The 48 STASI UK government departments being given authority to spy on your
entire online browsing history, even if you delete it
World Submarine cable map
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|Edward Snowden: 'The people are still powerless, but now they're aware'
FULL ARTICLE HERE
Five years after historic NSA leaks, whistleblower tells the Guardian he has no regrets
Edward Snowden has no regrets five years on from leaking the biggest cache of top-secret documents in history. He is wanted by the US. He is in exile in Russia. But he is satisfied with the way his revelations of mass surveillance have rocked governments, intelligence agencies and major internet companies.
In a phone interview to mark the anniversary of the day the Guardian broke the story, he recalled the day his world – and that of many others around the globe – changed for good. He went to sleep in his Hong Kong hotel room and when he woke, the news that the National Security Agency had been vacuuming up the phone data of millions of Americans had been live for several hours.
Snowden knew at that moment his old life was over. “It was scary but it was liberating,” he said. “There was a sense of finality. There was no going back.”
What has happened in the five years since? He is one of the most famous fugitives in the world, the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary, a Hollywood movie, and at least a dozen books. The US and UK governments, on the basis of his revelations, have faced court challenges to surveillance laws. New legislation has been passed in both countries. The internet companies, responding to a public backlash over privacy, have made encryption commonplace.
Snowden, weighing up the changes, said some privacy campaigners had expressed disappointment with how things have developed, but he did not share it. “People say nothing has changed: that there is still mass surveillance. That is not how you measure change. Look back before 2013 and look at what has happened since. Everything changed.”
The most important change, he said, was public awareness. “The government and corporate sector preyed on our ignorance. But now we know. People are aware now. People are still powerless to stop it but we are trying. The revelations made the fight more even.”
He said he had no regrets. “If I had wanted to be safe, I would not have left Hawaii (where he had been based, working for the NSA, before flying to Hong Kong).”
His own life is uncertain, perhaps now more than ever, he said. His sanctuary in Russia depends on the whims of the Putin government, and the US and UK intelligence agencies have not forgiven him. For them, the issue is as raw as ever, an act of betrayal they say caused damage on a scale the public does not realise.
This was reflected in a rare statement from Jeremy Fleming, the director of the UK surveillance agency GCHQ, which, along with the US National Security Agency. was the main subject of the leak. In response to a question from the Guardian about the anniversary, Fleming said GCHQ’s mission was to keep the UK safe: “What Edward Snowden did five years ago was illegal and compromised our ability to do that, causing real and unnecessary damage to the security of the UK and our allies. He should be accountable for that.”
The anger in the US and UK intelligence communities is over not just what was published – fewer than 1% of the documents – but extends to the unpublished material too. They say they were forced to work on the assumption everything Snowden ever had access to had been compromised and had to be dumped.
There was a plus for the agencies. Having scrapped so much, they were forced to develop and install new and better capabilities faster than planned. Another change came in the area of transparency. Before Snowden, media requests to GCHQ were usually met with no comment whereas now there is more of a willingness to engage. That Fleming responds with a statement reflects that stepchange.
In his statement, he expressed a commitment to openness but pointedly did not credit Snowden, saying the change predated 2013. “It is important that we continue to be as open as we can be, and I am committed to the journey we began over a decade ago to greater transparency,” he said.
Others in the intelligence community, especially in the US, will grudgingly credit Snowden for starting a much-needed debate about where the line should be drawn between privacy and surveillance. The former deputy director of the NSA Richard Ledgett, when retiring last year, said the government should have made public the fact there was bulk collection of phone data.
The former GCHQ director Sir David Omand shared Fleming’s assessment of the damage but admitted Snowden had contributed to the introduction of new legislation. “A sounder and more transparent legal framework is now in place for necessary intelligence gathering. That would have happened eventually, of course, but his actions certainly hastened the process,” Omand said.
The US Congress passed the Freedom Act in 2015, curbing the mass collection of phone data. The UK parliament passed the contentious Investigatory Powers Act a year later.
Ross Anderson, a leading academic specialising in cybersecurity and privacy, sees the Snowden revelations as a seminal moment. Anderson, a professor of security engineering at Cambridge University’s computer laboratory, said: “Snowden’s revelations are one of these flashbulb moments which change the way people look at things. They may not have changed things much in Britain because of our culture for adoring James Bond and all his works. But round the world it brought home to everyone that surveillance really is an issue.”
MPs and much of the UK media did not engage to the same extent of their counterparts elsewhere in Europe, the US, Latin America, Asia and Australia. Among the exceptions was the Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert, who pressed the issue until he lost his seat in 2015. “The Snowden revelations were a huge shock but they have led to a much greater transparency from some of the agencies about the sort of the things they were doing,” he said.
One of the disclosures to have most impact was around the extent of collaboration between the intelligence agencies and internet companies. In 2013, the US companies were outsmarting the EU in negotiations over data protection. Snowden landed like a bomb in the middle of the negotiations and the data protection law that took effect last month is a consequence.
One of the most visible effects of the Snowden revelations was the small yellow bubble that began popping up on the messaging service WhatsApp in April 2016: “Messages to this chat and calls are now secured with end-to-end encryption.”
Before Snowden, such encryption was for the targeted and the paranoid. “If I can take myself back to 2013,” said Jillian York, the director for international freedom of expression at the digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, “I maybe had the precursor to [the encrypted communication app] Signal on my phone, TextSecure. I had [another email encryption tool] PGP, but nobody used it.” The only major exception was Apple’s iMessage, which has been end-to-end encrypted since it was launched in 2011.
Developers at major technology companies, outraged by the Snowden disclosures, started pushing back. Some, such as those at WhatsApp, which was bought by Facebook a year after the story broke, implemented their own encryption. Others, such as Yahoo’s Alex Stamos, quit rather than support further eavesdropping. (Stamos is now the head of security at Facebook.)
“Without Snowden,” said York. “I don’t think Signal would have got the funding. I don’t think Facebook would have had Alex Stamos, because he would have been at Yahoo. These little things led to big things. It’s not like all these companies were like “we care about privacy”. I think they were pushed.”
Other shifts in the technology sector show Snowden’s influence has in many ways been limited. The rise of the “smart speaker”, exemplified by Amazon’s Echo, has left many privacy activists baffled. Why, just a few years after a global scandal involving government surveillance, would people willingly install always-on microphones in their homes?
“The new-found privacy conundrum presented by installing a device that can literally listen to everything you’re saying represents a chilling new development in the age of internet-connected things,” wrote Gizmodo’s Adam Clark Estes last year.
Towards the end of the interview, Snowden recalled one of his early aliases, Cincinnatus, after the Roman who after public service returned to his farm. Snowden said he too felt that, having played his role, he had retreated to a quieter life, spending time developing tools to help journalists protect their sources. “I do not think I have ever been more fulfilled,” he said.
But he will not be marking the anniversary with a “victory lap”, he said. There is still much to be done. “The fightback is just beginning,” said Snowden. “The governments and the corporates have been in this game a long time and we are just getting started.”
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|Abby Martin Explains George Orwell's 1984 VIDEO
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|Protected Personal Privacy Or Mass Surveillance in THE LAND OF THE FREE? VIDEO
Notice the LAWYER says its OK to spy on anyone outside America BUT ITS NOT!!!!!!!!
|NSA use Israeli company Narus to spy on American citizens VIDEO
|The spy network that links major internet companies with government
|NSA hack bigger than Snowden VIDEO
| British supermarket adopts ‘finger vein’ payment tech VIDEO
| Theresa May Wants To Create An Internet Controlled And Regulated By The Government VIDEO
|Home Office plots £5m project to equip police with facial-recognition software
FULL ARTICLE HERE
Cop Big Brother facial recognition system 'risks targeting innocent people'(Claim any form of benefit from the British government and you will
be on a similar database and watched via CCTV everywhere you go and gives them an excuse to sanction and prosecute)
Desmond's vile Daily Stark Raving Mad was pushing facial recognition for benefit claimants in November 2016
(But they already capture images of anyone claiming any form of government benefit and matching it up with the
sinister cop Big Brother system)
Creeping government automatic facial recognition (Like 1984 warned us all)
MPs to probe Theresa May's brutal war on poor and disabled in Scotland
(A rogue government that will use anything, including 'facial recognition', to find the slightest misdemeanour to stop payments.
But you wont see them using this technology on the rich tax dodgers who fund their vile abuse of power)
HMRC, Home Office, and DWP to share data in 'fully digital' post-Brexit immigration system
The Home Office is planning to invest £5m on facial-recognition biometric software to be used by the police.
The department has issued a contract notice seeking interested suppliers for a five-year engagement to provide biometric matcher engine software (MES) that can successfully identify people via facial imagery. Such technology will, initially, be used in law enforcement. In time, the scope of the deployment may extend to other public sector organisations, the Home Office said.
Alongside the technology, the supplier or suppliers will be expected to provide a range of related services, including design, accuracy testing, systems integration, data migration, and ongoing support.
Potential suppliers have until 25 September to express their interest, three weeks after which the department is intending to invite five firms to tender. The tendering process, which will see bidders’ technology subjected to accuracy testing, is expected to last at least seven months.
Following the initial five-year term of the contract, the Home Office will have the option to extend it for an additional two years, followed by a further one-year extension. This means the project could last a total of eight years. Its estimated value is £4.6m, plus VAT.
The deployment forms part of a wider biometrics programme being run by the Home Office. The new MES will, therefore, need to integrate with the department’s existing biometric matcher platform service, which plays host to methods and data from various agencies across law enforcement, immigration, citizenship services, and other bodies.
|Why the Equifax breach is very possibly the worst leak of personal info ever
FULL ARTICLE HERE
Equifax hack: 44 million Britons' personal details feared stolen in major US data breach
Equifax drops ‘no-sue’ requirement for helping victims of hack
(About time this mob got exposed for the huge amount of personal data they have been collecting. Only
a HACK has exposed just how much data can be accessed and misused)
Hacking exposes massive private data being held by credit ratings agency Equifax
(The real CRIMINALS are those firms abusing data protection laws)
Massive Equifax data breach hits 143 million
This lot should be shut down after collecting mountains of personal data to satisfy the banking mafia's
demand for ever more info on potential usury customers.
Consumers' most sensitive data is now in the open and will remain so for years to come.
It's a sad reality in 2017 that a data breach affecting 143 million people is dwarfed by other recent hacks—for instance, the ones hitting Yahoo in 2013 and 2014, which exposed personal details for 1 billion and 500 million users respectively; another that revealed account details for 412 million accounts on sex and swinger community site AdultFriendFinder last year; and an eBay hack in 2014 that spilled sensitive data for 145 million users.
The breach Equifax reported Thursday, however, very possibly is the most severe of all for a simple reason: the breath-taking amount of highly sensitive data it handed over to criminals. By providing full names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and, in some cases, driver license numbers, it provided most of the information banks, insurance companies, and other businesses use to confirm consumers are who they claim to be. The theft, by criminals who exploited a security flaw on the Equifax website, opens the troubling prospect the data is now in the hands of hostile governments, criminal gangs, or both and will remain so indefinitely.
Hacks hitting Yahoo and other sites, by contrast, may have breached more accounts, but the severity of the personal data was generally more limited. And in most cases the damage could be contained by changing a password or getting a new credit card number.
What's more, the 143 million US people Equifax said were potentially affected accounts for roughly 44 percent of the population. When children and people without credit histories are removed, the proportion becomes even bigger. That means well more than half of all US residents who rely the most on bank loans and credit cards are now at a significantly higher risk of fraud and will remain so for years to come. Besides being used to take out loans in other people's names, the data could be abused by hostile governments to, say, tease out new information about people with security clearances, especially in light of the 2015 hack on the US Office of Personnel Management, which exposed highly sensitive data on 3.2 million federal employees, both current and retired.
Besides the severity and scope of the pilfered data, the Equifax breach also stands out for the way the company has handled the breach once it was discovered. For one thing, it took the Atlanta-based company more than five weeks to disclose the data loss. Even worse, according to Bloomberg News, three Equifax executives were permitted to sell more than $1.8 million worth of stock in the days following the July 29 discovery of the breach. While Equifax officials told the news service the employees hadn't been informed of the breach at the time of the sale, the transaction at a minimum gives the wrong appearance and suggests incident responders didn't move fast enough to contain damage in the days after a potentially catastrophic hack came into focus.
What's more, the website www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/, which Equifax created to notify people of the breach, is highly problematic for a variety of reasons. It runs on a stock installation WordPress, a content management system that doesn't provide the enterprise-grade security required for a site that asks people to provide their last name and all but three digits of their Social Security number. The TLS certificate doesn't perform proper revocation checks. Worse still, the domain name isn't registered to Equifax, and its format looks like precisely the kind of thing a criminal operation might use to steal people's details. It's no surprise that Cisco-owned Open DNS was blocking access to the site and warning it was a suspected phishing threat.
Another indications of sloppiness: a username for administering the site has been left in a page that was hosted here. Here's what it looked like before it was taken down at about 8:50 am California time:
That by itself wouldn't allow for unauthorized access, but it's still something that should never have happened.
Meanwhile, in the hours immediately following the breach disclosure, the main Equifax website was displaying debug codes, which for security reasons, is something that should never happen on any production server, especially one that is a server or two away from so much sensitive data. A mistake this serious does little to instill confidence company engineers have hardened the site against future devastating attacks.
It was bad enough that Equifax operated a website that criminals could exploit to leak so much sensitive data. That, combined with the sheer volume and sensitivity of the data spilled, was enough to make this among the worst data breaches ever. The haphazard response all but guarantees it.
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| NSA was allegedly hacked, loses financial hacking arsenal to the Dark Web VIDEO
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|The Silent Order NSA Sees Everything Hears Everything Documentary VIDEO
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FULL ARTICLE HERE
THE CCTV MAP OF LONDON
London's media whores pathological obsession with promoting London house prices
(London is the RAT race of the world and people hang on to the price of their house as
justification for living in a Big Brother madhouse)
As long term residents of London we have dissected much of the creepiest parts that
show how much global control emanates from some of the most vile scum and filth on the planet.
However after a few years break and then a visit to see family we drove across London something
we seldom used to do when resident due to the appalling state of affairs London transport is now in.
What was clearly noticeable was virtually every major road artery including what could be classed as
motorway had what seemed like thousands of cameras dotted along every route spying and attempting to capture
any tiny digression in the road that would warrant a large fine . This was sinister in the extreme and
only adds to the stress Londoners live their lives under, when 1984 has advanced to a far more devious and
A project is now being undertaken to plot ALL CCTV in London that has mapped inner London
HERE the above maps are a rough idea of how that is coming along.
How much longer can Londoners tolerate the extreme rise of Big Brother that must reach a point when
the peasants react at the gross intrusion into their lives? Or will they forever remain sheeple
only concerned about how much their house is worth?
| NSA contractor accused of theft of classified information VIDEO
| Snowden 2.0: NSA contractor arrested for stealing malware VIDEO
| NSA contractor charged with stealing intel VIDEO
|The NSA’s British Base at the Heart of USA Targeted Killing
FULL EXTENSIVE ARTICLE HERE
The narrow roads are quiet and winding, surrounded by rolling green fields and few visible signs of life beyond the occasional herd of sheep. But on the horizon, massive white golf ball-like domes protrude from the earth, protected behind a perimeter fence that is topped with piercing razor wire. Here, in the heart of the tranquil English countryside, is the National Security Agency’s largest overseas spying base.
Once known only by the code name Field Station 8613, the secret base — now called Menwith Hill Station — is located about nine miles west of the small town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire. Originally used to monitor Soviet communications through the Cold War, its focus has since dramatically shifted, and today it is a vital part of the NSA’s sprawling global surveillance network.
For years, journalists and researchers have speculated about what really goes on inside Menwith Hill, while human rights groups and some politicians have campaigned for more transparency about its activities. Yet the British government has steadfastly refused to comment, citing a longstanding policy not to discuss matters related to national security.
Now, however, top-secret documents obtained by The Intercept offer an unprecedented glimpse behind Menwith Hill’s razor wire fence. The files reveal for the first time how the NSA has used the British base to aid “a significant number of capture-kill operations” across the Middle East and North Africa, fueled by powerful eavesdropping technology that can harvest data from more than 300 million emails and phone calls a day.
Over the past decade, the documents show, the NSA has pioneered groundbreaking new spying programs at Menwith Hill to pinpoint the locations of suspected terrorists accessing the internet in remote parts of the world. The programs — with names such as GHOSTHUNTER and GHOSTWOLF — have provided support for conventional British and American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But they have also aided covert missions in countries where the U.S. has not declared war. NSA employees at Menwith Hill have collaborated on a project to help “eliminate” terrorism targets in Yemen, for example, where the U.S. has waged a controversial drone bombing campaign that has resulted in dozens of civilian deaths.
The disclosures about Menwith Hill raise new questions about the extent of British complicity in U.S. drone strikes and other so-called targeted killing missions, which may in some cases have violated international laws or constituted war crimes. Successive U.K. governments have publicly stated that all activities at the base are carried out with the “full knowledge and consent” of British officials.
The revelations are “yet another example of the unacceptable level of secrecy that surrounds U.K. involvement in the U.S. ‘targeted killing’ program,” Kat Craig, legal director of London-based human rights group Reprieve, told The Intercept.
“It is now imperative that the prime minister comes clean about U.K. involvement in targeted killing,” Craig said, “to ensure that British personnel and resources are not implicated in illegal and immoral activities.”
The British government’s Ministry of Defence, which handles media inquires related to Menwith Hill, declined to comment for this story.
The NSA referred a request for comment to the Director of National Intelligence’s office.
Richard Kolko, a spokesperson for the DNI, said in a statement: “The men and women serving the intelligence community safeguard U.S. national security by collecting information, conducting analysis, and providing intelligence for informed decision making under a strict set of laws, policies and guidelines. This mission protects our nation and others around the world.”
Fabian Hamilton, a member of Parliament based in the nearby city of Leeds, has become a supporter of the campaign’s work, occasionally attending events organized by the group and advocating for more transparency at Menwith Hill. Hamilton, who represents the Labour Party, has doggedly attempted to find out basic information about the base, asking the government at least 40 parliamentary questions since 2010 about its activities. He has sought clarification on a variety of issues, such as how many U.S. personnel are stationed at the site, whether it is involved in conducting drone strikes, and whether members of a British parliamentary oversight committee have been given full access to review its operations. But his efforts have been repeatedly stonewalled, with British government officials refusing to provide any details on the grounds of national security.
Hamilton told The Intercept that he found the secrecy shrouding Menwith Hill to be “offensive.” The revelations about the role it has played in U.S. killing and capture operations, he said, showed there needed to be a full review of its operations. “Any nation-state that uses military means to attack any target, whether it is a terrorist, whether it is legitimate or not, has to be accountable to its electorate for what it does,” Hamilton said. “That’s the basis of our Parliament, it’s the basis of our whole democratic system. How can we say that Menwith can carry out operations of which there is absolutely no accountability to the public? I don’t buy this idea that you say the word ‘security’ and nobody can know anything. We need to know what is being done in our name.”
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|Self-censorship – coming to a laptop near you
In our article “Britain Moves From Democracy to Authoritarian State in Pernicious Veil of Secrecy”, written back in September, we described how in little more than a decade the state has gone from an open society with, mainly democratic principles, to one that is starting to resemble an authoritarian state.
This is demonstrated no better than by a sinister mass surveillance programme instigated, developed and kept secret by the state, only to be revealed by the leaks of a whistleblower years later.
As a concerned, conscientious or just inquisitive citizen you may, quite rightly, ask why is it happening? and for whose benefit? But actually nowadays, you might not ask at all.
The word panopticon sounds sinister as well as actually being so. It describes a type of institutional building designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow all (pan-) inmates of an institution to be observed (-opticon) by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that all inmates must act as though they are watched at all times, effectively controlling their own behaviour constantly. It appears that Bentham’s design is being adopted as a government playbook for future civil rights and liberties.
A study by the University of Oxford (Oxford Internet Institute); Citizen Lab (University of Toronto); Harvard University (Berkman Center for Internet & Society); and Dalhousie University (Schulich School of Law) demonstrated some interesting results on the modern day design being imposed upon by our ‘elected’ watchmen. The study provides evidence of the “chilling effects” of Wikipedia users associated with online government surveillance.
Using an interdisciplinary research design, the study tests the hypothesis, based on chilling effects theory, that traffic to privacy-sensitive Wikipedia articles reduced after the mass surveillance revelations. The Article finds not only a statistically significant immediate decline in traffic for these Wikipedia articles after June 2013, but also a change in the overall secular trend in the view count traffic, suggesting not only immediate but also long-term chilling effects resulting from the NSA/PRISM online surveillance revelations. These, and other results from the case study, offer compelling evidence for chilling effects associated with online surveillance.
The study, written by Jon Penney, goes further in the summary by saying that:
important insights about how we should understand such chilling effects and their scope, including how they interact with other dramatic or significant events (like war and conflict) and their broader implications for privacy, U.S. constitutional litigation, and the health of democratic society. This study is among the first to demonstrate — using either Wikipedia data or web traffic data more generally — how government surveillance and similar actions may impact online activities, including access to information and knowledge online.
In other words, like the panopticon, when we know we are being watched, in this case seeking out knowledge, attempting to understand why governments do what they do and trying to get answers on the difficult things that affect us, we are already starting to self-censor. In an attempt to avoid being suspicious, we are actively choosing not to visit particular websites out of fear.
Think about that for a moment. We are choosing not to visit a website out of fear of our own government.
The study deduces that “a 20 percent decline in page views on Wikipedia articles related to terrorism, including those that mentioned ‘al Qaeda,’ ‘car bomb’ or ‘Taliban.’” This is a clear indication that people are self-censoring, that they are afraid to find out about the effects of government decisions that not only stifles free speech but the most basic principles of any democracy no matter how young or old it may be.
As if further evidence was necessary this from The Guardian:
A postgraduate student of counter-terrorism was falsely accused of being a terrorist after an official at Staffordshire University had spotted him reading a textbook entitled Terrorism Studies in the college library.”
The unfortunate involved here was Mohammed Umar Farooq, who enrolled in the terrorism, crime and global security master’s programme, who told the Guardian that he was questioned about homosexuality, Islamic State (Isis) and al-Qaida by an official of the university. Farooq also said he had been “looking over his shoulder” ever since, and so unsettled by the incident that he chose not to return to the course. Farooq was worried he would end up on a Police watch list. After a three month investigation, Farroq was exonerated and an apology was made by the university.
The same happened to another student who was arrested under the Terrorism Act and kept in custody for six days and eventually awarded £20,000 compensation by the police after three years of investigation. Rizwaan Sabir, 22, who was studying for a master’s at Nottingham University, was arrested after downloading a terrorist manual for his research on al Qaeda.
UK advocacy group Cage confirmed that they have received dozens and dozens of such cases just like that of Farooq and Sabir.
This is the result of the British government’s new anti-radicalisation policy – one that is constructing the architecture of societal paranoia, starting in academia. This is also confirmed by Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, which represents more than 120,000 academics and lecturers at universities and colleges across the UK. Back in September last year she said that the government plans on radicalisation were “baffling and fostered mistrust between lecturers and students.”
Then we have the BBC who reported that the British Library has declined to store a large collection of Taliban-related documents because of concerns regarding terrorism laws:
The collection, related to the Afghan Taliban, includes official newspapers, maps and radio broadcasts. Academics have criticised the decision saying it would be a valuable resource to understand the ongoing insurgency in Afghanistan. The library said it feared it could be in breach of counter-terrorism laws. It said it had been legally advised not to make the material accessible.”
Alex Strick van Linschoten, an author and researcher who helped spearhead the project said:
There’s no recipes for making bombs or anything like that. These are documents that would help people understand history, whether it’s Afghans trying to learn about their recent past, or outsiders wanting to understand the movement.”
Linschten went further to say:
…there is a climate of fear among academics who study this kind of material because UK law is very loose.”
America’s ‘Domestic Surveillance Directorate‘ – a website run by the NSA – makes the worryingly Orwellian statement: “Your Data: If You Have Nothing to Hide, You Have Nothing to Fear” (literally, it does say that) that should make most of us even more suspicious of their intentions.
Back in Britain, it’s more subtle. From GCHQ:
We are very aware of the responsibility that comes with the nature of our work, and in addition to our legal accountability we also take the ethical considerations surrounding our mission seriously.”
That didn’t stop them breaking laws, domestically and internationally, on an industrial scale. Once challenged, the government simply went ahead and changed the law – so it wasn’t being broken.
In the end, persecution of whistleblowers like Snowden, Assange and Manning gives out a huge message to the citizens of so-called modern democracies. So does the release of data from the Panama Papers, the Swiss Leaks, Lux Leaks and TTIP leaks.
Bentham’s ‘panopticon is a useful tool used by government’s all over the world, Britain and America included, to change the behaviour of the masses. It does so as Bentham designed, to instil despair and anxiety in order that those in power continue their reign of anarchy across the world. Be it a corporate takeover of sovereign nations such as TTIP, CETA and TTP or en-masse taxation crimes to name just a couple, whilst everyone else bows their heads, eyes to the floor for fear of being caught looking up.
FULL ARTICLE HERE
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| 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
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."
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|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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|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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