back to article PM wheels out snoop overseer minutes before latest snoops' charter bid lands

Sir Stanley Burnton has been unveiled as the UK's new Interception of Communications Commissioner, just minutes before the Home Secretary is set to deliver her draft Investigatory Powers Bill to the House of Commons. He replaces interim commish Sir Anthony May, who quit his post five months earlier than expected in May this …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Panic over

    Amenable QC found. Wonder what GCHQ have on him?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    nice to see

    A 73 year old at the cutting edge of encryption and security technology.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: nice to see

      He be all like: "we need a big room with lots of flashing lights and clockwork , and a bunch of those homosexual crossword fans"

    2. Richard Jones 1

      Re: nice to see

      His role should be to verify the legal status NOT the technobabble that went behind it.

      Hopefully he will not fall for: their dog barked, crapped, went to the wrong school area, etc.

      At least he should/ought to know what the legal position is along with the relevant legal precedent, though I am less confident that he will be there long enough at his age.

      Mind you I did know a retired solicitor some years ago, he was 88 and after he got bored with running his own pension fund, he took on various semi official local roles. He was sharper than most of the other customers queuing at the bank. He came with a rich background of legal experience, though he did not dispense it freely and only talked about general issues.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Richard Jones 1 - Re: nice to see

        His role should be to verify the legal status NOT the technobabble that went behind it.

        Indeed. His understanding of the law as it was and the importance to us all of privacy of thought are far more important to his role than his understanding of encryption technology.

        As far as the technology is concerned - if he understands "Encrypted=>gibberish and Decrypted/Not Encrypted => readable", then that should be enough.

        What he does need to understand, perhaps, is the scope of information available for interception these days - and therefore the scope for abuse which he must know, given his experience, is likely unless he does his job properly.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: @ Richard Jones 1 - nice to see

          All he needs to understand is that he was appointed by the prime minister to do what his boss says

          1. John G Imrie Silver badge

            Re: @ Richard Jones 1 - nice to see

            At his age I suspect he can tell the PM to take a long walk off Wigan Pier with impunity.

      2. h4rm0ny

        Re: nice to see

        >>"Hopefully he will not fall for: their dog barked, crapped, went to the wrong school area, etc."

        Well one would hope. But he is a political appointee held up as a "don't worry - you see we have someone who will check we behave" palliative to the electorate. On the off-chance he does turn out to be ethical, he will be ignored. If he turns out to be both ethical AND have a backbone, he will be replaced.

        What was the name of that senior health advisor who spoke out against his own government about drug legalization? You know, the one that vanished immediately afterwards? He who pays the piper, and all that...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    How are we doing with the "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to worry about" argument?

    1. Tony Haines

      I think I'm now working on the basis that they mean that when they declassify everything and repeal the Official Secrets Acts.

    2. Blank-Reg
      Big Brother

      Dunno that one, but there's that other. Can't remember how it goes, but isn't it something like "Guilty until proven innocent"? At least, that's how it sounds these days.

    3. mrfill

      I think we're still waiting for the response from the Iraqis, who had no WMD to hide.

    4. h4rm0ny

      >>"How are we doing with the "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to worry about" argument?"

      Turns out lots of us have something to hide but oddly enough, we don't like admitting it. What with the whole point of "hiding". It's a self-defeating question as the government well knows, which is why they kept using it.

      Of course the real answer to "if you've done nothing wrong..." is to ask back "who decides what is wrong?" Because you can bet the answer isn't you.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Turns out lots of us have something to hide but oddly enough, we don't like admitting it."

        Actually anyone who does business on line, banks on line etc not only has stuff to hide but stuff that they're contractually obliged to hide.

    5. Badvok

      Oooh look, someone's made a Strawman with twigs for legs so that it is easier to knock down than any other.

  4. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    what a job title!

    "Interception of Communications Commissioner" not very subtle is it? A bit Orwellian in fact.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Re: what a job title!

      Well, you have to admit at least they are not trying to cover it with nice sounding "Patriot" or similar.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Peter Simpson 1
      Thumb Up

      Re: what a job title!

      Pronounced "Ick-Oh"

      1. Grikath Silver badge

        Re: what a job title!

        Something like that... first thing that came to my mind was Pinocchio..

        A proper marionet. Note that the nose-growing thing on him only happened after severe bouts of compulsive lying.. This bodes well...

  5. Uberseehandel

    Only A Fool OR A Fraud Would Take Job

    and the betting is......... an old fool.

    If I need the services of a doctor or lawyer or engineer or accountant, I go to somebody with appropriate qualifications.

    A patent attorney studies both engineering and law. Apparently an Interception of Communications Commissioner is only required to be a lawyer and pensionable.

    If asked could anybody be certain that they could explain what metadata is (in a meaningful and relevant context) to this anomalous and creaking bauble of the legal establishment?

    1. Uberseehandel

      Re: Only A Fool OR A Fraud Would Take Job

      I am most intrigued that 4 people have chosen to give the above post above a thumbs down

      What bit don't they like, or which bit do they relate to? Or are they all into homeopathic remedies?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Pretty much confirms what many have thought all along

    The home secretary revealed for the first time in her statement that successive governments since 1994 have issued secret directions to internet and phone companies to hand over the communications data of British citizens in bulk to the security services. She said these secret “directions” had allowed the security services to thwart a number of attacks in Britain, including the plot to attack the London Stock Exchange in 2010. She said the use of these powers – which show that GCHQ was also engaged in mass surveillance programmes on British citizens using their communications data – under the 1984 Telecommunications Act will be put on a more explicit footing in the new legislation and be subject to the same safeguards as other bulk powers.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    who was first called to the Bar 50 years ago...

    So well past pension age...

    He'll have the same grasp of technology as my mother then!

    God help as all!

    1. Tromos

      I was first called to the Bar almost 50 years ago...

      Well, it WAS my round.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: who was first called to the Bar 50 years ago...

      Ah yes, ageism is not only a politically correctly allowed form of discrimination, it's pretty well politically correctly mandatory. Have you take your A levels yet?

      And did you mean "us all"?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: who was first called to the Bar 50 years ago...

        You do realise you're inferring you believe it possible for a politician to know something about the subject they will be advising on/investigating?

  8. IT Hack


    So who are the experts advising him? CESG?

  9. Grubby


    Rich man from rich family with rich parents hires rich friend from rich family and rich friends to join his other rich friends in controlling what, how, when, and why the none rich live.

  10. hugo tyson
    Black Helicopters

    What will they log?

    So what will the govmt require ISPs to log? DNS lookups? So use or - or will they snoop on DNS request packets en passent for all? Or do they log what IP addresses you open connections to, which reverse-DNS gives domains? So something like Tor or other onion router gets round it. Just curious if anyone knows, if the detail has come out yet. Because it seems likely that a determined operative could circumvent any obvious logging....

    Separately, I too worry that someone out of touch will be prone to assertions about what can be done which are not realistic, such as "well force them to decrypt it" given a noisy image + allegation that it contains a steganographic code, for example. Point is old media (paper letters, morse code) are either plaintext or definitely something cryptographic. Modern media/messaging can be perfectly valid gibberish and still be your pictures/music: you can't prove the positive "there is encrypted data here" nor the negative "this is just a picture, no encrypted data present". That's what could cause the traditional legal profession's assumptions problems.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: What will they log?

      Don't be concerned, you are guilty, 'cause they say so

      They dont have to have valid evidence to prove this because you are a Prole without enough power to be awkward. Besides, they can make up any evidence they want. Also, after they have had your PC for a while there wont be enough of it working for you to rebut anything.

      None of this can be questioned (on Nat Sec grounds)

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