UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal rules snoop unlawfully collected Bulk Communications Data

Discussion in 'privacy general' started by deBoetie, Oct 17, 2016.

  1. deBoetie

    deBoetie Registered Member

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    The UK's IPT today ruled that MI5, MI6 and GCHQ had unlawfully been collecting "BCD" - bulk communications datasets, or dossiers on innocent people, between 1998 and December 2015 (when it was made all wonderful and proportionate and safeguarded).

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2...agencies-unlawfully-collected-data-for-decade

    The BCD might include medical and tax records, individual biographical details, commercial and financial activities, communications and travel data.

    Of course, this has only been revealed by the efforts of a charity, and the spooks obviously failed to inform the public or MPs about what was happening (as well as being transparently illegal).

    The other "of course" is that "lessons have been learned" and none of those responsible will go to jail.
     
  2. quietman

    quietman Registered Member

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    Well , don't get too glum ; look on the bright side .

    Now that it's all out in the open , they will surely be destroying all of that data , beyond any possible recovery .
    Or perhaps they will go for the other option .... simply give it all back !

    As you say , "lessons have been learned" , so it won't happen again .

    .... Hmm , I hope I don't come across as cynical ....
     
  3. deBoetie

    deBoetie Registered Member

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    Trouble is with both cynicism and paranoia is that you learn as time goes by that neither were as extreme as reality warranted. I feel like my naive presumption in the rule of law and presumption of innocence, and common sense in public servants was unbelievably simple, and that I need a cynicism upgrade.

    I knew very well from before 1998 - I used to do large scale networks for ISPs, including some projects with Netflow, and looking at the results of that - what was possible. But I never imagined they would actually DO this stuff, particularly without oversight or permission, whilst simultaneously parroting that everything they did was lawful, necessary and proportionate, subject to strict oversight.

    As a trust-destruction exercise for no obvious benefit, I can't imagine worse than what they've done.
     
  4. Anonfame1

    Anonfame1 Registered Member

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    Creepy stuff.

    Being from the US, I have always been very fascinated to watch developments in the UK specifically- it always seems that the UK is 3-4 steps ahead of the US in terms of Big Brother. The BBC does seem a bit more critical/better at journalism than any of the US news networks however, though it still leaves much to be desired. Britain is the leading battleground in this war on privacy...

    The masses of all countries are all in this together; hopefully you can get back on your feet and show the usurpers a little fighting spirit while giving the world an example to follow at the same time. That said, I dont know what avenues you guys could use to do so...
     
  5. quietman

    quietman Registered Member

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    Yes , it's those same words again.
    It's the overseers relationships with the overseen that is the stone in my shoe.

    I won't add detail ; when it comes to discussing these topics it's like playing football in dense fog ( with the goal-posts removed ) .

    Oh come on , make an effort :)
     
  6. trott3r

    trott3r Registered Member

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    Didnt ed snowden say that the UK had the most pervasive and intrusive snooping framework in the western world?

    Sadly the media have the little clue about internet in general in the UK. :(
     
  7. Daveski17

    Daveski17 Registered Member

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    This is essentially mythology.
     
  8. Anonfame1

    Anonfame1 Registered Member

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    Its fair enough we have different opinions. Care to elaborate at all?

    Maybe it just seems that way to me. The UK is definitely worse- at least on record- than the US in terms of Big Brother. Are you implying they are basically the same, or that they are not even remotely linked? Im genuinely curious btw- no sarcasm or combativeness intended...
     
  9. Daveski17

    Daveski17 Registered Member

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    I just think the mythology initially developed from the amount of CCTV cameras deployed in the country. This gave the tinfoil hat brigade a bit of a field day for their rather paranoid and delusional speculations and odd theories. The plain fact of the matter is that successive British governments have failed to support police/heddlu forces financially throughout England And Wales. CCTV was considered a cheaper alternative to patrol cars or beat officers. The UK isn't an Orwellian nightmare, it's just suffered incompetent governments frightened to raise taxes to pay for an effective police force. I'm not sure how the UK is worse 'on record', have you any documentation to back this asseveration? Because otherwise, it really is just mythology. Rather like the oft quoted maxim that the English drink 'warm beer', which they don't and neither do the Welsh. The Scots and Northern Irish don't drink warm beer either, at least they didn't the last time I was in Scotland and NI.
     
  10. deBoetie

    deBoetie Registered Member

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    The UK CCTV deployment is indeed widespread, but often analogue and of such poor quality that it's useless (though that doesn't stop them attempting prosecutions based on junk evidence, for example, slowed-down video shown to a jury). However, there are legitimate privacy concerns as these get upgraded to networked digital cameras that can be stored, searched & processed (e.g. facial recognition and gait) - and there are no safeguards worth anything on regulating them doing so - this has been shown by ad hoc facial recognition databases in some police forces. The current Investigatory Powers Bill is "strangely" silent on CCTV, facial recognition, ANPR, and many other dodgy surveillance techniques. As a more recent example illustrates, advertisers are considering using ultrasonic transmissions to devices to communicate with other tech (say in the home), such as smartphones; that this is even legal is astonishing, but illustrates the absent and one-sided legislation.

    Of more concern is the behavior of the Metropolitan Police, whose abuses are becoming increasingly clear in illegal monitoring of peaceful and lawful protest over many years, including the use of privacy-busting surveillance and monitoring.

    But the biggest issue for me is that the "dirty tricks" that used to be the province of a limited number of spies (who hopefully were dedicated to national security and foreign economic espionage), are now being industrialised and provided to a huge number of people including the police, in order to justify their huge cost and controversial nature. This is the scope creep and militarisation problem many now have with LE. Mass surveillance weapons are being justified on the basis of "serious crime", whose definition includes many things which are not remotely to do with national security, and whose uses are fairly clearly extremely dubious from the perspective of presumption of innocence, rule-of-law and evidential integrity, ability to challenge, lack of redress for false positives etc.
     
  11. Daveski17

    Daveski17 Registered Member

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    If widespread CCTV is predominantly analogue and often 'useless' it wouldn't be worth deploying at all. The fact is it does have some efficacy and has been used successfully to prosecute criminals. The psychological effect of CCTV cameras in some town centres is a possible deterrent also, although it in no way compensates for actually employing more police personnel.

    I'm not totally sure what advertising ultrasonic communication between devices has to do with surveillance; a straw herring perhaps? :argh:

    A peaceful and lawful protest, by definition is legal, and if this is the case the protesters have nothing to be afraid of. Unless they're guilty of something that is.

    Again, it is the criminal and the terrorist that should be afraid of surveillance.

    I'm not, and neither is my tinfoil hat.
     
  12. deBoetie

    deBoetie Registered Member

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    I think you're underestimating the dangers of false positives from mass surveillance. As well as the unacceptable expansion of state powers - you don't need much history to recognise the very real dangers which possibly those in the UK complacently assume they are immune to.

    CCTV is mostly useless (there have been many studies showing that it moves crime to different places), but it is very useful to politicians who want a token gesture that they are "doing something".

    The UK is actually a very safe place and doesn't need much policing.

    "A peaceful and lawful protest, by definition is legal, and if this is the case the protesters have nothing to be afraid of. Unless they're guilty of something that is. "

    Have you not been reading about the miners? This "nothing to be afraid of" thing is drivel, and you can tell with peaceful demonstrations, they're queuing up for the slightest sign of a broken window or something so that they can label it all as a violent riot. And who knows who broke the window given the disgraceful behavior of the Met's special unit.
     
  13. Daveski17

    Daveski17 Registered Member

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    I'm not underestimating the dangers of false positives from mass surveillance. I just aren't going to get paranoid about it. Again, any problems with this is probably due to insufficient training, and very probably due to lack of proper funding.

    I very much doubt CCTV is mostly useless and it would need strong evidence to convince me otherwise. I haven't seen any yet.

    No, I'm sticking with my original drivel. I did wonder when you'd mention the miner's strikes though. I believe you do have a bit of a moot point here. The various conflicts between the miners and the police, especially much of the alleged violence, was orchestrated by the Thatcher government as she was intensely paranoid about trades unions and possibly blamed the coalminers for bringing down the Heath government. She deliberately instructed the police to instigate much of the ensuing violence and this 'violence and insurrection' allegedly perpetrated by the coalminers was all eagerly reported by a mendacious right wing press.

    Over twenty years later many police officers have come forward and admitted that this indeed was the case. That Thatcher was never held responsible for this in her lifetime is the issue here, not mass surveillance techniques or CCTV cameras analogue or otherwise. At the time, virtually everyone knew what was actually happening. I think Thatcher labelling the miners as the 'enemy within' gave a bit of an insight into her mental condition at the time.

    So I think my original:

    "A peaceful and lawful protest, by definition is legal, and if this is the case the protesters have nothing to be afraid of. Unless they're guilty of something that is. "

    still holds true. If anything, CCTV may have actually proved that the police were the perpetrators of much of the violence. The problem here isn't surveillance techniques, but government policy. And the plain fact of the matter is that most of the electorate seemed to be on Thatcher's side against the miners. I wasn't, but there again, I didn't agree with her policies.
     
  14. quietman

    quietman Registered Member

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    .... my edit above ^^

    You have raised an interesting legal / philosophical point regarding "ownership" of images here .

    Who owns the right to your face or "image" ?

    Could you claim copyright ?

    In most jurisdictions the legal system is constantly ( and very slowly ) playing catch-up in this area .
    Almost everyone has a high quality video camera in their pocket now , in addition to all of the street cameras.

    The legal position in most "civilized" countries is that if you are in a public place you have no lawful right to ,
    nor control over , any images of yourself that may be recorded , by anybody .
    You do have some rights over how such images may be used , but this is where it gets murky ,
    and much more complicated .

    Ironically , this applies equally to law enforcement officers , although the majority of them seem either ignorant of it ,
    or in a state of total denial about it.

    In a recent issue involving " a well-known social networking site " some people found that photos of themselves ,
    and in some cases , their children , were being used in adverts for products or services that they had never heard of,
    and for which they had never knowingly signed a contract , or so they thought !

    It amuses me when people talk about posting a declaration ( usually phrased in pseudo - legalese )
    declaring their ownership of all content on a " social networking site ", blissfully unaware that they were already party
    to a prior contract , ( which takes legal precedence ) and which came into force the instant that they clicked on " I Accept "

    Let's imagine those same people had set up a website for tennis coaching , and had " decorated " their site with
    pictures of a famous tennis player .
    The "ownership" of those images would be established with startling speed , with misery , and financial hell ,
    ..... and a shack load of lawyers on top :)
     
  15. deBoetie

    deBoetie Registered Member

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    @quietman - until the Ian Tomlinson death, the police did try to prevent themselves being filmed, using sensitive police procedures justifications for routine operations. Reality being that they didn't want accountability. Were it not for the filming of that death by smartphone, might have stayed that way. Nominally at least, police-persons are persons, so they attempted to constrain filming on the basis that their techniques were somehow sacrosanct.

    Agree the copyright and notion of public space is creaking mightily under new realities. It's also a problem where people share images on social media and tag them without people's permission (and have FB and others doing facial recognition and data mining on them). And certainly, public space never had an expectation that it was permanently monitored and recorded public space.

    @Daveski17 - I can recommend reading something like the New Scientist regularly - from time to time, it covers forensics and criminology, including effectiveness of CCTV in as much independent evidence as one is allow to see - I'll attempt to dig out references. It is neat when it exposes official wrongdoing though. Official data is notoriously unbelievable on any basis really, given the political influence. While I think more will indeed emerge regarding the miners, evidence from things like the Stanford Prison experiment tends to show that bad behaviour by the squaddies is actually the result of official nods and winks from the high ups, and this is not historical, as the more recent abuses tend to show. What doesn't change is the lack of sanctions for the senior managers and politicians involved.
     
  16. Daveski17

    Daveski17 Registered Member

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    I haven't read the New Scientist for a while, IIRC they wanted me to pay for the online version. CCTV is such a contemporary contentious issue though I find it difficult to accept anything written about it isn't tendentious in some way. There will always be official wrongdoing, there always has, I don't see a correlation with the amount of CCTV cameras in the country and the moral or legal rectitude (or not) of the government though.

    As for the miner's dispute, and any analogy to the Stanford or Milgram experiments, I think any link is tenuous and inconclusive. The police just enforced the government policy of the time. It wasn't a matter of bad behaviour by lower ranks, but a determined and planned attack on the striking miners orchestrated by the government at the behest of Thatcher herself. Many of the police 'foot soldiers' had reservations about it at the time but were worried about losing their jobs and pensions. None of these events has anything to do with mass surveillance.
     
  17. deBoetie

    deBoetie Registered Member

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    My BIL, who was in the police being bussed to the strikes, was essentially delighted to have the additional overtime. But it's the culture from the top that provides a fertile ground for misbehaviour.

    Quite specifically, there was intensive spying on Scargill and others, which mass surveillance would have made even easier. And what glimpses we've had of the BCD (dossiers) show that they have sometimes been misused on legitimate recent protest. Point being that mass surveillance is a dangerous tool which WILL be used by those in power illegally. At least in the past it was a bit more expensive which limited their scope.

    Nor will any safeguards be credible in preventing this because "national security".
     
  18. Daveski17

    Daveski17 Registered Member

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    I still think connecting mass surveillance, like CCTV, with government spooks and the political intentions of specific or particular governments is essentially a fallacy. MI5 eavesdropped on Scargill inter alios on the express orders of Thatcher as in her deranged and paranoid mindset they were all plotting against her. In the context of the times, any trades unions were hypothetically linked to international communism and inevitably the Soviet Union in the Cold War era.

    The fact that Russian coal miners supported the striking British miners, even to the extent of sending food parcels at times (possibly some of this was the action of Soviet backed propaganda), only added to the general paranoia and probably convinced Thatcher and her cronies that the strike was indeed an elaborate Soviet plot. Even if they didn't totally buy into the Soviet plot hypothesis MI5 would have been on the case as a matter principle, basically as national security is their raison d'etre, and the Soviets were the bogeyman at the time.

    I think you're conflating covert intelligence gathering and information collection, mass surveillance, and mundane town centre CCTV deployment. That any intelligence gathering will be used illegally or improperly by any government for its own particular purposes and/or agenda is inevitable.

    I still don't see how this directly applies to a fiscal policy of replacing foot patrol police officers with town centre cameras.
     
  19. deBoetie

    deBoetie Registered Member

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    What I hope would happen is common sense - and regrettably I've been wrong too many times in the naive direction; and the ease with which modern systems (and replacements of older CCTV for instance) make it routine for a large number of people (who used to be public servants) to behave badly, both make me fearful. And although today ain't 1930, there are way too many warning bells to be in any sense complacent, and there too many examples of erosion of moral compass and rule of law under instructions from above in recent times, leading normal people to do evil things.

    The Anderson Investigatory Powers review was called "A Question of Trust". Quite simply, they have proved themselves routinely untrustworthy and incapable of democratic audit and scrutiny.
     
  20. Daveski17

    Daveski17 Registered Member

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    Well, you know what Nietzsche said about common sense; something along the lines of that people only value that which is rare, and if most people have 'common sense', it just isn't that rare.
     
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