back to article Joint Committee on UK Snoopers' Charter: Make like a dictionary and give a definition

The Joint Committee set up to provide pre-legislative scrutiny of Britain's Snoopers' Charter has made 86 recommendations to the government. The recommendation made most often was the one most of us yelled at the screen when we first clapped eyes on it: explain what is meant by these terms. Pleasingly, the nebulous phrase " …

  1. Warm Braw Silver badge

    "However well-intentioned"

    I think they are giving credit where it is not due.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "However well-intentioned"

      "I think they are giving credit where it is not due."

      No, it's OK. "However well" includes zero.

    2. teebie

      Re: "However well-intentioned"

      They are referring to their intention to throw the comparison into a well.

  2. sysconfig

    Good job

    I watched the episode on parliament TV where the committee questioned Mrs May. It was pretty clear that she had very little clue as to how her own draft bill might work; repeating platitudes and evading questions into details all the way by either offering further clarification in writing later or quoting unnamed experts and businesses as basically agreeing with the bill and its implementation. It was a farce.

    The committee appeared to have no teeth and seemed as if they were afraid to dig deeper on vaguely answered questions. So I'm positively surprised that they did flag their concerns in the report.

    Mrs May should really lose her job over this (but probably won't). She tried twice to get extensive snooping into law - and failed twice.

    1. Shades

      Re: Good job

      I tried looking for a video from the joint committee, couldn't but found one with her talking in Parliament. I wanted to punch my laptops screen after 5 seconds, I can't bring myself to listen to that despicable womans voice!

      1. sysconfig

        Re: Good job

        The session with the Joint Committee is available here

  3. BenR
    Coffee/keyboard

    Header image

    Jesus - you at least need to warn us with a NSFW tag when you put such a filthy and disgusting image up as the banner at the top of the article! I nearly spat out my tea in horror!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      NSFL (Not safe for lunch)

      Get ready to blow chunks.

      http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/07/29/article-2380590-1AFE0AD3000005DC-150_306x781.jpg

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: NSFL (Not safe for lunch)

        Interesting. That one crashed my browser (Palemoon). Odd coincidence there.

    2. Badvok

      Re: Header image

      And you sir are exactly the sort of person they want to rid the world of thus justifying their actions. You hide behind a forum handle, degrading and insulting people based on their looks.

      She may be a horrible person, her actions certainly are, but deriding someone's appearance is pathetic.

      1. PaulAb

        Re: Header image

        JEEEZ! Lighten up!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Header image

        If your country justifies totalitarian surveillance because someone was mean on the internet, it just shows how far gone you are.

        You deserve your police state.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Header image

        This is a common problem among sith.

        If she didn't want to look so evil and shriveled, she should lay off the force lightning.

      4. Teiwaz
        Big Brother

        Re: Header image

        "She may be a horrible person, her actions certainly are, but deriding someone's appearance is pathetic."

        You say that now, but wait until that's the visog greeting you from every telescreen...

      5. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

        Re: Header image

        "She may be a horrible person, her actions certainly are, but deriding someone's appearance is pathetic." - you can tell a lot from appearance, don't be so politically correct, it's mind control.

    3. Tessier-Ashpool

      Re: Header image

      "No, I expect you to die, Mr. Scrutineer"

  4. 2460 Something

    As far as Theresa May is concerned this is just another report to be filed in the bin. Bearing in mind the complete lack of credulity of the bill and her complete lack of understanding of what is even in it. I listened to the committee when it questioned her on a number of parts of it, whenever she was asked about specifics she just gave really poor woolly answers. Nothing to inspire confidence in, at the very least, it being well thought out and understood by government. One could almost be forgiven for thinking that this whole charter was written by spooks and dumped on her desk to sell to the sheep.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "As far as Theresa May is concerned this is just another report to be filed in the bin."

      Not really. A substantive bill is going to have to go through a committee stage. If she doesn't take these reports into account the committee might do that for her.

    2. Kane Silver badge
      Big Brother

      "One could almost be forgiven for thinking that this whole charter was written by spooks Charles Farr and dumped on her desk to sell to the sheep."

      FTFY.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        thinking that this whole charter was written by Charles Farr

        https://www.gov.uk/government/news/joint-intelligence-committee-chair-appointed-charles-farr

        "Charles joins the Cabinet Office from the Home Office, where he has been Director General of the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism for the past 8 years."

        ...

        "Charles Farr took up his post as Director General of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism in July 2007. He joined the diplomatic service in 1985 and has enjoyed a distinguished career, during which he has served at a number of British embassies and has held a number of senior posts in Whitehall dealing with security and counter-terrorism."

        See also (from 22 April 2012, when the previous Snoopers Charter was under way):

        http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/comment/profiles/article1021573.ece

        "When the embattled Theresa May appears before a committee of MPs on Tuesday to give evidence about her work as home secretary she will be accompanied by one of Whitehall’s most powerful, controversial and secretive mandarins. Charles Farr, the Home Office’s top “securocrat”, is set to emerge from the shadows for the first time as he is asked to defend the coalition’s plans to monitor the internet use and digital communications of everyone in Britain.

        Farr is probably Whitehall’s most important and influential spy, the man most closely associated with “Big Brother Britain”. He was responsible for the so-called “snooping bill” that caused the government so many problems earlier this month. He personally oversaw the introduction of the coalition’s rebranded regime of control orders to detain terror suspects without charge and he drove its ambitious attempts to curb the radicalisation of young Muslim men." (continues, paywalled)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Charles Farr profile 2012 - more snippets from the Times

          "Little is known of Farr's early life and career. He was educated at Monkton Combe, a private school near Bath, of which Slr Richard Dearlove, a former M6 chief and his future boss, is also an old boy. After leaving in 1977 Farr studied English at Magdalen College Oxford, alma mater of several spies including Sir John Scarlett, another former MI6 chief.

          He joined MI6 some time in the 1980s, serving in South Africa and Jordan. Farr is understood to have come to prominence, as one contemporary recalled, "flying around Afghanistan in a helicopter with thousands of dollars in bundles, doing deals with farmers to not grow opium. Bad policy as it turned out, but he did it very well". So well, in fact, that he was appointed an OBE in 2003. He would go on to run MI6's counterterrorism department before Reid spotted him.

          Farr's critics say he still carries the legacy of his MI6 heyday -- a mindset they claim is inappropriate for his job at the heart of Whitehall security policy. "When you are an MI6 officer out in the field, trying to stop people getting nuclear weapons in, say, Kazakhstan, you have to be very independently minded and very confident in your own judgment. There's not a lot of ministerial control or public accountability," says an admirer who knows him well. "Charles feels very uncomfortable in the world of domestic politics and doesn't read it very well."

          A former Home Office official went further: "When you're suddenly flung into a top position with management and policy responsibility in the Home Office, you can't go on behaving like you are in the Tora Bora caves doing deals with warlords. Your job is to advise ministers who decide policy. You can't go around thinking you are a player in your own right. It's a constitutional concern."

          Farr's handling of the now infamous snooping bill seems to typify these contradictions. Ministers ran into a storm of criticism after The Sunday Times revealed they were planning to allow the intelligence agencies to monitor social media, Skype calls and email communications as well as logging every site visited by internet users in Britain. The plans were due to be announced in next month's Queen's speech, but were put on hold when they were leaked. "

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It'll happen one day, and it'll cost us all a fortune and make us all less safe.

    Glorious.

    1. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

      I am pretty sure we will encypt everything and use TOR or something. Files can be shared with P2P why not whole websites and email accounts and maybe even money (BitCoin). Try getting Internet Connection Records for that lot.

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    The oversight body, code named

    Chocolate Teapot.

    Having read the Interception of Commnuications Commissioners report he seemed most eager to encourage more snooping under RIPA.

    I wonder if the cabal behind May will help her writer her answers or will they just let her sink and wait for the next sock puppet Home Secretary to come along to "brief" into submission.

  7. Hope Spirals
    Flame

    How do you spell Apoplectic?

    Here is one bullet point from the BBC's report

    'The Wilson doctrine - preventing surveillance of Parliamentarians' communications - to be written into law'

    Care to guess just how peeved I am?

    1. Tachikoma
      Devil

      Re: How do you spell Apoplectic?

      Perfect opportunity for some well intentioned parliamentarian to set up their own TOR exit node.

    2. Teiwaz

      Re: How do you spell Apoplectic?

      "Care to guess just how peeved I am?"

      Only the peers (and the peering) have reason to cheer then?

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: How do you spell Apoplectic?

      "Care to guess just how peeved I am?"

      So if you wish to speak to your MP, say to complain about this bill, to raise an issue about ill-treatment of a relative in a nursing home or anything else you don't want that to be a protected communication? Or did you not stop to think?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: How do you spell Apoplectic?

        "So if you wish to speak to your MP, say to complain about this bill, to raise an issue about ill-treatment of a relative in a nursing home or anything else you don't want that to be a protected communication? Or did you not stop to think?"

        Under the Wilson Doctrine, it's only a protected communication once it's inside the Parliamentary system. It'll have already been hoovered up whilst en route. Likewise any replies sent back to you.

  8. Graham Marsden
    Big Brother

    " The formal minutes show failed attempts...

    "...to ask the Government to consult on ways to protect British citizens from GCHQ's bulk snooping and hacking powers, which are intended to be limited to “overseas-related” communications, and on ways to increase the Judicial oversight and decrease the Executive power when it comes to surveillance."

    How, exactly, does this Committee "fail" to ask such important questions, unless there are members with a specific brief of "Make sure the Committee doesn't start asking awkward questions that will highlight what we're actually trying to do..."

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ' I don't know nuffink about money y'honor!'

    Can't ISP's just use the 'Harry Redknapp Defense' when it comes to requests from the spooks or the filth for data? Can't they just say they don't know how to give them what they want as its too difficult for them to get their heads around it?

    This worked for Ken Dodd as well.....just sayin...

  10. caffeine addict

    Ignoring how rubbish the legalese is, what do they actually expect to get from ICRs anyway? If they're registering the fact your browser made a request to a server, I could make you all look like terrorists with a fluffy kitty image hotlinked from a dodgy website... o.O

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      what do they actually expect to get from ICRs anyway?

      "what do they actually expect to get from ICRs anyway?"

      The question is initially unanswerable as no one knows what an ICR actually is.

      As others have noted, it's probably so that the likes of Charles Farr can have a (pseudo-)legal framework for justifying whatever it is they've already been doing without actual legal authority, and to allow them to go further in the future without additional authorisation or scrutiny.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: what do they actually expect to get from ICRs anyway?

        Like I said over here http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2016/02/11/joint_committee_investigatory_powers_bill_shoot_the_messenger/#c_2776777

        The fact that it's a pile of crap is secondary to getting it passed into law, once it's law it will be interpreted by the authorities in whichever way benefits them most, the vagueness & lack of definition will be seen as an asset which benefits them greatly as they can literally demand anything on pain of imprisonment or fine and get it.

        Theresa May isn't the driving force behind this bill, this is coming from the security services, I suspect it's coming from Charles Farr.

        Theresa May hasn't got one clue what is actually in the bill & doesn't understand the arguments against it, she's just been told it's necessary, she has her orders, she's been told if this bill doesn't pass there will be a Paris style atrocity on UK soil and the blame will land at her door.

        I think instead of asking the Home Secretary questions about the IP Bill they should instead ask for the author to appear to answer queries as it's blindingly obvious Theresa May had no input to the bill

    2. Mr Flibble
      Pirate

      This blog posting does a… somewhat similar job… very nicely. Okay, you don't end up looking like a terrorist

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "This blog posting does a… somewhat similar job… very nicely."

        Adrian Kennard's evidence to the House committee on this subject went public today. He appeared together with James Blessing (ex Zen, now ISPA). Worth a look, as are one or two dumb(ish) questions from members of the Committee:

        http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201516/jtselect/jtinvpowers/93/93.pdf

  11. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Conclusions and Recommendations, Item 41

    We agree with the intention of the Government’s policy to seek access to protected communications and data when required by a warrant, while not requiring encryption keys to be compromised or backdoors installed on to systems

    Given that the "intention of the Government's policy" is inconsistent with the laws of mathematics, one has to assume that members of the committee have their heads up their arses. It would conveniently explain why they seem to be in the dark, not only about technology, but basic principles of civic society.

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