back to article Nothing illegal to see here: Tribunal says TEMPORA spying is OK

The UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) ruled Friday that GCHQ’s mass surveillance TEMPORA program is legal ... in principle. The IPT said that (again, in principle) British spooks are entitled to carry out mass surveillance of all fibre optic cables entering or leaving the UK under the 2000 RIPA law. It made the ruling …

  1. Anonymous Blowhard
    Big Brother

    Behind Closed Doors

    "six days of hearings - five in open court and one in secret behind closed doors -"

    The one behind closed doors is the one where GCHQ tells the tribunal what dirt they found on them...

  2. theblackhand Silver badge

    Thank goodness!!!!

    I was worried they might be doing something bad, like breaking the law....

    1. Graham Marsden
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Thank goodness!!!!

      Of course not! All you need to do is ensure that your laws are so broadly defined that anything you want the Security Services to do can be deemed to be legal and your tame court will happily rubber-stamp their actions.

  3. chivo243 Silver badge

    no suspicion that the user has committed any offence?

    1. Guilty until proven innocent or extremely guilty.

    2. Offence? Should be offense. The red squiggly line beneath words means check the spelling.

    1. Alvar

      Re: no suspicion that the user has committed any offence?

      2. Not on the right-hand side of the pond

      1. ukgnome
        Joke

        Re: no suspicion that the user has committed any offence?

        2. Not on the right-hand side of the pond

        Is that looking up or looking down?

      2. graeme leggett
        Happy

        Re: no suspicion that the user has committed any offence?

        "2. Not on the right-hand side of the pond"

        Fixed that for you.

        1. Mephistro Silver badge

          Re: no suspicion that the user has committed any offence?

          The right hand is the one without a watch, isn't it? But if you are upside down, then...

          Brains hurt!!!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: no suspicion that the user has committed any offence?

          >Not on the right side of the pond"

          "if Britain were to somehow leave the EU and join the US we’d be the 2nd-poorest state in the union. Poorer than Missouri. Poorer than the much-maligned Kansas and Alabama. Poorer than any state other than Mississippi, and if you take out the south east we’d be poorer than that too."

          http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2014/08/why-britain-is-poorer-than-any-us-state-other-than-mississippi/

          I guess you mean then because of the lovely weather in the UK or the excellent cuisine? Its hard to argue the government in the UK is much better as evidenced by this article. Still I will grant your point about who owns the language even if its only relevant today because of the former colonies.

          1. graeme leggett

            Re: no suspicion that the user has committed any offence?

            Has Mississippi got its own nuclear submarine force?

            But I put it to you that the editor of the Spectator is not a reliable economic source on comparing countries and states based on back-of-the-envelope calculations

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: graeme legget Re: no suspicion that the user has committed any offence?

              "Has Mississippi got its own nuclear submarine force?...." Fail! The USN, which is partly owned and funded by Mississippi as part of the States, not only has a much larger nuke sub force but also real carriers!

              "....But I put it to you that the editor of the Spectator is not a reliable economic source on comparing countries and states based on back-of-the-envelope calculations." And your detailed reasoning to support that statement is... Oh, less than what could be written in 42 font on the back of even the smallest envelope. Try again!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: no suspicion that the user has committed any offence?

              >Has Mississippi got its own nuclear submarine force?

              They may well have at least one because here in the states we often build dirty (pollution and crime wise) military bases in red states because they need the jobs and ask less questions. Also there is a good chance if we did have a red state vs blue state throw down today the red states might actually win because we mostly store our nuclear weapons in podunk middle of nowhere fly over red states for obvious reasons.

    2. Mike VandeVelde
      Facepalm

      Re: no suspicion that the user has committed any offence?

      "Offence? Should be offense."

      Only in Canada's pants.

      http://canadatopia.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/canadas-pants.jpg

      Simplified spelling and inexplicable units of measurement.

  4. Ted Treen
    Big Brother

    Good grief!

    "...The UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) ruled Friday that GCHQ’s mass surveillance TEMPORA program is legal..."

    So, one section of the UK establishment finds that the questionable clandestine activities of another part of the UK establishment are perfectly OK.

    Well colour me effin' amazed...

    As the delightful Ms Rice-Davis (nearly) said, "They would say that, wouldn't they?"

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Good grief!

      >one section of the UK establishment finds ... another

      I think you'll find they're the same section of the establishment - you don't get to be part of one without being cleared by the other. And the same goes for all the other "oversight" bodies.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    legality schmegality

    Whether the actions uncovered by the Snowden 'expose' is legal or not is a minor detail at this point...

    if it is illegal then the immoral actions of the various surveillance organisations are illegal as well immoral

    if it is legal then the immoral actions of the various surveillance organisations are legal and immoral, and in addition the legal framework is also immoral and in need of ripairs (sic).

    As far as I understand this ruling, the tribunal has found both the ongoing actions of our watchers and the legal system to be inconsistent with the will and well-being of the people.

    I am not holding my breath that either will be changed anytime soon.

  6. btrower

    The gloves are off

    There is no rational theory whereby we have given these idiots permission to violate one of the very most basic of human rights.

    The lot of them need to be swept out of any position where their deranged vision of what is reasonable can harm any of us.

    I can't think of a way to do it yet, but as far as I am concerned, the entire body of people who do stuff like this should be on notice that their behavior is not without consequences. They think it is OK for people to be surveilled 24/7? Fine. Let *them* be surveilled 24/7 and let the public do the monitoring.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: btrower Re: The gloves are off

      ".....violate one of the very most basic of human rights....." Go on, just for a laugh, please do explain which right you insist is being 'violated' and in breach of which respective law? Because it seems you and Privacy International (from the article - "....Privacy International and co-claimant Bytes for All will now challenge the IPT’s ruling at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).....") missed the bit where that already got kicked out by the ECHR (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-30345801).

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: btrower The gloves are off

        I might have missed something, but the link given appears to be to a BBC report on the same decision that is the subject of this article, and states that the plaintiffs intend to appeal to the ECHR - in the future.

      2. btrower

        Re: btrower The gloves are off

        @Matt Bryant:

        At its heart, the right to privacy is another aspect of the right to security of the person.

        Our society and government are contingent upon covenants that we make among one another. Our current emerging police state is able, for now, to breach the covenant by the illegitimate use of force. However, that breach renders the covenant void and to the extent that the people operating the mechanism of state continue to act that way they act outside the law and should be ultimately be stopped and held accountable.

        I did not miss the bit where an ill advised decision was made to pretend that such and such a breach was lawful. It remains unlawful in any meaningful sense. Yes, the UK in particular has absolutely horrendous legislation in place and a thoroughly corrupt administration. However, they may insist to a man that it is legitimate to execute innocents or do any other noxious and patently immoral, fundamentally wrong and ultimately illegal thing. That does not render it legitimate or legal. Some things are fundamentally beyond reason. No court decision can give them legitimacy.

        The current U.K. law essentially reads in essence that the people are free from interference from the state except in the event the state deems interference desirable. It is just bad law and good men have no obligation to uphold such a law and a moral imperative to oppose such a thing.

        Courts sometimes make mistakes; even very grave ones. A mistake by a court is still a mistake -- more tragic than normal, perhaps and harder to fix, but still a mistake.

        This is *our* government and *our* society and there is not a whisper of a doubt that to the extent that we can make covenants with respect to *mandatory* rights the majority of informed observers insist that detailed unwarranted blanket surveillance is simply contrary to the deal we made.

        Law enforcement and the legal system as it currently exists is becoming increasingly less of a solution and more of a problem. They have badly lost their way.

        For law to have any legitimacy or meaning it has to fundamentally reflect the covenant we have mutually agreed to as a body politic. Constant surveillance of ourselves and our loved ones in our private lives, our correspondence and our relationships is not something we could have sensibly agreed to. I do not personally know anybody conversant with the issues who thinks for a minute we should be under constant intimate scrutiny by the state or anything else.

        Below are some references to things that either form or inform the law in various jurisdictions. All the states involved here are signatories to the U.N. document and blanket surveillance is contrary to that agreement by any reasonable reading.

        Universal Declaration of Human Rights

        http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

        Article 12.

        No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

        CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

        http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html

        8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

        In Lawson Hunter et al. v. Southam Inc., the Supreme Court stated that a major purpose of the constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure under section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was the protection of the privacy of the individual.

        The case involved a constitutional challenge to a search conducted under the Combines Investigation Act. The Court concluded that to assess the constitutionality of a search, it must focus on the search's reasonableness or unreasonableness in terms of its impact on the individual and not simply on its rationality in furthering a valid government objective. Mr. Justice Dickson of the Supreme Court advanced in this case for the first time the precept of reasonable expectation of privacy as a standard against which government action should be scrutinized.

        The United States Constitution

        Amendment 4 Search and Seizure

        http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_Am4.html

        The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

        ------

        The Human Rights Act 1998 (the “Act”) incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights (the “Convention”) into UK law. Article 8(1) of the Convention provides that “everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.”

        Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

        http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/en/treaties/html/005.htm

        Being resolved, as the governments of European countries which are like-minded and have a common heritage of political traditions, ideals, freedom and the rule of law, to take the first steps for the collective enforcement of certain of the rights stated in the Universal Declaration,

        Have agreed as follows:

        Article 1 – Obligation to respect human rights

        The High Contracting Parties shall secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms defined in Section I of this Convention.

        Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life

        Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

        1. Mike Flex

          Re: btrower The gloves are off

          If you're going to quote Article 8 of the ECHR, quote the whole thing, not just the bits you agree with. Here's the part you omitted:

          "2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."

          Looks like the IPT decided GCHQ was working within the limits of that paragraph. Whilst your US and Canadian examples aren't relevant to the UK I see they don't offer unlimited privacy either, and nor does the UN UDHR article 12.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: btrower The gloves are off

            @Mike Flex

            So you're arguing that a legal police state doesn't impinge on human rights?

            Blackmail and intimidation by the state is fine by you?

            But then, there's an incredible amount of civil liberties the state can just walk all over once we get into perpetual war. Oh, wait, they are.

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              WTF?

              Re: AC Re: btrower The gloves are off

              ".....Blackmail and intimidation by the state is fine by you?....." Please pause your melodrama to provide some actual cases of blackmail and/or intimidation by the UK authorities as a result if TEMPORA-derived intelligence. Otherwise one might reasonably conclude you were talking complete bollocks.

          2. btrower

            Re: btrower The gloves are off

            @Mike Flex

            Re: "except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."

            The purpose of the article is clear enough to me. The fact that they tack on weasel words to the effect "it is except when it isn't" does not fly with me and it should not with you either. If they are going to give any real weight to the part you cite then they might as well just strike the article altogether because it would have no effect and *yes* you are correct, they did go with that part of the article. That tells me that:

            1) The article needs to be rewritten to properly accomplish what was obviously its original explicit purpose and that means striking the part you find so endearing.

            2) The people and organizations doing the interpretation need a clean sweep to install people with some sense.

            Improperly formed specifics of legislation require repair and in the meantime should not be followed when they conflict with reason and the obvious spirit of the law.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: btrower The gloves are off

              "1) The article needs to be rewritten to properly accomplish what was obviously its original explicit purpose and that means striking the part you find so endearing."

              The article was written as a whole and ratified as such by the then nations of western Europe which rather suggests that its original meaning is unchanged from what they wanted.

              1. btrower

                Re: btrower The gloves are off

                Re: "The article was written as a whole and ratified as such by the then nations of western Europe which rather suggests that its original meaning is unchanged from what they wanted."

                That's may be the theory. Sadly, that is not the practice.

                http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/votes/199257-cell-phone-freedom-bill-passes-house

                "The last-minute change that was made in this bill… puts a real poison pill in this bill for consumer advocates such as myself," Polis said. "Many consumers won't be unlocking their phones themselves. There needs to be a market in unlocked phones."

            2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: tantrum thrower Re: btrower The gloves are off

              ".....does not fly with me....." So what? Your problem (well, one of your problems) is that what 'flies with you' is neither here nor there and carries no legal weight. What are you going to do, stamp your feet and hold your breath until you turn blue? What you could do is actually come up with a reasoned argument (not just misquoting, misapplying and editing select laws and conventions to suit your POV) and use it to convince the majority of voters to persuade the politicians in the UK of the righteousness of your stance, hence getting the respective laws changed. LOL, but then you would have to face the facts that (a) the majority do not agree with you now, and (b) a lot of smarter people are already trying to influence the voters and are failing because the majority do not accept your reasoning.

              "....1) The article needs to be rewritten to properly accomplish what was obviously its original explicit purpose and that means striking the part you find so endearing.

              2) The people and organizations doing the interpretation need a clean sweep to install people with some sense....." That tells me (1) you don't realise all the EU governments are either directly using TEMPORA-derived intelligence and/or doing their own such monitoring, so they are not going to cripple their own intelligence agencies; and (2) you are unwilling to accept the will of the majority when it does not meet your expectations, making you the one with tyrannical and undemocratic intent. You fail!

        2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: btrower The gloves are off

          "At its heart, the right to privacy is another aspect of the right to security of the person....." But doesn't your right to security oblige the authorities to have the powers and means to ensure your security as but they can? You can't have one without the other.

          ".....Our society and government are contingent upon covenants that we make among one another. Our current emerging police state is able, for now, to breach the covenant by the illegitimate use of force...." Firstly, how are they using 'force' illegally, and how is their duty to protect the public not part of said covenant?

          ".....It remains unlawful in any meaningful sense...." Bullshit. It remains completely lawful as you have failed to show how it has breached any actual law.

          ".....Constant surveillance of ourselves and our loved ones in our private lives, our correspondence and our relationships is not something we could have sensibly agreed to...." And is not happening. Metadata collection in no way whatsoever corresponds to surveillance or interference in your private lives. Try keeping one foot in reality and not succumbing to paranoid delusions and melodramatic headlines, it would help.

          ".....No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence....." But again, you have failed to show that is happening. Once again, it is a case of show me the harm you insist is being done.

          ".....CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS....." GCHQ = UK, not Canada.

          ".....Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure....." Yet it is legal under RIPA and therefore NOT unreasonable nor illegal (and still nothing to do with Canada).

          ".....The United States Constitution....." Wow, your geography is really bad! Again, GCHQ = UK.....

          ".....The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures....." Any TEMPORA intercepts are not on US soil, so you are wrong even before we get to their legality under RIPA.

          ".....The Human Rights Act 1998 (the “Act”) incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights (the “Convention”) into UK law. Article 8(1) of the Convention provides that “everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.”....." Does not apply as your right to privacy has not been breached, as already established by the ECHR (see the BBC article previously linked).

          All you are doing is repeating a lad of laws and conventions that do not apply. Fail!

          1. btrower

            Re: btrower The gloves are off

            Re: btrower The gloves are off

            Re: "But doesn't your right to security oblige the authorities to have the powers and means to ensure your security ... You can't have one without the other."

            No. How is that even a question? It is as if you are saying it is necessary to shoot my dog in order to keep him safely in the yard. Completely invading my privacy in every way imaginable, putting me under constant surveillance, reading my mail, listening in on my phone conversations, constantly monitoring my whereabouts, spying on my friends and family and similar insane stunts are not reasonable or necessary to protect my privacy.

            Re: "how are they using 'force' illegally, and how is their duty to protect the public not part of said covenant?"

            Your slight misquote does not properly represent what I said. I said 'illegitimate use of force' because there is now some question as to whether or not laws passed in recent times are fundamentally legitimate. Plenty of laws have been passed and precedents set in the United States that do not pass muster against any reasonable reading of the Constitution. The coercive power of the state sits behind any provocative action it takes. Unless both warranted and necessary it is certainly illegitimate. Of course, in any rational system it is also illegal as a technical matter.

            Here is a lovely story of a warrant-less entry that involves undeniable overt force which was, in fact, deemed illegal by the courts:

            http://www.wnd.com/2014/11/swat-team-tasers-pepper-sprays-homeschoolers/

            Glidden first demanded to be allowed into the home and was denied permission. So, according to the complaint, he pepper-sprayed Jason and then Laura.

            “Glidden then turned to Jason, who was still standing, and shot him in the back with his Taser,” the complaint said.

            When Laura closed the front door, Glidden continued triggering the Taser through the closed door.

            Then White joined in.

            “Together they forced open the door and found Laura and Jason lying on the floor,” HSLDA said.

            They “slapped Laura, knocking her glasses off of her face,” they threatened to shoot the family dog, they threw a telephone across the room, called Laura a “liar,” handcuffed the parents and threatened to let Jason fall down, according to the complaint.

            It all took place in front of the three children, ages about 13, 10 and 8, who were taken into state custody, where they remained for months.

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              WTF?

              Re: tantrum thrower Re: btrower The gloves are off

              "No. How is that even a question?...." It would seem a quite obvious question, at least to me, but then that may be because I am not wearing your socio-political blinkers.

              "....It is as if you are saying it is necessary to shoot my dog in order to keep him safely in the yard...." So your grasp of the matter and sense of proportion lead you to believe it equates to shooting your dog? Nothing I could post could expose your own failure more starkly.

              "....Completely invading my privacy in every way imaginable, putting me under constant surveillance, reading my mail, listening in on my phone conversations, constantly monitoring my whereabouts, spying on my friends and family and similar insane stunts are not reasonable or necessary to protect my privacy....." None of which are likely to actually be happening. Indeed, IMHO, the fact you believe they are indicates you are suffering from some form of paranoid delusion, or you are already subject to some form of control order due to a criminal or suspected criminal past. If it the former than I can only suggest you seek help; if it is the latter then the authorities are legally doing exactly what I would expect them to do.

              ".... I said 'illegitimate use of force' because there is now some question as to whether or not laws passed in recent times are fundamentally legitimate....." LOL, what gobbledygook was that! If the laws have been passed they are legal and 'legitimate' (it does not mean what you seem to think it means, did you mean appropriate?), and 'force' means force, as in a physical manifestation of power. Therefore, no illegitimacy and you have failed to show any occurrence of force. Fail!

              ".....Plenty of laws have been passed and precedents set in the United States that do not pass muster against any reasonable reading of the Constitution....." Apart from the fact that has nothing to do with TEMPORA (remember the geography tip I gave you earlier; the GCHQ = UK, not USA), I am pretty certain your interpretation of 'reasonable reading' extends only to what you have been spoonfed, if only because those laws got passed by the US Government, which I'm pretty sure contains far more people actually qualified to comment on the Constitution than you. If you wish to pretend otherwise, please do provide some actual argument to support your statement.

              ".....The coercive power of the state sits behind any provocative action it takes....." <Yawn> Is that your attempt to equate the enforcement of the law with your claim of 'illegal force'?

              "....Unless both warranted and necessary it is certainly illegitimate...." And TEMPORA has been judged both legal and warranted under RIPA, so you fail again! Oh, and third time of pointing this out to you - the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the GCHQ mechanisms such as TEMPORA do not breach your human rights (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-30345801). Your continued insistence that it does is exposed as just an unsubstantiated opinion with no legal backing.

              ".....in any rational system....." Your arguments so far make you appear (IMHO) ill-equipped to judge rationality.

              ".....http://www.wnd.com/2014/11/swat-team-tasers-pepper-sprays-homeschoolers...." Did you even read the article you linked to?!? Very first line - "A Missouri homeschooling family is suing a sheriff and another officer...." Nothing to do with the GCHQ or even wiretapping! No wonder you're confused! Trying to debate with you is beyond shooting fish in a barrel, it's like the fish have all been fed dope and are offering their attacker a larger gun.

          2. btrower

            Re: btrower The gloves are off

            Re: "Bullshit. It remains completely lawful as you have failed to show how it has breached any actual law."

            It was established at Nuremberg that some rules of conduct transcend the explicit laws of a particular state. Invading the privacy of every person at once goes well beyond any reasonable norm. It directly conflicts with the letter of the most fundamental law in jurisdictions like the United States. It does not matter how many toadies you trot out bleating that it is OK. It is not OK and as far as I am concerned it is something that warrants eventual prosecution and punishment.

            Apropos of eventual punishment:

            "Crimes against international law are committed by men, not by abstract entities, and only by punishing individuals who commit such crimes can the provisions of international law be enforced." -- Judgment of the International Military Tribunal -- http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/judlawch.asp

            The ultimate harm to be done by massive illegal searches without probable cause and the apparatus used to conduct them is enormous well beyond the injury to mankind done by a few despicable acts done under cover of a 'hot' war. We should be taking names and ultimately be holding the various perpetrators accountable.

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: tantrum thrower Re: btrower The gloves are off

              ".....It was established at Nuremberg that some rules of conduct transcend the explicit laws of a particular state. Invading the privacy of every person at once goes well beyond any reasonable norm....." The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (actually relevant to the matter, unlike Nurmeberg) already decided otherwise (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-30345801). Oh, and I claim my Godwin for your ridiculous attempts to conflate the actions of the GCHQ with the Holocaust.

              "....It directly conflicts with the letter of the most fundamental law in jurisdictions like the United States....." Getting very bored of continually having to remind you that TEMPORA belongs to the GCHQ in the UK, not the US.

              ".... It does not matter how many toadies you trot out bleating that it is OK....." If by 'toadies' you mean actual legal bodies and international courts, such as the European Court of Human Rights, then - actually - yes it does matter! You can shriek and whine as much as you like to the opposite but that will just make others laugh at you.

              ".....It is not OK and as far as I am concerned it is something that warrants eventual prosecution and punishment....." So, you being so powerful, mighty and righteous - more so than the highest court in Europe - what are you going to do to ensure 'prosecution and punishment'? Refuse to drink your milk and take a nap?

              "....Crimes against international law are committed by men...." True, but RIPA make TEMPORA legal, therefore no actual 'crime' involved other than the ones TEMPORA uncovers. As the ECHR decided - you may recall I have pointed that out to you several times now.

              ".....The ultimate harm....well beyond the injury to mankind done by a few despicable acts done under cover of a 'hot' war....." <Yawn> And, once again, just pause the ridiculous melodrama and hyperventilating long enough to actually show me the 'harm' you insist is happening. Oh, you can't. This is my surprised face, honest.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have to wonder what these people would have said if asked to consider the East German Stasi's domestic spying programme. It really does look as if we're being monitored in more detail in the UK today than they were in the DDR. How can that possibly be right?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Stasi...

      Don't forget that what the Stasi did to the East German people was legal under East German law and was fully approved by the government.

      Its not really a question of legality, but one of morality - the two are not the same in some cases.

      Maybe comparing GCHQ to the Stasi could be seen as slightly OTT, but its starting to look a lot like it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Stasi and non-Stasi

      the difference is really simple: Stasi were baaaaad, our services are gooooood. QED.

      1. Anonymous C0ward

        Re: Stasi and non-Stasi

        Four legs good, two legs better.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stasi and non-Stasi

        Yeah, I wonder how the Stasi acted before they went bad...

  8. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    "The tribunal also found that there was no problem in sharing intelligence with the US National Security Agency, or accessing information obtained through the NSA’s PRISM programme. However, it relied on secret government policies in reaching this decision."

    To paraphrase, "as long as it's Government policy, however secret or illegal, it's legal".

    This smells increasingly bad to me ...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New Innovation may save us...

    The 5-Eyes have done little to dispel the revelations linked to their abusive programmes. I believe this will fuel private investment in super-encryption, which stands to cause them much pain in coming years... Fuck the elite and their shiny toys!!

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: New Innovation may save us...

      Innovation in encryption is much less necessary, for now, than verification that existing implementations are not flawed. While it is necessary to keep an eye out for developments in number theory that lower the cost of finding keys, the risk of weak keys or implementations that leak key information is greater by many orders of magnitude.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IPT

    can I like, vote them out?

    ...

    oh, I see... self-elected....

  12. Peter2 Silver badge

    >"According to Privacy International: “The policies reveal that the government considers it justifiable to engage in mass surveillance of every Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google user in the country, even if there is no suspicion that the user has committed any offence, by secretly redefining Britons’ use of them as 'external communications'."

    Except that IIRC the security services were recently complaining that they couldn't prevent the murder of Lee Rigby because they didn't have access to Facebook etc to see that they had quite openly been discussing murdering a British serviceman. Since one would suspect that if they did have access then his messages would have lit off even a basic word filter like a christmas tree then it's pretty safe to assume they weren't and likely aren't monitoring all facebook access, at the very least.

    Still...

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      "Anyone" != "Everyone"

      There has been a great deal of imprecision in reporting and commenting on various signals intelligence activities, focused largely on Five Eyes agencies, particularly the US NSA and UK GCHQ, due to documents leaked by Edward Snowden. The probability approaches 1 that the great majority of governments engage in data collection and analysis activities that are essentially indistinguishable in kind, although it is possible they are less extensive due to resource limitations.

      It appears to be the position of the governments that their intelligence services need to be able to spy on *anyone* within their remit, requiring that they have access to the full communication spectrum, including radio, wire, and fiber facilities. Given the technical nature of the Internet and cell phone infrastructure it is hard to see how it could be otherwise. It does not imply that they are, in fact, spying on *everyone*, an undertaking that intelligence agency manpower limits suggest is impractical to the point of implausibility. John Poindexter's dream is not one that seems likely to be attainable.

      A critical question is how to reconcile the requirement to be able to spy on any legal target, and the corresponding technical requirement to be able to access all users of all networks. In the US, the laws and executive orders, publicly known well before the Snowden Revelations, were fairly specific, overseen by agency inspectors general, the Department of Justice, the FISC, and the responsible committees in the Congress. From published or declassified FISC and other documents we have reason to think they were followed with considerable care, although there were cases of technical and administrative error, legal ambiguity, and analyst misuse for personal reasons. In the aggregate these represent a tiny fraction of the data the agency accessed, although it certainly is not a trivial matter. However it is not clear that anyone has suffered harm from these errors and transgressions.

      In particular, there is little evidence, or none, that the data retained has been or is being used to suppress political dissent or create dossiers to identify those citizens (or legal residents) who must be watched for political deviance. We need to be watchful for that; governments sometimes go wrong, but it is likely that for nearly everyone (including those espousing unpopular or anti-establishment political views) the much larger risk is that their credit card details will be acquired by criminals and used to harm them financially.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Anyone" != "Everyone"

        @Tom Dial

        re: "there is little evidence, or none, that the data retained has been or is being used to suppress political dissent or create dossiers to identify those citizens (or legal residents) who must be watched for political deviance"

        - Spying on environmental protest groups

        - Spying on journalists

        - Spying on whistleblowers

        - Spying on activists (re: domestic terrorism database)

        - Secret laws and policies

        - Complicity in rendition

        You are kidding right?

        The UK government is rapidly heading for totalitarianism. The role of the police is to identify dissenters as enemies of the state.

      2. dephormation.org.uk
        Holmes

        Re: "Anyone" != "Everyone"

        " there is little evidence, or none, that the data retained has been or is being [[misused]"

        BT/Phorm?

        There is plenty of evidence that this data is being misused with impunity. Vodafone + Bluecoat replay attacks. TalkTalk + Huawei surveillance + replay attacks. UK Parliament + Bluecoat.

        The intrusion begins the moment a third party obtains a copy of a private/confidential message with the intention of retaining some or all of the content. Subjecting the whole population to intrusive surveillance is simply undemocratic, offensive, and illegal.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: dephormation Re: "Anyone" != "Everyone"

          ".... BT/Phorm?...." Nothing to do with the GCHQ or TEMPORA.

          "..... The intrusion begins the moment a third party obtains a copy of a private/confidential message...." And again, commercial companies are nothing to do with the GCHQ or TEMPORA.

          "....Subjecting the whole population to intrusive surveillance is simply undemocratic, offensive, and illegal." Once again for those to busy hyperventilating to understand - collecting metadata does not equal subjecting the whole population to intrusive surveillance, and using the results of analysing such metadata to make a very, very small number of actual intercepts (when the message content is actually read/heard) does not equate to subjecting the whole population to intrusive surveillance. And RIPA makes it all legal anyway and the European Court of Human Rights has decided your rights are not being breached (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-30345801), so stop ovinely insisting otherwise and go do something useful instead.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Peter2

      re: "they didn't have access to Facebook etc"

      They didn't have legal access to Facebook.

      And you think they're going to admit they had access but missed the clues? Yeah right.

      Doesn't quite play into Call me Dave's narrative of Facebook are with the terrorists does it?

  13. ecofeco Silver badge

    Millions of WW2 veterans just turned in their graves.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: ecofeacal

      "Millions of WW2 veterans just turned in their graves." I'm betting your personal knowledge of UK veterans and what they thought is negatively related to your ability to spout hyperventilating and melodramatic nonsense. Given that the latter you seem to have refined to an art, if such a failing can be considered so, your personal knowledge of veterans and what they would think is probably zero. I had two relatives with extensive combat experience from WW2 who I know would tell you where you could stick your preconceptions. Please stop sullying their memory by insisting your blinkered viewpoint would be theirs, I find it highly offensive.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: ecofeacal

        You had relatives, I had relatives, he had relatives, and probably most commentards had or maybe even still have relatives that served in WW2.

        By the way, I find it highly offensive that you think you're that effing special and manage to pontificate here on what most people around the world today think about surveillance without being related to any of them. So there you go.

  14. Chris G Silver badge

    The biggest difference between the Stasi in East Germany and the current situation in Britain,Us and others is that I don't THINK that neighbours are ratting on neighbours wholesale.

    I could be wrong, does your neighbour wear a black three quarter length jacket even in the summer? Has has he always got a little note book and making notes while watching the locals?

    Otherwise, not too much difference.

    @Peter2; You don't think the security services could have been LYING do you?

    They are after all, there to protect us from terrorists, aren't they?.

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      It's slowly getting there. I read that children are being encouraged to tell their teachers about any bad things that their parents do. With the "bad" things being redefined from time to time.

  15. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Holmes

    And in a related news story....

    Scientists discover that lapdogs seldom bight the hand that feeds them!!

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    " the mass surveillance program to tap undersea cables was proportionate."

    Are you f**king kidding me?

    [EDIT. Well I guess to a data fetishist they are.

    But then all data collection, everywhere, every when is as well

    I see they have let our favorite apologist for state surveillance off the naughty step

    Oh joy. ]

  17. Hargrove

    A modest proposal

    According to the claimants, the IPT has never ruled in favour of the claimants in any case against the intelligence or security services.

    Nor will they ever. Those who serve on such tribunals are well-paid by the special interests on whose behalf those in power govern us.

    We will never be able to achieve a practical balance between the legitimate need for government collection of intelligence for national security and the basic rights of individuals until we have established legal mechanisms to ensure that those who abuse such intelligence information for political or personal advantage are punished severely.

    That will not happen until the makeup and character of those we elect to govern changes.

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