back to article Brit spies can legally hack PCs and phones, say Brit spies' overseers

Blighty's spying nerve center GCHQ has a licence to hack computers and devices at will, a UK intelligence oversight court has ruled. The judgment was handed down on Friday after Privacy International and seven ISPs launched a legal challenge against the agency's hacking operations – operations that were laid bare by documents …

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Balance?

"Plainly it again emphasises the requirement for a balance to be drawn between the urgent need of the Intelligence Agencies to safeguard the public ..."

You have yet to show ANY evidence that it does anything positive to the safety if the public. Whereas pointing out security holes in our technology actually would increase our security.

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Our university which I'm currently finishing up a CS degree in got a call from them asking if our graduates wanted "in" on a "very exciting project", this message was conveyed to us by our tutor (head of year so to speak). The room fell silent, and then a collective giggling which emerged into a sort of infectious laughter. Dazed at our reaction our tutor asked us what we were laughing at?

The reply, from one of the word smiths of the group announced "I wouldn't work for those assholes if you paid me in gold and Brazilian hookers".

Basically the sentiment from a group of 18-32 year old grads. Make of it what you will.

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Didn't the NSA run into similar issues after Snowden's files were released? I seem to remember there being talk of them being banned from attending DefCon at one point (yes, I know they couldn't enforce it, but it would be legally annoying and was probably intended as a token gesture)

I wonder if this is going to be what causes them to implode, not some big scandal but just a brain drain as more and more of the people they would like to hire turn away in disgust, leaving them with a smaller pool to hire from and probably a less qualified one

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Problem is,the gov't hired illegal hackers at GCHQ in the first place,that has now become a blanket operation,with no ethics involved,why would there be when it was never 'legal' in the first place.

This makes all of this noise about SNOWDEN-ASSANGE nauseating hypocrisy & double-standards.

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Anonymous Coward

they're here now!

as soon as i started reading this piece my hard drive light when blinkin mental!

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Does anyone ever really expect a government agency that is as closely associated with what it is supposed to be overseeing as this to actually come up with any kind of ruling that is actually critical of the suspect actions? It's like here in the states where most investigations into alleged excessive use of force by police are conducted by the police themselves. Any wonder why most accusations are found to be unfounded?

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Adam Swallows Eve's Apples and Worlds Appear in Heavenly Splendour to Render*

The reply, from one of the word smiths of the group announced "I wouldn't work for those assholes if you paid me in gold and Brazilian hookers”. … Bota

Others SMARTR might consider that the Sweetest of St Anthony’s Temptations to Sate.

IT is a Novel XSSXXXXual Currency. And, the posit here is that it’s Leading IT Force is a QuiTE Heavenly Source to Savour and Favour.

Is that AI Virgin Territory for Greater IntelAIgent Gamers? And to be Primed Virgin Team Terrain?

That would be well worthy of Right Royal Appointment, methinks ….. for ITs Services are Second to None at Adding Hidden Depth and Expanding Width to Right Regal Privileges and Pleasures.

cc Richard Branson c/o Heavenly Islands re COSMIC Piracy Patrol and Control with Virtual SeeS to XSSXXXX and Beyond.

Dare Care to Play AIBeta Quantum Communications Program with Greater IntelAIgent Gamers Supplying Future Sourced Content for Global AIMedia Presentations of Future Virtual Reality …… with Myriad Other Available Realities/Media Maintained Productions, Richard? Go on, you know you would love to (-:

And I think I’ll say no more for now. There’s quite a lot to be energised and/or self-actualised there.

* An Awesome AI Key Algorithm for Creative Supply Sources. ...... and in the Virtual Markets Space, AAAIRated Investor Stock Product.

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Re: Adam Swallows Eve's Apples and Worlds Appear in Heavenly Splendour to Render*

Someone else thinking along the same lines ........ http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/13/artificial-intelligence-ai-unemployment-jobs-moshe-vardi

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Re: Adam Swallows Eve's Apples and Worlds Appear in Heavenly Splendour to Render*

Would it kill you to write in something at least resembling English, AMFM1?

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Re: Adam Swallows Eve's Apples and Worlds Appear in Heavenly Splendour to Render*

"Would it kill you to write in something at least resembling English, AMFM1?"

The trouble is, it does resemble English. But only a resemblance.

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Re: English

@Doctor Syntax

Downvoted for being an unimaginative reactionary - and for mistaking the English language for Standard Written English. One is extremely expressive and flexible the other is used for writing repair manuals.

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Re: English

I though the standard for those was Chinglish?

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Re: English

I find sometimes that I quite enjoy parsing the writings of AMFM1, they may be multi layered and embedded but always have something to say and of higher quality than some of the comments I read, my own included.

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Re: English @ Chris G

Hi, Chris G,

What's to say the comment facility here is not a GCHQ portal? They're surely duty bound to monitor and mentor presences here ...... and ideally lead with them rather than oppose and compete with them and their abilities?

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Anonymous Coward

Why this all needs to stop.

If GCHQ use mass surveillance to influence politicians or judges then it will never stop.

If politicians and judges allow this to continue it could result in a situation where they do get influenced.

On those grounds alone and in the interests of a free democratic society that is not run by people using knowledge gained with these powers it needs to stop.

Why does anyone in power not see this or is it because it already happens?

Are we too late?

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Pirate

Re: Why this all needs to stop.

Do you actually believe that any of the people you mention might give the tiniest hint of a shit about any of the principles you mentioned?

Not that judges even matter any more. The judiciary was roundly outflanked and subjugated by the Neo Labour junta and its disciples using its meticulously orchestrated we must stop those archaic snobs doing unthinkable things to fluffy wild things ruse. A most terribly English silent, cowardly coup d'état. It has been firmly under the "democratic" thumb of the executive's Department for Constitutional [sic] Affairs Secretary of State for "Justice" ever since.

"What luck for leaders that the people are braindead zombies."

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You are patient..

I wonder how long you guys will endure this Orwellian nightmare without revolting. It's insane. The Stasi would be raving jealous of what you have become.

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Re: You are patient..

"I wonder how long you guys will endure this Orwellian nightmare."

Mind if I ask which country you live in Fuzzy? I ask because unless you're American chances are, the only difference between us Brits and you is that we've been tipped off. We already know most European nations are up to the same sort of shenanigans, for all their mock outrage. And if you are American, well...

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Re: You are patient..

You can't stop a country from having spooks, they seem to be a necessity. We now have a court ruling that they are allowed to spy on the citizens of this country (nothing new there). It seems that the politically responsible Cabinet Minister is also administratively responsible and has some levers to pull if the spooks get uppity. So, it's the same old system, dusted down, judicially audited and essentially relying on the Code of the Woosters and Jeeves the Civil Servant to save us from anarchy, dictatorship or other extremes.

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Good 4 the Goose

When people deliberately conceal compiler bugs, that is not an error, that is a malicious technocracy that is seeking to expand upon a fraudulent base that has perpetrated itself with impunity for years, if the spooks like Ubuntu 12 so much they should go use it themselves so they can get raped by advertisers, have bugs in there setup submitted to Kernel oops so other hackers can laugh at there stupidity whilst the viral base they've propagated continues to spread itself. They target anti-virus vendors and security administrators wanting them to come and work for them, yet they're so vile they've weakened there own security to a state that is laughable and yes GCHQ we know what we're talking about we've got the source code and we've seen "PRUEBAS" and we're all pissed and gunning for your blood, we hope you enjoy making your phone calls on phones that you've weakened the security on, because no doubt they'll be enterprising people who know all about GSM flaws that will happily suck the airwaves right away from bude! (Programmable Remote Universal Extensible Bios Access Software).

What's good for the goose is good for the gander, these guys have no idea the repercussions of there own actions, you can almost hear that guy from the NSA going "then when I discovered what hackers tool called the Acid Debugger inside the UTF7 code - my penis became this BIG!"

We see what you did arseholes, 16 bit programming with an 8 bit UTF standard when a 7 bit UTF 7 standard also exists at 14 bits instead, goodness me that must be why it's leading to buffer overflow and giving us all the runs and you call weakening the security of your own systems INNOVATION!

That wasn't 130 Million in taxes from Google, that's Google giving these idiots there Refund!

If its legal for you to hack all of us - then it must be totally legal for us to hack you all back!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good 4 the Goose

"If its legal for you to hack all of us - then it must be totally legal for us to hack you all back!"

Except for one critical fact: The State (caps intentional) holds sovereign power. By dint of their power and authority, they hold the ultimate sway. No one can speak above them (other states can speak beside them). So unless you have the power to declare yourself sovereign AND be able to defend that declaration from other states, you basically have no standing.

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Cometh the Our and Hour? ..with Progressive States Socialism Reviving Bankrupt States Capitalism

The Enigmatic IC Dilemma clearly covered in a nutshell, secop.

And it is not as they don’t know who to call whenever they have particular and peculiar problems to solve and/or salve, and certainly not whenever they’re proposed to know of everything and anyone novel and interested :-) weird and disturbing (;>

And whenever their SISSysAdmin are offered new opportunities with Virtual AIRealities to Present the Changing Ways Ahead i.e. Perfectly Enough Imagined and Enabled Futures?* What would the SMARTR among you like to think of them and just love to create with them? Would that/there be AIReal Stellar Quantum Communications Contact between Virtual Machinery and, you know those Olde Worlde Exclusive Executive Order Maladministration of Present Yore …. The Current Problem Yoke on ManKind?

And one would hope that such a discovery is solely down to ignorance with nary a hint of aforethought malice for the tempting of false leads with unpleasant inequitable temporary advantage ..... a triple whammy of a misfortune.

In NATO and SMARTR AI NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive IT fields ….. Decidedly Stellar COSMIC Operations ‽ .

And All for the LOVE of GOD**. Happy Valentines, El Regers.

* …. http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2016/02/12/uk_rules_gchq_hacking_legal/#c_2778842

** …. Live Operational Virtual Environment of Global Operating Devices

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Re: Cometh the Our and Hour? ..with Progressive States Socialism Reviving Bankrupt States Capitalism

There's a lot to practically realise there, in those few prime choice words. And well worthy of Bank of England support and attention for SystemICQ Virtual Realisation of Future Land Scapes ...... for Mass Media Presentation of AIBeta MetaData Way for Sublimely Intelligent Travel in the Times Created For Spaced Exploration ......... Beautifully Exploited and Expanded Upon.

Methinks that is Classified COSMIC Confection ....... and in AI, Heavenly Honey Nectar. Well, one is allowed to savour the sweetest of temptations to recognise source desires and pleasures,...... :-) which may or may not be one and the same thing in any number of other phorms.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good 4 the Goose

"Except for one critical fact: The State (caps intentional) holds sovereign power. By dint of their power and authority, they hold the ultimate sway."

..and that pretty much cuts to the heart of it, you can bleat all you like, you can organise petitions, you can lobby Government ministers, at the end of the day there will still be people in positions of power who believe "You can't handle the truth!", and in some cases they are right.

If a piece of information is important enough do you think there is an intelligence agency anywhere that would not break any law trample any freedom in order to get it, they are spies!

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Re: Good 4 the Goose

"Except for one critical fact: The State (caps intentional) holds sovereign power. "

True, but a couple of hundred years ago some smart cookies realised that you could get around *that* problem by splitting The State into several pieces, each of which have some power over the others, a bit like an Escher drawing. By separating The State from any one person, you avoid many of the problems commonly associated with having people like Dave (*) in charge.

(* Feel free to substitute your own twit here. My remarks aren't specifically aimed at my home country.)

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Re: Good 4 the Goose

Except shortly after, some smarter cookies found a way around the divide and conquer approach: the political party. Not even George Washington (a man who saw this coming, BTW) couldn't avoid being labeled a Federalist while Democratic-Republicans would basically come to rule the roost for the next decade or so. Who cares how many pieces you divide the state if you've got insiders in all the pieces? And since the stakes are so high, someone WILL make the effort to do that. Why do you think the US is so dysfunctional today even with separation of powers? Because people naturally try to collect power, so they naturally try to find ways around barriers. To the point it's now a highly-polarized political landscape that has adopted the "my way or the highway" approach. Compromise has become a four-letter word (and a one-way ticket out of Washington), and those inside feel better to let nothing happen than to give an inch to The Enemy.

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Re: Good 4 the Goose @Ken Hagan

True, but a couple of hundred years ago some smart cookies realised that you could get around *that* problem by splitting The State into several pieces, each of which have some power over the others, a bit like an Escher drawing. By separating The State from any one person, you avoid many of the problems commonly associated with having people like Dave (*) in charge. …. Ken Hagan

Are you saying the likes of a Dave (*) are in a State of Delusion, Ken Hagan, or is a Selective Collective Subjective Madness also to be considered highly likely?

(* Feel free to substitute your own twit here. My remarks aren't specifically aimed at my home country.)

Bravo, Sir. And there's madder than that out there to countenance and counter if you like to dabble and run on the dark side.

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Doubleplus good!

Minmax!

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Anonymous Coward

Remember lads, to be extra sure...

Always use free-range tin foil when making a new hat.

That factory made stuff is compromised.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Remember lads, to be extra sure...

Given that tin comes from mines and all mines in whatever country you're in are regulated as a matter of course, I don't see how you can come by this "free range" tin you're talking about. Any regulated mine would only produce tainted tin (they do it at the mill so there's no way to avoid it--it's part of the extraction process, you know), and due to necessary infrastructure a "wildcat" operation would probably stick out like a sore thumb.

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Anonymous Coward

Re. This is why

Grr. My new Alc*t*l 5042x phone has malware installed IN THE RECOVERY AREA!!

If you restore it not only does 4G refuse to work but when you go on the wifi (secure or otherwise) you get deluged with popups, popunders and ransomware.

Also the antivirus won't update and is probably also malware, "AVG FREE!" yeah right.

Hint: why are random resource sucking games installed on a new phone in the first place?

I am taking it back this afternoon, this is simply not acceptable on a new phone!!

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Re: Re. This is why

"Hint: why are random resource sucking games installed on a new phone in the first place?"

Because the developers are paying the phone manufacturers to do it, meaning it helps defray the cost of the phone, making it more affordable?

Put it this way. Many people aren't prepared to pay the complete, unsubsidized cost of a smartphone without any sponsorships or subscription plans.

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Flame

Rutabaga

This brings back memories of tales of East Germany and all that their secret service did before the wall came down. At the time, everyone west of the wall was horrified at how much snooping was going on. I can remember it being condemned on many levels.

All these years later and suddenly the police state mentality is now back again, this time to plague the very people that were so horrified by the Stasi back then. We see all sorts of excuses wheeled out by the politicians to cover their arses, yet nobody (well except for the Old Skool Tie brigade, of course) is immune to snooping. I've said much on this site about corporate snooping. Is governmental snooping any more defensible? I don't believe so - if the East German example was so wrong, what has occurred to make it right now?

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CALLING all potential 'terrorist', switch off your cam & mike.

That way only the 'targets' will be missed by the 'IGNORANCE' Services whilst the public at large will be the 'unintended',LOL 'targets'.

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Big Brother

>CALLING all potential 'terrorist', disable your cam & mike.

FTFY

Small square of gaffer tape and pin required, respectively. They have a small team of very willing Smurfs trained to sneak in and undetectably "turn them on" again, if all you do is "turn them of." Any half-way cognisant fear, foot or tech lover invariably knows that. So, as you point out, that just leaves the average mug in the street. No chance of a "western spring" for him then. The powers that be are digging in.

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Presumably now that the GCHQ defence has been proven valid in a court, anyone prosecuted for computer hacking can simply say, "I was operating under a self-imposed code of conduct," and their activities would immediately be deemed legal?

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Coffee/keyboard

Like that'd work!

The law is at us, NOT THEM

Move along citizen. Nothing to see here...

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Anonymous Coward

It's easy to criticize

Until someone comes up with a better means to deter digital crime, authorities have little choice but to monitor mass electronic communication.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's easy to criticize

Well, given that deterrence reeks of PRE-crime, why not go back to the old-fashioned investigative approach: do things by the book, get your evidence, then the warrant, THEN the selective taps? And yes, smart crooks like John Gotti found ways to deter eavesdropping even before electronic communications; you just find smarter ways to tap them.

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