Tuesday, 4 November 2014

ORG responds to GCHQ

The director of GCHQ said this. TL;DR: The internet is bad because sometimes we can’t read everything everyone ever says.

A few terrifying quotes:

[Terrorists and in particular ISIS] have realised that too much graphic violence can be counter-productive in their target audience and that by self-censoring they can stay just the right side of the rules of social media sites, capitalising on western freedom of expression.

There’s little doubt here that the director frowns upon “western freedom of expression”.

Isis also differs from its predecessors in the security of its communications. This presents an even greater challenge to agencies such as GCHQ. Terrorists have always found ways of hiding their operations. But today mobile technology and smartphones have increased the options available exponentially. Techniques for encrypting messages or making them anonymous which were once the preserve of the most sophisticated criminals or nation states now come as standard.

Hardly. GCHQ knows very well that phone and internet communications and even presence are just about as leaky as they can possibly be. The increase in mobile comms has been a boon to security services, not a hindrance. Encrypted and anonymous messages are not ‘standard’ at all. The Snowden leaks show us that GCHQ and other agencies are doing things that require ordinary citizens like us to consider encryption and other tools, such as Tor.

Its major achievement in spying on us is that we now realise that we innocent citizens need to take countermeasures against our own government.

There is no doubt that young foreign fighters have learnt and benefited from the leaks of the past two years.

If citation were ever needed.., Doubt exists.

GCHQ and its sister agencies, MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service, cannot tackle these challenges at scale without greater support from the private sector, including the largest US technology companies which dominate the web

Let’s be clear. When GCHQ talks about “support” from the private sector, it means it expects companies like Google to spy on us all. They’re trying to spin unacceptable and unproductive surveillance as the duty of successful internet-centric firms. They want permission to mine the data we lay down in our daily comms to generate suspicion. To generate groundless reasons to investigate people further.

GCHQ goes further:

I understand why [various companies] have an uneasy relationship with governments. They aspire to be neutral conduits of data and to sit outside or above politics. But increasingly their services not only host the material of violent extremism or child exploitation, but are the routes for the facilitation of crime and terrorism.

Then you *don’t* understand, or you pretend not to. I agree that global companies have an obligation to act on behalf of citizens around the globe. Companies like Google should take a hard stance on bullying, for example. But that – by definition – must include bullying by governments. Sorry, GCHQ, but Google shouldn’t be doing your job.

[Random internet firms] have become the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us.

We should have resisted the printing press and sure as shit the global telephone network. Who authorised communication satellites?  Means of communication don’t destroy peace. People who really want to be violent do that. Snooping on the billions of people who don’t isn’t going to stop the violent.

If they are to meet this challenge, it means coming up with better arrangements for facilitating lawful investigation by security and law enforcement agencies than we have now.

“They” means firms like Google. GCHQ is charging them with a challenge they don’t necessarily accept and hopefully won’t accept. GCHQ is asking for nothing less than that firms like Google tell law enforcement agencies everything their customers do and say. Innocent users.

privacy has never been an absolute right and the debate about this should not become a reason for postponing urgent and difficult decisions.

Privacy doesn’t have to be an absolute right. We can rebel against particular violations of privacy without reference to a fictional absolute right to privacy. But you know what? Concern about privacy absolutely should become a reason for postponing certain urgent and difficult decisions.

Fuck you, Director of GCHQ. This is what the ORG said:

“Robert Hannigan's comments are divisive and offensive. If tech companies are becoming more resistant to GCHQ's demands for data, it is because they realise that their customers' trust has been undermined by the Snowden revelations. It should be down to judges, not GCHQ nor tech companies, to decide when our personal data is handed over to the intelligence services. If Hannigan wants a 'mature debate' about privacy, he should start by addressing GCHQ's apparent habit of gathering the entire British population's data rather than targeting their activities towards criminals.”


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