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back to article 'Symbolic' Grauniad drive-smash was not just a storage fail

The word "cabinet" can mean a piece of furniture in which you store something and the digital version of this is a disk drive or flash drive. Having said that, the idea that by destroying the drive you destroy the data is so far from reality in today's data centres that anyone professing it is profoundly idiotic. Which brings us …

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thuggery isnt it?

We don't like what you do so your property will be broken.

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Re: thuggery isnt it?

"Nice disk drive, Squire.... Be a pity if someone broke it...."

Paranoia AND Stupidity. Not a great mix.

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Meh

Not to mention

An arrogant disdain for what the public opinion will be of the actions.

I'd like to have said 'naive' but even C-for-Cameron's idiotic cabinet and ministerial lackeys are likely very aware of whatever the hell it is they're up to and they're starting not to give a shit if we know, too.

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Re: Not to mention

Par for the course for Government really. There's an awful lot of clever people doing IT. However they are junior and only following orders and must have thought "it gets me out of the office for a day".

It's the numpties in senior management and even worse the ministers who's to blame for this fiasco.

Wanted to be seen to be doing something.

"Yes Minister/Prime Minister, we'll get our top people on this right away"

All I can think of is Life of Brian "Centuwian, thwow him to the floor", "thwow him woughly"

Truly embarrassing really.

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Re: thuggery isnt it?

You left out "owner of weapons of mass destruction". Would YOU trust these idiots with nuclear tipped missiles?

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Re: thuggery isnt it?

Unfortunately, as much as I disagree with the Government's position, it seems the Guardian has been a little melodramatic in their reporting of this. It turns out there was no pressure from the government for the Guardian to destroy the data. The Guardian destroyed it of their own volition. They have also somewhat confused things in their reporting of the number of computers in the UK carrying the data and that they have destroyed. This story deserves reporting with forensic precision, otherwise there is a danger the Guardian will trip themselves up and give ammo to the Government.

The Guardian act may have taken this action for quasi-symbolic legal reasons, eg to visibly proclaim there are no copies now available in the UK to UK employees, though there are copies available to employees outside UK and US jurisdiction. But this still doesn't make up for sloppy reporting on this extremely important subject. I hope the Guardian up their game on this front as it would be a shame for them to taint the massive win they can score for the common UK and US citizen.

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Re: thuggery isnt it?

Possibly, just possibly, the drives in question held information which would have compromised Guardian sources, and the Guardian was clever enough to refuse to hand them over, and instead "allowed" themselves to be bullied into destroying them.

Under the current global regime, there would likely have been no legal avenue to refuse the government access to all data held on the machines, so smashing them to bits would have been a good way to go. And doing it at the "request" of the government is just a bonus insurance.

(Coincidentally in the midst of reading "Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet

By Assange, Julian, ioerror, and others. What they discussed a year ago is pretty much spot on what is happening today.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: thuggery isnt it?

Fortunately, the US has a veto on the use and targetting of the UK's nuclear missiles. Now you feel so much better.

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Re: thuggery isnt it?

It was made perfectly clear, destroy or go to court.

When you've been held for 9 hours you aren't always that happy and logical in thought.

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Re: thuggery isnt it?

IIRC They decided to destroy the equipment, as they would not be allowed to tell anyone about it if they were taken to court.

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Re: thuggery isnt it?

Source?

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Re: thuggery isnt it?

" It turns out there was no pressure from the government for the Guardian to destroy the data."

You misinterpreted what was clearly reported. The government was threatening court action for the retrieval of the data, which could have prevented any reporting of the contents of the documents by the Guardian *anywhere in the world*.

Given the choice between "be tied up in endless court battles which prevent reporting" or "destroy one copy and continue reporting", the Guardian chose the latter.

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Re: thuggery isnt it?

"Unfortunately, as much as I disagree with the Government's position, it seems the Guardian has been a little melodramatic in their reporting of this."

Truly, and much more so than you report; it transpired that 8 (eight) of the hours spent by Miranda with the police were at his own choice, it being that he chose to rebuff the official/duty solicitor, and preferring to wait 8 hours for the solicitor of his choice to appear. This much the Guardian has had to concede, along with the fact that Miranda was travelling at the Guardian's expense and on his partner, Greenwald's behalf. There is no doubt that he was carrying classified information that was stolen from a NATO ally.

As far as the root of the story is concerned, there has been a lot of misconceived debate about the collection of metadata, namely the collection of data that shows who calls/texts/emails whom, and that is a part of the confusion. Espionage, both internal and external, in this country began with Walsingham and his stunning coup with Mary of Scotland; her communications were intercepted and decoded; in one of them a correspondent offered to lead a rebellion that would ultimately have led to regicide and the overturning of the existing protestant state; Walsingham allowed this communication to go through, Mary bit hard on the bait and almost all of the rest, including the dramatic red dress worn by the drama Queen Mary (and there are plenty of those this very day) for her execution, is history.

People have claimed that it was unethical of Walsingham to have allowed the intercepted communication through to Mary, that he facilitated her plot, but of course opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one. It is a fact that then as now the state was under internal and external threat, and the interception of communications was vital to maintaining security: plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Otherwise, and as with the earlier case of LOIC users, people who steal secrets will ultimately pay for their misdeeds, as will those who accept and publish stolen goods. Where Rusbridger is concerned, it is all very well for him to say that he has withheld the most important and sensitive of the classified information - and do remember that Miranda has, in spite of his earlier claims to be an innocent party, announced during a hissy fit that he has lots of juicy information on British intelligence and security services that he intends to release, and it is now clear that he IS a courier - but how does he know? Does he work in the business and is he thus trained and experienced enough to know that everything of a sensitive and important nature has been withheld, and nothing damaging has been released? Pfc Manning made it quite clear that he was not appropriately qualified and knowledgeable, and I am certain that Guardian journalists are no more qualified/experienced than he. I am also more than certain that the information is not particularly secure in the hands of people like Miranda, notwithstanding the case of Snowden himself, about which I am sure intellectual lightweights will be more than happy to fire cheap shots.

In the longer term, as various intelligence and security organisations around the world adjust to the implications of modern digital security, it will become clear both to journalists and those who might decide to slip information out of the office, that this is not merely illegal according to the appropriate jurisdiction, but punishment will swiftly follow, one way or another.

Meanwhile, a lot of people are making a lot of money, writing articles based on the steam and cloud surrounding this confusion, and making it worse; Miranda lied, he was not held for 9 hours, he chose to wait 8 hours for a non duty solicitor and, in addition, he travelled at Guardian expense as a data mule on Greenwald's behalf.

Please, do me the favour of applying the down arrow; the more the merrier, for it is a mark of distinction that fools disapprove of the truth and think that voting on it is of any relevance, other than to show that they are dense and cannot take it.

HAND.

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Re: thuggery isnt it?

"Fortunately, the US has a veto on the use and targetting of the UK's nuclear missiles. Now you feel so much better."

Wrong. That was once the case, but it no longer is.

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Re: thuggery isnt it?

"When you've been held for 9 hours you aren't always that happy and logical in thought."

Wrong; he was held for one hour, the extra eight hours were at his own choice as he waited for a solicitor other than the duty solicitor to arrive. It is also the case that Miranda was working for his partner, at Guardian expense, as an information mule. The Guardian have belatedly conceded this.

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Re: thuggery isnt it?

"Fortunately, the US has a veto on the use and targeting of the UK's nuclear missiles. Now you feel so much better."

This garbage again. To quote the MoD: "Can the government of the USA prevent, veto or forbid the UK to use its own nuclear weapons?"

"No."

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20121026065214/http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E2054A40-7833-48EF-991C-7F48E05B2C9D/0/nuclear190705.pdf

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Re: thuggery isnt it?

I like the classic "HTH" ending to this unequivocal reply. I expect to be voted down, but you will be alright, as you are not me.

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Anonymous Coward

brought to you by the same people who want a "porn filter"

You just don't understand technology do you politicians ...

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Re: brought to you by the same people who want a "porn filter"

"You just don't understand technology do you politicians ..."

No, but they do understand the value of symbolic gestures and I bet they hoped they would get "good press" from this.

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Re: brought to you by the same people who want a "porn filter"

Actually, they probably understand completely.

Imagine that the Americans demanded that all copies were destroyed and our government was just going along with this. Our government can now say with a strait face to the Americans that they have done everything possible, and it was supervised by the police and staff from GCHQ.

You can just see Sir Humphry putting the phone down and making a caustic comment about the intelligence of the people on the far side of the pond demanding the data be destroyed.

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Re: brought to you by the same people who want a "porn filter"

Year 2000 - parliament passes Terrorism Act

Year 2013 - someone who is obviously not a terrorist held for 9 hours, has data confiscated, is threatened with jail if he doesn't reveal passwords and answer any questions

Year 2013 - government creates porn filter

Year 20?? - ????

If you can redefine terrorism to include investigate journalists exposing government abuses - in order to use sweeping terror laws agains them - you can easily redefine porn to include anything likely to corrupt minds and use it to block any political criticism. It is only a matter of time.

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Unhappy

Re: brought to you by the same people who want a "porn filter"

"You just don't understand technology do you politicians ..."

As if they fully understand non-technical stuff,

like ethics.

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Re: brought to you by the same people who want a "porn filter"

"Year 2013 - someone who is obviously not a terrorist held for 9 hours[...]"

Wrong; he was held for one hour, the extra eight hours of the affair were due to his choice of solicitor, who took eight hours to arrive; The Guardian proved themselves as ever extremely unreliable for not admitting this sooner, as well as their failure to make it clear that Miranda was travelling at Guardian expense as his partner's information mule.

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Re: brought to you by the same people who want a "porn filter"

citation needed?

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Big Brother

Re: brought to you by the same people who want a "porn filter"

Ah, but they don't want a "porn filter", they want broadly worded legislation that can be used at a later date against (the) people for reasons of their choosing.

A bit like they (mis-)used the Terror Act to detain someone who had absolutely no legal, logical or proximate relation to anything terror-related, a fact that was already known to them as shown by their refusal to ask any terror-related questions of their prisoner.

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Re: I bet they hoped they would get "good press" from this.

And they did.

Depending of course on your definition of the phrase "good press."

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Re: brought to you by the same people who want a "porn filter"

"But its all just tubes, isn't it?"

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...

As you say, the techs on both sides will have been pissing themselves laughing. But it's the usual boss-syndrome; they don't understand IT and quite likely don't really want to know. All they want to hear is "were they destroyed; yes or no?".

All you have to do is tell them "yes", they tick a box and go back to making more idiotic decisions.

Still, don't know about the rest of you - but I feel much safer from the terrorists as a result. As for my Government, ummm.. not so safe.

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Re: ...

But then the guardian pops up with another copy and you get sent down to guantanamo for not doing a proper job and still saying yes. Boss has then found a scapegoat to appease their masters...

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Devil

Re: ...

All The Guardian has to do is to ask if the NSA could let them have their backup copy. Nothing works as well as a hidden, taxpayer-funded backup system..

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Re: ...

Perhaps this is part of the research for "BOFH, the Sequel" I demand that we be told!

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" It was petty and stupid, the action of an ignorant and frightened bully...". Yep, that sounds like this government.

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Big Brother

Correction

" It was petty and stupid, the action of an ignorant and frightened bully...". Yep, that sounds like ANY government.

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Corrected Correction

" It was petty and stupid, the action of an ignorant and frightened bully...". Yep, that sounds like EVERY government.

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Anonymous Coward

Correct

And this is why we need Labour back in power to sort the nation put.

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Re: Correct

The very same party that gave us all these terrorism laws now being used for their intended purpose (which is not actually to fight terrorism).

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Go

Re: Correct

Technically, if the Government is terrified of its people, that makes those people...

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Re: Correct

..and ruin it beyond any hope of redemption for a thousand years.

Don't you get it? no party wants to win the next election.

they want an unholy mish mash of three parties so they cam all blame each other for the inevitable mess we are heading into.

Problem is UKIP wont play ball and might just upset the balance to the point of one of them actually having to take responsibility. This of course, is intolerable

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Re: Correct

What we need is the Monster Raving Loony party, at least their policies made sense.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Correct

The Internet Sarcasm Filter is strong today Grasshopper.

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Re: Correct

Or the Silly Party. I voted Tarquin Fin-tim-lim-bim-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olè-Biscuitbarrel, last time, although I did consider voting Kevin Phillips-Bong, the Slightly Silly candidate.

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" " It was petty and stupid, the action of an ignorant and frightened bully...". Yep, that sounds like this government."

You will of course supply sufficient citations/examples as to constitute a 'course of conduct', won't you?

As you do you will probably need to recall the Jewish Labour party member and wartime survivor who was thrown out of the Labour party conference for pointing out the obvious, namely that the Labour party was neither democratic nor caring. You may also wish to remember Labour's record for military adventurism, coupled with its clandestine immigration campaign, a campaign which, when highlighted by voters who called them out pointing to their manifesto commitment to 'maintain firm control' over immigration, prompted accusations of racism.

Oh yes. This government makes the Labour party seem like your favourite nanny, doesn't it? After all, to keep the populace quiet as it made them (from the perspective of a sympathetic and grateful voting population) redundant, it fed them with so much in the form of benefits that going to work was pointless... ...meanwhile they blew our money on white elephants, such as the ID card fiasco, the emergency rescue coordination centres, a variety of government IT projects, oh and let us not forget the billions they spent on subduing Johnny Foreigner (admittedly not so much to the liking of many of their imported voters, who happened to have the same religion as 'Johnny Foreigner').

Yes. Of course. This government is bullying you. Into working for a living, into taking responsibility for your lives.

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Re: Correct

"Or the Silly Party."

Or Rupert the Hun from the All Night party. I haven't seen much of him lately. Pity.

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Re: This government is bullying you. Into working for a living

Especially those people at the bottom of the pile who are chronically ill or disabled, and realistically unable to fully support themselves - reduce their benefits and make them pay more taxes, because they're not going to be able to fight it. How long before they bring back the workhouse?

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Thus demonstrating why Governments seem incapable of getting IT projects up and running

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"Thus demonstrating why Governments seem incapable of getting IT projects up and running"

In particular it is a classic criticism of Labour governments over the past four or five decades that they are incapable of getting any major project running, IT included, and that they waste vast sums of money getting nowhere to prove this point. I learned this in my 1980 lectures, and was disappointed to see that they had not learned their lesson by 1997. In fact I can see that they had learned no lessons at all, especially in fiscal/economic arena, where in the 1970s they had to call out the IMF to pull them out of the merde, and in this century they left us with the biggest peacetime debt in our country's history.

Their claims that this had to do with the recession are infinitely weakened by their reckless handling of public spending (at the end civil servants refused to sign off wild expenditures and made their political masters do so, which is almost without precedent [Labour excepted], their piss poor handling of regulation - 'light touch regulation' - which led the economy into quicksand, they committed various parts of the public sector to debts that could not be managed (leading to NHS trusts facing bankruptcy, due to PFI over stretch), they borrowed silly amounts of money, and they encourage José and Josétte public to take on a trillion pounds of debt, and showed no signs of interest in controlling lending. As to selling 60% of treasury reserve gold when the market was at a 20 year low, announcing it in advance, selling it en bloc, absofuckinglootly clooless, and I would love to rap the bastards up the side of their pointy heads with a clue by four. Criminal stupidity.

The list of recklessness is too large and with such manifold implications as to merit a vast treatise, rather than a paragraph or two in a forum like this, yet each time members of the last government are confronted about their recklessness the country is greeted by a mixture of Vicky Pollard and Pinochio.

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Anonymous Coward

Even better

"The editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, had earlier informed government officials that other copies of the files existed outside the country and that the Guardian was neither the sole recipient nor steward of the files leaked by Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor. BUT THE GOVERNMENT INSISTED THAT THE MATERIAL BE EITHER DESTROYED OR SURRENDERED."

El Reg is covering the "destroyed" question, but the better one for the government is "surrendered".

It's DATA. Just exactly HOW are you supposed to "surrender" it, fully, to the satisfaction of a government? 'Oops, I'm sorry that I have it! I'll just forward you [a copy] and we'll call it quits'? When you send a copy of a copy does that mean that my eyeballs and brain neurons had their data retention stream removed, as well?

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Re: Even better

"When you send a copy of a copy does that mean that my eyeballs and brain neurons had their data retention stream removed, as well?"

A government that lobotomises is a government that cares. <3

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Re: Even better

Email back the copy when you have finished reading it?

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