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British Foreign Secretary on Surveillance Worries: '"Law Abiding Citizens Have N 404

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-big-deal dept.
Bruce66423 writes "The government minister in charge of GCHQ, the UK's equivalent of the NSA, has used those immortal words, 'Only terrorists, criminals and spies should fear secret activities of the British and US intelligence agencies.' From the article: '...In an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Mr Hague refused to say whether the British government knew of the existence of Prism before it emerged last week. “I can’t confirm or deny in public what Britain knows about and what Britain doesn’t, for obvious reasons,” he said. However, he implied that the revelations had not taken him by surprise.'" While many are concerned about the reach of PRISM overseas, the Finnish Foreign Minister says he plans to continue using Outlook for email.
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British Foreign Secretary on Surveillance Worries: '"Law Abiding Citizens Have Nothing To Fear"

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  • Yeah, right! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whoever57 (658626) on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:10AM (#43958375) Journal

    Only terrorists, criminals and spies should fear secret activities of the British and US intelligence agencies.

    That statement might have more credibility if it were not for the well documented use of RIPA powers for things unconnected to terrorism and serious crime.

    • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Internetuser1248 (1787630) on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:21AM (#43958401)
      Law abiding governments have nothing to worry about from whistleblowers. Only war criminals, the corrupt and the dishonest should fear the activities of the media.
    • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:27AM (#43958427)

      Wait till the EDL, BNP UKIP coalition gets in and there new STASI like security apparatus gets hold of the graph on connections and starts rounding people up.

      • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:45AM (#43958485)

        Yeah, and you see here's the thing. Even if it's an ostensibly democratic government setting up this stuff to combat terrorism, if the next government turns out to be hard right racist fascists like the BNP, you've just put all that power into their hands. Unless you can guarantee 100% that a party like the national socialists will never get into power, these tools should not be constructed for whatever purpose.

        • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by sosume (680416) on Monday June 10, 2013 @02:42AM (#43958743) Journal

          "hard right racist fascists like the BNP" = right wing
          "a party like the national socialists" = left wing
          so you're arguing that neither left nor right oriented parties should ever get access to these tools when in power. May I add the center?

          • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by MrMickS (568778) on Monday June 10, 2013 @03:05AM (#43958859) Homepage Journal

            "hard right racist fascists like the BNP" = right wing
            "a party like the national socialists" = left wing
            so you're arguing that neither left nor right oriented parties should ever get access to these tools when in power. May I add the center?

            I think he's implying that extreme parties of either persuasion would use the laws to enforce their ideology. Any group that believes that they are right to the exclusion of all other viewpoints is a danger and should be feared in power.

            • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Monday June 10, 2013 @03:39AM (#43958967)

              "hard right racist fascists like the BNP" = right wing
              "a party like the national socialists" = left wing
              so you're arguing that neither left nor right oriented parties should ever get access to these tools when in power. May I add the center?

              I think he's implying that extreme parties of either persuasion would use the laws to enforce their ideology. Any group that believes that they are right to the exclusion of all other viewpoints is a danger and should be feared in power.

              If you want to rephrase/salvage what this Fox News watching right wing drone was trying to express, it would be more accurate to say that totalitarian tendencies exists on both sides of the political spectrum. What he actually was implying, i.e. that the Nazis were left wing movement is a load of steaming horse manure. You only have to take a look at which elements of the political spectrum the Nazis preferred to murder: Communists, anarchists, social democrats, liberals, Christians that opposed his persecution of minorities and actually practiced christian core values like compassion, non-violence (and if you get right down to it some of the core teachings of Jesus Christ were pretty left wing: "Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." [Matthew 19:24], "But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." [Matthew 19:30], it was later generations who turned Christ into a M16 carrying faith warrior). There were precious few right wing social conservatives and hard line nationalists that the Nazis lined up against a wall or sent to the gas chamber. The usual default justification for the Nazis being 'left wing' is that their movement had the word 'socialist' in its name. If that is true then by the same logic the Democratic People's Republic of North-Korea must be a fully functioning democracy with free elections and all the civil liberties that implies.

              • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:4, Interesting)

                by AdmV0rl0n (98366) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:19AM (#43959139) Homepage Journal

                The debate about Nazi and where they sit gets skewed. Hilter found much that he shared and created the Nazi party from the German Workers party. He aligned himself with the socialists, until he was famously able to turn to them and stated in Parliament 'And now I don't need you any more'.

                Politics is circular, not so much left or right. If middle ground sits at the tp of the circle, offering a level of moderate landscaping, other hardline doctrines slide down the circle, and meet at the bottom, which is where you'll actually find Nazi'ism and communisim and other foul totalitarian and political ideals on near common ground.

                I laugh at leftists who persist in trying to find a big enough gap away from Nazi'ism. Socialism IS linked to nazi'ism both in history and idealogy. Hilter nationalised industry. He made enrolled people into the state, and he grew the fucking shit from the German workers party. He carried out a class war - many aspects of his bullshit came directly from socialism.It is true that parts of his evil craven idealogy were not socialist in nature, but parts of it were.

                I agree that at both ends of the spectrum, you'll find a strange similar evil to achieve control in a totalitarian aspect share a commonality. Its why you'll find at rally's the right wing hardliners carry stanley knives and the hard left scum carry claw hammers. Neither side believes in open democracy.

                In the 30's in Germany - it fell to gangs of brown shirts, or communists, and as the violence and loss of control escalated, the rule of law and democracy was lost. Democracy is not to be decided by small bands of thuggery precahing their twisted idealism as a new religion.

                • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:5, Insightful)

                  by DJRumpy (1345787) on Monday June 10, 2013 @06:31AM (#43959661)

                  You imply his ideology was socialist in nature (or at least part of it was), and then contradict that statement in your second sentence stating he essentially used the socialist party to gain enough power to the point where they were no longer needed.

                  I don't think you understand the definition of ideology.

                  Simply claiming to be something, doesn't make it so. The reference above to the Democratic People's Republic of North-Korea is a good example, as are right wing extremists claiming to be born again Christians, yet follow none of the basic tenants of that religion. Socialism for Hitler was nothing more than a vehicle, not an ideology. The majority of scholars agree that his leanings were definitely right wing, although he often attacked both parties when they strayed from his personal ideology.

                  Any civilization today has aspects of socialism. it is nearly impossible to have a structured society without some form of body politic which actively promotes social services that the public recognizes are necessary for basic services. The very nature of civilization requires aspects of socialism to thrive.

                  It is simply the degree to which they think the government should control things that defines 'socialism'.

                • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:5, Insightful)

                  by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Monday June 10, 2013 @06:59AM (#43959767)

                  The debate about Nazi and where they sit gets skewed. Hilter found much that he shared and created the Nazi party from the German Workers party. He aligned himself with the socialists, until he was famously able to turn to them and stated in Parliament 'And now I don't need you any more'.

                  Politics is circular, not so much left or right. If middle ground sits at the tp of the circle, offering a level of moderate landscaping, other hardline doctrines slide down the circle, and meet at the bottom, which is where you'll actually find Nazi'ism and communisim and other foul totalitarian and political ideals on near common ground.

                  I laugh at leftists who persist in trying to find a big enough gap away from Nazi'ism. Socialism IS linked to nazi'ism both in history and idealogy. Hilter nationalised industry. He made enrolled people into the state, and he grew the fucking shit from the German workers party. He carried out a class war - many aspects of his bullshit came directly from socialism.It is true that parts of his evil craven idealogy were not socialist in nature, but parts of it were.

                  I agree that at both ends of the spectrum, you'll find a strange similar evil to achieve control in a totalitarian aspect share a commonality. Its why you'll find at rally's the right wing hardliners carry stanley knives and the hard left scum carry claw hammers. Neither side believes in open democracy.

                  In the 30's in Germany - it fell to gangs of brown shirts, or communists, and as the violence and loss of control escalated, the rule of law and democracy was lost. Democracy is not to be decided by small bands of thuggery precahing their twisted idealism as a new religion.

                  I again refer you to Hitler's kill list, how many right wingers and social conservatives did he line up against a wall? A few, but the vast majority of his victims were the 'liberals'/socialists' (which in Fox News parlance is synonymous with 'left wing' which in turn seems to be only two steps up from being a child molester) and people he deemed to be racially inferior. Hitler as a general rule seems to have gotten along very well with the moneyed classes even though he and his party were not ideologically devoted to private ownership and thus the Nazis did not engage in large scale nationalisation of industry in Germany. Dornier, Messerschmitt and Mercedes to name a few major German industrial corporations were not nationalised, Junkers on the other hand was 'nationalised' because its founder Prof. Hugo Junkers was a liberal who tolerated leftist practices like 'workers councils' among his employees. It is an interesting irony that the word 'Junkers' is pretty much synonymous with 'Stuka' which in turn is synonymous with 'terror' and yet it is the name of one of the few industrialists in Germany who saw Hitler for what he was and had enough spine to tell the little git to go f**k him self. To be fair to German conservatives quite a few of them loathed Hitler every bit as much as the left wing, the point is that most of them either supported him or went with the flow in when he gained power. Nationalisation seems to have been reserved for war vital industrial corporations whose leaders/owners were regime critical and who had the guts to stand by their convictions.

              • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:5, Insightful)

                by N1AK (864906) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:24AM (#43959171) Homepage

                If you want to rephrase/salvage what this Fox News watching right wing drone was trying to express

                You'd come over as marginally less deluded if you didn't jump on a post which clearly didn't have a bias toward either end of the political spectrum for being biased and do so by using clichéd national stereotypes which don't even apply; but hell if you intended to inform or influence anyone rather than rant you'd of spotted that it wasn't working and tried a little civility long ago.

          • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by lxs (131946) on Monday June 10, 2013 @03:06AM (#43958863)

            Only dumbass Americans see national socialists as left wing (and modern day fascists wishing to wash off the Nazi stench but I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here)

          • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by archshade (1276436) <ba DOT parsonage AT gmail DOT com> on Monday June 10, 2013 @03:39AM (#43958965)

            I agree that the centre should not have the tools under discussion. You suggestion that far left and far far right are further away from each other than from a central democratic position is flawed.

            The archetypal manifestation of the far left is communism. In comunism the party elite take full control of the the system, supposidley to distrubute wealth evenly among the population (although I do not beleive this has ever happend). The party also used there power to control the populace to maintain the status quo and there positions.

            The archetypal manifestation of the far right is fascism. In fascism the goverment takes all the economic and political power and gives it to an elite few. The elite few are meant to provide a functioning society for the populace in exchange for them being held above all others (this has on occasion happend, however the elite more often than not (by a wide margin) abbuse there power, to the detriment of the populace).

            Effectivley it can be shown that the far left and the the far right are closer than the moderate left to the far left or the moderate right to the far right. This has bee described as Horseshoe theory/horshoe of politics.

            You also suggest that the "national socialist party" = "left wing", this really is not true anymore since WWII, national socialism is connected to the the German Nazi party, and only parties wishing to attach the Nazi image would use this terminology to describe themselves. The Nazi party was a [agressive] nationalist party, wich ultimatley used fascist techniques to backup there stance.

          • The national socialists were centrists. They promised that they would replace the destructive cycle of class warfare with a new spirit of cooperation against the "real" enemies of Germany...

          • by Xest (935314)

            No, he's not arguing that, because the Nazi's weren't left wing and I'm not sure why you'd think they were unless you assume because they have socialism in their name that makes them left-wing socialists, but then I guess you think the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a Democratic People's Republic too right?

          • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by James_Duncan8181 (588316) on Monday June 10, 2013 @05:12AM (#43959343) Homepage

            "a party like the national socialists" = left wing

            It's an expansive definition of left wing that includes Hitler.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jalopezp (2622345)
            What? National socialism is a right wing movement. But also, yes you're right. Neither right nor left nor centre should get access to these tools when in power.
        • Very true. Hadn't thought of it from that angle before but excellent point. Of course if they ever get into power they can just enact their own laws (presumably they have support if they were voted in..)

      • if people dont have ordinary names, they are usually up to no good.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by digitig (1056110)
        You don't have to wait. The law abiding would have nothing to fear from this surveillance provided all those with access to the data can be guaranteed to be completely benign (your point, and enough cause to worry in itself) and completely competent: no possibility of misinterpretation of data, no possibility of Buttle/Tuttle data errors, no possibility of that data leaking out to those who shouldn't have it and who might use it for nefarious purposes. But hey, we're safe on that last point, at least. There
    • by decora (1710862) on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:52AM (#43958509) Journal

      so they could seize the UK assets stored in failed Icelandic banks (failed after being privatized on the suggestion of UK/US "experts")

    • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya&gmail,com> on Monday June 10, 2013 @02:21AM (#43958655)

      Only terrorists, criminals and spies should fear secret activities of the British and US intelligence agencies.

      That statement might have more credibility if it were not for the well documented use of RIPA powers for things unconnected to terrorism and serious crime.

      It is all in the definition, my friend.

      Only terrorists/criminals/spies should fear secret activities of the intelligence agencies, because once you are target by such an agency, you are a terrorist (and possibly a spy or a criminal too).

      Just like drone attacks have no collateral damage because anyone they actually kill is effectively redefined to have been a terrorist all along.

      • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rtb61 (674572) on Monday June 10, 2013 @03:27AM (#43958915) Homepage

        What there is to fear.

        Arrest, often extremely violent, even lethal.
        Confiscation of all electronic goods for months (replace at own expense, no choice in today's connected era).
        Extended trials and legal fees (measured in months if not years, Bradley Manning a glaring example).
        Freezing of Assets
        Imprisonment during extended trial, due to inability to fund high bail costs.
        Threats of extended prison terms, measured in decades.
        Trial by government compliant media, found guilty upon accusation and guilt spread far and wide to ensure all possible juries are tainted against you.
        Threats against family members and friends to receive similar treatment.
        Family members and friends actually receiving similar treatment.
        Coercive tactics continue until you falsely plead guilty to a lesser charge and agree to remain silent.

        Anyone recognise this pattern. It hasn't happened just once but time and time again. All this surveillance provides them with ample ammunition to make spurious and circumstantial claims to attack anybody, well at least anybody not extraordinarily wealthy and what happens when it is all over. Well, tough luck chump, tens of thousands of dollars gone, months behind bars, family members and friends fear association with you and unemployment. As for the government, hmm, whoops tee hee, our wrong and they can do it to you all over again.

        The whole idea of due process was to keep abuse of power in check, not let strumped up liars like Uncle Tom Obama or The Shrub or Darth Cheney to abandon the whole process to empower the CIA and it's private for profit contractors.

    • And the fact that they keep leaving all the "secure" data on the Underground.
    • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xenobyte (446878) on Monday June 10, 2013 @05:25AM (#43959405)

      Denmark has the same issue. We have a law allowing extradition to foreign countries of danish nationals in case of terrorism, which was enacted post 9/11 (November 2011 if I remember correctly). It has been used exactly once - not to extradite a terrorist but to extradite a woman who used to have a US-national boyfriend who smuggled drugs. She was charged with knowing about his activities and not reporting it - a very minor crime, and yet the danish courts, all the way to the supreme court - allowed the extradition. Fortunately for her, the crime she was charged with fell for the statute of limitation almost before the extradition proceedings began (i.e. a huge waste of time and money) so she could return as a free woman.

      But it's a huge problem that a law specifically meant for terrorists were used in a relatively minor criminal case in a crime barely punishable by more than a fine here. So much for the terrorist angle.

    • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by amiga3D (567632) on Monday June 10, 2013 @06:20AM (#43959603)

      They've simply redefined the words to mean anyone they want to harass or detain for any reason whatsoever. Anyone can be a terrorist now. We had a guy nut up at work. He'd been hurt on the job and due to a botched operation he was unable to work. He got jerked around for a while and had no pay and was in the process of being fired. Despairing and angry he made some foolish decisions and went to see the top manager at work. Fortunately for the bossman he wasn't in his office. The guy had a gun, I don't know if he was there to threaten or kill the guy but he was wrong anyway. The police were called and the man was trapped. His wife tried to get in to talk him out and so did his brother but the police told them "we don't negotiate with terrorists." Sadly the guy shot himself in his despair. Another terrorist dead. See how easy it is to slide into this kind of thing. Because they defined him as a terrorist in their minds he became nonhuman to them. Everyone hates terrorists. If you can define someone as a terrorist you can do any damn thing you want to them.

    • Re:Yeah, right! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bearhouse (1034238) on Monday June 10, 2013 @06:35AM (#43959671)

      You could add to this the 'unofficial' abuses that are possible, such as undermining political opponents, blackmail etc., made possible by this kind of pervasive technology.
      The temptation is there, and too much for many to resist, despite all the controls that are supposed to be in place.

      Just an anecdotal example; a friend of mine was dating a police officer, after a while, one evening after a few drinks she let slip that she'd checked out all his official records before deciding to take things further. OK, understandable, but still an abuse of power.
      Humans are human; give them these tools and they will abuse them.

    • 'Only terrorists, criminals and spies should fear secret activities of the British and US intelligence agencies.

      People who say things like this frighten me.

  • Oh Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thesupraman (179040) on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:16AM (#43958389)

    And this surprises who, exactly?

    Come on, are any of us shocked or surprised by any of this, or is it really just yet another confirmation of how the governments really consider us all
    guilty of something, and how common law (yes, that English institution) went by the by a long time ago?

    I am waiting for the other penny to drop, when people start realising how much of that information gets funneled back in to large US corporations
    when they are working on major overseas deals, etc..

    Perhaps people will start realising they need to protect their own privacy - by which I mean encryption, not our insightful American friends ideas about
    armed militias (hmm, yeah right). The tools have been there for a long time now, most people just dont take it seriously.
    At least then they need to let you know they want your information (at least for email, etc...).

    • Re:Oh Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mjwx (966435) on Monday June 10, 2013 @02:29AM (#43958699)

      And this surprises who, exactly?

      Been expecting it ever since they voted in conservatives. Right wing governments always increase surveillance under the guise of "Law and Order" and decrease liberties with the by-line "Good citizens have nothing to fear". All of this is done "for the children". If the state declares the child to be the most precious resource of the state, the people will accept any deprivation of liberty. It's not like an ultra-nationalist German politician didn't write a book on this in the 30's (or a leftist British author wrote a satirical version in the 40's).

      • Re:Oh Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Monday June 10, 2013 @02:40AM (#43958731)
        governments always increase surveillance under the guise of "Law and Order" and decrease liberties with the by-line "Good citizens have nothing to fear"

        FTFY

        And the USSR was right wing? You are easily fooled by propaganda. The leaning of the government is not relevent information.

  • It's true. (Score:5, Funny)

    by stanIyb (2945195) on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:20AM (#43958397)

    Think about it. Everyone knows that the government is made up of perfect angels who would never abuse their powers or make mistakes, so what do innocent people have to fear? Nothing! History has shown us time and time again that corrupt governments simply don't and can't exist, and if you say otherwise, you just have an overactive imagination.

    I say our next move should be to install government-owned surveillance equipment in everyone's houses. After all, if you have nothing to hide, what do you have to fear? People could be committing crimes in their houses, so it's justified.

  • Outlook? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mistakill (965922) on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:21AM (#43958403)
    You think it matters what you use for email? If its not encrypted, you can assume PRISM is reading it
  • by AvderTheTerrible (1960234) on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:27AM (#43958423)
    ..does not mean you have any business going through my life with a fine tooth comb.

    The "Nothing to Hide" argument is a fallacy that falls apart upon examination:
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110524/00084614407/privacy-is-not-secrecy-debunking-if-youve-got-nothing-to-hide-argument.shtml [techdirt.com]
    https://chronicle.com/article/Why-Privacy-Matters-Even-if/127461/ [chronicle.com]
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <{ten.3dlrow} {ta} {ojom}> on Monday June 10, 2013 @02:41AM (#43958737) Homepage

      Everyone has things they want to hide. Bank account statements hidden in envelopes for delivery, love letters hidden in drawers to avoid embarrassment.

      Even if you have done nothing wrong there is always a way to hang you. The modern version of "If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged" is "give me access to the search history of the most honest man..." Everything you ever searched for can and will be taken out of context and used against you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:29AM (#43958431)

    It's nothing to raise a Führer over!

  • by Camael (1048726) on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:34AM (#43958437)

    Interesting comment from Mr. Hague, a minister of the country that gave us the infamous Star Chamber [wikipedia.org].

    From wiki:

    The Star Chamber (Latin: Camera stellata) was an English court of law that sat at the royal Palace of Westminster until 1641. ...The court was set up to ensure the fair enforcement of laws against prominent people, those so powerful that ordinary courts could never convict them of their crimes. Court sessions were held in secret, with no indictments, and no witnesses. Evidence was presented in writing. Over time it evolved into a political weapon, a symbol of the misuse and abuse of power by the English monarchy and courts.

    I'm sure the victims of the Star Chamber at that time were equally comforted by the thought that if they were innocent, they had nothing to fear from the men in power. Of course.

    My point being that any proceedings undertaken in secret, and therefore without oversight from the public will inevitably lead to abuses of power.

    I am also troubled by the fact that the present US administration appears to go to great lengths to hide their workings from the US public whom they claim to serve. Just look at the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership [wikipedia.org] as an example. When even free trade agreements are being negotiated in secret, something is not right.
     

  • Trust (Score:4, Informative)

    by mendax (114116) on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:36AM (#43958455)

    "Only terrorists, criminals and spies should fear secret activities of the British and US intelligence agencies." William Hague, the utter of this sentence, left one very important phrase, this being, "if you trust the government." If I were a Brit I wouldn't trust the government. Brits have been guaranteed fewer civil rights than Americans. But as an American I wouldn't trust the American federal or any state or local government to do the "right thing". Politicians make their careers on doing the wrong thing. It is my hope that the revelations of this unwarranted snooping will raise such a stink that some big heads will roll. And I don't believe for a minute that the government only massages this information for patterns when there is a threat. That is government-issued, anti-FUD bullshit at its best. They are always looking for patterns. That's what the NSA and friends do.

    • It depends what you mean by guaranteed civil rights ... We don't have a (written) constitution that guarantees this but we do have a body of legislation that does the same thing (possibly better?)

      Your constitution guarantees freedom of speech (which ours does not explicitly) but you have more legislation that removes this in some (many) circumstances

      • by Xest (935314)

        "Your constitution guarantees freedom of speech (which ours does not explicitly) but you have more legislation that removes this in some (many) circumstances"

        Even that's not true, the US constitution is nothing but a facade. It makes for a good talking point and a good thing to cry support for in practice but just about every successive US government in the last 100 years or more has breached it in some way for their own ends by placing a nonsensical interpretation on one or more of it's clauses. But for wh

    • Re:Trust (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ice Tiger (10883) on Monday June 10, 2013 @05:19AM (#43959375)

      Reminds me of:

      Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
      Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.
      Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

  • by Knutsi (959723) on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:43AM (#43958471)

    It seem too me that the capacities of surveillance tech has evolved much faster than public understanding and emotion on the issue. As a non-US citizen, I am disgusted by the idea of my emails or metadata derived from them are massively stored away if they pass through the US, or even my own country. I understand and respect that some level of this must exist in modern society, but we need to have checks and balances that can be vetted by he public.

    And can it not be wrong, even though I have nothing to fear? Have I nothing to fear from this system even if I am not a criminal?

    Ethically, it is limiting to my freedom that there exists a stash of information somewhere that might be abused when taken out of context. Does that not limit my freedom to express radical opinion in private discussions, or even do so satirically? Can I no long play with unpopular ideas using electronic communications? Can I no longer listen to the voice of my opponent without fear of at some point being labeled one of them?

    Legally, how can it be that an email is less of my property than a letter I store in a deposit box in my bank, or send in the mail? Is it not mine or the recipients only? If the state had an army of people standing by to make copies of every letter sent, the situation would be perfectly analogous. Is that not ransacking me, or confiscating my property only to provide me a copy?

    Safety wise, if a record of my life is aggregated in a single source that I have no knowledge of, how can I know that it is truly safe? How can I ensure politicians spend enough on it's safety? I keep my IDs safe to prevent identity theft. What happens the day my life is stolen, but the theft is classified?

    And last but not least, what happens to the balance of power between a state and its people here? The state is the servant of the people, and it should always respect that. When the people become submissive to the state, nothing good happens. We've spend much blood in the past to put it where it belongs, but it always threatens to slip back. We need people like Edward Snowden to blow the whistle when that happens. The very fact that he is now in hiding shows how the power-balance has it's centre of gravity atm.

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:52AM (#43958507)

    The limited revelations so far have focused on the technical scheme and said little about the regulatory scheme, how it was used operationally. Leaving out that sort of data is like noting that almost everybody has in their house or on their person a device which has a microphone and transmits all it hears to remote listeners, that is a telephone, but leaving out the fact that it is off until you pick it up or turn it on. The existence of this technology and program says very little about if it is legal and if it has been used appropriately.

    Turning off telephone service is inconvenient. Turning off the intelligence services ability to gather timely intelligence can perilous.

    Bali death toll set at 202 [bbc.co.uk]
    London 7/7 terrorist attacks [www.bl.uk]
    Madrid train attacks [bbc.co.uk]
    9-11 attacks [telegraph.co.uk]

    What has MI-5 had to say?

    U.K. tracking 30 terror plots, 1,600 suspects [nbcnews.com] - updated 11/10/2006

    British authorities are tracking almost 30 high-priority terrorist plots involving 200 networks and 1,600 suspects, the head of Britain’s domestic spy agency said, adding that many of those under surveillance are homegrown terrorists plotting suicide attacks and other mass-casualty bombings.

    What did the next head of MI-5 say a year later?

    New MI5 chief says terror suspects in Britain have doubled in the last year [csmonitor.com] - November 6, 2007

    The new chief of Britain's intelligence service MI5 painted a troubling picture of growing terrorist threat in Britain, saying the number of suspects in the country has more than doubled in the past year – and that many of the new recruits are teenagers....

    and more:

    At Least 4,000 Suspected of Terrorism-Related Activity in Britain, MI5 Director Says [washingtonpost.com] - November 6, 2007

    LONDON, Nov. 5 -- British security officials suspect that at least 4,000 people are involved in terrorism-related activities in Britain and that al-Qaeda's "deliberate campaign" against Britain poses the "most immediate and acute peacetime threat" to the nation in a century, the head of Britain's domestic spy agency said Monday.

    And in 2012?

    MI5 warns al-Qaida regaining UK toehold after Arab spring [guardian.co.uk]

    You cripple the security services at your peril. Unlike the IRA, al Qaida doesn't tend to phone in warnings before a blast.

    Cheers [youtube.com]

    • by Camael (1048726) on Monday June 10, 2013 @02:45AM (#43958755)

      Has our society become so timid and fearful that we are willing to sacrifice long cherished rights to freedom, liberty and privacy to the state in return for a dubious promise of security?

      I say dubious, because for all the vaunted survelliance ongoing right now, it failed to stop the Woolwich stabbing attack [dailymail.co.uk]. It failed to stop the Boston marathon bombings [wikipedia.org].

      In all the gruesome examples you cited, note that the acts of terrorism took place despite all the surveillance already taking place then. The effort has failed. How much more freedom and privacy will you demand the public sacrifice in order to achieve greater efficacy?

      I think we are on a very slippery slope, where the temptation is all too great for the ruling parties to take the path of least resistance and extend the coverage gradually to all undesirables and enemies of the state - from terrorists to child pornographers to murderers to robbers to copyright infringers and finally to common members of the public. If you think this is impossible, look to China where it is happening even as we speak. The Chinese government even justified its censorship and surveillance of the internet on the basis of public security in a White Paper [english.gov.cn], including the following gem :-

      China advocates the rational use of technology to curb dissemination of illegal information online. Based on the characteristics of the Internet and considering the actual requirements of effective administering of the Internet, it advocates the exertion of technical means, in line with relevant laws and regulations and with reference to common international practices, to prevent and curb the harmful effects of illegal information on state security, public interests and minors.

      What lies at the end of the slippery slope? Alan Moore might have the answer. [wikipedia.org] I suggest you look at his book, it is an intriguing read.
         

      • Woolwich stabbing attack.

        FFS, The Woolwich murder was *not* terrorism - it was murder, plain and simple. Terrorism is inciting fear in the masses in order to elicit a political change - did a single murder cause the masses to become exceptionally fearful? I don't think so. Why does this murder do anything more to cause fear than any of the other numerous racially/politically motivated murders which are unfortunately reasonably common? It doesn't. I'm certainly not quaking in fear for my life - I'm far more likey to be gravely injured while being robbed than attacked for political reasons.

        So we'll go back to the definition of terrorism - inciting fear to elicit political change. After every incident, the British Government keeps telling us that if we don't let them pass new legislation that infringes on our civil liberties then we won't be safe from "terrorists". After the Woolwich killing the Communications Data Bill was revived despite previously being demolished on its previous appearance. The justification was that if the security services couldn't spy on everyone then we would all be in grave danger of being killed by terrorists. In the case of the Woolwich murder it seems that this isn't in any way justified - the people who carried it out were already known to the security services; they didn't need any new legislation to spy on them, a court order would've done the trick just as well.

        After the April Jones murder, the Online Safety Bill was revived by the government - because apparently all our kids are in danger of being murdered by kiddy fiddlers and that censoring the internet will somehow set all the nutters on the straight and narrow. And yet there seems to be no evidence to support this - it is supposition that porn leads to criminal behaviour, it could be equally possible that there would be more of this criminal behaviour if people *couldn't* relieve themselves through porn. I don't know the answer, but it seems a pretty bad idea to blindly enact laws without much evidence either way - most of the anti-kiddy-porn laws seem to be "I find what you're into distasteful, so you should be locked up" rather than actually designed to stop people getting hurt. To compound these problems, the politicians seem to be conflating protecting the kids from porn with preventing the adults getting at kiddy-porn, which are two separate issues; the Online Safety Bill is supposidly about protecting the kids from being exposed to porn, but its being pushed in response to an adult abusing a child - a completely separate problem.

        So I ask, who are the terrorists? Who is inciting fear for a political end? I would say its the government - they are going out of their way to tell people to be scared after every incident in order to push new legislation that people would otherwise find unacceptable; surely _that_ is exactly what terrorism is?

        When I was growing up, there were a fair number of IRA bombings and they were always played down to avoid stirring up fear. These days the people in power seem to have realised that they don't need to pull the trigger to benefit from the effects of being a terrorist, they only need to stir up fear surrounding existing incidents instead. The terrorists seem to be winning.

    • by tlambert (566799) on Monday June 10, 2013 @03:02AM (#43958835)

      You cripple the security services at your peril. Unlike the IRA, al Qaida doesn't tend to phone in warnings before a blast.

      Because they were so incredibly effective at preventing 9/11 in the US, and so effective at stopping the London, UK subway bombings, and so effective at preventing the train bombing in Madrid, Spain, right? I'm feeling less imperiled already.

      Perhaps if instead of complaining about information disclosures, they disclosed the plots they had been able to foil, and had rather public trials, we'd trust them more, but at this point, they act more like a police agency. Police agencies catch bad guys after the fact, after you are already dead from being blown up or shot or stabbed or raped. You know, after the crime.

      I'd prefer not to live in a police state: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_state [wikipedia.org] since their track record at preventing criminal activity from occurring in the first place is generally piss-poor.

      • Because they were so incredibly effective at preventing 9/11 in the US, and so effective at stopping the London, UK subway bombings, and so effective at preventing the train bombing in Madrid, Spain, right? I'm feeling less imperiled already.

        As I understand it, the surveillance was started some time after the 9/11 attacks, so it couldn't have stopped that. But as to attacks in the UK, there has been a steady stream of arrests and trials over the years. A number of those plots were aimed at mass casualties by attacking stadiums, that sort of thing. I'm surprised you apparently haven't heard of them.

        Just a small sample:
        London terror bomb plot: the four terrorists [telegraph.co.uk]
        Fertiliser bomb plot: The story [bbc.co.uk]
        Rucksack Bomb Plot Terror Suspects Nasser, Khalid [ibtimes.co.uk]

  • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:54AM (#43958523) Journal

    British Foreign Secretary on Surveillance Worries: '"Law Abiding Citizens Have N

    What is N? Where can I get rid of N? Can I buy more N at the store? Should I be worried if I have N?

    FFS, editors. FFS.

    *head in hands*

    • by temcat (873475)

      Come on, you aren't law abiding anyway in the eyes of the government, so you shouldn't be worried about having N.

  • Dear high rankin government employees, especially if you are not directly elected: You first. Love, everyone else. PS: We mean it. Until you accept to live in the glass house you want us to live, we won't sell you food, we won't maintain your technology, we won't even talk to you.
    • That will work to the same extent that the division of India and Pakistan was peaceful, leading to good relations and a sense of cooperation between the two. That is to say, not at all. Al Qaida is out for world conquest even if it takes 1,000 years. They are not in it for peaceful coexistence. The only peace they will seek with unbelievers is ceasefire until they can rebuild their strength.

      • How about stopping with bombing foreign countries first and taking their resources at gun point. People only become extremists if they don't have anything else left to lose.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:59AM (#43958541)

    This is a conspiracy theory that a good friend of mine passed along. I have no reason to believe it is true, but I think it can still illustrate the problem with that attitude.

    First off, to recap, Anthony Weiner [wikipedia.org] was a member of congress from New York City. He accidentally tweeted a "calvin klein underwear ad" of himself on his official twitter feed. Within minutes he deleted the tweet, but the damage was done. He ended up resigning and the seat he held, which had been held by democrats for something like 80 years, went to a republican.

    It turned out Weiner had two twitter accounts, a personal one and the official one. He had been regularly using the private account to send suggestive photos to women across the country. Not illegal, but douchey. Although for all we the public know, his (brilliant and hot) wife was fine with it, maybe they had a look-but-don't-touch agreement. Whatever it was, it was their business alone.

    Now, just imagine that somebody at the NSA who was "friendly" to the republicans decided to do a little checking into Weiner and discovered what he was doing on his "private" account. Then they logged into his official twitter account using some back-door or even just something sloppy like a cookie they sniffed off the wire from his own most recent login. Once logged in, they "accidentally" posted the picture and then deleted it a few minutes later.

    Viola, career ruined and republicans get a chance to pick up a seat they would never have had a chance at if nobody had been snooping on Weiner.

    Like I said at the start, I have zero reason to believe that is actually what happened. He probably just forgot what account he was logged into - all the blood had left his brain for other parts of his body. But, what matters here is just how plausible this theory is. The only thing standing in the way of this sort of corruption is the personal integrity of basically everyone with access to these programs at the NSA. Imagine just how easily this kind of ubiquitous surveillance apparatus can be turned to political corruption. We have way too much of that already, no need to make it any easier.

  • Ah Yes (Score:2, Informative)

    by Greyfox (87712)
    The old "If you're doing nothing wrong you have nothing to fear" argument. Except in the same week, it was demonstrated that if you said things the current administration didn't like, the power of an arm of the government would be brought to bear on you. We have a constitution that ostensibly limits the power of government to prevent just such abuses. In an ideal world we have a rule of law, are protected from government retaliation against the opinions we have and no person (including the executive branch)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 10, 2013 @02:09AM (#43958593)

    After all, you, as a law abiding citizen, have nothing to fear, right ?

  • old crap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Monday June 10, 2013 @02:32AM (#43958703) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, that quote is really, really old and gets used by politicians a lot.

    Lately, here in Germany, we've started throwing it back at them whenever they are hiding something from us. Like who gives them how much money or which companies they work for after their term, or who paid their campaign, or indeed their last holiday.

    The "if you have nothing to hide..." should be told to them a lot more often, because they've been abusing it for a long, long time.

    Also, since we know that sexual favours are as successful in swaying people as financial incentives, I would like a full record of who my politicians have been sleeping with during their terms. As there are more lies in this area than in any other, we should have 24/7 surveilance and automated reporting. What? You don't have anything to hide, do you?

  • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Monday June 10, 2013 @02:45AM (#43958749) Journal

    Only terrorists, criminals and spies should fear secret activities of the British and US intelligence agencies.

    There have already been stories of non-terrorist, non-criminal people being deported from the US when going there on vacation because of innocent remarks made on their social networking page that were mis-interpreted by the DHS.

  • before mass prosecution of certain ( ethnic ) groups broke out, the government also told its citizens: "Ordinary German citizens in good standing have nothing to fear from GeStaPo or SD, which services are there to protect them".
  • by Jesrad (716567) on Monday June 10, 2013 @03:14AM (#43958883) Journal

    If I have nothing to hide then no one has legitimacy or even moral ground to stand on and spy on me.

    The proper way to find and punish criminal/terrorist activity is to first prove reasonable suspicion of crime THEN investigate by gathering incriminating evidence, and not the opposite of fishing for incriminating stuff then slap criminal intent on it hoping it'll stick.

  • by Stolpskott (2422670) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:05AM (#43959071)

    Up until the Human Rights Act of 1998, which incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law, there was no legal right to privacy in the United Kingdom. There was some coverage in areas of legal and medical privacy under "Breach of Confidence" and related legislation around harrassment and data protection, but fundamentally the idea of "Privacy" is a very new one in UK law.
    To see a UK politician (not just that, but one of the top 5 members of the ruling Government) being so cavalier about surveillance by organisations which have no judicial oversight, and justifying it with the old saw "you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide"...

    This is the same politician (William Hague) who, in a speech to the Conservative Party's annual political conference in 2001 (at this point, he was the party leader, and the Conservatives were the opposition party to the ruling Labour government of the time... the Conservatives are now the government, having formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats after the last election) said:

    "I think Britain would be all right, if only we had a different Government.
    A Conservative Government that speaks with the voice of the British people.
    A Conservative Government never embarrassed or ashamed of the British people.
    A Conservative Government that trusts the people..."

    So now, the Government wants to know what the voice of the British people are saying, so they are willing to spy on them.
    The Government is either embarrassed by, ashamed of, or afraid of, the British people, so they are willing to spy on them.
    The Government is so mistrustful of the people, that they are willing to spy on them,

    And if there is any objection from the people, the response from the Government is "you only have something to fear if you have something to hide".
    Sorry Mr Hague, but as far as I know I have nothing to hide (disclaimer, I am not a UK lawyer with extensive and up-to-the-minute knowledge of all laws on the statute books in the UK). All the same, I personally object strongly to having my legally conferred right to privacy circumscribed to satisfy the voyeurism tendencies of some random idiot who feels like peeking.

  • by dgharmon (2564621) on Monday June 10, 2013 @06:27AM (#43959645) Homepage
    "Only terrorists, criminals and spies should fear secret activities of the intelligence agencies", William Hague

    `New research .. reveals that councils in Great Britain have authorised over 8,500 RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) operations in the past two years .. Authorities have used covert surveillance for reasons including spying on their own employees, dog fouling, people breaking the smoking ban and even the test purchase of a puppy'! link [bigbrotherwatch.org.uk]

    * Five authorities have used their powers to spy on people suspected of breaking the smoking ban
    * Suffolk County Council used RIPA powers to make a "test purchase" -- of a puppy
    * Bromley Council spied on a charity shop to see people "fly tipping" donations at their door

    * Investigation of unlawful plying for hire by private hire drivers

    * Trading Standards exercise investigating allegations of underage alcohol sales
    * Offences under Feed Hygiene Regulations
    * Noise nuisance
    * Alleged disabled blue badge fraud

    * Ascertain if person is walking their dog cleaning up after it but then depositing poop bag in trees, grass or on road
    * Carrying out graffiti ..
  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Monday June 10, 2013 @09:12AM (#43961151)

    British Foreign Secretary on Surveillance Worries: '"Law Abiding Citizens Have Nothing to Worry About"

    The same could be said for governments, too. Maybe Britain would be willing to open up it's government records as a show of good faith?

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday June 10, 2013 @09:31AM (#43961441)
    Anyone who thinks third party voting is the cure to the problems the US is facing such as erosion of civil liberties, please explain to me why this is happening in Britain. Where they have more than two parties.

Your own mileage may vary.

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