The securocrats in MI5 and GCHQ are now going flat out to get their uncontrolled snoopers’ charter

It could only happen in Britain.   In the US, by contrast, a so-called Freedom Act (though it is far from that) has just been passed.   It will at least partially curb the power of government to collect bulk data on the lives of its citizens.   The Cameron government however is doing the opposite and is determined this time to push through the snoopers’ charter which it failed to get in the last Parliament and which MI5/GCHQ have been aching to get on the statute book ever since the Twin Towers of 2001.  This would not only give ever greater powers of mass surveillance to the police and secret services, it is also intended to prohibit server encryption which makes surveillance more difficult.   This is a complete contradiction of the Snowden revelations.   These exposed industrial-scale eavesdropping by State bureaucracies which had been proceeding secretly and without a shred of accountability ever since 2006, and without Snowden would probably have been proceeding unhindered to this very day.

The difference between the US and the UK in response to these revelations of an out-of-control Big Brother has been stark.   Obama set up a commission, Congress held hearings, and the director of US national intelligence admitted the gist of Snowden’s charges.   Some officials resigned, no less than 30 bills were put forward to regulate the National Security Agency, and now the Freedom Act has been passed.   In Britain, by contrast, the home Secretary and parliament vilified Snowden’s ‘treachery’, the supposed parliamentary watchdog (the utterly ineffective Intelligence and Security Committee) never barked and never uncovered or condemned the security services’ scope or methods, and the Sheinwald report which recommended bringing together US and UK surveillance regimes because electronic data now operates trans-border, was shelved, with a refusal even to publish it.

To the secret services and this government personal privacy is nowhere.   The only issue that counts is the amorphous concept of national security and behind that the expansion of their own power.   But for the last 30 years or more there has been no such existential threat to Britain, though efforts to invent one were focused on the Bush/Blair ‘war on terror’.   Nor is there any evidence that data banks directly improve national security.   Nearly all terrorist outrages, including most recently the Boston marathon bombing and the murder of Lee Rigby, were committed by persons already known to the police.

Equally worrying is the fact that data already being harvested by the State and private corporations is insecure and misused.   It has been discovered that defence lawyers’ and journalists’ contacts are being bugged, that the HMRC loses files, that NHS medical records are sold off to drug firms, and that the police pass material on controversial figures to the media.   The US is a relatively open and transparent society, Britain is still a deeply secretive society beholden to State power.

 

8 thoughts on “The securocrats in MI5 and GCHQ are now going flat out to get their uncontrolled snoopers’ charter

  1. “Nearly all terrorist outrages, including most recently the Boston marathon bombing and the murder of Lee Rigby, were committed by persons already known to the police.”

    I’m wondering if perhaps the Police knew about these people because they were able to monitor their phone calls and e-mails, etc? My understanding is that a number of plots have been thwarted, which has saved lives.

    So, although I wouldn’t want anyone, including the government to abuse their powers (as per your final paragraph) I also wouldn’t want the police or security services to be hampered in their work by having the methods they use curtailed.

    BTW:
    Strange things are happening to friends of mine on Facebook, who are posting anti-Tory information in various groups. They’re being banned from doing so, or their accounts suspended and actions limited in some way. We’re wondering if the government might have anything to do with this?

  2. Hum secrets it seems are theirs we cant have any not funny anymore when it infringes on your freedom yet cams is bringing more laws through to spy on its on peoples funny neigh its diabolical taking away our rights yet you all pander to this Gloucester that place how lovely they get six or twelve million from the yanks for services rendered hum yet again devious us spying on the yanks so they can hold their hands up in their house of illrepute saying we dont spy on our peoples nowing full well the brits do it for them politicians are a devious lot whose only goal is to stay in power

  3. Once again much misplaced hysteria but also a very healthy paranoia about more government surveillance of it’s citizens aimed more at political, (lefties, trade unionists, Marxists,) than at real terrorist issues; real terrorist are actually generally far too sophisticated to be much discombobulated by any of this and the intrinsic limitations of snooping are well understood and well recognized anyway.

    For example:

    This isn’t encrypted or in anyway concealed and it’s written in plain English but without giving anything away at all.

    Dear Allan, I am pleased to inform you that operation PBsurprise is proceeding exactly according schedule and that further more we have now co-oped additional personal formerly from operation Ajax to support these endeavors and that the new consignment of materials has been dispatched to you today and should be arriving as previously arranged.

    Any the wiser ?

    No; and most intercepted intelligence is exactly like that or even worse.

    This might also be of interest:

    Welcome to the Logistics Job Shop Newsletter; your need-to-know digest and analysis of the events of the past fortnight in the road transport industry.

    INDUSTRY

    The UK supply chain is “in danger of collapsing” as the illegal migrant problem continues to worsen in Calais, the FTA has warned. The association said that the UK government “must insist on greater proactive involvement by the responsible French authorities” claiming that If action wasn’t taken, “the UK supply chain could be in serious danger of being very badly disrupted”.

    TfL will launch the Freight Compliance Unit (FCU) this summer. It will be a shared intelligence unit based in central London manned by staff comprising a Metropolitan Police officer, a DVSA intelligence officer and a TfL intelligence officer. There will also be a strong link to the City of London police force.

  4. PS:

    Anyone with too much time on their hands might find it instructive, interesting and even amusing to look up both operations, “PBsurprise,” and, “Ajax,” and to then surmise who, “Alan,” might be in this context; or not?

  5. Also of course, legislation, means absolutely nothing to either our politicians or to the intelligence services and never has.

    Plausible Deniability:

    This is is the ability for persons (typically senior officials in a formal or informal chain of command) to deny knowledge of and responsibility for any damnable actions committed by others (usually subordinates in an organizational hierarchy) because of a lack of evidence that can confirm their participation, even if they were personally involved in or at least willfully ignorant of the actions. In the case that illegal or otherwise disreputable and unpopular activities become public, high-ranking officials may deny any awareness of such act in order to insulate themselves and shift blame onto the agents who carried out the acts, confident that their doubters will be unable to prove otherwise.

    In fact the widespread notion that there are all these secret, unaccountable and out of control factions among the secret intelligence community running amok and acting entirely on their own initiative without orders and following their own agendas is complete and utter bunk.

    These people follow orders and always have; the people who need to kept an eye on so to speak are their political, (and increasingly their commercial,) masters, (G4S or even GHQ are only the tip of this iceberg.)

    We can’t necessarily always fully hold the intelligence agencies to account for obvious reasons; but we can and should hold their masters, (our politicians and senior civil servants,) accountable, particularly when things go wrong as they so often do, (less well publicized than all their alleged successes,) clear accountability and robust oversight, (and trust,) are everything here.

    The CIA have a list that is far from being unique, (in their public archive, but redacted,) of the names of 50 people, (left wingers,) that they needed to have assassinated in Guatemala during the 50’s that they’d prepared for the incoming right wing, (essentially military,) regime that they put into place there.

    The reason that it’s redacted is to forestall any possibility of future legal action against the US government by the families of those people, (many of whom were in fact murdered exactly as required by the CIA,) which was acting completely illegally and frankly couldn’t have cared less.

  6. Wanda Lozinska-

    “Strange things are happening to friends of mine on Facebook, who are posting anti-Tory information in various groups ?”

    This seems increasingly to be about par for the course.

    I used to much enjoy the debate and discussion in the Telegraph comments sections, (which was always honest, robust, forthright and often extremely well informed and occasionally erudite and no one does, “visceral hatred,” quite like the DT,) but I finally ceased participating after the topics on which were being allowed to comment were gradually reduced to only the most facile, irrelevant and the inconsequential of issues and then when my own comments, that I’d posted, were being, (sometimes heavily edited,) edited to point where they bore absolutely no connection with what I’d actually posted.

    It’s the world we all live in now I’m afraid.

  7. Dear Wanda Lozinska…
    The answer to your BTW question is YES, of course they are.
    They want to stifle any and all opposition to their lies… sorry, opinions.
    This is only the beginning, and I shudder to think what this country will be like in not so many years’ time.

  8. Our government, having manipulated this election through huge amounts of Big Business monies promoting swathes of very misleading propaganda; having achieved office, straightaway declare openly – we will be watching you.

    The Independent (4 June) revealed ‘Government awards contracts to monitor social media and give Whitehall ‘real-time’ updates on public opinion’.

    Forget spending cuts when it comes to mass surveillance (even while it’s promoted as saving money, but that’s just what they say whatever), with seven companies being contracted to keep an eye on Facebook, Twitter and blogs, to provide daily reports to Whitehall about what’s being said:

    http://ccs-agreements.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/contracts/rm3708

    These companies are Gorkana Group. LexisNexis (Reed ElsevierUK Ltd TA LexisNexis), Meltwater UK Ltd, Precise Monitoring Ltd, Press Data Ltd, PRIME Research Ltd, Runtime Collective Ltd.

    They will also have the use of the Human-Driven Evaluation and Analysis system, which allows them to see ‘favourability of coverage’ across old and new media, along with being given ‘keywords and topics’ to monitor.

    ‘The results can quickly enable a contracting body [such as a government department] to get an idea of sentiment towards a subject and act as an alert to potential issues at an early stage’, says Precise Media Monitoring, who are able to provide ‘automated sentiment’ analysis.

    There’s no secret about this, because they want you to know that from now on your activities, online or otherwise, will be under increased scutiny, especially ‘influencers” and ‘authors’. Though you can be sure only if they’re left wing. Even while their own right-wing influencers and media trolls are given full license.

    This is said to be in order to ‘understand what people are saying, identify their concerns and shape policies accordingly’. How far do we believe this is because they care about our concerns?

    From a party that throughout the election campaign bombarded us, through any media available, with untrue statements about the ways in which they had achieved economic and job growth and halved the deficit.

    While the Daily Mail told the Scots to vote for the SNP (as Scotland had predominantly Labour seats), and told the English that if they voted Labour they would get the SNP (in order to put them off voting Labour). The press promoted UKIP simply by constantly mentioning them, which led to many Labour voters turning away to UKIP and dividing the vote; and they dealt with the Greens, whose policies are the real danger to them, by not referring to them at all. Sadly, it worked.

    They have also succeeded in getting Labour to march along to the tune of their right-wing band, by controlling and shaping the subjects of debate, which became centred around the deficit and ‘welfare scroungers’ and ‘hard-working families’.

    Now, to entrench Conservative power (and the corporations behind them), they want us to know that those who speak out against the government will be increasingly monitored. They want us to be afraid to say anything.

    If you are someone who is exposing the lies and abuses of this government, and/or protesting against its actions, you will become an enemy of the state (a terrorist), as you will be said to be acting against public safety and damaging the creation of a strong economy (which will really only be for the benefit of the few).

    Plans for the Investigatory Powers Bill quietly include draft legislation for the ‘equipment interference code’, which means giving themselves the right to hack into the computer of anyone they choose.

    http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/2411261/snowden-slams-uk-government-attempts-to-secretly-pass-legislation-allowing-gchq-to-hack-anybodys-computer

    A code of practise for GCHQ giving ‘spy agencies sweeping powers to hack targets, including those who are not a threat to national security nor suspected of any crime’ was released in February.

    In January, using the Paris shootings as an excuse, Cameron said that he wanted to stop the use of methods of communication that cannot be read by security forces, which could included chat and social apps that encrypt their data, such as WhatApp, iMessage, Telegram and Facetime.

    The GCHQ has been developing software tools to manipulate what people see on the web and influence outcomes.

    The catalogue of the toolkit being developed or already developed by the GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group

    https://firstlook.org/theintercept/document/2014/07/14/jtrig-tools-techniques/

    as exposed by Snowden, is from July 2012. So they will have further built on this since that time.

    It includes –

    “Change outcome of online polls” – UNDERPASS

    “Find private photographs of targets on Facebook” – SPRING BISHOP

    “Active Skype capability. Provision of real-time call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.” – MINITURE HERO

    “A tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer” – ANGRY PIRATE

    “Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website”- GATEWAY

    “Ability to inflate page views on websites” – SLIPSTREAM

    “Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube)” – GESTATOR

    “Allows batch Nmap scanning over TOR” – SILVER SPECTER

    “Targeted Denial Of Service against Web Servers” – PREDATORS FACE

    “Distributed denial of service using P2P. Built by ICTR, deployed by JTRIG” – ROLLING THUNDER

    With several other collection techniques involving the gathering of data from social media sites including Bebo, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

    Following a challenge by Privacy International and seven internet service providers that the GCHQ’s actions were unlawful, the government two months ago made a little-noticed addition to the Serious Crime Bill going through Parliamant, which exempts GCHQ and other law enforcement agencies from criminal prosecution.

    This legislation came into effect on 3 May, without consultation with… anyone.

    With a public kept supine by threats of terrorism and how this is for their own protection, when it is fact any threat to government control which is the real concern. When any serious terrorist would not use such easily detectable methods, and it is still through old-fashioned intelligence work that suspects become known. At which point there has always been the power to closely monitor the communications of suspects.

    On que, earlier this year, new head of GCHQ Robert Hannigan warned that tech companies were in denial over their platforms being coopted by terror groups, and warned that social media sites were being used as ‘command and control networks’ for criminals.

    Two MPs, Tory former shadow home secretary David Davis, and Labour backbencher Tom Watson, are mounting a High Court challenge against the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act, on the grounds that it is not combatible with article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, guaranteeing the right to a private life.

    The Human Rights Act which the government wants to dissolve, for many obvious reasons.

    The DRIPA Act was pushed through by Cameron and Clegg (and supported by Miliband), using emergency powers inappropriately, in response to a ruling in April last year by the European Court of Justice, which would have curbed police and security access to phone and email communications.

    The reality is that individual MPs have little or no power to combat these manoeuvres.

    At the same time, Facebook now have algorithms that can effectively censor material by the process of flagging them as wrong in some way. Any group can then ‘disappear’ any information that they wish.

    Facebook censorship: what they’re not telling you:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujTYCVyaA8k

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