back to article Snowden's Big Brother isn't as Orwellian as you'd think

Few will forget learning the truth about Santa Claus. Many also felt deep shock on realising that a hitherto ultra-secret NSA/GCHQ programme, revealed in documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, was constantly rating everyone on a naughty-nice metric based on indiscriminate covert surveillance all their online activity …

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      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: "Orwellian" isn't an absolute

        One aspect of the panopticon is that we are all talking about our rights and privacy etc. when we really should be asking..

        "What right have they to do this?"

        1. scrubber

          Re: "Orwellian" isn't an absolute

          Rights are taken, not given.

          This is why civil rights disputes end up in civil war or civil violence, usually perpetrated by those in possession of those rights who don't want to see others granted them.

          It is also why the might of state has to be fought at every turn because even when they claim new powers/rights in order to help us they will always, eventually, turn that round against us.

  1. Titus Technophobe
    Thumb Up

    Nice article ...

    This seems to be a very balanced article about the Snowden revelations. Perhaps the most telling comment from my perspective is:

    In an Orwellian world, Edward Snowden would never have made it to Hong Kong, and if he had, his stories would never have been heard by those living under the boot of Big Brother.

    Something all the tin hatters on here might bear in mind.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Re: Nice article ...

      "In an Orwellian world, Edward Snowden would never have made it to Hong Kong, and if he had, his stories would never have been heard by those living under the boot of Big Brother.

      Something all the tin hatters on here might bear in mind."

      That the world is not yet Orwellian? Oh yes, I'm bearing that in mind. I do find it amusing that you think the fact that we've not quite run out of time in which fix this is cause for celebration though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nice article ...

        I think you'll find he means that if GCHQ / NSA were intercepting and monitoring everyone's comms to the level some of the tin hat brigade think then we would never have heard of snowden at all. He would simply have fallen under a bus on the way home from work one evening.

      2. Psyx

        Re: Nice article ...

        "That the world is not yet Orwellian? Oh yes, I'm bearing that in mind. I do find it amusing that you think the fact that we've not quite run out of time in which fix this is cause for celebration though."

        So what are you doing about it beside moaning on forums about it, if it's so crucial to you?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nice article ...

          "So what are you doing about it beside moaning on forums about it, if it's so crucial to you?"

          Nothing more than that. Which is still substantially more than saying nothing, or worse still suggesting that it's somehow all OK.

          1. Psyx

            Re: Nice article ...

            "Nothing more than that. Which is still substantially more than saying nothing, or worse still suggesting that it's somehow all OK."

            No it's not.

            It's pointless bad karma. It's worse than nothing really: You are aware of the threat enough to get hot under the collar about it, but take no action. If it matters enough to cause a raise in blood temperature it's worth doing something about. Otherwise you might be sat there in ten years in a worse situation than you are now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice article ...

      In an Orwellian world, Edward Snowden would never have made it to Hong Kong, and if he had, his stories would never have been heard by those living under the boot of Big Brother.

      The absence of total control is not evidence of absence of lesser controls. If Snowden had suffered any delay on his flight I suspect the story would have ended very differently. You may recall that his ability to travel pretty much ended the moment the US woke up to what had happened.

      1. Titus Technophobe

        Re: Nice article ...

        ... is not evidence of absence of lesser controls. If Snowden had suffered any delay on his flight I suspect the story would have ended very differently....

        And yet the story would have still got out, and published by the Guardian .. a media outlet under the repressive jackboot of UK Government and GCHQ, or maybe not?

      2. a53

        Re: Nice article ...

        You may recall that his ability to travel pretty much ended the moment the US woke up to what had happened. === And did our American cousins deliberately time the removal of his passport rights so that he was stuck, in of all places, Russia ? Thus allowing them to further demean him.

    3. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Nice article ...

      "Something all the tin hatters on here might bear in mind."

      I seem to recall something about a flight being forced down because they thought Snowden was onboard. That suggests to me that they were just not quick enough off the mark, rather than not trying.

      I also think that "Tin hatters" might end up being less and less of a derogatory remark as time goes by.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Loon Re: Nice article ...

        ".....I seem to recall something about a flight being forced down....." No-one was 'forced down', despite what the more hysterical sheeple want to claim. Morales' personal jet was refused permission to overfly several countries as it was presumed there was a discrepancy between the manifest and the actual number of people onboard, which is an international crime (effectively people-smuggling). Rather than force the jet to land and be inspected, permission to enter airspace was denied. The jet was then too short of fuel to return to Moscow so had to divert to another airport, where the local authorities exercised their right to confirm the manifest. Once this had been done the jet was allowed on its way. Morales and co made much political hay from the event but the jet was not 'forced down' and nothing 'illegal' was involved, all the authorities concerned were well within their legal rights.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Loon Nice article ...

          "Morales and co made much political hay from the event but the jet was not 'forced down' and nothing 'illegal' was involved, all the authorities concerned were well within their legal rights."

          Force doesn't have to be applied at the point of a gun. Refusing the aircraft permission to pass through various territories had the net effect of making them land where they didn't want or plan to, that's being forced. I didn't say they did it with military jets and gesitculating airforce pilots.

          Whilst their actions weren't illegal, it was because they thought Snowden was onboard - which was exactly my point. They went to a great deal of effort to get hold of him, and failed.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Pirate

            Re: Loon Nice article ...

            ".....Refusing the aircraft permission to pass through various territories had the net effect of making them land where they didn't want or plan to, that's being forced....." No. The countries that chose to refuse overflight did so because it was less politically messy than directing the aircraft to land at an airport for a manifest inspection, which they could have legally done and which they would have done with a non-VIP flight. In effect, those countries passed the buck. It was Morales' hesitation that then prevented him returning to Moscow, if he had turned back at the first refusal (France) then he could have made it back to Russia on the fuel they had left.

            ".....I didn't say they did it with military jets and gesitculating airforce pilots....." Forced down is a very emotive term, with implications of the 'victim' complying against their will due to the threat of violence (being buzzed or shot down by fighters). The reality was Morales had the choice not to land Vienna and allow the Austrians to search the plane, he could have refused (though his remaining fuel would have seriously hampered his choices). He put himself in the position of needing to land in Austria because of his political grandstanding. As I pointed out, if he had turned around when first advised he could not cross French airspace then he could have returned directly to Moscow. Morales wasn't forced to do anything, so the term forced down is completely unjustified.

            ".....Whilst their actions weren't illegal, it was because they thought Snowden was onboard...." Agreed.

            "......They went to a great deal of effort to get hold of him, and failed." I think it was more of a case they wanted to make it clear to Snowjob and his supporters that he would not be allowed to just bolt for cover, that all LEGAL avenues would be used to block that. It would have been a bonus if they had found Snowjob in that they could embarrass Morales and Putin, but they would not have been able to actually remove him from the aircraft anyway. At best, they could refuse Snowjob entry to Austria and they could insist Morales turn around and take him back to Moscow, which is hardly the same as 'grabbing him'. Snowjob would have to actually leave the aircraft and put feet on Austrian soil in order for an International Arrest Warrant to apply, and I'm pretty sure even Morales would have the smarts to work out the Austrians would not risk the political fallout of storming the jet and grabbing Snowjob. As to the 'great trouble', all it would have taken is one phone call to each country on the route, it only needed one to buckle for the trick to work. Germany was one country earlier on the flightpath that did not deny Morales overflight, it was the French that did. I suspect it was more an exercise in keeping Snowjob bottled up and far from those, like Greenwald or Castro, that would use him for propaganda appearances, rather than an attempt to 'grab him', and in that respect it worked just fine.

            1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

              Re: Loon Nice article ...

              "if he had turned back at the first refusal (France) then he could have made it back to Russia on the fuel they had left."

              Ok, I didn't realise that.

              "Forced down is a very emotive term"

              Agreed. Not intentionally used to add drama but re-reading my post it does imply the use of fighters etc. due to common parlance.

              "I think it was more of a case they wanted to make it clear to Snowjob and his supporters that he would not be allowed to just bolt for cover"

              I think we'll have to agree to differ on that one. Speculating as to what might or might not have happened if Snowden had been found on the plane is just that, speculation. You might be correct, it's certainly not impossible for their motives to be as you describe (especially if they *knew* he wasn't on the plane) but if he was there I think the scenario would have played out quite differently - but that's my opinion.

  2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Typical.

    This thread is a great example of exactly why it is pointless trying to debate with the sheeple. The responses here are the typical response - 'how dare anyone insist we calmly and rationally examine the issue!' To do so is verboten as it would undermine what they so desperately want to baaaah-lieve, that their own personal failings are not their own fault but are due to some nefarious, capitalistic Big Brother that seeks to oppress them at every turn. So much easier to baaaah-lieve in The Man.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Typical.

      > it is pointless trying to debate with the sheeple.

      Well, characterising people as 'sheeple' isn't the best way to converse with anyone.

      1. Flyberius

        Re: Typical.

        Sheeple is a good way of describing them.

        "Intelligence agencies are baaaaaaaad. UK gov is baaaaaaaaad. Glassholes are baaaaaaad."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Typical.

          2 out of 3 isn't, umm, baaaad, though

          :)

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Typical.

      I've got a self-protective filter in my brain that means I stop reading almost any post when I come to certain words. As it's almost certainly going to be drivel, bollocks or self-regarding rubbish. There are exceptions, where someone's gone overboard halfway through a well made argument, but you have to have been making some sense first to get me to keep reading once I meet one of these keywords:

      sheeple

      LibLabCon

      shill

      EUSSR

      New World Order (though I haven't seen this in a while)

      Positive Money

      HAARP (another one you don't see much these days)

      I'm thinking of adding:

      Piketty

      bitcoin

      fractional reserve banking (which really doesn't mean what some people seem to think it means)

      Could someone build a Firefox plugin to automate this, and build a good blacklist? Or maybe have a spam scoring system. So any post that has bitcoin, gold, fractional reserve banking, end of Wester capitalism combined can be filtered out. Admittedly if you operated this, The Telegraph comments sections would suddenly be almost totally empty - the Guardian still appears to have some sane commentards trying to survive in the screaming chaos.

      Pluspoints if this filter can also automatically downvote people who call anyone who disagrees with them sheeple of shills.

      1. Psyx

        Re: Typical.

        Oooh..ooh.. can we add 'sheeple' to the list?

        I hate that word. It basically means 'I'm looking down on everyone because I think I'm special and know something they don't, and I have zero empathy'.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: Typical.

          Well, if we're making a list I'd like to add

          Obambi

          Snowjob

          1. Graham Marsden

            @ All of the above posters - Re: Typical.

            You know, with a little work, we could use this list and a few other bits and pieces to create the Matt-o-Tron!

            Firstly it needs to come up with an "amusing" variation on someone's name.

            Then it needs to be set to cherry pick bits of arguments which it can "win" by ignoring any facts that it can't counter and introducing a selection of mobile goalposts.

            Next add in various references to sheeple, comments about baaaah-lieving, assorted irrelevant straw-men arguments (and a whine or two about those who comment on this behaviour aren't adding anything to the debate) and season to taste.

            Finally chuck in an ad hominem or three and BINGO: Instant Matt Bryant post!

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Marsbarbrain Re: @ All of the above posters - Typical.

              You missed out a very key bit - the facts and arguments the sheeple can't disprove so ignore or deny. I would have thought even you with your goldfish-like attention span would be able to recall how recently you had been proven wrong by exactly such points you attempted to deny. BTW, show me the 'chilling of liberty', as you claimed you could, or are you going to deny that too?

              1. Graham Marsden

                @Matt Bryant - Re: Marsbarbrain @ All of the above posters - Typical.

                BINGO!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @ All of the above posters - Typical.

              You know, with a little work, we could use this list and a few other bits and pieces to create the Matt-o-Tron!

              You do realise that by concentrating and commenting on an individual instead of the topic at hand you're actually amplifying the problem? If you have a problem with a PERSON, downvote them but shut up otherwise, that's much more effective. Focus on the discussion, not on the person.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @ All of the above posters - Typical.

                Good point. And a more effective one is to report abuse when he kicks off. I've done it a few times recently and made his rude ravings go away.

            3. BlueGreen

              Re: @ All of the above posters - Typical.

              > You know, with a little work, we could use this list and a few other bits and pieces to create the Matt-o-Tron!

              Matt can sure generate long crappy posts in a hurry. I wondered if it was all handmade so I've kind of made a mental list of entries in his possible sed script

              .

              s/ sp / sheeple /ig

              s/ bv / baaaah-lieve /ig

              s/ msf /. This is my surprised face, honest! /ig

              s/ s / stupid /ig # note to self - saves a lot of typing does this one

              s/ hb / hysterical bleating /ig

              s/ pf / paranoid fantasy /ig

              s/ dya / debunked you yet again /ig

              s/ imyg / I AM YOUR GOD /ig # Need even more(!?) proof before I use this one or might be mistaken for delusional

              .

              Any I've missed?

              (You are actually quite fun, plumpness. Keep it up!)

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                FAIL

                Re: YawnGreen Re: @ All of the above posters - Typical.

                ".....Any I've missed?..." Well, as usual, you have not posted any arguments, facts or references to do with the actual thread, instead concentrating on a rather sad personal attack (presumably because, once again, you cannot argue the points I raise). Hey, I'm sure it helps keep the spirits of the flock up but it does illustrate how desperate you are to avoid both independent thought and views that challenge your Faith.

                1. BlueGreen

                  Re: YawnGreen @ All of the above posters - Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

                  Wonderful suggestion plumpkins!

                  s/ wauyhnpaafortdwtaticoarspapboaycatpirhisihktsotfubidihdyatabitavtcyf / Well, as usual, you have not posted any arguments, facts or references to do with the actual thread, instead concentrating on a rather sad personal attack (presumably because, once again, you cannot argue the points I raise). Hey, I'm sure it helps keep the spirits of the flock up but it does illustrate how desperate you are to avoid both independent thought and views that challenge your Faith. /ig

                  Nice one lambchop, thanks!

                  1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                    FAIL

                    Re: YawnGreen @ All of the above posters - Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

                    A script to replicate your endeavours would be more along the lines of make statement, deny statement, repeat. Throw in a few childish insults and pretend it makes an argument. So, where's the proof of 'harm' you promised?

                    1. Graham Marsden

                      Re: YawnGreen @ All of the above posters - Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

                      > A script to replicate your endeavours would be more along the lines of make statement, deny statement, repeat. Throw in a few childish insults and pretend it makes an argument.

                      Erm, Matt, that's a mirror you're looking into...

                      > So, where's the proof of 'harm' you promised?

                      You mean *apart* from the multiple examples I and others have already given that you've ignored or moved the goalposts on?

                      What *would* you accept, Matt? A voice from the heavens? Carved stone tablets? It's clear that nothing is good enough to convince you that there may be another viewpoint other than yours and past evidence has shown that there's no point in wasting more time on trying to remove your blinkers.

                      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                        FAIL

                        Re: Marsbarbrain Re: YawnGreen @ All of the above posters - Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

                        "....You mean *apart* from the multiple examples I and others have already given that you've ignored or moved the goalposts on?...." All of which I debunked and all of which you have desperately tried to claim 'moving goalposts' to avoid admitting you were wrong. Like your classic claim that you could demonstrate how the NSA was 'chilling liberty' only to fail with some trade association report about Occupy given to the Washington DC fusion center that had NOTHING to do with the NSA. I would say 'try harder' but that might only encourage your denial.

                        ".....What *would* you accept, Matt?...." The verifiable proof you stated you could easily provide. It has nothing to do with viewpoints, just with you actually supplying some evidence to back up the farcical claims you use as the basis for your whacky viewpoints. Don't be so surprised when people laugh at you when it becomes obvious your claims have no basis in reality.

                2. Psyx

                  Re: YawnGreen @ All of the above posters - Typical.

                  " instead concentrating on a rather sad personal attack "

                  Welll heeellllllllloooo pot!

    3. BlueGreen

      Re: Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

      Hello plumpness. The reason many of us don't want to argue with you is you pick and choose facts like jelly babies, that is, those presented to you that you dislike get scornfully discarded, and in their place you can at times get a little... creative with reality, shall we say. And you can plain misrepresent what they say when convenient. That's not how it works, lambchop.

      Then again maybe it's your manners. Who said this "...or STFU you boring, repetitive, lying, moronic sheep". You can find it here if you can't remember.

      That people can sincerely and with good reason hold different opinions to you isn't something you seem to understand.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. tom dial Silver badge

          Re: Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

          Rudeness and name calling turn most people away from any valid points you might have made. Hence the down votes.

        2. BlueGreen

          Re: Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

          > I choose facts that illustrate the stupidity and denial of your sheeple baaaah-liefs

          You sure do. Very selectively. Ignoring the inconvenient ones (remember your crap about high speed text reading through envelopes? Man that was funny!)

          > which you always are unable to counter.

          So true!

          > Oh, BTW, still waiting on you proving the 'harm' done to you after you insisted the NSA were doing so.

          Did I say that, did I lambchop?.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: YawnGreen Re: Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

            ".....Did I say that...." I challenged you to show the harm you claimed the actions of such organisations as the NSA and GCHQ were having on you or anyone to you know, seeing as you claimed they were gathering secrets on everyone for the distinct purpose of oppressing everyone. You have danced around and avoided the issue ever since, because you know, even in your deluded state, what you claim as fact is just paranoid bleating. So, post your proof of harm or admit you can't. Or, more likely, you will just continue avoiding the question and posting more dribbling, fact-free insults.

            1. BlueGreen

              Re: YawnGreen Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

              > seeing as you claimed they were gathering secrets on everyone for the distinct purpose of oppressing everyone

              but plumpkins, as before, I didn't say that. That ridiculously misrepresents and over-simplifies my concerns. I even provided a nice linky for you but it appears your got a case of butterhooves (and such delicate little hooves they are too! Beautiful!) and didn't manage to click on it. Shall I paste it all in here in full, would that help?

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                FAIL

                Re: YawnGreen Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

                ".....I didn't say that...." Yes you did, and you still are avoiding posting anything to support your claim.

                1. BlueGreen

                  Re: YawnGreen Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

                  > ".....I didn't say that...." Yes you did

                  Post a link please my little plumpgasm, as I don't recall doing so.

                  1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                    FAIL

                    Re: YawnGreen Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

                    IIRC, I challenged you to prove the 'harm' you claimed was happening to 'everyone' in the thread on the Bahaman wiretaps (http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2014/05/19/latest_snowden_leak_claims_nsa_bugged_all_mobile_calls_in_the_bahamas). You have been avoiding it ever since, despite the question being posted in other threads where you made similarly ridiculous claims. Quit avoiding or admit you were talking bollocks.

                    1. This post has been deleted by its author

                      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                        FAIL

                        Re: YawnGreen Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

                        So you're still not going to post any proof of the 'harm' to 'everyone' you insisted was happening right now? This is my surprised face, honest!

                      2. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

                        Re: Re: YawnGreen Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

                        Matt Bryant. Stop abusing the "report post" button to get this comment off display because you seemingly can't/don't want to argue with it.

                        One and only warning.

                        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                          WTF?

                          Re: gaz Re: YawnGreen Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

                          " ....Stop abusing the "report post" button to get this comment off display because you seemingly can't/don't want to argue with it...." I have clicked the abuse button when I see comments that contain abuse. As stated in your own guidelines (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/02/01/register_comments_guidelines); '....we have a mechanism for readers to report comments. The moderators will continue to deal with any comments and/or commenters reported to them, and decide whether the comments breach the house rules and should be removed from the site.....' So how could I hope to 'get this comment off display' when it is yourselves that have the power to remove it and only if you decide it contains abuse? All I can do is bring the comments to your attention, if the editorial staff disagree then the comment remains. Surely you're not suggesting I have some control over the editorial staff?

                          1. gazthejourno

                            Re: Re: gaz Re: YawnGreen Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

                            The reported comment does not, in my judgement, breach the house rules.

                            Moreover, the reported comment does not, in my judgement, even come close to being a breach of our house rules. What material in the comment that could be construed as abusive is, in fact, as mild as soapflakes.

                            I've warned you before about your misuse of the report post button. As point 14 of the Reg Comments Guidelines, which you have helpfully linked to yourself, states:

                            "...don't abuse [the report post button]. A differing opinion does not make reasonable grounds for reporting a comment. You may end up getting flagged if you continually file unwarranted reports."

                            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                              Pint

                              Re: gaz Re: gaz YawnGreen Typical. @Plump & Bleaty

                              "The reported comment does not, in my judgement, breach the house rules...." So the system is working as intended, the editorial staff are in complete control of comment visibility, and your assertion I was trying to hide comments was simply... Well, incorrect, I suppose? Made in the heat of the moment, perhaps? A slip of the keyboard, maybe? I assume it's merely because you've had a long and tiring week, and are looking forward to beer-o'clock.

                              Everyone please show your appreciation for gaz and his thankless task of moderating us in his unflinching, unbiased and humorous manner. Long may his overwatch continue.

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