back to article UN privacy head slams 'worse than scary' UK surveillance bill

The United Nations' new privacy head has slammed the UK's draft surveillance bill, calling it "worse than scary." Speaking at the annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Brazil, special rapporteur on privacy Joe Cannataci referred to the Investigatory Powers Bill as the "Snooper's Charter" and accused the UK government of an …

  1. AegisPrime

    Anonymity is entirely possible on the internet.

    1) All internet communications could and *should* be encrypted

    2) Advertising doesn't *need* to target or track users

    3) ISPs don't *need* to log the activities of their subscribers

    4) Law-enforcement doesn't need nor should have *warrantless* access to data - meta or otherwise

    A user's data is theirs and if they want to trade it away for 'free' services then that's their choice - but it should be an informed choice. Those of us that wish to remain free of snooping by corporations or governments alike should have that choice too.

    1. Dan Paul

      "Reading is fundamental" too....

      so you understand the EULA before you click "Accept" on the Google or other manufacturers services you decided to use but were in such a hurry that you did not bother to read the contract and clicked "Accept". YOU gave up your anonymity, not anyone else!

      So you were given the choice to "Not Accept" but were blinded by free stuff. YOU gave up your anonymity, not anyone else!

      Advertisers must track users online as it is the only metric they have available. You clicked on the damn banner that said "this site uses cookies" didn't you? YOU gave up your anonymity, not anyone else!

      ISP's have to log activities because YOU voted for the idiots who made that a law that they collect the info.

      In short, with all that you now know, you still clicked on "accept" and gave away your "private" info. It's the same thing as a written contract.

      Just like someone who complains about politicians but never votes in an election, I have no sympathy for your umbrage or your "cause"

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: "Reading is fundamental" too....

        People click "I agree" out of pragmatism, to get the job done and get out of there. The fact EULAs are written by evil lawyers to trick decent folk doesn't negate the right to privacy, and I'm a bit shocked to hear you equate those or defend either.

        I contracted once for a high rate, and signed willingly and greedily before regretting it when the middle-man started acting very shabbily for no good reason to both myself and the employer. The employer offered me a job directly and the agency pointed out a clause in the contract saying I was liable for £100,000 just for having listened to the job offer. I showed the contract to a decent lawyer and they said ignore it, it's so unfair it's unenforceable in court. I scoffed at the agency and they folded.

        I'm guessing most EULAs are similarly unenforcable, they just use the legal process to wear you down. None of that relates to our "cause" for the right to reasonable privacy from our state.

        1. Vic

          Re: "Reading is fundamental" too....

          I contracted once for a high rate, and signed willingly and greedily

          At the start of my last contract, I was offered the "standard" contract for the company. They were really quite shocked when I refused to sign it.

          I pointed out that they were requiring copyrights that I did not own. Not only could I not provide what they demanded, neither could any other software contractor working there.

          It appears I was the first contractor actually to read the contract thoroughly. And there were a lot of contractors working there...

          Vic.

        2. Naselus

          Re: "Reading is fundamental" too....

          "I'm guessing most EULAs are similarly unenforcable"

          You don't need to guess. In many cases, they've already been ruled as such. Apple's EULA for iTunes in particular has been the subject of a fair bit of debate in this regard, and in the EU it is generally accepted to be worth nothing at all if anyone ever actually challenged it in court; likewise, Steam's EULA was found to be unlawful and unenforceable in several cases regarding refunds (which is why they now offer refunds with no questions asked if you've played less than 6 hours, and even then if you demanded a refund within a few months and took it to court you would win).

          In truth, the same is probably true of a lot of employment contracts - I know for a fact that the wording of my present employment contract is in breach of both UK and EU employment law, as was my previous one, and the contract with my landlord literally includes clauses which are cited as examples of unlawful terms in the guidance for writing a rent contract.

          Basically, there's a hell of a lot of shite lawyers out there making a lot of money by translating illegal things into legalese and not bothering to mention to their client that their requested terms have no legal weight.

      2. edge_e
        Flame

        Re: "Reading is fundamental" too....

        so you understand the EULA before you click "Accept" on the Google or other manufacturers services you decided to use but were in such a hurry that you did not bother to read the contract and clicked "Accept". YOU gave up your anonymity, not anyone else!

        No, I didn't

        Advertisers must track users online as it is the only metric they have available.

        No, they need to track that click, so that they can pay the site that lead to the click, they do not need to track the individual across the entire internet

        You clicked on the damn banner that said "this site uses cookies" didn't you? YOU gave up your anonymity, not anyone else!

        You can't use the internet without agreeing to such shit. I delete all cookies when my browser closes.

        I understand that sites that provide content without direct extraction of funds from end users need to pay for stuff and therefore need to get money from somewhere, so does my local free paper.

        Yet my local free paper manages to contain ads that don't seem to care that I've looked at a similar ad in a different newspaper.

        It's actually worse than that online because even sites that are directly funded by users paying for stuff, ie shops, are loaded with advertising malware trying to track your every move.

        ISP's have to log activities because YOU voted for the idiots who made that a law that they collect the info.

        I did not. Nor did i vote for the last lot who tried to implement a near identical bill while this lot said it was totally unacceptable.

        In short, with all that you now know, you still clicked on "accept" and gave away your "private" info. It's the same thing as a written contract.

        No i did not, yet they still think they have the right to track me everywhere just because somebody else got paid to allow them to place their tracking gif everywhere.

        When the vulnerable get separated from their money because they don't understand what's going on, we call it fraud and the perpetrators go to jail.

        I postulate that the vulnerable are getting separated from their privacy because they don't understand what's going on!

        1. Dan Paul

          Re: "Reading is fundamental" too....

          Idiot, you contradict your statement against mine. You failed at much more than reading comprehension, apparently.

          See it's plainly obvious you don't comprehend how the Internet works. When you click "Accept" you don't have the right to complain anymore.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Thumb Down

            Re: "Reading is fundamental" too....

            "See it's plainly obvious you don't comprehend how the Internet works. When you click "Accept" you don't have the right to complain anymore."

            Does that include the "contract" people agreed to which, as an experiment, F-Secure added in a term where you signed away the life of your first-born to the company? Is that as legally binding as all other EULAs as you imply?

      3. Camilla Smythe

        Re: "Reading is fundamental" too....

        @Dan Paul

        http:www.nhs.uk/

        http://urlquery.net/report.php?id=1447193517180

        http://urlquery.net/domain_graph.php?id=1447193517180

        http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Gonorrhoea/Pages/Introduction.aspx

        http://urlquery.net/report.php?id=1447193647946

        http://urlquery.net/domain_graph.php?id=1447193647946

        Why does the advertising arm of Google, AKA DoubleClick, need to collect data about my interest in Gonorrhoea?

        "Hi.. Looks Like You've Got Gonorrhoea. Would you like to buy some socks to put on your Willy?"

        Just like someone who complains about politicians but never votes in an election, I have no sympathy for your umbrage or your "cause"

        I complained to my politician about such tracking on the above and other pages on that website just prior to the last General Election. He managed to send me a, hand delivered no less, letter expressing his concerns about such matters and suggesting that we might meet after the election..... The meeting never materialised..

        Please do kindly go get fucked by a goat or whatever suits your fancy. If you catch some 'nasty itch' you can look it up on nhs.uk No-one will ever know.

        1. Bronek Kozicki

          Re: "Reading is fundamental" too....

          Actually I think that NHS forwarding details of what you are viewing to external parties is as clear violation of DPA as can be, and should be promptly investigated by ICO. Simple as that. No need to change any laws, just enforce the ones already in place. Also I do not believe that the new proposed "investigative powers bill" would make this legal.

        2. Dan Paul

          Re: "Reading is fundamental" too....

          You must have clicked on the "We use cookies" box on any website that uses tracking cookies in order to have used their services, therefore YOU are the responsible party who gave them permission to track you. Or maybe you aren't intelligent enough to read?!

          When are all you whining millennials ever going to take responsibility for your own actions?

          Who cares about your "letter" did you vote for him or not? If not, you can complain all you want but no one should ever care as you didn't vote.

          If you did vote then you can complain all you want but you should vote for someone else next time.

          And for what its worth, I have never seen an entire country so devoted to bestiality and sexually transmitted disease as I have yours.

          1. Camilla Smythe

            Re: "Reading is fundamental" too....

            You must have clicked on the "We use cookies" box on any website that uses tracking cookies in order to have used their services, therefore YOU are the responsible party who gave them permission to track you. Or maybe you aren't intelligent enough to read?!"

            Seriously...? It's all blocked unless I allow it. In fact most times the site does not get to show its 'We use Cookies' message because the script it wants to use does not get loaded. Otherwise I do not click on the box and I carry on regardless even if the message suggests that if I continue to use the site then I accept their use of cookies. They might try to set them but... does not happen.

            Who cares about your "letter" did you vote for him or not? If not, you can complain all you want but no one should ever care as you didn't vote.... etc

            I did not vote for him or his party. My vote, for what it was not worth, went elsewhere. Tell me is it part of your strategy to enforce incorrect assumptions in order to support your standpoint?

            And for what its worth, I have never seen an entire country so devoted to bestiality and sexually transmitted disease as I have yours.

            Presumably that explains your lack of understanding about the nature of nhs.uk As a resident of the UK I help fund the NHS through taxes. It is a public service provided by Government through taxation. Otherwise you may notice that it deals with a range of 'personal and sensitive issues', not including bestiality...

            I do not expect that a 'Public Service' web site of itself and otherwise in this case which deals with such issues to be allowing external agents such as Google, Facebook, Twitter. Webtrends and the rest to track and profile me across their pages and extend that tracking and profiling across to other sites.... this is exactly what happens.

            If you care to look harder then you will realise that URLQuery scans a web page and records the communications require to load the page. It does so without any 'protection' and therefore by and large demonstrates what will happen when someone less careful or knowledgeable than myself and others will experience. URLQuery has its 'off days'...

            Of course NHS.UK does explain what the cookies are used for...

            http://www.nhs.uk/aboutNHSChoices/aboutnhschoices/termsandconditions/Pages/cookies-policy.aspx

            However as you probably know and others have pointed out the majority of people would not go so far as to read that information and even if they did they would either not understand it or the possible consequences. As an aside you may notice that reference is made to ASP.NET because the site is hosted 'In The Cloud' on Microsoft Azure.... 'Safe Harbo[u]r', cough.

            I can, almost, assure you that Facebook and Twitter do not actively set cookies during a visit to the site... They do not have to because, like as not, you will already have got yours by visiting another site and they get to read them anyway. Webtrends does modify its previously set cookies both as first and third party.

            Whilst the site uses Google-Analytics and supposedly only sets first party cookies under the nhs.uk root which are claimed to be used only for analytics and only for the host site the base information is also shared outside of Google-Analytics with Google DoubleClick. I would offer you an example but URLQuery has, for the moment, caught a cold.

            If 'people' were more aware as to what was happening in the background then they might think twice about using a web site service that they have paid for through their taxes and that may or should extend to other sites.

            I would expect that the prime use of such a public service, and publicly funded, web site is to help and reassure people with information from a trusted and respected source rather than them visiting a Doctor or dialling 999. It does not help that the first thing the site does is insist that it is going to force tracking cookies down your throat so you can gain access to important information that you have in effect already paid for to access.

            Nhs.uk is in certain respects a special case but in my view similar arguments apply to any other .gov.uk or similar public service website where sensitive information is handled. I do not want a Facebook 'Like' button or any similar shit on any page I use to make use of public services. It is 'none of their fucking business'.

            Anyway, I've rambled on for too long. You carry on in your ivory tower screaming at people for not taking responsibility for their actions whilst ignoring the very real fact that people are generally unaware or incapable of understanding the consequences of their actions because they are not sufficiently well informed and indeed when they are offered 'advice' that advice is deliberately biased to prevent them from reaching an incorrect conclusion.

            I do however take my hat off to you for the down votes. Perhaps you were trying....

      4. Teiwaz

        Re: "Reading is fundamental" too....

        Personally I didn't vote for the current troop of clowns currently prancing about westminster and tramping gleefullly on all the progress made since Magna Carter.

        And I did vote...

        1. Dan Paul

          Re: "Reading is fundamental" too....

          Then you DO get to complain. Fat lot of good it will do. Politicians are all lying idiots anyway.

          But I'll bet that you clicked "Accept" so YOU are the reason you don't have any perceived privacy.

        2. Dan Paul

          Re: "Reading is fundamental" too....

          Oh, and I forgot, you can't spell either. It's Magna Carta dolt.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Carta

      5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "Reading is fundamental" too....

        "ISP's have to log activities because YOU voted for the idiots who made that a law that they collect the info."

        Dunno about your environment but here the effective choice is between two parties each of who will put either such an idiot into the Home Office or at least one who will promptly go native.

        1. nijam Silver badge

          Re: "Reading is fundamental" too....

          > ISP's have to log activities because YOU voted for the idiots who made that a law that they collect the info...

          Blaming the politicians here is superfluous - notwithstanding the law, that snooping has been going on without oversight for ages. The crooks are the ones who are scamming politicians into believing the law is needed.

      6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: "Reading is fundamental" too....

        "click "Accept""

        If you don't not want to not be untracked please do not click on the "No, I want to be not untracked" button

    2. veti Silver badge

      When you say "should" and "need" - could you be a bit clearer about where, exactly, these imperatives come from?

      As I see it, advertisers can target and track users, therefore "need" doesn't enter into it. They will. In exactly the same way as I don't need to respond to your comment, but I am.

      Ditto ISPs: they don't need to log anything, but when the commercial competition is between those who do and those who don't, which group is going to survive and thrive? My bet is, the ones who collect more info.

      As for "should" and "should not have" - says who? As I'm sure you know, there is no logically reputable way of deriving a "should" statement solely from facts: you have to add some sort of moral/ethical premises, which are independent of facts. And there's the rub. Not everyone agrees what those "should" rules are.

      1. Dan Paul

        @veti

        If you can't figure that out, then why should I try?

        All I offered was a statement of facts regarding tracking cookies on any website and what YOU (collectively or singularly) did when YOU decided that clicking on "Accept" was okay.

  2. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Village life

    $350 for an out of print book is one form of privacy!

    I lived in a tiny village once where the local ancient gossip seemed to know everything about everyone, mainly by relentless interrogations and surveillance. She walked the length of the village looking in windows several times every day, and was so seemingly pathetic and charming many would open up to her chattiness, some joining in her gossip about others in the vain hope of getting in her good books. She'd then cross-reference that by checking with her sources, including two in the Dept of Social Security. Some residents got so annoyed at her they took counter-measures, mainly closing curtains and refusing to talk to anyone who talked to her. One guy would just her the finger each time he saw her passing his house.

    There was still privacy, just less than in a city. It took me years to realise a distant cousin lived twenty doors up the road and only then because he kept getting my mail, and when a local family died in a road accident the first I heard was from the TV news report "A small village is in mourning tonight".

    There was always privacy and always surveillance, it's just the surveillance is more wide-spread, easier, more intrusive and so more deserving of the middle-finger. There, saved you $350.

  3. Wommit

    Well...

    Cannataci also argued forcefully that mass surveillance was not the way to handle the threat from terrorism and pointed to a report by the Dutch intelligence services that argues that point. "To get real terrorists, you have to go for good old-fashioned infiltration," he argued, wishing that the security services would spend less money on computers and more on real people who go out and get real, actionable intelligence on what people are up to. "It's time to be realistic and actually examine what evidence shows."

    I have commented the same on this forum. Intelligence will only be obtained by getting feet on the ground, getting humans talking to each other. Infiltration is one name for this. Mass surveillance only gives you a mountain of data which machines cannot intelligently analyse.

    Many previous terror attacks led to the TLAs saying "We had that data." Only it was data NOT intelligence! they knew about the terrorist, but didn't make the connection to the act. Well hindsight is always 20/20.

    This new bill will not make an ounce of difference to the terrorists, but will open up everyone's lives to the worst of all type of gossip, the official snoopers.

    And then some one with the "necessary" clearances will leave a laptop or DVD full of data on a train, first class of course. Or, and this is far more likely, the database will be hacked and ALL of the data compromised.

    What on Earth has happened to our politicians? Have they been neutered or otherwise lost their balls?

    1. streaky

      Re: Well...

      Many previous terror attacks led to the TLAs saying "We had that data." Only it was data NOT intelligence! they knew about the terrorist, but didn't make the connection to the act

      This was writ large with the Lee Rigby case - the intelligence services knew *all* about them and made no attempt to do a threat assessment of messrs Adebolajo/Adebowale and their contacts despite knowing precisely who they were and who they were communicating with. The report into the attack made this extremely clear but all the press talked about was some discussion that happened on facebook that was minimally relevant and the IPB (Stasi Bill 2015) doesn't resolve anyway.

      The problem here isn't needing more data it's being effective with the information the sec services *already* have and we're doomed to keep repeating mistakes until that is sorted out.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Well...

        Exactly and well said. Many of us have saying that very same thing. If the TLA's and FLA's knew, their saying after the fact saying they "knew" is BS. Hell.. I know the lottery numbers after the drawing but that doesn't do me or anyone else any good.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well...

      "I have commented the same on this forum. Intelligence will only be obtained by getting feet on the ground, getting humans talking to each other. Infiltration is one name for this. Mass surveillance only gives you a mountain of data which machines cannot intelligently analyse."

      But the bad guys are getting wise to this, and infiltration is becoming extremely difficult because they vet their recruits. Some even have initiations that require you to wholly commit to their cause, usually by way of an unforgivable act like treason. How do you get intelligence from a group of proper paranoids?

      1. Mephistro

        Re: Well...(@ AC)

        "... and infiltration is becoming extremely difficult because they vet their recruits. Some even have initiations that require you to wholly commit to their cause..."

        As most terrorist/illuminati/mob cells have been doing for centuries. Paradoxically, these methods you listed usually leave the crims more open to blackmail and subsequent "turning".

        I can understand the need for state sponsored electronic surveillance, as long as it's approved by a proper judge, based on evidence and with proper review processes that guarantees citizen's rights ,and targeted at a single individual each time.

        Mass snooping is almost the exact opposite of how it should be done.

    3. Pliny

      Re: Well...

      >What on Earth has happened to our politicians? Have they been neutered or otherwise lost their balls?

      Remember, this UK bill is only to authorise what is already happening. Draw your own conclusions...

      And this is the problem with the "I have nothing to hide" argument. You may not, but can you be sure your elected MP, assigned judge or other public official who is hopefully treating you fairly, doesn't?

      That could be too paranoid: perhaps the private contractors who benefit from all this going on have just been busy buying lots of lunches? Perhaps the MPs just don't "get" what this is about and really think (supposed) law and order trumps privacy. And there, it's our duty to help educate them...

  4. K

    I like this guy...

    How can I put him forward as the next Information Commissioner?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    That's a first

    Someone at the UN has a go at the UK and, for once, I'm in full agreement with everything he says. Strange world it's become.

    1. Teiwaz

      Re: That's a first

      I suppose it's too much to ask for a UN sanction?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I can't agree...

      ...more with this pots and the article.

      Likewise the "attack" on Vint Cerf. He's a clever bloke who has done some good work, but that doesn't make him right all the time.

  6. Dan Paul

    Vincent Cerf was right.....

    The modern concept of "privacy" is indeed a recent invention. You must be confusing it with something else. The only way to maintain privacy or anonymity today that I know of is to go somewhere that technology and people are not even present.

    When I was growing up 55 years ago, there was no such thing as "anonymity" or "privacy". Everyone in a town of 5,000 people knew what everyone else was doing, who they were related to, where they went to school, who their parents were etc, etc, etc. Just like your comments state, the busybodies and gossips knew everything.

    The benefit was there was little crime (certainly LESS crime), people trusted and helped each other out.

    There was much more willingness to work towards a common goal, like a fundraiser, bake sale, barn raising, putting on a new roof, bringing in the crops or building a church. It brought people together.

    The modern idea of privacy only serves to divide people. If you'd rather be alone, I completely understand; but the fact remains that in the past when people work together, they could get more done with less.

    Now we don't want to participate in anything and would prefer to be left alone. You say you are being "social" when in fact it's nothing of the sort. You are as isolated as a hermit while you are "texting" your partner at the end of the couch.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vincent Cerf was right.....

      Evidently there was a degree of anonymity and privacy as there was a rather large amount of kid shagging.

      Typical "back in our days" crap.

      There was less rape - because fewer people reported rape.

      There was less domestic abuse - as domestic abuse was normal.

      There was less peadophila - because fewer people reported it.

      There was less violent assault - because it was only taken seriously if people went to hospital.

      So on and so forth. It wasn't better in the olden days, it was the same, just you didn't have 24 hour news networks and papers desperate for ratings.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        Re: Vincent Cerf was right.....

        There was less peadophila - because fewer people reported it.

        That's something to do with pea pods, right?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Vincent Cerf was right.....

        "There was less rape - because fewer people reported rape."

        "There was less peadophila - because fewer people reported it."

        Not reported because people didn't know about it...or not reported because people willingly looked the other way?

      3. Dan Paul

        Re: Vincent Cerf was right.....

        Sure we had "personal privacy" in our own homes back then and still do but the general knowledge of who your neighbor is, what are they up to and general things like that meant that almost nothing could go on in town without someone seeing it and reporting it.

        It WAS better in those days, just not where YOU grew up. Not everyone lives in a rat warren of a city where too many people are looking to cut your throat.

        Mostly it was because people were raised better and had more respect for each other back then. Now they don't and they act like the vicious assholes they have become. If you want a better life, put down the mouse, and pack up and move to a less populous place.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vincent Cerf was right.....

      Oh, willingness to work together? Like contributing to an open source codebase which millions use?

      Your rose tinted glasses sound great, maybe you should do a kickstarter.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Vincent Cerf was right.....

        Probably means genocide, lots and lots of genocide.

        1. ratfox

          Re: Vincent Cerf was right.....

          Agreeing with Vint Cerf.

          On a side note, it is the anonymity of the web which caused the apparition of trolls and flame wars. Those old enough will remember how articles of the late nineties reported with nothing less than astonishment the way that otherwise normal and polite people would insult and demean each other on newsgroups, due to this fancy new anonymity allowed by the web.

          I'm not entirely sure whether that was a blessing or a curse, but the fact trolls still exist does seem to indicate we are still more anonymous on the web than we were before it existed.

          1. Whiskers

            Nothing new about 'trolls'

            In the Good Old Days there were 'poison pen letters' and malicious gossip. Usenet and web forums just made them more visible and easier to do.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Nothing new about 'trolls'

              Just remember, Shakespeare wrote about a troll in Julius Caesar. He went about writing anonymous messages on notice boards after dark.

              1. ratfox
                Coat

                Re: Nothing new about 'trolls'

                He went about writing anonymous messages on notice boards after dark.

                Romanes eunt domus!

              2. Whiskers

                Re: Nothing new about 'trolls'

                > Just remember, Shakespeare wrote about a troll in Julius Caesar. He went about writing anonymous messages on notice boards after dark. <

                And there's all the shenanigins with Desdemona's hanky.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Vincent Cerf was right.....

            "Those old enough will remember how articles of the late nineties reported with nothing less than astonishment the way that otherwise normal and polite people would insult and demean each other on newsgroups, due to this fancy new anonymity allowed by the web."

            Have you ever watched the early years of British TV's "Coronation Street" (1960)? That showed the malicious gossiping, back-biting, and slander that existed in any community. Elsie Tanner, Ena Sharples, the landlady of the Rovers Return pub were experts in the behind the back character assassination. They were the embodiment of that trait of human nature. Every TV soap since then, and possibly before, has drawn on that thread.

            Ena Sharples in the snug bar had her acolytes whom she berated if they showed the slightest deviation from supporting her opinion. It was telling that she was portrayed as a moralising god-fearing harridan - caretaker of the Mission Hall.

            The WW2 series Dad's Army also had several characters who would have made good trolls. In fact they probably would have written vitriolic letters to their local newspaper, or even The Times, about what they thought about other people's lives.

            All apparently respected upstanding members of the community.

            1. Dan Paul

              Re: Vincent Cerf was right.....

              But back then you actually knew who they were and could affect them and confront them in real life.

              Today, they hide behind a tag name like the cowards they are and take verbal potshots JUST LIKE HERE IN THIS FORUM.

              You have choices, it's what you make of them that defines who you are.

    3. cbars

      Re: Vincent Cerf was right.....

      People are capable of knowing 5000 other individuals, AND remembering what they're up to? There was me thinking my limit was about 100.

      Explains a lot about Facebook friendship groups, I thought they were tenuous aquatinces, turns out I'm obviously unusually antisocial

      1. Dan Paul

        Re: Vincent Cerf was right.....

        Can you HONESTLY call the number of Farcebork "friends" you have any indication of how "socialized" you are?

        Oh my god, I never read anything so ignorant in my life. I'm gonna piss myself laughing......

    4. Zog_but_not_the_first
      IT Angle

      Re: Vincent Cerf was right.....

      "When I was growing up 55 years ago, there was no such thing as "anonymity" or "privacy"."

      Have you forgotten about the "net curtain firewall"?

    5. Naselus

      Re: Vincent Cerf was right.....

      Yes, everyone knew everything that everyone else was doing 50 years ago. Certainly, there's no historical cases of people who were lauded as national heroes at the time turning out to have been secret child molesters or any- oh, wait...

    6. Soap Distant

      Re: Vincent Cerf was right.....

      @Dan Paul

      Did you grow up in an Amish community?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For-profit privacy invasion

    I'm sick of lying propagandising bastards saying privacy is dead.

    Of course you'd say that if your paycheck depended on suppressing a natural human instinct.

    It's mass privacy invasion that's the fad. Between the emergence of a new technology which enabled the threat, though awareness of the threat in the general population, finally the legal framework to keep it in check.

    You had your fun. Now F off.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: For-profit privacy invasion

      "Of course you'd say that if your paycheck depended on suppressing a natural human instinct."

      Indeed.

      Who does Vince Cerf work for now?

      What is their main line of business?

      Exactly.

      1. fung0

        Re: For-profit privacy invasion

        "Who does Vince Cerf work for now?"

        Cerf's 'logic' shapes itself rather well to his own convenience. In fact, Google proves conclusively that privacy is a thing, and that it's extremely valuable. Otherwise, how could this huge corporation build a vastly profitable business model on the idea of selling it?

  8. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Well, he said what I'd been thinking for a while. Why doesn't GCHQ just put spies into IS and the rest. Like in the good old days. It seems we employ cowards now in the spy business. James Bond would be spinning in his Martini if he realised that the next JB movie is a dweeb sitting in front of a monitor for 8 hours then goes home and plays on his Xbox/PS4.

    1. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Smart blood?

      Only Edward Snowden Can Save James Bond

      A police state is also bad for the police.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Why doesn't GCHQ just put spies into IS and the rest."

      Ever thought that it's because the likes of IS are wise the the tactic and usually check their recruits before accepting them? Also, foreign members usually aren't placed in positions of trust (the ones you hear about typically go to the front lines and become cannon fodder). At worst, they learn a few things and return to form their own cells where they also vet the inner circle.

      That's the hard part. The Inner Circles of these groups are properly paranoid. How do you penetrate such a group to get to the real intelligence you need?

      1. Naselus

        "Ever thought that it's because the likes of IS are wise the the tactic and usually check their recruits before accepting them?"

        Accepting that as the reason means you have to also assume that no-one prior to about 1993 ever thought of doing a background check.

        Funnily enough, we managed to spy on the Soviets and the Nazis, and they managed to spy on us, in spite of the fact that everyone was doing background checks. The FBI managed to infiltrate the mob, the Soviets infiltrated the Manhattan project, the CIA and MI5, and the CIA infiltrated pretty much everybody. IS have not crippled our intelligence community through the unsporting decision to start checking if new recruits are actually white Cambridge-educated chaps who can't explain what they've been doing for the past 5 years.

    3. Cuddles Silver badge

      "Why doesn't GCHQ just put spies into IS and the rest."

      What makes you think they don't? Where do you think all the intelligence used for targeting missile strikes at specific people comes from? Sure, there is plenty of electronic surveillance as well (which mostly consists of waiting for some idiot to give away their location on Facebook), but most of it still is boots on the ground. And just like the old days, for the most part that means using local people, defectors, double agents, and whistle-blowers rather than sending James Bond on a daring infiltration mission.

      1. fung0

        "Where do you think all the intelligence used for targeting missile strikes at specific people comes from?"

        It's been well-established that US drone targeting info comes mainly from cell phone metadata. It's a big reason these "surgical" strikes create so much collateral damage.

    4. Dan Paul

      @your alien overlord -fear me

      Because GHCQ and the rest of the Alphabet Agencies can't find spies that fit racially or mentally with ISIS. It's difficult enough to find anyone who speaks the language that can be trusted, let alone the similar lineage.

      Also for the fact that "Bond" is not real life spying. It's a lot more hard work than you give credit for.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "James Bond would be spinning in his Martini if he realised that the next JB movie is a dweeb sitting in front of a monitor for 8 hours then goes home and plays on his Xbox/PS4."

      Wasn't that exactly the point made by the young Q when talking to Bond in one of Daniel Craig outings?

  9. Danny 2 Silver badge

    HumInt and SigInt both require wisdom

    HumInt (Human Intelligence) can be just as mucked up as SigInt (Signals Intelligence) when the surviellers are stupid. The awful abuse and unjust prosecutions relating to Mark Kennedy et al prove that. If the person evaluating good intelligence is just plain stupid, then your state acts stupidly.

    Most of us will be able to admit to looking at a pile of data, isolating relevant facts, and then drawing the wrong conclusion. Many of us are able to admit those errors and have smart enough employers who reward admissions of errors of judgement, yet we know we can get punished by a daft employer for admitting such a clanger necessary to learn from.

    Lately, since 911, there seems to be an over-emphasis on quantity of intelligence rather than quality of intelligence, a profit motive for outsourced intelligence roles to lie, and a disregard for errors being corrected. That's not just bad for the innocents suffering from bad intelligence, it's bad for the state relying on that diminished intelligence. It's exploitable and indefensible - it's not intelligent.

    1. Vic

      Re: HumInt and SigInt both require wisdom

      Most of us will be able to admit to looking at a pile of data, isolating relevant facts, and then drawing the wrong conclusion.

      It's called Confirmation Bias. We're all susceptible to it, to some extent.

      Once you go looking for something specific, you will tend to find it - even if it isn't there...

      Vic.

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: HumInt and SigInt both require wisdom

        Confirmation Bias is approaching data with a personal bias and so wrongly confirming that bias. What I meant is more innocent, more common, when we approach data with no expectations and yet still misunderstand it. Normal human error.

        My point though was that increasingly the police and security services punish their own normal human errors in interpreting data, and so draw wrong conclusions. My evidence for that claim is the increasing number of private corporations used in what used to be the sole function of the state.

        In World War Two, all the intelligence came from state agencies like GCHQ, SiS or whoever, and it was generally good intelligence. In Iraq, and in the UK recently, most intelligence came from private outsourced corporates, and it was mostly all bogus derived from torture, abuse, lies and bribes.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: HumInt and SigInt both require wisdom

          "Confirmation Bias is approaching data with a personal bias and so wrongly confirming that bias. What I meant is more innocent, more common, when we approach data with no expectations and yet still misunderstand it. Normal human error."

          Confirmation Bias IS Normal Human Error. Bias is an inherent human trait based on experience. We can't help but be biased because experience shapes perception, subconsciously. IOW, we can't help but be biased just as we can't help but measure speed in relative terms: there's no absolute reference point to check otherwise.

          1. Whiskers

            Re: HumInt and SigInt both require wisdom

            > Confirmation Bias IS Normal Human Error. Bias is an inherent human trait based on experience. <

            Yes; think canals on Mars. Humans are programmed to see patterns everywhere, real or not. After all, one can survive running away from the monster in the woods that isn't there but probably not from not running away from the tiger that is there. But it's not so healthy to find oneself being hounded as the monster that someone else has imagined.

            <http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Confirmation_Bias>

          2. nijam Silver badge

            Re: HumInt and SigInt both require wisdom

            > Confirmation Bias IS Normal Human Error.

            Yes, confirmation bias is normal human error, but it is not the only normal human error. Other human errors exist, and some of them are not biased.

        2. nematoad Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: HumInt and SigInt both require wisdom

          "...all the intelligence came from state agencies like GCHQ"

          Being strictly accurate the organisation that was the forerunner of GCHQ was known as GC&CS (Government Code & Cypher School) based at Bletchley Park.

  10. dan1980

    Anyone who uses the "it's the same as with telephones or postal mail" line is either to uninformed to be opening their mouth or lying.

    As I have said many times before in these comments, Internet communication may well fill some of the functions of more 'traditional' methods of communication but it encompasses so much more. Further, the different format of the data means that far more information can be gathered and cross-references easily and indeed automatically in a way that just isn't possible otherwise.

    In Australia, our metadata retention laws were billed by people like our Attorney General (who is both uninformed and a liar) kept insisting that this is no more than 'reading the information on the outside of the envelope'. That is so egregious a piece of misinformation that it can only be viewed as a deliberate attempt to mislead the people in order to hide what they will actually be doing.

    Similarly, another minister (no Prime Minister,) Malcolm Turnbull tried to convince us that tracking where your metadata was no more invasive or problematic than the powers that police have now to 'tail' someone in public. I think the specific scenario he was responding to was the possibility of metadata identifying that you have been speaking with a solicitor or doctor. His response was that a police office could be tasked to follow you to wait outside a solicitor's office and record who enters and leaves and the metadata program was really no different.

    Again, and egregious lie - and unlike (perhaps) Brandis, Turnbull knew it.

    To adjust Turnbull's example, it's actually far more like a police officer following EVERY SINGLE PERSON around ALL THE TIME, watching them WHEREVER THEY GO. That is simply not possible but with the collection of 'metadata', it is not only possible but trivial.

    The other way the analogy/comparison falls down is that to investigate someone to that level requires - in the tradition police sense - resources that must be justified. Ergo, barring harassment, police have to have at least some reason to go following people around and monitoring their communications. It has to be approved and justified internally because thats a car that's not on patrol and a police officer or two not available for regular duty.

    Electronic data collection has no such barrier.

    As I have argued before, these electronic surveillance measures are not like watching someone go into the library; it's like watching someone go into the library and then following them in and looking over their should to discover which books they look at and which pages they read and flick through, what questions they ask the librarians and which books they check out. It's following them home and seeing which books they actually read a when, and which pages they spend the most time on.

    The truth is that the analogies and comparisons to monitoring 'tradition' communications fall down as soon as one looks even a millimetre below the surface and those who stand up and use these spurious and inappropriate descriptions are deliberately misleading the public because they know that the reality of what they are doing is far, far more intrusive and objectionable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Database Poisoning

      Of course metadata is open to abuse by us as well. While reading this article TrackMeNot has run a dozen searches, Adblock plus has blocked all adds but AdNauseum has clicked on 6 of them anyway. As well I am on a friends wifi so I can't really see the metadata being very useful to anyone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Database Poisoning

        You don't think the ad agencies will get wise to robo-clicks and find a way to filter real ones from fakes? If they really, truly can't tell the difference, you're looking at a system that can potentially pass a Turing Test.

        As for using a friend's hotspot, they're also developing ways to distinguish between users within a hotspot by click and typing patterns, which tend to be unique to a given user.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Database Poisoning

          "If they really, truly can't tell the difference, you're looking at a system that can potentially pass a Turing Test."

          The Turing Test is about appearing Human through natural language conversation. The HTTP request headers of an ad-click are far too restrictive to make it determinable as to whether a user made the request or the browser/plugin did it in response to something. At best, if those ads are all hosted by the same company, they could see you clicked 6 ads simultaneously and determine from that, but I'd have thought the ad spammer is smarter than that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Database Poisoning

            But computers are deterministic. It's hard for it to act truly random. Plus such a system runs into the same kinds of obstacles as automated spambots. Fora have come up with techniques like honeypot links and so on in an attempt to snag spambots, and random link clickers can fall into the same traps. And now you run into a "dual use" problem. A system that's capable of distinguishing real links from fake ones can then be turned around and used by the spambots to defeat honeypot links.

  11. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Wow!

    I'm astonished that someone from the UN has actually hit the nail squarely on the head and driven it completely home in one swipe!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "privacy is no longer possible in the digital world"

    This reeks of Chomsky style manufacturing consent i.e. desensitise the population to accepting that never ending corporate and state surveillance is 'normal'...

    ================================================

    "Cerf, along with other senior Google executives, has repeatedly argued that privacy is no longer possible in the digital world. But at a meeting at the Federal Trade Commission back in 2013, Cerf said that it may be an "anomaly."... Cannataci read Cerf's full quote:

    Privacy may actually be an anomaly. Privacy is a construct of the modern industrial age. In the past, everyone lived in small, self-contained communities where everyone knew who was dating the baker's daughter and what the sheriff had for lunch. It is only when populations started migrating en mass to cities that anonymity emerged as a by-product of urbanization.

    This, Cannataci said, was "pure, undiluted rubbish," adding: "I cannot understand how a person of the intelligence of Vint Cerf could say anything so dumb. It's just dumb."

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "orchestrated campaign for mass surveillance that evidence shows won't prevent terrorism"

    Surveillance is about catching T's?.... Sure, same old dime-store joke! ... The UK Govt has always had a zero-tolerance policy on dissent...

    At Uni we had full-on Poll Tax protests. There was a palpable paranoid feeling in the air of overarching state surveillance, i.e. 'you' versus the 'Establishment'. It was an era where any action could land you with an MI5 jacket.... All in 'Defence of the Realm' of course... This was just five years after the classic TV mini-series 'Edge of Darkness', which portrayed everyday surveillance of activists / protestors by elite business interest, politicians, spies etc...

    So has much changed? The elites down south still believe they're running an empire. They feel unapologetically entitled to monitor everything and everyone. Is this indicative of a balanced or sick society? Who knows, but I hope Brexit happens. Go ahead and close yourself off UK, you won't be missed much... Apparently Australia and Canada are following the UK's lead, oh dear! ....

    [BTW: The Reg isn't helping by not using HTTPS!]

    1. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: "orchestrated campaign for mass surveillance that evidence shows won't prevent terrorism"

      Ah, Edge of Darkness. The gorgeous Joanne Whalley - before she became Whalley-Kilmer, and the gorgeous Bob Peck. New Model Army blasting out from my stereo as the police kicked in my door to look for a shotgun I never had, me in my bath-towel, while my neighbours objected to that rather unhelpfully with "If anything he is too quiet normally". Yet at least I was in love, and naive and sexy and fucked, that counts for something in retrospect. Things have changed in more ways than that. We used to think back then that Thatcher was a one off aberration, not the trend she proved to be. Surveillance has changed, and our acceptance of it has changed even as it's become worse. And we ourselves have aged and hopefully grown wiser without sacrificing too many of our principles.

      Joanne Walley's character died in Edge of Darkness, at too young an age. I believe in justice.

  14. Vic

    There's a turn-up for the books

    Someone from the UN says something sensible?

    I'm glad I was sitting down when I read it...

    Vic.

  15. Steven Roper

    The more I think about all this

    the more I realise my problem is not so much about my data being private, but with analytics and prediction based on it. Just as I have no problem with cameras or people taking pictures of me, but I do have a problem with things like facial-recognition software.

    It's not the possession of the data that is so much the issue as the assumptions and judgements that people make based on it. If I knew that my data would just sit unexamined in some secured (and safely air-gapped) government archive and only examined when it is needed in connection with a crime that has been committed I'd have a lot less problem with it.

    But when authorities start using predictive software and analytics on my data to try to second-guess whether or not I'm going do something wrong, that I have a big fucking problem with. Minority Report style "pre-crime" methodologies are NEVER acceptable in any free society. You cannot make accurate judgements about my identity or behaviour based on analysis of my past actions, because any such judgement is invariably based on statistics and worse, stereotypes. It does not take into account the unique experiences of my life, my personality, and why I choose to do or say the things I do.

    We need to outlaw the use of identifying analytics and predictive algorithms on retained data, and insert requirements to keep such data out of reach unless it can be shown before a judge or magistrate that that particular data has some relation to an already committed crime. Otherwise we abrogate any right to call ourselves a free society.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The more I think about all this

      "But when authorities start using predictive software and analytics on my data to try to second-guess whether or not I'm going do something wrong, that I have a big fucking problem with. Minority Report style "pre-crime" methodologies are NEVER acceptable in any free society."

      But how do you square this away with a public that demands we stop murderers? The ONLY way you can properly stop a murder is to PREVENT it; otherwise it's too damn late. Now take this further with mass murder and then on further to crimes that threaten the stability of the State. How can you square away the need for privacy with the need to protect the State from all threats?

      1. fung0

        Re: The more I think about all this

        "How can you square away the need for privacy with the need to protect the State from all threats?"

        It would be idiotic to even try. Any civilized society must accept a certain minimal level of personal risk. By far the most effective way to minimize that risk, to "prevent crime," is to remove the root causes - feed the poor, heal the sick, shelter the homeless, educate the ignorant. And above all, stop making vicious, needless war, raining death down on entire nations in some insane effort to punish a tiny minority of radicals.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: The more I think about all this

          But plenty of poor are poor of their own doing, some sick are beyond help, some bums are too proud to accept shelter, and as a comedian said, "You can't fix stupid.". Also, as others say, "Haters gonna hate." Some people want to destroy you simply because you exist, and people today won't accept even minimal levels of personal risk. So what do you do when people are threatening to vote you out unless you stop such an enemy scenario?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "[BTW: The Reg isn't helping by not using HTTPS!]"

    Has no one mentioned that if you withdraw an El Reg comment - it is not actually deleted? It may not be visible to the public - but it is apparently still on El Reg servers waiting to be grabbed by anyone who hacks them or otherwise gains access.

    Also if you ever publish comments under a username rather than "anonymous" - try Googling for:

    el reg ($username).

    I just tried it with the name I use occasionally - and it was an instant response showing my user profile and listing all my comments since 2012 - which is probably when I registered. Even the Daily Telegraph allows me to make my profile and posting history private - rather than being served up on a plate for anyone.

    I'll definitely only use "anonymous" in future - my paranoia was justified.

  17. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Hey Joe

    Joe Cannataci for King of the Internet.

  18. Christian Berger

    The UK surveillance bill...

    ...shows again that the UK is not a free society. Taking part in any democratic process requires the option of anonymity. Without it you cannot fight back against oppression.

    If the EU was not just about helping banks and big companies, but democratic values, the UK would be kicked out of the EU. (also the EU would abolish its commission)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The UK surveillance bill...

      Yet that same anonymity can just as easily destroy the country. And it kinda shows, given most democratic or near-democratic countries can get mighty tempestuous and most don't survive more than a few centuries. And it's all down to human nature: "power corrupts" and all that. The whole conversation somehow keeps me thinking back to Machiavelli...

    2. fung0

      Re: The UK surveillance bill...

      "Taking part in any democratic process requires the option of anonymity."

      Excellent point! Without the secret ballot, democracy cannot exist. And the odd thing about democracy is that it actually does work - when it's truly allowed to.

  19. KeithR

    "When I was growing up 55 years ago, there was no such thing as "anonymity" or "privacy". Everyone in a town of 5,000 people knew what everyone else was doing, who they were related to, where they went to school, who their parents were etc, etc, etc. Just like your comments state, the busybodies and gossips knew everything."

    Seriously - this is revisionist crap.

    Did "everyone" know about "everyone's" medical circumstances (beyond gossip)? Their financial situaton? Work problems? Sexual predilections?

    No, they bloody DID NOT.

    Busybodies and gossips knew only what busybodies and gossips know: but even then, banks, employers, doctors - they all kept their mouths shut.

    1. Dan Paul

      I beg to differ but they DID know EVERYTHING in my town @Keith R

      Maybe the Doctor did not divulge that a certain unmarried someone was pregnant but his secretary sure did.

      And so did the Bankers secretary and the Pharmacists assistant. There goes your rebuttal.

      And the fact that Johnnie looked like the milkman rather than his "father" wasn't lost on anyone in the garden club or the church choir.

      Realistically, those people had a better intelligence network than many today.

      And for the record you use the word "revisionist" to refer to someone who is revising history.

      Since you're still not old enough to pee standing up you obviously weren't there and wouldn't know.

      I am old enough to remember and I was there!

      1. Mooseman Silver badge

        Re: I beg to differ but they DID know EVERYTHING in my town @Keith R

        You must have lived in an unpleasant little place then. I'm about your age, and yes we had busybodies and gossips. There were RUMOURS about people, but nobody claimed to know everyone (in a town of about 5000 people) and no, the doctors receptionists, bank secretaries etc did NOT reveal confidential information - they wanted to keep their jobs and took their roles seriously.

        Nobody wanted to know my parents bank details, where they shopped, what they bought, what they got up to in their own home.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I beg to differ but they DID know EVERYTHING in my town @Keith R

          Sure they did. Because those little details can open up dirty little secrets. And dirty laundry meant blackmail potential; power over others. And yes, the secretary usually kept secrets in case things were released about HER. And it was even worse in the past when communities were smaller and doors and windows less likely to be closed; otherwise, explain how stories like The Scarlet Letter touched some nerves.

      2. FlamingDeath Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: I am old enough to remember and I was there! @Dan Paul

        Does this mean you're near your expiry?

        Oh joy!

        Can't wait!

        Boom Baby Boom!

  20. PassiveSmoking

    Thanks UN for stating the obvious. Not that our "publicly elected servants" are going to listen.

  21. DerekCurrie
    Devil

    Ignoring Privacy Rights: How The Enemy Wins

    The '1984' scenario is the enemy kids. Hello in there.

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