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GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world's communications

Fallenangel

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GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world's communications | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Exclusive: British spy agency collects and stores vast quantities of global email messages, Facebook posts, internet histories and calls, and shares them with NSA, latest documents from Edward Snowden reveal.

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.


NSA was far from being alone in this thing....


Cheers,
Fallen.
 

MMC

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By 2010, two years after the project was first trialled, it was able to boast it had the "biggest internet access" of any member of the Five Eyes electronic eavesdropping alliance, comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

UK officials could also claim GCHQ "produces larger amounts of metadata than NSA". (Metadata describes basic information on who has been contacting whom, without detailing the content.)

By May last year 300 analysts from GCHQ, and 250 from the NSA, had been assigned to sift through the flood of data.

The Americans were given guidelines for its use, but were told in legal briefings by GCHQ lawyers: "We have a light oversight regime compared with the US".

When it came to judging the necessity and proportionality of what they were allowed to look for, would-be American users were told it was "your call".

The Guardian understands that a total of 850,000 NSA employees and US private contractors with top secret clearance had access to GCHQ databases.....snip~

Moreover it goes back to 2010 so this is under Team Obama......and the Brits Attorneys told who in the US, it's Your Call? That would be like giving them Card Blanc. :roll:
 

Aunt Spiker

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LOL - and here we've been worried about the terrorists in regard to OPSEC
 

WCH

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So all the ravings of the paranoid pot heads weren't so far off?

I've heard "The Government is watching you" since I was a teenager in the 70s.
 

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GHQ > NSA .. at least on the building they are in....
 

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So all the ravings of the paranoid pot heads weren't so far off?

I've heard "The Government is watching you" since I was a teenager in the 70s.

As John Oliver at the Daily Show put it last week in response to this latest information, "Good News--you were NOT paranoid" :mrgreen:
 

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Honestly, I like Britain very much, I enjoy my time there every time I go, and I feel culturally on the same wavelength with the Brits, but if this doesn't stop the UK should be thrown out of the EU. I guess the continental European countries should improve their IT infrastructure to make sure we don't send any data through the US and UK which are not destined for those countries. Also, we should close the US military bases in Germany unless they stop spying on European citizens (never mind the rest of the world). It seems that De Gaulle was right with his idea of creating a united continental Europe with its own defense in opposition to the Anglo-Saxon powers. The rest of Europe didn't listen, so here are the consequences.

Maybe my rants are coming too early. Maybe the British and US public will hammer it into their governments that they don't think of privacy rights as an old-fashioned ridiculous idea. Hopefully.
 

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Honestly, I like Britain very much, I enjoy my time there every time I go, and I feel culturally on the same wavelength with the Brits, but if this doesn't stop the UK should be thrown out of the EU. I guess the continental European countries should improve their IT infrastructure to make sure we don't send any data through the US and UK which are not destined for those countries. Also, we should close the US military bases in Germany unless they stop spying on European citizens (never mind the rest of the world). It seems that De Gaulle was right with his idea of creating a united continental Europe with its own defense in opposition to the Anglo-Saxon powers. The rest of Europe didn't listen, so here are the consequences.

Maybe my rants are coming too early. Maybe the British and US public will hammer it into their governments that they don't think of privacy rights as an old-fashioned ridiculous idea. Hopefully.

thrown out of the EU? Sounds like a fair deal lets get this done.
 

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As John Oliver at the Daily Show put it last week in response to this latest information, "Good News--you were NOT paranoid" :mrgreen:




I've thought for a long time that the NSA could do this and since 2005 I've thought that they were doing it.

I'm not happy to find out that I guessed right.

Since Congress supports this it's going to be mighty hard to stop it.

The Supreme Court can't stop it, because it has no forces under its command.

Basically, I guess that we are all totally screwed.
 
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MMC

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View attachment 67149276

GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world's communications | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Exclusive: British spy agency collects and stores vast quantities of global email messages, Facebook posts, internet histories and calls, and shares them with NSA, latest documents from Edward Snowden reveal.

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.


NSA was far from being alone in this thing....


Cheers,
Fallen.

Looks like the Brits were even worse eh.....Fallen?
 

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;)

Well I still have hope the British citizens won't tolerate this kind of surveillance.

Too be honest it doesn't really bother me I grew up on RAF bases abroad which you would struggle to find on a map. My Dad worked signals and even at a young age I was fully aware that their were many aspects of his job that he couldn't discuss and that the British government were taking great measures to insure high level security. I have nothing to hide and if this kind of surveillance makes it harder for terrorists and other criminal groups to operate then I'm all for it.
 

Thoreau72

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I've thought for a long time that the NSA could do this and since 2005 I've thought that they were doing it.

I'm not happy to find out that I guessed right.

Since Congress supports this it's going to be mighty hard to stop it.

The Supreme Court can't stop it, because it has no forces under its command.

Basically, I guess that we are all totally screwed.

Agreed.

Pardon my cynicism, but I don't think any branch of government, including SCOTUS, wants to stop this.
 

Sanddune

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Too be honest it doesn't really bother me I grew up on RAF bases abroad which you would struggle to find on a map. My Dad worked signals and even at a young age I was fully aware that their were many aspects of his job that he couldn't discuss and that the British government were taking great measures to insure high level security. I have nothing to hide and if this kind of surveillance makes it harder for terrorists and other criminal groups to operate then I'm all for it.

If a government knows everything its citizens are doing, saying, and even thinking, the citizens are not free. Plain and simple. You see, if the government has all of the emails, google searches, and phone call data from everyone, they have en enormous ability to put pressure on anyone they want. Those capacities in the wrong hands would be a desaster.

If the majority of the British thinks like you and doesn't have anything to hide, fine. You can spy on your own society as much as you like. But the US and UK agencies are spying on the citizens of all of Europe without their consent and that is a hostile and aggressive act. They are pissing on the human rights of the Danish, the Dutch, the Swedish, the French, the Italians, the Germans and others, and on the right of all of those nations to decide about the privacy of their citizens. In addition, they are spying on companies to get sensitive business information, thereby threatening the jobs of Europeans.

If the people of the US and UK have given up old fashioned ideas like freedom, fine. But the rest of the free world should defend itself against Anglo-American infringements on their freedom and their privacy rights. Invest in building up infrastructure and making encryption technology available and affordabe. Kick the Brits out of the EU if they piss on the privacy of others, and insist on a closure of US bases in Germany and Italy. I know that Britain is a country in which the government observes and surveys its citizens more than anywhere else. But the British do not have the right to impose this sort of thing on all of Europe.

The most mind-boggling thing is that, just like you, most Brits don't seem to have a problem with the government reading their emails, listening to their phone calls, and knowing their google searches. That doesn't fit into the British self-image of a country that values freedom. Also, I always had the impression that the British generally value their personal space and privacy, and intruding into someone's private space is considered unacceptable, more so than in many other places in Europe. So how can the British accept such serious infringements on their data privacy without any major demonstrations?

Britain and the US once were countries which defended freedom, today freedom has to be defended against them. What a change.
 

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If a government knows everything its citizens are doing, saying, and even thinking, the citizens are not free. Plain and simple. You see, if the government has all of the emails, google searches, and phone call data from everyone, they have en enormous ability to put pressure on anyone they want. Those capacities in the wrong hands would be a desaster.

If the majority of the British thinks like you and doesn't have anything to hide, fine. You can spy on your own society as much as you like. But the US and UK agencies are spying on the citizens of all of Europe without their consent and that is a hostile and aggressive act. They are pissing on the human rights of the Danish, the Dutch, the Swedish, the French, the Italians, the Germans and others, and on the right of all of those nations to decide about the privacy of their citizens. In addition, they are spying on companies to get sensitive business information, thereby threatening the jobs of Europeans.

If the people of the US and UK have given up old fashioned ideas like freedom, fine. But the rest of the free world should defend itself against Anglo-American infringements on their freedom and their privacy rights. Invest in building up infrastructure and making encryption technology available and affordabe. Kick the Brits out of the EU if they piss on the privacy of others, and insist on a closure of US bases in Germany and Italy. I know that Britain is a country in which the government observes and surveys its citizens more than anywhere else. But the British do not have the right to impose this sort of thing on all of Europe.

The most mind-boggling thing is that, just like you, most Brits don't seem to have a problem with the government reading their emails, listening to their phone calls, and knowing their google searches. That doesn't fit into the British self-image of a country that values freedom. Also, I always had the impression that the British generally value their personal space and privacy, and intruding into someone's private space is considered unacceptable, more so than in many other places in Europe. So how can the British accept such serious infringements on their data privacy without any major demonstrations?

Britain and the US once were countries which defended freedom, today freedom has to be defended against them. What a change.

I am in agreement with you Sanddune. I think the problem both in the US and in the UK is that people don't understand the danger and just go with the governments line.

But the important point is that our society lacks an understanding of why (and when) government surveillance is harmful. Existing attempts to identify the dangers of surveillance are often unconvincing, and they generally fail to speak in terms that are likely to influence the law. In this Article, I try to explain the harms of government surveillance. Drawing on law, history, literature, and the work of scholars in the emerging interdisciplinary field of “surveillance studies,” I offer an account of what those harms are and why they matter. I will move beyond the vagueness of current theories of surveillance to articulate a more coherent understanding and a more workable approach.

At the level of theory, I will explain why and when surveillance is particularly dangerous and when it is not. First, surveillance is harmful because it can chill the exercise of our civil liberties. With respect to civil liberties, consider surveillance of people when they are thinking, reading, and communicating with others in order to make up their minds about political and social issues. Such intellectual surveillance is especially dangerous because it can cause people not to experiment with new, controversial, or deviant ideas. To protect our intellectual freedom to think without state over-sight or interference, we need what I have elsewhere called “intellectual privacy.” A second special harm that surveillance poses is its effect on the power dynamic between the watcher and the watched. This disparity creates the risk of a variety of harms, such as discrimination, coercion, and the threat of selective enforcement, where critics of the government can be prosecuted or blackmailed for wrongdoing unrelated to the purpose of the surveillance.

At a practical level, I propose a set of four principles that should guide the future development of surveillance law, allowing for a more appropriate balance between the costs and benefits of government surveillance. First, we must recognize that surveillance transcends the public/private divide. Public and private surveillance are simply related parts of the same problem, rather than wholly discrete. Even if we are ultimately more concerned with government surveillance, any solution must grapple with the complex relationships between government and corporate watchers. Second, we must recognize that secret surveillance is illegitimate and prohibit the creation of any domestic-surveillance programs whose existence is secret. Third, we should recognize that total surveillance is illegitimate and reject the idea that it is acceptable for the government to record all Internet activity without authorization. Government surveillance of the Internet is a power with the potential for massive abuse. Like its precursor of telephone wiretapping, it must be subjected to meaningful judicial process before it is authorized. We should carefully scrutinize any surveillance that threatens our intellectual privacy. Fourth, we must recognize that surveillance is harmful. Surveillance menaces intellectual privacy and increases the risk of blackmail, coercion, and discrimination; accordingly, we must recognize surveillance as a harm in constitutional standing doctrine. Explaining the harms of surveillance in a doctrinally sensitive way is essential if we want to avoid sacrificing our vital civil liberties.

Harvard Law Review: The Dangers of Surveillance

I think the UK is probably not as damaged as the US at the moment because our press is still more or less free and still has journalists with integrity willing to do investigative journalism.

It is a call up.

-http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/27/snoopers-charter-zero-chance-law

Both the UK and the US are on their last legs for freedom. I also note the importance of not just government surveillance but Corporate also.
 
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I am in agreement with you Sanddune. I think the problem both in the US and in the UK is that people don't understand the danger and just go with the governments line.



Harvard Law Review: The Dangers of Surveillance

I think the UK is probably not as damaged as the US at the moment because our press is still more or less free and still has journalists with integrity willing to do investigative journalism.

It is a call up.

-http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/27/snoopers-charter-zero-chance-law

Both the UK and the US are on their last legs for freedom. I also note the importance of not just government surveillance but Corporate also.

Yes, very good article, I whole-heartedly agree with it. But I guess it's too theoretical and intellectual to convince masses of people.

It's probably more convincing to point out what harm government surveillance has caused in the past. A perfect example is East Germany. People there were subjected to a dense surveillance network. There are films like "The Lives Of Others" which show the consequences of it.

In Germany we got rid of a surveillance state through a peaceful revolution. People risked going to prison to stand up against the East German regime. We believe we have earned the right to live our lives without government surveillance.

http://www.bpb.de/cache/images/2/47072-3x2-original.jpg?82A8D

And now precicely those countries which we had looked up to as the standard bearers of freedom a few decades ago are making it impossible with their secret services, and we don't even have the possibility to vote out those who are monitoring us. It is intolerable.

To be fair it has to be pointed out that the German secret service probably wants to do expand its own surveillance capabilities, but they are facing enormous scepticism from the population, the media, and most of the political establishment.
 

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Yes, very good article, I whole-heartedly agree with it. But I guess it's too theoretical and intellectual to convince masses of people.

It's probably more convincing to point out what harm government surveillance has caused in the past. A perfect example is East Germany. People there were subjected to a dense surveillance network. There are films like "The Lives Of Others" which show the consequences of it.

In Germany we got rid of a surveillance state through a peaceful revolution. People risked going to prison to stand up against the East German regime. We believe we have earned the right to live our lives without government surveillance.

http://www.bpb.de/cache/images/2/47072-3x2-original.jpg?82A8D

And now precicely those countries which we had looked up to as the standard bearers of freedom a few decades ago are making it impossible with their secret services, and we don't even have the possibility to vote out those who are monitoring us. It is intolerable.

To be fair it has to be pointed out that the German secret service probably wants to do expand its own surveillance capabilities, but they are facing enormous scepticism from the population, the media, and most of the political establishment.

Excellent post. I went looking for a copy of the film but was unable to find one with subtitles.

Germany has of course made a protest to us and apparently received a 3 word answer which she is none to pleased with.

This Channel 4 exert illustrates the differences between our feelings about 'spying'.


I think it is worth noting the Guardian's article on the extent on the censorship in the US press

America is blessed with a first amendment, which prevents prior restraint and affords a considerable measure of protection to free speech. But the Obama administration has equally shown a dismaying aggression in not only criminalising leaking and whistleblowing, but also recently placing reporters under surveillance – tracking them and pulling their phone and email logs in order to monitor their sources for stories that were patently of public importance.

Edward Snowden: in defence of whistleblowers | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian

and Glen Greenwald speaking about the attempt to arrest him in the US for being an investigative journalist.

DAVID GREGORY: To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime with....journalists being at the forefront!

GLENN GREENWALD: I think it’s pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themself a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies. The assumption in your question, David, is completely without evidence, the idea that I’ve aided and abetted him in any way. The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the emails and phone records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory that you just embraced: being a co-conspirator with felony—in felonies for working with sources. If you want to embrace that theory, it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their resources, who receives classified information, is a criminal. And it’s precisely those theories and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States. It’s why The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer said investigative reporting has come to a "standstill"—her word—as a result of the theories that you just referenced.

-snip-



GLENN GREENWALD: Right. And, actually, Andrew Ross Sorkin, the extremely Wall Street-friendly New York Times quote-unquote "reporter" who covers Wall Street, apparently went on CNBC this morning and essentially speculated or suggested that I ought to be arrested, as well. You know, it’s interesting, Amy. I don’t know of anybody who has a lower opinion of the Beltway media, generally, of David Gregory, specifically—for that matter, Andrew Ross Sorkin, specifically—than I do. And yet, it actually is even surprising to me to watch them openly do the dirty work of the U.S. government in essentially suggesting publicly that journalists who report on what the government is doing ought to be turned into criminals.

You know, one of the main criticisms that I’ve voiced about the Beltway media is that they’re not adversarial to the government at all, but actually that they are servants of the government, mouthpieces for it. Lots of other people have made that critique, including you, Amy. And I think it’s almost like Christmas, for those of us who believe that, to watch this gift being handed to us that so vividly proves it, that rather than defend what is supposed to be their right that they are supposed to safeguard, which is freedom of the press, they’re leading the chorus against other journalists on behalf of the government that they serve, demanding essentially and theorizing that we’re guilty of crimes for doing what journalists are supposed to do, which is shining a light on what political officials are doing in the dark.

Where is Edward Snowden? Glenn Greenwald on Asylum Request, Espionage Charge; More Leaks to Come | Democracy Now!


and I suspect Corporate surveillance and the global economy are something also to be worried about.
 

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I have nothing to hide and if this kind of surveillance makes it harder for terrorists and other criminal groups to operate then I'm all for it.

You give away your privacy/freedom for the illusion of security without even so much as a huff. Wow. Not that this sentiment is not common, it's just that do some research on this. The issues usually stems from a combination of three things.
1. being unaware of history and human societies (that have not changed fundamentally even today)
2. idealistically believing that when young you have really nothing to hide, but also nothing to lose. When you're older and are involved in business, wealthy, involved in politics, connected to your community in a powerful way, trying to promote environmental awareness, etc., etc., you suddenly realize you have things to lose, and a lot of people have plenty of incentive to put pressure, or worse, on you.
3. Not understanding that you MUST be the gatekeeper of your freedoms. If they are doing it without our consent/knowledge in a big way (They are), then it's wrong no matter what the final decision is. Even if they asked us and we let them, it would STILL make the current situation where they do it without asking wrong. Why? Because it sets the precedent that they can do whatever they want, without asking, and they will ALWAYS have a rational reason to increase their power more, especially if they have no check on that power.
 

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I wonder who has run the cost benefit analysis of this. How many high paid contractors and companies for what...a couple of thwarted attacks? Is that the most efficient use? Racial profiling and stricter immigration starts to look more culturally and economically tolerable I hate to say....
 

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Germany has of course made a protest to us and apparently received a 3 word answer which she is none to pleased with.

It was 3 lines, 3 words would have been very impolite ;)

I'm absolutely sure that Merkel, foreign minister Westerwelle and interior minister Friedrich must have known what was going on for quite a long time, they are routinely briefed by the German secret service. It's completely impossible that those three could have been surprised about the surveillance. And they were also certainly aware that the NSA had helped the German BND to prevent terrorist attacks in Germany. Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, the justice minister who made the complaints may not have known what was going on, and she might have been honestly shocked.

I guess the British government sees the complaint primarily as an internal German PR stunt, finds it hypocritical and is rather annoyed. And they might actually be right. It is now up to the German government, including Merkel and Westerwelle, to prove that they are serious about privacy and to work together with the other continental European countries on this issue in order to be listened to. I have my doubts that they will, but I still have some hope.
 

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I wonder who has run the cost benefit analysis of this. How many high paid contractors and companies for what...a couple of thwarted attacks? Is that the most efficient use?
That proves that it's not only about the security of the people. It is about enabling the government to put pressure on anyone they want if there is the need for that, and about letting the government alone decide when there is the need for that. I think in part this is about securing and increasing power. Seen from that perspective, it doesn't even need to be efficient in any way.

However, the economic benefit is also there. The US in particular is very unhappy with 2 countries nowadays: China and Germany. Those two countries have large trade surpluses and the US have a large trade deficit. That's not good for the American economy, so the United States have tried to impose limits on German exports in the past at the WTO, fortunately German diplomats could prevent it. Spying on companies in those 2 countries can help extracting sensitive information needed to copy technology or also to harm the companies in various ways. There is a huge economic benefit to gain from that sort of surveillance.

Racial profiling and stricter immigration starts to look more culturally and economically tolerable I hate to say....

I'd go for improving the education system and putting more money into it. Didn't look up any relevant papers but my common sense tells me that if you get controlled by the police 3 times a week because of your skin colour, it will make you more aggressive and potentially dangerous than otherwise.
 

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