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

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

  1. G R Goslin

    So

    So we're going to see a vast dimunition of the hordes of crime lords, and such, being daily dragged before the couts. What crime lords, and such, I hear you say. So, shortly, the list of hospitals, libraries, schools, homes for the aged, will be swelled with the closure of prisons, too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So

      The Intelligence Community is getting nervous now that people are starting to ask how with all of their spying they failed to notice the largest cyber attack the world had ever seen. (Sony) Now we know. They are blaming Snowden.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So

      Not to nitpick, but "dimunition" isn't a word; "diminution" I guess is what you're shooting for (pun intended).

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: So

        Dimunition- two bullets, one to the body one to the head.

        1. 's water music Silver badge

          Re: So

          Dimunition- two bullets, one to the body one to the head.

          Mornington Crescent!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So

            Only if playing by Guerilla Warefare rules. If using the standard El Reg Forum variant, you can only get to MC after both amanfromMars AND Ledswinger have both commented.

            1. fearnothing

              Re: So

              I'm playing the Jake wildcard. Any action that makes sense is now illegal, and this rule is only cancelled if you perform a reverse four-thirds maneuver with directions given in Tongolese.

              1. HOW many?

                Re: So

                Ahem. Its a three fourths manouver AND you have to call it before making the ply.

                No, ply - *you* know what I mean.

                Oh, and whilst its all rather bad and unfortunate etc, am I the only one not crying in my beer and instead thinking, 'Well yes, but didn't they pull down the roof on their own heads by wholesale trawling which caused Snow Don to have a crisis of conscience or something which triggered the whole expose'?

                No doubt that's just too niaive and there'll be a dark windowed van outside the house shortly to point out to me that's not what you're supposed to wonder about on a public forum or something.

      2. Wade Burchette

        Re: So

        @AC -- "Not to nitpick, but "dimunition" isn't a word; "diminution" I guess is what you're shooting for (pun intended)."

        Thank you. You embiggened my vocabulary with that cromulent explanation.

  2. Bob Wheeler
    WTF?

    Silly Question #1

    > Communication suppliers – historically willing facilitators of wiretapping – are “refusing to hand over evidence on the likes of drug smugglers or fraudsters” because they do not pose a “direct threat to life”

    OK, silly question, but if you have a warrent, signed by a Judge, won't that get the 'communication supplies' to hand over the info?

    1. Stuart 22

      Re: Silly Question #1

      "OK, silly question, but if you have a warrent, signed by a Judge, won't that get the 'communication supplies' to hand over the info?"

      I think they are saying that if communication suppliers have stopped illegal wiretapping then the security services can't boost their 'detection' figures by sending them to jail any more. Oh, wait ...

    2. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: Silly Question #1

      Beat me too it. Unless the people they spying on are the ones who would be handing the info over.

      1. bonkers

        Re: Silly Question #1

        erm, Silly Question number two,

        what the fuck are GCHQ doing getting involved in what the daily mail thinks the politicians should be telling consenting adults in private what they should and should not do? It's a public health concern, not a national security issue.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Holmes

      Re: Silly Question #1

      "OK, silly question, but if you have a warrent, signed by a Judge, won't that get the 'communication supplies' to hand over the info?"

      Of course they'd have to hand over the information with a proper signed warrant, unless they want to see the inside of a prison cell.

  3. seacook
    Facepalm

    Too eager to share

    GCHQ should not have been so eager to share their methods and data with the NSA. If the NSA did not have GCHQ's jewels they may not have been collected by Snowden.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too eager to share

      Yes, "collected" or "copied" but not stolen as the article incorrectly suggests. Even "illegally copied" would be OK, although that's not really been proven.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too eager to share

      Or the stupid yanks should not have employed unreliable staff like Snowden. I hope he is enjoying life with Putin's low life.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Too eager to share

        Or, the stupid yanks should have played by the rules from the git-go, and Snowden would have had nothing to report.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Too eager to share

          Quote: Or, the stupid yanks should have played by the rules from the git-go

          Sharepoint. Gets you every time. Now what exactly is Sharepoint and to be more precise a multi-agency sharepoint installation security certificate? C-inexistent?

          Bazooka, aim at foot, look into exhaust pipe, fire.

          If it was not for Snowden it would have been someone else, this was a disaster in the making all along so they should put the blame squarely whichever colonel Cathcart spec'ed and whichever General Scheisscopf authorized the system in the first place. He is guilty. Not the Snowdens of Yesteryear. They are a casualty on this battlefield, not someone who actually sets it up.

          1. Thomas 4

            Re: Too eager to share

            Its hard to feel sympathy for GCHQ being unable to do illegal surveillance. They'll just have to waterboard and torture their suspects like every body else does. ^^

  4. James Micallef Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Suggestion for law enforcement

    Why not start investing more in ACTUAL police and detective work such as building trust in the community so locals will be happy to tip you off to any wrongdoings, have cops actually walking a beat, and some good old-fashioned undercover work.

    That way, you might catch some real criminals without snooping on everyone indiscriminately

    1. Bob Wheeler
      Joke

      Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

      But that is just so much hard work, old school thinking, get with modern digital era.....

    2. David Pollard

      Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

      Perhaps the authorities could take note of the findings of Professor Nutt, and the committee members who resigned when he was sacked. To decriminalise recreational drugs would free up a great deal of police time and reduce the volume of clutter on law enforcement radar. Also with fewer doors being kicked in to no real advantage there might over time be an improvement in public co-operation.

      http://drugscience.org.uk/

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

      As we all know drugs king pins do all their meeting in the open in the middle of streets so that everyone can see them. So if we have police walking the streets they could easily pick them out so that is bound to work well. Sadly in many communities many of the residents work for the drug sellers so that is bound to work well.

      Of course no one knows or more like cares about the toll free numbers they can call to report a crime.

      Does not one think before posting?

      1. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

        "As we all know drugs king pins do all their meeting in the open in the middle of streets so that everyone can see them"

        Hence my reference to undercover police work. maybe you should read and understand posts in their entirety before criticising

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

          I can read what did you think interception was if no 'undercover'. Mind you your special pleading to continue whatever you like is noted.

          Have you seen the stupid response to undercover work that has been running for years?

          The last drugs free for all went so well back in the 1800s didn't it. Personally I would cut the drugs with something useful e.g. cyanide and sell that cheap for a while. It could clean up the drugs market and give the undertakers some useful business

          1. Schultz

            AC: Personally I would cut the drugs with something

            You are disgusting! I hope other people show you more compassion than you show them.

          2. HMB

            Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

            The last drugs free for all went so well back in the 1800s didn't it. Personally I would cut the drugs with something useful e.g. cyanide and sell that cheap for a while. It could clean up the drugs market and give the undertakers some useful business

            David Blunket!!! When did you become a register commentard? :O

            "Machine gun the prisoners!"

            P.S. Do you get some sort of satanic loyalty card for advocating mass extermination of people? Are they like nectar points?

          3. beep54
            Facepalm

            Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

            AC: "Personally I would cut the drugs with something useful e.g. cyanide and sell that cheap for a while. It could clean up the drugs market and give the undertakers some useful business"

            This was actually tried by the US government during Prohibition. It had zero affect of the usage of alcohol, but it DID certainly increase the undertakers business.

          4. HOW many?

            Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

            Or your throat?

            You can practice if you like.

          5. simonb_london

            Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

            "Personally I would cut the drugs with something useful e.g. cyanide...", or continue to support prohibition which has the same effect.

          6. RobHib
            Flame

            @ Anonymous Coward--Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

            ..."cut the drugs with something useful e.g. cyanide and sell that cheap for a while. It could clean up the drugs market and give the undertakers some useful business.

            Damn bloody stupid idiotic response!

            Trouble is we've already too many of the population and people in power who, like you, work on gut reaction and warped thinking rather than rational logic and sense. As with you Anonymous Coward, they hide in the shadows and contribute little or nothing to society except Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

            This story quotes an unnamed official—surprise, surprise! It's not only Anonymous Cowards like you who hide and remain unaccountable but also the Secret State that's prepared to work underhandedly, unlawfully and without proper public accountability that's much of the cause of society's woes today. GCHQ, NSA, DSD etc. are just the current focus—tips of the iceberg that's the whole government edifice and infrastructure which is regularly underhanded and less than honest with the Citizenry.

            It's small-minded people like you who really screw up our governance which often leads to stupid or unacceptable outcomes such as exacerbating/perpetuating the drug problem. Whilst the crims and con merchants are without doubt disreputable and antisocial, at least we can usually understand their logic and rationale.

            In so very few words the great H.L. Mencken, famous journalist, critic and satirist, sums up with ease illogical and dangerous beliefs such as yours:

            "For every difficult and complex problem, there's an obvious solution that's simple, easy—and wrong!"

      2. fruitoftheloon

        @AC Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

        Dear Ac,

        you seem to be quite right....

        J

    4. JohnMurray

      Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

      Maybe real crims are not what they are looking for?

      Maybe, just maybe, real crime is not the agenda?

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

        "Maybe, just maybe, real crime is not the agenda?"

        Of course they're after 'real' criminals!

        It's just that, in the US at least, there's been enough laws passed to make everything you do a potential felony!

        http://www.threefeloniesaday.com/Youtoo/tabid/86/Default.aspx

        Therefore, monitor everyone, because they're all felons!

      2. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

        "Maybe, just maybe, real crime is not the agenda?"

        Fighting crime is not what secret services do.

        Crime fighting is the task of the police. The task of secret services is, obviously, secret.

        However in the public image "fighting crime and terrorism" sounds much better than "spying on (foreign) people to know when to intervene in order to prevent a public uprising". So they now claim to do the former, even though they have to business in doing that.

    5. jason 7

      Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

      I live in a city centre so get a lot of anti-social thuggery going on.

      I once said the to the Police Inspector in charge of the city centre night time crime division at a public forum that I thought it would be a good idea to have a couple of officers on a Friday/Saturday night do a tour of the roads and residential back streets from the main nightclubs areas like security guards do.

      Basically just making sure folks knew there was a Police presence keeping an eye on the darker streets and lanes in the residential areas in an effort to reduce the anti-social goings on. Drunks get up to all sorts when they see a dark alley or lane off the main street.

      She looked puzzled and stated "I do not want officers patrolling in areas where there is nothing going on!"

      I replied "With all due respect but as a resident living in this difficult area, 'nothing going on' is exactly what I want!"

      She had no clue about preventative policing. All she understood was clocking up figures to slap on monthly performance reports. Creating a safe, crime free area just did not compute with her.

      What are they teaching at Hendon these days?

      1. RobHib
        Unhappy

        @ jason 7--Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

        "She had no clue about preventative policing. All she understood was clocking up figures to slap on monthly performance reports."

        The Police has always been a club of insiders so it's always been difficult for the public to figure out how effective policing actually is. Ages ago, it occurred to me that along with regular police recruits we should have conscription to boost police force numbers. Police conscripts, say after six months training, would go on to perform basic policing tasks for another 12/18 months before being eligible to leave.

        No only would this make more time available for regular police to solve major crime but a major and very significant side effect would be that eventually many thousands of ordinary citizens would know how the policing system works from the inside. Politically, this would be a very effective way to improve Police efficiency through increased public awareness and understanding of policing difficulties. But perhaps more importantly it would make the service more accountable and transparent (as both insiders and outsiders would always be watching with eager eyes).

        Of course this would never happen: unlike the army whose objectives are more clear-cut, any now-knowledgeable ex-police conscripts who attempted to lobbied for changes would be instantly accused by permanent police insiders of attempting to undermine the Force, etc.

        Shame it would never happen, as until the 'Them-and-Us' mentality barrier is broken down, policing cannot be truly efficient and effective--if for no other reason than the trust between the Police and the Public will never reach the level that it ought to be at.

    6. linicks

      Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

      Dead right - and now we have CCTV all over the place, and every time there is a crime all we get is grainy, out of focus hoodies doing it. I can't think of ONE instance that anyone gets caught from it, let alone stop crime.

      All that money could have been spent on Bobbies on the beat (and not what you see now with car patrols (the only time I see them) filling up kebab shops at 20:00 hours).

    7. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

      Why not start investing more in ACTUAL police and detective work ...

      In order to catch a fox, you have to think like a fox? To be clear, I am not defending the government overreach that has been well documented on this topic, but misuse of a tool does not mean that it lacks valid uses. The tools the various three letter agencies are lamenting the loss of or lessened effectiveness of often have legitimate uses which are now out of reach due to past misuse. It seems disingenuous, though, to simply complain that they can't do the job because the well has been poisoned while still holding the vial. As far as building trust in the community: that pooch has been thoroughly screwed.

    8. HOW many?

      Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

      You are an Agent Provocateur (and I claim my free negligee)

      Damnit sir - That would cost MONEY.

      Oh, and time and effort and an unaffordable &/or impracticable change of culture.

      So we won't, so there.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

      I used to walk my dog in a London park at night. The cops and their dogs would patrol in a van. The electric fan on the van's radiator would kick in every few minutes making it really easy to hear them coming. I used to play the game of walking behind a tree at the same rate that the van slowly passed. They never saw me so if I had been a criminal I would not have been caught.

      The cops were too lazy or stupid to actually walk with their dogs and get picked up at the perimeter.

    10. Medixstiff

      Re: Suggestion for law enforcement

      "Why not start investing more in ACTUAL police and detective work"

      Because the idiots up top listen to the bean counters and the sales people, who talk up "operational efficiency" and how "our software and solutions" can do all manner of made up BS.

      It's the same with Police forces and most government agencies that save costs by firing people, payroll is the number one expense to any organisation, they don't understand that coppers in cars patrolling, cause people to pull their heads in, speed cameras don't.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How to eliminate drug lords

    Legalise drugs. And just think of all those lovely taxes. You need some more of those, don't you?

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: How to eliminate drug lords

      > just think of all those lovely taxes

      So no drug lords, just drug lord smugglers?

      Actually, drug lords are a fact of life in a free society, as is murder and paedophilia.

      If you think you've found a criminal, get a warrant.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: How to eliminate drug lords

        "If you think you've found a criminal, get a warrant."

        And if the criminal is operating in a country that won't respect your extradition request?

        1. LegalAlien

          Re: How to eliminate drug lords

          Oh well, we'll just have to let Bolivian criminals be the... err problem of f*ing Bolivia then! What sort of stupid comment is that?

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: How to eliminate drug lords

            Because the country may not be on friendly terms with you. Meaning you're between a rock and a hard place. Going after him's bad enough, but you can't leave him there, either.

            1. Rattus Rattus

              Re: How to eliminate drug lords

              Of course you can leave him there! Or do you think you're the world police, just like America?

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: How to eliminate drug lords

                Fine, then, leave the existential threat there to destroy you...

    2. Chris Parsons

      Re: How to eliminate drug lords

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

  6. Paul Shirley

    BS fed to a BS paper

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

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

    1. Swiss Anton

      Re: BS fed to a BS paper

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: BS fed to a BS paper

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

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

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

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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BS fed to a BS paper

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

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

      1. Anomalous Cowturd
        Holmes

        Re: Red Leb at $350 a kilo

        Put my name down for three please.

        How much for DHL next day delivery?

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

        Not seen that since the Israelis "visited".

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

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

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

  7. janimal
    Big Brother

    A balance must be struck

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

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

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

    Get warrants, employ more people and treat everyone equally.

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

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: A balance must be struck

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

    2. Palpy

      Re: A balance must be struck

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

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

      1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: A balance must be struck

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

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

  8. PaulR79

    Anyone shedding a tear? No?

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone shedding a tear? No?

      Rather than start to cry

      My eyes stayed very dry

      For GCHQ

      I know what to do

      Waterboard the nearest spy

  9. moiety

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

    FTFY

  10. chris 17 Bronze badge
    Big Brother

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

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

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

    1. JohnMurray

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

  11. Chris G Silver badge

    It's Plain to See

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

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

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

    1. JohnMurray

      Re: It's Plain to See

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

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

    2. Ilmarinen
      Big Brother

      Re: It's Plain to See

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

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

  12. Kay Burley ate my hamster

    Can they not use their powers for good?

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

    1. ukgnome Silver badge

      Re: Can they not use their powers for good?

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

      1. Rattus Rattus

        Re: Can they not use their powers for good?

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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can they not use their powers for good?

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

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

      Or Jimmy Saville.

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

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

      1. Grahame 2

        Re: Can they not use their powers for good?

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

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

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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Can they not use their powers for good?

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

          Indeed.

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

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

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

    3. Busby

      Re: Can they not use their powers for good?

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

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: Can they not use their powers for good?

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

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

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

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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Can they not use their powers for good?

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

  13. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    OK, fine, I heard you.

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

  14. Florida1920 Silver badge
    Holmes

    A modest proposition

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

    1. Alan Bourke

      Re: A modest proposition

      ZING

    2. ukgnome Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: A modest proposition

      No offence taken

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A modest proposition

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

      1. HMB

        Re: A modest proposition

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

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

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Salts

    Or...

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

    1. Bob Wheeler
      Pint

      Re: Or...

      "do spies lie?",

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: bear's and pope's

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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: bear's and pope's

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

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

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: bear's and pope's

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

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

            Merry Christma's

          2. Mephistro Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: bear's and pope's

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

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

            1. Anomalous Cowturd
              Happy

              Re: bear's and pope's @ Mephistro

              I saw that one!

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

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Or...

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

        Do you mean - do bears shit on the pope?

        1. HausWolf

          Re: Or...

          Only the wooden ones.

  17. abedarts

    Give us something to measure by

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

    1. PleebSmash

      Re: Give us something to measure by

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

  18. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Stop

    How much tracking of crims was being done before?

    Given that:

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

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

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

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

    1. Chris G Silver badge

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

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

      And leave the rest of us the fuck alone!

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

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

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

      2. davemcwish

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

        You forgot 'in a park, by a lake, feeding the ducks'.

    2. PleebSmash

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

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

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

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

        With approximately 58 million suspects under surveillance in Britain.

  19. Anonymous Coward 101

    So before Snowden...

    'Drug lords' sent messages in clear text to one another:

    'Senor Mendoza, nice to speak with you! Could you send round a ton of cocaine to Milford Haven for next week. Please tell me the name of the boat it's on. Ta.'

    I don't think so.

    1. Bob Wheeler

      Re: So before Snowden...

      In the same way the guy that break into your house wear's a black and white striped tee-shit and a bag with SWAG written on the side.

    2. ukgnome Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: So before Snowden...

      Well, there are two ways of looking at this.

      They are not been spied on, so it's quite OK to chat about this activity in the open.

      They are been spied on, so those spy police types will already be running a decipher so lets just chat about this in the open.

    3. sed gawk

      Re: So before Snowden...

      Surely pre-pay phones and fairly innocuous chatter is going to be the best bet here.

      Look at the legitimate (i.e. non-obfuscated) chatter going over the web on an average day, facebook,stack overflow, twitter, amazon etc.

      How really can you determine "hello mate, pint and same again please" -> "sure, same place ?" -> "yes, bit later - say five?" -> "see you there ;)" relates to some illegal exchange of goods or services.

      It's fantasy - the blatant point of all the trawling is to provide an ability to *retrospectively* throw every possible extra charge at someone under arrest to get them to give up, whomever they're associated with.

      I'd be willing to bet that the big scale stuff is disguised as company purchases for intangibles (IP payments perhaps) and looks like any other sales ledger unless a forensic accountant gets her hands on the books.

      The little stuff is just not hidden.

      I seriously doubt a sophisticated infrastructure is required to work out what "got any weed?" -> "how much do you want?" could possibly relate to.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So before Snowden...

        What do you think the Reg comments are really about?

        Even now someone at GCHQ is probably trying to find out whether Sharepoint is a reference to a drug distribution centre. And perhaps Microsoft is code for a major viagra selling operation.

        1. sed gawk

          Re: So before Snowden...

          curses talk sed cat, wait vim, whois top

      2. I Am Spartacus
        Big Brother

        Re: So before Snowden...

        "I'd be willing to bet that the big scale stuff is disguised as company purchases for intangibles (IP payments perhaps) and looks like any other sales ledger unless a forensic accountant gets her hands on the books."

        The correct phrase is non-broker commission.

  20. batfastad
    Megaphone

    Suspected

    So what they mean is they can't track *suspected* criminals anymore. Suspected should mean nothing. Anyone could suspect anyone of anything, and say it loudly enough it can become true. I want evidence not presumption and if there's enough evidence of a crime having been committed then it should be trivial to obtain a warrant and poke that under the noses of communications providers.

    They overstepped the limits of the legal framework, just like the baddies. And they know it.

    Normal law-abiding peons and suspected criminals/transvestites/activists/terrorists/ghosts/aliens/jobsworth civil servants have got themselves their very own technological equivalent of the Wilson Doctrine. Seems only fair to me, even if I don't like the fact that bad people do bad things. Hurrah for normal law-abiding peons and suspected criminals/transvestites/activists/terrorists/ghosts/aliens/jobsworth civil servants everywhere!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wilson Doctrine

      Apparently the Wilson Doctrine (spies won't bug MPs) hasn't really been taken seriously for years:

      e.g. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/14/spies-flouting-wilson-doctrine-bugging-mps

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: ... Re: Wilson Doctrine

        Apparently the Wilson Doctrine (spies won't bug MPs) hasn't really been taken seriously for years:

        e.g. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/14/spies-flouting-wilson-doctrine-bugging-mps

        If Secret Intelligence Services and Security Services do not have an embarrassment of overflowing information for leveraging intelligence garnered from every one of Joe Public's representative in the Houses of Parliament and across Westminster and in the City, are they by such a crass self-defeating default, self-proven to be neither secure nor intelligent enough and totally unfit for Future Greater Virtual Games Play Purpose and Realities with Creative CyberIntelAIgent Command and Communicative Computer Control Lead in Media and IT Systems of Operation on Man Management Missions ...... Viably Imaginative Practical Projects in Virtually Perfect Endeavours.

        But such a monumental fault and titanic blunder is easily fixed, is it not, with a smart wholesale rejection of such an obvious and easily abused and misused, self-servingly corrupt and contrived idiotic folly, to readily and practically virtually immediately expose a whole host of new ills for speedy supply of Secret Intelligence Services and Security Services remediation. Anything less is an arrant errant affront and ignorant arrogant fraud perpetrated against a nation and blows a huge hole in any notion that the national interest is being servered in any way by all of those involved and is being catastrophically compromised and undermined by the sharing of secrets which are so readily and often abused and seriously serially misused.

    2. sed gawk
      Pint

      Re: Suspected

      So what they mean is they can't track *suspected* criminals anymore. Suspected should mean nothing.

      While I agree with the wider point you are making, I think *suspected* just means *not convicted*.

      They absolutely should be going after suspected criminals, they should just apply to a judge for a warrant first, so they can convict them and turn them from *suspected* to convicted / or remove them from suspicion.

      They overstepped the limits of the legal framework, just like the baddies. And they know it.

      No, they flat out broke the law, in an industrialized manner, that's really quite different from a technical breach of process, it's the difference between shoplifting a mars bar and hijacking a confectionery truck.

      if there's enough evidence of a crime having been committed then it should be trivial to obtain a warrant and poke that under the noses of communications providers.

      Completely agree with you here, I don't object to the mass trawling in principle, but I do think a case *must* be made for each and every person affected, with the requisite paperwork filed with a judge. If that means that some dangerous evil people slip through the net, so be it, it's kind of the deal with being free, freedom doesn't translate to safety.

      If that makes mass trawling unworkable, well again, that's the whole being free thing again.

      Have a pint

  21. Bloodbeastterror

    Facebook

    Maybe a tangential/peripheral point, but here goes...

    I've heard for years Facebook described as the FBI/NSA/GCHQ (take your pick) friend, since it contains such a fantastic wealth of personal information willingly handed over by the data owners themselves. I've always assumed that these snoopers would be monitoring it closely for the specific subject that is their primary purpose these days - terrorism. And yet...

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/nov/25/lee-rigby-murder-internet-firm-could-have-picked-up-killers-message-report-says

    If they are capable of reading every email, every post, every chat, every Whatsapp, every video call, and they miss people talking specifically about terrorist murder, what is the point of them?

    1. PleebSmash
      Big Brother

      Re: Facebook

      Information overload. Big Data = big pile o' garbage. In the States, many overlapping intelligence agencies. Given the volume of data the NSA and GCHQ must be swallowing up, it's easier to collect it all and investigate an incident retroactively than stop an attack. These agencies would be in the market for a good AI. In the meantime, they will continue to swallow up everything they can like the vampire squids they are and whine about increased use of encryption while pouring millions into quantum computing research in order to break it.

  22. JaitcH
    FAIL

    Tough! GCHQ and the NSA can only blame themselves ...

    after all they have abused the pubic long enough.

    Besides, who believes anything they say - just a bunch of psychotic liars.

  23. User McUser
    Joke

    Clef'd in twain

    [...] the time need to crack communications had effectively trebled over recent months.

    I think that's a bass-less statement.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The clueless will pay for their ignorance

    Anyone who believes that Snow boy's illegal disclosure of security ops is a good thing will be thinking much differently soon when their bank account is emptied, their credit cards compromised, their personal identity information is stolen and they end up going through years of headaches trying to sort it all out.

    The only ones that needed to be concerned about monitoring of communications by authorities was the crims. Now they get to operate with impunity while your next door neighbor can listen in on your communication any time they desire without you even knowing.

    1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: The clueless will pay for their ignorance

      Is this the first time you've decided not to call him "Snow job"? I only ask because I got so bored of reading it I just hit reject on your comments as soon as I saw it.

      1. moiety

        Re: The clueless will pay for their ignorance

        I thought I detected the fair hand of Mr. Frothy in the downvotes.

        1. Anomalous Cowturd
          Thumb Up

          @ Moiety

          How I laughed!

          Mr. Frothy it shall be. Now, and forever more.

    2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: The clueless will pay for their ignorance

      "when their bank account is emptied, their credit cards compromised, their personal identity information is stolen and they end up going through years of headaches trying to sort it all out"

      Excellent! You only forgot to add "and won't somebody please think of the children!"

    3. sed gawk

      Re: The clueless will pay for their ignorance

      Leave off, Sec-ops have sweet fa to do with vulnerable (being charitable here) people giving their details to fraudsters, with companies under-investing in professional architectural assistance with software security.

      Snowden just confirmed what most (for a given value of most) thought, as the cost of tapping everybody started to be less than working out who to tap, it became more likely it would happen.

      The only ones that needed to be concerned about monitoring of communications by authorities was the crims. It's not about being concerned, it's about living in the kind of society where freedom is not a slogan, some people are rather attached to the idea, so much so they've paid very high prices in service of that idea.

    4. Anomalous Cowturd
      Joke

      Re: The clueless will pay for their ignorance

      Is that you Matt?

    5. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

      Re: The clueless will pay for their ignorance

      "Anyone who believes that Snow boy's illegal disclosure of security ops is a good thing will be thinking much differently soon when their bank account is emptied, their credit cards compromised, their personal identity information is stolen and they end up going through years of headaches trying to sort it all out."

      How many times did you bellow how the security services weren't interested in us as individuals? What makes you think they are now interested in helping me secure my data or bank account? Also, this is the sphere of the Stazsi....sorry, the NCA, these days and not GCHQ anyway.

      Sloppy MB, very sloppy.

    6. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: The clueless will pay for their ignorance

      Seeing as we all got put on the hook for about twenty five grand a piece by the powers that be I"m not sure I'm all that worried.

      It should also be noted that the filth are shit at dealing with identity theft or having your card skimmed. Thankfully the bank doesn't need a crime number to investigate, or sort out the ledger balance (your bank account isn't your money, it's the banks money which they promise to pay you at some point in the future). Try to get the police to take a report, with evidence, of your card being cloned. Not interested, will add to crime numbers, won't get solved. Worse than reporting a burglary, which at least here in the Netherlands has the police doing door-to-door enquirys.

      It was nice to have the cops show up to try and solve a crime, rather than confiscate my lovely plants.

  25. phuzz Silver badge
    Facepalm

    The big assumption here is that GCHQ were listening to *all* of the "crime lords", and that some of them have now stopped using unencrypted email or phone to communicate and have "disappeared".

    How do GCHQ know that there were no "crime bosses" using communication methods that they weren't monitoring?

    Personally I know plenty of low level dealers who wouldn't discuss their trade over any electronic communications, so at least one or two of the higher-ups must have been equally sensible.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Personally I know plenty of low level dealers who wouldn't discuss their trade over any electronic communications, so at least one or two of the higher-ups must have been equally sensible."

      The online dealers I know are quite au fait with the tech. They might not know the exact details of how encryption works, or exactly how TOR does it's stuff, but can use it well enough.

      Most of the silk road bust seems to be actual old fashioned undercover work and physical detection of packages, rather than high tech survailing.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whiney lil bitches.

    Awwww now the law agencies will have to do real work again.. The poor baby's wont have all their stuff handed to them on a silver platter. Besides, if they were doing their jobs in the first place, anyone of the high profile crims they were watching should have already been in jail.. I suppose they just dawdle along and let things happen because its job security.

  27. Graham Marsden
    Big Brother

    Let me edit that for you...

    GCHQ: "We can't track everyone any more."

    Us: "Thanks to Snowden!"

  28. Charles Smith

    Dumb Bad Guys

    What GCHQ are saying is it is now more difficult to catch dumb criminals/terrorists. The serious guys would have already taken precautions to avoid data leakage.

  29. pepper

    Did they just admit to being incompetent and useless and given the figures or years gone yonder and these days, can we then safely presume that they really never served a tangible purpose?

    I think I'm starting to fancy their current 'openness'.

  30. johnnymotel

    come on GCHQ, which is it...

    just the other day Ms May announced GCHQ would be helping in the fight against pedophiles, now they are saying they have lost all contact with crimes of all colour.

    So which is it?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: come on GCHQ, which is it...

      Wasn't it GCQ that was turning a blind eye to the child prostitution running out of that boys home in Northern Ireland?

      Even if it was being run by the army/special branch/RUC etc then the all-seeing GCHQ must have known about it before Private Eye - otherwise what's the point of them ?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, take a hit of this...

    what complete and utter horseshite. Only the Torygrass would drink the GCHQ bong water and believe them!

  32. adnim Silver badge
    Meh

    They were only...

    ever tracking the low hanging fruit anyway. The smart criminals don't get caught, the really smart ones don't get detected. And the really, really rich ones simply buy politicians. I am far from expert in, well anything, to be honest. I am just old and hoping one day to be wise. Still I am smart enough to communicate with someone without state intervention of that communication.

    1. Anomalous Cowturd
      Thumb Up

      Re: They were only...

      You Sir , are one of my favourite commentards.

      Your few words are well chosen, and well targeted.

      Have a thumb!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give the buggers something to do

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  34. Whiskers
    Paris Hilton

    To paraphrase Mandy Rice Davis

    "GCHQ: We can't track crims any more thanks to Snowden" - well they would say that, wouldn't they.

    1. Dick Emery

      Re: To paraphrase Mandy Rice Davis

      You took my reply right out of my fingers.

  35. earl grey Silver badge
    FAIL

    if that's the case, they're too incompetent to hold the job

    I almost said incontinent, but for them, it's one and the same.

  36. DougS Silver badge

    Let me get this straight

    So even though the Snowden revelations were supposed to be about stuff that was supposedly being used ONLY against terrorists, it must have been successfulyl used against organized crime and drug lords prior to Snowden? Otherwise revealing it wouldn't have hurt their ability to track those criminals.

    So if it was being used against them, why not use it against suspected tax cheats, or someone violating the no-watering ban during a drought? I'm sure they'd say "no, this would only be used for serious crimes that threaten lives" but why should we believe that any more than when we were told the mass surveillance was only done to fight terrorism, or told before that there was no mass surveillance?

    Here's why these damn nazis lost the ability to spy on criminals and terrorists, and Google and Apple took away your ability to request their help in decrypting the contents of someone's phone: They can't be trusted not to use it for EVERYTHING. If we did what they want and let it be used to fit all crime, you know damn well the next step would be that corporations can have access to it, to determine who is stealing cable or who has a dog in their hotel room they aren't supposed to have.

  37. Roo
    Windows

    Sure they're whinging about it...

    But at the end of day there is absolutely zero evidence to support the idea that joe public's vote can stop them doing whatever they want however they want whenever they want.

  38. I Am Spartacus

    This sounds like FUD

    Why would a spy chief go on record to say "we can't spy any more"? That sounds counter-productive. So the obvious answer is that they can and do spy, ok maybe it's a bit harder, but it goes on nevertheless.

    Maybe he is saying "now that you know we used to illegally spy on you, we can't do it". Well, you know, touch shit. The law applies to GCHQ as much as it applies to me - if I tried to wire tap GCHQ they would be down on me like a ton of bricks, so why not vice versa (hint: bring it on, I do actually have very little to hide!)

    So, in all of this, I am reminded of the late Mandy Rice Davis - "He would say that, wouldn't he"

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everyone, Everything, Everytime, Everywhere.

    Why did Lloyds buy RBS one weekend ?

    Tehran strip club

    Why did HSBC launder Mexican money

    Fast and Furious

    Why did S&C get away

    Spooks bank

    Spooks knew all of this.

    They don't work for you, they work for the State (and nice work it is), you just pay for it.

    Now go back to sleep and pay your taxes like the good little sheeple they know you are, you wouldn't want them to focus their attentions (and their abilities to produce evidence) on you, would you ?

    They cannot see how corrupt they have become because they epitomise the very word.

    They do not protect ordinary people

    They endanger ordinary people through their actions

    They persecute ordinary people for voicing legitimate concerns to protect themselves

    They have become Thatchers 'Enemy Within'

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tough

    Shouldn't have picked the publics pockets on the quite really, should you?

  41. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
    Facepalm

    It's clobberin' time.

    Ok, so, let's take a little look at the GCHQ claims....

    "Intelligence officers claim to be blind to more than a quarter of the actions of the UK’s worst crime gangs following changes by crooks in their communication methods, which spooks attribute to leaks by the former NSA contractor, the Daily Telegraph reports."

    So, you knew how they were communicating prior to the Snowdon Revelations, and yet you failed to act on that intelligence? Good...well done. You knew who they were, so no need for mass surveillance to find them then? Excellent. Good job!

    Also, only one quarter? Have the rest not changed their methods? Do you know who they are? If you don't know who they are, then it follows you don't know how many there are, in which case how do you know that you've lost one quarter of them? If you DO know who they are, see my points above. Again, no need for mass surveillance is there? Oh, and please turn in your budget because you've clearly been a colossal waste of money if this is the case.

    "citing unnamed “senior security officials”.

    hmm...I wonder if that would be a certain Home Secretary, as she is now the head of the NCA and associated security services.

    "Communication suppliers – historically willing facilitators of wiretapping – are “refusing to hand over evidence on the likes of drug smugglers or fraudsters” because they do not pose a “direct threat to life”

    That is, they are *obeying* the law as it stands and not breaching DPA, RIPA or The Communications Act. They wait, as they have been told to, for a warrant to appear. Good job ISPs!

    "One unnamed major drug smuggling gang has supposedly been able to operate “unimpeded for the last year” after changing their operations last autumn"

    Why haven't you arrested them previously? Lack of evidence? Using them as an asset to find "bigger fish"? Either way, not protecting the public or state much there are you. No need for mass surveillance to find them either. Again.

    "We have specific evidence of where key targets have changed their communication behaviour as a direct result of what they have read.”

    Ah...if you know what they are reading on the interwebs you *must* have the evidence after all. Why no arrest? What was your budget again?

    "“They have moved to more secure forms of communication"

    An advert for crims! There are things that GCHQ can't break that is simple enough that 25% of all crims have already figured it out and adopted it! Splendid. Not. So, you're not very *good* at your jobs either...about that budget....

    "Law enforcement figures on both sides of the Atlantic have complained that plans by Apple and Google to build improved encryption into smartphones is a gift to criminals, particularly terrorists and paedophiles."

    Well, a free market economy and capitalist philosophy providing a product for a nascent market? No one expected that! Ahem. It also appears to be a market you've created GCHQ/NSA. If you'd not been trawling everyone for everything that consumer need might not be so strong.

    "“We have techniques that need to be protected,” the source told the Telegraph. “The choice is not to pursue a network and we have decided not to press ahead where there is a possibility of being detected.”

    So, you've given up being our stalwart defenders? Again, budget.

    GCHQ operations are one part of a broadening network of social control, along with the unaccountable secret police called the NCA and the Home Secretary. They shout TerrorPedos....sorry DRUGGIE TerrorPedos now, and we're all supposed to run to mummy for protection. They think we're pathetic, weak and stupid, but Snowden shows we're not powerless.

    More power to him and others that may yet emerge from the shadowed ranks of bullshit.

  42. chivo243 Silver badge
    Meh

    Blame game

    I think that Snowden's leaks have only sped up the process of protecting the end user. We would be there sooner or later. Just sooner in this scenario.

    Like my dad always said to me: Your mom and I were going to get married, just not on your schedule, but since you were on the way, our schedule was pushed up.

  43. John Savard Silver badge

    Unfortunate, but

    In the United States, for the NSA to spend time hunting criminals - even ones operating outside the U.S. - would be highly controversial. Its job is to support national security and spy on foreign governments that are hostile to free nations - and terrorists by extension. So, aside from the issue of Snowden, the fact that these statements presuppose that the GCHQ chasing criminals is an entirely legitimate part of its mission is... interesting.

  44. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "Communication suppliers – historically willing facilitators of wiretapping – are “refusing to hand over evidence on the likes of drug smugglers or fraudsters” because they do not pose a “direct threat to life”, Telegraph security editor Tom Whitehead writes."

    Yes. And the communications companies are right -- drug smugglers and fraudsters are not a direct threat to life. You want to track drug smugglers and fraudsters? GET A WARRANT.

  45. boatsman
    WTF?

    first they break the law, got caught redhanded and now we have to blame the one who exposed them ?

    get a life. behind bars preferably, because that is where these GCHQ gits belong.

  46. teebie

    A senior security official said: “Snowden has been very damaging to our work. We have specific evidence of where key targets have changed their communication behaviour as a direct result of what they have read.”

    Something tells me that there will never be any evidence presented that shows this to be true

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