back to article New GCHQ spymaster: US tech giants are 'command and control networks for terror'

The new head of Britain's equivalent to the NSA – Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) – has used his first day on the job to lambaste US technology companies for daring to improve the security of their products. "However much they may dislike it, they have become the command and control networks of choice for …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "but the GCHQ boss told FT that internet users would welcome a little surveillance. Those online "would be comfortable with a better and more sustainable relationship between the [intelligence] agencies and the tech companies," Hannigan said."

    No, we would not.*

    *of course, I for one am only speaking for myself and a select number of others and don't claim to know what all other internet users think.

    PS: Thanks for that, Evil Auditor

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      > the GCHQ boss told FT that internet users would welcome a little surveillance

      And how does he know that? By listening in to our conversations, of course!

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge
      WTF?

      I imagine that Yahoo! IM users will be happy to know that they're already playing their part in a better and more sustainable yadda yadda yadda...

    3. Evil Auditor

      You're welcome!

      On second thoughts, who knows, maybe Hannigan was right, even if not for all internet users. Neither you, AC, nor I became chief spook, nor would we ever be considered for such a position - because we lack the ability to know what hoi polloi is comfortable with.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        well said Evil Auditor

        There is one basic fact here - if you are not doing anything you shouldnt be doing, you dont have anything to worry about.

        IMHO there should be a complete social media blackout on the activities of ISIS and other terrorist groups. I have no issue with government surveillance - they dont have time to 'listen' to individual conversations - their activities are highly targetted and have probably benefitted most of us to some extent in recent years by preventing various plots from being enacted.

        If you want to protect the freedoms you have then that means taking the rough with the smooth and accepting these things are a necessary evil. To quote Team America - freedom is not free. Cliche it might be, but its also very true.

        1. The_Idiot

          Re: well said Evil Auditor

          @R69

          "There is one basic fact here - if you are not doing anything you shouldnt be doing, you dont have anything to worry about."

          I question whether that is, in fact, a, um, fact. I'd quote examples, but it gets kind of boring. Never mind getting into all the different views held by different folk on what can be classified as 'doing something you shouldn't be doing'.

          "IMHO there should be a complete social media blackout on the activities of ISIS and other terrorist groups."

          And, of course, you are welcome to your opinion. If, however, such restrictions were put in place on everything to which _anyone_ has a similar opinion and objection, whether that means mothers breast feeding in public or internet cat pictures (yes, some people don't like them and think they're just bandwidth hogs, and surely their opinions are just as valid as yours), we'd have bugger all left to talk about.

          "If you want to protect the freedoms you have then that means taking the rough with the smooth and accepting these things are a necessary evil."

          There is an internet tradition that says at this point I should quote Ben Franklin at this point. I'll play nice, and refrain. However, if the protection of freedom requires the imposition of such an interception policy, I'd like to introduce those who support the idea to a new invention we call 'reductio ad absurdum', where we protect all freedoms by taking them away and locking them up in a nice, secure vault, where silly folk like the public can't mess them up.

          "To quote Team America..."

          I'm sorry - though actually, I'm not. I'd just much rather _not_ quote Team America, thank you very much.

          1. tom dial Silver badge

            Re: well said Evil Auditor

            One more upvote for omitting the Franklin quote.

        2. Evil Auditor
          Thumb Down

          Re: well said Evil Auditor

          @R69

          You don't do irony, do you? I had some troubles to decide which parts of your comment are bad and which are worse. I almost agreed to your "If you want to protect the freedoms..." but in my humble opinion, there is no if, there is no option to protecting the freedom. (Just like The_Idiot I shall refrain from quoting Ben Franklin.)

          Yes, freedom is not free. It comes at a cost which I am absolutely willing to pay.

        3. Katz

          Re: well said Evil Auditor

          Oh, wow, where to start. I'm short on time, so I'll keep it brief.

          'if you are not doing anything you shouldn't be doing, you don't have anything to worry about' - Let's put aside the fact that I don't want my every move recorded/watched and focus on the 'if you are not doing anything you shouldn't be doing' bit. Have you considered that once the government has free reign and sufficient control of the internet that the list of 'what you shouldn't be doing' might change? What if they add to that list criticism of current government, whistleblowing, exposing certain facts? Do they really get the benefit of the doubt? This is how governments operate, they creep things in little by little until they've got what they want. It's like NHS charges, people will have said at the beginning, oh well it's only a few pence, the NHS needs all the help it needs blah blah. Next thing we know, it's flying past £8 per prescription. Speed Cameras- oh just for one or two for problem areas... years later, they're everywhere, the fines keep rising and rising. Now you can't go anywhere without passing cameras everywhere. Then there's CCTV, it's now everywhere. Every little thing you do is monitored and the more power they get to scrutinise what everybody does, the more we get screwed over financially and harassed in daily life.

          Finally, since quotes are the order of the day, here's a more poignant one from somebody, admittedly lacking the prestige of Team America, however, humour me. Benjamin Franklin once wrote: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

          1. tom dial Silver badge

            Re: well said Evil Auditor

            There are xxx problems with hypothetical arguments such as Mr. Katz gives. The first, of course, is that they are hypothetical. The main one, when used to argue against surveillance, is that demands for surveillance are not the cause of creeping legal oppression, but the result. The new, more detailed laws require ever greater oversight, some in the form of general surveillance, and a good deal in the form of required self-reporting, things like income tax forms to be matched with income reports from employers, banks, or securities issuers. Another US example is the requirement on banks to report cash deposits above $10,000 which, to the authorities, suggest drug money laundering. Based on the same law, repeated deposits a bit under $10,000 are considered to be "structuring" of deposits, and therefore also suspect of money laundering and subject to seizure, with the owner required to prove the source legal.

            The fussing over surveillance, while somewhat entertaining, distracts attention from the real problem of too many laws that seem to necessitate it. The often repeated Franklin quote is not relevant to the case. It is oppressive laws against which we require eternal vigilance, and which represent the real choice between liberty and safety. Remove or modify them and reduce the justification for surveillance.

        4. Richard Boyce
          Thumb Down

          Re: well said Evil Auditor

          I think most of the world would disagree with you. Our freedoms in the UK are a very new thing in the UK, by historical standards. We have those freedoms not because of government but despite government.

          Even today, we have a Home Secretary who will abuse our terrorism laws to detain the relative of a journalist who has politically valuable information. I suspect that, if she weren't restrained by publicity and possible legal challenges, she would have held him as long as it took to get what she wanted.

          I view Robert Hannigan's article as a political signal that he's on-message, and equally prepared to abuse and stoke fears of terrorism and child abuse, as if these were the primary physical threats to our people.

        5. Roj Blake

          Re: well said Evil Auditor

          "There is one basic fact here - if you are not doing anything you shouldnt be doing, you dont have anything to worry about."

          As a law-abiding citizen presumably you'd have no problems with the government installing cameras in your bathroom and your bedroom. After all, if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to fear.

      2. Uffish
        Big Brother

        Re: "what hoi polloi is comfortable with"

        This particular member of the hoi polloi is comfortable with the idea of Hannigan being a public servant and deeply unimpressed by any notion that a public servant can define policy; we elect politicians for that.

        If Hannigan had taken the time to set out the regulatory structure that he has to operate in (under penalty of being sacked and/or prosecuted for not adhering to the rules), and demonstrated that his organization's activities were effectively regulated and checked for conformity with the law then he would have deeply impressed me; as it is he has demonstrated that he is just a professional mandarin fighting for a bigger budget.

        I'm not impressed and I'm in no mood to hear any veiled threats about privacy being antisocial, unpatriotic, dangerous or probably criminal behaviour.

    4. browntomatoes

      A better and more sustainable relationship

      I for one would be comfortable with a "better and more sustainable relationship". However, I don't think those words means the same thing to me as they do to him - to me that means one regulated by court orders (not ministerial warrants) which are specific to a single specified individual, necessary, proportionate, VERY time-limited and contested in a truly adversarial setting. They should also not violate other rights. I'd also add in that they should not be given blanket permission to break the law in foreign countries and remove all the other loopholes they have like asking foreigners to spy on British citizens to circumvent the need for even a limited ministerial warrant.

      Sadly for them, I think they've demonstrated sufficient bad faith at this point that they wouldn't actually comply with that if it was the law, so I don't see any other option than disbanding them completely. Institutionally, they are morally bankrupt.

    5. James 36

      bombs and stuff

      "but the GCHQ boss told FT that internet users would welcome a little surveillance"

      I assume this is because these internet users assume that the surveillance would be of others, you know the bad people, not me, why would they be interested in me etc

      I expect a different answer to the question "do you mind if the intelligent services look at everything (including your cat videos and emails ) and target based on what they find ?"

      I understand the intelligence services need to look at stuff, as long as a suitable methods of control and monitoring of their activities such as limited warrants are in place. It seems the internet is a bad place thing is still rumbling around , a spade can be used to dig holes and cave in people's heads, of course "bad" people use the internet because people use the internet. The security services need to change the way they do things to meet the challenges around them and stop trying to take rights away to make their job easier. I am not saying this is easy and I do not have a solution but taking rights away is not the answer, the rights were put in place for a reason, those reasons are still valid.

    6. johnnymotel

      This really is where we are going, I have no doubts about it....and just where does 'a little surveillance' start and stop? This is the trojan horse to allow governments to introduce laws that 'censor' the internet, this is the next step and all in the name of enhance security....

      1. Phil_Evans

        A 'little surveillance' gives you (I warrant) enough trust to walk outside your front door in the morning and face the world without undue terror (to cite a misnomer). A 'little surveillance' is what we as complicit citizens allow our governments to undertake in making us feel safe (like CCTV).

        when you walk through said door, unless you quickly jump under a rock and stay there all day, your movements 'can' be known. I don't understand why so many netizens see things any differently...like expecting to police a society where everyone wears masks....I know, lulsec idiots and all that.

        Saying 'I want to be anonymous' is a overarching proviso towards anonymising behaviour. From that standpoint, crime and corruption are but eventualities.

        When I see a copper, I don't try to hide or run away covering my face since:

        1) I've done nothing wrong (that I know of)

        2) I trust them (within tolerances) to protect my interests. And my pancreas. You get it.

        This idiot (for there are plenty about) is scar-showing to the media that he's a bruiser. Nothing more.

        1. Bernard M. Orwell

          "When I see a copper, I don't try to hide or run away covering my face since:

          1) I've done nothing wrong (that I know of)

          2) I trust them (within tolerances) to protect my interests. And my pancreas. You get it."

          hmm...

          1. You know *all* the laws then? Are you certain that the copper does too? If he says he can do X, do you know that you have the right to Y? Do you know the difference between a criminal infraction and a civil offence even? Let me assure you, you are probably about as skilled in such things as the coppers are themselves and if they decide they are going to "get you" for whatever reason, they will find something you've done. If nothing else they will find that you have "made obsence images" on your home computer which they found using RIPA and took using PACE. You will be held for 20+ days under S. 44 and S. 45. Am I right? Wrong? do you know? You going to argue that out with the coppers throwing you to the floor because you are black and in the wrong kind of car? Think that doesn't happen?

          2. They don't trust you. They are told not to. They are trained not to. You are the enemy. They are not your protectors, your bobby or even your police. They belong to the state and the state wants to own you, your thoughts and your proclivities because those are saleable commodities. Not certain? Go take a look at the nature of the City of London Police Force. Not the Met., the City of London. They don't answer to the judiciary, but to an entity known as "UK PLC" - you can thank Gordon Brown for that. Still unsure? Take a look at the newly formed NCA - our very own secret police, answerable to the Home Office and set the task of hunting down TerrorPedos everywhere.

          Still think you've done nothing? You're safe? Really?

    7. Primus Secundus Tertius

      @AC (The First)

      That is a typical computer geek's view, somewhat shared by me.

      But I was in a political discussion group where at least one man argued that a lot of the internet is just plain wrong - obscene, fraudulent, seditious..., and it should be stopped. I have some sympathy with that view also. There are laws against using telephones for those purposes, so why no law against the internet?

      I am British, and there are enemies of my country out there. Even some of our 'friends' need watching. Within reason I am happy to help the authorities. Do I trust the authorities? Only to a limited extent. I was always uneasy when the work of the Security Services was extended from affairs of state to include major crimes. Thin end of the wedge... .

      So Hannigan's arguments seem reasonable to me.

      1. Evil Auditor
        Thumb Down

        @1. 2. 3.

        I agree, some things on the internet are wrong, e.g. fraudulent or otherwise criminal. Is it really a lot, i.e. a significant part? I doubt.

        But what is wrong with obscene, or seditious content? You (or the mentioned man) may not like it, but that doesn't make it plain wrong, let alone needed to be stopped.

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        "at least one man argued that a lot of the internet is just plain wrong - obscene, fraudulent, seditious..., and it should be stopped."

        I believe religion is just plain wrong. I'll give up the internet if we all outlaw religion. I think living in a world where religion is a crime but we don't have the internet is probably going to result in more peace than a world in which the internet is monitored but you can do fucking anything in the name of Jesus.

        Oh, what's that? Religion is somehow "good", and the internet is "bad"? Who the fuck said you get to judge? My opinion's as valid as yours, or "that one man".

        Put up or shut up, eh?

        1. Primus Secundus Tertius

          @Trevor

          Thank you for that comment. As it happens, I largely agree with it.

          But we live in a society where people have different opinions, and we seek the kind of political and social compromises that allow everyone to feel that at least some of their wishes are respected. That was the point I was making about my colleague in that political discussion group.

          I am not a part of what George Orwell referred to as the "Inner Party", and I have my reservations about them. But I am even less attracted to a Guardianista/Anarchist existence which would result if the majority views in this thread became dominant.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Some people's "wishes" are unconscionable. Your rights end at the exact point where they interfere with the rights of someone else. You do not have the religious, or fear-based right to remove my rights. Period.

            And I'll die to defend that, if I have to. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      voting

      Given their recent history, just imagine how much fun the NSA & GCHQ will have with "networks" once electronic voting becomes prevalent.

  2. Evil Auditor

    "would be comfortable with a better and more sustainable relationship between the [intelligence] agencies and the tech companies"

    No.*

    *of course, I for one am only speaking for myself and don't claim to know what other internet users think.

  3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Want more surveillance?

    No, no and thrice no.

    We don't want more intrusions into our private lives.

    Ironically the Simpson's Movie was on TV over the weekend.

    The scene where the thousands of listeners were recording mostly inane conversations obviously 'in the name of security' comes to mind. Then Homer comes on the line and one listener leaps up with joy at actually finding something useful.

    I guess that my phone conversation with my cousin last tuesday is being scrutinised as I write this. I mentioned the word that sounds like an explosive device but actually refers to a device used (ironically) at BP im WW2. I fully expect to see (See Icon) landing soon. (As those bloody chinooks make enough noise when they fly over 3-4 times a day/night I probably won't notice it)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Want more surveillance?

      Neither do like intrusion into my personal life. However, a bomb tends to intrude more (have you seen the effects they cause?) and has longer lasting effects. Sadly for all the 'freedom loving tards' also known as Neville Chamberlain's brothers after 'peace in our time', those who do us harm love the freedom to operate even more than you, just like a certain Adolf who laughed at the weakness of the UK back then.

      So who is next for a beheading, I guess you all welcome those was well? Answers on the usual postcards please.

      I would happily fire bomb the 'devils psychopaths' until every last one of the was toast at home and abroad. In a sense they have already won as you 'peace in our time' fools march to your destiny with their maker of choice, hint, there is no such thing.

      Oh and stop calling these psychopaths fancy names they are simply deranged psychopathic murderers.

      1. Graham Marsden
        Big Brother

        @AC - Re: Want more surveillance?

        > In a sense they have already won

        You are right, but for entirely the wrong reason.

        It used to be the claim that we would not let terrorists force us to change our way of living, but now it seems that every time one of them says "Boo!" we dance to their tune, surrendering our basic liberties and essential freedoms, giving up our right to "Go about our lawful business without let or hindrence" because our Security Services claim that this is the only way that they can "protect" those liberties.

        If that is what is needed to "protect" us, we have lost already.

        PS Do you *really* not see the irony in your comment "I would happily fire bomb the 'devils psychopaths' until every last one of the was toast at home and abroad"?

        You call them "psychopaths" yet your response fits the classic definition "Psychopathy [...] is traditionally defined as a personality disorder characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, and disinhibited or bold behavior."

      2. Amorous Cowherder
        Facepalm

        Re: Want more surveillance?

        "I would happily fire bomb the 'devils psychopaths' until every last one of the was toast at home and abroad."

        Well done...you utter nutjob! To quote Bart Simpson, "The ironing is delicious!".

      3. Roo
        Windows

        Re: Want more surveillance?

        "Sadly for all the 'freedom loving tards' also known as Neville Chamberlain's brothers after 'peace in our time',"

        It's easy to put the boot into Neville, but it's far harder to see exactly what Britain could have usefully done in '38 given the state of it's armed forces at the time. A year made a big difference for the better in terms of re-arming. Even then British troops were fighting tanks with entrenching tools, pistols and .303 rifles as they withdrew from Dunkirk...

        Tell us genius AC, what would you have done in Neville's place ? Declared war in 1938 and sent troops into Germany armed with shovels & .303s against tanks, 88s & dive bombers ?

        I find it ironic that there are so many dipsticks out there who choose to slam Neville, yet turn a blind eye to Preston Bush who was happily appeasing Hitler to the tune of $millions while arguing against the US entering WW2... Why aren't you slamming the tools who buried news of concentration camps and ethnic cleansing because US high society were so anxious to avoid fighting the Nazis ?

        1. BoldMan

          Re: Want more surveillance?

          Neville Chaimberlain's "peace in our time" did one thing that was much more useful than any warmongering would have done - it gave us one more year to prepare for a war the British Empire in 1938 was totally unprepared for.

          Your arguments a facile and ignorant. You sir are a Troll and I claim my five billy goats!

          1. Primus Secundus Tertius

            Re: Want more surveillance?

            The real problem was the "ten year rule": the doctrine that there would be no major war during the next ten years. This was imposed by the then chancellor of the exchequer, one Winston Churchill (*), and then cynically renewed by the Treasury every year.

            I look at the current British government and its predecessors, and wonder if that rule has been quietly reinstated.

            (*)Also responsible for raiding the Road Fund, a tax that was supposed to be reserved for spenfing on roads. Without Adolf, that is what Winston would be remembered for.

  4. Pete 2 Silver badge

    What was the question?

    This is a potato / tomato issue. If you ask "the public" (i.e. get a couple of vox-pops on the telly) if they want GCHQ to keep them safe from terrorists, the answer will be a resounding yes! Ask them if they are happy for GCHQ to spy on them, personally and the answer will be no. (Apart from the shrinking number who have never heard of mistakes, mistaken identity or impersonation/hijacked accounts and still go by the notion if you've done nothing wrong you have nothing to hide)

    The basic problem is twofold. First, we are much more aware of the extent to which governments surveil their citizens: treating everyone as a potential criminal and secondly, possibly linked, they have lost the moral authority to say "trust us".

    Maybe - just maybe, if there were strong controls that were properly enforced by a truly independent authority which was able to prevent the abuse of data there would be a more sympathetic view. But in the UK it's not possible to say "this law is only for .... " since once a power has been bestowed, it is generally used for whatever the authorities deem necessary or desirable, rather than within the strict boundaries it was originally intended.

    However, the problem with that is that we don't have such a system and also that a lot of this "evidence" never sees the light of day or examination in a trial, so would be unregulatable no matter how well trusted the overseeing authority was.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What was the question?

      "Maybe - just maybe, if there were strong controls that were properly enforced by a truly independent authority which was able to prevent the abuse of data there would be a more sympathetic view."

      Hmmm, I don't know how you would build such a body that would be universally respected as being independent. Certainly no commercial outfit meets the requirement; the likes of Google, Apple, etc. are out to exploit (some might say abuse) your data as much as possible for commercial gain. Yet if it's an outfit appointed by the government it would be perceived by many to be 'governmental'. At least a government body, theoretically, doesn't have a commercial incentive to exploit data gathered in a nefarious way.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: What was the question?

        I think he is talking more about an independent body, not a commercial data gathering organisation.

        Think more along the lines of OFCOM (although you would actually have to bestow them with teeth to actually deal with problems and get the right oversight).

      2. fruitoftheloon

        Re: What was the question? - A good starting point

        Ac,

        good point, what if individuals of said body who had proven to be naughty boys or girls were to be prosecuted as appropriate, then lose their liberty, pension or ideally BOTH?

        I suspect that may make a difference, as any parent knows bad actions that do not have repercussions tend to keep on occurring...

        Just a thought.

        j

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What was the question?

      "this law is only for .... "

      Blairs government specifically have a good deal to answer for in this respect, although the ConDems have done their best to keep up the tradition. Governments have always created laws with unintended consequences (or unannounced bonuses), but from the start Blair and co seemed to take a real pleasure in pushing spectacularly badly worded and conceived legislation with holes large enough to drive a train through, much of it seemingly deliberately done on a 'just in case' basis. Even the stuff that sounded at first glance like something reasonable ended up as another opportunity to exert control once they'd done with amendments.

      Simply depressing, but a legacy we'll live with for a long time, as much in the mindset as the statute book.

    3. Dr. Mouse

      Re: What was the question?

      But in the UK it's not possible to say "this law is only for .... " since once a power has been bestowed, it is generally used for whatever the authorities deem necessary or desirable, rather than within the strict boundaries it was originally intended.

      Actually, it is possible for the government to say, in the wording of the law, that it is only for use in specific cases X Y and Z, put in sufficient judicial oversight to ensure this remains the case, and punish those who abuse the powers.

      The problem is the laws are never written that way. We get spun the line of "we will only use this to catch terrorists/paedophiles", without any legal backing to control it's use. Then function creep comes in, and we are stomped into the ground, often with a "why are you complaining, we are catching criminals, if you have nothing to hide..." yada yada yada.

      In addition to this, most people just don't care. I know here, on a tech site, we think about these things, but the man on the street will often just say "They are doing it for our own good". It is certainly not high on their "reason to vote" list. They would rather listen to knobs telling them that all the worlds ills are caused by Europe, or work-shy scroungers, or bankers, or whatever other group is being scapegoated today to distract us from what is really going on.

      As pointed out in a famous poem, they will not speak out until the government come for them, and by then there will be noone left to speak out for them.

    4. dogged
      Headmaster

      Surveil?!?

      Stop doing that.

      "Survey" is perfectly adequate.

      1. Sixtysix

        Re: Surveil?!?

        Been good enough for the Army for many years - don't see in common use much tho.

        1. dogged

          Re: Surveil?!?

          > Been good enough for the Army for many years

          From experience, the Army is a bugger for making up stupid words.

          "Surveil" though, is particularly ugly and unnecessary and leads to abominations like "we surveilled him for five days" which is not only ugly but also effectively unpronounceable.

          1. Pete 2 Silver badge

            Re: Surveil?!?

            > "Surveil" though, is particularly ugly and unnecessary and leads to abominations like "we surveilled him for five days" which is not only ugly but also effectively unpronounceable.

            Heh, heh. Try it in french (from where the word comes) nous surveillions.

            Though it is a fair point. However, "survey" doesn't really carry the ominous overtones I was aiming for and although it comes from the same root doesn't have as strong a link to surveillance. The more common "watch" suffers from the same lack of sinister intent.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Surveil?!?

              Surveillance is a good, general term for overseeing in a surreptitious, general way. But the nearest verb is "spy" as that is what it means in this context, or possilby "monitor" if it is not totally secret. One could use, "survey", as in to survey the landscape, the scene, the circumstances. But to use "surveil"? Despite working in several countries in several, unrelated fields of work including some where surveillance was carried out, I've never seen it (including military).

              Americans make up a lot of words because most have an historical or family background from a foreign (to English) language. So they retain some archaisms, they adapt the grammar to fit their original language forms, drop words that seem less obvious to a non-native speaker and make up words for concepts where the vocabulary is outside that of most non-native speakers. Added to this, a new land may present conditions and features for which the original language of the settler has got no, simple expression as it was rarely or never encountered "at home" or because there are enough indigenous people to make their name dominant or just because the settler made mistakes (misidentifying Bison as Buffalo or renaming Elk as Moose or applying "robin" to a different species). When enough do this, often and loudly enough, it becomes the norm - look at the media-driven americanisation of British English and even of German and French. English has got its share from the fusion of Celtic, Germanic, Norse, Norman French, Latin, Greek and more over the last millenium. But, with some 4 million words already in our language, let's say enough is enough.

            2. gloucester

              Re: Surveil?!?

              According to Chambers, survey and surveillance come from different latin via french roots.

              survey: 14c: from French surveoir, from Latin videre to see.

              surveillance: 19c: French, from veiller, from Latin vigilare to watch.

          2. hplasm
            Big Brother

            Re: Surveil?!?

            How about Stalk.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy Solution

    I wonder what would happen if Google, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft found that they were now liable for the content that their users publish?

    For a start it would make them party to any terrorist conspiracy conducted with the aid of their services.

    It's plausible that a terrorist attack will happen in the US, UK or Europe that is later shown to have been organised through Facebook, Google or some such service. Legally liable or not, the publicity would be fairly damaging to their reputation. Hypothetical headlines such as "Google Helped the New 9/11 Happen" would probably spoil Schmidt's breakfast.

    Ok so that's a hypothetical situation that may never happen. But if it ever did happen the commercial risk to such a company is staggeringly high. The public would certainly have an opinion that someone should have done something to stop it happening. Google, Facebook, MS, etc. are by their actions all inviting that "someone" to be perceived to be themselves. It would be very difficult to avoid:

    Google/Apple/Facebook/MS/etc: "We're encrypting everything so that the NSA can't read your stuff"

    :BANG:

    Public: "Who knew this was going to happen?"

    NSA: "Not us, no one lets us read anything these days"

    FBI: "But we did find this incriminating content on the terrorist's computer and in his Google account afterwards"

    Google: "Er, uurrrrmmm..."

    Lawyers for the victims: "I invite you to respond to this law suit"

    Apple/Facebook/MS, sotto voce: "Phew, it wasn't us, we're not involved"

    FBI: "And it turns out he had an iCloud account too which we want to look in"

    Apple: "Crap"

    To avoid that the companies need to be seen to be in a position where their content has been adequately policed.

    Arguably, pre-Snowden, one could say that the content held by these companies was policed for them for free by the NSA. Never mind the legality of it, in effect that is what was happening (though who knows how effective it was?). Post-Snowden, Google, MS, etc. are saying that they'll be encrypting everything and the NSA presumably are having difficulties carrying out that policing. I'm guessing that Google, Facebook, etc. aren't doing it themselves. That would be like they're taking a commercial bet that it would never happen to them. Which in today's world environment is a little bit like sticking their fingers in their ears, shutting their eyes and going "la la la".

    1. Dr. Mouse

      Re: Easy Solution

      Would you also like to make phone companies liable for criminals who spoke to each other on the phone?

      What about the gardening supply store who sold a bag of fertiliser to one of them?

      The car manufacturer for selling a car to the man who ran someone over?

      Amazon for despatching a clock to someone which was used as a timing device on a bomb?

    2. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: Easy Solution

      "make them party to any terrorist conspiracy conducted with the aid of their services."

      This is absolute bollocks. It's like saying the US postal service is party to the 'anthrax' envelopes, or that the US department of transportation or phone companies are party to any terrorist that drives on a US road / makes a phone call while planning an attack.

      Infrastructure is by nature multi-use, it's not up to the infrastructure owners to police it. That's why we have police, FBI and all the other 3-letter organisations. It ALREADY is the case that police, FBI etc have the authority within given restraints i.e. judicially-issued warrants, that they can intercept phone calls and letters. It already is is the case that terrorists can encrypt their phone calls or their letters, but I don't see any intelligence agency wanting to open every single letter the US postal service delivers and copy the content 'just in case'.

      With phone and internet from the spooks' side it's a case of "we have the technical ability to do this so we want to do this" rather than there being any current legal impediment for them.

    3. The_Idiot

      Re: Easy Solution

      Mr AC. I'd like you to just walk this way - not, it's OK, just follow me over here - and sit down with these nice American folk. Oh, don't worry about those gun manufacturer reps, they're just folks, just like us. Now let's try that again. Tell all these nice people how all the nice gun companies should be held to account for every event in which a gun was used to the detriment of law, or to endanger the public.

      Yes, sir. I'll be back to clean up the pieces later.

      1. Bernard M. Orwell

        Re: Easy Solution

        I broadly agree with everything you've said in your posts so far, but let me take this up for a second as I don't hold with the "right to bear arms" thing as an expression of liberty. (Incidentally, thats the word we should be using in this thread instead of the word freedom. Worth looking up that rather subtle distinction.)

        A gun only has one function: to kill. Especially automatic assault weapons. These are not suitable for hunting.

        Other forms of infrastructure, such as the postal service, cars, fertilizer and alarm clocks *may* be used for acts of violence by imaginative persons, but guns *will* be by their nature and purpose. The two are not comparable.

        If someone sold alarm clocks on the basis that they are the very best alarm clocks for timing explosives, or an ISP sold its services based on fast, secure bandwidth for the discerning terrorpedo shopper then I might well, if I were the Authorities, question the motivation of that reseller and the nature of his customers. In fact, I may well agree that probing that relationship with electronic surveillance might well be prudent.

        If someone is selling automatic weapons, rocket launchers and phospherous ammunition then I'm not going to give them an automatic pass on the basis that its "probably ok".

        Thing is, the persons selling that sort of kit to the terrorpedos happens to be our own governments. There's almost no law regulating the international arms trade but these clowns want to regulate my internet usage? If something needs to be investigated, probed and surveilled (watched?) then it's there we need to be looking. Not my internet history.

        1. chris lively

          Re: Easy Solution

          The right to bear arms was put in place for a few reasons. First, it meant the new government could count on the populace to be able to repel invaders - a distinct possibility at the time. Second it meant that the government would be highly unlikely to engage its own citizens.

          The latter part was important in order to gain the trust of the citizenry.

          In other words, it was put in place as a safety check and deterrent; not to kill. This really isn't that much different from the US having enough nukes to take out the planet several times over. Sure, a nuke will kill a lo of people. However it's purpose is to deter others from direct assaults.

          In today's world, I'd argue that the right to bear arms is just as necessary as before as a potential deterrent. The US government is proving on an almost daily basis that it no longer deserves the trust placed in it. As such I'm all for a person being able to own anything from a pistol right up to parking an M1 Abrams tank on their lawn. Now, if they decide to go shoot someone there had better be a pretty damn good reason for it or they should be put against a wall.

          1. Dr. Mouse

            Re: Easy Solution

            I am going to allow myself to be sidetracked, here, although much of what I said can apply to this article as well.

            All laws need to be analysed to ensure that any bad aspects are balanced against the good, and the good outweighs the bad. In the case of the right to bear arms, I believe the bad far outweighs the bad.

            In the US, there are approx 6 homicides/yr per 100,000 population, and approx 60% of those are by firearms. So that would put approx. 2.4/yr/100k for non-firearm homicides.

            In the UK, with much stricter gun controls, we have a rate of 1.6/yr/100k, which is on the same scale as the US non-firearm figures.

            In the end, a gun makes it much easier for one person to kill another. Many cite reasons such as protection of self from criminals, but all these pale into insignificance compared to the misery caused, many of which would not have happened if the perpetrator did not have a gun.

            As for protecting yourself from the govt, this is ridiculous. The govt will always have more firepower than any civilian, or even civilian group. How many people come out on top when in a stand off with armed police, let alone the armed forces? If you try to use firearms to protect yourself from the government, the government will bring in more firearms, and you will loose.

        2. The_Idiot

          Re: Easy Solution

          Lord Bernard (a personal foible, no more, and no slight intended :-) )

          I didn't use the right to bear arms as a thing I agreed with or in fact one with which I disagreed. I meant it to show that a simple principle - holding X accountable for all uses of X's product or service - isn't really simple. That while it may appear logical, there are a number of ways it can be impossible to implement.

          So just as it might appear 'easy' to suggest the creation of a regime where "Google, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft found that they were now liable for the content that their users publish", it would be far from easy to implement, if even possible. As easy, in fact, as holding gun manufacturers liable for all uses of guns, or getting a specific group of folk to accept that imposition...

          Again, if I may, at no time have I said whether I agreed or in fact disagreed with gun ownership and use :-). It is an example only, if one selected specifically to highlight a potential issue :-)).

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Lost our trust

    If the spooks were performing targeted snooping against ner-do-wells, then I think many people would be OK with that. The problem is, the spooks got greedy and now snoop on everyone regardless of whether they're planning something nasty. Because of their greed, they've lost our (Well, at least, my) trust. But not only do they perform this questionable blanket surveillance, they then lie that they're doing it. They just don't know when to stop digging, do they?

    The spooks need to wean themselves off blanket, global, mass surveillance, and be a bit more honest about what they're doing.

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius

      Re: Lost our trust

      When the authorities find one "ne'er do well", as you call them, thay also want to find his or her associates before those others do more harm. That is why they need a trace of the last six months (say) on people who are not yet known to be offenders.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He's got a point you know I for one would love more surveillance.

    Someone should be watching what the security services are up to constantly real civilian oversight not the current joke/rubber stamp. Even if it's just to make sure that when it comes to interpreting the law they do it right.

    Should also be keeping an eye on lobbyists and their conversations with our elected representatives. Yes I can see some issues with this but in my view an MP accepting cash/favors from a foreign company then awarding them billions of contracts is a matter of national security and should lead to a prison sentence.

    Full time surveillance of police while out on the beat would be welcome maybe just kit them all out with a go pro or something similar.

    Plenty of ways surveillance could be welcome but of course that's not what this clown means. Anyone spouting rubbish saying more surveillance powers are needed should have just ruled themselves out of the job.

    When it comes to the recent encryption efforts from Apple & Google and whining about it they only have themselves and buddies at the NSA to blame.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Full time surveillance of police while out on the beat would be welcome maybe just kit them all out with a go pro or something similar."

      Which would be used to gather masses of data on members of the public going about their legal business. Controls would be needed to make sure that didn't happen. Like CCTV archives - would there be "malfunctions" when it was required to support a case against the police?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nice idea but this would never work

      >> Someone should be watching what the security services are up to constantly real civilian oversight not the current joke/rubber stamp. Even if it's just to make sure that when it comes to interpreting the law they do it right.

      Th trouble is, after about a week on the oversight job, the appointed citizen would have their mind blown by what _really_ goes on. They are called the "secret service" for a reason - you really don't want to know what they get up to.

      So what do you do - keep replacing the overseers, until we've all had a go?

      1. Vic

        Re: Nice idea but this would never work

        Th trouble is, after about a week on the oversight job, the appointed citizen would have their mind blown by what _really_ goes on

        That's all the more reason for having such oversight - if an average civilian would be so distrssed by the behaviour of these services, then that behaviour is clearly wrong. But it'll never be changed if it's only ever scrutinised by insiders.

        Vic.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Think of the spies

    "And he claims public WANTS more surveillance"

    Since he's supposedly in an evidence based business, he should provide some evidence for such a completely barking claim. Was it a survey? A cosy chat? Or could it be another convenient abuse of our comms data - he knows because we've been emailing all and sundry to tell them so. More likely the usual wishful thinking that seems to be infecting just about anyone who has a vested interest and can command a few minutes of airtime.

    Ten years ago uk.gov told us 80 percent of people were positively gagging for ID cards based on a survey of 1500 people who had been spun a load of total bollocks, then asked a skewed question. and we know how that worked out.

    Most of the stuff you claim to want isn't encrypted, so just quit whining and get a lawful warrant.

    1. james 68

      Re: Think of the spies

      "Since he's supposedly in an evidence based business, he should provide some evidence for such a completely barking claim."

      You mean like the dossier provided to show a legitimate reason for the invasion of Iraq? pffft lol

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Think of the spies

        "You mean like the dossier provided to show a legitimate reason for the invasion of Iraq? pffft lol"

        I did send an enquiry recently to Sir John Chilcot, c/o the Iraq War inquiry, asking if the dog had eaten his homework. I got a reply from a minion saying that my comments had been duly noted, which I'll take as a "yes".

        I would encourage all interested parties to make similar representations:

        http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/

    2. chris lively

      Re: Think of the spies

      Of course he talked to people that used the internet. Did it himself on the elevator ride that morning by asking his new lackeys if they thought it was a good idea or not. They are "Internet users" too you know.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The Facebook-owned WhatsApp service is key to terrorist communications"

    Ahh. Don't have it myself, but I now know what my loved-ones have been so engrossed in these past few months. I wonder what they've been plotting?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HE is in denial

    I'm sure terrorists are quivering in their boots and sandals having read the news. But forgive the man for his huffing and puffing, it comes with a job, like Balmer's.

  11. Joe 48

    Facebook and Tor

    Facebook can now be fully access on Tor with nothing breaking out on to the open net. Other example of a company thinking about security for once. Of course you're still logged into Facebook though!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29879851

    I'm still on the fence. Yes I understand people are worried about mistaken identity but on the flip side I want to know I'm safe and lets face it the world isn't all roses.

    Hard balance to get right and one debate that will rage on for a long time.

    I work on a simple principle. If I have something I want to keep private, I don't put it on the net. To be fair its very rare that I have something that private that I care about.

    What I say on social media isn't going to get me into trouble as its just rubbish most of what I post. The rest is generally family stuff, photos etc, that I want to share with others. The internet is for sharing,and therefor imo has to be open by its very nature.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Facebook and Tor

      "What I say on social media isn't going to get me into trouble as its just rubbish most of what I post. "

      Unfortunately what you judge to be innocuous may not be so regarded by someone else. If the data, or an abstract, is archived then a government agency may be interested in your views - or what a suspicious mind interprets to be your views. Japan had "thought laws" at least until the 1930s.

      1. Joe 48

        Re: Facebook and Tor

        Its on Facebook.... Nothing, and I really do mean, nothing, gets posted that would be of any interest/concern. I'm in no doubt the Government are interested in what I post on social media though.

        I always get in shot down on these topics as I still see what GCHQ do as necessary. Do they do it correctly, well thats the part open to debate, but as I've said before on these topics, damned if they do, damned if they don't. Personally I'd rather they air on the side of caution and collect more data if it means stopping an attack and saving a life, because lets face it for a minute, thats the main reason of all this mass surveillance, the internet is evolving, its such a unknown about how to react to it and I think its surveillance will be constantly changing.

        Down vote away fellow Elreg commentards. My stats had almost started to level out.

        1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

          Re: Facebook and Tor

          I'd rather they air on the side of caution

          err-head!

        2. Vic

          Re: Facebook and Tor

          if it means stopping an attack and saving a life

          But there's no reason whatosever to believe it does anything of the sort. You would have thought that such stories would have been paraded through the media if there were any incidences - there clearly are none. All we get is "we stopped x billion attacks, but we're not going to tell you about any of them". That's like Peter Griffin's "ghost who never lies" witness...

          If you really want to save lives, pick a target that's both easier to hit and more effective. There are many - tobacco, alcohol, cars - hell, even baths kill more people than terrorists.

          This whole thing isn't about saving lives. I don't know what it is about - I'm not an insider - but none of my suppositions are very pleasant.

          Vic.

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Facebook and Tor

        You might do well to remember these words

        'Everything you say will be taken down and used in Evidence against you'

        Then go read 1984.

        'Everything you say, think and dream about will be taken down and used in Evidence against you'

        Now how are you inane and crap posts on FB (thank got I eschew that POS) going to keep you out of chokey for a very long time if the powers that be decide otherwise. They'll just claom that your drivel is all written in code (a.k.a WW2 Radion messages about 'John slept well last night') and that the hidden messages were a dastardly plot to blow up [redacted].

        1. Joe 48

          Re: Facebook and Tor

          Jeez, are people really this paranoid these days.

          If my drivel is code, its damn good, because even I can't break it! If I'm ever arrested for a Facebook post I'll be the first to admit I was wrong.

          As for the Err-Head comment, nothing constructive to add, so time for the personal insults. Bravo.

          1. Graham Marsden
            Thumb Down

            @Joe 48 - Re: Facebook and Tor

            Let me remind you again of the words of Cardinal Richlieu: "If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged."

            With sufficient desire *anything* can be twisted interpreted to be seditious or inciting terrorism or some other such nonsense. This, however, does not end up protecting us, it just ends up with lots of False Positives.

            1. Joe 48

              Re: @Joe 48 - Facebook and Tor

              A very good example. I can see how it could happen, I still can't see it ever happening to me. Might be a blinkered approach, some will say an ignorant one, either way I'll take my chances.

              I appreciate everyones views, concerns, worries, about what they say being used in someway to lock them up for eternity but will/does this happen, very rare I would say.

              Heads off to post about my lunch on Facebook.... Interpret that how you will, its a tasty looking lunch!

              1. John H Woods Silver badge

                Re: @Joe 48 - Facebook and Tor

                "I still can't see it ever happening to me ... either way I'll take my chances." - jon48

                So, you're prepared to take the risk of your rights being eroded, but you aren't prepared to take the much smaller risk of being a victim of a terrorist attack?

                Here's my get-rich-quick tip for you: instead of paying your household insurance, spend the money on lotto tickets.

                1. Joe 48

                  Re: @Joe 48 - Facebook and Tor

                  @John H Woods - You're assuming we all had any rights in the first place..... Logs out of lotto account and buys house insurance.....

            2. Primus Secundus Tertius

              Re: @Joe 48 - Facebook and Tor

              @G Marsden

              Or, as I saw it expressed in a cheap thriller story: "If they wancha, they gotcha".

          2. ElReg!comments!Pierre

            Re: Facebook and Tor

            As for the Err-Head comment, nothing constructive to add, so time for the personal insults. Bravo.

            Oh, c'mon. t'was but a wee friendly poke so that you could see the air-rors of your ways.

            1. Joe 48

              Re: Facebook and Tor

              Ha ha, I'll give you air-rors :)

              Group hug?

          3. nsld

            Re: Facebook and Tor

            So Joe48 when they ask you to decrypt the messages you have written in "code" and you can't they can simply imprison you until you do under RIPA.

            Welcome to our brave new world

            1. Joe 48

              Re: Facebook and Tor

              Are people really this paranoid about this happening? Ok so a few readers of Elreg are, but we're not exactly speaking for the masses. Most of us are geeky types who are most likely over thinking it all. Either that or your all so dodgy its untrue!!

              I'd love to know what they'd gain by imprisoning me, so can't see an example of when this would happen. Yes If I was slightly dodgy, and they wanted an excuse to get me, they could, in theory, make something up. It all just seems a little too like something you'd see in a hollywood movie. Maybe they could go old school on my ass. Getting my fingerprints putting them on a gun, getting a body from the morgue and setting up good old fashion frame.

              If everyone on here is that worried about this, the only thing I can suggest is you put down the mouse and keyboard and leave the internet alone. Unfortunately this sort of mass surveillance is here to stay, for now, no amount of us debating it here will change that. Unfortunately I don't think the general non tech savvy public, either know, or care enough either.

              Waits for next random reason I'm going to get arrested for......

              1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

                Re: Facebook and Tor

                Are people really this paranoid about this happening?

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter_Joke_Trial

                http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2093796/Emily-Bunting-Leigh-Van-Bryan-UK-tourists-arrested-destroy-America-Twitter-jokes.html

                http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1176874/Man-strip-searched-held-24-hours-friends-joke-text-sabotaging-train.html

                So, erm... what was your point again?

                1. Joe 48

                  Re: Facebook and Tor

                  @ElReg!Comments!Pierre - I can't help stupid people. What did those people think would happen. I'm not stupid enough to joke about something that could be serious in the same way I won't walk into a bank with a plastic gun. I'm not a numpty!

                  @John - No I can't imagine being framed. To be fair I can't imagine being in a terrorist attack either. But I have seen Terrorist attacks happen. Can't say I've witnessed anyone being framed. Not to say it doesn't happen though. Googled Stagg. Again he did silly things in the effort to strike up a romance. Not nice what then happened as a result though and to be fair quite obvious looking at it now he wasn't guilty!

                  I think I need to reiterate I'm not all for mass surveillance. I just think at the moment it maybe is needed. In light of no better options. I agree lots with other peoples comments about policing it better and trying to restrict it in some way but I still think its a hard balance to get right. That at the end of the day is what my view comes down to. I can at least comprehend how difficult it is. Maybe I've seen things others haven't, maybe I'm looking at it from a different point of view. Just thought I'd at least put something else on here to show a different view point. Got everyone talking.

                  1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

                    Re: Facebook and Tor

                    I can't help stupid people. What did those people think would happen. I'm not stupid enough to joke about something that could be serious in the same way I won't walk into a bank with a plastic gun. I'm not a numpty!

                    Never ever received or made a joke, never used figurative language? Never used the expressions "make a killing", "bombshell", "smoking gun", "hammered", "trashed", "blown out of the water", even "pants on fire" etc? Sorry, I don't mean to imply that you are lying, but you are lying.

                    See, one nice feature of El Reg is that you can search posts by authors, à la GCHQ. Let's look at that fine Joe 48 chap's history shall we. In chronologic order (in bold, your comments):

                    America is at civil war Domestic terrorist probably.

                    Any idiot can run a script. I expect you'd have to be in the building to gain access to half of GCHQ's top level networks. making plans to break in National Security building and compromising the highly sensitive networks.

                    Also lost the will to live OMG suicide bomber.

                    I'd suggest going into hiding for a while. I know a nice place in Russia... ties with the Russian organized crime. Conspirating to help a fellow criminal escape justice.

                    My Dad will beat up all your Dad's threats of physical violence

                    My Dad is fine with that. After 20 years in Prison for beating dads he's used to it. son of a convicted felon and proud of it. Probably has ties with the organized crime (as it happens when you know ex-convicts).

                    the final nail in the coffin Death threats...

                    only going one way, and thats to the grave? and again

                    I'll have a little dig around later myself OMG he did kill the poor sod and now he's going to burry him. Search his luggage for a shovel.

                    Some of these comments could have put you in exactly the same situation as the "stupid people" and "numpties" who were unlucky enough to be picked (at random?) and subsequently made the news.

                    1. Joe 48

                      Re: Facebook and Tor

                      I'm taking myself to the nearest police station right now, either that or phoning my Russian 'friends'.

                      Its been a fun debate and I can see your reasoning. Still, given the whole threads those comments aren't quite the same context at the first examples you posted, which were much more direct. I said I wouldn't joke about something serious, not that I wouldn't joke, as yes that would be complete tosh, I think you're taking it to the extreme a little, although I suppose thats the point you are making.

                      Either way in the full context everything I've ever posted on here I'd feel comfortable defending, assuming I don't get same defence lawyers as that Chap posted above!

                      Last post for me on this one as my down votes counter is back to normal levels and my Dad can't defend me right now, he's busy still beating the Dad from my comments a few months back.....

                      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

                        Context? Ha I see where you are mistaken.

                        in the full context everything I've ever posted on here I'd feel comfortable defending

                        All the examples I posted were completely innocuous in their context, but were taken out of context by the "authorities". The guy with Robin Hood was talking about how his girlfriend was landing at Robin Hood and how they better stop their strike before she arrived. The Brit couple going to the US was talking about how hard their were going to party in the US. The French bloke with the train was receiving a SMS joke. Again, all completely innocuous in the context. And yet...

                  2. nsld

                    Re: Facebook and Tor

                    Joe48 what you are missing is that we do have mass surveillance, its been ongoing for some considerable time and given its success in averting the attacks of the 7th of July and the murder of Lee Rigby it clearly works really well. </irony>

                    All that is currently happening is the home secretary and the new GCHQ bod are trying to put a positive spin on something they did illegaly for years that the public is now wise to and that consumer demand is making harder for them to do.

                    Its actually not a hard balance to get right, we have the necessary judicial checks and balances available but successive governments havent applied them as they know that an application for mass survelliance would never get through. Instead they opted to do it and hope they didnt get caught out, now they have been caught they are crying about it.

                2. tom dial Silver badge

                  Re: Facebook and Tor

                  I take it the point is that law enforcement officials sometimes show an appalling lack of judgment. That certainly is true, although it appears all three instances cited were based on a complete message, so the question of being taken out of a recognizable context does not arise and all three warrant at least a cursory inquiry that should have convinced the authorities that nothing really was amiss. Certainly none should have gone so far as Paul Chambers' prosecution, which certainly represents overreach, but prosecutors (Angela Corey, Steven Dettlebach, Carmen Ortiz, to name a few) sometimes do that for reasons that are not clear.

              2. John H Woods Silver badge

                Re: Facebook and Tor

                "I'd love to know what they'd gain by imprisoning me"

                I still don't get your mindset; you cannot imagine being framed, Colin Stagg style, but you can imagine the very unlikely situation that you are involved in a terrorist incident.

                The simple stats are that the police or security services are more likely to kill you than the terrorists are. Now, say they do, would you rather your family eventually get justice and compensation or would you like to live in a world where whatever the police or security services do is right by definition?

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Facebook and Tor

                Joe 48 "Waits for next random reason I'm going to get arrested for......"

                What makes you think it's just to target individuals? If I had all that data, I'd be looking to identify group thought patterns and the sites they originated from so I'd know where to send my misinformation and group dispersal (or information and funding as appropriate) specialists.

              4. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Facebook and Tor

                Are people really this paranoid about this happening? Ok so a few readers of Elreg are, but we're not exactly speaking for the masses.

                @Joe 48

                I profoundly hope that you are not representative of 'the masses' either. Do you think many of those who lived through the various horrors of history could see what was coming? With command of all the facts in hindsight, it seems inexplicable to us that the participants just didn't get it until you try to see things from their perspective. One of the reasons so many ended up dying in camps under the Nazis was that they left if too long to flee Germany; the were German citizens with roots going way back and they simply couldn't believe their society could descend that far. It wasn't the first time, nor will it be the last - try reading your own post from the perspective of one of those people. Not quite so comforting eh?

                Wind the clock forward to the 90s and just about the only personal experience I have that relates to this, albeit very indirectly. In the 40 odd years since WW II we really thought we'd learned and understood the lessons and that it couldn't happen again in Europe. Then along came the disintegration of Yugoslavia, releasing the tensions, envies and outright hatreds that Tito had so successfully bottled up for 45 years. We watched, we wrung our hands - as did many of the participants - and said and did nothing, except for those few wise souls like Paddy Ashdown who 'got it' very quickly and continually tried to get the rest of us to see the screamingly obvious. From the inside, it degenerated into hell, but from the outside it slipped further down the news and we less often demanded action.

                My own epiphany came when I had a job to photograph a load of refugee school kids from Bosnia. What they'd been through must have been hell, but they were clearly just happy to be out. But what hit me - not so much at the time, but in the darkroom later - was this one kid, quiet at the time whose face was crossed by two partially healed scars, both of which traversed the middle of his face. In essence his face looked like it had been peeled off (shrapnel?), but he got relatively lucky and someone put him together with a lot of stitches. The image haunted me, but more to the point it made me pay attention to the Balkans, properly this time, and it became clear to me that we hadn't seen that history was indeed repeating itself and we'd learned nothing at all. One of the plumper ironies for the duration of the conflict was the Serbs apparent hurt and confusion; they thought that their status as the Partisans who took on the Nazis made their current actions acceptable.

                Then, of course, Srebrenica happened, complete with images of barbed wire enclosure, starved and emaciated prisoners and railway cattle trucks. But it still took the actual massacre to wake up all but the Serbs and the die hards - Douglas Hurds "level killing field". But we still live with the fallout today, and I am now certain that we learned nothing this time either - the most recent ISIS slaughter attests to that. The documentary "The death of Yugoslavia", available on youtube, sums the myopia and malice up nicely.

                "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance" is not an entreaty to our governments to guard against the latest 'ism' from beyond our borders. It is a warning to all of us as individuals and as a society that the history we live in that is still being written may not pan out in the way we believe or want, and that our own 'elected' government or opportunistic ruling class are far more likely to end up as our oppressors than any external enemy.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Facebook and Tor

      "Yes I understand people are worried about mistaken identity..."

      Wow. If you think thats the extent of why people are getting lathered up, you probably ought to do a bit of reading. I'd like to be 'safe' too, but not at all on your terms thanks.

  12. Medixstiff

    There's a little surveillance" and the there's the WHOLESALE slurping that GCHQ and their NSA master have been doing for years. This idiot needs to get his hand off it.

  13. tom dial Silver badge

    Claims that the signals intelligence agencies are spying on everyone and claims that device encryption, or even proper link encryption, will cause a large increase in terrorist attacks are, in my opinion, all pretty much rubbish. Although the agencies scan and filter a large amount of data, it is only a small part of the entire data communication volume, they discard most of it almost immediately and very likely do not search most of what they retain for varying periods. The NSA documents that Edward Snowden released show this quite clearly if considered in the context of the total internet and telephone data volume. They reveal mainly details of underwhelming importance about matters that James Bamford and others have been writing about for years, along with the fact that major service providers like Google and Microsoft failed to secure their logically internal traffic that used external facilities that they did not control. On the other hand, Android devices, which constitute the overwhelming majority of the world's smartphones, have had decent quality and easily enabled device data encryption for three years or so, and it is likely that most terrorists worthy of concern have taken the trouble to use it. Making it the default for phones with a lock code is unlikely to benefit those we might reasonably fear or to seriously affect law enforcement activity. Apple providing an equivalent capability mainly increases the choices available to those who think they need that security. Those who are truly worried about their vulnerability to law enforcement or intelligence surveillance surely will be looking to more esoteric services that promise communication encryption in addition to data storage encryption. Most of the rest* can encrypt or not, as they choose, and neither they nor the authorities are likely to notice or care very much.

    *Five Eyes, Western Europe, India, Israel, and most other countries with democratic regimes. Countries that regulate encryption methods and use would be somewhat different.

    1. Graham Marsden
      Thumb Down

      @tom dial

      Whilst I agree that device encryption will not result in increased terrorist attacks, I am not so sure about the assertion that " they discard most of it almost immediately and very likely do not search most of what they retain for varying periods" nor that "Most of the rest* can encrypt or not, as they choose, and neither they nor the authorities are likely to notice or care very much."

      The fact that we are hearing rhetoric about these services being "command and control networks for terror" sounds like someone gearing up to demand more powers to monitor everything we do and say and stop us from doing anything to stop the State from snooping on us whilst saying "don't worry, we're only doing it to the *bad* guys and if you've got nothing to hide..."

  14. SolidSquid

    The problem is that the NSA backed these companies into a corner (with assistance from the rest of the Five Eyes). What with courts issuing orders in secret, restricted access to the evidence being used, national security letters blocking them from letting users know (who would be able to appeal against it themselves), communications between data centers being tapped and damage to these companies reputations both nationally and internationally, the only real route companies had if they wanted to regain any kind of legal leverage and try and repair their company's reputations was to encrypt.

    Yes, it might make the job of intelligence agencies more difficult, but really the only reason this happened was because they forced it. Do you really think Facebook would go to the expense of modifying their systems so that encryption would work if they had an alternative?

  15. i like crisps
    Megaphone

    New Man At The Top (same old wank)

    "Give me more money, give me more power, give me more control, give me and my little satanic helpers a 'get out of jail free card' when we break the law. Do this and we will keep you in control of the huddled masses and help you fuck them up if they DARE to speak out against you"

    Didn't read the speech, but was it something like that?

    ICON: i'm even boring myself with all of this.

    1. i like crisps

      Re: New Man At The Top (same old wank)

      My post (above) started out on page 1. Thanks to all the 'piggy-backers' its been pushed down to the bottom of page 2! I just hope you're pleased with yourselves you gits!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: New Man At The Top (same old wank)

        "[...] its been pushed down to the bottom of page 2!"

        Only if you are viewing the posts with the "Sort by Thread" option. Use "sort by Oldest" and you get your original placing - but then your rider probably gets displaced to Page 3.

  16. VinceH

    'He opined that Google and Apple were "in denial" if they thought the decision to turn on full-device encryption by default wouldn't help terrorists plan future attacks."'

    He, on the other hand, is in denial if he thinks serious terrorists didn't already turn on encryption in their devices, since the option to do so is already there. This just means you can't easily snoop on Innocent Joe's data.

    The new approach isn't so much "on by default" as "on by spooks'-fault."

  17. Sixtysix

    No, I do not want or condone ANY more spying...

    AT ALL

  18. Glostermeteor

    Those that sow the wind, reap the whirlwind

    If GCHQ and NSA hadn't conducted illegal activity and spied on every aspect of our lives without our consent and had then been found out, I suspect the public and the technology companies would be a lot more willing to cooperate. Until there is public accountability and proper due process for the access to our personal information I do not trust any government agency with my security. For all we know ISIS are THEIR creation?!???

    1. Christoph

      Re: Those that sow the wind, reap the whirlwind

      ISIS is the result of endless invasions and interventions by the West over the years. Even the existence and layout of the countries in that area was created by the Western Powers after the First World War. They were deliberately set up to be unworkable, for the advantage of the West.

  19. wolfetone Silver badge

    "We have to kill animals, otherwise they'll die"

    What next? Will GCHQ put pressure on the banks to ban all forms of cash because terrorists can buy things with it and not be traced?

    Load. Of. Shit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "We have to kill animals, otherwise they'll die" (Don't Laugh)

      It's coming, just you wait. The various banking and credit "oligarchies " that really rule the world will tell their minions that cash is dangerous and it will just disapear.

  20. i like crisps

    If anyone from signals intelligence is reading this....

    ...the consensus, so far, is for you lot to fuck off........any chance?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    I have no issues.....

    on the following condition's:

    The below all agree to have ALL emails, phone conversations and financial transactions publicly available for us to check they are not <insert scare of the week> .

    GCHQ Staff

    MP's

    MP's Staff

    MI5 Staff

    MI6 Staff

    SIS Staff.

    Thank you.

    Still waiting for the FU Icon...

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius

      Re: I have no issues.....

      If you think MPs have much influence on government policy, you are ignorant of these matters. Replace them on your list with: all Permanent Secretaries, the top four cabinet ministers (PM, Home Sec, Foreign Sec, Chancellor).

  22. bigtimehustler

    Haha, the guy is insane, the reason the tech companies are encrypting everything is because their customers demand it, they are a commercial company if they didn't think their customers cared then they wouldn't do it. His suggestion that internet users would welcome some surveillance is simply not backed up by the outrage people show towards it and the fact that these commercial organisations see that their customers want full encryption.

  23. Ru'

    Spooks spy on all comms.

    People find out, and are justifiably upset.

    Eventually "some sort" of encryption/security is added to normal comms.

    Spooks publicly freak out about it, in order to build the people's trust back up.

    Spooks spy on all comms.

    Using WhatsApp to organise terror attacks? Yeah, that seems like a good, secure idea...

  24. Cyber Pantalaimon

    "He opined that Google and Apple were "in denial" if they thought the decision to turn on full-device encryption by default wouldn't help terrorists plan future attacks."

    We rely on companies such as Google and Apple to do their utmost to insure our devices and data are safe and secure from potential potential threats. We don't pay them to provide us with unsecured devices and its crazy to think someone could criticize them for doing their best to maintain their customers security and privacy. Id stop buying their devices if they took GCHQs convenience over my customer requirements.

  25. Gray
    Facepalm

    Put a cold nose up HIS arse!

    the GCHQ boss told FT that internet users would welcome a little surveillance

    Right. A little surveillance. Bucko, that's about as welcome as his cold nose peering up my arse while I'm bonking the missus. What the hell are you Brits feedin' yer ruling class bureaucrats to make 'em so ridiculously paranoid and fearful? Their nannies was floggin' their little gizmos with every diaper change?

    1. Dr. Mouse

      Re: Put a cold nose up HIS arse!

      internet users would welcome a little surveillance

      I think they are probably right. But they can already do "a little" surveillance, and to do more they just need court orders.

      We welcome them looking after us. We do not welcome them abusing their powers, scooping up all traffic regardless of who they are looking at, what the data is etc.

      Targeted surveillance is fine. The dragnet they have been operating is not, and it is certainly not "a little" surveillance.

    2. Primus Secundus Tertius

      Re: Put a cold nose up HIS arse!

      @Gray

      We in Britain have been exposed to threats for centuries. York v. Lancaster, catholics v. Elizabeth I, the gunpowder plot (5-Nov-1605), Irish terrorism, German espionage, Russian espionage. Then today we have middle east fanatics, and other espionage possibly Chinese though they deny it of course.

      So we expect the government to take active measures to protect the state itself plus at least a few of the people.

      1. Uffish

        Re: "at least a few of the people".

        We expect the state to look after the interests of the whole of the people. That means democracy and respect for the law. It does not mean unfettered liberty for officers of the state who already have very wide powers.

        We have all seen believable evidence of bad govenance of the security services, all that is required is believable evidence of good govenance.

        It is simply not good enough for the Head Prefect of GCHQ to say that his chaps would rather walk than than be involved in mass surveillance. They are involved in mass surveilance and any thought that the mass surveillance data could not be misused because some GCHQ staffer would feel squeamish is laughable.

  26. Hugh O'Meara

    "GCHQ and its sister agencies, MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service, cannot tackle these challenges at scale without greater support from the private sector, including the largest US technology companies which dominate the web. (...) However much they may dislike it, they have become the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us."

    I have some modest questions about the claims of our superiors.

    What's wrong with calling the police?

    Why complicate the solution: "GCHQ and its sister agencies, including, MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service"?

    Why refer to the pluralities of "challenges at scale", when the rest of the world understands them to be as a single concept, "mass surveillance"?

    Why are the "rest of us" outweighed by "terrorists and criminals"?

    Why criticise society's ability to transform? Is the alternative, not called Stasis !

    1. Vic

      Is the alternative, not called Stasis !

      I have a nasty suspicion it's called Stasi...

      Vic.

  27. Christoph

    "would be comfortable with a better and more sustainable relationship between the [intelligence] agencies and the tech companies"

    "Bend Over"

  28. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Wrong job

    He is better on stand-up comedy!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good to know that without Facebook we could illegally occupy countries without fear of reprisals.

  30. i like crisps

    FOR YOUR THIGHS ONLY

    I wonder what kind of porn the lads from GCHQ like to watch....bet they like 'Hot Triangulation Action'?

  31. David Pollard

    Calling NHS techies

    It would be interesting to know if or to what extent there are plans to integrate medical records from the NHS Care Data programme into the spooks' databanks. As background information this would presumably be quite valuable to them.

    In fact such central collation of personal data and snooping would do more harm than good, and not only because of the loss of public confidence. It would present a huge risk if such data were to become available for blackmail, coercion and spear fishing.

    If any NHS contractors have inside knowledge of this, or plans to redeploy a version of the Child Database, or development of Deloite's RYOGENS programme for predictive policing of potential troublemakers, then I believe El Reg is among others who have set up facilities for secure and anonymous communication.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Big surprise that now that the NSA backdoor AKA heartbleed has come to light they want people to avoid encryption. Lets wash over the fact that GCHQ knew about this hole in the security that underpins our whole financial sector for years and failed to warn anyone because it made their life easier.

    Not to mention routing UK traffic out of the country to avoid laws which deliberately limit what they can snoop on.

    He says all this is required to protect us from criminals and terrorists and yet GCHQ have become both criminals and terrorists.

    Instead of blaming new technology how about he starts operating within the laws that the British people have set for him to operate under.

    1. Dr. Mouse

      yet GCHQ have become both criminals and terrorists

      I would agree that the security services are terrorists. All their statements are worded to cause maximum fear in the general population, and to use that fear to progress their own agenda. This definitely counts as terrorism in my eyes. I would say that they have done more to promote terror than any terrorist group, in this country.

      As for criminal, I believe that they (mostly) operate within the law, by however fine a margin. Those laws are unjust, and their actions would be illegal if anyone else did them, but not for them.

      I don't know enough about it (and I doubt anyone outside the organisations themselves does) to be certain they haven't broken any laws, though.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Within the laws..

      @AC "Instead of blaming new technology how about he starts operating within the laws that the British people have set for him to operate under."

      Oh but that we had such power! The laws are set by the people enforcing them, which is why there are weasel words so they can be selectively enforced. We could send Section 12 notices under the Data Protection Act to GCHQ and expect that to remove us from the bulk processing. I'd instead expect it to trigger rule 5b if such an exemption isn't already in place.

      http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/section/12

  33. Waspy

    try speaking to victims of surveillance regimes

    Maybe he should have a chat with my iraqi colleague about the trade-offs between a surveillance state and an open democracy with free speech. Good points: never any crime and you could leave your front door open. Bad points: you can't do anything the state doesn't like, like his cousin going missing overnight and turning up 5 years later having been beaten and interrogated nearly all that time. He'd been arrested in secret for attending a friend's party with left-leaning guests.

    Guess it comes to down to whether you want to risk your house being robbed, being the victim of violent crime or even being blown up by extremists... or to be monitored indefinitely and possibly disappear one night for saying the wrong the wrong thing. I know which I would rather.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Same old same old...

    This is what you'd expect him to say, surely?

    But it's interesting that the spooks are squealing almost in proportion to the rapidly-increasing number of access requests being made to internet companies. So it looks very much as if the increased attention to security is forcing them to go through the proper channels at last.

    That they obviously don't like doing this tells us all we need to know about whether they should have more surveillance powers.

  35. Otto is a bear.

    Not really thinking things through.

    As one or two commentators have noted, actually the security services pretty much have all the tools they need. So maybe this was more about keeping what they have, rather than getting any more, a trick politicians use a lot, be really radical upfront, and negotiate something more reasonable.

    But people, how do you think the security services should behave? If they are totally transparent, then their adversaries will know how they will behave, and circumvent them. If you bind them too closely with legislation and oversight they will never keep up. There is nothing wrong with demanding a warrant to look deeply into someone's life, but in the worlds of serious crime and intelligence, how do you expect the security services to get enough information to request a warrant, if they don't listen in to conversations, be they in the pub, or on the internet. You cannot just rely on informants, who often have their own agendas, and then think about how many people who say they won't give information to the police because it's up to them to investigate.

    I'm not sure what exactly you are all afraid of, in a democracy, you can get rid of governments and parties you don't like through the ballot box, you can even form new parties. Funnily enough, policemen, security service personnel, civil servants and armed forces personnel are also citizens, who in my experience are just as committed to democracy as the majority. Should we start to loose our democracy, then you will have something to worry about.

    GCHQ, the NSA, and the rest, really do not give a stuff about your private lives, the don't look at your baby photographs, or eMails organising the curry night, such chaff is never seen by a human being, let alone made public. If however you want to organise a terrorist act or serious crime, then they will be interested. Criminals, Terrorists and Foreign spies always try to stay one step ahead, using new methods to evade detection, new internet services, new slang. Do you always want security services to react to events after they have happened, probably not, I'd think you want them to detect them before they happen. So STOP and think how you might do that without being found out by the people you are trying to stop.

    1. Dr. Mouse

      Re: Not really thinking things through.

      If you bind them too closely with legislation and oversight they will never keep up.

      While I see the logic behind what you are saying, the problem is that they need to walk a fine line.

      Yes, the security services need to watch people to determine who needs to be monitored further. This can still be targeted at people they have suspicions of, and does not require dragnet surveillance.

      The dragnet they have been operating makes their jobs easier. It is a gross violation of our privacy, though. We need to find the line for them to walk, instead of allowing them to erase the line completely.

    2. Waspy

      Re: Not really thinking things through.

      So these benevolent overseers are infallible are they? They are always going to uphold the law upon which our society is built upon are they? And the subversion of innocent until proven guilty is perfectly acceptable now is it? Under five eyes' perfect regime we are all criminals unless proven otherwise, which I don't find democratic or acceptable. As others above have noted, there are legal channels to obtain warrants etc.

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: Not really thinking things through.

        They probably will generally "uphold the law upon which our society is built", although they certainly will not be infallible. The fundamental problem is not surveillance activities that drive the law to be oppressive, but the laws that, whether intentionally or not, can be used oppressively and seem to necessitate ever-increasing surveillance.

    3. Vic

      Re: Not really thinking things through.

      I'm not sure what exactly you are all afraid of, in a democracy, you can get rid of governments and parties you don't like through the ballot box

      Can you?

      At the last election, we voted against the party that brought in tuition fees and the IMP. We got a coalition of parties, one of which had promised faithfully no abolish tuition fees, and both of which had decried the IMP as abhorrent.

      So what did we get? Same shit, different day...

      Vic.

  36. RyszrdG

    Oddly inverted logic adapted to suit the occasion - must be wearing the 'special' glasses to think that it makes any kind of sense that global observation makes for better security. It just means that the snoops have become lazy.

  37. ratfox
    Childcatcher

    Terrorism is the wrong target

    Statistically, I have way more chances of being murdered by my wife than by a terrorist.

    What is GCHQ doing to protect me from my wife??

    1. Uffish

      Re: Terrorism is the wrong target

      "Terrorist" and "murder" in the same sentence. Don't worry, everything in your household is being closely monitored 24/24.

  38. TechicallyConfused
    Facepalm

    No-one actually believes that they can't crack this stuff right?

    I mean why make a song and dance about this new security and highlight that you can't crack it unless that is just what you want people to think.

    What better way to get all the terrorists vomiting their plans over the wire(less) than to tell them you can't listen in.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: No-one actually believes that they can't crack this stuff right?

      AES, used by both Android and Apple, was developed in Europe and subjected to a good deal of study both before submission to NIST as a candidate standard and after, and by both government and private sector cryptanalysts. There is no reason I have seen to think it has been broken by NSA or anyone else. Whether the Android or Apple implementation and key security are adequate is uncertain - both are likely to be somewhat vulnerable to key recovery as well as file access by anyone (law enforcement or not) who gains physical control of a powered on phone with the encrypted file system mounted.

  39. captain veg Silver badge

    Straw man

    Clearly everything he said is bollocks. The only people gaining additional privacy protection by turning on encryption in everyday internet services are their everyday users. Bad guys already know how to use secure channels. or can make them for themselves. Its hardly rocket science. So the real target must be everyday users. Us. Q.E.D.

    Now fuck off and find some criminals.

    -A.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop spitting your dummy and behave.

    Maybe, and only maybe people might be willing to let security services have slightly more access to their data if they felt that the security services could be trusted with it. So far the security services have shown themselves to be underhand, deceitful, disingenuous, borderline corrupt and guilty of practices no better than the criminals they claim to be protecting us from.

    Here's a thought Mr Spook: Instead of complaining about how difficult it is going to be to access the data, why not start with why those obstacles have been put there in the first place and modify your own behaviour? You want trust - earn it.

  41. Tim Brown 1
    Facepalm

    Improved?

    In those long-ago days before the internet, did the intellegence services routinely open everyone's (snail) mail, listen to everyone's phonecalls on the off-chance that they might be up to mischief? I think not. They have to have reasonable grounds for suspicion and then get a court order to intercept those forms of communication.

    Far from improving our security, all this interception of internet traffic is just our security services being lazy, quite possibly at the expense of doing the old-fashioned groundwork which leads to real results.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I will fully support insight in my life ..

    .. the moment this is made perfectly symmetrical. If a chief of organisation XYZ tells me that I should have nothing to worry if I have nothing to hide (which is BS, but I digress), then I think we're perfectly entitled to have a view of his or her life for, say, a trial period of 3..6 months to see if this law is indeed a sensible idea. None of this "National Security" crap - they don't know what I do for a living either, nor do they know that of all the other people who get lumbered with yet another government funded stalking setup.

    Hell, I think we should make this a permanent requirement for anyone involved in surveillance. After all, we must make sure it's not operated by Jimmy Saville v2, no?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's good for the goose...

    If the entertainment industry can collectively take down file-sharing sites, then the law enforcement agencies should be able to take down those giants that provide terrorists with avenues of secure communications.

    Both copyright infringement and terrorist activities are illegal, right?

    The filesharing sites were only a service that enabled copyright infringement, the same way that an encrypted communications channel enables terrorism. Both filesharing and encrypted communications aren't always used for nefarious purposes.

    If law enforcement agencies want the likes of Google and Apple to stop their efforts at securing communications, then they need to provide proof that those activities directly aid terrorism.

    But that would be revealing secrets they don't want known.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Jesus fuckin' Christ....

    These guys in the sigint agencies just don't get it, do they? The sigint agencies arrange a legal procedure to get data from tech companies that is very favorable to the sigint agencies, including secret warrants, gag orders on tech companies receiving warrants, courts where there is not opposing council to fight info requests.

    Then, not satisfied with that, the sigint agencies go around those procedures to tap fiber-optic links between countries and tech company datacenters directly. This includes the creation of "in your face" powerpoint presos with little smiley faces pointing out where they are screwing over the tech companies by intercepting all this data.

    Then, they penetrate tech companies' offerings at the product level, exploiting insecure applications, unencrypted data streams, and gathering tech company customer information, including passwords. Or the sigint agences maintain catalogs showing devices they have developed to compromise name-brand routers, servers, PCs, mobile devices and mobile voice and data service.

    Then, not happy with that, they spoof tech companies' offerings to phish for intelligence targets with things like faked LinkedIn, Yahoo! and Facebook pages, all the while gathering data these intelligence targets think they are sharing through these tech companies' offerings.

    Then, the sigint agencies work to actively undermine security at the standard-setting level, so they can better penetrate any applications or data relying on these standards.

    The result is that the sigint agencies make the entire tech industry look like fools and stooges. By pointing out, exploiting and actively creating vulnerabilities the sigint agencies are actively damaging the brand equity of these companies that employ millions of people around the world. By spoofing these companies' offerings to get intelligence they undermine user certainty that data they are sharing through tech companies is actually going where the user intends it to. Its bad enough that users have to worry about what the tech companies might do with the data, but at least they can terminate a business relationship, but there is no getting rid of a government agency.

    THEN, having done all this to damage the tech industry, the sigint agencies complain that that the tech industry is responding by improving security!!!! You know why that is happening, Mr. GCHQ goon?? BECAUSE YOUR AGENCY AND IT'S FRIENDS ARE DOING FAR MORE DAMAGE TO THE TECH INDUSTRY THAN AL QAEDA/ISIL EVERY COULD!!!!!!!!! This is simply a natural defensive response by the tech industry to a group of government agencies who are actively undermining that industry. You'd do the same thing at the GCHQ if the tech industry was actively damaging your organization, so PLEASE SHUT THE HELL UP with your allegations that the tech industry is coddling terrorists.

  45. This post has been deleted by its author

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Odd tactic?

    Is this really a straight play?

    It seems to suggest people of TERROR should just use these social media channels to communicate as without Facebook et. al playing a different role they'll go unchallenged.

    Surely either that's the case and it seems the bad guys are being given a green light, or it's not the case and this is encouraging them to use a relatively small number of platforms they're capable of eavesdropping.

  47. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Talk about hyterical

    Their screams are getting steadily more childish and petulant.

  48. OmgTheyLetMePostInTheUK
    Stop

    It is high time Governments STOP SPYING ON US!

    So you get this big wig who takes over the british spy house, and the first thing he does is bash companies that have finally made the data on our phones unreadable by hackers and governments. Boo Hooo hooo...

    What did you do 10-15 years ago before we had smart phones to record everything we did? Go back to doing that you lazy ass. It is called detective work. Become a detective again. Get out there and pound the pavement. Work the streets talking to your sources. Do some real detective work. And quit whining. You do NOT have the right to whats in our phones, no matter what you think to the contrary.

    And if you do not believe that you can do your job without spying on the citizens, QUIT! NOW! BEFORE YOU GET PEOPLE KILLED! JUST FLAT QUIT AND GO AWAY! Let someone who can do your job do it.

    There is no alternative. Snowden showed us what the Governments around the globe have been doing. Expect EVERYTHING to become encrypted. Soon. Very soon.

    The people have spoken. We do not want to be spied on. Especially those of us that are not breaking any laws and have no intention of breaking any. We like our privacy, and expect what we do to remain private. If you cannot accept that, QUIT! NOW! BEFORE YOU GET PEOPLE KILLED! JUST FLAT QUIT AND GO AWAY! Let someone who can do your job do it.

    Enough said! GROW UP!

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: It is high time Governments STOP SPYING ON US!

      Welcome, OmgTheyLetMePostInTheUK.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quick history lesson: there was a bad man called Saddam who posed no threat to the UK. The intelligence services got rid of him so now there is a terrorist threat to the UK and they want to spy on us more. Apparently for this brilliance we pay their rent and give them pensions.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      New history lesson

      Quick history lesson: there was a bad man called Saddam who posed no threat to the UK. The intelligence services got rid of him so now there is a terrorist threat to the UK and they want to spy on us more. Apparently for this brilliance we pay their rent and give them pensions. .... Anonymous Coward

      Lunatics in charge of the asylum, AC, and mainstream media moguls and IT sysadmins guilty of their aiding and abetting.

      Time for some special virtual cyber force proaction with launchers of NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive IT. ....... which aint no question?

  50. Roj Blake

    Party Puffin

    Why all this talk of Twitter and Facebook when according to a documentary I saw on Channel 4 the other night it's the children's social media network Party Puffin that terrorists now use.

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