back to article NSA: Inside the FIVE-EYED VAMPIRE SQUID of the INTERNET

One year after The Guardian opened up the trove of top secret American and British documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) sysadmin Edward J Snowden, the world of data security and personal information safety has been turned on its head. Everything about the safety of the internet as a common communication …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    May you live

    in interesting times!

    1. brooxta

      Re: May you live

      May your children have five eyes, but refuse to look you in yours.

      May your friends be blessed with communication skills and yet only tell you lies.

      May you assume the best of those you entrust with your safety, but only ever be betrayed.

  2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Simple Counter-Measure

    Use the Internet only for topics that you're not really interested in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simple Counter-Measure

      Better yet, design bots to generate yottabytes of garbage for topics you're not really interested in. Sure, it'd be the end of a useful Internet, but f*** 'em, they started the ball rolling.

      1. kbb

        Re: Simple Counter-Measure

        aka adverts

        1. 's water music Silver badge

          Re: Simple Counter-Measure

          aka adverts

          wait, wut? ABP is NSA-ware?

      2. Sander van der Wal

        Re: Simple Counter-Measure

        We already have that. It's called Facebook. And it is very easy to use too.

        1. Frankee Llonnygog

          Re: Simple Counter-Measure

          Another simple measure - don't speak English

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Simple Counter-Measure

            YES, traffic dilution is one of the only available legal anti-5-eyes strategy (not that I'm completely anti 5-eyes, I'd just like to join-in the privacy/security balance debate, whilst that is still allowed)

            So - DO: widely share implausible Main Stream Media stories about ex-MI6 5-eye activist having affair with ex-TV-glamour-lady such as [DailyMail] you couldn't make this up!

            and DONT encrypt using FAIL'ed algo's safecurves.cr.yp.to

          2. CoolKoon

            Re: Simple Counter-Measure

            "Another simple measure - don't speak English" - or any of the languages spoken by the third party countries for that matter......

      3. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: Simple Counter-Measure

        "design bots to generate yottabytes of garbage for topics you're not really interested in"

        So that explains all the cats, then!

        1. itzman
          Holmes

          The internet is made of steganographic cats.

          need I say more?

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Simple Counter-Measure

        Better yet, design bots to generate yottabytes of garbage for topics you're not really interested in. Sure, it'd be the end of a useful Internet, but f*** 'em, they started the ball rolling.

        Erm, wasn't that somewhere around 1997?

    2. emmanuel goldstein

      Re: Simple Counter-Measure

      properly implemented PGP/GPG.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simple Counter-Measure

      A widespread smattering of TOR can't hurt either. Especially if used for those things you're not really interested in or trying to keep secret... like FB

  3. artbristol

    El Reg's gloves come off

    A marked change in the tone of your coverage over the last few days.

    Well done, I say.

    1. moiety

      Re: El Reg's gloves come off

      I noticed that. The writers seem more pissed-off than usual too. Possibly something has happened.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: El Reg's gloves come off

        Interesting.

        When was the last time any* external entity accessed your internal data Reg?

        *NB: I make no mention of, and this question has nothing to do with, any specific agency or class of agency, which don't exist anyway.

      2. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

        Re: El Reg's gloves come off

        @moiety: The writers seem more pissed-off than usual too

        Seems to be one guest writer for whom it is business as usual, actually:

        http://www.duncancampbell.org/content/biography

        Or is he on staff now?

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Titus Technophobe
    Devil

    Disgusted!!

    Now I know why having changed my mobile phone supplier to one of the 'code names' it takes ages to get replies from my wife to texts.

    Naughty replies can take an hour or so and MMS can take 5 or 6 hours. I can only think that the photos are being passed round the offices of GCHQ and NSA for their pervy pleasure.

    What on earth can we all do?

    1. Euripides Pants Silver badge

      Re: Disgusted!!

      "What on earth can we all do?"

      Send naughty photos of other guy's wives.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So I heard on a local show, that what sweden has to offer the US, is goodybags with information about Russia. So sweden is spying on russia, collecting data, which it then swaps for X from the US.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "what sweden has to offer the US"

      Which is the central plot point of the Larsson books - in which (spoiler alert) the Swedish security agency has one Russian defector whose information they can trade with the US, and proceed to commit a series of murders and illegal imprisonments in order to protect their source. I thought when I read it that it was rather far-fetched, but since then it's dawned on me that our "security services" are indeed mainly concerned with their own jobs and power, and any real involvement in actual national security is presumably just enough to persuade the politicians that they are getting value for money.

      1. Lapun Mankimasta

        Re: "what sweden has to offer the US"

        "the Swedish security agency has one Russian defector whose information they can trade with the US"

        Every time I see the word "defector" I find myself substituting "defecator". It seems to fit with the sh*tload of garbage certain Iraqis fed everybody prior to the last imperial cockup in Iraq, of just a decade or so ago.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not just Russia.

      Sizable chunks of European data are deliberately routed through Sweden giving plausible deniability to the the telcos in the originating countries.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If GCHQ particularly prizes the data from Israel, since we have been told that the NSA hands the whole lot, lock, stock and barrel to Israel, does this mean GCHQ is responsible for Israel's internal surveillance as well as spying on everyone else in the world who Israel regards as a threat or Israel would like to blackmail?

    1. Anonymous Coward
  7. hammarbtyp Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Lets not forget who is to blame

    It is easy to characterize the NSA and GCHQ as some sort or Orwellian super power out of control targeting at removing our freedoms. But actually they are more an expression of our fears and anxieties. The reason these programs were setup in the 1st place was because we the people demanded it after events like 9/11 and 7/7 when it became clear that organisations like al-qaeda were using things like the internet to co-ordinate their followers. After 9/11 questions were asked why the CIA, NSA FBI etc did not see it coming and the answer was because they did not have the capabilities to monitor mass communication. So they built it.

    Now you could argue that they went way over there brief, but that is fault with the oversight not the organisations themselves. Then again with the fear and paranoia following those events it would be a brave politician who would put their career on the line who would limit powers which might stop the next 9/11. We also would be clamoring to now why our security services had let us down if another event like that happened.

    In a naive world populated by Edward Snowdens, the transgressions look inexcusable, but in the real world these organisations daily stop us getting killed or injured by the forces out there. The question therefore is not whether these powers should exist, but how they are overseen, the range of their use, and when they should be used.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

      "...the transgressions look inexcusable..."

      That's probably because they are.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

      Menwith Hill was being used to monitor trans-Atlantic traffic years before 9/11

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "Menwith Hill was being used to monitor trans-Atlantic traffic *decades* before 9/11"

        FTFY

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Menwith Hill was being used to monitor trans-Atlantic traffic *decades* before 9/11"

          Many thanks for the correction.

      2. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

        No it was all running before 9/11 7/7 to protect us during the cold war. They have just subbed in al-qaeda to keep the budget money flowing after the cold war died.

        And we get to see how well it all works for the stated purpose when they can't catch a couple amateurs, with pots and fireworks, even when given tips from their old cold war friends...

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Tom 35 Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

          ".....And we get to see how well it all works....." Yeah, because there's been a repeat of 9/11 every month since, right? Oh, actually, no there hasn't. Hmm, I wonder why that would be seeing as AQ has plenty of cash, people, and has proven they are both capable and more than willing to make such attacks? Silly me, it MUST be because they just love Obambi so much, right?

          /I suspect I should really add sarc tags for the sheeple.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

      The question therefore is not whether these powers should exist, but how they are overseen, the range of their use, and when they should be used.

      No, the question is the very one you've dismissed. The answer is no, because we spent decades facing off against a regime which treated it's citizens in this way. Now our intelligence agencies are treating us the same way as that regime treated its citizens. They've created a "Stasi on Steriods" system of mass monitoring, and it needs to be stopped.

    5. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

      "in the real world these organisations daily stop us getting killed or injured by the forces out there."

      And they stop us all getting killed by tigers. Have you seen any tigers roaming the streets of London? See? It works! They are protecting us!

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

      [citation needed]

      I don't remember that vote or referendum?

      Actually I don't really mind the intelligence services doing their James Bond bit. Spying on people, tapping phones, hanging from the roof on ropes. That kind of stuff. It's almost 'fair'.

      But the problem is that it's now so 'cheap/easy' for them to hoover up everything, store it, and then mine it later. For whatever today's Daily Mail threat is. Thats the sinister thing.

      We all know the pitfalls of posting drunken silliness or teenage angst to Facebook and Twitter. It can harm your future job prospects, and get you introuble with the law when they have a sarcasm failure.

      But imagine when the current Facebook generation get to be the ones heading for politics and power?

      The ones who made some silly mistake today when they're 15 won't be able to hide from it when they start running a political campaign. Someone somewhere who doesn't agree with their policies can find a contact in one of the agencies to do a little digging into history 10years ago. Some embarrassing pics appear, some comments to the right places, and a political opponent steps aside.

      That kind of historic proof has never been so easily available or retrievable before. Now apparently they can do a 'google' of everything they capture and see what looks interesting.

      Politics and regimes change, but the data will last and last. You may have 'done nothing wrong, so nothing to fear' today... but what about in 20 years time when they decide what used to be acceptable suddenly isn't?

      1. 's water music Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

        You may have 'done nothing wrong, so nothing to fear' today... but what about in 20 years time when they decide what used to be acceptable suddenly isn't?

        YA Stuart Hall AICMFP

        (too soon?)

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

      @hammarbtyp

      Never thought I'd need a one word answer on the reg commentard list, but yours is below.

      Bollocks.

      1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

        Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

        Thank you for your erudite response and breakdown of my arguments.

        You have added much value to the debate

    8. Bob Wheeler

      Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

      Oh dear, how we forget the past.

      Five-Eyes - started in 1940's, not surprisingly trying to figure out what the Germany/Japen where planning. The use "Colossus" machines was a major break-through. Then along came the Cold War. The "Colossus" machine where still being used, now for trying to crack Russian communications. The Echelon system was developed for two reasons, to spy on Russia, and to spy on each of the other Five Eyes (UK spy on US, US spy on UK then swap results), then share the results.

      The problem with 9/11 was not that all the TLA's in the US could not monitor comminication, but that they did not SHARE with each other.

    9. NumptyScrub

      Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

      quote: "It is easy to characterize the NSA and GCHQ as some sort or Orwellian super power out of control targeting at removing our freedoms. But actually they are more an expression of our fears and anxieties. The reason these programs were setup in the 1st place was because we the people demanded it after events like 9/11 and 7/7 when it became clear that organisations like al-qaeda were using things like the internet to co-ordinate their followers."

      See the part in the original article regarding Watergate, and how this over-reaching surveillance activity was prevalent in the 1970s, 30 years prior to 9/11. This is not a recent thing by any stretch of the imagination.

      quote: "In a naive world populated by Edward Snowdens, the transgressions look inexcusable, but in the real world these organisations daily stop us getting killed or injured by the forces out there."

      As a citizen of a country that was a frequent target of terror attacks by various flavours of IRA over several decades leading up to 9/11, I'm going to have to disagree with you. We even had a train bombing happen after 9/11, when these agencies were supposedly already stopping us from getting killed by "the forces out there".

      So, given the preposition that no surveillance will be 100% effective (much like antivirus, something is always going to manage to slip through), I think I would rather have less effective surveillance with minimal intrusion in my daily life or private affairs, instead of more effective surveillance that watches me with unblinking eyes for every second of my life. I am perfectly capable of taking responsibility for my own safety.

      A 24/7 surveillance state is not a free country, and a complete inability to change this through election is not democracy. You may want to reflect on this as you look at the current behaviour of 5-eyes, and decide what sort of country it is that you actually live in ;)

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

        "A 24/7 surveillance state is not a free country, and a complete inability to change this through election is not democracy. You may want to reflect on this as you look at the current behaviour of 5-eyes, and decide what sort of country it is that you actually live in ;)"

        This needs to be engraved in stone, in letters two meters high, and placed in each Capital of the Five Eyes loonies, where it will always be visible when the Governments are in session.

    10. DougS Silver badge

      People did not "demand" this

      Politicians were (and still are) deathly afraid of getting blamed for making a wrong decision, and trying to make us safer is seen as the "safest" political choice, so they can claim they did something.

      Look at the Benghazi situation, and how much worry (granted mostly partisan) there is over a handful of deaths (not to dismiss them, but it hardly compares to 9/11) Imagine what would have happened to Bush if there had been another big attack several years after 9/11, or to Obama if there had been/will be another during his administration?

      They keep these programs secret because if there's a big attack, they can release some details and say "look at everything we've been doing, but even then the terrorists got around it, its not our fault!"

    11. Lapun Mankimasta

      Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

      "It is easy to characterize the NSA and GCHQ as some sort or Orwellian super power out of control targeting at removing our freedoms."

      Such as the right to anonymously support political parties, candidates, positions, etc, which are usually out-of-favour with the party in power? Unless of course you can buy the watchers off, in which case the only political and civil rights left belong to the rich.

      "But actually they are more an expression of our fears and anxieties."

      Fears and anxieties that have been deliberately fostered and developed over the past half-century, based as it happens on a set of fears and anxieties that have been fostered for over a millenium in Western Europe. I don't like being manipulated, sorry.

      "The reason these programs were setup in the 1st place was because we the people demanded it after events like 9/11 and 7/7 when it became clear that organisations like al-qaeda were using things like the internet to co-ordinate their followers.:

      Did we? I don't remember being asked, at any point. And I certainly didn't express any such wish to be surveilled a la the KGB, the Stasi, and the various forms of uselessness that permitted the likes of the French Revolution to occur.

      "After 9/11 questions were asked why the CIA, NSA FBI etc did not see it coming and the answer was because they did not have the capabilities to monitor mass communication. So they built it."

      When in truth they had been keeping an eye on Al Qaeda for a fair few years. They just did not have the elementary HUMINT to understand Al Qaeda. Which they still don't. The "non-intervening" intervention in Libya has spread Al Qaeda affiliates all across North Africa - someone everybody else at the time could see. Just not the doofuses in charge.

      "Now you could argue that they went way over there brief, but that is fault with the oversight not the organisations themselves."

      When you have an organization tasked with two completely self-contradictory tasks - the NSA - namely securing the networks, and breaking the networks, that line of reasoning shows up as just an empty excuse.

      "Then again with the fear and paranoia following those events it would be a brave politician who would put their career on the line who would limit powers which might stop the next 9/11."

      Why are we paranoid? Paranoia's a medical condition, in case you were unaware, and paranoid schizophrenia - where the brain disconnects from its environment and sees threats everywhere - is one of the more dangerous of the mental illnesses. If we as a group of people are paranoid enough, then we should undergo a medical examination and probably, undergo a course of medication.

      "We also would be clamoring to now why our security services had let us down if another event like that happened."

      We are clamouring to find out why our security services now consider everybody to be guilty. Or at least I am.

      "In a naive world populated by Edward Snowdens, the transgressions look inexcusable, but in the real world these organisations daily stop us getting killed or injured by the forces out there."

      Or rather, they set up policies and environments that we understand only too well, are precursors to repression.

      "The question therefore is not whether these powers should exist, but how they are overseen, the range of their use, and when they should be used."

      Let me tell you about the lady who rode a tiger. A very exciting ride, but she could never sleep and she could never dismount. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Evidently since we're not paying such a price, we don't have freedom, only a simulcra of it.

    12. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: Lets not forget who is to blame

      What rubbish.

      Much of this collection stuff existed before 9/11/2000 let alone the more memorable one a few years later!

      They just used the event to expand their scope futher, using the foolish argument that because they missed the needle passing through the huge haystack of data they collected, what they needed was to build bigger haystacks!

  8. T_o_u_f_ma_n
    Black Helicopters

    Hilarious

    Ah sure Ireland is safe from all that... If the country had strong trade ties with the UK, some form of historical dissidence within its population or was hosting several US IT multinationals then yeah I would be concerned.

    Hang on...

  9. Steeev

    "The only European countries apparently not signed up to help break the internet are Luxembourg, Switzerland, Monaco, and Ireland. And Iceland."

    Well I'd imagine Ireland has nothing to offer which the NSA can't already get from either the UK or a multinational. Otherwise we'd be eagerly bent over the desk with the rest of them.

  10. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Headmaster

    "Enabling"

    A word that *so* desperately wants to be paired with "Act"

    The third word :( -->

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Enabling"

      Possibly tangential - but a certain "Enabling Act" was passed by a democratic political elite with the best of intentions. Purely intended as a precautionary contingency against extremists' disruption. The extremists then formed a minority in a coalition government - and their leader invoked the Enabling Act to rule by his dictatorial decree. The rest - as they say - is history. Very bloody history.

  11. Warm Braw Silver badge

    D-Day

    Perhaps we should be commemorating that much-propagandised operation, of which tomorrow is the 70th anniversary, as the start of our conquest and not of our liberation.

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: D-Day

      For that, you'd be 'celebrating' the end of World War 1 - that's when we went in hock up to our elbows

  12. Jim 59

    Outrage

    Yes, it is a personal outrage that the NSA/GCHQ is spying on you.

    Unfortunately, the techniques you and I use to keep our secrets (encryption) are the same techniques used by those who would plan your demise. So there is a problem - how to break one while respecting the other ? It can't be done. There is no way of intercepting (say) an email from Boko Haram giving the location of the Nigerian girls, without intercepting everybody else's email as well.

    Can anybody suggest a way of spying on baddies while not looking over goodies' shoulders too ?

    1. Colin Brett
      Big Brother

      Re: Outrage

      "Can anybody suggest a way of spying on baddies while not looking over goodies' shoulders too ?"

      They used to call it HUMINT.

      Colin

    2. corestore

      Re: Outrage

      Yes. Good old-fashioned human intel.

      The alternative - what we have at present - is far, far too amenable to misuse, however benign the proclaimed intentions, however laudable the alleged purposes.

      Intelligence work has to be based on capabilities - what your adversary CAN do to you, not what you think they WANT to do to you. And it's very clear, the security state has become the adversary here, and what they CAN do to ALL of us has gone so far over the line that the line is now a dot on the horizon.

      "1984 was a WARNING, not a bloody INSTRUCTION MANUAL!"

      Mike

      1. Jim 59

        Re: Outrage

        They used to call it HUMINT.

        HUMINT was partly responsible for capturing Bin Laden we are told. But only partly responsible. HUMINT doesn't address my question about digital spying. Once again, how to spy on your enemy without spying on your citizens, when they are using the same copper ?

        Perhaps our enemies are off-net, like Bin Laden was ?

        Corestore's point about misuse and abuse obviously correct. Though I disagree with the rest of his post.

        1. Graham Marsden
          Big Brother

          @Jim 59 - "how to spy on your enemy without spying on your citizens"

          How about not treating everyone as potentially guilty unless they can prove their innocence?

          1. Jim 59

            Re: @Jim 59 - "how to spy on your enemy without spying on your citizens"

            Super. And how does this attractive platitude translate into practical action ?

            Some 'tards in here prefer headbanging to the smell of their own outrage than answering a tough question. How do you spy on your enemies without spying on your own citizens too, when the global internet puts them on the same copper, encrypted? A 1975 answer won't do.

            The govt has answered the question with a sledgehammer - ie, spy on every doggone thing you can, all the time. Which apalls the innocent who are spied on wrongly. But everyone agrees we must do some spying, so what's the answer ? I try to think of a compromise but encryption makes that difficult.

            NB - the answer is not an irrelevent 3 page up-the-workers rant.

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Gimp

          @Jiim 59

          "Perhaps our enemies are off-net, like Bin Laden was ?"

          Which rather suggests most of this effort is a waste of time, does it not?

          Unless the "catching paedoterrrorists" claim is just an excuse for a massively out of control surveillance apparatus supported by politicians who were clearly much more terrified of a few Saudi Arabians than any of their constituents.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      From what I gather

      Boko Haram sports a good chance of being just as supported by The Company from Virginia as Al-Qaeda.

    4. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Outrage

      In 1973 I passed by the Old Bailey bomb about 15 minutes before it went off, I also worked for a Daily Newspaper in the early '70s that was outspoken against the IRA, we received bomb threats on an almost daily basis, some real some not.

      Nobody I worked with was particularly fazed by them just took sensible precautions.

      I also served with the British Army at a time when the Red Brigade and the Bader Meinhoff group were running around .

      Not then nor at any time since would I agree to our government or any other having the carte blanche right to spy on all of us in the hope that they could thereby catch a few discontents. If the intelligence services (or you) really believe they can win the so called war against terrorism by such methods, they have become such lard arsed, lazy fools that the whole thing should be disbanded and started again.

      Any serious terrorist is not going to be using any communications that can be hacked, tapped or otherwise easily intercepted, the old fashioned field craft practiced during the cold war using cells and dead letter boxes worked then and arguably ( given the ridiculous levels of electronic interception and the reliance thereupon) works as well or better now.

      Benjamin Franklin wrote this in 1755, it still has as much value today:

      They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Outrage

        Well put Mr G. Would upvote you twice if I could.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Outrage

        Well put, Chris. Real terrorism is something you just deal with. What we are presented with these days, this preposterous war on stuff, is for the most part nothing but a smokescreen, installed for Mil-IC gain, global dominance over the precious black liquid – and mass-control, because the worst thing that could happen is that larger parts of the population became aware about how they are paying with their own freedom, blood and taxes for measures that in general terms do not work to their advantage. The web does its part in changing the latter aspect, which is why it is so very important to collect all that data.

        It tells you a lot about the loss of trust in a system when the first response to anything terror-related is "false flag" and it always takes some time to realize that real people where hurt, no matter who actually made or let something happen.

      3. Nym

        Re: Outrage

        He should have said, "Those who labor under the illusion of either Liberty or Safety have little hope when Reality comes unkindly upon them."

      4. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: Outrage

        "They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

        It would be nice if one of those who repeat the several versions of this would explain, in some detail, exactly whose essential Liberty is limited, and in what ways, by NSA's* collection and analysis of communication data. I would not want to argue that it appears likely to be effective or cannot be evaded with fair success, but the link to tyranny that more than a few seem to think obvious really is fairly tenuous. There quite a few tyrannies, after all, before the invention of the telegraph.

        * As a representative example of the SIGINT agencies that exist in nearly every nation with a communication infrastructure of any size.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Outrage

          > It would be nice if one of those who repeat the several versions of this would explain, in some detail, exactly whose essential Liberty is limited, and in what ways, by NSA's* collection and analysis of communication data.

          The ways are subtle and sinister, notwithstanding the fact that it is a *huge* drain on resources and constitutes a large portion of the tax take; here are a few:

          1) As a race we have a need to privacy, that is a belief that we can disappear if we wish. It is a very basic need. Society would (and is currently doing so) break down without this need being fulfilled.

          2) Free speech is chilled by the threat that all is recorded. It means that people are not permitted to make mistakes, not permitted to speak in the heat of the moment and later retract without the regret of it being recorded forever. That your speech can be used against you. The whole point of this enormous arsenal of data storage is to sift for those that might "threaten" the state. How do you tell the difference between a private conversation between friends and a public broadcast if all is made the same?

          3) It gives the illusion of security while providing none. Evidence here and elsewhere has proven that broad collection of data is not helpful in the fight against those that would genuinely like to harm us. That threat is a *lot* smaller than most politicians would admit. Targeted intelligence is far more efficient and helpful in this regard.

          I'm sure better commentards than I could expand this list somewhat.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: skelband Re: Outrage

            ".....As a race we have a need to privacy..." Apart from the fact that is not illustrating a loss of 'Liberty', you lot also dump tons of private data onto social media such as Twatter, Faecesbook, etc., with gusto.

            "....Free speech is chilled by the threat that all is recorded...." Again, you have failed to show that it is actually being chilled at all. Indeed, going by the amount of complete cobblers passed off as 'free speech' on these forums, you're once again talking male genitalia.

            "....It gives the illusion of security while providing none....." So you really don't understand that this IS the mechanism that provides the targeting information for more focused activities. Major fail.

            1. Graham Marsden
              Big Brother

              @Matt Bryant - Re: skelband Outrage

              > you lot also dump tons of private data onto social media such as Twatter, Faecesbook, etc., with gusto.

              First mistake: Not everyone does that.

              Second mistake: Assuming that if people *do* put information on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else, it gives permission for the authorities to say "well, if they do *that* it justifies us looking at *everything* they do simply because we can".

              > you have failed to show that it is actually being chilled at all

              Third mistake: Try looking at what's happening in China. Or Bahrain. Or Syria. Or Vietnam. Or any of the many other countries where access to information is being blocked or controlled or monitored such that anyone who steps out of line by looking at "unapproved" material or expressing views which contradict those of the state apparatus can be subject to legal (or illegal) sanctions, imprisonment, torture or even death.

              The Right to Privacy and the Right of Freedom of expression are two sides of the same coin. If you are not free to express your thoughts because those in power are monitoring what you say and to whom, then your freedom of speech is being chilled because you will be inclined to self-censor.

              Try reading this report by Frank La Rue "on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression" the UN Special Rapporteur made to the UN in 2013 which states, for example:

              "Inadequate legal standards increase the risk of individuals being exposed to violation of their human rights, including the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression. They also have an adverse impact on certain groups of individuals – for example, members of certain political parties, trade unionists or national, ethnic and linguistic minorities – who may be more vulnerable to State communications surveillance. Without strong legal protections in place, journalists, human rights defenders and political activists risk being subjected to arbitrary surveillance activities."

              and:

              "Even a narrow, non-transparent, undocumented, executive use of surveillance may have a chilling effect without careful and public documentation of its use, and known checks and balances to prevent its misuse."

              and has amongst its conclusions:

              "States cannot ensure that individuals are able to freely seek and receive information or express themselves without respecting, protecting and promoting their right to privacy. Privacy and freedom of expression are interlinked and mutually dependent; an infringement upon one can be both the cause and consequence of an infringement upon the other. Without adequate legislation and legal standards to ensure the privacy, security and anonymity of communications, journalists, human rights defenders and whistleblowers, for example, cannot be assured that their communications will not be subject to States’ scrutiny."

              > you really don't understand that this IS the mechanism that provides the targeting information for more focused activities

              Fourth mistake: Assuming that it makes it easier to find a needle in a haystack by making the haystack even bigger. All this achieves is to swamp any "signal" that may be there with massive amounts of "noise" that totally drowns it out and you end up wasting time and resources chasing more and more False Positives.

              This is not "targetting" anything, unless you think that if you make enough targets you're guaranteed to eventually hit *something*...

              Oh and PS to quote from your next post "as admitted in Snowjob's own 'revelations', the vast majority of the data is never even looked at before being deleted."

              Excuse me? So this information which "IS the mechanism that provides the targeting information for more focused activities" is thrown away without being looked at?

              Does this mean that a) it's not actually as useful as you think or b) our Security Services are failing because they're not using it for their "focussed activities"? Just wondering...

              PPS You forgot to come up with an "amusing" variant on skelband's name. Tsk, you're slipping...

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                FAIL

                Re: Marsbarbrain Re: @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                Oh dear, Marsbarbrain has to disagree because.... well, because he just has to disagree with anyone that is not in the flock.

                "....First mistake: Not everyone does that....." Agreed, I certainly do not. The amount of sheeple that do and then moan about it seems to be a massive correlation though. I used to work with people that used to set up honeypots, they also used to have success setting up fake Facebook and MySpace groups and 'underground' chatrooms to help them find new skiddies and card cloners hitting the scene, and it was amazing just how stupid some of these people were with their privacy information. It may have escaped your notice that a massive chunk of the NSA's efforts were in gaining access to the unencrypted Google backend because they know that some of the people they need to find are just as naive about security as the average sheeple Not all of them, but some of them definately.

                ".....Assuming that if people *do* put information on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else, it gives permission for the authorities to say "well, if they do *that* it justifies us looking at *everything* they do simply because we can"....." Apart from the fact THEY ARE NOT LOOKING AT EVERYTHING, they simply do not have the bandwidth, if you put stuff up on any public social media you give EVERYONE the right to look at it - the Mafia, the skiddies, the PETA morons (oh, you uploaded a picture of your girl in a fur coat?), the marketing junkies (he likes fur, quick, send him lots of fur-related marketing). Oh, and Google/Facebook/MySpace/etc retain the right to give your info to anyone that pays for it, regardless of how private you think it is. Just look at the current noise about the right to be forgotten (which Google et co will use their cash to make sure only ever gets implemented in the lightest of forms).

                ".....Fourth mistake: Assuming that it makes it easier to find a needle in a haystack by making the haystack even bigger....." So, you would be happy with Police that only patrolled one street in every city? Sure, it would make them really great at fighting crime on that one street, but the rest of the city might be a bit upset at the way crime was ignored and allowed to mushroom elsewhere. That is EXACTLY the problem the NSA and GCHQ face - there is not just one tiny little niche that could be used by terrorist or criminals for communication. Whilst it is easy to say 'just watch the mujahadeen websites and you'll pick up all the sympathisers' (which they do), it does not cover the experienced mujahadeen that might steal other people's online identities and create email accounts and other websites in their names. Serious crime types have been working on anti-surveillance for years, they often employ security experts to try and keep their coms 'clean'. Even the 'amateurs' are getting better at hiding, the Police already have examples of this with paedos hiding their pic exchange websites behind legitimate websites the paedos have hacked. And then we have the other responsibility of the NSA and GCHQ - finding foreign spooks - do you really think the foreign spooks are not hiding amongst the daily traffic, that they use specially designated 'spy-only' coms?

                So, saying that they are just making the haystack bigger is moronic, the authorities actually need to cover the whole field as much as possible. The problem then becomes one of analysing the data because NO-ONE HAS THE RESOURCES TO LISTEN/READ/WATCH EVERYTHING, let alone store it. Go back, actually READ the Snowjob 'revelations', you might notice that the vast majority of the data is sifted and deleted without ANYONE actually reading/watching/listening to it BECAUSE IT IS OF NO INTEREST TO THEM. No-one, and I really mean no-one other than your equally deluded flockmembers, have even teh slightest interest in your moronic dribblings. GET OVER YOURSELF.

                ".....This is not "targetting" anything, unless you think that if you make enough targets you're guaranteed to eventually hit *something*..." So, how do you expect them to find terrorist or foreign spies or criminal coms? How do you think the Police do preventative work, do you really think the coppers all sit around waiting for a crime to happen before they start looking for criminals? Would you really want the authorities to wait until AFTER another 9/11, or 7th July Tube attack, or Madrid train bombing? No, even the sheeple want to be protected. Do you really think the 'bad guys' make it easy for the authorities, that they only use a specific tool or one IP address? Instead of shrieking and whining imaginary fears, if you think there is a better way to do it then please do post it instead of your moronic bleating.

                ".....Try looking at what's happening in China....." And saving the best for last, there we have the standard sheeple response when challenged to show how the NSA or GCHQ actions are directly affecting them - 'look at China'. Which has nothing to do with the US or UK. It's a separate country with its own and unique security apparatus, moron. There is simply no comparison with either the UK or US, no matter how desperate you are to try and make one. The truth is you KNOW you can't show any harm or 'chilling of liberty', just like you cannot show any actual benefit to the laughable idea that the spooks are building up 'blackmail files' on us all. You want to pretend that your freedom of speech is curtailed yet you bleat all kinds of stupidity right here in these forums without restraint, which would seem to show YOU ARE TALKING MALE GENITALIA. Because the 'harm and the 'chilling' and the 'blackmail files' only exist in the paranoid delusions spoonfed to you and you have zero actual proof of any of the 'nastiness' you claim.

                1. Graham Marsden

                  Re: Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                  > Marsbarbrain has to disagree because.... well, because he just has to disagree with anyone that is not in the flock.

                  No, Matt, I disagree with you because I think you are *WRONG*. But you can't handle that, so you have to resort to calling people names and using Straw Man arguments to try to discredit them when they point out your mistakes.

                  > "....First mistake: Not everyone does that....." Agreed

                  Thank you, you at least can admit you have made a mistake. Well done. The rest of your response, however is completely irrelevant to the point, so I won't waste time addressing it.

                  > Apart from the fact THEY ARE NOT LOOKING AT EVERYTHING, they simply do not have the bandwidth

                  Oh dear, Matt, you rather miss the point. It is not whether they are "looking at everything", it is that they are *trying* to do so to the best of their abilities in the hope that, somehow, troughing down huge amounts of data in the vain hope that, somehow, they'll actually be able to find something useful (except, of course, as you later admit again, they often have to throw much of it away because they can't process it)

                  (More irrelevancies ignored)

                  > how do you expect them to find terrorist or foreign spies or criminal coms?

                  Well firstly I'd say that they should do this by actually using targetted intelligence instead of a massive dragnet that treats *everyone* as a suspect and then trying to somehow eliminate everyone who doesn't send messages to others saying "Ok, we're going to blow up the building next week, Allahu Akhbar!"

                  Amazingly enough, the Security Services and Police and other such agencies *have* actually been able to do this in the past without considering that we are all potential terrorists. Of course they have also utterly *failed* to prevent attacks *even when* they had the information because it got ignored or mis-filed or swamped by too much other data, but that's not going to happen if they make their haystack bigger, is it...?

                  > Would you really want the authorities to wait until AFTER another 9/11, or 7th July Tube attack, or Madrid train bombing?

                  Ah, the classic cry justifying State snooping. Why not add "Won't you think of the children" whilst you're at it?

                  > 'look at China'. Which has nothing to do with the US or UK. It's a separate country with its own and unique security apparatus, moron

                  Oh dear, calling people names again, Matt, as if that somehow makes your arguments more intelligent (or cogent, or credible). Trying to dismiss examples of what is happening in other countries as irrelevant just shows that you are simply attempting (as always) to move the goalposts to where you've "won".

                  > The truth is you KNOW you can't show any harm or 'chilling of liberty',

                  ITYM "can't show any that you will actually listen to".

                  Like people being convicted of a crime for failing to reveal their passwords *even when* charged with non-terrorist offences. Like someone being arrested and charged for threatening to blow up Robin Hood airport. Like the Government wanting ISPs to pre-emptively block "unacceptable" web content based on a secret filter list. Like the State being able to require telecommunications providers to give them people's communication data without any evidence of wrongdoing. Like interception of communications and data being permissible without a warrant. Like...

                  According you, it seems, we should not be concerned about any of these because they're all being done for our own good and there's *no way* that an innocent person would ever be affected by any of these, so we shouldn't object.

                  Well, sorry, Matt, but some of us are not so blindly accepting of the State's intrusion into our business and private lives and we don't fall for the "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" that certain people are trying to spoon-feed to us...

                  PS You *still* didn't post an amusing variation on Skelband's name. Go on, we all know you want to, so give us the benefit of your amazing wit...

                  1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                    FAIL

                    Re: Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                    "....I disagree with you because I think you are *WRONG*...." Oh, I know you want to baaaah-lieve I'm wrong, it's just you hate the fact you can't prove I'm wrong. You're now going to post paragraph after paragraph of denial rather than admit (a) people put their secrets up online all the time, and (b) you cannot provide any proof that your coms have been listened to, because (c) you cannot show any harm or the 'chilling of liberty' you insisted is happening.

                    "....The rest of your response, however is completely irrelevant to the point, so I won't waste time addressing it....." Actually it is very relevant, it's just you CAN'T disprove it, so you pretend you don't have to.

                    ".....It is not whether they are "looking at everything"...." You insisted the NSA and GCHQ already are. Backtrack much?

                    "...,., it is that they are *trying* to do so...." Bullshit. Why on Earth would ANYONE be interested in your bleating? Please do post even one slightly believable reason why you would be of interest to anyone other than a psych major doing a thesis on paranoid delusions? Please show in any of the Snowjob 'revelations' where it states the NSA or GCHQ want to read everyone's coms. Once again, I expect you to avoid answering that and divert off into another bleating denial.

                    ".... Well firstly I'd say that they should do this by actually using targetted intelligence ...." And how do you expect them to get that targeting intelligence, by calling 0800-finda-jihadi? This IS one of the targeting systems.

                    ".....the Security Services and Police and other such agencies *have* actually been able to do this in the past ...." Big hint - this IS what they have been using for decades! What, you thought the SAS got the Gibraltar Three because they kindly sent a postcard telling Special Branch they were planning a bombing in Gib? You are simply too clueless and naive for words.

                    "....,Ah, the classic cry justifying State snooping. Why not add "Won't you think of the children" whilst you're at it?....." And why don't you try actually answering a point instead of just evading it. Well, actually it's patently obvious you can't.

                    "......Trying to dismiss examples of what is happening in other countries as irrelevant just shows that you are simply attempting (as always) to move the goalposts to where you've "won"....." And again, no answer, just denial and evasion. YOU mentioned China as justification for your claim the NSA and GCHQ were 'chilling liberty', now you just don't want to admit what a stupid thing it was to bleat. Yes,I I am 'winning', mainly because you haven't the capability or knowledge to be able to fight back, hence your continued evasions.

                    ".....Like people being convicted of a crime for failing to reveal their passwords *even when* charged with non-terrorist offences....." Apart from the fact that has nothing to do with the NSA or GCHQ, I note you studiously avoid supplying any details. What, don't want to admit your desperate denial is based on paedos?

                    "......Like someone being arrested and charged for threatening to blow up Robin Hood airport...." Complete failure! That case had NOTHING to do with the NSA or GCHQ, the moron's statement was reported by a member of the public. So you still have provided zero proof off this 'chilling of liberty'.

                    ".....Like the Government wanting ISPs to pre-emptively block "unacceptable" web content based on a secret filter list....." What secret list? The Government has been very open about what illegal activities, such as paedo photo exchanges, it wants to stop. Once again, just because you have a paranoid delusion does not make it reality.

                    ".....Like the State being able to require telecommunications providers to give them people's communication data without any evidence of wrongdoing...." You mean under a warrant, as part of a criminal investigation to find evidence of a crime? If you want to pretend otherwise then please provide a verifiable case of it happening or admit you're just making stuff up.

                    ".....According you, it seems, we should not be concerned about any of these...." Oh, I think your doctor should be very concerned. Enough to refer you for psychiatric treatment.

                    ".....but some of us are not so blindly accepting of the State's intrusion....." Not only do you blindly baaaah-lieve in this imaginary 'State's intrusion' into your private affairs, you do so even when you cannot provide a shred of verifiable proof. Every point I challenged you to provide proof on you have simply ducked. TBH, that's just sad.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                      Matt, I'm not being sarcastic here, but I have two serious questions:

                      1) Do you truly believe what you say or are you being contrary for argumentative sake.

                      2) At what point would you draw the line in terms of what government should be allowed to do under the umbrella justification of "protecting our freedom" and how would you draw it?

                      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                        Facepalm

                        Re: skelband Re: Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                        ".....1) Do you truly believe what you say or are you being contrary for argumentative sake....." What, that the NSA and GCHQ have zero interest in building 'blackmail databases' on everyone? As I pointed out, apart from the unfeasibility of the whole idea, why would they want to? Do you really believe you are so important, such a keystone of society, that The Man would see value in blackmailing you? Please do explain what it is you do or know that would be of any value to the spooks, because I'm willing to bet a large sum the answer is a big, fat nothing.

                        ".....2) At what point would you draw the line in terms of what government should be allowed to do under the umbrella justification of "protecting our freedom"....." Well, in answer, do you insist the coppers walk down the streets blindfolded and with their ears stoppered? Would you expect a copper to be able to spot a suspected mugger without the ability to see him or hear his victim's calls? Do you accept that there is a benefit to society in the Police not being so hampered? Yet the copper on the beat will see and hear plenty of non-criminal activity. They may see a couple and realise the woman is not the man's wife, but does that mean a secret has been outed, that their privacy has been invaded, and the man's marriage is now doomed, or that the Police will blackmail him? Maybe in some Third World country, but not the UK or US. In effect, the NSA and GCHQ are policing the Internet, but they are not doing so to blackmail Joe Average. You may argue that the Police do not gather intelligence on criminals abroad but, actually, they do, and they also share plenty of intelligence with other countries' without revealing the details to the public. It is very hard to find both terrorists and serious criminals, but intercepting their communications is one way. The problem is, just like when the beat copper has to walk down the street with his eyes open to see the criminals, the spooks have to capture all the coms in order to sift out the targets they need to concentrate on for proper surveillance. There simply is no other way to do it without crippling their efforts.

                        ".....how would you draw it?" We already have plenty I'd safeguards in place. The people insisting on bleating that the spooks are running amuck are those that simply have no insight into the realities of those controls or the situation, they just enjoy bleating.

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: skelband Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                          > What, that the NSA and GCHQ have zero interest in building 'blackmail databases' on everyone?

                          Well, let's have a look at some real evidence, then:

                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnPhpPIeL6w&list=PLI46g-I12_9p7quGXXanTK2zEWLiOZQvZ&index=5

                          I guess most of it won't interest you, but have a look from 20:29 and see how the government treats people that don't want to shop and peacefully demonstrate about corporatism in the US. I *suppose* you could consider them a threat if you are a big company, not quite sure if they could be usefully called terrorists though.

                          Perhaps you just watch Fox News though....

                          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                            FAIL

                            Re: skelband Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                            ".....let's have a look at some real evidence, then...." And no evidence again. And you want to use RT as a credible source!?!?! No wonder you are confused. Fusion centres are nothing to do with the NSA or GCHQ, indeed a fusion center could be completely made up of commercial companies in an area or particular market segment (such as retail) sharing information on 'activists' and other troublemakers (such as serial shoplifters), something the RT report goes to great lengths to avoid admitting. The whole report even fails to identify any official engagement in the fusion center involved, but likes to leave the impression there was police or FBI or DHS involvement. Indeed, half-way through her little propaganda routine, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard let's slip the actual report she is using for her scaremongering came from a trade association, not the authorities. So, no, this is not evidence at all, just more spoonfeeding of the sheeple. You really should read more about what real news journalists think of RT 'News' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RT_(TV_network)#Criticism

                            1. Anonymous Coward
                              Anonymous Coward

                              Re: skelband Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                              > Fusion centres are nothing to do with the NSA or GCHQ, indeed a fusion center could be completely made up of commercial companies in an area or particular market segment (such as retail) sharing information on 'activists' and other troublemakers (such as serial shoplifters), something the RT report goes to great lengths to avoid admitting.

                              Wow, this is so far off the mark, I don't even know where to start.

                              Fusion centers are a collaboration initiative between a number of government departments including all the main drivers of the surveillance state including primarily the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, the NSA and various others.

                              The main point of the article, which you seem to have missed, is that these centers were primarily created to deal with the organisation and dissemination of terrorist threat information, which are now being co-opted into fact finding investigation into people doing nothing more than peaceful demonstration with the collusion of trade groups who have an interest in silencing their critics.

                              This is clearly a departure from what was originally intended.

                              > Mara Verheyden-Hilliard let's slip the actual report she is using for her scaremongering came from a trade association

                              Go back and have another listen. This report was produced *for* the trade association by the fusion centers using, among other things, information supplied by them. As far I am aware, FOIA requests do not normally apply to private trade associations.

                              > You really should read more about what real news journalists think of RT 'News'

                              RT certainly has its biases, but that is true of all news agencies, you just have to be aware of them. On the other hand, Fox and ABC are regularly pilloried for their absurdly conservative, corporation arse-linking perspective on the world.

                              Since you like Wikipedia, perhaps you should look at what they have to say about them.

                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_center

                              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                                FAIL

                                Re: skelband Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                                ".....Fusion centers are a collaboration initiative between a number of government departments including all the main drivers of the surveillance state including primarily the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, the NSA and various others....." LOL! A PUBLIC fusion center is simply a neighbourhood watch scheme and nothing more. The idea that the NSA gives unfettered access to their information to public businesses is just the whimsical fantasises of the most deluded anti-capitalists. They are little more than trade associations on steroids.

                                "......these centers were primarily created to deal with the organisation and dissemination of terrorist threat information...." The government uses them to disseminate terror warnings, the members of the centers, mainly local businesses, use them to disseminate information on threats to local businesses, like the hooligans of Occupy.

                                ".....This report was produced *for* the trade association by the fusion centers...." So you should be able to show that it was produced by the NSA then? Oh, no you can't, because it wasn't. It is far more likely it was compiled by private investigators working for the trade association for the express purpose of tracking such activist groups. If you want to pretend otherwise, please do post proof (not just your paranoid fantasises) that the NSA was involved. Because that is your core claim, that this is proof of the NSA's activities 'chilling liberty' and, just like the ridiculous reference to China, it has SFA to do with the NSA.

                                ".....FOIA requests do not normally apply to private trade associations....." A Freedom of Information Act request is nothing more than a request for the authorities to provide the details on what data they hold on a particular subject. Anyone can make an FOIA request on any subject, it in no way means that actual information exists or is rooted in reality. If I wanted to waste my money I could go make an FOIA request asking the authorities if they hold any information on little green men on Mars (actually a quite popular request with the conspiracy nutters), the answer will come back 'we have no such information' - the request does not guarantee the subject is actually a reality. It is a common tactic of anti-government activists like Mara Verheyden-Hilliard to make bogus FOIA applications when they know there is no actual government involvement, just so they can wave it in front of the sheeple and claim 'cover-up' and pretend at government involvement. If you want to claim there was such involvement, please do post the results of the FOIA (without claiming 'cover-up' when they come back as nothing).

                                ".....RT certainly has its biases...." RT is Putin's personal propaganda tool and nothing more. Anyone that wants to pretend otherwise, or tries to insist it is no worse than other news channels, is simply deceiving themselves.

                                So, once again, you have failed to show any proof of the 'chilling effect' due to the NSA you want to baaaah-lieve is happening, and have only shown how you base your baaaah-liefs on sources from hysterical Leftie agit-prop groups and Putin's propaganda machine. You are scoring highly only in the area of complete failure.

                    2. Graham Marsden

                      Re: Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                      > Oh, I know you want to baaaah-lieve I'm wrong, it's just you hate the fact you can't prove I'm wrong.

                      No, I've already done it, but you just won't accept it. I'll do it again, but you'll dodge and evade and move the goalposts and bring up more irrelevancies to desperately avoid admitting it.

                      > You're now going to post paragraph after paragraph of denial

                      Oops, wrong!

                      > rather than admit (a) people put their secrets up online all the time,

                      Some people do, Matt, but as skelband (what, *still* no "amusing" variation on his name?) has said, he doesn't. Nor do I. Nor do a lot of other people, but, of course, that's not good enough for you because you want me to prove a negative.

                      > and (b) you cannot provide any proof that your coms have been listened to,

                      Again you want me to prove a negative.

                      > because (c) you cannot show any harm or the 'chilling of liberty' you insisted is happening.

                      I've already given examples, but you won't accept those because they don't fit in with your mindset, so how about this quote from David Cameron in Parliament: “We have had repeated meetings of the extremism task force — it met again yesterday — setting out a whole series of steps that we will take to counter the extremist narrative, including by blocking online sites.”

                      So if an online site is determined to be "extremist", it can be blocked and those who run it (and, presumably those who try to access it) can be watched and monitored even if they only came across it by accident or were conducting legitimate research as happened to the "Nottingham Two", a student and a staff member who looked at an "Al Qaeda training manual" and were subsequently arrested even though it was freely available on US Government websites.

                      This is no figment of my imagination, these are demonstrable *facts* and the end result of these is that anyone who knows of this case will be given pause to think "hang on, if I look at X or Y or Z I risk being arrested too, maybe I shouldn't do so..."

                      And that, Matt, is a Chilling Effect, whether you accept it or not.

                      > Please show in any of the Snowjob 'revelations' where it states the NSA or GCHQ want to read everyone's coms.

                      Hmm, to quote from the Guardian (who published them): "The documents show the NSA, intent on exploiting the communications revolution to the full, developing ever more intrusive programmes in pursuit of its ambition to have surveillance cover of the whole planet: total command of what the NSA refers to as the 'digital battlefield'."

                      > Once again, I expect you to avoid answering that and divert off into another bleating denial.

                      Once again you're wrong, Matt.

                      > And how do you expect them to get that targeting intelligence, by calling 0800-finda-jihadi? This IS one of the targeting systems.

                      I've already pointed out the fallacy in that argument, but still you won't accept that building a bigger haystack will make it easier to find a needle.

                      > why don't you try actually answering a point instead of just evading it. Well, actually it's patently obvious you can't [...] hence your continued evasions.

                      ROFL! Paging Mr Pott and Mr Kettle-Black!

                      > What secret list?

                      You *really* do have a problem, Matt, don't you? I can't prove a negative, therefore you win the argument! (Why not try the Chewbacca defence next?)

                      > ".....Like the State being able to require telecommunications providers to give them people's communication data without any evidence of wrongdoing...." You mean under a warrant, as part of a criminal investigation to find evidence of a crime? If you want to pretend otherwise then please provide a verifiable case of it happening or admit you're just making stuff up.

                      To quote from Big Brother Watch "When details recently emerged in the media about the Prism and Tempora programmes, codenames for previously secret online surveillance operations, it was revealed that GCHQ has the capacity to collect more than 21 petabytes of data a day – equivalent to sending all the information in all the books in the British Library 192 times every 24 hours. The disclosures have raised serious parliamentary concerns both in Britain and at the EU level."

                      Now, Matt, are you *honestly* trying to tell me that a warrant has been granted to cover *every* single piece of information collected by GCHQ under Tempora??

                      In any case, once again, Matt, feel free to get the last word (well, ad hominem attack) in. It's as clear as ever that you will not (or perhaps that's "cannot"?) listen to anything that goes against your blinkered viewpoints and your mindless acceptance that the State is only ever there for our good so we must accept every intrusion on our privacy and every infrigement of our liberties without question like good little proles.

                      PS perhaps "Numbskullband" would be a good variant? What do you think...?

                      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - skelband Outrage

                  "Would you really want the authorities to wait until AFTER another 9/11, or 7th July Tube attack, or Madrid train bombing?"

                  Shame they didn't stop them in the first place.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: skelband Outrage

              > you lot also dump tons of private data onto social media such as Twatter, Faecesbook, etc., with gusto.

              Sorry? Me? I use neither Facebook, Twitter nor any of the social media sites. I prefer to keep life my own. The fact that others choose not to do so is an essential part of their liberty.

        2. YetAnotherLocksmith

          Re: Outrage

          Do you not realise that your liberty is completely gone if someone else had every scrap of data about you, your family and the political elite tucked away for use on a whim?

          I see you as a 'threat' so have a close look at your file. Assign a few people to have a dig. How many laws can you be arrested for breaking in a week of close surveillance? But that costs money. Easier to just query the file, and have plod take you away.

          Even if squeaky clean your kid might not be. What father wouldn't consider a polite request for a set of the encryption keys for a decode if lent on with threats to their son or daughters liberty?

          Failing even that, just call up the local political elite and use some of the data on them to have a nice law passed. Consider this gem: they could revoke your right to travel out the country by adding you to the football list, worth nothing more than a word and a name. Hand in your passport or else, and attend the police station during matches. Even if you didn't give a damn about football. .. Add your name to the 'No fly' list. Revoke your firearms or shotgun certificates, even your driving license, then make sure a copper is there at the right time, and sure, it might be a 'clerical error' eventually, but you'll enjoy the ride through the police station, courts and custody chain, even knowing it is a set-up. Just tweaking the results of your CRB or credit record could ruin your job or your life.

          So yes, mass surveillance is a bad thing. Especially when those doing it are hidden from any oversight whatsoever.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: YetAnotherCluelssSheep Re: Outrage

            "Do you not realise that your liberty is completely gone if someone else had every scrap of data about you....." Seriously, unwrap the tinfoil. Do you sit down every day and dictate your life-history in an email, web chat or phone call? I know you sheeple have some serious paranoid delusions, but please do explain how Big Brother is supposed to find and store that data on EVERYBODY as you want to baaaaaaaaaah-lieve. TRY THINKING BEFORE BLEATING!

            ".....I see you as a 'threat' so have a close look at your file....." Ignoring the fact, as admitted in Snowjob's own 'revelations', the vast majority of the data is never even looked at before being deleted. It would seem you need to do less hysterical bleating and a lot more reading before you form another 'theory' - and it is generous to describe the drivel you posted as a 'theory'!

            ".....just call up the local political elite and use some of the data on them to have a nice law passed....." Yeah, that would work so well, right up until you hit the politician that decided they could make better ratings by exposing the attempted blackmail. And again, if a politician had such a big secret, why the fudge would they be dictating it down a phone line?

      5. FuzzyTheBear
        Pint

        Re: Outrage

        Who's the tard that downvoted this post ? Confess to your sins ! :)

        The intel agencies have all the details of your connection .. which they wouldn't had you used one of the aforementioned old trusty and reliable techniques. lol

        Have a great weekend.

    5. Bernard M. Orwell

      Re: Outrage

      "There is no way of intercepting (say) an email from Boko Haram giving the location of the Nigerian girls, without intercepting everybody else's email as well."

      Even with all of this surveillance infrastructure, nothing could be done to locate these girls. In fact, I *keep* seeing incidents of "terrorism" of this nature happening. I thought that empowering the TLA's was intended to protect people? If thats so, then the system they've designed IS NOT WORKING and is therefore just a collosal waste of money... ...unless it has another purpose of some kind?

      7/7, the murder of Lee Rigby, the time it took to find Bin Laden (Eventually found after an informant changed sides), the rise of Boko Haram, even 9/11 itself have ALL occured since the founding of 5i, Echelon and many of the systems and methods described by Mr Snowden.

      If nothing else, surely this indicate that the system is simply not fit for purpose and is a burden on taxpayers that need not exist?

      On a closing note; can all of you saying "well, we all KNEW they were spying, why are we suprised?" just shut the hell up? Some of us have been warning of mass surveillance and government cover-ups for years...

      ....you called us "Conspiracy Nuts" and dismissed us as "tin foil hat wearers".

      Finding the Red Pill a little more tasty now are you?

  13. corestore

    Interesting...

    "Documents provided by Snowden show that GCHQ particularly prizes the data they get from Sweden..."

    I wonder, I just wonder, if this apparently exceptionally close relationship between US spooks and Sweden could have any bearing on the Assange situation?

    I don't LIKE the guy, I think he's a prize plonker with an ego the size of a small planet, but his situation and circumstances seem... convenient. Very convenient.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just about ready

    To erase Windows. I run Mint too but prefer Windows. It's not as easy as that, though, is it. I've got several VMs running in VirtualBox. I think most of the rest of the software I run is safe - morally, that is - but I need to look into the hardware. AMD? Western Digital? AOC? Etc, etc.

    Just shows how long it takes (for the sickness to reach the stomach). This has been coming since before the internet. We make our excuses to ourselves that, no matter how we repackage them to maintain the illusion of our integrity, amount to i). that we don't want to give up our toys, and ii). that we support these companies with our continued patronage. We will do nothing effectual lest we lose our job and argue that losing that job wouldn't help; so, carry on, living as a slave. Cue indignant retorts explaining why 'I' am not a slave, 'speak for yourself, mate!', and each argument just a continuation of that effort to maintain the illusion of a justification for self-respect. Like Depression sufferers refusing to see their problem and convincing themselves this is 'normal', how it's meant to be.

    Whether or not you have a family, the choice is whether or not to be a collaborator.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just about ready

      Whether or not you have a family, the choice is whether or not to be a collaborator.

      WOW, that's casting the net wide.

      I'm all for vocal criticism, but I'm not sure you can blame everyone just for being part of society. I try to assign 'blame' to those who actually commit the acts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        He has a point though

        Yes, he is casthing the net very wide. Yet… look around. How many do you know that are complacent about these issues, the "nothing to hide" and "more important things to do" and "why would I care" and "I just need lager, telly and soccer" crowd. It is sickening that these people do not realize that they are letting the whole framework of why they can live and act that way in the first place slip away.

        We are losing what defines us as a society, what makes us what we are, the reasons why "here" is better than elsewhere.

        It is not about being blamed for being part of society, it is being blamed for not giving a shit about what makes our society.

        1. Lapun Mankimasta

          Re: He has a point though

          Interesting, the mention of the "Nothing to hide" meme. Should really be asking the snooper scoopers, if they aren't doing anything wrong, then since they have nothing to hide, they by extension, have nothing to fear from being completely free and open with us.

          Or is it the fact that they are hiding everything they possibly can, proof positive that they are doing something terribly wrong? What a place to hide, for ... various sexual predators ... amongst the machinery that snoops on everybody else.

  15. AndyFl

    You can guarantee everyone at ElReg is now on the list

    Batten down the hatches, encrypt the sh1t out of everything and only buy your IT kit anonymously from high street retailers now. Also do not use Outlook or IE for anything.

    I guess the same goes for all comment contributors too and maybe everyone reading the comments being traced via their IP address.

    It is time for TheRegister to go https, marginal additional security but will make the GCHQ computers work harder, come on guys it isn't that difficult to setup https.

    Finally lets have PGP public keys for all addresses linked from TheRegister contact page too.

    andy

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: You can guarantee everyone at ElReg is now on the list

      "Finally lets have PGP public keys for all addresses linked from TheRegister contact page too."

      I know at least one Reg hack as a public key (since I have it) but I don't know if they are published anywhere - but it's a bloody good idea.

      @Chris, sort it out :)

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: You can guarantee everyone at ElReg is now on the list @ Sir Runcible Spoon

        For all those with a Mac and wanting to play with PGP encryption, here be a fine primer making things much easier to understand and implement than many other sites have tried to explain ...... http://notes.jerzygangi.com/the-best-pgp-tutorial-for-mac-os-x-ever/

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You can guarantee everyone at ElReg is now on the list

      Actually, as a averagely pseudonymous ElReg commenteer since the 'mad' Mike years I have recently (& surprisingly) been interviewed by a {redacted} security service worker "So, what is your opinion of the Snowden situation?" - was the plum question of the evening! The fact that I'm from country 'A', living in country 'B' and this "interview" was in country 'C' - where I was visiting for 1.5 days to discuss HPC, indicates some nifty footwork from the agencies. (evidence of collecting agencies “Royal Concierge” service??)

      This particular agent was a very nice guy, his tradecraft a bit rusty - he didn't have a business card for the company he claimed to work for but he paid for the beer! I can confirm that forums.theregister.co.uk is a digital 'watering-hole' and that 'the list' is pan-EU, if not global.

      From their point of view, lets face it, for years in the UK , MI5 was opening a file on anyone who wrote a complaining letter to the local evening newspaper....

      p.s. I still don't trust & use PGP - even having chatted to Phil Dylan about it - for me that's digitally signed 'secret' evidence! I do everything in the open, assuming that at least one 'frenemy' is in-the-system.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You can guarantee everyone at ElReg is now on the list

        This is why anything security related that I post on The Register is just ill-informed comment. Perhaps I should apologise for wasting spook time but, no, I didn't actually ask them to read it.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: You can guarantee everyone at ElReg is now on the list

          Unfortunately when we get into discussions about security theater a lot of commentators want to reduce the argument to black and white terms so that they can feel secure in their chosen position.

          I know from bitter experience that the more certain I am that I am right, the more likely I am to be wrong. It is only on the balance of probabilities (accepting new information that can sway those probabilities and thus re-assess ones position) that we can discuss the subject without rancour.

          I have the greatest respect for people who serve their country and believe what they are doing is for the benefit of everyone, however the longer this whole fiasco goes on the more I see the intelligence services (all of them) absolutely certain they are right - which worries me.

          Given the kind of power at their disposal and the evidence we have of them obfuscating the truth to their political masters (and thus the people at large who pay their wages) we can't afford to have people in those positions who are absolutely certain that they are 'right'.

          It's one of the main reasons I clash keyboards with Matt sometimes, not because he doesn't sometimes have a point, but it's his reducing the argument to a, how can I say this politely, simpler level draws debate away from the subject and onto personalities - which is effectively propaganda.

          If the security services read these forums (and I know they do) then I'm confident they can spot the real potential trouble-makers (I can only think of one off the top of my head and it probably isn't who you think).

          I have the technical capability and learning capacity to bury my tracks if I chose to, but I don't because I actually don't have (much ;) ) to hide. That doesn't mean I'm not afraid (to paraphrase the oft quoted excuse for mass surveillance).

          I'm not afraid that the spooks can tap into everything, I'm afraid that without sufficient checks and balances their peculiar mind-set will lead them slowly but surely towards a more authoritarian stance. Whether they are directly or indirectly controlled by the $monied I can't be sure. I'd like to think there were people of high morals (yet having to make difficult choices) in the corridors of power, but the complete lack of evidence to support that stance makes it more likely to be the opposite, and it's these people who have the keys to kingdom.

          If they need more power, they simply open another door, and that ability should scare the piss out of everyone, including them if they had any sense - because they and their families will be living in the same world overall (albeit better protected and provisioned). Kings of the shit-pile, how wonderfully glorious that must feel.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Incorrect title of boo

    The book is actually named "No Place to Hide" and not "Nowhere to Hide".

    TheReg..you're getting sloppy.

  17. steward
    Holmes

    Not that I particularly like being spied on, but...

    Does anyone -really- believe that the US DOD's Advanced Research Products Agency hired BBN to put together a system to trade cat pictures? My fellow students at Rutgers in the 1980's certainly didn't believe the reason for ARPANET / NSFnet was so that we could chat easily from building to building or across the country - most of us assumed that everything we did was being stored by NSA or FBI.

    The naïveté revealed by the general public in response to the Snowden revelations is astounding. This was a Defense project, not a Commerce or a National Foundation for the Arts project!

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Not that I particularly like being spied on, but...

      The ARPANET was intended to provide secure facilities (primarily against physical disruption) for DoD command and control in the event of war, particularly nuclear war. It meshed well with other activity, mostly academic, but some of it commercial in nature, that was going on at about the same time. Claims that it was developed in order to spy on the population at large is hopelessly paranoid nonsense, as is a sizable part of the contemporary material being written about the NSA, Five Eyes, and occasionally others.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Not that I particularly like being spied on, but...

        "Claims that it was developed in order to spy on the population at large is hopelessly paranoid nonsense,"

        But ignoring the fact that it has been co-opted as a tool to do so is sheer folly.

        1. tom dial Silver badge

          Re: Not that I particularly like being spied on, but...

          "[I]gnoring the fact that [the Internet] has been co-opted as a tool to [spy on people] is sheer folly."

          As was the case with radio signals in the '50s - '80s (and forward - I think listening facilities at Menwith hill and Martinsburg, WV still are in business); and also with telephone/telegraph before that. The Authorities in all countries have used these facilities sometimes to spy, but none of them was developed for the purpose of doing so and claims to the contrary are rubbish.

          I don't have to like some of the uses, and don't; and I don't have to think they are effective in accomplishing some of the stated purposes, and do not. I also do not have to fall mindlessly in line with the current moral panic and believe that communication surveillance is being used for general ill or that it adds materially to the powers that various government agencies already have, and always have had. And absent evidence, I will not.

          It is curious that so many, when faced with what they consider gross government misconduct, having lost all trust in the government, still fall back on passage of laws to fence it in. Today is "Reset the Net" day, in which a number of organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Free Software Foundation are pushing to get people to take care of themselves with things like PGP, Pidgin, TOR, and Cryptocat. It will be interesting to see how many go for that in place of the basically passive and trusting advocacy of laws that may constrain democratic governments but will do little to nothing to protect against either undemocratic regimes or criminals.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not that I particularly like being spied on, but...

            "[...] and also with telephone/telegraph before that."

            In the 17th century the UK Post Office was given a monopoly over public letter posts for one reason only. All letters went through a State office where they could be opened and the contents copied. They were then resealed so that it was not apparent that they had been opened.The archives still contain some of the transcripts.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Not that I particularly like being spied on, but...

              In the 17th century there were three civil wars, Spanish plotters with a credible threat to take over the country, and Dutch invasions facilitated by a substantial Dutch population in East Anglia and Essex. There was also a lot of piracy, much of it covertly operated by British aristocrats. There was, in fact, a lot of justification for surveillance.

              Whether or not that is the case now is arguable.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not that I particularly like being spied on, but...

            A technical solution to stop government snooping isn't going to do any good. We have seen how ruthlessly determined they are to acquire your data. Anything new shows up and they'll just crack it. And guess how they'll pay for the effort of cracking it? With your tax money.

            ' I had in mind something a little more radical... '

      2. roger stillick
        Windows

        Arpanet explored FDX-RR telegraph suvivorability

        Windows Users need to look closely at what they are doing...

        Full Duplex Round Robin telegraph circuits along with message relay protocol allowed messages to actually be delivered with lines failing randomly and continiously...

        Data communication providers like IBM finally realized they could never have enough private data circuits to get around an area outage... Same scene for Boeing Data Services and probably the World's Military had similar problems...

        Communication Networks were based around: long haul pilot-wire cable facilities (Russian 30 channel analog), Analog coaxial facilities (WECO L1 thru L4), and Microwave Analog or Digital Radio (many proprietary vendors, all incompatable with each other)... there was no method to restore anything beyond a single point of failure...

        Darpa decided to fix this...the Arpa net was and is simply a test vehicle...to emulate the old 'We Get Through Regardless' telegraph message protocol... Hint: look at the ARRL message handling system, it works exactly like the Internet does in the failure mode (only for a single Ham Radio text message).

        IMHO= it is sad that spying by everyone proceeded secretly along with the development of a working internet... somehow we need to find a middle path thru it to keep our civilization together as we go through the Arrow of Time (simply ignoring Government meddeling and Military excess actually works, ask the Tibet folks, who after being absorbed by China are actually still Tibet folks = forever)...RS.

  18. Tom Maddox Silver badge
    Trollface

    Came for Matt Bryant butthurt . . .

    . . . leaving disappointed.

    1. Roo
      Windows

      Re: Came for Matt Bryant butthurt . . .

      I think Matt is genuinely trying to reintegrate with wider society, but I fear that he may be struggling to construct a post without the word "sheeple" and/or personal insults.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is the net progressing or regressing?....

    Posted this before so sorry for the repeat, but after reading Duncan's article I feel even more disdain for our tech future...

    I started out using the net @ uni for a comp-sci degree in the early 90's. It held so much promise. Around the mid to late 90's it started to become over-commercialised, but it still had promise. However, now it just isn't fun anymore: E-Snowden NSA privacy revelations, Heartbleed, the Adobe cloud fiasco, The 'Target' hack, eBay / Paypal weekly meltdowns, Google's stated goal of ads on the internet of everything ....

    I used to be the go-to guy for family friends for tech matters, but I can't be anymore. How can I assure them of anything when even the CEO of Symantec-Norton admits that their own AV / Malware / Phishing products are a sham! I can't even offer advice regarding financial hacking or data privacy, or government spying, because the attack vectors are beyond me...

    I have a home based business. I used to diligently roll out updates and patches and even made assumptions that made me sleep better at night. But who has the time anymore?! I now leave most of my office machines permanently unplugged and off-the-net (and use a USB sparingly by air only when necessary).

    For the machines that are still 'live', I dedicate one to design, another to financial / accounting, and anther to (risky) browsing, and isolate all onto different networks... All the while I'm thinking how is this f'ing progress?!!!! In addition I no longer have an active financial presence online, because I don't think the banks / retailers etc, are doing enough to protect consumers, much to the chagrin of pollyannic customer service departments.

    But I used to love the internet and I lament the fact there's so many sheeple using it, thereby fuelling the rise in hacks and scams in this spy-on-ourselves culture... I cannot help but ask, why have an electronic presence that only makes you a mark in the eyes of the five eyes? Why have eBay / Paypal account when you're just a mark to a hacker with ultra-fast broadband in a small town in Romania you've never heard of?... Same goes for Google+, FB, Yahoo and MS mail etc...

    When the net isn't about privacy violations, scamming, account hacking and data breaches, its saturated by the latest celebrity vampire leveraging it for all its worth... Driven on by a fickle global-media praying at the altar of the new shinny Twitter, Facebook, Google: 'God'...

    So am I the only one retrenching from the net?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is the net progressing or regressing?....

      Nope, I no longer connect anything to the internet.

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Is the net progressing or regressing?....

      Too late, these days if you suddenly stopped all your inline comms it's bound to raise a flag faster than you can say 'oh no, don't shoot, I was only being sarcastic!'

  20. DJ

    Absolutely. I think...

    The picture in this story, purportedly showing the NSA repacking a bit of Cisco kit, or kit being shipped in a Cisco box, or a box designed to look like an actual Cisco box, is very convincing.

    I now firmly believe Cisco uses brown cardboard boxes to ship some of its products.

    Beyond that, I wouldn't want that to be the only evidence in a case against anyone, even a creepy out-of-control government agency. Then again...

  21. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Big Brother

    But

    during the cold war , we (Nato) were cheerfully hacking into russian comm cables and leaching off data by the bucket load until it was given away by a traitor or the russians found the splice themselves.

    Or the russians during WW2 invited the western allies to conferences , then systematically bugged every room in the building...

    So its nothing new

    Its just a lot harder sifting through all that internet traffic now looking for that one e.mail containing the words 'nuclear', 'bomb', 'london', 'tommorrow' and 'jihad'............ eeeekk men at the doorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: But

      "during the cold war , we (Nato) were cheerfully hacking into russian comm cables and leaching off data by the bucket load until it was given away by a traitor or the russians found the splice themselves."

      Except these were actual opponents. The tapping of the Russian lines (in East Germany IIRC) was for military telephone lines, not just some random Russian telephone callers.

      Which is exactly the target of this surveillance.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Question to folks doing the shopping

    How likely is it that you buy Cisco gear in the near future?

    1. Morten Bjoernsvik

      Re: Question to folks doing the shopping

      |Question to folks doing the shopping

      |How likely is it that you buy Cisco gear in the near future?

      Do You think Huawei is any better, The entire Telenor backbone (Norways largest telco) is now Huawei.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nope. It simply depends

        … upon whom you prefer to be spied on by. There is an interesting passage in Greenwald's book about this.

  23. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Huge Elephant in the Room ...... which isn't going away ever anytime soon.

    It is always the corrupt and inequitable systems which have the major self-destructive admin problem, as they cannot freely trade the truth because it would destroy them, and they be also forced to deliver ever more implausible and easily unravelled economies of truth, which be really just sugar coated lies and damning untruths to try miserably and ultimately unsuccessfully to further mislead the masses away from the information and intelligence they be seeking, which is itself really only the truth of their imposed virtual reality with the control of paper wealth and politically inept media messaging. One does wonder what the BBC think they be doing with their programs which paint such dreary sub-prime pictures? Do they not have a creative director worthy of the title? And quite obviously not is the truthful answer to that question, and that's no lie.

    Sharers of the truth have the whole wide wacky world of the internet and ITs world wide webs on their side providing reinforcing support for that which they be selflessly peddling/pimping/pumping/supplying and need not to arrange secret meetings and confidential conferences and security summits to discuss how they are going to try and retain and maintain corrupted and collapsing command and control which extraordinarily renders them and their support staff as leading targets for especial attention.

    Food for Thought and Thoughts for the D Day Zeroday ........ "When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing; when you see that money is flowing to those who deal not in goods, but in favors; when you see that men get rich more easily by graft than by work, and your laws no longer protect you against them, but protect them against you, you may know that your society is doomed." - Ayn Rand

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: The Huge Elephant in the Room ...... which isn't going away ever anytime soon.

      Thanks for the quote, I also found these gems..

      The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

      It only stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.

      Ayn Rand

      1. Jim 59

        Re: The Huge Elephant in the Room ...... which isn't going away ever anytime soon.

        FFS amanfrommars is a bot, and you are replying to it ?

  24. PyLETS

    Who cares about commercial crypto ?

    When this all depends upon previously amateur stuff like OpenSSL where they found gaping holes due to the guy who maintains it having to do something else for a living ? Actually that was the case until last month, when organisations realised they were sufficiently dependent upon it that they started paying to have it maintained. http://opensslfoundation.com/freesupport.html

  25. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Intel Inside

    Spying on you 24/7.

  26. lucki bstard

    It's not so much the monitoring (lets be honest we're all aware it has been going on since at least the end of WW2); it's that there doesn't seem to be much value for money from it.

    Maybe to justify the investment it would be good to see some results, rather than this project cost X million; and has produced... nothing. Although there is the question on how much suppression of information helped the US backed terrorist organization (ie IRA), and what the UK received in return.

    Ok these are civil servants mandarins, so they can do what they want, but come on. I'm tired of reading about 'how to stop people from UK/Canada travelling to join an extremist group' more needs to be done. If with all their resources 5 eyes can not stop this then why are we paying for their incompetence?

    If there is going to be monitoring to this extent please can they at least be competent at it. Is it too much to ask??

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      The governments of all the Five Eyes countries for the most part respect individual liberty, and will not be able, or even seriously attempt to prevent potential jihad participants from travelling to join extremist groups elsewhere. They are likely to be much more interested in keeping track of those travellers, especially those who return after a period. Even then, though, it is not necessarily effective, as indicated by the FBI investigation of Russian warnings about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of those believed to have committed the Boston Marathon bombing. While this has nothing to do with SIGINT agencies, it is suggestive of the diffidence of federal agencies in following up on nebulous information.

      I'm not clear what lucki bstard meant by "US backe terrorist organization (ie IRA)". My recollection is that a number of US citizens and US residents of Irish origin were believed involved in raising funds an obtaining weapons for the IRA, and that some of them were arrested and charged with various crimes. It is not clear that this properly called US backing.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It seems that in the eyes of many reg readers, it is not OK for governments to access their personal information and communications. However, it seems that most people are fine with Google intercepting, reading, storing and otherwise using their customers personal communications for their own commercial ends. In fact, many reg readers go out and buy devices powered by Google software, which massively enhances Googles ability to spy on them.

    Perhaps the NSA should just launch a phone operating system and try to persuade people that it is 'Open Source' and that it is 'mainly Linux'. Once they have done this, reg readers would apparently be massively supportive.

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      I am very much not OK with all of that.

      I try to avoid using Google where I can and I don't have a FB account. I use cash where possible and I don't even have a supermarket loyalty card.

      But the sad thing is, these companies probably still have a pretty comprehensive profile of me.

    2. Benjol

      At first thought your argument seems persuasive, but as (I believe it was) Edward Snowden said: Google have the power to advertise to you, the State has the power to put you in prison, and potentially execute you.

  28. Zippy's Sausage Factory

    What's particularly annoying is that none of this Internet stuff actually helps real, actual, physical security. More likely, the information is fed directly to American companies to try and shaft the very partners that gave them the information in the first place.

  29. Frank N. Stein

    Isn't the Register concerned about a "response" from GCHQ for revealing all of this in an article posted on the web? How did this article make it onto the web without the GCHQ and NSA not knowing about it beforehand and preventing it? More to the point, how did Edward Snowden manage to sneak multiple laptops and this information out of NSA facilities? And further, How can the NSA not be aware of his exact whereabouts, with the wide reach of this "Vampire Squid?

  30. herman Silver badge

    The only mitigation I can think of is to use the same techniques the military has been using for more than half a century: Encrypt everything and blast out random garbage 24/7 on all transmitters.

    The register should start by making this site https enabled and we need internet browsing bots that randomly connect to sites. Email obfuscation is already done quite well by spammers, we just need to modify it a bit.

  31. Nym

    Here's my interesting comment:

    Ever wonder why so few people who have worked for the NSA have opened up...and why so many children with high clearances forced on them come back from the war hopelessly screwed up and unable to talk about it, even years later?

  32. Roj Blake Silver badge

    Give me Freedom over Tyranny

    You don't defend freedom by creating tyranny.

  33. RealBigAl

    I don't know why anyone is worried. It's not as if our secret service would ever covertly plot to overthrow our elected government.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Wilson_conspiracy_theories#The_1968_plot

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Getting Right Down to the Nub and Hub of the Matter and Current Madnesses

      The Secret Intelligence and Security Services would be failing King/Queen and country catastrophically if they weren't presently, and have not been for some considerable time, monitoring and collecting all communications and activities of Parliamentarians, whether they be in government office or in the cynical and contrived Opposition, although there is a certain arrogance and ignorance in the honourable member ranks, which as we all know, as they have proven themselves to be so, are far from being honest and honourable at all, in their thinking that they should be somehow except and immune from covert and even clandestine oversight. ......... http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/may/04/greens-legal-challenge-gchq-surveillance

      Good grief ........ who is it that starts unwinnable wars and benefits personally financially from such idiocy?

      One wonders what Intelligence is waiting for if they know what stupidity is in the offing?

  34. davemcwish

    Americans

    I suspect the view that the NSA is in the wrong here is from a distinct but vocal minority, the rest don't care or actively support.

    I spoke to my former US boss last year around the time the Snowden leaks came out. His view was fully supportive of the NSA as the ROW is full of "bad guys" and he expected the US "good guys" to do whatever it takes.

    All of the brouhaha is really unnecessary:-

    1. Governments need to protect their interests

    2. To achieve this they spy on each other and as they don't trust the public they spy on them.

    3. They will use their authority to oblige the tech companies to make it easier to do #2.

    4. Voting only changes who sits in the posh seats in national Parliaments; #1 stays the same.

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Americans

      Doing "whatever it takes" is the definition of what a "bad guy" does.

  35. JaitcH
    WTF?

    This will continue so long as the ...

    British public don't give a damn. The action by the nerdish-looking wimp of a cabinet secretary in destroying The Guardian's computer equipment (albeit it fit for the junk yard) is the sort of action we associate with China and Russia - except they would have no doubt shot them, too - NOT in the UK.

    Where is the accountability when a piece of a*sewipe like this man can threaten reasonable newspaper coverage? There are few fora where Heywood can be questioned and held accountable for his illegal actions.

    With an election coming soon, the opportunity to remove Cameron, and Heywood, looms. Neither of these people either deserve the office they hold, neither are they fit for the job.

    Let's hope that some of the Arabic emirates tell the UK and the USA to take their toys and leave.

    As for cable failures, Malaysia/Singapore/VietNam links to the USA went down just before Christmas last and ever since we have been suffering from intermittent outages. Could be a fishing boat at the depth the break occurred, and likewise it wouldn't be an anchor.

    Where is the Jimmy Carter these days?

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: This will continue so long as the ...

      The problem though is that Labour is even more authoritarian than the Tories.

  36. yossarianuk

    Only 1 OS is safe !

    http://tinfoilhat.shmoo.com/ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinfoil_Hat_Linux)

    - no networking (as thats how 'they' get to you)

    - Even reading the screen over the user's shoulder is very hard when Tinfoil Hat is switched to paranoid mode, which sets the screen to a very low contrast.

    - Power usage and other side channel attacks — Under the Paranoid options, a copy of GPG runs in the background generating keys and encrypting random documents. This makes it harder to determine when real encryption is taking place.

  37. FuzzyTheBear
    Black Helicopters

    This is why we should fight against it.

    Want an example of why we should be worried about snooping on the internet ?

    Take a load of this morning headline :

    Thai junta tracks internet posting to capture protest leader

    gulfnews.com - ‎1 hour ago‎

    Bangkok: Thai security forces have tracked down and detained a prominent activist who helped organise protests against last month's military coup from comments he posted on the internet, officials said on Friday.

    That's why. Dissidents , freedom of expression and political freedoms are in the balance.

    I don't make up that stuff. That's part of the power they have in their hands. Imagine what damage these capabilities can do to our own way of life . One day ,they will. Just a matter of when and who.

    .

  38. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Yawn.

    Before all the sheeple join Duncan in hysterical shrieking, maybe they should stop for a moment and consider the actual physical evidence.

    Firstly, let's look at the claim that vendors are deliberately sending or letting the NSA send out tampered kit 'everywhere'. Duncan, Greenwald and the rest of the shepherds like to claim this is widespread and a threat to us all. Really? If so then we must all be getting duff kit, right? Or at least a large proportion, maybe? So where are any examples of the supposedly 'mass-deployed' kit? Can Greenie (or Duncan) provide a single example of a CISCO router with such an 'extra' loaded? No. But they want to insist it is a widespread threat to everyone's privacy? I do have no doubt that the spies do use specially hacked kit to gain access to foreign secrets on a very limited basis (network printers with hard-drives in Iran spring to mind), but that would have to be a very limited deployment, otherwise some geek messing around in his spare time would have found an example of it by now. So, it would seem that much-hyped 'threat' is actually just that, hype.

    Secondly, there is the concentration on the data being gathered, not what actually happens to the data. It is easy for the shepherds to state 'all the coms down a tapped submarine cable were gathered and stored', it generates the right level of paranoia without actually looking at the reality of what happens to the data. The vast majority never even gets watched/read/heard by human beings, being swept for metadata by computers. It is not stored 'forever' but is regularly flushed to make room for new data. This was admitted in Snowjob's own 'revelations' on TEMPORA. Metadata and keywords are used because the whole sifting job is about targeting for further analysis - no-one, not even China, has enough resources to actually sit and read/watch/hear every single communication on the Internet. If China could then they wouldn't need the Great Firewall, they'd simply let everyone talk on the Web, sift out and then arrest all the dissenters. Instead, they had to build a clumsy and incomplete barrier.

    Which brings us to the third point - desire being passed off as reality. Duncan even is forced to admit in his article that a lot of what him and the shepherds like to imply is a threat to everyone's privacy now is nothing more than goals that NSA and co aspire to. It is also an aspiration to end World hunger or send people to the next galaxy, we even have some of the technology to do so, but that does not mean those aspirations are going to become realities today. But such qualification doesn't sell copy, advertising space or books, does it?

    Which raises another point - why would the NSA actually want to know all our secrets? Does it really add any value? In a few, very rare cases there might be some gain through blackmailing a specific person, but for everyone? Many of the loudest bleaters like to claim this info could be used to rig elections - how? Please do explain, are the NSA going to try blackmailing all the voters of one party? Or just maybe select politicians? The latter would be very risky, it is just begging for exposure, and definitely not guaranteed, so why would the NSA risk it? And it also comes back to the question of if it is only targeting select politicians, surely that means Joe Average is again of zero interest to the spooks? So, no, everyone's secrets are not being listened to, and if they are inadvertently heard due to a sifting error then they are disregarded as unimportant anyway.

    And then we have the snarky description of those that would disagree with the shepherds as 'apologists'. LOL, it's just like the AGW debate - 'if you don't agree with AGW then you must be an apologist in the pay of the oil companies!' Thanks, Dunc, but I think it's more of a case that some of us that were already well-informed can do a little more thinking for themselves.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yawn.

      > Which raises another point - why would the NSA actually want to know all our secrets?

      There is a growing body of evidence that a lot of the NSAs effort these days are economic (for high commerce) and political.

      And don't forget, the US government has form for political witch hunts. Just think what McCarthy could have done with a tool like the Internet and the resources of the NSA behind him.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: skelband Re: Yawn.

        ".....There is a growing body of evidence that a lot of the NSAs effort these days are economic (for high commerce) and political....." And your evidence of this is... Nothing. Even if it were true, it still does not explain how anyone other than a tiny minority of people would be of interest to the NSA and definitely NOT everyone.

        ".....Just think what McCarthy could have done with a tool like the Internet and the resources of the NSA behind him." Apart from the fact McCarthy had plenty of resources, including mail intercepts and wiretaps from the FBI, insisting that 'it happened once, therefore it MUST happen again' is simply not logical. If you want to state that as a possible reason then please post evidence of any such McCarthy-like behaviour, or admit it is just fantasy.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Which intelligence agency does Matt Bryant work for again?

  40. John Savard Silver badge

    Et tu, Suomi?

    I'm shocked that even neutral Finland is listed here. And here I thought Finland would have been an ideal country in which Snowden could seek refuge.

  41. Loony Moony

    Snowden deserves recognition for what he has done. It is too easy when you are involved with the secrecy bit to not see beyond the psychotic demand for more and more secrecy, but such secrecy is paranoid and deeply damaging. Having ploughed that furrow many decades ago, I understand the momentum which is generated to the point where everyone's behaviour becomes psychotic. The paranoia of living under cover in mother Russia drove many of my friends to excessive alcohol abuse when back home. Many never came back home because they would have been too unstable to safely debrief, so they stayed there and eventually died there and are buried there. Snowden, God bless him, had a moment of clarity among all the make-believe of intel acquisition and saw the damage which many of us knew was happening. We neither had his access, nor, I suspect, his sheer guts.

    If he were a Brit I would ask for him to be given a knighthood for services above and beyond the call of duty. Since he is a yank, I look to Barack to award him the Congressional Medal for services to his country.

    I am not joking: I spent most of my working life in this land of shadows and of make believe. Eventually it cost my marriage.

  42. Dylan Fahey

    If only...

    If only we spent as much on 'helping' our neighbors with clean water plants, power plants, cheap communication access, we'd be rolling in the riches of cooperation and team work.

    Instead, we brew fear, insecurity, and hate. WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Dylan Failure Re: If only...

      "If only we spent as much on 'helping' our neighbors with clean water plants, power plants, cheap communication access, we'd be rolling in the riches of cooperation and team work....." So your extensive research into that 'idea' missed the fact that the US is the single largest contributor to the UN program's that do exactly that? And also the single largest provider of aid to other countries. And the country that generates the largest amount of private charitable donations to other countries. It seems you would reap a lot better understanding if you actually bothered to do some research.

  43. gravesender1

    Follow the money

    I think this whole NSA business is an example of the sort of thing that Dwight Eisenhower was warning about in 1961 when he spoke of the danger posed by the "military-industrial complex". There is too much money flowing to government contractors to allow this to end, not to mention all the NSA paychecks at risk. Remember that Snowden was working for a contractor when he ran off with the goods.

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