back to article US told to quit sharing data with human rights-violating surveillance regime. Which one, you ask? That'd be the UK

UK authorities should not be granted access to data held by American companies because British laws don't meet human rights obligations, nine nonprofits have said. In a letter to the US Department of Justice, organisations including Human Rights Watch and the Electronic Frontier Foundation set out their concerns about the UK's …

  1. The Specialist

    People in glass houses ...

    shouldn't be throwing stones!

  2. The Specialist

    Re: People in glass houses ...

    To add to my earlier comment, I don't condone behaviour of British Government either. 2 wrongs and all that.

  3. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Re: People in glass houses ...

    2 wrongs and all that.

    Indeed this is a case where 2 wrongs result in the taking away of a right.

  4. quxinot

    Re: People in glass houses ...

    Must admit that I agree. After reading:

    >UK authorities should not be granted access to data held by American companies because British laws don't meet human rights obligations, nine nonprofits have said.<

    My initial thought was "So what? US laws don't meet them either!"

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: People in glass houses ...

    @The Specialist, et al; From your comment and others elsewhere in the thread, people seem to be assuming(?) that it's the US *government* who said this. No-one appears to have spotted that this isn't what the story claims at all:-

    "UK authorities should not be granted access to data held by American companies because British laws don't meet human rights obligations, nine nonprofits have said."

    "In a letter to [emphasis: "to", not "by"] the US Department of Justice, organisations including Human Rights Watch and the Electronic Frontier Foundation set out their concerns about the UK's surveillance and data retention regimes."

    If you still want to engage in point-scoring because they're Americans regardless and their government is worse than the UK's, then- whether or not that's the case- I'd argue that you're distracting from the fact they probably have a legitimate point and are playing into the hands of authoritarian types on *both* sides of the Pond.

  6. tfewster Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Re: People in glass houses ...

    And they say that Americans don't "get" irony.

  7. streaky Silver badge

    Re: People in glass houses ...

    2 wrongs and all that

    2 wrongs for sure but data flows both ways. If the EU took the same view about the US things would get very messy very quickly. The problem is how low the bar is, it's basically on the floor. UK *does* have strong protections is the trick, it'd be nice if they [the government] unfucked a few things is all. Some proper competent oversight for GCHQ would be a good start.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: People in glass houses ...

    "VMy initial thought was "So what? US laws don't meet them either!""

    -----------------------------

    Which is why, if you want to be secure, you lock ALL of the doors, one at a time, if need be.

    You don't say 'gosh, there are other doors that are not locked, no point in locking this one'.

  9. JohnMurray

    Re: People in glass houses ...

    That'll happen: Not

  10. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    You know you're doing something wrong...

    ...when voices from the US say you're holding onto too much information gathered from spying on your own citizens.

  11. Steve Knox Silver badge
    Trollface

    Re: You know you're doing something wrong...

    Specifically, what you're doing wrong is allowing your government to collect your personal data.

    Any red-blooded American knows you should be allowing private companies to be doing the collecting, and the government will leech off of them.

  12. John Mangan

    I couldn't help wondering...

    ..if the US(!!) has concerns about this what are the chances that we will get a data adequacy agreement with the EU post-Brexit?

    It may not be as straightforward as the government claimed only a week or two ago.

    Colour me surprised. (Well, not *that* surprised).

  13. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Re: I couldn't help wondering...

    It may not be as straightforward as the government claimed only a week or two ago.

    Colour me surprised. (Well, not *that* surprised).

    Me, not at all surprised.

    Actually, I think I posited there was a risk of this once we leave 'the club'.

    Slightly surprised that murmurings of concern from the US over it though (okay, not that surprised - they do tend to be quite protective proprietorial over it's own citizens data while thinking everyone in the worlds is fair game.

  14. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    Re: I couldn't help wondering...

    Hear Hear. Today Albion stands accused of non-compliance with EU law, come April Fools Day it may have left the Contintental Communautarity altogether.

  15. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Coat

    Re: I couldn't help wondering...

    I guess EU will ask the UK to cease intercepting all communications in the EU and that can get bloody because they can always wave the WTO flag ;-)

    We deserve it!

  16. LDS Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Warrants? It doesn't look to me US warrants are valid abroad...

    ... which is what CLOUD Act asserts -as they can lift data abroad as long as it's a US company holding them. The agreement with a state is needed only if such a state wants to have access to data stored in the US - of course with far more limitations than US asserts to have on data abroad.

    Looks to me a fundamental violation of citizen rights if they are so "unlucky" (pun intended) to live outside US.

    The only "agreement" state should allow is to tell US that any access to data stored inside their jurisdiction without a local court approval and warrant will be punished to the maximum extent.

  17. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Windows

    I am confused

    That the US criticizes any other country about human rights obligations is something rich, but saying that "the nation doesn't adhere to human rights obligations and commitments" is, as far as I can see, simply wrong.

    The UK has ratified the Bill of Rights, it has ratified all protocols of the Geneva Convention (something the USA has yet to do), and, as far as I can recall, British soldiers have never found themselves accused of torture, neither has Her Majesty approved of such methods - contrary to US soldiers and government.

    Yes, there is that spying issue and it is not going away any time soon. Still, I find it quite rich to see USAians accusing the British of being untrustworthy with data !

  18. BigSLitleP

    Re: I am confused

    "and, as far as I can recall, British soldiers have never found themselves accused of torture"

    Oh yes they have.....

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/iraq-torture-claims-new-allegations-against-british-soldiers-to-go-to-international-criminal-court-9923409.html

    We're no better than the Americans.

  19. John Mangan

    Re: I am confused

    I would say slightly better. So far as I know the US won't even let its soldiers be charged?

    'American Exceptionalism' or somesuch nonsense.

  20. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Re: I am confused

    neither has Her Majesty approved of such methods - contrary to US soldiers and government.

    Well, obviously not, it would be damn clumsy to leave a trail of culpability to anyone important far better to gently nudge some naive, patriotic and suitably incensed squadies to 'take all necessary measures'

  21. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Re: I am confused

    The UK has ratified the Bill of Rights, it has ratified all protocols of the Geneva Convention

    That's not really the topic of concern here though, it's the US concerned over the UKs data retention fetish - that impringes on their 'highland sword dance' round their own constitution and the various pertinent amendments.

    It's basically a liability issue I think - the UK legislation pumped out in each new Snoopers Charter is after all vague and legally untested.

  22. Remy Redert

    Re: I am confused

    Sure you are. Your government recognizes the ICC and should it come to pass that the ICC finds that crimes were committed, will most likely cooperate in ensuring that at least those directly responsible are punished.

    Meanwhile the US has threatened to ex-filtrate by force any US troops charged and arrested for war crimes by the ICC.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: I am confused

    @Pascal Monett; Saying "the US criticizes" gives the impression that it was their government that said it, when in fact it was a grouping of independent US nonprofit organisations.

    Bear in mind that these are the types the current authoritarian White House administration would most likely be opposed to.

    If you *still* want to criticise them simply because they're "USAians" and their government is supposedly worse than "ours", I'd argue that providing the "divide" in "divide and conquer" benefits would-be authoritarians on *both* sides of the Atlantic by distracting from what they're doing and contributes to the normalisation of such attitudes worldwide, which ultimately drags down the baseline for everyone.

  24. WolfFan Silver badge

    Re: I am confused

    British soldiers have never found themselves accused of torture

    Oh, yes they have. See further 'Crawnpore Well' and results thereof, to start. Look up what the 'dirty pig' means, or what 'blowing off the muzzle of a gun' means. That was mostly Scots troops, mostly Highlanders at that. (Colin Campbell was the very last British field commander to personally lead an assault wave, sword in hand, in the second relief of Lucknow. With, of course, a boy piper playing "Cock o' the North".) 80 or so years later, see what happened after troops of the 14th Army, particularly Sikhs and the Nigerians and Kenyans in the African divisions, but including several Scots and English regiments, found out what the Japanese had been up to in Burma. (Lots of Japanese really, really, REALLY regretted, briefly, having used Sikh PoWs for bayonet practice. And others found that murdering Nigerian and Kenyan PoWs has serious, if brief, consequences.) If you can count Canadians, see what a certain Canadian unit from Normandy to the end of the war (hint: if you were SS, it was better to surrender to the Russkies than to the Canadians, all the Russkies would do would be to kill you, the Canadians were pissed and stayed pissed for a long time). Certain British units adopted the Canadian attitude after liberating Bergen-Belsen. Sensibly, no-one in higher authority lifted a finger to stop any of this; they'd probably have been shot. (Some American troops, on liberating another concentration camp, took one look and grabbed all the SS they could find and stuck them against the nearest wall and machine-gunned the lot. An officer tried to stop them; he was hit over the head with a rifle butt and would have been shot himself except that some of his troops defended him.)

  25. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
    FAIL

    Re: I am confused

    The US hasn't criticized it; 9 non-profit organisations have. RTFA.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Hooded Men

    (Ireland v. United Kingdom, 1976 Y.B. Eur. Conv. on Hum. Rts. 512, 748, 788-94 [Eur. Comm’n of Hum. Rts.])

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: I am confused

    "Meanwhile the US has threatened to ex-filtrate by force any US troops charged and arrested for war crimes by the ICC."

    Well, I can't blame them for putting their leg between the ball and the wicket. A lot of them haven't even heard of cricket, let alone the international cricket council.

    Oh, you mean the *other* ICC....

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm....

    A phrase springs to mind which contains the words "pot" and "kettle"....

  29. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Re: Hmm....

    A phrase springs to mind which contains the words "pot" and "kettle"....

    More like black hole and singularity...

  30. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Re: Hmm....More like black hole and singularity

    I am a little confused. Which one has the event horizon and which one has the naked singularity?

    Or are we suggesting that the UK has an event horizon at the end of next March whereas the US has to wait till 2020 to get a chance of one?

  31. GnuTzu Bronze badge
    Big Brother

    1984

    And, the nationality of that author... Could that be saying something about his prescience?

    Anyway, good point on the throwing stones stuff and such. This has become a global issue and, we need to be vigilant about reigning those that say our governments need more powers to be, um, more vigilant. These things have to balance out, but they'll quickly get out of balance if we don't continually insist on balance.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: 1984 ... and, the nationality of that author...

    And there is also "The Iron Heel", and the nationality of *that* author.

  33. Jamie Jones Silver badge
    Stop

    Pot, kettle? So what!

    To some commenters: if we are breaching rules, let them call us out for it. *If* they aren't much better, it shouldn't affect our moral stance.

    Don't turn this into a "whataboutism?"

    Incidentally, I'd love Boris, Mogg, Farrage, and all the other chancers to explain this:

    "Meanwhile, the UK's surveillance regime has repeatedly been found to fall short of European standards. The letter noted a recent ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that found various failings on the government's oversight of bulk interception of communications."

    So, what about all this "taking back control" that the BRexiters bang on about? Surely it's not the case already where the UK does whatever the hell it wants when it cares, and uses the EU as an excuse in other cicrumstances? Surely not!

  34. Tom 38 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Re: Pot, kettle? So what!

    ECHR is not part of EU

  35. Pseu Donyme

    Re: ECHR is not part of EU

    Quite, but the former is required to be in the latter.

  36. VicMortimer
    Black Helicopters

    Lots of whataboutism in the comments.

    The US and UK have BOTH got some human rights problems. And they're frequently different human rights problems. So let's not play Reece's Peanut Butter Cups with them and combine them, they don't taste great together.

  37. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    This was my thought too. The US has a not-great record, but the failings of the US govt. shouldn't preclude others who happen to hail from that country from criticising others. Even if it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black, that doesn't affect the blackness, or otherwise, of the kettle. In reality, nobody is squeaky-clean, but that shouldn't preclude us from getting the Brasso out to brighten things up a bit, and stretch this analogy to death.

  38. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    They do, GCHQ is spying on USians for the NSA, because they are not allowed to, that is, I think, what the NGO's target ... they should probably be targeting MS and facebook as well, but that is another problem ...

  39. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Interesting

    I noticed part of the complaint was the ability to side step the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution. What the real concern is not specifically the UK but that allowing another country to snoop can be a way to avoid the US Bill of Rights by the Feral DO(In)J and state level counterparts. Look what they found and they were so nice to tell us about it (wink, wink, nod, nod) with no US warrant involved. The end run is a foreign country could 'investigate' someone as the nudging of a dirty prosecutor come up with something that could be used as the basis of charges or search warrants. All this when the dirtbag had real evidence to pursue someone and would not normally get a warrant from the court of any type.

  40. LordHighFixer

    Re: Interesting

    I noted that as well, and as far as I can tell, there would not even have to be any dirty deeds involved, just a friendly letter to any other country saying, hey, we can't really look at or for this or that, and the other country could rip through as much data as necessary, and turn it over, no fuss, no muss, no warrant. A violation of fourth amendment rights in the US tends to get a lot of people, with hidden stashes of weapons and such, cranky.

  41. astounded1

    I Thought 007 And M Handled All This In S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

    And Blofeld is in prison.

    Now, you're saying the Brits and the U.S. are about to collaborate on exactly the sort of system that Bond uncovered and put down?

    Who can believe anything anymore?

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some perspective

    First, both the US's and UK's governments are guilty of egregious privacy violations, and both should shut the fuck up when it comes to pointing fingers.

    Second, never confuse the people of a country with the shit stains running their government. Most people are, on average, at least reasonably decent. Most politicians are sociopathic assholes.

    Third, after the politicians comes the bureaucracy (or "deep state" or whatever you want to call it). The bureaucracy's first and foremost priority (far beyond all others, to the extent that if anything else happens it's almost accidental by comparison) is the protection and expansion of the bureaucracy.

  43. mark l 2 Silver badge

    We have seen the UKs definition of 'serious crime' for asking for data from ISP become as low as where someone could be given a 6 month custodial sentence, which pretty much covers all crime even petty theft such as nicking a chocolate bar. If this definition is carried over to request data from the US for the UK to investigate 'serious crime' I can see the requests coming thick and fast I would have some concerns about that if I were the US.

  44. EnviableOne Bronze badge

    FISA section 702

    UNCHR Article 12

    that is all

  45. Aodhhan Bronze badge

    When someone bad mouths you--what do you think?

    Why is it, people in England always try to compare/contrast themselves to the USA? Having lived in both countries, I know very well... they are two very different cultures and have many differing ideals.

    One thing I always thought was funny, is how many English think they know anything about America. Fact is, they only know what their press tells them. It's interesting, the English know how inaccurate their press is when it comes to stories about their own people and have little trust for the press--except when it comes to information about the USA. Then of course, their press is perfect. Ludicrous, right?

    Take Trump stories. English press only present to the people bad things without saying one of the many good things he's done. Does it occur to you why Trumps favorability numbers are increasing in the USA?

    Most American's get why the English keep odd scores on things, like it's some sort of competition--but the fact is, most American's don't really care what people in England think, but American's do take note of the constant bad mouthing from England.

    For those who think America believes it pushes their will upon other nations and has double standards:

    American's are more than happy to keep their money at home and let another country take over the leadership of the world--but nobody else steps up. Not even the UK. Seems the UK would rather be a critic than a leader. Any moron can take this position on things, right? France's President Macron proves this point well.

    Step up or shut up. Otherwise, all you appear to be is an under achieving loud mouth with an inferiority complex.

  46. The Specialist

    Re: When someone bad mouths you--what do you think?

    @Aaodhhan

    "For those who think America believes it pushes their will upon other nations and has double standards"

    They all that sir, it is just US is brazen about it.

    How else would you justify US imposing embargoes to other nations without the support of UN and threatening any nations / corporations if they choose not to take your advise even if they have no business interests in US nor use USD as payment?

    Old adage was speak softly carry a big stick. Nowadays, US policy is to shout from roof tops and threaten.

  47. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Coat

    Re: When someone bad mouths you--what do you think?

    "one of the many good things he's done" ? Oh, I assume you have one example ? I know you used a plural there, but I cannot think of a single one.

    As for the UK, you're too kind, not only have they not chosen to take over the world, they lied to the people about lorries stuffed with cash coming, got the vote they wanted, and are now digging a big hole to bury themselves into.

    I read BBC and Guardian, for both it's heavily salted, with a bullet-proof-bullshit-detector. BTW, I also read USian, German, French, and Dutch press, using the same salt & detector. All I can say is they are all pretty hostile to Trump. I read UK tabloid press when I need a bad joke, no, I do not need my detector for that, I tried once, it fired for every third word.

  48. Alan Brown Silver badge

    The two countries which penned the EU Declaration of Human RIghts

    Are the ones which are most enthusiastic about breaching them.

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