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Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
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Alan H
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Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#1 Postby Alan H » June 22nd, 2013, 4:21 pm

I don't think anyone has mentioned Edward Snowden and the US's PRISM revelations that happened the other week, but it's been difficult to understand what and who actually have been watching/listening us.

However, an article for the Guardian yesterday seems to expose it all: GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world's communications
Exclusive: British spy agency collects and stores vast quantities of global email messages, Facebook posts, internet histories and calls, and shares them with NSA, latest documents from Edward Snowden reveal
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Dave B
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#2 Postby Dave B » June 22nd, 2013, 4:44 pm

I am waiting for some explanations of the "laws and policies" within which this monitoring goes on.

There is some precedent regarding the censoring of the mail that went on during the war. If we do not accept that we are in a kind of war, one that is less immediately violent in terms of bombing attacks but still potentially deadly in terms of covert action, then there is no justification at all.

Whether, on deciding that we are indeed in danger, these actions are justified as one of the few defences we currently have is another matter. As Obama (IIRC) said, sort of, how much danger are you willing to accept as the price of total privacy? Those who wish to have their privacy untainted and their movements and civil rights maintained freely will have little excuse for complaint if they or their loved ones are killed in a terrorist action that these policies might have prevented.

It's a hard choice and depends on how much trust we can put in our government and places like GCHQ to filter the data looking only for certain words or phrases. If they are really collecting that much data they are not going to be interested in Aunt Ruth's birthday greeting (unless they have the tip off that "Aunt Ruth" is a pseudonym for a terrorist, the "party" is the action to be carried out on the "birthday" date I suppose), how much you owe the bank, whether a bloke is cheating on his wife or whatever.

There's just too much for Big Brother to cope with I think!
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Alan H
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#3 Postby Alan H » June 22nd, 2013, 4:59 pm

Dave B wrote:I am waiting for some explanations of the "laws and policies" within which this monitoring goes on.
No doubt the Governement will have an explanation that it is all above board...

It's a hard choice and depends on how much trust we can put in our government and places like GCHQ to filter the data looking only for certain words or phrases.
Indeed, but I don't see that we've been given any choice here. Did we miss the debate in Parliament? Was there a referendum? Or did those in power simply decide they knew best what was good for us?

If they are really collecting that much data they are not going to be interested in Aunt Ruth's birthday greeting (unless they have the tip off that "Aunt Ruth" is a pseudonym for a terrorist, the "party" is the action to be carried out on the "birthday" date I suppose), how much you owe the bank, whether a bloke is cheating on his wife or whatever.

There's just too much for Big Brother to cope with I think!
I strongly suspect that no criminal mastermind planning a world coup would be seen dead using communications that could be read by any security service. I have little doubt that those who wanted to could make their communications anonymous and undetectable. That just leaves GCHQ/NSA listening to Joe Public - and a bunch on inept criminals.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Dave B
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#4 Postby Dave B » June 22nd, 2013, 5:26 pm

I strongly suspect that no criminal mastermind planning a world coup
Not thinking of quite that level of threat, Alan! More worried about the small group of 2nd or 3rd generation British Asians who decide to strike a blow for their faith, stirred on by an "imported" imam maybe. But even they are going to work out ways of getting round the monitoring and filters, lots of ways of opening anonymous email addresses and as many possible coded messages as there are meaningful combinations of words in all the languages of the world. High tech stuff, like mobile private high speed package sending stuff on FSK systems can't be beyond their capability either - IIRC the police use a similar system so a good engineer can duplicate it. (I think FSK was co-invented by Heddy Lamarr during the last war!)

As to telling us how they will do the job, asking our permission or giving us the vote on it . . . Not easy to answer that except to say that telling those whom you are seeking how and when you will do the looking seems to be a less than productive idea. Might as well not bother and say, "Well, don't complain about the deaths that may result."

Sorry, I am thinking a bit like an ex-serviceman here, never worked in intelligence but know enough about it to realise that covert action by the enemy either needs covert action by one's own side - or blowing the whole area they might be in off the map. We live in a dangerous world in some ways and I do not think it will get any better.

It takes up to 12 people to keep physical tabs on one person, that means that less intrusive ways of monitoring tend to be very expensive in terms of money and trained people. Listening to their telephones is a bit cheaper and almost as direct because it can be automated. Looking for funds being moved to suspect accounts gets more intrusive, emails even more so . . . But if having my emails monitored saves one life I deem it worth it. I have nothing to hide beyond the merely potentially embarrassing!

So, are you willing to just shrug if they stop the monitoring and a bomb blows up someone in London, Alan? Or how would you prevent that and still keep your "privacy" (in quotes because if the government aren't monitoring much of what you do you know that Amazon, Google, Facebook, Ebay etc. are doing so an either using or selling the data - is that all anonymised? No because it is reflected in adverts directed at us personally for a start!

Solution: don't ever use the Internet or the telephone system again - there yer go, fixed!
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Alan H
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#5 Postby Alan H » June 22nd, 2013, 5:58 pm

I suspect that it wouldn't have taken a criminal mastermind to suspect that communications might be monitored even if it had not been recorded in Hansard! Maybe you're right about the small group of terrorists, but I'd have thought that any very occasional email that mentions the b-word would get lost in the noise - or the rate of false positives would be so high, it'd be unusable. However, maybe these filtering programmes are better than we can imagine. That still leaves the problem of whether any such intrusion is warranted.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Dave B
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#6 Postby Dave B » June 22nd, 2013, 6:49 pm

I would guess that the filters are looking for something more innocent sounding than "the b-word"!

There will be multitudinous streams of "intelligence" (a load of which will be rubbish) streaming into the computers matching words and phrases from all kinds of sources.

But I have to agree that it is only the stupid who get caught in this way - luckily it may be that many of the baddies have not caught on to this recently. The more experienced and proficient they get the harder it will be and. This is building up to the scenario of many speculative fiction plots, but still not sure that the Big Brother version will be the one! Actually, unless it is on a global scale or each country manages to make its borders impenetrable even that will not work.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Dave B
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#7 Postby Dave B » June 22nd, 2013, 11:24 pm

As an aside:

looking something up for GCHQ I forgot I was in Google Image - so got lots of pictures for the new building.

This reminded me of a comment in a local paper when they were building it, along the lines of, "Oh great, it looks just like a bull's eye, they've given them a target to aim the H-bomb at!"

A friend's comment at the time was, "That's OK, if it comes to that I want to be vaporised in the first strike anyway, trying to survive after a nuclear war would be a real bastard!"
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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anaconda
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#8 Postby anaconda » June 23rd, 2013, 8:54 pm

The National Security Agency are expanding rapidly:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/10/bamford-nsa-idUSL2N0EM0SG20130610
John

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Alan H
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#9 Postby Alan H » August 19th, 2013, 11:56 pm

There seems to have been a lot happening recently, not least of all David Miranda's 'questioning' at Heathrow yesterday. Miranda is the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the Snowden story.

Glenn Greenwald: detaining my partner was a failed attempt at intimidation

David Miranda, schedule 7 and the danger that all reporters now face by Alan Rusbridger
And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents.


And an analysis of the questioning of Miranda by police, apparently under terrorism legislation, by David Allen Green: Nine hours in the life of David Miranda

This is serious stuff.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Dave B
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#10 Postby Dave B » August 20th, 2013, 9:44 am

This is definitely a misapplication of a powerful "tool" in anti-terrorist legislation.

I am ambivalent as to whether or not the tool is required at all. If, used correctly, if it prevents people getting killed then it may have some merit, though perhaps not in the all covering, draconian form it has now.

It is an unfortunate fact that the state of world and religious politics is going to, probably increasingly for a while, have a deleterious effect on our convenience and quality of life. It also seems a given that the largest danger is from militant Islam. Over-reaction by the authorities does not help I agree and I think this is such an instance. But not every terrorist is going to look/sound like the typical native, or ethnic extract, of the Middle East to South Asia - or possibly Far East since there are a large number of Muslims in that area as well. There may be an increasing number of converts and apologists from Western and African ethnic groups.

Yes, wrong application here, looks too much like a case of, "Getting one's own back," or, "Making an example of."
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Alan H
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#11 Postby Alan H » August 20th, 2013, 11:39 am

And, of course, the Torygraph fails spectacularly: Miranda, Greenwald and Snowden: The Guardian is overplaying its hand
And they've said and done some very questionable things in the last 24 hours.
First, David Miranda (partner of Glenn Greenwald) gets detained by the UK police at Heathrow...

Because [the Guardian is] dying as a broadsheet in the UK and it's desperately trying to expand its global market. Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, David Miranda: they're all part of The Guardian's grand corporate strategy.


Shoddy, even for the Torygraph.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Dave B
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#12 Postby Dave B » August 20th, 2013, 11:50 am

Shoddy, even for the Torygraph.
Representative of the state of most of the UK newspapers these days I feel. The Metro is still the only paper I read (then only on the bus!)
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Alan H
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#13 Postby Alan H » August 20th, 2013, 12:53 pm

It appears that Miranda may take/is taking legal action against the Home Office.

David Miranda detention - latest developments and reaction
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Dave B
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Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#14 Postby Dave B » August 20th, 2013, 1:20 pm

Alan H wrote:It appears that Miranda may take/is taking legal action against the Home Office.

David Miranda detention - latest developments and reaction
I am sure that he will have sufficient moral and financial support in doing so.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

etoile
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#15 Postby etoile » August 20th, 2013, 3:02 pm

Dave B wrote:Whether, on deciding that we are indeed in danger, these actions are justified as one of the few defences we currently have is another matter. As Obama (IIRC) said, sort of, how much danger are you willing to accept as the price of total privacy? Those who wish to have their privacy untainted and their movements and civil rights maintained freely will have little excuse for complaint if they or their loved ones are killed in a terrorist action that these policies might have prevented.


This isn't a trade off between privacy and the risk of terrorism. There's no sliding scale along which we can adjust our position. I personally feel that the risks of terrorism are used as a smoke screen and actually we are more at risk of an erosion of our right to self determination than being blown up. Electronic chatter is probably the most useless way to trap the most useless would-be terrorists and is surely no substitute for proper on the ground intelligence from people within groups and organisations. It can't be allowed to be a substitute for forging good or working relationships between communities and countries or for not meddling or manipulating foreign governments. Terrorist cells wont be shut down but free speech and open debate will.

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Dave B
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#16 Postby Dave B » August 20th, 2013, 5:27 pm

Blimey, etoile, I see you are catching up from some time ago!

I understand what you say and dislike the present situation myself. Unless we are being lied to (hmmm?) there is probably a lot going on behind the scenes than we know about. They hint that there are more potential threats situations than ever reach the media - I don't know if this is true but would rather err slightly in favour of what they say than against.

"Err slightly" is not a good phrase I agree but I do think that there is a "war" that is not as obvious as the "Cold War", and there was a great deal more activity went on then than the media ever published - the (in)famous "D-Notices" , that still apply, are advisory notices that certain items should not be published in the interest of state security. They were not legally enforceable - they could be brought back into action in cases like this. One security pundit did say that there has to be a line drawn between public interest and national security. I agree but think this case falls more on the public interest side as a subject in itself, though the intimate details of the technology and techniques used, and the information uncovered that is of security interest, is on the nation security side.

Just what the security branches actual stick their noses into should be debated, how they do it and what they find should not - though if they find any really serious stuff I am sure they will find a way of using that to justify all else!

I accept that my training and nearly 12 years in the RAF, some in secure areas, does colour my feelings on this. Strangley (or not so strangely maybe) so does my reading science fiction, or more correctly in this case "speculative fiction" - after over 50 years of this genre I have read many themes that contain elements of the current situation. Hope to hell that some of those possible futures never happen, but there is always a bit of overlap.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Alan H
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#17 Postby Alan H » August 20th, 2013, 6:16 pm

Did anyone see Horizon last night?

Defeating the Hackers

It covers several aspects including one person's identity theft the stuxnet virus (widely assumed to have been created by the Americans and the Israelis to target Iranian nuclear power plants) and hacking of encryption. Well worth watching.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Dave B
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Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#18 Postby Dave B » August 20th, 2013, 6:57 pm

Thanks, Alan, just wondering what to do after the R4 comedy slot.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

etoile
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#19 Postby etoile » August 20th, 2013, 8:30 pm

Dave B wrote:Blimey, etoile, I see you are catching up from some time ago!

School holidays are a bitch.
Dave B wrote:I understand what you say and dislike the present situation myself. Unless we are being lied to (hmmm?) there is probably a lot going on behind the scenes than we know about. They hint that there are more potential threats situations than ever reach the media - I don't know if this is true but would rather err slightly in favour of what they say than against.

Even allowing for the genuine threats we still need to draw a line. It can't be 'anything goes' to keep us safe. That potentially gives some shadowy security services carte blanche to do what they believe is necessary. 'Counter-terrorism' becomes a tool to dismantle our freedoms and liberties with. Now that doesn't make me feel safer. 'We mustn't allow the politics of scaremongering to overwhelm our common sense or let the idiots we elect convince us they know better. They may know more but while some of us were not convinced by Blair's claims of Iraq's '45 minutes' missile capabilities back then it is highly probable he couldn't have taken the country to war if more people had known more of the facts at the time. I'm not suggesting we ALL need to know EVERYTHING but more openness were possible. The eyes of the public serve as checks and balances and curbs the worst excesses.

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Tetenterre
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Re: Big Brother is definitely watching and listening...

#20 Postby Tetenterre » August 20th, 2013, 8:40 pm

Alan H wrote:Did anyone see Horizon last night?
Yes. Chilling.


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Steve

Quantum Theory: The branch of science with which people who know absolutely sod all about quantum theory can explain anything.


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