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back to article 'You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back'

This was the week when Britain discovered that its spooks were either seriously inept or specialising in some sort of double-bluff, Pink Panther-style posturing to throw everyone off the real scent. This feast of spoof spying was kicked off when the bit of the UK police force that helps its intelligence agencies decided to …

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no jurisdiction over it.

In other news, Google has said that a privacy lawsuit brought by Brit Safari users over the firm's slurp of their browsing data shouldn't be bothered with because UK courts have "no jurisdiction" over it.

So this must work both ways then; so I could hack and abuse Google and UK government will take no action because its out of their jurisdiction. Thus US government has no right to ask for suspect in wiki-leaks or anything else.

Be careful what you ask for Google.

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Re: no jurisdiction over it.

You don't understand, do you? Other governments have jurisdictions, other governments have treaties, other governments respect international laws (or at least pretend to).

The US government doesn't have to bother about any of that nonsense. Because it is THE WORLD GOVERNMENT. US courts have jurisdiction everywhere. US agents can arrest people anywhere, take them anywhere, torture and kill them anywhere. And US drones can kill anyone they like, anywhere, anytime - along with the nearest few dozen bystanders.

There's absolutely nothing new here; it's the essence of human nature, and hence of history. One of the most famous parallels dates back 2430 years:

Athenian: "For ourselves, we shall not trouble you with specious pretenses—either of how we have a right to our empire because we overthrew the Mede, or are now attacking you because of wrong that you have done us—and make a long speech which would not be believed; and in return we hope that you, instead of thinking to influence us by saying that you did not join the Spartans, although their colonists, or that you have done us no wrong, will aim at what is feasible, holding in view the real sentiments of us both; since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must".

Melians: "You may be sure that we are as well aware as you of the difficulty of contending against your power and fortune, unless the terms be equal. But we trust that the gods may grant us fortune as good as yours, since we are just men fighting against unjust, and that what we want in power will be made up by the alliance of the Lacedaemonians, who are bound, if only for very shame, to come to the aid of their kindred. Our confidence, therefore, after all is not so utterly irrational."

Athenian: "Of the gods we believe, and of men we know, that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can. And it is not as if we were the first to make this law, or to act upon it when made: we found it existing before us, and shall leave it to exist forever after us; all we do is to make use of it, knowing that you and everybody else, having the same power as we have, would do the same as we do".

- The Melian Dialogue - Thucydides (“Peloponnesian War”)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melian_dialogue

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Anonymous Coward

Re: no jurisdiction over it.

'Miranda David' surely? It said they were partners. Or did they mean business partners? Or is there a perversion angle to this as well?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: no jurisdiction over it.

The US government doesn't have to bother about any of that nonsense. Because it is THE WORLD GOVERNMENT. US courts have jurisdiction everywhere.

You know, you ought to really cut down on Hollywood movies. Microsoft already discovered that the world isn't *THAT* willing to have sovereignty usurped by the US - Google is very hard at work to trigger a SERIOUS backlash, more or less amplifying what is already happening due to the NSA revelations.

Personally, I am rather amused that said backlash is finally hitting US companies where it matters: in their profits. It's about time.

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Megaphone

The Google stuff...

Makes me realise that I'd really like to see a European technology company be a viable alternative to the chocolate factory. I know Google has by far the dominant position in search, online advertising, mobile operating systems and right up there in email, but I don't trust them anymore. The fact that all the other big tech companies are American means that any alternatives have the same privacy implications - that you're being watched.

Surely there's got to be a European company that could knock-up a decent webmail or search engine.

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Re: The Google stuff...

https://ixquick.com/ for the search engine. Can't help you with webmail.

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Re: The Google stuff...

..and your problem, down voter, would be what exactly? If there is a security problem, I would be incredibly interested.

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The more I have read about the Miranda case, the more I think the Guardian have badly fumbled the ball on this one. I'm wholly onside re: the grave dangers from mass surveillance and I think these have not yet been understood by the general public. There was a major opportunity to ace the government. But it is very much looking as though Miranda was carrying the classified information. We need to keep a sense of proportion and stay attuned to the subtleties here. If Miranda was carrying the information it was a grave misstep. He is not a journalist. As much as mass surveillance is a danger, there is still such a thing as sensitive classified data. It is not necessarily possible for journalists, who lack context to understand what is sensitive or even life threatening and what is not. Seemingly innocuous information might be of great interest to a foreign power or enemy and context is required to judge this. But for a journalist with access to such data who is holding government accountable, to allow a non-newspaper-employee, no mater how trusted, to have access to that information, is a grave misstep and highly irresponsible. The Guardian and Greenwald need to think about the meaning of the name on their masthead.

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"He is not a journalist"

In the world of blogs and Twitter it is less and less relevant to have 'officially designated' journalists. Freedom of speech should be for all, and journalists should not have specia protections that other people don't (or rather, everyone should have the same protections that journalists have)

"who lack context to understand what is sensitive or even life threatening and what is not"

I'm f***ing sick of this bulls**t being regurgitated by the government and security services. Stop treating people like children. Citizens have a right to know what governments are doing in their name, and they have a right to privacy. And if that results in a world where the chance of dying in a terror attack is 1 in a million instead of 1 in 20 million*, then bring it on.

Why the hell are we spending so much money and resources financing organisations like the NSA and GCHQ etc etc to curtail our freedoms and privacy with odds like those, when the odds of dying in a car crash are so much shorter? Why are we willing to put up with government documents being classified secret and top secret when all they contain is stuff that could embarass people in power (as most of manning's diplomatic cable leaks). Why do people in power think that "National Security" = "Protecting the people in power", when in reality they can easily be either replaced by someone else?

I accept that we need organisations such as NSA etc for REAL cases of national security, but REAL national security = prevention of war and preventing violent coup d'etat. Anti-Terrorism is a civil protection / police issue.

*time.com, chance of dying in a terrorist attack in the United States from 2007 to 2011

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A wife suspects her husband Frank of having an affair with Jill. The man goes on a business trip promising his wife he won't be with Jill. You are a work colleague who sits next to frank's desk. Unbeknown to you Frank's wife is phoning the office to check up on him. You can see his schedule and innocently remark "he's on a business trip to x, He and Jill have a meeting with the chief executive." See why context matters and why, when you lack it, problems can be caused? But no you don't see that, because you're "f***ing sick of this bulls**t being regurgitated by the government and security services." and because of that you're happy to proclaim because there is several container loads of bathwater that need to be thrown out, there can be no baby in there. Only problem is, if a secret document detailing x met with y is released, you don't have the context so don't have a f**king clue if that screws an international supply agreement, throws distrust into the advancement of a peace treaty or endangers the life of an agent (they do exist and they are sometimes risking their lives). You seem to be assuming all stored secret intelligence is bullshit the government is using to control the people (otherwise how can you claim to sufficiently understand the totality of context)

"Citizens have a right to know what governments are doing in their name, and they have a right to privacy. And if that results in a world where the chance of dying in a terror attack is 1 in a million instead of 1 in 20 million*, then bring it on."

Couldn't agree more, though do you think that means we should have no intelligence services, or that they can have no secrets? Do you think they are never tracking actual terrorists? And if they are, how exactly are they to operate if they can keep nothing secret? (Again is there no baby in that bathwater?)

"In the world of blogs and Twitter it is less and less relevant to have 'officially designated' journalists."

True, but does that then mean you just pick whoever you want to share "working in the public interest secret data with?" And if it turns out someone you share data with isn't working in the public interest, do you just shrug your shoulders and say "f**k it, I wasn't to know." How do you responsibly look after the data if you are a news organisation, by sharing it wives, boyfriend's girlfriend's? Do confidentiality agreements signed as part of your employment mean nothing?

Look none if this is to say Miranda was bad, to be distrusted or should have been harassed, but it is to say by not adhering to highest professional standards, the Guardian have dropped what would otherwise have been a clear catch, which is a shame. They have also screwed up around the story on the HDD destruction, revising it several times.

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@successcase

I can actually see a lot of common ground here. Like I said, I do see the scope of national security organisations doing national security stuff. But they shouldn't be doing blanket intercepts, they shouldn't be invading people's privacy and they should be working very strictly under the scrutiny of a judiciary who know what the hell they are doing and actively push back against unreasonable requests.

That way the spooks have little in the way of masses of data that can be leaked in the first place, and if the people working for the spooks can clearly see that there is no abuse going on, there is less incentive for leaks to happen. NSA-type agencies need to be severely scaled down, and get their budget diverted to do actual real-live police and detective work, which is how most terrorists are caught in the first place.

I don't intend to throw the baby out of the bathwater - rather I think there is a situation where there's one real baby in the bathwater, but the governement agencies claim there are a hundred babies, they need a bigger bathtub and lots and lots more water. Throw out the made-up babies, get rid of the excess bathwater and focus on the core stuff.

Now, I also know that we live in an imperfect world, and humans are going to screw up. By definition, security services will never get it 100% right. So do I want to live in a world where security services are going to stomp down on 100 innocents to get 1 bad guy, or do I want to live in a world where people's private lives are respected, security services are not allowed to do whatever they please, and the occasional bomb goes off? Much as I regret that innocents will occasionally get killed, I prefer the latter because that will take society gradually on a path away from violence and terror, while the former stokes an endless war by continually creating new enemies.

Incidentally, 9/11 could have been stopped by existing FBI knowledge without needing additional patriot act powers.

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>"Only problem is, if a secret document detailing x met with y is released, you don't have the context so don't have a f**king clue if that screws an international supply agreement, throws distrust into the advancement of a peace treaty or endangers the life of an agent"

Oooh, FUD. Nice try, but anyone with a brain knows that the issue isn't some hypothetical beneficial state acting in our interests, but accountability for a class of actors who have proven time and again not to be trustworthy - or to be acting in our interests.

For those who care to read it, the history of corruption and law breaking by so-called elected Western governments is long and not particularly inspiring. From dodgy contracts to equally dodgy dealings with very important friends in countries with brutally oppressive regimes, there are bad things happening every day, and none of them have to do with our brave boys facing down nasty terroristses in a country we - er - invaded for reasons that make no sense and have never been explained properly.

>"Do you think they are never tracking actual terrorists?"

I don't know. You tell us. What proportion of leads are 'actual terrorists', and what proportion are people on a secret service shit list for purely political reasons - such as climate camp protesters, union activists, followers of Occupy, and people who post on the Register with views that annoy those in power?

>"True, but does that then mean you just pick whoever you want to share "working in the public interest secret data with?"

Yes, that's exactly what it means. Discussions about the public interest should be public, with as much information shared as possible and 'public interest secrecy' an exception with well-defined, known and agreed criteria - not the 'Of course you can trust us, so take our word for it' default.

Because - newsflash - no one who has said that has *ever* been trustworthy, or genuinely acting in the public interest.

While we're at it, let's add policy oversight by members of the public.

This is sometimes called 'Democracy.' You might want to read up about it.

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Big Brother

It appears that issues of the Grauniad including Snowden-originated revelations (or Wikileaks') are also classified. How about that?

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Consent of the governed requires information

To add one more point to your excellent post, if you believe our governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed, keep in mind that consent is not valid without information. Misinformation and lack of information render the consent of the governed impossible.

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Anonymous Coward

No passwords = jail

Really?

REALLY?

If so, the terrorists have won.

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Re: No passwords = jail

Yes, refusing to hand over your passwords when asked is a crime in the UK.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/03/ripa-decryption_keys_power/

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Re: No passwords = jail

Yes, under UK law (RIPA section 49) refusal to provide an encryption key (or indeed just failure to provide an encryption key, when the officer "has reason to believe the key is in your posession") is an offense which carries a custodial sentence. The UK does not have a 5th amendment, we are fully expected and indeed required by law to incriminate ourselves, and do not have the right to remain silent :)

Should you end up in possession of encrypted data to which you do not have the key, and are in or passing through UK held territory, you had better hope you can convince the authorities that you honestly cannot decrypt it for them. I suspect the only way you'll be able to do that is to provide another name or names of people they can get access to, and tell them those people are in posession of the key(s).

Depending on who you talk to, they may put forward the suggestion that the terrorists are winning so easily because they are in fact working for the authorities, providing them the excuse to erode yet more of our civil liberties. It seems the current crop may have taken 1984 to be a handbook, rather than a warning :'(

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Black Helicopters

Re: No passwords = jail

A good password to another encrypted partition one does NOT have access to is a classic counter to this. They can still drug or torture you, of course, but you can't reveal what you don't know.

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1) Don't forget that the UK has a long tradition of intercepting Brazilians. Miranda should consider his good fortune that he hadn't just got on a tube train.

2) What does "extremely unavailable" mean Mr Kutchner?

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Hasn't anyone noticed...?

"You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back."

back? Back?? BACK???

So the UK government - supposedly, our government - wants BACK stuff that unquestionably belongs to the US government.

Just consider the implications of THAT for a while.

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Anonymous Coward

Being in an airport and not knowing the exact contents of your luggage, including digital media, is a quick way to get stopped as a suspected mule.

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Ahh Julian...that would be MS. Manning from now on please.

"And top Wikileaker Julian Assange sees the case having the opposite effect to what the government is hoping for:

Mr Manning’s treatment has been intended to send a signal to people of conscience in the US government who might seek to bring wrongdoing to light...."

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It's not what you know, . . .

I could believe that some middle ranking - Inspector, Chief Inspector - watch commander at Heathrow deciding to pull Miranda off his / her own bat. Among other things, that is probably what they are paid for.

What I do find difficult to believe is this same middle ranking police officer being in a position to phone up No. 10 and the White House just to let David and Barack know what he is going to do.

After all, this was a purely operational matter for the police, wasn't it ?

Chris Cosgrove

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Sounds like the anti-terrorist police are playing 'softly-softly' these days...

...after all, they found a Brazilian and all they did was question him, rather than carrying out a summary execution in public.

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Re: Sounds like the anti-terrorist police are playing 'softly-softly' these days...

Maybe that's a secret new offence: "Travelling while Brazilian".

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Anonymous Coward

"...there is now no private way, evidently, to collaborate."

Seems like a trivial algorithm step to implement.

The encrypted email will, perhaps, be eventually decoded. So don't put any actual secret info in the encrypted email. The encrypted email contains only a time sensitive link and key to a place and time somewhere on the infinitely large 'net. If the email is eventually cracked open a month later, it's too late. This 'net space must be sufficiently large to defy recording. The secret message content can be distributed over the 'net such that chance recording is voided. Existing realtime streams (e.g. BBC) can be used to hash the info.

This conceptual technique is just a tiny part of a necessary much larger system.

End result is that decoding an email much later becomes useless unless one records the entire 'net space.

Isn't it yet understood that algorithms can eventually be invented to accomplish *any* goal? Including defeating the latest NSA approach of recording 'everything' for posterity?

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FAIL

The Guardian should simply ...

leak the location of the cable tapping operation in the Middle East.

That will teach Cameron a lesson about threatening newspapers.

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Meh

I wonder if Americans apreciate the "Miranda" irony.

The card US cops are meant to read out (anything you say may be used in evidence against you etc etc) used to be called "Miranderising" because it was failure to notify another suspect called Miranda that caused it to be introduced.

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