It will become a lot easier for them
when blockchains take off ....
Classified mass-surveillance manuals for UK spies have been published today amid a legal battle against the British government. The newly obtained documents set out Blighty's secret do's and don'ts for monitoring populations. The files acknowledge that chapter and verse on the lives of people "of no security interest" lie …
It will become a lot easier for us, if Google Chrome simply loads the linked page:
"PI has today dumped hundreds of pages of these discovery documents online" https://privacyinternational.org/node/843
This site can’t provide a secure connection
privacyinternational.org uses an unsupported protocol.
I loaded Firefox, and there was no problem loading the page.
Is this just coincidence?
The site uses a SHA-1 certificate, which is strongly deprecated. Google takes a much harder line on this, and Chrome will automatically throw up warnings while Firefox doesn't.
So *in this case*, Google is trying hard to protect you and you're interpreting it as sinister.
"looking up their families, colleagues and even themselves"
If I was a dodgy spy I'd probably be very interested in what they have on the database about me or my family, afterall the data they hold could tell me if I'm in danger of having my collar felt so it is a bit dodgy really.
I was wondering why this is a problem.
The most obvious answer is that the database contains so many errors that employees cannot rely on it to fill out their travel expense forms. If this became public knowledge, people might question whether this enormous database was worth all the tax payers' money needed to funnel garbage into it. I can see how this would be considered utterly intolerable, and that staff should be thoroughly discouraged from looking themselves up.
Am I to take it this is spy speak for "We'll waggle our finger at you and say Naughty, Naughty while awarding ourselves a huge bonus."?
The first half yes. The second half I very much doubt. Workaday civil servants generally don't get bonuses of any worth whatsoever, and the people we're talking about are indeed workaday civil servants. I don't know if they still have red passports for the James Bond element of SIS, but those won't be the people trawling through your and my dirty linen, looking up the details on the nice bird in payroll, or seeing what became of their school mates.
Gathering masses of data is like mining ore. Getting useful information from data is like smelting ore to obtain a precious metal. A by-product of smelting ore is slag. I am slag. Generally smelters don't pay much attention to slag, but they don't have much respect for it either. Slag can be used with cement as a component of concrete.
>Colliery spoil is not slag
Here is the UK it is used for any industrial waste by-product - in US it's just smelting by-products IIRC.
The UK well-to-do have come to prefer the more sanitary 'spoil heap' but most people round here (and most over 50s men are former miners) still use slag for poor quality coal and slag heaps for the hills that surround us. Council prefers 'former slag heaps' as they've been covered with a thin layer of top-soil to encourage folk to buy the new housing built beneath them and above the workings.
"Slag can be used with cement as a component of concrete."
In the concrete industry, the stuff is generally known as ground granulated blast furnace slag - GGBFS or GGFS - sometimes abbreviated to blast furnace slag - BFS. This distinguishes it from other types of industrial waste products which may also be termed as "slag".
Hundreds of thousands will today be one foot step away from falling onto a train line.
Millions will be just a stumble away from falling into the path of a bus, car, truck or whatever.
(Some will even be hit by a car, bus, truck motorcycle on or off the road.)
Some will be just a key stroke away from paying the wrong person most of their money.
Thousands will be just a key stroke or two away from downloading a nasty to their or their company computer.
Some, an unlucky few will be just a key stroke or two away from destroying their company
Millions will be just an instant away from getting a fraud call from a PPI, investment scam or whatever pusher.
Countless thousands will be just a random chance away from harm at the hands of a criminal of some form or another.
That is why we have rules and laws to try to protect them.
Wow rules and laws even apply to sensitive activities like doctors, pharmacists, HGV drivers, etc. and as the article confirms, even to data miners working for various agencies. Sadly some may break the rules, that is what supervision, management, the police and other agencies are supposed to be there to control, (in spite of what some now refer to the Criminal Protection Service) and certain other actors distorting the intent of what are becoming the human wrongs acts.
I think the point is that it's JUST a few keystrokes, and nothing but those keystrokes.
No special permission needed. Just an overall grant to access any data they feel like accessing given to a lot of people. And now with some tightened rules that aren't enforced, but perhaps results in a slap on the fingers if a "breach" has been discovered.
Pretty shitty and lazy if you ask me.
"Sadly some may break the rules, that is what supervision, management, the police and other agencies are supposed to be there to control"
True. And those who break the rules, at least those rules which are part of legislation, can be prosecuted. But are those who break this set of rules prosecuted? If not why not? People have been asking "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" for a very long time and with very good reason.
You misunderstood, didn't you?
This is "Yes, we have installed CCTV in the bedrooms of every citizen in the UK without them knowing and yes, the video feed from the CCTV camera in YOUR bedroom is available on the monitors in GCHQ, but only if you tune the monitor to the right channel and we ask our agents to not do that."
@Richard Jones 1
You're not thinking deeply enough about this issue. What happens when a less benign government rises to power? Imagine how the Nazis would have rubbed their hands with glee given access to this kind of information. It would have made rounding-up "undesirables" so much more efficient. It's not good enough to blithely sit-back and pretend it doesn't matter. It does.
First off, the actual article is great.
But I agree that the headline draws attention to the wrong bit. Of course we're all "mere keystrokes away". That's like saying that anything you could conceivably want a computer to do is a Simple Matter of Programming.
The story here is not that it's possible for the spooks to look up anyone, we knew that was the case and it has to work that way. The shocker is that they are routinely abusing that power, their bosses know that they're doing it, and they're not too bothered about it. The tone of these guidelines is not what I would hope "We have an exceptional level of trust placed in us, those who abuse that trust should expect to be dismissed", it's more like "C'mmon guys, stop being so lazy. At some point we'll get audited on this so we'll have to pretend to be upset with your use of the system."
@"That is why we have rules and laws to try to protect them."
And when you don't? When Parliament rejects Snoopers Charter and they grab the data anyway? When all that's left is a code of conduct administered in secret by the same people who broke the laws?
If self regulation works, then why do we have police? And courts? And prisons? The law itself would be enough, "It's the law so people will obey because its the law".
GCHQ will never abuse this data because their own rules say not to abuse the data.
But then why do we need GCHQ? We have anti-terror laws, the terrorists will obey the anti-terror laws because they're laws! Do we even need to make anti-terror laws? Why not just make anti-terror codes of conduct? We can let ISIS write their own code of conduct and administer it themselves, and I'm sure they'll report their own code of conduct is working well, and totally being obeyed... just like the GCHQ report!
Either that, or we can realize Snoopers Charter was rejected, their [Mass Surveillance / big database of everyone's data / search that database free from any warrant restrictions] HAS NO LEGAL BASIS, is completely incompatible with the legal process of warrant, judicial checks and balances and the democracy.
I was going to have a rant about the quality of their staff, but then I realised that they would see the ability to be comfortable poking around in other people's doings as an essential trait.
But I wonder if their staff's tendency to search for trivial reasons is perhaps diluting the capability of the system to provide extra insights?
Someone may come up in an investigation and turn out to 'not be of interest'. But if the system tracked such things and found that the same someone was appearing in multiple disparate investigations, then it could flag them up for special consideration. If staff are trawling for personal reasons, then such useful insights might not be possible.
That's assuming the db is reasonably sophisticated and not just a giant spreadsheet, of course.
Now, I am *very* protective of my own and others' privacy and I have the court cases to prove it.
With that said, it does seem reasonable that intelligence (as opposed to law enforcement) will have access to bulk databases. It is also inevitable that people of no interest are going to show up here and there when looking things up.
From this very article, they are aware of that, and they are aware that what those people do is none of their business. That is a good thing.
So how do they deal with it? They trust their employees to be grown-ups and tell them: you do have access to all of this, please act responsibly and do not misuse it?
I don't know, but that's exactly how I like to be treated myself, and that's how I treat those who work for me.
If someone doesn't want to abide by this simple rule, then they will no longer be working for me. However, I refuse to treat people like children and put their own tools under lock.
So in principle, I cannot categorically say I would not be agreeable to a gentlemen's pact, where they can have my data "a few keystrokes away", as long as it is used responsibly. I guess it all comes down to the quality (and quantity) of people having access to that data.
Might as well add: we're talking about data which has been collected incidentally, such as social security records, and stuff like that, most certainly not data expressly created for this purpose--such as forcing telecomms to collect and retain data that would normally not be of use to them, forcing them to systematically hand over PNRs, etc.
A balance needs to be reached. I do not think this article would have appeared if it was felt that currently that balance exists.
Quote: "They trust their employees to be grown-ups and tell them....."
Sorry, but this misses the point completely, and it misses it in two separate ways:
1. The Government has absolutely no right to collect the data in the first place when it involves "people of no security interest". What about "innocent until proved guilty"? What about warrants for collection, where "the Government" shows "reasonable cause" to an independent judge?
2. What about the trust of ordinary citizens in this STASI-like system? Why should WE THE PEOPLE trust politicians and managers to "trust their employees"?.....(see item 1).
Your comments try to sound reasonable and argued....and fail completely because the whole basis of your argument is, to put it mildly, faulty.
> 1. [...]
I get the impression that your are confusing police and judicial work with that of the intelligence services. The intelligence services, by their very nature, hardly ever get involved in judicial cases, discretion being their most important trait.
In other words, intelligence may very well know about your illegal activities, but unless those are of a level to threaten the State, they will keep that to themselves. For purely practical reasons if nothing else.
> 2. What about the trust of ordinary citizens in this STASI-like system?
I am more than tempted to qualify the legislative evolution of the country, and Western Europe in general, in the last couple decades, as very STASI-like indeed.
The work of the intelligence services, on the other hand? I just do not know enough what they do and how they do it to be able to formulate an opinion. There might be widespread abuse, there might not. I just do not know.
> Why should WE THE PEOPLE trust politicians and managers to "trust their employees"?.....(see item 1).
Are you not conflating issues here? The politicians, and our relationship with them, are an entirely separate matter than what was being discussed.
> Your comments try to sound reasonable and argued....and fail completely because the whole basis of your argument is, to put it mildly, faulty.
In what way? The status quo is, they have a lot of information at their disposal (a lot of it thanks to laws enacted by those politicians that you have previously mentioned and that a majority of us--the population--has voted into power for better or worse). You could argue whether they should or should not have access to whatever they have access to, but in the meanwhile, should they exercise restrain and act responsibly, or what are the alternatives?
I have to add: in my position I have access to very sensitive and personal data. Yet I have never accessed anything I had no business accessing, I have never divulged any information for which I did have a mandate to access, and I have never felt even tempted to do any of that. I work with people who abide by these same principles. Not because we are afraid of repercussions (there wouldn't be any--the bucket stops here), but because we value our professional integrity. I am not willing to throw a blanket accusation against intelligence operatives in general, or anyone else in a position of responsibility, of lacking that sort of integrity themselves.
@" but then I realised that they would see the ability to be comfortable poking around in other people's doings as an essential trait."
Instead of starting with a case, and justifying each search legally. Just spend your days fishing for whatever takes your fancy.
Even if its just "Oh lets see who have more than 2000 quid in the bank records, and visited Panama on the flight database", that's abuse. It can be well intentioned abuse, but the *legal* process, the one they're supposed to follow, it very rigorously defined, and its nothing like this.
> Instead of starting with a case, and justifying each search legally. Just spend your days fishing for whatever takes your fancy.
Respectfully, I do not know that they do that. Do you?
I think both of us would agree that abuses must be prevented, and any transgressions swiftly punished, but we need to have commensurate evidence before we make accusations, otherwise we are doing ourselves and our society a regrettable disservice.
> It can be well intentioned abuse, but the *legal* process, the one they're supposed to follow
Aren't you perhaps mixing up police and intelligence work? They are not the same. They are not even remotely similar.
re: "You'd think that if they know someone is not if interest they'd do their best to remove the data from the system"
Have you tried removing data, such as records of dead people from a CRM system?
It is much simpler to simply flag the record and move on, at some stage the CRM system and database will have to be renewed, at which point data cleanse becomes a much simpler process.
"Have you tried removing data, such as records of dead people from a CRM system?"
Removing data should be a design requirement. If it was and the implementation was competent then removal shouldn't be difficult.
In this case we're dealing with public servants who in positions of trust. That means they should be able to show that they deserve our trust. If it's difficult or impossible to remove the data of innocent people then we can reasonably infer that they didn't include that in the design, that they didn't intend such data should be removed and that maybe we can't trust them.
keystroke away: Tuttle, Buttle
Real life is starting to approach the movie Brasil, with politicians coming out with ridiculous statements and government 'security' agents missing highly suspect people (who go on to commit acts of terror) while still trying to spy the bulk of the innocent population.
Great, they've got an acceptable usage document. My wifes business has an IT usage document which she will never read. I downloaded it for her so that forfills one of the steps to become PCI Compliant.
You can read through it and question the points but unless the organisation it is relevant to enforces it then you're wasting your time hoping that it may be of interest.
People know what they're allowed or not allowed to do in life. They make a choice if they should do the right thing.
And boy, were we right.
And note, these are the trivial examples of misuse.
Making sure spouses are out of the country to ensure risk free adultery.
Tracking someone's movements to ensure they have no alibi if you're planning to commit a crime your going to frame them for.
"The way things are supposed to work is that we're supposed to know virtually everything about what [government officials] do: that's why they are called public servants.
They are supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that's why we are called private individuals.
This dynamic - the hallmark of healthy and free society - has been radically reversed. Now, they know everything about what we do, and are constantly building systems to know more. Meanwhile, we know less and less about what they do, as they build walls of secrecy behind which they function. That's the imbalance that needs to come to an end. No democracy can be healthy and functional if the most consequential acts of those who wield political power are completely unknown to those to whom they are supposed to be accountable."
---- Glenn Greenwald
"There are critical roles where privacy has to be peremptorily renounced."
Let's accept that premise for now; the conditions for those "roles" (I think you meant "situations") should be clearly laid down for all to see, with a list of who can do the renouncing, under what conditions, for how long, and detailing what penalties will be applied by whom for misuse. We are a looooong way from that being the case.
I do not agree that there are situations where the privacy of *everyone* is peremptorily renounced just in case it will be useful in the future - yet that is where we are.
Should we participate in this talk? Most people still feel this is not of their concern. ['Don't care. Nothing to hide']
"...should be clearly laid down for all to see, with a list of who can do the renouncing, under what conditions, for how long, and detailing what penalties will be applied by whom for misuse..."
...Aren't those part of the regulatory agreements that FBI has been suggesting 3 years now to be negotiated?
Even advocates of "nothing to hide nothing to fear" should have this concern.
Scant consolation when the door is kicked down at 4:30 AM and a Glock is held to your kid's head - that it's because some minimum wager mistyped a postcode somewhere down the line on the way to Big Brother's data warehouse.
Those 'advocates' are not concerned for one very simple reason,they have been brainwashed by NEW LABOUR into believing that whatever a 'Labour' government says,must be true.
Thus the young are ALWAYS 'on-message',they are the absolute conformist in society,be it on immigration,privacy,gender-bender policies,you name it,they aggree with it,no questions asked,'Pavlovian' dogs in all but name.
"Those 'advocates' are not concerned for one very simple reason,they have been brainwashed by NEW LABOUR into believing that whatever a 'Labour' government says,must be true."
Wow, you really believe any Government minister has the brains to do this?
Blair liked the idea but this was cooked up by a cabal of senior intelligence civil servants centered around the Home Office and GCHQ.
The loose wording of the 1984 Telecomms bill suggest they may have been at it during the Miners Strike under Thatcher.
Data fetishism is a disease, not a political viewpoint.
You don't get it, do you? We're all of interest. The purpose of these things is not to see patterns and stop terrorism* it is to spot the patterns of people who do terrorism so they can use those patterns to target people who are not keen on the govt of the day or the security apparatus in place.
Everyone matches some part of the some terrorists' (or drug smugglers' or paedos' or whatever the bogeyman of the day is) profiles, so it's trivial to have people escorted away for several months and their equipment forensically analysed for any infringement then prosecuted for that.
As long as the people know the government/security services are spying on us then, as per the panopticon, we'll be too afraid of being caught to step out of line or criticise the status quo. We're not there yet, but it's only a matter of time before a comment like this gets me an interview with my local friendly plod for not being pro-establishment enough and possibly a bit subversive and maybe some re-education is in order.
* maybe it will do that sometimes, but that's just a nice PR story to keep people onside.
"...Everyone matches some part of...profiles, so it's trivial to have people escorted away for several months"
Some caffeine overdosed Google 'wizard', maybe? Far from trivial, and costly, in my point of view.
Don't like those AI super-inflated sweet dreams, anyway. Big Brother supercharged Global Merchandising.
But don't get me wrong. This persistent environment has been cooling the Digital World. If continuing on this path, it will stop being a platform for people.
re: " if it was unlawful"
From the expert analysis, It wasn't! Just that the way the laws had been framed allowed much room for interpretation, which various politicians and agencies found helpful not to draw public attention to, hence why it was covert.
What is interesting about the IPB is that if a communications provider includes more information in it's ICR's (Internet Connection Records) than specified in the IPB and/or GCHQ et al expect to receive more information from an ICR inspection request than is specified in the IPB there will be a potential for legal redress; an option that isn't available currently...
... the truth is I'm really not.
I genuinely do not have a problem with the spooks having data on me.
I do have a problem with some jobsworth from the council having access to it though.. presumably so that he can check that I'm putting the correct recyclables in the correct bin.
And seriously, some of the tinfoil hat wearing in this thread is beyond ridiculous.
You can go collect your Good Citizen medal. And when you are shot because some spook thought that your habit of smoking on the balcony every evening at 7:45 sharp was the sign that you are in communication with terrorists, you can be consoled by the notion that you tacitly agreed to all this.
Go in peace, citizen: Big Brother is proud to have assimilated you.
"I genuinely do not have a problem with the spooks having data on me. I do have a problem with some jobsworth from the council having access" --- isJustabloke
Whilst I understand to some extent, you are basically saying you have more trust in people who are paid to be dishonest (if about nothing more than who they work for).
And seriously, some of the tinfoil hat wearing in this thread is beyond ridiculous.
Why? A few short years ago you'd probably have been happy to believe that there was no vast data-scooping by SIS. Snowden put an end to that happy belief. But since then the revelations have continued to come. But still some people think that this is OK, that the increasing loss of their privacy is an acceptable cost for some perceived "protection".
Give it a couple of years, and the the e-call system will be added to the abused data list. Your every motoring movement permanently recorded for the perusal of government, and probably visible in real time. Add in ACPO's ambitions on facial recognition and even if you're on foot and without your phone, then you'll be tracked and recorded by CCTV. The Bank of England's chief economist has called for an end to cash. Smart meters and Internet of Tat will be funneling even more data in GCHQ's vast scoop over the next few years. With the extremists of government wanting backdoors and breakable encryption, it won't be a case that government could know everything about you, it will be the case that they will know everything about you.
How much do you trust GCHQ in their official capacity? How much do you trust their staff? How much do you trust the lying halfwits of Westminster, their business mates, or (in their official capacity) all other government departments, local government, and government agencies like HMRC? I don't trust any of them as far as I could throw the lot of them.
But if you think that's a tinfoil hat belief, at least you're (currently) free to hold whatever opinion you want
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Look, I'm not happy about calling you all here for this meeting, but I just want to emphasise that the UK spy database is not to be used as a timetable planning tool.
I know its useful to see exactly when your wife gets out of work or where exactly you kid is in town to pick them up.
But some of you have been use it this way. Steve.
Not all workplaces are privileged to have a database of all data on everyone in this country and beyond you know.
I don't recall seeing evidence of these massive databases in court records. Yet its apparently been used repeatedly in secret.
So this leaves a very big problem.
The courts have been told an evidence trail that is different from the real evidence trail. A new trail has been fabricated. That would be perjury, falsification of evidence, withholding evidence.
So does the Bulk Person Dataset leak show evidence of it being used to prosecute crimes? Because we now need to go through those crimes and review the evidence trail presented to the court.
Perhaps the fake evidence trail just hides this illegal search of bulk data, or perhaps its substantive false evidence. Since the true evidence trail was not cross examined or seen by the court, we don't know.
Why is this a surprise? I did a stint at Dixon's Stores Group head office many moons ago (owners of PC World and Currys) and I hadn't been there 2 hours before one of the analysts I was working with looked up my personal purchase history on the main customer database, and whilst he was at it, looked up all my neighbours too, and told me who had the biggest TV for example.
Everyone else nowadays doesn't think twice about doing a 'selfie',so why should these staff hesitate/
I would hope that Tony BLAIR would be top search term at GCHQ,but then,we know that the NSA would have 'scrubbed' any data first.
Talking of Internet Explorer not loading or indeed, downloading,that's down to Microsoft,I know, because no matter what version I use,I know that my IP Address has been 'tabbed' by Microsoft in the service of the NSA.
They even ignored my request to desist in their activities,despite my threat to take them to the ECHR,which is why I have to ALWAYS use Firefox for any downloads.
On knowing the Systems are primitively designed to be all or nothing. We Always made the bet for the first option.
As have come to conclude for some weeks now. This is not an IT issue. IT [as a Community] was -simply- not invited to this elite party.
So they know there's been breaches for stuff like birthday checks? And have in place a maximum penalty of three months in prison? Have any of them every actually been prosecuted? I reckon a half dozen civil servants sent to the slammer would start to get the message across to the rest of them.
... and I'm betting this sentence has been handed down by a beak exactly ZERO times.
Also besides the analysts who's job it is to do the searching, there will be some back room BOFHs with unfettered access to this data.
The mere existence of this data means there is potential for abuse, leakage, theft and more abuse. I say burn it with fire, or nuke it from orbit.
With free unfettered access to all and any information, the fact that State Intelligence Services do not make better use of it and IT is very revealing of the lack of in-house and sub contracted out sourced expertise made available to them, although the larger truth is probably such lacking expertise is due to it choosing the private sector vector for the greater benefits in its armoury of delights.
Is it wise for the likes of a snoopy spooky agency to be thought to be taking instruction and guidance from a gaggle of Parliamentarians or does it prove, beyond any shadow of doubt, the Circus is intellectually bankrupt and totally and fundamentally unfit for
Future Greater IntelAIgent Game purpose?
And that is a critical systemic problem and catastrophic vulnerability, both practically real and 0day, which is always to be exploited exhaustively, caused by a lack of top classy prime leadership, and that is a top executive personnel issue which needs to be addressed in order to solve the enigmatic dilemma. Failure is always surely a top down process? Shit prime administrations deliver shit primed programs.
Of course, should they, and let us imagine them to be the spooky elites of a mighty Blighty GCHQ/MI5/MI6/MOD/Cyber Command and Control, have an unparalleled and stealthily active and HyperRadioProActive IT expertise, does it make them a real and present virtual future enemy of all established systems of SCADA control in States and United States and Renegade Regimes alike ...... a common enemy it would be most unfortunate and inconvenient to cross and vainly attempt to deny access to all secrets?!.
Surely though, if one be rooting for Blighty, that would be quite nice. However, should such a facility with utility rest elsewhere in foreign lands and alien jurisdictions, is that clearly a difficulty and hidden national security scandal given the havoc than can be so easily wrought with SMARTR Bits and Bytes of Information Manipulating Media Programs/New Orderly World Order Projects for Centuries.
...I made myself of no interest to the UK Government by removing myself from the country and relocating for good in the Far East.
OK, I have another six months to go before the statutory slurping of my data abroad expires according to UK policy (citizens absent from the country for more than 6 months are subject to 5 years to of data surveillance - I assume mainly electronic with flags for 'items of interest') but then they are supposed to leave me alone on the assumption I am not coming back. If I were ever to return, however, MI5 would spy on me for the rest of my life. No, seriously. I know people this has happened to. Of course, all phone calls and emails that go through British servers would still be tracked and stored but I would no longer be on the 'actively track' list. I would be treated just as a foreign national and not a wannabe terrorist in training.
So I am grateful to now reside in a country that lacks the money and infrastructure to spy on my day in, day out activities and I can largely get on with my life in peace. I also get to put out my rubbish when I want, how I want, I can practice my religion without hassle from the PC lobbies and every kind of regulation under the sun and I don't have to worry about my every move being recorded on CCTV to be scanned and edited by those who 'find me of interest.'
Man I have days of 'survivors guilt.'