back to article Indie review of UK surveillance laws: As you were, GCHQ

The response to multiple threats faced by the UK “depends on entrusting public bodies with the powers they need to identify suspects”, said David Anderson QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, in his long-awaited review of the country’s anti-terrorism laws, while giving GCHQ no reason to stop mass-surveillance …

Judicial oversight

This is where we'll get to see what the real intent of the Snoopers Charter is. If the requirement for sign-off by a Judge is included, that's an improvement, slightly. If the signoff is reserved for Ministers, we'll know that it's essentially the groundwork for a proper, true blue dictatorship.

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Yeah, but...

"Modern communications networks can be used by the unscrupulous for purposes ranging from cyber-attack, terrorism and espionage to fraud, kidnap and child sexual exploitation."

And so can the 'royal' mail - are they planning to open every letter?

And so can cars and bicycles - are they planning to track every vehicle and put CCTV inside?

And so can old-style dead-letter drops - are they planning to have a plod watching every tree and litter-bin in every park in the country?

Terrorists and kiddie-fiddlers have to eat - are they planning to track every purchase of food?

No? Then why is modern communications technology any different?

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Re: Yeah, but...

Stop giving them ideas!

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Big Brother

Re: Yeah, but...

"Terrorists and kiddie-fiddlers have to eat - are they planning to track every purchase of food?"

You mean you don't hand-inspect your rice to spot and remove the RFID containing fake grains?

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Black Helicopters

Re: Yeah, but...

And so can the 'royal' mail - are they planning to open every letter?

Err, you are aware that (one of) the main reason(s) that the Royal Mail was formed was to allow the Crown to eavesdrop on those pesky foreigners/republicans/papists/terrorists?

this post from the I-get-all-my-facts-from-Horrible-Histories sofa

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Mushroom

Re: Yeah, but...

@Zog... no problem, I cook my rice in the microwave.

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Big Brother

Re: Yeah, but...

"And so can the 'royal' mail - are they planning to open every letter?

And so can cars and bicycles - are they planning to track every vehicle and put CCTV inside?

And so can old-style dead-letter drops - are they planning to have a plod watching every tree and litter-bin in every park in the country?

Terrorists and kiddie-fiddlers have to eat - are they planning to track every purchase of food?"

Patience suspect citizen.

We're working as quickly as possible.

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Kinda a so-so report then... why not join http://openrightsgroup.org and keep them on their toes, eh ?

Because unless this shit is got under the control of a judge, with a warrant, for limited scope and time, it's bad for everyone. It'd be debatable we'd even be living in a democracy if we don't have secret thoughts...

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Anonymous Coward

I welcome a complete renewal of the entire legislation on interception

and I'd like it to not only follow incidental privacy proportionate & legal judicial approvals, but also to encompass sharing at least half the full-take intelligence with the police. At present, plod gets (officially*) ZERO, but presumably a few crumbs, de Menezes, Duggan, to mention a few uncontroversial intelligence-led operations.

*US FOIA requests showing only NSA officials meeting in London (25 November 1996) with Cabinet Office, GCHQ and other agencies. The FBI and UK police ‘Law Enforcement’ were excluded from these policy-setting meetings. According to paragraph 84 of Duncan Campbell's "Interception Capabilities 2000" http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/ic2000/ic2000.htm

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Thumb Down

"strong and vital powers"

Anyone who uses verbiage like that is ready for the shrink, a nice uniform with dangling runes, or both.

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Stop

Re: "strong and vital powers"

"...a nice uniform with dangling runes,"

Hey- I want one of those- let the bad guys use swastikas or something that's already ruined!

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The four

"the four horsemen of the infopocalypse: drug-dealers, money-launderers, terrorists, and pedophiles."

If people want to use drugs let them - I don't care about drug dealers. You don't get money that needs laundering without some other crime so solve that instead (or are we most likely back to drug dealers anyway?). There are not enough terrorists to worry about and they couldn't protect me from them if there were. There are not enough real harm causing pedophiles to worry about.

The whole basis for the need for mass subservience is made up, made up by politicians trying to fool us into thinking they do something useful and supported by the hundreds of thousands who's jobs depend on it. If we stopped bothering to carry on loosing the war on drugs we could sack half the police force and spend the money on something more useful.

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Re: The four

Or just go back to our Victorian era sensibilities, where you could get an ounce of morphine from your local chemist if you so desired, and dispense with our outdated 20th century fascination with American influenced puritanical views that someone else knows best what you should and should not be putting in to your bodies.

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g e

The Fifth...

Politicians.

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Gimp

@JP19

"The whole basis for the need for mass subservience is made up, made up by politicians trying to fool us into thinking they do something useful and supported by the hundreds of thousands who's jobs depend on it. "

Interesting miss spelling.

This is what the ninth Home Secretary to spout this line.

I'd suggest the entrenched cabal of senior civil servants who want this.

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Justification ... not wanted here

Where is the justification, from places like Iran (ho ho ho), that such powers IMPROVE the situation?

Asking for a human rights/democracy bashing piece of legislation without saying WHY or presenting a compelling business case doesn't make GCHQ or Theresa look very good. I suspect she may not understand the implications of putting backdoors into open source PKI encryption, or have had the consequences explained to her competently by an authority without a vested interest. Legislation supporting such (impossible I might add) activities needs to be justified by those asking for it, with more than a "trust us" punchline. "Think of the children" is tired and old. Society as a whole thankfully doesn't appear to trust those using such futile propaganda - so that argument fails.

Perhaps there is no justification after all ... ergo .... stop this "anti-British" erosion of basic freedom. Nothing to see here ... move along please. PLEASE!

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"Modern communications networks can be used by UNSCRUPULOUS CIVIL SERVANTS AND POLITICIANS for purposes ranging from cyber-attack, terrorism and espionage to fraud, kidnap and child sexual exploitation."

Fixed!

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STUPID stupid stupid

For heavens sake what do these people think about all day?

If I want to communicate with Fred and John about something 'naughty' then I can do so quite simply with coded phrases on my facebook status or a chat room... for example going to see auntie suzy might mean all sorts of things if you know what code I am using. The government themselves used a similar innocuous phrase to alert the resistance in France to d-day on the bbc radio news....

monitoring everyones communications will not stop a brainy terrorist, and these people might be misguided but they are NOT stupid. Proper thinking police and intelligence officers are needed not mass surveillance.

Besides, I don't trust the security services, police or politicians as far as I could throw the lot of them..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: STUPID stupid stupid

"For heavens sake what do these people think about all day?"

I once worked with a complete TWAT who was standing for election for BNP in Milton Keynes. He now is a civil servant after he was sacked from the company we both worked for.

Also knew another suspiciously squeaky clean guy who left his job to go work for Home Office immigration.

I would not trust either of them with life or death decisions, nor give them power over other people. They both were on a mission to enforce their principals.

They are the busies, the interferers, the behind the scenes pencil pushers messing around with people's lives.

That is what these people think about every day. They should definitely be in the first wave up against the wall, come the revolution.

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Lunatics in Charge but not in Power Command and Virtual Control of the Asylum

One trusts, and the masses most certainly would rightly expect, that secret and security service attention and surveillance is especially rigorous and pervasive with particular and peculiar regard to Parliamentarians, with added scrutiny afforded to all practising national and international government roleplaying in parties elected by morons to present austere programs and endless divisive procrastination, aided and abetted with even the smallest of a majority of seats in the madhouse.

That is surely where all the major problems are phormed ..... and to think otherwise is not at all wise.

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Re: Lunatics in Charge but not in Power Command and Virtual Control of the Asylum

amanfromMars 1: Those are the moving parts on view, not necessarily where all the major problems are phormed.

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Re: Re: Lunatics in Charge but not in Power Command and Virtual Control of the Asylum

Quite so, Jack of Shadows. I do not disagree that they are just as self serving cogs in the greater scheme of internetworking things and not really necessary too,

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A Step in the Right Direction

With David Anderson's report, we finally look like we may be moving in the right direction.

However, prior authorisation by his proposed new judicial body, while useful and often necessary, is certainly not sufficient and occasionally impractical.

What is absolutely vital is complete and routine data-capture (to an immutable audit trail) of the entire surveillance decision-making process and subsequent implementation. This will allow us to rewind whatever they did, after the event, to see whether what they did was necessary and proportionate. Personally I would prefer that data to be available on demand to what we might call a Public Auditing Jury. This would render the process democratic, but I would accept his new judicial body as an interim compromise.

The most important point is that it's usually not what they do or who authorises an operation which matters. There will always be occasions in the field where actions are necessary prior to the possibility of consultation and authorisation. What matters is that everything they do is recorded, so we can review what was done in our name. Any material activity not found to be recorded on the Audit Trail would be an automatic criminal offence, as would any attempt to prevent access to the audit trail by the oversight body (be that Jury or Judges)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A Step in the Right Direction

Problem is, what are the chances his judicial oversight will see the light of day? Personally I'd say less than no chance unfortunately. I'd agree that with it much of this becomes at least a point for discussion, a starting point, and such oversight is what every commentator worth their salt, and most commentaries on ElReg have been arguing for for a long, long time. But it's not going to wash with either May, her shadow, or pretty much anyone on either front bench. Can you imagine Andy "every email address should be registered" Burnham arguing against politicians right to interfere for political gain in terms of 'tough on XYZ" knee jerk responses?

Perhaps the Lords will once again do us a favour, but with Labours halfwit opportunists backing the Tory paranoiacs, I'm sure the one thing most people want will be the one thing we won't get; the polictically safe finger on the trigger will yet again get its way.

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Re: A Step in the Right Direction

I share your pessimism but I sense we have an opportunity to get the right arguments a fair hearing for the next few months at least. I've just got my campaign started. I look forward to yours...

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Anonymous Coward

Whew!

"... describes as "the four horsemen of the infopocalypse: drug-dealers, money-launderers, terrorists, and pedophiles."

Fair enough. As long as the real target is crack smoking pedoterrorists who launder money, the rest of us will have nothing to fear. Good job we all know we can trust Home Secretaries not to overreach themselves and stray into political espionage or persecution of whistleblowers.

On the other hand, it's clear they're going to cherry pick this to ensure business as usual, while using the report as a rather tenuous fig leaf till they've got the legislation of their wet dreams. And all in Magna Carta's big anniversary year.

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WTF?

Wait. What?

"... describes as "the four horsemen of the infopocalypse: drug-dealers, money-launderers, terrorists, and pedophiles."

So there going to be investigating politicians, their advisors, and the entertainment industries? Am I missing something here? [Another Half-a-Joke.]

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Unhappy

The good news about Theresa May is...

At least her name gives some decent openings for mockery.

-Theresa May be a cryptofascist

-Theresa May go fuck herself

-Theresa May be be paranoid

Seriously, NO revisions to existing surveillance practices?

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Re: The good news about Theresa May is...

Much as I loath Theresa May (and everyone else who has had the Home Secretary title for the last 30 years), it is clear that it is the Snivel Serpents in the Home Office who are behind all this. Previously sane(-ish) people like Jack Straw became indistinguishable from loons like David Blunkett and Theresa May. And here is the problem - get rid of the current holder of this sinecure, and the next one will be exactly the same. Any plans for changing this situation gratfully received.

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Relatively good on Encryption

Having waded through quite a bit of the report, three paragraphs in particular seem pertinent to the encryption debate:

13.11 ...There may be all sorts of reasons – not least, secure encryption – why it is not physically possible to intercept a particular communication, or track a particular individual. But the power to do so needs to exist, even if it is only usable in cases where skill or trickery can provide a way around the obstacle. ...

13.12 ... Few now contend for a master key to all communications held by the state, for a requirement to hold data locally in unencrypted form, or for a guaranteed facility to insert back doors into any telecommunications system. Such tools threaten the integrity of our communications and of the internet itself. Far preferable, on any view, is a law-based system in which encryption keys are handed over (by service providers or by the users themselves) only after properly authorised requests.

13.13 ...there is a compelling public interest in being able to penetrate any channel of communication, however partially or sporadically. ... Hence the argument for permitting ingenious or intrusive techniques (such as bulk data analysis or Computer Network Exploitation) which may go some way towards enabling otherwise insuperable obstacles to be circumvented

So, he seems to be saying that encryption should not be legislated against (as now), laws should exist to force people to hand over keys (as now, but step forward perfect forward secrecy) and GCHQ should be allowed to try to break encryption (again, presumably as now).

Laws forcing password hand over remain troubling, particularly for those of us getting older and more forgetful, but they have two big flaws from GCHQ's point of view; (a) they are expensive to apply so can't be done on a massive scale and (b) the suspect then knows for certain that they are being investigated. Otherwise, it remains that case that we can try to make our systems more secure and GCHQ can expend effort and money trying to break in - Game On!

Of course, this is all just a report with no legal powers from a lawyer who can be replaced if he starts saying too many sensible things. It remains to be seen if May and Cameron take any notice of it!

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Re: Relatively good on Encryption

That's fine, as long as GCHQ aren't allowed to do any of the above without a judge-issued warrant.

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Headmaster

With Pertinent Regard to Special Forces in Securing Any System

One cannot effectively defend unless one knows the means and memes of successful attack and a smarter friend and/or foe will always surely choose to successfully attack a corrupt and inequitable system which cannot be effectively defended. In IT too, is it only natural .... the survival of the fittest in the species.

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