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

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the no-big-deal dept.

United Kingdom 404

Bruce66423 writes "The government minister in charge of GCHQ, the UK's equivalent of the NSA, has used those immortal words, 'Only terrorists, criminals and spies should fear secret activities of the British and US intelligence agencies.' From the article: '...In an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Mr Hague refused to say whether the British government knew of the existence of Prism before it emerged last week. “I can’t confirm or deny in public what Britain knows about and what Britain doesn’t, for obvious reasons,” he said. However, he implied that the revelations had not taken him by surprise.'" While many are concerned about the reach of PRISM overseas, the Finnish Foreign Minister says he plans to continue using Outlook for email.

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404 comments

Yeah, right! (5, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | about a year ago | (#43958375)

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

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

Re:Yeah, right! (5, Insightful)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | about a year ago | (#43958401)

Law abiding governments have nothing to worry about from whistleblowers. Only war criminals, the corrupt and the dishonest should fear the activities of the media.

Re:Yeah, right! (3, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43958641)

but all those war crimes and law breaking are a "critical tool"...

Re:Yeah, right! (5, Insightful)

YoungManKlaus (2773165) | about a year ago | (#43958657)

5 points and still underrated

Re:Yeah, right! (5, Funny)

NettiWelho (1147351) | about a year ago | (#43958747)

Law abiding governments have nothing to worry about from whistleblowers. Only war criminals, the corrupt and the dishonest should fear the activities of the media.

if(filterhits>flaggingthreshold){ //Subversive thoughts have been detected.
addFlag("Internetuser1248 (1787630)", reeduacationeesList);
alertAgent(availableAgent());
}

Re:Yeah, right! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958427)

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

Re:Yeah, right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958469)

You're too hopeful; at this point anything that seriously upsets the status quo is an improvement and solution. 1930ies part 2 here we come, we didn't learn shit last time and won't this time either.

Re:Yeah, right! (5, Insightful)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#43958485)

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

Re:Yeah, right! (5, Insightful)

sosume (680416) | about a year ago | (#43958743)

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

Re:Yeah, right! (5, Interesting)

MrMickS (568778) | about a year ago | (#43958859)

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

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

Re:Yeah, right! (3, Insightful)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#43958863)

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

Re:Yeah, right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958889)

"hard right racist fascists like the BNP" = right wing
"a party like the national socialists" = right wing

There, fixed that for ya...

never trust an acronym (2)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#43958515)

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

Re:Yeah, right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958735)

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

Actually it is probably left wing governments you would need to be more concerned about.

So not UKIP, although the BNP could be considered left wing from an economic standpoint (just like the Nazi party before them).

Such as when they declared Iceland to be terrorist (4, Interesting)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#43958509)

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

Re:Such as when they declared Iceland to be terror (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | about a year ago | (#43958719)

Sorry, wtf, seriously??
References?

Re:Such as when they declared Iceland to be terror (4, Informative)

lendude (620139) | about a year ago | (#43958767)

Well, just search for it - took me 5 secs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landsbanki_Freezing_Order_2008 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Such as when they declared Iceland to be terror (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | about a year ago | (#43958817)

Thanks. From there I'll search some more.
Shocking how "terrorism" is abused for everything :(

Re:Yeah, right! (5, Insightful)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year ago | (#43958655)

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

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

It is all in the definition, my friend.

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

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

Re:Yeah, right! (2)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about a year ago | (#43958721)

And the fact that they keep leaving all the "secure" data on the Underground.

Of course (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958387)

Because no government has ever labeld an alternative point of view a crime.

Oh Really? (4, Interesting)

thesupraman (179040) | about a year ago | (#43958389)

And this surprises who, exactly?

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

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

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

Re:Oh Really? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43958425)

*sigh* Always forgetting who owns the wire... And now for 500 more of the same comments we've been hearing for the last 15 years...

Re:Oh Really? (1)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#43958613)

Actually it's kind of incredible to me that the NSA's astroturf brigade is not as active and effective as Microsoft's. Maybe reputation management isn't their thing.

Re:Oh Really? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43958671)

Yeah, well, I'm still waiting for any of this shit to have an effect on the election. This is just another blip. I would say the astroturf brigade is doing a bang up job. And the election results will bear that out.

Re:Oh Really? (4, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#43958727)

My god you partisan idiots don't give up when silly season is over. It's like a special form of retardation to drag your partisan politics into every realm of life even out of season, without reason or cause - to make every news event your rallying cry. I wish you all would suffocate on your own bile.

The NSA [wikipedia.org] was founded in 1949 by Harry Truman. It has thrived across so many different administrations and congresses of every stripe that it must be assumed to be immune to partisan politics.

And this isn't the only shadow agency in the US government. At my last count there were seventeen.

This is not a partisan thing.

Re:Oh Really? (1)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about a year ago | (#43958845)

I think the parent wasn't playing partisan politics - he was just pointing out that it has little effect on the voting public. Much to our shame. He's right, the reason these proto-Orwellian laws are getting piled on top of each other is because most people simply don't give a shit, or make the mistake of defending their tribal political position (which in a way you did, without realising it, as part of the 'everyone else is a partisan' tribe).

Re:Oh Really? (4, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | about a year ago | (#43958699)

And this surprises who, exactly?

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

Re:Oh Really? (3, Insightful)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about a year ago | (#43958731)

governments always increase surveillance under the guise of "Law and Order" and decrease liberties with the by-line "Good citizens have nothing to fear"

FTFY

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

Re:Oh Really? (0)

mjwx (966435) | about a year ago | (#43958795)

Right Wing governments always increase surveillance under the guise of "Law and Order" and decrease liberties with the by-line "Good citizens have nothing to fear"

FTFY

Re-FTFY

Anarchy doesn't improve civil rights either (that basically eliminated all civil rights). Progressive governments do. Progressive governments tend to be more centrist and slightly left, conservatives tend to be more right wing.

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

And that doesn't disprove my point.

You think I'm easily fooled, you couldn't even manage to do a proper thought terminating cliche (trying the old black and white thinking mixed with a bit of "if you're not with us"). I hate to think how easily fooled you are.

BTW, you didn't even spell "relevant" correctly.

It's true. (5, Funny)

stanIyb (2945195) | about a year ago | (#43958397)

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

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

Re:It's true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958753)

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

Its already underway. Its called the "XboxOne Project".

CAPTCHA: Infect

Outlook? (4, Funny)

Mistakill (965922) | about a year ago | (#43958403)

You think it matters what you use for email? If its not encrypted, you can assume PRISM is reading it

Re:Outlook? (0)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#43958633)

If I hadn't already posted, I would mod this funny.

You think it matters if your email is encrypted? The odds are good your mail reader CC's every email to the NSA after/before it's decrypted/encrypted.

Only law abiding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958415)

Since the actions of the intelligence services are arguably not law abiding, they do not fall under this rule. Maybe they should fear the consequences of their actions.

Re:Only law abiding (3, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#43958661)

These agencies operate of the foundation of "don't get caught". There will be nothing provable that will be admitted before any court anywhere. Likely some poor judge will try until he has a drunk driving incident, or is revealed as a closet pedophile (much to his own surprise) and is recused.

Meaning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958421)

... criminals and spies ...

Definitions according to the act (for dummies):

        Criminal: Any person who has either
                                                      a) dropped litter, or
                                                      b) exceeded the speed limit or failed to indicate,
                                      ever, in his life.

        Spies: All persons who ask any minister any questions that he refuses to answer.

... fear secret activities ...

Yes, you should fear the minister will order secret activities like imprisonment without trial, torture, or rendition to another country.

Re:Meaning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958587)

I think this also means you have no understanding of the law.

Re: Meaning (1)

rmdashrf (1338183) | about a year ago | (#43958687)

You however seem to fail to understand who creates law and over time seems to dictate how it's interpreted as well.

Just because I have nothing to hide... (5, Insightful)

AvderTheTerrible (1960234) | about a year ago | (#43958423)

..does not mean you have any business going through my life with a fine tooth comb.

The "Nothing to Hide" argument is a fallacy that falls apart upon examination:
https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110524/00084614407/privacy-is-not-secrecy-debunking-if-youve-got-nothing-to-hide-argument.shtml [techdirt.com]
https://chronicle.com/article/Why-Privacy-Matters-Even-if/127461/ [chronicle.com]

Re:Just because I have nothing to hide... (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#43958737)

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

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

It's a THREAT, he's THREATENING critics (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958877)

GCHQ using American Prism system to spy on British people is illegal. Snoopers charter was rejected. He knows this, its not legal. He's frightened, so he's threatening everyone trying to silence critics.

Coded in those words, are the threat that if you complain, you will be viewed as a terrorist or a criminal. He's doing this ahead of facing the House of Commons, so they are a little scared to face him down. If you've ever been to the UK, you'll know how bad it is there. Creepy surveillance society with CCTV everywhere and everyone pretending to agree with it, lest they get targetted.

You think you live in a democracy, that the people run the country by choosing representatives. Then you wake up one day, and the country is run by a secret government department in collusion with a foreign power. You can try and elect a new representative to overturn it, but anyone worthwhile will already be monitored and controlled. Anyone that might fix things, can never be allowed to dismantle their spying apparatus.

WHY IS IT WRONG TO PROTEST THIS?

The UK has the European rights written into law, the right to privacy is ENSHRINED IN LAW, without those rights we don't have a democracy.

I notice we elected Cameron to dismantle this surveillance state, and he's had to bow to US pressure and so Snoopers charter came along. So what is my vote worth now? Nothing?

Please, please, everyone settle down. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958431)

It's nothing to raise a Führer over!

We should trust what you say, why? (4, Insightful)

Camael (1048726) | about a year ago | (#43958437)

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

From wiki:

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

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

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

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

Re:We should trust what you say, why? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43958491)

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

Not that I disagree with your point, but that was 370 years ago. Would you find something Obama says about racism "interesting" because his country still had slavery only 150 years ago?

Re:We should trust what you say, why? (4, Insightful)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43958503)

Actually, you know what, I'm being needlessly picky. A lesson from the past is still a lesson worth remembering.

look up the Silent Witness Rule (2)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#43958527)

secret courts are making a comeback in the US.

Re:look up the Silent Witness Rule (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43958573)

For very limited purposes, generally not trials. They do issue warrants for national security matters and perform oversight.

Re:look up the Silent Witness Rule (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about a year ago | (#43958621)

"For very limited purposes, generally not trials."

Now. You see... you are answering on a thread starting talking about a secret chamber created for very understandable (for the time) concerns that, alas! was later misused.

See the parallelism?

Re:look up the Silent Witness Rule (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43958765)

There isn't much parallelism there. The Star Chamber was formed to conduct trials of suspects from the start. The FISA court doesn't try suspects at all. Abuses of the FISA court are unlikely to persist or go undiscovered since the judges from other courts serve there on a rotating basis.

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [fjc.gov]

Re:look up the Silent Witness Rule (2, Interesting)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about a year ago | (#43958875)

The thoroughly entertaining Mark Steyn refers to the 'Human Rights tribunals' that have sprouted up in the West as 'Star Chambers'. He is right about this too. On the merest accusation of 'offense' being taken they'll interfere with your life and cost you several hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend against. They can mete out punishments like 'never able to publish on the subject again' (censorship is 'death' for a writer) and all sorts of damage to ones professional reputation and credibility. If you don't follow the party political line you will be censored using the power of the State. Sound like a 'free speech' society to you? The Human Rights Tribunals enforcing political correctness (which has a more precise technical name, 'Cultural Marxism') just as the Star Chambers enforced religious conformity. The West is going backwards in terms of liberties.

Re:look up the Silent Witness Rule (1)

biodata (1981610) | about a year ago | (#43958659)

So law abiding citizens have nothing to fear from secret courts unless they are terrorrists or ... etc. Heard that one before somewhere.

Re:look up the Silent Witness Rule (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43958783)

Actually terrorists don't have anything to fear either. The FISA court doesn't conduct trials of suspects. It issues warrants. Trials are conducted in other courts. I doubt you've heard that before.

Re:look up the Silent Witness Rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958805)

Stop defending secret courts, you government cheerleader. Have fun getting groped at airports.

Re:look up the Silent Witness Rule (1)

stanIyb (2945195) | about a year ago | (#43958815)

But if they have nothing to hide, why are they so secretive?

Re:look up the Silent Witness Rule (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43958849)

Conducting reviews for the issue of warrants in the FISA court helps to protect the operations and data of the intelligence agencies from unauthorized disclosure, which is rather important. Since any trials are performed in the other courts, it doesn't really have any effect other than the intended one.

Re:We should trust what you say, why? (2)

Camael (1048726) | about a year ago | (#43958591)

I agree with you, actually.

I would not even be bringing this history lesson up but for the fact that the men in power today still think that secret proceedings is an acceptable way to conduct their business despite the fact that they tried, and failed terribly 370 years ago.

Just to make it clear, I have nothing against the UK, which is a fine country. I am however disappointed at this attitude evidenced by its current ruling elite, exemplified by Mr. Hague.

Who isn't a criminal? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958443)

I know I am, even though it's incredibly petty and victimless.
I know the governments are.
I know the rich are.
I know the youth is.
I know the old are.
I know actual criminals are.
I know everyone who acts as if they're free are.
I know everyone who disagrees are.
I know the companies are.

Who isn't a criminal?

Re:Who isn't a criminal? (2)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#43958513)

Who isn't a criminal?

In the rare occasion somebody isn't, it won't take too much to "demonstrate" [wikipedia.org] a connection [wikipedia.org] with somebody who is. And one wouldn't need more than that "metadata"

FB avg 4.74 separation distance [wikipedia.org]
50% of Twitter uses are separated by 4 or less [wikipedia.org]

Trust (4, Informative)

mendax (114116) | about a year ago | (#43958455)

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

Me lacking fear does not make this right (4, Insightful)

Knutsi (959723) | about a year ago | (#43958471)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re:Me lacking fear does not make this right (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958537)

I understand and respect that some level of this must exist in modern society

That's not true at all.

Sure, but how much longer do you need? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958477)

This is an infringement upon rights forged into the constitution on which this country was founded upon (here in the US anyway). Given the scope of information now available (And has been since before days of digital, but never directly to the judicial branch as previous executive level understood that the economy was much to fragile for that), I'm certain that government corruption will become a thing of the past too right? Or is this going to turn into the next phase of "there's no such thing as organized crime" type thing?

The limited revelations so far... (4, Informative)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43958507)

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

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

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

What has MI-5 had to say?

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

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

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

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

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

and more:

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

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

And in 2012?

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

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

Cheers [youtube.com]

Re:The limited revelations so far... (1)

eddy (18759) | about a year ago | (#43958549)

Costly in relation to what, drunk driving?

Is the costs of such surveillance justified? (4, Informative)

Camael (1048726) | about a year ago | (#43958755)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re:The limited revelations so far... (1)

stanIyb (2945195) | about a year ago | (#43958823)

Freedom is more important than security, so take your cowardice elsewhere.

Re:The limited revelations so far... (3, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43958885)

If you lose enough security you'll have difficulty enjoying freedom. Taking reasonable steps against terrorists is justified. Of course safeguards and parliamentary oversight need to be a basic part of the security arrangements. I have the courage to face both terrorist and government. You, on the other hand, seem to live in fear of government and ignore the dangers of the terrorist. That won't be a happy combination if widely emulated.

Re:The limited revelations so far... (4, Insightful)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#43958835)

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

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

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

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

TSIA (5)

adolf (21054) | about a year ago | (#43958523)

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

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

FFS, editors. FFS.

*head in hands*

Re:TSIA (2)

temcat (873475) | about a year ago | (#43958567)

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

Re:TSIA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958667)

Niggers, duh.

Re:TSIA (1)

pegasustonans (589396) | about a year ago | (#43958807)

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

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

FFS, editors. FFS.

*head in hands*

Law abiding citizens have N.

N = e(N)suring servility despite a widening gap between the affluent and the poor via unyielding government oversight into every aspect of the life of every individual

Re:TSIA (0)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about a year ago | (#43958891)

This "unyielding government oversight into every aspect of the life" is Marxist socialism in action, is it not? The West beat the Soviets in terms of economics and geopolitics but the Marxists planted the seed of Cultural Marxism in the universities and culture. The totalitarianism we're seeing is part of the germination of those seeds. Libertarians are specifically for individual rights over the statist agenda (which makes the libertarians out of the left/right political spectrum that is pro big government).

Gandhi's way maybe? (2)

spiritplumber (1944222) | about a year ago | (#43958525)

Dear high rankin government employees, especially if you are not directly elected: You first. Love, everyone else. PS: We mean it. Until you accept to live in the glass house you want us to live, we won't sell you food, we won't maintain your technology, we won't even talk to you.

Re:Gandhi's way maybe? (2)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43958551)

That will work to the same extent that the division of India and Pakistan was peaceful, leading to good relations and a sense of cooperation between the two. That is to say, not at all. Al Qaida is out for world conquest even if it takes 1,000 years. They are not in it for peaceful coexistence. The only peace they will seek with unbelievers is ceasefire until they can rebuild their strength.

Re: Gandhi's way maybe? (3, Insightful)

rmdashrf (1338183) | about a year ago | (#43958729)

How about stopping with bombing foreign countries first and taking their resources at gun point. People only become extremists if they don't have anything else left to lose.

Anthony Weiner Disagrees (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#43958541)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only terrorists, criminals and spies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958575)

Nobody (including lawyers, judges and other experts) has a full list of everything that's a crime in the US.
Terrorist has no objective definition at all.
And spy may be defined or not - we don't know because it's classified.

So, yup you only need to fear your government if you belong to one of those groups. ...
Or have no way of verifying you don't. ;)

Ah Yes (1, Informative)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year ago | (#43958577)

The old "If you're doing nothing wrong you have nothing to fear" argument. Except in the same week, it was demonstrated that if you said things the current administration didn't like, the power of an arm of the government would be brought to bear on you. We have a constitution that ostensibly limits the power of government to prevent just such abuses. In an ideal world we have a rule of law, are protected from government retaliation against the opinions we have and no person (including the executive branch) is above the law. In the world actually have, the safeguards against these things have been subverted and the most egregious offenses against law abiding citizens go unpunished.

So, I suppose, the question is, "What are we going to do about it?"

He forgot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958579)

...paedophiles. It's paedophiles, criminals, terrorists. Appeal to emotion before fear!

Close enough.

Criminals? (1)

ironman_one (520863) | about a year ago | (#43958581)

Yes I suppose you consider Allan Turing a hardend criminal i that case. You only drygged and killed him.

Show me your e-mail of the last 10 years Mr Hague (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958593)

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

Apparently my English isn't very good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958595)

Law Abiding Citizens have N

I realize that British English and US English are different things, but could someone please translate the headline into US English?

Re:Apparently my English isn't very good (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958647)

I think it's supposed to mean they got to him before he finished ty

Re:Apparently my English isn't very good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958679)

Nah, you can't print the N word.

Don't worry, watch TV! go to work. obey. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958601)

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Missed a couple (1)

Horshu (2754893) | about a year ago | (#43958603)

He left out wankers. And buggerers.

Tony Blair rules the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958637)

When Blair was visible Prime Minister of the UK, he advanced the most obscene warmongering and police state powers the nation had ever experienced, but as leader of the Labour party, there were many policies his people stood behind but could not get passed as new laws in the House of Commons. When his two goons, the heads of the Liberal and Conservative party, gained power, they immediately began implementing the programs Blair had previously been unable to complete.

This is why the false dichotomy of left versus right exists in Western politics. What the sheeple won't accept from a left wing regime, they'll tolerate from a right wing one, and vice versa. America sees the same with the pretence of differences between the Democrat and Republican parties.

Blair placed his people in command and control positions across every aspect of British society, and his power has only grown since he appeared to leave office. Blair uses the inter-faith organisation that he founded and heads to infiltrate nations like Libya and Syria, recruit key figures, and use them to run terror campaigns to over-throw the existing regimes. The leaders of Syria and Libya were idiotic enough to consider Blair a powerful friend after 9/11, and gave Blair's people full access to all areas of their administration.

You Yanks will not remember that Blair was the driving force behind the Kosovo war, a conflict Blair intended to use to draw America into its first major ground war since Vietnam. As it turned out, the US army was scared yellow by Serbia's soviet training and weapons system, and never did more than bomb Serbian civilian facilities from VERY high up in the air. Then came the convenient events of 9/11, quickly followed by America's genocidal invasion of Afghanistan.

Blair's spying on the population of the UK is his model for the planet. The spying has NOTHING to do with criminals, 'terrorists' or spies. It has everything to do with ensuring the British public can be more perfectly manipulated by mining their opinions and responses to propaganda in real-time. Blair created an organisation called 'Common Purpose' that follows the same goals as organisations that sought to recruit future leaders in Soviet Russia and Red China (and no, these organisations were NOT the Communist parties).

Blair's stated purpose is to stoke the fires of global warfare until they engulf China and Russia, creating a World War. Blair's main political ally is Putin, not any American politician- America is far too easy to manipulate to require any special treatment. Blair arranged the circumstances of Nato's disastrous little war in Georgia, so the fall out would win back Russia's de facto control of the Ukraine.

Today, Blair is over-seeing the staging of terror attacks against Syria from training and supply camps in Jordan, using funds from Saudi Arabia, intelligence control centres in Qatar, and arms flown in from Croatia. All America is required to do is give its seal of approval to the operation. Given that Syria is actually under Russia's sphere of influence, you may well guess the chess moves here are rather complex.

What Blair is engaged in is breaking down the rule of international law, and getting the Human Race accustomed to turning a blind eye to an increasing level of atrocities against civilian populations (remind you of any other time in recent history?). Syria and Libya are about building increasing numbers of very mobile Islamic mercenaries to supplement the extraordinary number of western military contractors created by Blair's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Before Blair invaded Iraq, Britain saw its greatest popular uprising ever, with millions of people actively expressing their opposition to the war. Blair simply used his security apparatus to create the anti-war organisations that led such protests into the ground, placing his people, like George Galloway, into key leadership positions.

Blair's massive spying programs against the people of the UK are partially designed to identify and kill/co-opt emerging grass-roots movements. Societies like Britain and America are considered very dangerous in this regard. We are in the age of individual whistle-blowers like Manning and Snowden because only the individual activist is proof against state surveillance tactics. Forming any type of political group means leaving traces that Google's mining algorithms can identify in the very early stages.

In Britain, people get a visit from the security forces BEFORE they were aware themselves that they were about to take the next step in political activism. The standard method is for Blair's goons to attempt to recruit the person as a 'spy' using the excuse that the person should be concerned about 'extremists' that might infiltrate his/her fledgling movement, regardless of what that movement may be. The visit alone is so intimidating (as intended- see the same tactics in places like Soviet controlled east Germany) that most would be activists simply give up terrified at that moment.

Where people refuse to take the hint- Blair will have his uniformed goons raid the persons home, and confiscate all electronic equipment (including even things like games consoles and mp3 players). People on the email/contact lists of confiscated computers are subject to harassment. No trial, let alone a conviction, will follow, allowing the newspapers and fake UK Human Rights movements to say "why are you concerned?- it's not as if the person went to jail".

Meanwhile, Blair creates fake "people power" movements headed by his Common Purpose recruits (just as you see in the China of today). These fakes are given publicity by the mainstream media to re-assure the most gullible sheep that there are moderating forces that act against government power.

The question you should always ask, when looking at Human History, is how did people get from 'here' to 'there'. The idea that things just happen is a pile of manure. Today we should be living in a golden age of peace and prosperity- we have the resources, knowledge and experience to make this so. But evil is a thing, and evil never rests. Evil incarnate has other plans for the Human Race, and just requires we learn to live on our knees for these plans to reach fruition.

Those that reveal the extent of the evil, like Manning and Snowden, are Humanity's last hope, for only by accepting the true extent of the monstrous actions against us can we, the people, choose to turn the tide and push back all those with evil intent.

Only today you may have read about Russia's new ICBM systems- missiles that Russia never wanted to create but had to when that filthy old racist pervert, Reagan, began the process of tearing up all the anti-nuclear-war treaties between Russia and America, the most important of which was the treaty banning missile systems designed to shoot down nuclear missiles in flight. Today, Blair's propagandists tell people, especially very gullible Yanks, to be 'proud' of their anti-missile shields (which in reality don't exist in the sense that they don't work). However, the very threat of anti-missile shields was designed by Blair's people to ensure a massive global expansion of nuclear weapon production.

Evil never rests, but great evil can only ever feed on greater Human stupidity. Did you act to increase Human stupidity today by finding any justification for Obama/Blair's massive spy programs?

Re:Tony Blair rules the UK (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about a year ago | (#43958751)

Bliar was innocent bcause he was from the Labour party!

(probably in the same sense that Hitler was a soclailst)

A triple quote. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958639)

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

old crap (5, Insightful)

Tom (822) | about a year ago | (#43958703)

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

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

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

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

Truth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958711)

Law abiding citizens have nothing to fear from the surveilance state.

Unless you piss off the wrong company, goverment, or people.
Or we need to make an example of you.
Or we need to send a message to your peer group.
Or you have something we want.
Or we want you out of the way for whatever reason.
Or we need a good photo-op.

But other than that... You're perfectly safe to be a good little worker and consumer who does as they are told and don't speak out. You'll be fine.

So that everyone (1)

zaax (637433) | about a year ago | (#43958725)

As we are all criminals that means that they can watch everyone. Who watches the watchmen

So that's why... (2)

Alioth (221270) | about a year ago | (#43958749)

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

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

In another country, not so long ago, (4, Insightful)

vikingpower (768921) | about a year ago | (#43958769)

before mass prosecution of certain ( ethnic ) groups broke out, the government also told its citizens: "Ordinary German citizens in good standing have nothing to fear from GeStaPo or SD, which services are there to protect them".

FTFY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43958779)

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

Just saying.

It's the other way 'round actually (2)

Jesrad (716567) | about a year ago | (#43958883)

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

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

Spies (1)

Meneth (872868) | about a year ago | (#43958897)

"Intelligence agencies" are spies, per definition. So... they should fear themselves, and each other.
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