against the law to watch the beheading video'?

    "could be breaking the law if they attempt to take photos of any GCHQ staff."

    You're the police, it either IS or ISN'T.

    Hasn't it already been fought and won (by pro-photographers & google) that its legal to take pictures in public places where there is no expectation of privacy?

    "guiding protesters around the legality of taking pictures outside GCHQ"

    The ACTUAL legality? Or the interpretation that suits the senior police officer on duty?

    1. Nuno trancoso

      Re: Another 'could be' law?

      You know, i thought just that too. If the cops can't tell if it's against the law or not, wtf are we paying them for?

      I for one would expect someone from their legal team to have advised them, before you know, they doing something they can't and ending themselves in court....

    2. Ross K
      Holmes

      Re: Another 'could be' law?

      I'm guessing that standing on a public road taking photos of people or things inside the GCHQ site will give the cops the excuse to arrest you for spying under the Official Secrets Act 1911 and 1920. You'd probably never get to court, but you would get to experience the local police station at first hand before getting a caution and your camera back minus the memory card.

    3. John Tserkezis

      Re: Another 'could be' law?

      "You're the police, it either IS or ISN'T."

      They're exercising the "make it up as we go along" laws. You know, the ones that they enact when things aren't going their way...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another 'could be' law?

      Is this another Public Relations statement about 'could be' laws? Like the 'it could be against the law to watch the beheading video'?

      "could be breaking the law if they attempt to take photos of any GCHQ staff."

      You're the police, it either IS or ISN'T.

      You're being too harsh here - they're police, not lawyers. I suspect that someone in the back office is busy working out if taking pictures of GCHQ staff is legal because it's in public, or illegal because it can harm National Security or can create real danger to GCHQ staff (nobody has the right to endanger another IMHO).

      I notice that they have been *warning* people who are taking pictures, but AFAIK they have not taken action. This could change, though, especially if staff images show up online.

      1. David 45

        Re: Another 'could be' law?

        Having closely followed many cases where police (and others) have illegally ordered people to stop videoing or taking photographs in a public place, followed up with an equally illegal confiscation of equipment and/or wiping of a memory card, it's my understanding that if GCHQ staff are on the public highway, then it is perfectly legal to photograph them. Of course, police may trump up other charges to try and justify an arrest but photography is not a crime.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: Another 'could be' law?

          How does anyone know who is an employee? They might just be popping along to visit their Uncle or something - it's not like they all wear long macs and funny hats, or do they?

    5. Nick Kew Bronze badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Another 'could be' law?

      Sorry to ... erm ... piss on your protest, but for the police to say "could be" may be entirely reasonable.

      Technically even if they were shooting GCHQ employees with guns rather than cameras, police could only say it "could be" against the law. It would be for police to prosecute, but the decision would be one for a court.

      It would be ironic if it were indeed deemed illegal because it violated someone's right to privacy!

      1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        Re: Another 'could be' law?

        To be honest I find it more refreshing that they are saying could be rather than taking the default "I know the law" police stance. I have been in several situations where the cops were completely wrong about the law, but refused to accept the possibility that someone could know better than them about anything.

    6. phuzz Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Another 'could be' law?

      If you wandered into the centre of Cheltenham at a weekend, and took a picture of the crowds shopping, you'd probably be taking a picture of a GCHQ employee, or the pictures I took at my friend's wedding, which included his parents who worked at GCHQ. Nieth of these is likely to be illegal, because it's not obvious from the photo what those people do.

      However, if you take a photo of the same person as they're walking through the door into the doughnut, it's pretty obvious what they do for a living, and thus they're open to blackmail, etc.

      I'm guessing that's why the police can't give a snappy one line answer about which photos are legal.

    7. Anonymous Cowerd

      sounds like section 44

      which can make it illegal to take photos in certain places

      their problem (the police) is that they aren't allowed to reveal if you are in a section 44 area or not

      1. Titus Technophobe

        Official Secrets Act

        GCHQ will be a prohibited place under the terms of the OSA. Even if the Police aren't allowed to reveal that you are in a prohibited place there will be signs all round the perimeter fence saying this anyway.

        1. ravenviz
          Holmes

          Re: Official Secrets Act

          This is quite clear on the fence.

          1. YetAnotherLocksmith
            WTF?

            Re: Official Secrets Act

            But, but, Google did it, your honour!

  3. Andrew Oakley

    Why it could or couldn't

    It will surely come as no surprise that the GCHQ building is Protected Site; I can't remember whether this is under section 128 of the Serious & Organised Crime and Police Act, or whether it's under some Ministry of Defence secret places ruling. There are notices every 50 metres or so on all the fences around the site and its car parks. You can't miss them, and any I sincerely doubt that any protestor bright enough to use a computer could be unable to read and understand those notices.

    Therefore if you take a photo with the GCHQ building in the background, it's illegal, regardless of any innocent purpose.

    Next up is the law around the intended use of the photographs. If it is reasonable to believe that the photographs might be of use to someone committing acts of terrorism, the photograph is illegal. It doesn't matter whether the photographer is a terrorist or whether the photographer knows any terrorists, it is enough that the photographer intends to publish the useful photos on a website where terrorists might be able to find them, for example posted on a website visible to the general public. Photos of GCHQ cryptographers posted to social media and public forums DEFINITELY count here.

    That's where the "could or couldn't" comes in. It's down to the police, the CPS and the courts to make a decision on whether the photos might reasonably get used like that.

    I'm at a loss to understand why the protestors don't get this. Maybe because I've lived around Cheltenham for twenty years I just assumed everybody knew this. However, there are notices on the fences, it's not difficult, just read the bloody signs and ask a policeman if you're not sure.

    1. TJ1

      OOPS! Re: Why it could or couldn't

      https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=GCHQ&tbm=isch&bih=980

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: OOPS! Why it could or couldn't

        https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.897306,-2.122742,3a,64.2y,331.71h,94.95t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sYl5FXBRmKk8L9TO4eN-_ww!2e0

        1. Ross K

          Re: OOPS! Why it could or couldn't

          https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.897306,-2.122742,3a,64.2y,331.71h,94.95t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sYl5FXBRmKk8L9TO4eN-_ww!2e0

          That Street View data's from 2010. I wonder why that is?

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Alien

            Re: OOPS! Why it could or couldn't

            "That Street View data's from 2010. I wonder why that is?"

            They're probably trying to hide the fact they employ three legged aliens.

            1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

              Re: OOPS! Why it could or couldn't

              There are street view pictures from 2012 when I 'walked' to the building. I also didn't see any signs saying you can't take a photo - anyone know where they are positioned? It would make a nice irony picture.

          2. TheOtherHobbes

            Re: OOPS! Why it could or couldn't

            >That Street View data's from 2010. I wonder why that is?

            Terrorists would never use Street View. Or Google Search. So it shouldn't matter.

            1. Immenseness
              Thumb Up

              Re: OOPS! Why it could or couldn't

              I am fascinated by the 3 legged lady centre shot in the second link. She looks like a fun person.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: OOPS! Why it could or couldn't

            https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.897306,-2.122742,3a,64.2y,331.71h,94.95t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sYl5FXBRmKk8L9TO4eN-_ww!2e0

            That Street View data's from 2010. I wonder why that is?

            It's been raining ever since? Did you notice that all Google Streetview imagery is sunny? It must have taken some time to get Scotland mapped that way too :)

        2. TwistUrCapBack

          Re: OOPS! Why it could or couldn't

          https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.897306,-2.122742,3a,64.2y,331.71h,94.95t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sYl5FXBRmKk8L9TO4eN-_ww!2e0

          WOW, they have a 3 legged lady working there !!

          So THATS why they don't want photos ....

    2. Suricou Raven

      Re: Why it could or couldn't

      It could be that they know very well, but just don't care. A case of violating the law in order to protest it. "They spies are taking pictures from your webcam chats, but they made it illegal for us to take pictures of them!"

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why it could or couldn't

      If it is reasonable to believe that the photographs might be of use to someone committing acts of terrorism, the photograph is illegal

      Wow. Does this mean you should feel unsure of the legality of the picture unless you are 100% sure that no matter the conditions, the picture will never be useful to anybody committing an act of terrorism? Gotta love those open-ended laws…

    4. NumptyScrub
      Unhappy

      Re: Why it could or couldn't

      quote: "Next up is the law around the intended use of the photographs. If it is reasonable to believe that the photographs might be of use to someone committing acts of terrorism, the photograph is illegal. It doesn't matter whether the photographer is a terrorist or whether the photographer knows any terrorists, it is enough that the photographer intends to publish the useful photos on a website where terrorists might be able to find them, for example posted on a website visible to the general public."

      That sounds like it potentially covers every photograph on Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr that shows a location inside the UK. Is there a government department that I can send every single photograph I take inside UK borders to, so they can pre-check and vet each one and let me know which ones won't be useful to terrorists and thus won't open me up to prosecution for terrorism?

      Obviously photos inside/of Tube stations are going to be illegal (Tube bombers can use those to plan more Tube bombings), as are photos taken inside/of airports, and I'd probably include schools, shopping centres, High Streets, and any places where enough members of the public gather and are thus potential bomb targets. Also, some people I know may or may not be important enough that they could be considered targets for kidnapping, so I'd need guidance on those even if they are taken inside my own house.

      Man, it sounds like I need to just stop taking photos, because if any found their way onto the internet I could be in some pretty hot water :'(

  4. i like crisps
    Big Brother

    WHEN I AM PRIME MINISTER...

    ...One of the first things i'll be doing is shutting down GCHQ. I'll also make sure that the ex staff would only be able to get employment as fluffers for Bukakke videos. But in the meantime i'm going to pop over soon and superglue the locks on the front and backdoors...mind you i'll have to get quite a few tubes of glue as these twats have thousands of backdoors.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WHEN I AM PRIME MINISTER...

      WHEN I AM PRIME MINISTER...

      ...One of the first things i'll be doing is shutting down GCHQ

      Thankfully, puberty doesn't last forever.

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: WHEN I AM PRIME MINISTER...

      GCHQ (the NSA, et al) have two broad functions. Firstly, to devise ways to protect the interests of their home nation. The (secret) invention of public key cryptography at GCHQ, and the NSA involvement to improve DES. These are good things and should carry on - especially if they make this stuff more public.

      Their second function is keeping an eye on ne'er-do-wells. Again, this is all good stuff.

      The problems arise when the spooks assume *everyone* is a ne'er-do-well, or when they interfere with the things that are supposed to be secure and actually make them less secure (so their snooping on everyone is made easier)

      If GCHQ & the NSA are anything like any standard business (which they're probably not) these broad policy decision are made by senior managers trying to empire build and protect their own jobs/departments/budgets and not by the grafters at the bottom of the pile. It's these senior people who we need to get shot of.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: WHEN I AM PRIME MINISTER...

        "It's these senior people who we need to get shot of."

        Considering that you can now be subjected to an international man-hunt and arrested for trying to get medical treatment for your child, this comment could be construed as incitement to terrorism. Gotta be careful there old sport, remember 'they' aren't afraid of criminals, 'they' are afraid of YOU.

        I'm Sparticus and so's my wife.

        1. Qarumba
          FAIL

          Re: WHEN I AM PRIME MINISTER...

          I think if you bothered to pay any attention, the poor fellow wasn't "man-hunted" for trying to get medical treatment for his child. But then facts are never as emotional as fiction, now are they.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            Re: WHEN I AM PRIME MINISTER...

            "But then facts are never as emotional as fiction, now are they."

            Oh that's right, because they haven't done anything illegal. However, they were still arrested for an unknown charge and face extradition back to the UK, leaving their sick child in a Spanish hospital and half a dozen others at a loose end.

            The only reason I can see for this whole fiasco is to push the Rotherham 1400 scandal off the news lists so that someone very high up can bury it completely (until the next time the public gets reminded).

      2. James 36

        Re: WHEN I AM PRIME MINISTER...

        you comment should have read

        "As GCHQ is part of the Civil Service broad policy decision are made by senior managers trying to empire build and protect their own jobs/departments/budgets and not by the grafters at the bottom of the pile."

        not to mention statements by ministers in parliament that the civil servants have to deliver on which also provide for empire building opportunities mostly to counter or capitalise on Daily Mail headlines.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely if they didn't want people to take pictures of GCHQ they shouldn't have put it in the middle of bloody Cheltenham!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting in their background of their picture is a big stack of barriers, all ready just in case (!) a lot of protestors turned up - no doubt we'll get the usual claims of "hundreds" or "thousands" of protestors from people who support it, when the reality looks to be about a dozen!

    Points to GCHQ for being prepared, negative points to the protestors for failing to find anyone that actually cares!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It looks like there were only about 30 people there - the police even took food and drink out to the ones who stayed over night. So the "Thousands" who were on their way on Saturday must have got lost somewhere.

      1. Luke 11

        Fed the scum?

        The police spent my money (a taxpayer) feeding scumbags protesting against the state protecting our national interests? That more than anything else is what irritates me, let the scum starve. I for one will be launching an official complaint. How dare they feed them.

        Pepper spray and Alsatians is what the protesting scum deserved.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: Fed the scum?

          Pretty sure Alsatians don't like pepper spray. Sensitive noses, y'know.

          Good luck with that official complaint. Do drop back and let us all know how it goes, won't you?

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
            Devil

            Re: Fed the scum?

            Are you sure he didn't mean that you should marinade the alsatians in pepper spray, then cook them over the burning braziers?

          2. Danny 14

            Re: Fed the scum?

            and feeding alsations to protestors is a bit harsh no matter how much pepper you put on them, feed them mcdonalds, they might go home through lack of a decent meal.

        2. Bernard M. Orwell

          Re: Fed the scum?

          Is that troll I scent? :D

          1. ravenviz

            Re: Fed the scum?

            @Bernard M. Orwell

            Yes, don't they know they're supposed to use the proper icon so we know they don't require a reply?!

  7. i like crisps
    Big Brother

    "NABBED BY THE ROZZERS"

    To avoid this happening just selotape a couple of Pentax's on to the roof of your car and paint the word 'GOOGLE' on the side. The filth won't bat an eye lid, as you drive past 'snapping' away at the orcs as they come filing out at home time.

  8. PCS

    What is it with the damn Guy Fawkes masks?

    You want to protest about secrecy laws etc while trying to keep your faces secret?

    Pot kettle black.

    1. VinceH

      "You want to protest about secrecy laws invasion of privacy etc while trying to keep your faces secret?

      Doesn't seem such a reasonable question with that fix, does it?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just to clear up an inaccuracy or two

    The Concrete Doughnut is not in the middle of Cheltenham. It's on the Western edge (though I've never gone that way with a compass. Anyway, the M5, Gloucester and the gateway to Wales are beyond). On the almost polar opposite edge of Cheltenham is what was GCHQ Joint Technical Language Fla-doo-boing-boing. Around the high barbed wire perimeter at regular intervals are (or were - don't know if they're still there) signs saying that it is (was) a site protected under the Serious and Organized Crime and Speckled-Flea-Be-Doo Act and that taking photographs is (was - but possibly still is) forbidden. I always meant to take my phone out and pretend to be receiving a call while taking photos, but in the end I couldn't be arsed. I figured if anyone really wants photos of it there's really nothing to stop them taking them themselves. Same goes, obviously, for staff at the Doughnut. I did wonder why it was verboten to take photos and for some time figured they'd regretted admitting GCHQ existed despite everyone in Cheltenham, even my old Gran, not only knowing full-well it did, but as often as not knowing people who worked there. Apparently a couple of gay Americans who worked there rented an old and well-known property about 50 yards from where I type. And where I lived three years ago I briefly had a neighbour who worked there. Anyway, I figure they don't like people taking photos because of a vague feeling that not liking people taking photos is what you do, coupled with a vague belief that they can resecretize it. And where GCHQ is concerned I get this slightly disturbing feeling that I'm actually Arthur Dent.

    I walked past ex-GCHQ ex-JTLFDBB this afternoon. The Red Arrows flew over. And I don't even have a mobe anymore!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Just to clear up an inaccuracy or two

      You realise that by posting the location of GCHQ you 'may' have just become a terrorist.

      Section 58 Terrorism Act 2000 <http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/11/section/58>:

      (1) A person commits an offence if—

      (a) he collects or makes a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Just to clear up an inaccuracy or two

        Just out of interest I googled HCHQ and Cheltenham ( The error was not intentional)

        I then tried GCHQ +Address

        Have a look at that URL, it actually contains my last research details as well.....merci for the privacy Google.

      2. YetAnotherLocksmith

        Re: Just to clear up an inaccuracy or two

        Gloriously broad law? In the UK? Surely not...

        But don't worry, it will never be abused. Honest.

  10. Luke 11

    Scum

    The traitor protester scum shouldn't be allowed to take pictures of the buildings or any of the staff full stop. They're scum and should allow the government organisation I pay good money for freedom to go about their business of protecting our national intertests.

    Investigate each and ever attendee and make sure they're not claming benefits.

    1. Corporate Earth

      Re: Scum

      Daily mail much?

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Scum

        "Daily mail much?"

        Just a low level El Reg troll. Just ignore, he's only trying to get more down votes than Eadon. (Good luck with that!)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ironic

    Ok for GCHQ to record us, but not Ok for us to record GCHQ.

    1. Flyberius

      Re: Ironic

      Wow.

      You know army can shoot people but you can't shoot army too?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, but

    Did anyone see Danger Mouse?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Yeah, but

      I thought he lived in London behind that kerb edge underneath the postbox?

  13. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Headmaster

    ANY photos of GCHQ staff?

    So you can get arrested for a birthday or wedding group photo with GCHQ staff in the background?

    How far does this extend from GCHQ? Does this make all photography in the UK illegal, unless you ask all subjects, "are you employed by GCHQ?" first?

    At least it should make it difficult for the police to take photos or videos of the protesters (who might just be staff waiting for a bus).

    1. EssEll
      FAIL

      Re: ANY photos of GCHQ staff?

      Of course not. But I think you knew that.

      It is all about context. Joe Blow walking into a pub in the High Street is one thing; Joe Blow wearing an ID tag and walking into GCHQ is quite another.

      Further I suspect that the GCHQ canteen is good enough so that the workers are not forced to drink urine. And that GCHQ does not employ people so violently ugly that they have to wear a mask - coincidentally, the same mask as worn by the protesters.

      As much as we might like to laugh at our police, I think they should be able to tell the difference.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        Re: ANY photos of GCHQ staff?

        EssEll, I used the pedant icon, would the joke alert have been more helpful?

        Yes, I do think the police can tell the difference, but crimes should not be defined in a subjective and arbitrary way. Anyone who wants photos of the buildings or staff to do bad things can probably think of many less-obvious ways of getting them. If such a person was caught, the photos could still be used in court to demonstrate who they were targeting, and linked to other evidence showing their bad intentions (e.g. stockpiles of explosives and weapons), regardless of whether taking the photos was illegal. The heavy-handed, "You're not allowed to do that" is to intimidate people who might ask awkward questions.

      2. Richard 126

        Re: ANY photos of GCHQ staff?

        I suggest that perhaps you are wrong. A photo of Joe Blow in a High Street pub is harmless but this photograph could then be matched to another photograph (perhaps not yet taken) showing him working for GCHQ. At that time the photograph in the pub becomes targeting data, i.e. where he goes to relax and possibly depending on what else is in the photo what time and day of the week you could expect to find him there. Publishing information like this is certainly in breach of the law.

        With facial recognition software I guess this is not very difficult.

  14. Crisp

    "could be breaking the law"

    Sounds like the police are overstating their powers again. They really don't like peaceful citizens with cameras do they?

    1. Titus Technophobe

      Re: "could be breaking the law"

      Not in this case. Depending on the photograph contents the two laws that might apply are:

      The Official Secrets Act (OSA)

      Counter-Terrorism Act

      The OSA could (would in fact) apply to photographs of GCHQ (and I think within 50 metres of perimeter). The Counter-Terrorism Act could apply to photographs of employees.

  15. MJI Silver badge

    Context is everything

    Taking pictures of staff entering and leaving and putting it on website saying GCHQ staff is wrong

    Taking pictures of your friends who happen to work there and putting them on an online album as pictures of your mates is perfectly normal.

    As to secrecy - you can know quite a bit about the place without breaking secrecy laws.

    As for the staff the lower ranking they are the more officious they are.

  16. Stretch

    ""breaking the law if they attempt to take photos of any GCHQ staff"

    Sorry my irony meter just exploded

  17. R2-D2

    How do you know who works there and who doesn't?

    Maybe they should circulate photos of people who work there, with a clear instruction "Do not photograph these people".

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