back to article GCHQ: We can't track crims any more thanks to Snowden

The Snowden revelations harmed GCHQ’s ability to monitor the communications of crime lords, leading to some vanishing off the grid and the abandonment of other surveillance operations, sources have told a British newspaper. Intelligence officers claim to be blind to more than a quarter of the actions of the UK’s worst crime …

Re: How to eliminate drug lords

Absolutely. Even the Economist is in favour. Sadly, this country is run by the Daily Mail and those that read it.

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BS fed to a BS paper

Have to ask: does anyone know what policy change they're trying to sneak in while we're all too full of stuffing to notice? Why else would they be feeding rabble rousing scum like the Telegraph this recycled 'news'?

And does anyone believe they were successfully tracking anything but amateurs?

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Re: BS fed to a BS paper

I couldn't agree more, any self respecting drugs supremo would have got their IT department to install a covert comms solution such as openstego with facebook, long before Snowden spilled the beans.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: BS fed to a BS paper

Assuming that being a drug lord is somewhat Darwinian, one would assume that the most successful ones are reasonably high tech - these are people who can afford private submarines, after all.

So the NSA and GCHQ were probably only increasing the fitness of the cleverest ones by eliminating the less competitive.

Tax and regulate, supply high quality drugs of known potency through legal outlets, and before you know where you are these guys will be legal CEOs. And with their ruthless efficiency, we can let them sort out the competition.

Prof. Nutt and the guy who wrote Freakonomics in charge of drugs policy. There's a thought.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: BS fed to a BS paper

A BS paper? They were advertising three tons of Red Leb at $350 a kilo just the other day.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/lebanon/11303654/How-the-war-in-Syria-has-flooded-the-market-with-marijuana.html

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Holmes

Re: Red Leb at $350 a kilo

Put my name down for three please.

How much for DHL next day delivery?

Icon? Not a chilham, but hey, red Leb!

Not seen that since the Israelis "visited".

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Re: Re: Red Leb at $350 a kilo .... a Real Good and Makes You Feel Real Good too Deal

Any dispute of the fact that such a transaction would offer a probable return of £3500 minus $350 and any postage and packing expenses. Now that is most certainly an absolutely fabulous ROI which would be hard to beat and decline in these sad and pathetic times of politically inept and badly engineered austerity and ponzi stock and intellectually bankrupt government bond market manipulation.

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Big Brother

A balance must be struck

I'm sure that with modern technology we could design a society where it was virtually impossible to commit a crime without being caught. Such worlds have been considered many a time in fiction, and just think what some of the fascist regimes of the past could achieve with modern tech.

I presume this whitehall official will be volunteering to be the first to have the 24/7 monitored cameras installed in every room in his house?

There certainly are some horrible, nasty, exploitative people out there. Always have been and always will be. Some of them even work in government.

Get warrants, employ more people and treat everyone equally.

If the security services don't act within the law it makes them no better than the other criminals they are trying to catch.

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Re: A balance must be struck

The problem with this scenario is that "authorities" need crime to justify their existence. The more crime they eliminate, the more they have to create in order to redress the balance.

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Re: A balance must be struck

Yes, and as you suggest the balance is in part between private and government crime. In the USA, it's known that government departments -- notably the CIA, but surely others -- have broken and continue to break national and international laws against torture, assassination, and bribery. Among other malfeasance.

The question for Brits may be, how much latitude does the GCHQ get to commit criminal acts in an effort to prevent criminal acts?

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Re: A balance must be struck

The CIA (or equivalent intelligence agencies) is up to it's neck in gun running and drug smuggling, as advisers and getting people out of trouble. Because it's more important for national security that the various organised smuggling groups carry on their trade, but keep an eye out for the "wrong" stuff being smuggled in.

Of course there is actual gun running to the various militant groups, but I'm pretty sure that's a fundamental part of your intelligence agency, support the faction that you prefer to win.

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Anyone shedding a tear? No?

After abusing their powers for years they lose their easy catch-all abilities and have nobody but themselves to blame. I was wondering how long it would take them to throw out the two trump cards of terrorism and paedophiles and the answer is not too long. They'll have to go back to the older ways of spying now that involves more work than grabbing all communications sent over X network on Y days and hoping for something to stand out.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Anyone shedding a tear? No?

Rather than start to cry

My eyes stayed very dry

For GCHQ

I know what to do

Waterboard the nearest spy

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A senior security official said: “Being caught with our hand in the till illegally monitoring absolutely fucking everybody in case they might be guilty Snowden has been very damaging to our work. We have specific evidence of where key targets have changed their communication behaviour as a direct result of what they have read.”

FTFY

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Big Brother

As they have conceded they can't readily read what the real baddies are doing, they should now stop spying on the rest of us. We all know they won't do that so although the innocent have nothing to hide, we do like our privacy so in order to maintain it we need to enhance our use of cryptography and start encrypting data at rest as well as in transit.

If they didn't want an arms race they shouldn't have carpet bombed us.

Precision strikes with minimum collateral damage would be the way to go. Mass surveillance just gives the baddies more places to hide.

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I somehow think that drones equipped with hellfire missiles would be ineffective in the backstreets of Manchester, and consider that using them to take-out drug dealers in the City of London would meet with less meaningful collateral damage; damage that anyone cared about that is. While they're at the hellfire-and-drone, have a stab at Westminster as well. Absolutely no average Joe would give a monkeys at that.

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Silver badge

It's Plain to See

The budgets of GCHQ et al should be at least tripled and new stiff penalties brought in for those that report any action of the security agencies. Jail for the reporters and heavy fines for anyone that reads such rubbish.

We must do all we can to help the security agencies bring to justice all the criminals, terrorists and paedophiles, then we can live in a safe protected society.

I wonder why they didn't catch them all before Snowden though?

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Re: It's Plain to See

"We must do all we can to help the security agencies bring to justice all the criminals, terrorists and paedophiles, then we can live in a safe protected society"

What are we going to do with all the bankers and politicians locked up?

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Big Brother

Re: It's Plain to See

Q: I wonder why they didn't catch them all before Snowden though?

A: So as to have enough plausable scaryability to keep you compliant and them in jobs.

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Can they not use their powers for good?

GCHQ could redeem themselves by spying on bankers and bringing a few to justice.

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Re: Can they not use their powers for good?

There is so much wrong with that suggestion that I don't know where to start.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can they not use their powers for good?

"GCHQ could redeem themselves by spying on bankers and bringing a few to justice."

Or maybe just reveal what they now about Westminster paedophile rings (apparently now including alleged murders?) dating back as far as Cyril Smith, and as far back as the era of Jeremy Thorpe and maybe further.

Or Jimmy Saville.

Sorry GCHQ, you lose. Same goes for the police. Undercover police spying on peaceful protest organisations, police in general fiddling with evidence, from the Birmingham pub bombings via Hillsborough to Ian Tomlinson, dodgy phone "hacking" inquries promptly followed by the inquiry leader getting a job with the paper in question, etc, etc.

If these people want the public on their side (which currently appears to be dubious) they need to be seen to play a fair game.

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Re: Can they not use their powers for good?

Hmm, I don’t believe the ‘Intelligence Community’ when they wheel out the ‘we are here to save you from the paedophiles’ line.

Say, for example, an intelligence organisation uncovered conclusive evidence of paedophile abuse and even murder perpetrated by powerful individuals, are they going to ‘bring that person to justice’, or use what they know to control that person and the power the wield as an ‘asset’? Blackmail is major currency in intelligence.

On the other hand, say that individual is of no real consequence (as an asset, of course it is of major consequence to the victim(s)), would they bring them to justice and risk compromising their precious techniques?

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Re: Can they not use their powers for good?

Not sure about bankers, it would be popular but the far more popular choice would be for them to start monitoring all the FIFA execs.

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Re: Can they not use their powers for good?

"Not sure about bankers, it would be popular but the far more popular choice would be for them to start monitoring all the FIFA execs."

The question is how much damage do they do? FIFA results in fairly local damage. Globally they only deal with a couple of billions so that's hardly a burden to society.

On the other hand banks have put whole countries into poverty. Just think of Spain or Greece or the UK. Banks are responsible for Austerity politics which do nothing else than making the problem worse.

However the big problem is, that banks mainly stay within their legal boundaries. Therefore it's near impossible to prosecute them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can they not use their powers for good?

"use what they know to control that person and the power the wield as an ‘asset’? Blackmail is major currency in intelligence."

Indeed.

Very shortly after the death of Jeremy Thorpe a couple of weeks ago, a clearly long-suppressed documentary went out on BBC Radio 4, with a couple of specific recent updates following his death.

You might like to listen to it. But you can probably guess the kind of thing that was going on in and around Westminster back then (in terms of the 'intelligence' services anyway), and is probably still going on now.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04wz633

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Re: Can they not use their powers for good?

The only thing wrong with it is the suggestion that GCHQ could ever redeem themselves.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can they not use their powers for good?

In the states corporations are considered people, we just need to get the right one in front of the right judge in Texas.. let Texas execute a few banks and that might change things.

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OK, fine, I heard you.

Now, GCHQ, go home. You admit that you're useless, so your budget will be better spent elsewhere.

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Holmes

A modest proposition

The Snowden revelations harmed GCHQ’s ability to monitor the communications of crime lords
No offense, as I'm a Yank, but have they tried looking around Westminster?

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Re: A modest proposition

ZING

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Headmaster

Re: A modest proposition

No offence taken

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A modest proposition

Yes we have seen how well the yanks in general respect the laws of other countries, just look at injustice nut case trying to get information of Ireland by illegal means.

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HMB

Re: A modest proposition

Yes we have seen how well the yanks in general respect the laws of other countries, just look at injustice nut case trying to get information of Ireland by illegal means.

I'm sure Florida1920 will read that and realise the folly of their ways, or just be slightly disappointed that they got passive aggressively put down a little, purely because of what their government does. Good job my government (I'm on team Brit (fuck everyone else, yay!)) doesn't do anything bad.... Oh shit.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Or...

They are lying in the hope that people start to relax and forget about Snowden and all the revelations, do spies lie?

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Pint

Re: Or...

"do spies lie?",

I know this one, it has something to do with bear's and pope's. Yes?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: bear's and pope's

I hope this post was downvoted for crimes against apostrophes. 'Cos other than that it's spot on and deserves upvotes not downvotes. [It wasn't me downvoting]

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Or...

>>I know this one, it has something to do with bear's and pope's. Yes?

Do you mean - do bears shit on the pope?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: bear's and pope's

Are you referring to a bear's choice of pooping locale or the Pope's Catholicity? Because in either case the apostrophisation looks pretty good to me.

'Cos on the other hand...now that is a crime against the apostrophe. The Greek island does not begin with a rough breathing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: bear's and pope's

Point taken, but have a quick look at the slightly less forgivable other post's from the same author around the same time...

Anyway the pope's and bear's one makes the others OK. 'Cos that's the way I roll.

Merry Christma's

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Coat

Re: bear's and pope's

" The Greek island does not begin with a rough breathing."

I recall watching a film about some Greek island -Lebanon or something similar- where there was lots and lots of rough breathing, though.

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Happy

Re: bear's and pope's @ Mephistro

I saw that one!

Escape to victory. What a classic. Should be on in the next few days. It's Christmas!

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Bronze badge

Re: Or...

Only the wooden ones.

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Give us something to measure by

So as a result of Snowden they say they are some percentage down in trackings and operations. Would it help their cause if they gave us some regular updates (in a general way) on how many operations they are running, how many succeed and so forth, so we can see what we are paying for.

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Re: Give us something to measure by

Sorry, we can't reveal sensitive operational details, but we can reveal that we are currently conducting 0-999,999,999 operations.

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Stop

How much tracking of crims was being done before?

Given that:

A) British public safety figures haven't gone to Hell in a handbasket in the year-and-a-half that the Snowden revelations have been coming out.

B) That GCHQ is completely opaque on who they are targeting and why.

Then I have to wonder how much targeting of criminals was really being done by the GCHQ in the first place.

Seems like more "We're not actually going to provide the public with accountability on the shit we pull, but maybe we can scare them back into compliance" bullshit.

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Re: How much tracking of crims was being done before?

They should do what all good Hollywood detectives do; They know that Top crims always meet in giant abandoned quarries or on deserted docks so they just have to stake out or install surveillance equipment at all places like that.

And leave the rest of us the fuck alone!

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Re: How much tracking of crims was being done before?

You left out warehouses--seems to be a lot of criminal masterminding going on in those places too.

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Re: How much tracking of crims was being done before?

Sorry, releasing those figures would destroy our ability to secure the public. But we can reveal that we are targeting somewhere between 0 and 999 billion criminals.

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