back to article Yes, GCHQ is hiring 1,900 staffers. It's not a snap decision

Despite the timing of the UK Prime Minister's emissions following the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday, increases in intelligence personnel were already in place and had been announced by the Treasury some days before. After the attacks, David Cameron stated his government would be funding an increase of 1,900 …

  1. James 51 Silver badge

    Will this be enough to counteract the cuts to police budgets?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm sure I saw a candidate the other day:

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "those who would destroy us and our values"

    Better start by arresting Theresa May and David Cameron, then...

    1. Afernie

      Re: "those who would destroy us and our values"

      My only surprise was that it took them as long as till Monday to start using it as propaganda.

    2. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: "those who would destroy us and our values"

      David Cameron probably is one of the people where the worst rumours still would make him look much better than what what he's actually doing right now.

      Or to express it in another way, having sexual intercourse with a pig would be, in my opinion, far less morally bad than using dead people to advance your own goals to gain more power.

  3. Titus Technophobe
    Thumb Up

    Proud to be part of a Country where ...

    The Prime Minister has already announced a response to world events ahead of the events. This looks like proactive management to me .. something you see very little of in this day and age.

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Proud to be part of a Country where ...

      Careful with that (tinfoil) hat, Eugene....

  4. Your alien overlord - fear me

    But what's the point? Tragic as the Paris attacks were, now the French police know who planned it etc. *after the event*. That was very quick. If you are snooping on everyone, they should preemptively strike against terrorists.

    Cameron says he's stopped 7 attacks and that's without the need to spy on the public's use of the internet or have extra spies employed. That means surely the UK has a good system in place already?

    And if they did use Sony PS4's to talk, surely Sony will be obliged to record all video games and chat and hand over private information to the various security services?

    1. BenR

      No no.

      Apparently, most of the powers in the current version of the Snoopers Charter - sorry, the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill - are "already in use":

      Primarily, because the Law Lords somehow decided after the fact that it was in fact legal to snoop in that way, so no need to arrest anyone chaps.

      So the powers are already in use, which is HOW they stopped those 7 attacks, so hadn't we better pass the law to make it all hunky-dory and give MI5 even more super-snooper powers, just in case?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Values? Country?

    What exactly are our values nowadays?

    It's corporatism and blind obedience right?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Values? Country?

      And binge drinking, because everything else is banned.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Values? Country?

        "And binge drinking, because everything else is banned."

        Personally I'm binge drinking to prove I'm not religious enough to be a terrorist. Afterwards I eat a bacon sarnie - I don't like them but it improves the club card database entries when being mined. I draw the line at pornography, obviously, as there is more than one list being put together.

        Mrs Coward has unfortunately been ordering candles on Amazon so the browser history is slightly tainted as $DEITY$-botherers tend to love a good candle, but these were lavender scented so we may be OK as long as $GOODGUYS$ are thorough. She also has a love of gardening but through clever use of composting I've managed to steer her clear of fertiliser so far. It's getting expensive, but I've found that if I buy her enough jewellery she won't accidentally buy something with religious symbols dangling off it....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Values? Country?

      Freedom, liberty, individual rights, individual responsibility, democracy, the rule of law. Of course, it's easy just to be a cynic than actually learn about what your country stands for.

      1. Graham Cobb

        Re: Values? Country?

        Freedom, liberty, individual rights, individual responsibility, democracy, the rule of law.

        It used to be. When I was a small child we lived in East Anglia, with many USAF and RAF bases around. I had worked out that we must be targets for Russian nukes. This worried me a lot -- I even used to draw up designs for a nuclear shelter we could build in our garden. The reaction of my parents wasn't to tell me not to worry: it was to tell me why we were standing up against the Communists. It was because you couldn't walk outside in those countries without papers and you could be stopped by the police for no reason.

        I don't think many people think we stand for those values any more.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Values? Country?

          Ditto where I grew up in Lincolnshire. A mate of my dad's did go as far as building a fallout shelter, which was a nine-day wonder when it hit the papers. I saw it when I was about 12, and it looked remarkably like a brick shed sunk a couple of feet into the ground. It was filled with crucial survival supplies such as old tins of paint and rusty lawnmower parts. The south-facing window may have been a design flaw.

      2. Charles Manning

        Re: Values? Country?

        The values are still there and are still valued by many.

        However in this day and age you just open yourself to vitriol and abuse for expressing them.

        Express a wish for a low crime society based on a bit of respect and decency and you'll soon find yourself being labelled a racist/somethingist/tory twat/*

        Point out any facts like single motherhood and welfare programs being closely correlated with crime and you're sexist/nazi/*.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Values? Country?

          It's the web and social media.

          It has given a platform for the tinfoil hatters and whiners and whingers to make a lot of mostly anonymous noise and get heard by a lot of people. This then picks up a few more who get on the bandwagon and we have a snowball effect. If you take notice of everything you see on web comments, shitter, faecebook etc then you could be forgiven for thinking that everything has fallen apart all around you.

          But take a step back and look at things and you will notice that the vast majority go about their lives unmolested by any authority, and in fact the biggest threat to us all is these whining whinging negative turds all over the web and their ridiculous lies that are so widespread that they are mistaken for facts.

          Check everything you read.

          Go back to the days when the best platform that these nutters had was graffiti and you don't see so much of this problem.

  6. Stevie Silver badge


    Of course! Clearly the issue in France was not *enough* snooping.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Genuine Question

    What are these increase in spies supposed to bring, how do they help? Are most of them field agents monitoring suspected Islamist in the country, or are they "specialists" who are going to sit on their bum trying to break encryptions and break into ISPs around the world grabbing everyone's data before trying filter out whos a potential terrorist, whos a terrorist, whos an anti-government participant, who belongs to what troublesome union, and whos got a problem with the ruling class.

    I genuinely hope it will help, but sadly, if there are "unbreakable" encryption and even if you outlaw the use or invention of "unbreakable" encryption it doesn't mean people stops using them in the first place and if you have breakable encryption - well nobody will use them, and sooner or later nobody will trust the people who invented and publishes them and everybody will start to try and invent their own, then you'd be in bigger problem than you are now.

    I think the better approach is to go on the attack. The saying goes "attack is the best defence" applies universally and throughout history. The root of the problem lies in a nation state sized terrorist organisation occupying a large area of the middle east.

    How are spies going to be able to annihilate and dismantle them? Especially if they're going to be sitting on their arse hacking and cracking on the Internet?

    It's hard not to see all the other motivations behind an increase in spy powers and capabilities, unless you're a pleb that blindly swears loyalty to royalty that is. I genuinely rather see ground troops in the middle east, and maybe couplied with field agents to help with intel, but the Internet? Encryption? The staple of truth and trust?

    1. Titus Technophobe

      Re: Genuine Question

      I think the better approach is to go on the attack. The saying goes "attack is the best defence" applies universally and throughout history. The root of the problem lies in a nation state sized terrorist organisation occupying a large area of the middle east.

      Isn't this just the sort of thinking that created the 'Terrorist Nation State" in the first place ....

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Genuine Question

        -I think the better approach is to go on the attack. The saying goes "attack is the best defence" applies universally and throughout history.-

        It's a dandy approach if the goal is never ending war.

        Someone once said something along the lines of, "You make allies with blankets and bread, enemies with with guns and bullets."

        Unfortunately, I can't seem to remember the quote exactly enough to find who said it.

    2. Roq D. Kasba

      Re: Genuine Question

      Intelligence isn't just breaking strong encryption - in fact I'd be surprised if most cells are using any advanced encryption as it draws attention in itself.

    3. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Genuine Question

      I also doubt encryption is the biggest problem. Knowing what to do with a mountain of straw to find those couple of darn needles is a big challenge and more hay-gathering (AKA snooping) is not the answer, but having folk able to analyse it (and maybe act on it) probably is.

      1. It wasnt me

        Re: Genuine Question

        Ive never understood the needle / haystack analogy. Its fecking easy to find a needle in a haystack, just so long as you have a match and a magnet.

    4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Genuine Question

      Re: What are these increase in spies supposed to bring, how do they help?

      My guess: the bulk will be analysts and techies, plus at least a fair share of admin. If you increase your staff by 1,900 you'll have to beef up HR/admin as well. (Considering Parkinson's laws, there is a good chance that admin will get more than just a fair share.)

      What will this bring? Guessing again, as they seem to follow the american model, most of it will go into SIGINT again. And there's the rub. If you really want to head off attacks early you'll need good HUMINT.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Genuine Question

      The saying goes "attack is the best defence" applies universally and throughout history. The root of the problem lies in a nation state sized terrorist organisation occupying a large area of the middle east.

      You are David Cameron and I claim my five pounds.

      Spending fifteen+ years dropping bombs and removing governments we don't like is the proximate cause of much of the anti-western terrorism. Regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria has ceded much of those countries to violent extremists, and you think more bombing and boots on the ground will solve that? The locals clearly are incapable of any form of stable, democratic, honest, fair government themselves. But you can't impose that by sending in Western forces. That was tried in Iraq, and created the foundations for IS.

      Cameron is itching to send our ill-equipped military to join in with the Russians, Americans, French, Jordanians, Canadians, et al, but what good will that do? If the combined air power of the world's two largest militariies plus the support of several other nations hasn't routed or even contained IS, what will sending a few antiquated Tornadoes into battle achieve? The one thing we should have learned from Afghanistan ten years ago was that winning the war is the easy bit, winning the peace is what counts - and in this case we aren't even winning the war.

      And finally, liberal western democracies like the idea of a decisive response, yet aren't prepared for the sort of bloody war of extermination that you'd have to undertake to erase a religious death cult like IS.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Genuine Question

        "Cameron is itching to send our ill-equipped military to join in with the Russians"

        Actually, "we" are on the opposing side to the Russians on this one. I realise I'll get a torrent of down votes for this, and have used AC due to the political nature of the post being nothing to do with IT.

        The start of the solution is being able to at the very least point at Syria on a map before changing your Facebook photo to a French flag or commenting on the situation. It's in the Med by the way. Yes, really.

        Next would be to find out what started the war. It's not terrorism, it was government action against young and innocent citizens who wanted a change in government. A popular opinion at the time, probably more so now.

        Finally, working out who to support and why, explaining why to the international community without using the word terrorist and without pretending there are big bombs hidden where we just can't find 'em. The traditional Western money would be on the oppressed population who are being slaughtered. Certainly not the side of the terrorist organisations using it as an excuse for violence, and probably not the side of the government. Once we've done that, send in the support.

        1. 9Rune5

          Re: Genuine Question

          "it was government action against young and innocent citizens who wanted a change in government"

          That is the claim, yes, but once we got involved it sure looks like those young and innocent citizens were actually members of IS.

          The common thread of Syria, Libanon and Iraq seem to be that the dictator in place was a necessary evil in order to contain rebellious religious nuts. All we have managed by removing the dictators is to become the ones doing the culling... I hardly call that a 'win'.

 reflects a society that was on the right path compared to that of many of its neighbors. I believe we backed the wrong horse on this one.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Genuine Question

            "I believe we backed the wrong horse on this one."

            Which is why it's so important to be able to independently research these things without worrying that the government you think is wrong has a list of your research recorded, along with the records of you publicly suggesting they are wrong. For now, you're able to tell others your opinion and let them make up their own mind. It doesn't take a lot to move into fully firewalled read what you're told territory and we're not far off.

    6. Voyna i Mor

      Re: Genuine Question

      "The saying goes "attack is the best defence" applies universally and throughout history."

      Application of it very nearly caused the French to lose WW1, and led to a vastly excessive death rate before Verdun. Something tells me you're not a Sandhurst lecturer.

  8. inmypjs Silver badge


    Employ 1800 more people in the ineffective worthless war against terror or terrorists killing a handful.

    Which is the greater waste of human life?

  9. John Styles

    As long as I can work from home (in a bag in the bath, padlocked from the outside, obviously).

    1. Bleu

      Mr. Styles

      How very good of you to raise that case.

      Having plucked and shaved his eyebrows into neat half-circles over his eyes, it is obvious that he did not, as his sister claimed, buy the tens of thousands of pounds worth of designer dresses as 'presents'. He bought them to wear, but only at home, it seems.

      He also had the encapsulation fetish, his previous landlord and landlady had to rescue him once when he tied himself down to immobility.

      Still, a very strange case.

      Inadequately investigated.

  10. Mutton Jeff

    Anyone from the 'tard collective putting their CV forward?

    They probably already have it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone from the 'tard collective putting their CV forward?

      Anyone from the 'tard collective putting their CV forward?

      I don't think they want the sort of slightly rebellious, questioning, inquisitive, thoughtful minds who are a large part of the Commentariat. But there is somebody round these parts who has a fairly parochial view, subscribes to official wisdom with a quasi religious zeal, none too bright, but could be applied to a narrow task with some use. And hopefully when he's in post in Cheltenham, he'll be banned from mouthing off on the web........

      Matt Bryant, your country needs YOU.

  11. J J Carter Silver badge

    Remind me, is being a closet homosexual from Oxbridge still an advantage when seeking work at SIS?

    1. Voyna i Mor

      Remind me,

      Well, Philby wasn't gay. Blunt was. It seems to be less an advantage in getting a job than when you are caught spying for the Soviet Union and escape prosecution because of your contacts.

      A M Turing did not work for SIS.

      1. Bleu

        Re: Remind me,

        So was Burgess.

  12. Howard Hanek Bronze badge

    Right Under Their Noses

    I see a possible threat right there in the captioned picture. Possibly terrorist exploding cattle grazing right outside their perimeter. Never mind their climate changing CO2 emissions which we're warned is an even greater threat to our security.

  13. David 45

    Part of Guardian article about the French attacks

    "In Britain, there will be some who see Theresa May’s new investigatory powers bill in a more urgent light after Paris. But unless and until the evidence shows that bulk surveillance would have made a difference in that dreadful scenario, the argument remains where it was. And our starting point is still that mass surveillance of all of us is neither necessary nor effective. When the intelligence agencies are looking for a needle in a haystack, they shouldn’t be adding more hay. "

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Part of Guardian article about the French attacks

      The French have a similar law already. Did it make a difference?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Job ads were up last friday

    On the El Reg sidebar thingy, even.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anti-terror anything is a joke considering it's clearly us in the West that's misbehaving - USA, Britain, etc.

    WE always start all this bombing and murdering of other people in their homes and take down their governments, not anyone else. So technically, if you really genuinely want to stop terrorism then isn't it *us* that need stopping from starting wars abroad all the time until we learn to play nice with others?

  16. rtb61

    How about, all that spying on peace activists, Unionist, anti-austerity activists, environmentalists etc. is a waste of time but then hey, all that is just ultra rich vs everyone else controls.

    Perhaps that's why it all fails to capture terrorists before the incident, it is not what it is focused upon, keeping the poor down is what it is focused upon.

  17. TeacherMARK

    Let's hope we have a lot of Muslim hires. It's only fair!

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Well of course they will, they will need those language skills.

      1. Voyna i Mor

        Well of course they will, they will need those language skills.

        Why? They'll just ask Siri. Or Google Translate.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yet to be convinced

    Yet to be convinced that there is a link between intelligence agencies and intelligence.

  19. IvoryT

    Why not ...

    Why not treat GCHQ like the NHS and demand more work for the same money? Compulsory efficiency savings all round, folks.

    1. Voyna i Mor

      Re: Why not ...

      I thought GCHQ's biggest problem is that it doesn't pay at all well (at least for the people who do the work). There's a lot more to be earned in banks, or even the IT industry. Then there's the promotion structure...need the right background, old boy.

      And remember, if you decide to leave of your own accord your career options may be rather limited.

    2. Lamont Cranston

      Re: Why not ...

      Slash the funding, surely? "Do more for less" seems to be Osborne's current mantra.

  20. Christopher Blackmore

    Vital because...

    Making sure they know about everything I do online will ensure they catch foreigners plotting against us.

    1. Voyna i Mor

      Re: Vital because...

      On the other hand, if everybody posts enough good sense perhaps the unfortunates who have to read it all may start to get a clue.

  21. Florida1920 Silver badge

    It isn't what you have, it's what you make of it

    In every major terrorist attack against the West that I can think of, we always learn that at least some of the perpetrators were "known" to some security agency. That tells me we are gathering enough data. What's needed, IMO, is action. That suggests more people in dark raincoats out watching the potential perps. Listening to phone calls and reading emails isn't enough. You want to nail them before they pick up their weapons and head out to wreak mayhem.

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