back to article Fight back against illegal GCHQ spying with PAPERWORK!

Privacy International (PI) is calling on people to sign up to be part of a mass request for confirmation they have been spied on by Five Eyes spy agencies and to demand the removal of captured information. Would-be signatories are being asked to submit their name and email address to the organisation, which will then pass them …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yawn

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Yawn

      Grow the fuck up.

      You may not agree with their methods but the fact remains without them and people like them the path to a Total surveillance state becomes a little bit easier.

      I've signed up even with the small risk that I'll end up on some shit list somewhere.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yawn

        Nurse, time for a nappy change it appears!

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Yawn

        I've signed up even with the small risk that I'll end up on some shit list somewhere.

        Small risk? Are you sure it's a small risk? I'd say it's a certainty that you'll make your way onto several lists with this approach.

        Bravo for standing up and being counted though! I'm on enough lists already thanks to reading El Reg ;-)

        1. MrNed
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Yawn

          "Small risk? Are you sure it's a small risk? I'd say it's a certainty that you'll make your way onto several lists with this approach."

          Which is a perfect example of why the "nothing to hide nothing to fear" brigade are so utterly full of shit and clearly lack the brains to understand simple cause and effect.

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: Yawn @MrNed

            Which is a perfect example of why the "nothing to hide nothing to fear" brigade are so utterly full of shit and clearly lack the brains to understand simple cause and effect.

            1) I'm certainly not part of any "nothing to hide nothing to fear" grouping you're imagining. That, I believe, is known as a strawman. Even assuming the most passive, loving, intelligent and caring government, you would still have everything to fear from whoever formed the next government.

            2) You don't understand cause and effect. You imagine, in your feverish little mind, that "standing up to the man" and signing the list might change things for the better. Newsflash dipshit, it won't. At best the state, assholes that they are, will simply amend the legislation to prevent what they will consider its abuse. Now, I disagree that this is abuse, I believe we have an absolute right to know what the state has done with our information with very few exceptions. So, cause and effect - what this will cause is the state to change FoI legislation and the effect will be to cover up a lot of the less spectacular information that is being turned up using that law, such as MPs expenses etc.

            3) I realise from your ranty posting style that you're a little hard of thinking so I'll try to simplify... The primary change people singing up to this will likely provoke is to bring themsleves further forwards in the intelligence observation stack. What it sadly won't achieve is behavioural change in the state.

            I know it's hard, but try and think before replying, yes?

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              @LucreLout

              Did it hurt when you jammed your head up your own ass, or were your born in that position?

              1. LucreLout Silver badge

                Re: @Potty

                Did it hurt when you jammed your head up your own ass, or were your born in that position?

                I was trying to immitate the way you talk out of your arse, but seem to have fallen short.

              2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                WTF?

                Re: Potty Re: @LucreLout

                "Did it hurt when you jammed your head up your own ass, or were your born in that position?" Oh dear, the standards of Potty's rants are slipping! He hasn't included the usual bile for "Amerikkka" or the insistence that They are out to get Canada. I mean, it's not like the lack of argument in his post wasn't perfectly expected, but should we be concerned by his not shrieking at the Yanks?

    2. nematoad Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Yawn

      It's a pity that I only have one downvote to give you.

      Oh, and bravo for such courage posting as an AC.

      Unlike you I have a spine and have just signed up to the campaign.

      P.S. On a brighter note you might just be in the running for a Vulture Dropping award. Well done.

      1. billse10

        Re: Yawn

        "It's a pity that I only have one downvote to give you"

        I'd lend you mine, but I've just used it, sorry. :-)

    3. Graham Marsden
      FAIL

      Re: Yawn

      And so AC sleep-walks into a total surveillance state...

  2. John Robson Silver badge

    So they want...

    ...me to highlight myself to the likes of the NSA/GCHQ etc.

    I can only presume that those records will be looked at a little bit more closely before they are reported on and (possibly) deleted (although not from backups), wouldn't it be a shame if there was a dB failure and we had to recover from tape?

    Or maybe they'll just do the modern "delete" of adding a column in the dB to say "deleted"

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. CaptainBanjax

      Re: So they want...

      No its a government department so they'll open up the db table and redact the lines on the screen with a black marker. Then take a picture of it, print it, photocopy it then photocopy the copy over and over again at least 100 times then release it to the public via an archive that is prohibitively expensive and only accessible at obscure times in a location with a car park that only lets you stay 20 minutes before you get a ticket.

      1. Blitheringeejit

        Re: So they want...

        The location itself would of course be the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'.

        I believe this is a legal requirement for such disclosures.

      2. Loud Speaker

        Re: So they want...

        Alternatively, the data can be accessed via the folder left on the 8.23 to Victoria, or the backup left in a pub somewhere along Whitehall.

    3. MrNed
      Black Helicopters

      Re: So they want...

      "I can only presume that those records will be looked at a little bit more closely"

      Not if enough of us apply they won't - they'll be swamped by the tower of shit they've built for themselves. And rightly so.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: MrNed Re: So they want...

        "......they'll be swamped by the tower of shit they've built for themselves......." Exactly who do you think will be processing such requests? I'll give you a clue - it will not be anyone in the NSA or GCHQ actually tasked with data gathering or doing analysis, it will be just more civil servants. All your pointless exercise will do is increase your tax bill.

        "......And rightly so." Personally, I hope the Police take a very careful look at not just those that apply but Privacy International as well. If their reason for applying is to waste resources, and given that the data is used in criminal investigations, it would seem their intent is to obstruct said investigations, which would be a criminal act.

        But I suspect the Spooks and HMG will be happy to respond if only for the massive ego-bruising which will occur when the majority of posters here find their paranoid delusional fantasies of all being Neo turn out to be unfounded, and that they really are of zero interest to anyone. Enjoy your pointless exercise in denial, MrNed, the reality is it will change nothing.

  3. Hans 1 Silver badge
    WTF?

    Paperwork comes with costs

    Please enlighten me, who is paying for the all paperwork that is going to be performed by the GCHQ thanks to this campaign ?

    If data interception was illegal, heads must roll ... into prison. These people are in charge of our security, they have our "trust" that they will not do evil, and if they do evil it should be considered high treason on their part and they MUST be trialed accordingly.

    Who in their right mind is going to trust GCHQ now if heads do not roll?

    1. Valeyard

      Re: Paperwork comes with costs

      no one is ever going to trust GCHQ ever again, and nor should we. They've done worse to the freedom of this country than any foreign power or paramilitary group and should be rewarded with the contempt and suspicion of the nation

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Valeyard - Re: Paperwork comes with costs

        no one is ever going to trust GCHQ ever again, and nor should we. They've done worse to the freedom of this country than any foreign power or paramilitary group and should be rewarded with the contempt and suspicion of the nation

        There is something deeply ironic about you posting a comment like that as "Valeyard".

        1. Valeyard

          Re: @Valeyard - Paperwork comes with costs

          haha!

          1. DJV Silver badge

            Re: @Valeyard - "haha!"

            Shouldn't that have been "Bwahahahaha!"?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Paperwork comes with costs

      Trouble is GCHQ didn't intercept the data, the NSA did. They just took information they'd already gathered. So technically the interception wasn't illegal as GCHQ didn't do it. The sharing of information was though, and that's what this is about. I wish people would pick up on this fact rather than assuming this whole ruling is about how GCHQ intercept data.

      1. Valeyard

        Re: Paperwork comes with costs

        If you look at my post below in another thread you'd see I'm already aware of this fact, it's clearly a way to exploit a loophole "we can't collect the data on our people... oh the but Americans can..and then give it to us..." hardly within the spirit of the law

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Paperwork comes with costs

          I know I posted again under your second comment after I spotted it :)

        2. Brian Morrison

          Re: Paperwork comes with costs

          While I completely agree with you, I should point out that the whole point of law is that compliance should be to the letter of it, complying with the spirit will lead to over or under-compliance and to further bad drafting of new law.

    3. Loud Speaker

      Re: Paperwork comes with costs

      If I told you, I'd have to kill you.

    4. MrNed
      Flame

      Re: Paperwork comes with costs

      "they have our "trust" that they will not do evil"

      No, the naive may trust that the spysters will not do evil, the rest of us believe they are up to their pencil-necks in evil.

      "Who in their right mind is going to trust GCHQ now if heads do not roll?"

      Who in their right mind trusts GCHQ after we found out what the evil bastards are up to?

      Some people seem to believe the bullshit we're fed about this being to "protect us". They need to wake up - it's about power, control and subjugation, plain and simple. Those who think governments tell the truth to their electorates and act in their best interests are pitifully naive.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only Lord Denning were alive ...

    I'm sure he'd put a stop to this nonsense, the same way he killed the chances of the Birmingham six getting any compensation from the police.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    When I saw the title of this...

    ...I thought it was going to suggest we all go retro and start using pens, paper, and snailmail again!

  6. Bob Wheeler
    WTF?

    Given this quote

    "some ex- GCHQ staffers estimated that 95 per cent of all signals intelligence material handled at GCHQ is American"

    Is it not self defeating if your tasked to look at UK based 'whatever wrong doer' if 95% of your signal intelligence is not relevent to the UK?

    1. Valeyard

      Re: Given this quote

      i think they mean it came from America. GCHQ can't spy on the UK as much as they'd like and the NSA can't spy on the US, so they spy on each other's home turfs and swap the intel

      I kid you not

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Given this quote

        Finally someone who talks sense, or actually knows how it all works. Have a thumbs up.

        Most intercept systems in use in the UK are legal and require a warrant to even process the information they gather.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Given this quote

        And have done since very early on in the Cold War.

    2. SolidSquid

      Re: Given this quote

      As I understand it, part of the deal was that GCHQ would investigate any Americans caught in the dragnet and send back records of people who seemed worth investigating (which then becomes "information received" for the NSA and can be used legally since they weren't the ones investigating American nationals). In exchange the NSA would do investigations into *British* nationals and pass that information on to GCHQ, again to bypass rules on investigating their own citizens

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Given this quote

        @ solidsquid AFAIK this is a standing agreement that goes back to pre 9/11 times.

        What ever the out come of this action GCHQ won't really delete anything, they will just have to find other 'legally obtained data' to get you legally, if they have evidence indicating someone is of interest, whether they can use it legally or not they are not going to discard it, it will just help them to know what else they can do to get you.

        Otherwise beware of men in trench coats pointing umbrellas at you.

        1. Richard Jones 1
          WTF?

          Re: Given this quote

          The men with umbrellas were Russian agents, just like those handing out polonium tea cakes again in London. Some of KGB thug Press-the-dent Crapbucket's finest.

          (A poo-tin is a crap bucket or khazi is it not?)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Given this quote

          GCHQ can completely and utterly delete the information and then report they have deleted it and then re request the data from the Americans and as the information was shared after the trial that decided all this then the information now becomes LEGAL. :-(

  7. PapaD

    Spirit of the law

    As I understand it, there is no 'spirit of the law'

    Its a fancy term that people came up with to try and make people not do the things that the law allows them to do, because the law was badly written by a bunch of people most of us don't trust, and rushed into place.

    From a legal standpoint, there is no 'spirit of the law' - you have the letter of the law, and precedent, and that's it.

    The fix to this, of course, is to bloody well write the laws properly, with no room for manoeuvring or muppetry.

    1. Valeyard

      Re: Spirit of the law

      oh they're written properly, it's just not for us they were written

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Spirit of the law

      The difference is simples: Spirit: "Think of the children". Letter: "No, not that way."

      1. steeple
        Headmaster

        Re: Spirit of the law

        The other way around,

  8. Tom Chiverton 1

    Boom.

    That was the sound of the PI web site imploding.

    TITSUP code was "DB Error: unknown error"

  9. David Lewis 2
    Facepalm

    Let me get this straight

    Me: GCHQ, do you have any information on me that you obtained illegally?

    GCHQ: No.

    Me: OK, I trust you.

    1. MrNed

      Re: Let me get this straight

      Presumably if enough people apply then they will have to allow some sort of independent audit to prove they've actually done it.

      Hah - I've just read what I wrote! It must be nearly home time.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: MrNed Re: Let me get this straight

        "......they will have to allow some sort of independent audit to prove they've actually done it......" Having worked with government contracts it can get very fun indeed when it comes to audits. Once, when asking to run a quality audit, we were informed no-one on the team actually had high enough security clearance to view the output from our tests with live data. This led to the amusing instance that we would type our process code into a terminal, then get up and leave the room so a uniformed bod could click the mouse button, watch the process run and read the resulting output, clear the screen, then come out of the room to tell us if the result was "as expected" or "unexpected".

        I expect any independent audit will involve a ton of redaction of anything of actual interest, especially if it is being used as evidence in an ongoing Police investigation. There is no way the authorities are going to say "Yes, Mr Terrorist/Drugdealer/Paedophile/E-crim/Spy, this is the evidence we have gathered against you so far which we are using to build a criminal case against you" - duh!

        1. MrNed

          Re: MrNed Let me get this straight

          But if you read the article (and the Privacy International page) it's clear that this is ONLY to do with data that was passed to GCHQ from NSA prior to December 2014. So no, of course they're not going to let you know if you're the subject of an ongoing investigation, and nor have I suggested as much - duh.

          But, in the specific circumstances described, the spy agencies have been found to have acted outside of the law. Is it OK for law breaking to go unchallenged and have no consequences - duh?!

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Holmes

            Re: Mr Ned Re: MrNed Let me get this straight

            ".....So no, of course they're not going to let you know if you're the subject of an ongoing investigation....." You are missing the obvious implication - all the "hate The man" posters here squealing about "privacy intrusion" will put in requests in the hope of launching privacy invasion cases, but will probably get back a "nothing found" answer for one of two reasons. Now please try and concentrate on reading the next bits before succumbing to your reflexive rant and downvote habit.

            Firstly, because they are of no interest anyway, so any metadata that was collected in the NSA databases will not have been processed to the point where an individual's identity will have been noted (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/interactive/2013/jun/12/what-is-metadata-nsa-surveillance#meta=0000000). Remember, this is raw data in the US databases - if you were already of interest to the Yanks it would have been processed and identified and be classed as part of an investigation (see point two for why that means the response is "nothing found"). Which means when Joe Wannabe goes and asks for all the data transferred which refers to Joe Wannabe there is no data returned by the search, even if there is actually metadata or (even intercepts) from Joe Wannabe in the database, as none of it has been tagged "Joe Wannabe" as it is actually tagged by something else such as your router's MAC address or your mobile number. So your request on all the info on Joe Wannabe will result in a blank. Unless you are already being or have been investigated, which takes us to the second option.

            Secondly, if Joe Wannabe has potentially done a naughty and is of interest, and his data has been processed and identified either already by the NSA or in the UK by the GCHQ, then the look at Joe Wannabe, whether it is still ongoing or suspended, will be classed as an investigation and the resulting evidence redacted, meaning the search answer still comes back "nothing found".

            It is only in the rare cases that metadata or intercepts have triggered a second pass of analysis (for example, you visited the "wrong" chatroom on 4chan when someone of actual interest was also logged in there) that the metadata will have been processed to the point where the user will have been identified as Joe Wannabe, and then found to be unvalued data, that the identification of the data and it's lack of value will mean it will be returned in any search. Big whoop! Your bragging rights extend only to the fact the NSA and GCHQ found you of no interest despite the poor company you kept. That's if they kept the data after the decision that you were of no interest - see below.

            "....the spy agencies have been found to have acted outside of the law...." The transfer of data before that date was considered "illegal". Do try and bear in mind what happens to aged data - it gets flushed if it is not of value. Do also bear in mind that the Spooks have had plenty of time whilst this meandered through the courts to clean shop. Now, if Mr Spook looked at Joe Wannabe and decided he was just an oik as opposed as a threat to law and order, do you think the details of the check were recorded and all the data was retained or do you think they recorded the fact he was of no interest and the unvalued data flushed (remember, it's still in the NSA database, so why keep a copy of unvalued data in the UK, they can always go get it again from the Yanks if required)? The access was probably logged by the NSA, but that log is not available under an UK FoIR. A local log may have recorded the access from the GCHQ end, but all that will say is "search of Joe Wannabe done by Analyst <REDACTED>, subject of no interest, no data retained". Big whoop again!

            Summarising - if your data were just a raw metadata search then you won't find it in any FoIR search (that's if the Spooks haven't already deleted all record of it to cover their tracks). Similarly, if you were of interest they won't tell you as you're part of an investigation. Your only reply other than "nothing found" will be "found but not of interest, no data retained" - good luck on building a case for privacy invasion on that! Oh, and what searches they do since December 2014 are all legal and will not be subject to a FoIR. Enjoy!

  10. Terry Cloth

    Is this limited to UK bods only?

    Or can I, an Amerian, sign up with PI to find out whether any of my stuff (gathered illegally by the NSA) was sent (illegally) to GCHQ?

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Terry Cloth Re: Is this limited to UK bods only?

      ".....can I, an Amerian, sign up with PI...." If the data was gathered in the US by the NSA and transferred to the UK by the GCHQ prior to December 2014 then I believe you could retain an UK-based solicitor as brief and instruct them to make a FoIR for you or do it yourself (the forms are online), so I would assume PI would accommodate you. You do not need to be either an UK citizen or even resident in the UK to make a request (https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-freedom-of-information/what-is-the-foi-act/). However, the data transfer was used by the GCHQ spying on UK subjects/residents gathered by the Yanks, not data gathered by the UK on Yank subjects/residents, so it is unlikely the haul would include you as a Yank unless you were communicating with an UK subject/resident of interest to the GCHQ.

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