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United Kingdom Crime Government Privacy Your Rights Online

Brits Must Trade Digital Freedoms For Safety, Says Crime Agency Boss 264

bestweasel writes: The Guardian has an interview with Keith Bristow, the head of the National Crime Agency, (sometimes called Britain's FBI, apparently) in which he says, "Britons must accept a greater loss of digital freedoms in return for greater safety from serious criminals and terrorists." He also mentions pedophiles, of course. The article seems to cover just the highlights of the interview, but in another quote he says that for "policing by consent," the consent is "expressed through legislation." While this might sound reassuring, it's coupled with the Home Secretary's call last week for greater mass surveillance powers. Presumably whoever wins power in the elections next year will claim that this gives them the required consent (that's democracy, folks!) and pass the laws.
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Brits Must Trade Digital Freedoms For Safety, Says Crime Agency Boss

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  • by brainboyz ( 114458 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @02:20AM (#48080603) Homepage

    Because that always works out well for those giving up freedoms. Always.

    • Well, not that *one* time, but we never really talk about that so it doesn't count.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @04:53AM (#48081115)

        we never really talk about that so it doesn't count.

        The thing we should be talking about is how and why politicians worldwide are running a fear campaign, with the central message that loss of freedom is a necessary path to security.

        Just a few weeks ago, Australia's Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, said:

        "Regrettably, for some time to come, Australians will have to endure more security than we're used to, and more inconvenience than we would like. Regrettably for some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift.

        http://www.abc.net.au/news/201... [abc.net.au]

        There's no doubt they're coordinating their attacks on our freedom, but who is driving the campaign and what is their end goal?

        • There may be a worldwide campaign but I think this guy is merely a copyright industry whore.
        • by rvw ( 755107 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @06:57AM (#48081541)

          we never really talk about that so it doesn't count.

          The thing we should be talking about is how and why politicians worldwide are running a fear campaign, with the central message that loss of freedom is a necessary path to security.

          Only one reason: because the people want it. Fear is an easy emotion.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            The thing we should be talking about is how and why politicians worldwide are running a fear campaign, with the central message that loss of freedom is a necessary path to security.

            Only one reason: because the people want it. Fear is an easy emotion.

            People want to be scared? I don't think so. But if you scare them with something suitably intangible and offer a nicely expensive (as in, costing freedoms), they'll flock to you for protection. For surely, sacrifices have to be made!

            There are plenty of suitably intanglible threats that can be used to play on the emotions. Terrorism is a good one. Scary brown people that proved they could reach out and touch you, yet are otherwise mostly overseas. Child molesters is another good group of bogeymen; it directl

        • by NetNed ( 955141 )
          Not sure who it is, but I am pretty certain this [rt.com] is why we have saw it ramped up over the last year.
        • by usuallylost ( 2468686 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @09:11AM (#48082177)

          Just from reading these articles over the years, watching the news and my general observations I think their motivations are fairly clear. Powerful entrenched economic interests such as the entertainment industry, news media and financial industry all feel threatened by the freewheeling ways of the Internet. Those interests are demanding action from the government to protect their economic models. Governments fear terrorists. In some ways they fear them more than the public does as nothing motivates politicians more than preserving their power and position. None of them want to be the one that didn’t foil the next big attack. Governments also fear the free flow of information among the public. That fear manifests in places like China with the Great Firewall and similar technologies deployed in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia. It also manifests in things like so many countries attempting to develop things like ability to turn off the Internet. In the Western countries it seems to be manifesting as this desire to monitor everything and everyone. My gut feeling on this is that their proposed strategies for dealing with these things do more harm than good. I guess that is not surprising in my view considering fear, especially irrational fear, is not a good basis for developing public policy.

        • by strikethree ( 811449 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @09:23AM (#48082267) Journal

          There's no doubt they're coordinating their attacks on our freedom, but who is driving the campaign and what is their end goal?

          I do not know who, but we read about it in Brave New World and 1984. They want power. Absolute, soul crushing, power. The infamous "they" are closer than ever before to getting it... but what then? Absolute power is not enough to satisfy. After a decade or two, what then? There will be incredible death and destruction.

          And the cycle will begin again... probably with sticks and stones this time.

        • by Somebody Is Using My ( 985418 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @09:34AM (#48082361) Homepage

          The end goal is simple; they want to make things easier and safer for themselves.

          Government is made up of people, and those people have the same wants and desires as ourselves. In particular, they want their jobs to be less difficult and they want security of employment. These laws help enable these desires. Catching criminals is tough work, but it is easier if you have the ability to watch everyone all the time. Certainly it would be better for them to have these powers written into law so they are all above-board; that way there is no risk to their jobs when they are caught spying.

          But like any other person, they are too focused on the immediate goal, unaware of how the accumulating powers of government might be misused in the future (or downplaying the risk because the immediate advantages are so obvious). It is only when the power is misused that they may regret the decision. Unfortunately, history has shown that accumulated power will inevitably be used, which is why these mistakes are all the more tragic.

          It's not a conspiracy of the powerful working against us; it's an accumulation of human short-sightedness that puts the wrong tools into the hands of the corrupt.

          • I'd mod you up if I could, that's a pretty good description and pretty much sums up my thoughts. Its a non-conspiracy of people with their own agendas, failings and short-sightedness.

            I think the bit you missed though is that the problems arise when they _are_ powerful. My failings affect myself and my immediate family, theirs affect millions of people.

    • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @02:52AM (#48080709)

      It's almost like playing quotation bingo with these issues now.

      "Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." -- Pitt the Younger

      "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

      "The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

      "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." -- George Santayana

      • The freedom-vs-security tradeoff debate has been going on since before there was a written language. It's no surprise that so many figures of history would have had cause to comment upon it.

        • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @03:23AM (#48080809)

          Of course. But when people who have literally led governments or armed forces can still maintain that position, any appeal to blind trust by an authoritarian government must surely demand a healthy degree of scepticism.

          • by erikkemperman ( 252014 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @04:56AM (#48081125)

            Of course. But when people who have literally led governments or armed forces can still maintain that position, any appeal to blind trust by an authoritarian government must surely demand a healthy degree of scepticism.

            On the other hand, people who've been actually in charge of government and military units know better than most why "blind trust" is the only kind they can appeal to. They know the real reasons for these measures, and why the public must not.

            • Are we talking at cross-purposes here? My point was that plenty of people who do presumably have access to the whole picture, including sensitive details about security procedures and threat assessments and whatever else goes on behind closed doors, still lean toward liberty over security on this issue.

              For example, right now the Lib Dems are in government. Their leader is the Deputy PM. They have MPs on relevant select committees in Parliament. As such, it is reasonable to assume that at least some senior L

              • Ah, my bad, I had taken "that position" in your post to mean the position of the Crime Agency Boss mentioned in TFS, which is to say that security should trump freedom.

            • by nabsltd ( 1313397 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @09:14AM (#48082203)

              On the other hand, people who've been actually in charge of government and military units know better than most why "blind trust" is the only kind they can appeal to. They know the real reasons for these measures, and why the public must not.

              Do you seriously believe this?

              Do you know why the only statistics the TSA provides is on "items seized" and not "failures to seize really dangerous items in tests"? It's because they routinely miss far too high a percentage of dangerous items in tests, and have never actually caught somebody at screening that was intending serious harm.

              The "secret dangers" the government is protecting us from basically don't exist. Sure, there are dangers, but invasive screenings at airports, collecting every phone call and e-mail, and tossing people into prison without trials haven't stopped one single plot. The Boston Marathon bombings could likely have been stopped far in advance if data that had been collected not through the drag net that is the NSA would merely have been analyzed in time. Instead, because so much data is being collected, everything important is being overlooked.

              Then, there's the whole class of dangers that can't be protected against (the whole "going postal" bit) without imposing dictatorial restrictions on movement, yet governments are actually trying to stop them. Then we have incidents like in Ferguson, MO, where agents of the government might have committed a crime, and when the people complained, they were met with force and had all legal means of redress blocked at every turn. That desire for control by governments is why we need to start reining it in now, before it's too late.

              • I think you may have misunderstood my post -- probably I wasn't sufficiently clear. That the real reasons for these policies is a "desire for control" is precisely what I was suggesting.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@worl[ ]net ['d3.' in gap]> on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @03:38AM (#48080875) Homepage

        I've come to the conclusion that we have to protect our own freedoms. The internet gives us a unique opportunity to do that with strong cryptography that even the government can't break. What Britstow is really saying is that we need to speed up efforts to encrypt and protect everything from the biggest threat to our safety and freedom: him.

        • by itzly ( 3699663 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @03:41AM (#48080885)
          If enough people use encrypted communication, it will only be a matter of time before the use of encryption is made a crime.
          • If enough people use encrypted communication, it will only be a matter of time before the use of encryption is made a crime.

            Obligatory:
            http://xkcd.com/504/ [xkcd.com]

          • To borrow a well-known retort, if you outlaw encryption then only outlaws will use encryption. How does opening everyone else up to fraud, identity theft, and all the other problems encryption helps to fight on-line do anything to prevent bad people from communicating securely when encryption tools are widely available?

            • by itzly ( 3699663 )
              Of course, things like web sessions with your bank will still be encrypted, so there's no need to worry about fraud and identity theft. Banks and similar institutions will get a proper license to use encryption, as long as the cleartext transaction is logged for government inspection.
          • That'll work about as well as criminalizing firearm possession at keeping it out of the hands of anyone.

            "What are you talking about? That's a video of my dear aunt Edna. Yeah, I was trying out a bunch of effects for amusement."

            • by itzly ( 3699663 )
              Criminalizing firearm possession works reasonably well in most countries where they don't allow firearms. Sure, you can try to obfuscate your encrypted data, but it's not trivial to do it in an undetectable way. And if you download software for it, how do you know such software doesn't have a secret back door ?
              • Criminalizing firearm possession works reasonably well in most countries where they don't allow firearms.

                No, it doesn't. It has the state use force to put people in cages for acts that do not credibly threaten the rights of others, i.e. the mere possession of the tools of self-defense. Under any reasonable definition of "works", ipso facto that's not working.

                Beyond that is the problem that such laws have fsck-all effect on violent crime [harvard.edu], because the problem with violent crime is the people who commit it

          • Well, it is classified as a munition by the US. If we can't even call bullshit on that, it's pretty much over.

        • by N1AK ( 864906 )

          I've come to the conclusion that we have to protect our own freedoms. The internet gives us a unique opportunity to do that with strong cryptography that even the government can't break.

          I'm not so optimistic. We're already seeing hard push back against Apple's decision to design its device encryption in a way that stops it (and thus government) from being able to decrypt it. You can already be compelled by law in both the US or UK to give up encryption keys. If you travel through a UK airport you can be det

      • "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." -- George Santayana

        *If you remember the 60s, you weren't there* -- attributed to Robin Williams

      • "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." -- Churchill.

        Civilization is a question of compromises. You can have a sensible debate about specific laws, but blanket statements about absolute freedom or absolute security are essentially meaningless.

        • That is all true, but it's difficult to have that sensible debate when one side's argument is expressed with approximately the intellectual and ethical rigour of "there are scary people out there who you should be scared of, and if you don't let us do anything we want no matter the other consequences then those scary people will kill other people and it will be your fault".

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      All laws involve giving up freedom to do a certain thing, usually in exchange for security or safety for the society. Other laws, particularly regulations, ensure justice via making society more fair; for example the USA's Civil Rights Act prohibits a variety of forms of discrimination. The problem is that our overlords use propaganda to convince the plebes that a broad selectively-enforced law is necessary when a narrow strictly-enforced law would lead to more security for the society. Being secure in your

      • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @03:19AM (#48080785)

        All laws involve giving up freedom to do a certain thing, usually in exchange for security or safety for the society.

        That is a reasonable ethical argument in favour of having laws, but unfortunately it is sometimes quite far from how the world really works. Laws are made by a small group of people, subject to a wide range of influences, most of which are not promoting the best interests of the population. Ideally, the democratic machinery of a government ensures that the population's interests still outweigh the other factors, but I think we all know this doesn't always happen.

        The primary benefit of a formal constitution is to establish that certain principles are so important that they must be beyond the reach of whatever small group of lawmakers happens to hold power at any given time. To some extent, our Human Rights Act here has served a similar purpose in recent years, but of course the Tories want to get rid of that as well. In the absence of effective safeguards like this, as we have seen all too often in recent years, the politics of fear can dominate the agenda.

        • by mentil ( 1748130 )

          I agree, I should've made an addendum that politicians may make laws that are primarily intended to increase the security or safety of a privileged few.

          • It should be obvious that politicians project their own fears and desires in the legislation they create.

        • by N1AK ( 864906 )

          To some extent, our Human Rights Act here has served a similar purpose in recent years, but of course the Tories want to get rid of that as well.

          Those Tories that you decry for wanting rid of it are the same party that were extremely influential in drafting and spreading them across Europe. As long as you, and so many others, see politcal parties through such a biased lens we'll continue to make poor politcal choices. The ECHR is a small group of unelected individuals, they just happen to align better with

          • by tehcyder ( 746570 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @06:13AM (#48081383) Journal

            Those Tories that you decry for wanting rid of it are the same party that were extremely influential in drafting and spreading them across Europe.

            Dave Cameron's bunch of second hand car salesman bear little relation to the Tory party of Winston Churchill.

            Oh, and who wants elected judges anyway?

          • I honestly don't know what point you're trying to make here. Do you understand that the Human Rights Act is national law, and that the rights and freedoms within its scope can therefore be protected by our own courts without necessarily resorting to any action at European level?

    • OK, then we should disband all our armed forces, law enforcement agencies and the judicial system: we obviously can't have any security at all, as it inevitably curtails our freedom to some extent.
    • Well, to be fair trading freedom for security hasn't worked any time anyone has tried it... but they've got a good feeling about it this time!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      It's a false comparison anyway.

      In these bargains we do not trade "freedom for security" against some threat; instead we trade away our freedoms for a different kind of threat. History has shown that governments can be as dangerous to their populace as the criminals against whom theysupposedly protect. By giving up our freedoms, we are merely trading the types of risk we face: criminals, terrorists, et al. are an extremely rare but potentially quite deadly threat, whereas governments are an all-pervasive thr

    • Personally I think this is a good idea. I think props should be given to whomever came up with the idea. A change in techology, that provides safety and protection from the government, should always be welcome.

      Huzzah to Keith Bristow.

  • by Saint Gerbil ( 1155665 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @02:34AM (#48080647)

    "They have already won, run for your lives! In other news I shouldn't be in this job!." - Keith Bristow

  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @02:35AM (#48080655) Journal

    The monarchy still rules. It is your "democracy" that is ceremonial.

  • maybe they should.

    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
      -Benjamin Franklin, 1755

    • by norriefc ( 1998536 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @02:51AM (#48080701)
      Didn't help stop The Patriot Act
    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      Jefferson said lots of great things about freedom, too, but quickly became corrupt once he became president. It's easy to be an idealist when you don't have power.

      • It's easy to be an idealist when you don't have power.

        It seems he understood this and it is exactly why he wanted provisions in place to prevent abuses of power.

        I'm not sure how "guy abuses power" is a counter-point to "don't trust those in power to protect your freedom".

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 91degrees ( 207121 )
      This tired old quote is always posted without any thought or analysis. It's dumb. We trade liberty for security all the time. The police are allowed to arrest people based on probable cause.

      The US Bill Of Rights itself has provision for violation of liberty - the Third Amendment allows the governmnet to violate peoples homes in times of war, the Fourth Amendment has explicit exceptions to allow the government to search your home and sieze your property. The Fifth allows the law to deprive you of life, li
      • Hey! Stop looking behind the curtains.

      • This tired old quote is always posted without any thought or analysis. It's dumb. We trade liberty for security all the time. The police are allowed to arrest people based on probable cause.

        It's not dumb. It's precise. essential Liberty. For a little safety.

        Ben Franklin was a model businessman and knew that you shouldn't sell cheap things that are dear. You won't be able to buy them back at the same price.

  • Those who would give up Essential Liberty, to purchase a little Temporary safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety

    Maybe you can make it work for you better than we've managed on our side of the pond.

    (and yes, before someone decides to play the pedant, I'm well aware of the original context surrounding the quote)

  • The Snowden revelations show that the UK snoop on its own citizens without any barrier. The RIP Act can be used to compel handing over of pass phrases with threat of 2 year prison sentence for failure to comply. Short of legislating against the use of crypto or allowing 'in camera' use of surveillance material its hard to imagine a what other powers the state are after.
  • Ironically...

    Crime Agency Boss Must Trade Job For Dole, Says Brits

  • If you need any pointers, we have a bunch of books with accounts on stopping tyranny by governments that don't listen to you. You might want to save the tea for yourselves, though.

  • by stealth_finger ( 1809752 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @03:58AM (#48080929)
    ...Fuck that.
  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @03:58AM (#48080933)
    Welcome to Airstrip One [wikipedia.org], a province of Oceania.

    War is peace

    Freedom is slavery

    Ignorance is strength

  • Full. Of. Shit. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by seoras ( 147590 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @04:26AM (#48081009)

    The best thing to come out of the recent referendum on Scottish Independance has been to re-awaken the British public to politics and government.
    It's not enough, there needs to be a more jarring and long lasting wake up call to what politicians are doing for corporates and the establishment under the guise of "public interests".
    Mass surveillance isn't protecting us, didn't protect us in the past and certainly won't in the future.
    Imagine McCarthyism with full access to your historical digital life to twist into whatever form needed to hound you out of your home, job, school, neighbourhood or even country?
    Wake up!

    • Imagine McCarthyism

      Yes, luckily we never had the real thing here in the UK, unlike the home of freedom.

  • They expect us to make the trade, but provide no guarantees that they will perform on their half of the bargain.

    See Sousa v City of Antioch for a pertinent example of them denying their obligations.

    Citizenship is supposed to involve reciprocal duties of allegiance and protection. Protection is not guaranteed, but you betcha they'll guarantee to get their pound of allegiance.

  • But who will protect us from you.
    • But who will protect us from you.

      A unifying connection between humans, as humans, that peacefully disobeys commands given by corrupt government.

  • play Terrible Secret of Space [youtube.com] | sed 's/Space/Terrorists/g'

    No, seriously people... go stand by the stairs.
  • You should try and look a little closer to home ref [exaronews.com] ref [exaronews.com] ref [standard.co.uk] ref [bcpartners.com] ..
  • by Mantle ( 104724 ) on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @05:16AM (#48081175)

    'There is an old fable,' said Hardin, 'as old perhaps as humanity, for the oldest records containing it are merely copies of other records still older, that might interest you. It runs as follows:

    A horse having a wolf as a powerful and dangerous enemy lived in constant fear of his life. Being driven to desperation, it occurred to him to seek a strong ally. Whereupon he approached a man, and offered an alliance, pointing out that the wolf was likewise an enemy of the man. The man accepted the partnership at once and offered to kill the wolf immediately, if his new partner would only co-operate by placing his greater speed at the manÃ(TM)s disposal. The horse was willing, and allowed the man to place bridle and saddle upon him. The man mounted, hunted down the wolf, and killed him.

    The horse, joyful and relieved, thanked the man, and said: ÃNow that our enemy is dead, remove your bridle and saddle and restore my freedom.

    Whereupon the man laughed loudly and replied, ÃThe hell you say. Giddy-ap, Dobbin,Ã(TM) and applied the spurs with a will.

  • 1984 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 07, 2014 @07:13AM (#48081599)

    I remember over 10 years ago here on Slashdot, people joked about the various machinations of Governments around the world moving us towards a Orwellian future. People then considered the jokes amusing for a bit but ultimately a bit lame, mostly due to overuse as there was far too many examples to use them in. Now it's no longer lame, it's more a clear fact. And there's nothing that'll reverse the trend it would seem.

    I'm a father of a 4 month old. I try to remain positive about the future, hope for humankind. But with this shit it gets real hard sometimes. Doesn't help that fuckheads like ISIS/ISIL are going from strength to strength - it'd be nice to actually see the good guys win for once.

    We need heroes of character - living people who we can aspire to be like. But it seems that doing evil things is proving to be more successful.

  • You'll have to trade everything in the name of security. And when you have nothing left to give... they'll enslave you.

    As to the solution here? It is rather obvious but politically incorrect and I have no patience for the horde of mindless tools that with gainsay the obvious. Those that know need not be told. Those that do not know probably wouldn't understand in any case. It isn't time yet.

    • Mate, if you're planning an armed revolution (a) don't do it on the fucking internet and (b) don't alienate 99% of your potential foot soldiers by calling them thick.

      Or were you talking about something else?

  • I see things are progressing nicely on Airstrip One.

  • Think of the Childrenssss!!!!!

    Will the state hire me a personal risk assessor who follows me everywhere and prevents me from doing bodily harm to myself or others? Taste tests my food? I mean, we need to think of the poor insurance rates, people!

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