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PRISM and Tempora


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#1 Casey_boy

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 01:45 PM

In case you haven't read the news lately, the US and UK governments have been caught spying! (surprise!)

From the Guardian (a UK newspaper):
 
"The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.
"
 
and then today, the Guardian also report, perhaps more shocking, details about the UK government's spy centre (GCHQ):
 
"Britain's spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world's phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA).
 
The sheer scale of the agency's ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate.
One key innovation has been GCHQ's ability to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed. That operation, codenamed Tempora, has been running for some 18 months.
"
 
So, in essence, anything you say or anything you type can be viewed by the US and UK governments - whether you are a citizen of those two countries or not. (Particularly, note that the GCHQ accesses any data transmission across it's shores - which means nearly all US <-> EU & North Africa)

Note that both of these programs face legal dispute. The NSA's PRISM program collects data from non-US citizens, from companies who are not located in the US (but do have parent companies in the US), thus forcing companies to violate EU data protection legislation. GCHQ's Tempora program also faces legitimacy questions:

"...the legitimacy of the operation is in doubt. According to GCHQ's legal advice, it was given the go-ahead by applying old law to new technology. The 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) requires the tapping of defined targets to be authorised by a warrant signed by the home secretary or foreign secretary.
 
However, an obscure clause allows the foreign secretary to sign a certificate for the interception of broad categories of material, as long as one end of the monitored communications is abroad. But the nature of modern fibre-optic communications means that a proportion of internal UK traffic is relayed abroad and then returns through the cables.
"
 
So what are your thoughts: do you mind your government (or two foreign governments) monitoring your online and telephony communications? Can this be justified "for the greater good" or is it an unwarranted intrusion of privacy with little independent legal oversight? Is it a sign that we may indeed be living in 1984?

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#2 Bezukhov

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 07:45 PM

No, I do not like it. But a thought suddenly struck me. There is a silver lining to this dark cloud of surveillance. It means that TPTB are truly frightened of Us. They are frightened that Ideas can spread like wildfires over the interwebs. and that changes can happen before they can respond. At least that is my hope.


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#3 Animal

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 10:09 PM

I have never been under the presumption that anything is private once I lose possession and control of that data/information. Once the words leave my mouth to someone's ears they now control it and can interpret it or manipulate it to suit their whims. Mail a snail mail and you have no idea who sees it before the recipient. "The check is in the mail", is useful for more than one reason...Phone calls and the use of The Web? HA, right... Do you have any idea how many times that data/information is 'touched'?

This has been going on in one form or fashion for 'National Security' reasons ever since J Edgar Hoover got his dossier's filled full enough to make himself politically 'bulletproof'.

I wouldn't be surprised if this has been going on since a King/Pharaoh handed his runner a parchment to take to the next city/state during ancient times.

Is it right? No. But we are dealing with human behavior.

The Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life.
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#4 Casey_boy

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 05:44 AM

Every person has a fundamental human right to privacy

 

There are some exceptions to this and these are what, our governments claim, entitle them to snoop on our communications. However, these intrusions should be sanctioned by independent oversight (e.g. the judiciary) who balance the intrusion on someone's privacy against the reasons for the intrusion to decide if it is warranted. I think we could probably all agree that the security services, after having presented compelling reasons and evidence to the independent oversight and receiving permission. should be able to access emails of suspected terrorists.

 

However, is it right that we allow members of a federal/national agency to access this data, without that oversight, en masse and with no public records of the fact that they accessed said data?

 

In addition, my biggest concern is that when there is no oversight for every decision, it is conceivable that political activists could be seen as terrorists. Then, further down the line, political opponents could be seen as potential persons of interest whose emails should be read and then democracy is wiped out.

 

I guess the point is: where is the line drawn and who decides where it should be drawn?


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#5 yabbadoo

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 06:25 PM

Spying is as old as Methuselah, what`s new ?

 

Whether we like it or not spying is an essential ingredient of National Security, both internal and external. It is the extremist  application by some regimes that is distasteful.

 

Privacy is a theoretical idealism which no modern society can afford.

 

Do we expect our society to allow individuals to happily in their undisturbed "privacy"  to construct explosive devices to use against the population ?

 

Do we expect our security forces to ignore those gangs of thugs to have organised centres in the backwoods, to fire off their huge collections of automatic weapons in complete abandon and become a menace to us all ?

 

Do we expect our military and security agencies to refrain from spying on North Korea or anybody else, to gain information on their activities in constructing weapons of mass destruction within their own "privacy" ?

 

Do we object to CCTV cameras, spy satellites or drone aircraft ?

 

And YES,  Western countries are quite right to target foreign nationals with security measures more so than indigenous inhabitants. With every Western country being inundated with foreign nationals, a large proportion of which originate from countries with no particular like for Western nations, the probability of internal resentment is high.

 

The way of life, regard for authority, law and order and social behaviour of these "immigrants" is far different to Western standards. Serious criminal actions in recent years concerning deaths and destruction, plus an escalation in the drugs trade is one good reason for spying security being concentrated on this sector of the community.

 

Many of these foreign nationals have no problem in killing off the Goose that lays the golden eggs. Hatred of the West is endemic in many of these people, but the benefits of living in the West are a powerful magnet against the poverty they experience at home.

 

So within the constraints of moderation, spying is a necessary evil of security and a reason we can  enjoy a peaceful and social environment. Why should it worry any of us ? I welcome every part of it.

 

If you have nothing to hide, what is your problem ? If you have anything to hide, then with luck the security spy network will find it.


Edited by yabbadoo, 12 July 2013 - 04:24 AM.


#6 Bezukhov

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 09:58 PM

So, Yabbadoo, you're  perfectly content with government snooping. Would you mind if I snooped around you're personal business, too? After all, in a democracy, we are the government. So whats good for the mob is good for the individual, n'est pa?


Edited by Bezukhov, 15 July 2013 - 09:59 PM.

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#7 yabbadoo

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 06:03 AM

@ Bezukhov

 

I understand of course that this subject is controversial and worthy of discussion, after all that is why it was posted. So you get. a mixture of those in favour and those who object. I have made my points as an "in favour" delegate to the conference.

 

"After all, in a democracy, we are the government" ?

 

Surely you cannot  believe.this naive impression of any Democratic Government. It is a description of hypothetical Utopia. Democratic. Governments are not so different from Dictatorships when it comes to National Security, surveillance and control techniques .  They have no option in todays conniving  world. Controlling a country and population is a  complex and near impossible task and resorting to distasteful tactics is imperative.

 

If you think that the Security Services or other Government departments waste their time snooping around people like you and I just for fun,  you must be joking. They only snoop where there is reason to do so and that includes yours and my business if necessary.

 

Like I said, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. "Businesses" ? This  expression covers a multitude of malpractices, like selling nuclear weapons parts to North Korea, money laundering,  criminal activities, tax evasion or narcotics etc. etc..The men in black are not interested in innocent businesses selling Hershey bars or ice cream.The fact that I am not at all worried, speaks for itself.

 

You use the metaphor "Mob". Well any Government is a Mob and often use the same principles and practices albeit for a different purpose.

 

I have said enough on this subject  and will take no further part in it. Let others comment.

 

Kind Regards

Yabba


Edited by yabbadoo, 16 July 2013 - 06:47 AM.


#8 Casey_boy

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 06:46 AM

Yabba,
 
This is what concerns me most:
 
"They only snoop where there is reason to do so and that includes yours and my business if necessary. Like I said, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."
 
Generally, yes. Realistically, probably not.

 

I understand that neither my government, nor the US government, are going to be interested in me, my emails to my family and friends or my ramblings on internet forums. As it stands, I am nobody, and it is not worth the time or effort to go trawling through my internet life. However, in the future, that may change.
 
You're trusting that those who have access act within in the law and with integrity. You assume that they will only use this access and the data it provides "for good". The trouble is, there seems to be little independent oversight. As per my original post, I would accept these programs more easily if there was judicial (where the judiciary is independent of the state) oversight.
 
The "nothing to fear" argument: there is a very thin line here which is very easy to cross. For example, say I disagree with my government's policy. I use my democratic right to protest against this. At what point do I become a political activist? Say I'm involved, but not necessarily a protagonist, in a large scale protest which suddenly becomes a "riot". Am I then a terrorist? It's a stretch, I'll admit, but not that far fetched.
 
​What if the information is not only used for "national security" but for political agenda? Say I am a member of the opposition party - should the government be able to know everything about me? Should they then be able to use this against me without allowing me the same access to them? In my opinion, no - that would be highly undemocratic.
 

Some communications are supposed to be confidential, even from the government (for example, client/attorney privilege). It is clear that, if any element is conducted or repeated electronically then that confidentiality cannot be assured.

 

We all understand that we don't live in a perfect world and that, if we demand that our governments protect us, we may need to sacrifice some civil liberties. The thing about these programs, for me, was that, although most had guessed it, we weren't ever told. Nor are the programs independently managed. 
 
After all: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  Who watches the watchmen?


Edited by Casey_boy, 16 July 2013 - 06:50 AM.

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#9 yabbadoo

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 10:01 AM

@ Casey_Boy

 

As that reply of yours is a first class synopsis of the entire snooping scenario, I will break my opt-out pledge and make a brief comment other than to thank you for a brilliant post.

 

"After all: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  Who watches the watchmen?"

 

Oh Casey ! Everybody knows the answer to that = NOBODY and we all live happily ever after, being led blindly up the Yellow Brick Road like Lemmings by the evil Magician.

 

Cheers

Yabba

 



#10 hispaladin

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 08:15 AM

I would say I agree more with yabba though maybe not completely.  I am not happy with the situation of government "snooping" into every detail of our lives though I understand that for security needs it is a must.  The problem is that no matter if there is independent over-site of this or not corruption happens no matter how many checks and balances you try to put in place.  The simple fact is that if there were independent over-site of the government security then the over-site would become corrupt just as fast as the government side and the same things would start to happen where agendas would take over and people would be targeted.  People would start "leaking" private information to the public and selling information just the same as if it were just the government.  The bad part is when you have another group that is supposed to "watch the watchers" you now have two groups that can fall to corruption.  Both will without a doubt.  For the time being I agree with yabba that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear, the problem is that what I have no reason to hide now may not be so OK in 10 or 15 years.  Then they go back to who they know was doing that and start watching them to catch them doing it now.  In short I see it as unavoidable.  Maybe I seem like someone who is just sitting back and doing nothing because "it wont make a difference anyway" which is not what I am going for, but there are limits as to what can be done.  People say that we can change it if we all stand up and make it change.  I agree, then you run into that pesky IF.  If all the people who think that all the stuff they are getting from the government truly is free would realize that it isn't and cant last forever.  If all the people who believe that the government really has our best interest at heart and not there own would catch on to the facts.  If will never happen until it is to late.  I will not bring my religious beliefs into this thread but suffice to say it has been prophesied that this stuff will happen and I am not one to try to stop prophesy.






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