World Submarine cable map
| How safe is your personal information on the internet? VIDEO
|UK ‘Snoopers’ Charter’ could exceed 1 billion pound cost VIDEO
| Snoopers Charter for UK VIDEO
| A Conversation on Surveillance, Democracy, and Civil Society VIDEO
|Did the stasi use the threat of terrorism to justify their evil spying?
The stasi wanted total control over the lives of the people they spied on.
The lying devious freemasons who control the west are using exactly the same
spying agenda only with far more modern technology that they would have reveled in.
FULL ARTICLE HERE
The Stasi in the White House
There is NEVER ever an excuse to spy on a population. To have freedoms you accept
some level of raised security threat as when tyrannical governments take hold of a country
they always must meet a resistance or that tyranny would bring about total enslavement
by those who dominate over them.
Psychopaths are in charge and psychopaths will use ANY and EVERY excuse to dominate and control.
Good men need to rise up to ensure psychopaths cannot nor will not prevail over the despotic regimes that have
plagued the planet for far to long. They have filled the sheeple's heads with propaganda claiming that they and they alone
can protect us when all they really want to do is dominate and control while living lives of vast opulence on
the back of the peasants enslavement .
It is the SICK minds of the present controllers that are imposing ever more
sinister monitoring of the population . These are the same evil bastards in the 1950's and 60's that claimed the Russian KGB were
spying on its people and that we needed to fight to ensure that did not happen in the West. The very systems they claimed
were being used in Russia they are now trying to justify against the very people they reign over.
THEY CAN NO LONGER WIN THE WAR OVER THE MINDS OF THE PEOPLE AS THE ADVANCEMENT OF
TECHNOLOGY WILL MAKE SURE OF THAT.
| ‘My emails, phone calls monitored’: USA govt digital spying exposed in online series VIDEO
| The UK Snoopers' Charter: A threat to press freedom? VIDEO
| Illegal Snooping: FBI exposed as IT worker wins 11yr battle over gag order VIDEO
|Life in the Electronic Concentration Camp: The Surveillance State Is Alive and Well
FULL ARTICLE HERE
USA government reveals breadth of requests for Internet records
By John Whitehead, constitutional and human rights attorney, and founder of the Rutherford Institute.
“Big Brother in the form of an increasingly powerful government and in an increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with reasons why privacy should give way to national security, to law and order […] and the like.” ? William O. Douglas, Supreme Court Justice
Bottle up the champagne, pack away the noisemakers, and toss out the party hats.
There is no cause for celebration.
We have secured no major victories against tyranny.
We have achieved no great feat in pushing back against government overreach.
For all intents and purposes, the National Security Agency has supposedly ceased its bulk collection of metadata from Americans’ phone calls, but read the fine print: nothing is going to change.
The USA Freedom Act, which claimed to put an end to the National Security Agency’s controversial collection of metadata from Americans’ phone calls, was just a placebo pill intended to make us feel better and let the politicians take credit for reforming mass surveillance.
In other words, it was a sham, a sleight-of-hand political gag pulled on a gullible public desperate to believe that we still live in a constitutional republic rather than a down-and-out, out-of-control, corporate-controlled, economically impoverished, corrupt, warring, militarized banana republic.
You cannot restrain the NSA. The beast has outgrown its chains.
You cannot reform the NSA. A government that lies, cheats, steals, sidesteps the law, and then absolves itself of wrongdoing does not voluntarily alter its behavior.
You cannot put an end to the NSA’s “technotyranny.” Presidents, politicians, and court rulings have come and gone over the course of the NSA’s 60-year history, but none of them have managed to shut down the government’s secret surveillance of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages, transactions, communications and activities.
Indeed, the government has become an expert in finding ways to sidestep niggling, inconvenient laws aimed at ensuring accountability, bringing about government transparency and protecting citizen privacy.
It has mastered the art of stealth maneuvers and end-runs around the Constitution.
It knows all too well how to hide its nefarious, covert, clandestine activities behind the classified language of national security and terrorism. And when that doesn’t suffice, it obfuscates, complicates, stymies or just plain bamboozles the public into remaining in the dark.
Case in point: the so-called end of the NSA’s metadata collection of Americans’ phone calls.
This, of course, is no end at all.
On any given day, the average American going about his daily business will still be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears.
More than a year before politicians attempted to patch up our mortally wounded privacy rights with the legislative bandaid fix that is the USA Freedom Act, researchers at Harvard and Boston University documented secret loopholes that allow the government to bypass Fourth Amendment protections to conduct massive domestic surveillance on U.S. citizens.
It’s extraordinary rendition all over again, only this time it’s surveillance instead of torture being outsourced.
In much the same way that the government moved its torture programs overseas in order to bypass legal prohibitions against doing so on American soil, it is doing the same thing for its surveillance programs. By shifting its data storage, collection and surveillance activities outside of the country, the government is able to bypass constitutional protections against unwarranted searches of Americans’ emails, documents, social networking data, and other cloud-stored data.
Heck, the government doesn’t even need to move all of its programs overseas. It just has to push the data over the border in order to “[circumvent] constitutional and statutory safeguards seeking to protect the privacy of Americans.”
Credit for this particular brainchild goes to the Obama administration, which issued Executive Order 12333 authorizing the collection of Americans’ data from surveillance conducted on foreign soil.
Using this rationale, the government was able to justify hacking into and collecting an estimated 180 million user records from Google and Yahoo data centers every month because the data travels over international fiber-optic cables. The NSA program, dubbed MUSCULAR, is carried out in concert with British intelligence.
No wonder the NSA appeared so unfazed about being forced to shut down its much-publicized metadata program. It had already figured out a way to accomplish the same results (illegally spying on Americans’ communications) without being shackled by the legislative or judicial branches of the government.
Mind you, this metadata collection now being carried out overseas is just a small piece of the surveillance pie. The government and its corporate partners have a veritable arsenal of surveillance programs that will continue to operate largely in secret, carrying out warrantless mass surveillance on hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages and the like, beyond the scrutiny of most of Congress and the taxpayers who are forced to fund its multi-billion dollar secret black ops budget.
The surveillance state is alive and well and kicking privacy to shreds in America.
Whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, will still be listening in and tracking your behavior. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.
We are now in a state of transition with the police state shifting into high-gear under the auspices of the surveillance state.
Having already transformed local police into extensions of the military, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the FBI are preparing to turn the nation’s police officers into techno-warriors, complete with iris scanners, body scanners, thermal imaging Doppler radar devices, facial recognition programs, license plate readers, cell phone Stingray devices and so much more.
Add in the fusion centers, city-wide surveillance networks, data clouds conveniently hosted overseas by Amazon and Microsoft, drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras, and biometric databases, and you’ve got the makings of a world in which “privacy” is reserved exclusively for government agencies.
Thus, telephone surveillance by the NSA is the least of our worries.
Even with restrictions on its ability to collect mass quantities of telephone metadata, the government and its various spy agencies, from the NSA to the FBI, can still employ an endless number of methods for carrying out warrantless surveillance on Americans, all of which are far more invasive than the bulk collection program.
As I point out in my new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, just about every branch of the government—from the Postal Service to the Treasury Department and every agency in between—now has its own surveillance sector, authorized to spy on the American people.
Then there are the fusion and counterterrorism centers that gather all of the data from the smaller government spies—the police, public health officials, transportation, etc.—and make it accessible for all those in power.
And of course that doesn’t even begin to touch on the complicity of the corporate sector, which buys and sells us from cradle to grave, until we have no more data left to mine. Indeed, Facebook, Amazon and Google are among the government’s closest competitors when it comes to carrying out surveillance on Americans, monitoring the content of your emails, tracking your purchases and exploiting your social media posts.
“Few consumers understand what data are being shared, with whom, or how the information is being used,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “Most Americans emit a stream of personal digital exhaust — what they search for, what they buy, who they communicate with, where they are — that is captured and exploited in a largely unregulated fashion.”
It’s not just what we say, where we go and what we buy that is being tracked.
We’re being surveilled right down to our genes, thanks to a potent combination of hardware, software and data collection that scans our biometrics—our faces, irises, voices, genetics, even our gait—runs them through computer programs that can break the data down into unique “identifiers,” and then offers them up to the government and its corporate allies for their respective uses.
All of those internet-connected gadgets we just have to have (Forbes refers to them as “(data) pipelines to our intimate bodily processes”)—the smart watches that can monitor our blood pressure and the smart phones that let us pay for purchases with our fingerprints and iris scans—are setting us up for a brave new world where there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.
For instance, imagine what the NSA could do (and is likely already doing) with voiceprint technology, which has been likened to a fingerprint. Described as “the next frontline in the battle against overweening public surveillance,” the collection of voiceprints is a booming industry for governments and businesses alike. As The Guardian reports, “voice biometrics could be used to pinpoint the location of individuals. There is already discussion about placing voice sensors in public spaces, and [Lee Tien, senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation] said that multiple sensors could be triangulated to identify individuals and specify their location within very small areas.”
Suddenly the NSA’s telephone metadata program seems like child’s play compared to what’s coming down the pike.
That, of course, is the point.
The NSA is merely one small part of a shadowy permanent government comprised of unelected bureaucrats who march in lockstep with profit-driven corporations that actually runs Washington, DC, and works to keep us under surveillance and, thus, under control. For example, Google openly works with the NSA, Amazon has built a massive $600 million intelligence database for CIA, and the telecommunications industry is making a fat profit by spying on us for the government.
In other words, Corporate America is making a hefty profit by aiding and abetting the government in its domestic surveillance efforts.
At every turn, we have been handicapped in our quest for transparency, accountability and a representative democracy by an establishment culture of secrecy: secret agencies, secret experiments, secret military bases, secret surveillance, secret budgets, and secret court rulings, all of which exist beyond our reach, operate outside our knowledge, and do not answer to “we the people.”
Now there are still those who insist that they have nothing to hide from the surveillance state and nothing to fear from the police state because they have done nothing wrong.
To those sanctimonious few, secure in their delusions, let this be a warning: the danger posed by the American police state applies equally to all of us—lawbreaker and law abider alike, black and white, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, blue collar and white collar, and any other distinction you’d care to trot out.
In an age of too many laws, too many prisons, too many government spies, and too many corporations eager to make a fast buck at the expense of the American taxpayer, there is no safe place and no watertight alibi. We are all guilty of some transgression or other, and eventually, we will all be made to suffer the same consequences in the electronic concentration camp that surrounds us.
| NSA to stop citizen surveillance programme VIDEO
|After Snowden: Privacy, Secrecy And Security In The Information Age VIDEO
|UK Councils and taxman to be given power to view your internet history
Britain's stasi state where freemasons are embedded in all the areas with the powers to fuck people's lives up.
The REAL terrorists are those claiming powers to spy on our lives under the guise they want to protect us but
nothing is so far from the truth.
FULL ARTICLE HERE
Councils, the taxman and dozens of other public bodies will be able to search the internet and social media activity of everyone in Britain, The Telegraph can disclose.
Technology firms will be required to keep records of the websites and apps which people have used and details of when they accessed them for 12 months under new powers unveiled this week.
The new powers, contained in legislation which is published on Wednesday, will primarily be used by police and the security services in pursuit of suspected terrorists and serious criminals.
They will not be allowed to see which pages people have viewed or their searches while on the websites and apps, or the content of any messages, without a warrant.
However, The Telegraph understands that a total of 38 bodies will also be entitled to access the records for the purpose of "detecting or preventing crime".
A government source said that access will be "limited, targeted and strictly controlled" and overseen by a new Investigatory Powers Commissioner.
Ministers are also planning to introduce a new offence to deter the abuse of powers which will result in significant fines. Councils will also be required to get requests signed off by a magistrate before they are authorised.
However David Davis, a senior Conservative MP, warned that the wider access to the information was potentially "dangerous" and could lead to abuse.
Town halls were granted permission to access private communications data 2,110 times last year, more than GCHQ and MI6 combined.
Mr Davis said: "It is a serious amount of information. I don't think that the British public want councils to have access to this."
Ministers have abandoned several of the most controversial elements of the so-called "snoopers' charter" in an attempt to persuade Labour and Tory rebels to back the plans.
However Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is likely to face significant opposition if she refuses to give judges, rather than ministers, the power to sign off interception warrants.
According to reports, Mrs May is considering a "two stage" approval process in which ministers are responsible for the initial decision to sign off surveillance warrants, a decision which then has to be approved by a senior judge.
Both David Davis, a senior Conservative MP, and Keir Starmer, the shadow home affairs minister, said that judges should be involved in the decision from the "get go".
Mr Davis suggested that without full judicial authorisation Mrs May would struggle to get the bill through both the Commons and the Lords.
It came after Mrs May insisted that the government has abandoned plans to allow police to access people's full browsing history.
Internet companies will instead be required to record details of the websites which people have visited and the apps they have used, with the time they have accessed them.
The authorities will be able to see which websites were visited, but not the exact page that hey viewed.
The intelligence agencies, police and the National Crime Agency will be the most prolific users of the new powers.
But other bodies including the Financial Conduct Authority, HMRC, councils, the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Work and Pensions will be able to access the information.
Mrs May told BBC One's Andrew Marr show: "As people move into the digital age they no longer always communicate on telephone, they communicate over the internet.
"So, what we're talking about is just knowing that first step, that who has been contacted [by whom] or did this particular device access WhatsApp at 13.10 or Facebook at 14.05 - it doesn't go beyond that.
"It's precisely this area of catching paedophiles and dealing with child abuse that is precisely one of the reasons why we want this ability to look at these internet connection records."
Mrs May also confirmed that authorities will not be given new powers to limit encryption used by the biggest technology companies, despite previous suggestions by David Cameron that they could.
|Judicial mafia rules GCHQ Can Spy on British MP's VIDEO
|Former MI5 spy Annie Machon lifts the lid on working for the intelligence services and going on the run
Annie Machon worked for MI5 for five years before spending two years on the run
FULL ARTICLE HERE
Annie Machon, 46, is a former spy, who worked for MI5 for five years before spending two years on the run with her then-partner David Shayler, after blowing the whistle on alleged criminal activity in the intelligence services…
Before I joined MI5, I’d never dreamt of becoming a spy. I’d watched Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and thought, "God, who’d want to do that?". It seemed such a dark, threatening world.
But in 1991, I nevertheless found myself recruited as an Intelligence Agent. The process was more mysterious and ‘Cold War’ back then. I’d got bored of my work in publishing so I applied for a job in the Foreign Office, after which I had a letter from the Ministry of Defence saying there might be other jobs I’d find more interesting, and could I ring this number.
I started to shake when I read it, it was a strange, instinctive reaction, but they seduced me somehow and I was asked to go to an unmarked building in central London, where I had a three-hour interview.
We were about an hour and a half in before they said, "Who do you think is actually interviewing you?". I tentatively said, "Is it M15?" and they said if I wanted to continue the conversation I’d have to sign here and produced a copy of the Official Secrets Act.
I signed because I was intrigued, and the process went on for another eight months. There was even a home visit where I was grilled about my sex life by a lady who looked like your granny – until you looked into her eyes.
That first morning when I walked into the MI5 building was terrifying because I didn’t know what to expect. All you know is what your grade is, which means nothing as you don’t understand the grading system.
I was assigned to F Branch and given responsibility for investigating extreme left-wing political targets. They were investigating all kinds of people, even friends of friends of someone in the Communist Party, so I did start having doubts, but handling such intrusive information soon became normal.
You’re moved on every two years, so afterwards I worked for T Branch investigating militant Irish republicanism, and G branch, the international counterterrorist division.
Working as a spy is so insular. You can only tell your immediate family what you do. Otherwise you risk prison; under the Official Secrets Act, it’s a crime to mention anything about your work. Because of all this, the camaraderie within MI5 is strong and a lot of relationships start, as mine did with my ex, David Shayler.
My cover story when asked what I did was that I worked for the Ministry of Defence, but if I went to a party and met someone who worked for them, that got tricky.
In government circles, MI5 is known as Box 500, so I’d say, "Actually, I work for Box" and they’d back off.
Real life vs TV spies
It’s also surreal when you see something you’ve been involved with on TV and you know so much more than is being reported, but you can’t say anything to anyone.
Watching spy programmes is weird when you’ve lived it. Spooks has got the vibe of what it’s like inside the MI5 building, but it’s definitely less glamorous – you certainly couldn’t have afforded those snappy suits on our salary.
I earned £14,000 when I started, so we were a lot more Marks & Spencer. Intelligence agency recruiters are put off anyone looking for glamour.
When I became a recruiter myself, we put an advert in a paper and received 10,000 applications. Out of those, five were recruited. A lot of people think they’re applying for a job to be James Bond.
Having said that, we did use some Bond-style gadgets. And it’s exciting when you get your ‘alias’ and an official passport in that alias; everyone who got that thought, "Wow this is so cool".
On the run
It really is a lot less violent and dangerous than in shows such as Spooks. We were never running around London waving guns. It was only when I went on the run that the sense of danger happened – once I became a whistle-blower rather than an intelligence officer, ironically my life became more typically spy-like.
David and I decided to go public in 1996 about criminality within the intelligence services [including IRA bombs that could have been prevented, illegal phone tapping and secret files on government ministers responsible for overseeing the intelligence services].
It was tense; having come out of the agency we knew what they were capable of. We’d try to avoid traps by which they might track us, which was easier in the 1990s as there wasn’t CCTV everywhere, and you didn’t need to show your passport to check in to hotels.
I decided to go back to the UK after a month to pack up our flat. At immigration I was arrested under the Official Secrets Act and taken to the terrorism suite in Charing Cross police station.
Meanwhile David found a remote farmhouse in France to hide out. I was never charged, and I made my way back to France where we lived for a year, trying to negotiate with the government.
Then, David was arrested in Paris and was stuck in prison for four months, but the French government says anyone who blows the whistle is a political prisoner and doesn’t extradite political prisoners.
After that we lived in Paris for two years much more openly, but we couldn’t leave France or he’d be tried.
We had a lot of strange episodes. There was one guy who turned out to be from a Libyan intelligence agency. His opening words were, "I’m carrying", and he patted a bulge under his left arm which was his gun.
He said he wanted information about the Colonel Gadaffi assassination plot including agents’ names, and that he had access to a Swiss bank account with millions of pounds. He then patted the bulge under his arm again. It was frightening. David gave himself up and returned to the UK to face trial, and was sentenced to six months in prison.
I do look back now and think, "What the hell?!". I’ve done things I never dreamt of doing, and I’ve found strength in myself I never thought I’d have.
It’s not the life I was thinking of when I was younger, but I can’t have regrets…
MI5: The facts
* MI5 (Military Intelligence, Section 5) is the UK’s domestic security agency, concerned with the protection of parliamentary democracy, economic interests and counterterrorism in the UK.
* Within the government and civil service, MI5 is known as Box 500, after its official wartime address of PO Box 500.
* Nowadays, you can apply for jobs within the security service at mi5.gov.uk/careers . There is an online test in which you have to answer questions about the scenarios faced by intelligence officers every day.
* Candidates must obtain the highest form of security clearance required for government positions, known as developed vetting (DV).
* You must also be a born or naturalised British citizen. One of your parents should also be British or have substantial ties to the UK. You should have been resident in the UK for nine out of the past 10 years unless you have served overseas with HM Forces or in some other official capacity as a representative of Her Majesty’s Government.
* What MI5 looks for: "Incisive intellect and finely balanced judgment are essential, as are outstanding verbal and written communication skills. You must be able to demonstrate resilience and the ability to cope with setbacks, as well as to work well in a team and quickly establish rapport with a wide range of people. Analytical and highly organised, you will have a superb eye for detail, and the perfect balance of sensitivity and confidence. Discretion and integrity are also crucial qualities."
| Edward Snowden: 'I know how to keep a secret' VIDEO
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|CREEPY MESSAGE FROM MOZILLA ABOUT GOVERNMENT SPYING VIDEO
|Snowden: ‘Training Guide’ for GCHQ, NSA Agents Infiltrating and Disrupting Alternative Media Online
Ed Snowden’s latest leaked documents open the lid on what is perhaps the most vindictive and disgusting aspect of the government-corporate joint surveillance state seen yet…
FULL ARTICLE HERE
This is Britain’s GCHQ how-to guide for Online Covert Action which, according to Glenn Greenwald (see links below) has been shared with US agencies like the NSA. Upon review, it can only be described as government-sponsored subterfuge of domestic society.
According to these latest documents, there are paid government agent/contractor persons on social media posing as someone they are not, whilst on the payroll of the government. Their job is to befriend members of the alternative media, embed themselves in the ebb and flow of day-to-day communications, and then to engage in elaborate subterfuge – by any means necessary. The training exercise below uses terms like “befriend”, “infiltrate”, “mask/mimic”, “ruse”, “set-up”, “disrupt”, “create cognitive stress”, “use deception”, “ruin business relationships”, and “post negative information on appropriate forums” – all of which is not only illegal and morally bankrupt, but also runs completely contrary to the very fundamental ‘values’ and indeed founding principles, of a modern free democratic society or constitutional republic.
Government targets in this malicious operation appear to be bloggers, activists, journalists, social event organisers and anyone else deemed to be a ‘emerging leader’ or voice in the public sphere, or alternative media online.
This obviously extends way beyond the practice of employing paid ‘trolls’ to pollute comment sections and redirect forum threads – which still exists under both government and corporate umbrellas.
Thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden, the public – as well as moral individuals within government and the judiciary, might fully realise just how these sort of underhanded, and unlawful operations have sunk to the lowest possible levels.
It’s not enough that the governments of both the UK and US are blanket spying on each other’s populations and then swapping data, but now we see how they are aggressively targeting individuals in secret, undermining them and eventually setting out to destroy them – and all the while employing organised deception (with the full backing of the state security apparatus) to achieve a series of said ‘outcomes’.
That’s conspiracy to defraud, and it’s against the law in any modern civilised society.
One has to pose the question: is this type of government sanctioned gang-stalking and conspiracy to defraud civilised? Most people would answer ‘no’ of course, but unfortunately most people are not making the decisions regarding these new malicious soviet-style programs in Britain and the US.
It’s so comforting to know that the governments of Great Britain and the United States have allocated public money not only to spy on their own innocent citizens, but also that ample public money is also being spent to actively undermine free speech, derail small businesses, to entrap and intentionally defraud and defame unsuspecting citizens that are deemed targets by some secret committee – all carried out in an extrajudicial (outside of the law) way.
Sounds very much like those horrific East German Stasi tales we all point to as history’s archetypal low-point of modern society.
Those who know their history, know that this type of aggressive state attack against its own citizens has nothing to do with ‘national security’ or ‘terrorism’, but is merely a case of the state using its muscle against those who are shining a spotlight on its shortcoming and internal government corruption and criminal behaviour.
By (almost) anyone’s metric, it’s a shameful chapter in history.
Hat-tip to the team at The Rundown Live for compiling this comprehensive and important report…
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|UK challenged over data collecting techniques outlawed in USA VIDEO
|Britain's GCHQ continues to use data techniques outlawed in America, say campaigners
Privacy International files legal claim and calls for end to harvesting of ‘bulk personal datasets’ by UK following last week’s passing of USA Freedom Act
FULL ARTICLE HERE
GCHQ, the Cheltenham-based monitoring agency, is collecting “bulk personal datasets” from millions of people’s phone and internet records using techniques now banned in the US, according to Privacy International.
In a fresh legal claim filed at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), the campaign group calls for an end to the harvesting of information about those who have no ties to terrorism and are not suspected of any crime.
The IPT is the judicial body that hears complaints about the intelligence services and surveillance by public organisations. The tribunal has received dozens of submissions in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about interception of internet traffic by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s GCHQ.
The latest claim is partially aimed at highlighting a disparity between US and UK surveillance practices that has emerged, Privacy International (PI) points out, following divergent responses by legislators in Washington and Westminster.
The passing of the USA Freedom Act last week curtailed so-called “section 215” bulk collection of phone record metadata – information about who called whom, and timings, but not the content of conversations. It was a victory for the libertarian cause and a restriction of state surveillance powers.
By contrast, UK privacy campaigners say, parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) has confirmed that GCHQ is still collecting datasets relating to “a wide range of individuals, the majority of whom are unlikely to be of intelligence interest.”
The coalition government also passed the emergency Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) last summer to preserve powers that would otherwise have been undermined by a European Court of Justice judgment.
Two prominent MPs, Labour’s Tom Watson and the Conservative David Davis, were in the London high court last week challenging the legislation’s legitimacy.
Commenting on PI’s new claim, its deputy director Eric King said: “Secretly ordering companies to hand over their records in bulk, to be data-mined at will, without independent sign-off or oversight, is a loophole in the law the size of a double-decker bus.
“That the practice started, and continues, without a legal framework in place, smacks of an agency who sees itself as above the law. How can it be that the US is so much further ahead on this issue? With the USA Freedom Act now passed, the equivalent NSA power has now been curtailed before the debate this side of the pond has even begun.
“Bulk collection of data about millions of people who have no ties to terrorism, nor are suspected of any crime, is plainly wrong. That our government admits most of those in the databases are unlikely to be of intelligence value… shows just how off-course we really are.”
PI says bulk data sets retained by intelligence agencies may include a great variety of information, including telephone and internet records, credit reference reports, medical records, travel records, biometric details and even loyalty card schemes. Their claim also calls for the destruction of “any unlawfully obtained material”.
A YouGov poll commissioned by Amnesty International released last week showed 56% of UK adults believed that Snowden, who worked for the US National Security Agency up until 2013, should have revealed classified information exposing US and UK government monitoring activities.
GCHQ always makes a clear distinction between intrusive “mass surveillance”, which it insists it does not undertake, and “bulk interception” of electronic communications, which says is necessary in order to carry out targeted searches of data in pursuit of terrorist or criminal activity.
In response to an earlier IPT ruling earlier this year, GCHQ said: “By its nature, much of [our] work must remain secret. But we are working with the rest of government to improve public understanding about what we do and the strong legal and policy framework that underpins all our work.”
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