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posted by janrinok on Wednesday June 18 2014, @12:27AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the so-we-will-just-monitor-everything dept.

Britain's top counter-terrorism official has been forced to reveal a secret government policy justifying the mass surveillance of every Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google user in the UK.

A witness statement from Charles Farr, the director general of Security and Counter Terrorism, explained how intercepting tweets, Google and YouTube searches and Facebook posts was permitted by law due to their classification as 'external communications'.

The report, made public as part of a legal challenge by numerous civil liberties organisations against the government, classifies external communications as those sent and received outside "British Islands", regardless of whether it passes through the British Islands during transit. Google and other web services' largest data centres are generally found within the US and elsewhere in Europe, meaning a search made by an internet user in the UK is likely to involve a communication to an overseas web server.

Mr Farr defended the sharing of communications data from foreign intelligence partners, and from US agencies in particular, as having led directly to the prevention of terrorist attacks and serious crime, and the saving of lives.

Privacy International and other rights groups filed a legal complaint against GCHQ last month over its alleged use of hacking tools to infect computers and smartphones with malicious software, to remotely hijack users' cameras and microphones without their consent.

It seems to me that any connection to a website outside the UK is covered by that definition - in other words, they are monitoring everything that they can on the internet.

Related Stories

GCHQ Socially Engineers Online Polls, Spams and Conducts DDoS Attacks 17 comments

The Intercept reports that GCHQ have developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, "amplify" sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be "extremist."

Included in those capabilities is an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call. [ Submitter's note: This item is especially troubling because it allows the GCHQ to "force" a connection between two individuals, manufacturing an association and the scrutiny with which it comes ]

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  • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday June 18 2014, @01:34AM

    by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @01:34AM (#56715)

    If the NSA monitors your connections from the US, then GCHQ can monitor the NSA monitoring you, because that's a foreign connection.

    • (Score: 2) by SlimmPickens on Wednesday June 18 2014, @05:47AM

      by SlimmPickens (1056) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @05:47AM (#56785)

      I think you're giving them too much credit. They just made up a 'classification' and proceeded.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Horse With Stripes on Wednesday June 18 2014, @01:37AM

    by Horse With Stripes (577) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @01:37AM (#56717)

    having led directly to the prevention of terrorist attacks and serious crime, and the saving of lives.

    Please give us one real, concrete, true example of this claim. Not that it would justify the actions on the part of GCHQ, but it would perhaps lend a tiny bit of credibility to your endless parade of lies, fraudulent claims and excuses over the years.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by cafebabe on Wednesday June 18 2014, @05:24AM

      by cafebabe (894) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @05:24AM (#56776) Journal

      One example is not sufficient. Surveillance on everyone is not justified because one example can be cited. Indeed, it is, at best, a circular argument to bring out evidence *after* mass surveillance was instigated. As noted in http://soylentnews.org/comments.pl?sid=2414&cid=56479 [soylentnews.org], a large dataset can reinforce preconceived ideas.

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      1702845791×2
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by c0lo on Wednesday June 18 2014, @10:05AM

        by c0lo (156) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @10:05AM (#56861) Journal
        You mean, being a Texas sharpshooter [wikipedia.org] is easier with a machine gun?
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        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 2) by BasilBrush on Wednesday June 18 2014, @10:12PM

      by BasilBrush (3994) on Wednesday June 18 2014, @10:12PM (#57162)

      GCHQ are spies. they don't discuss publicly, unless they are forced to, and then it will only be in general terms. Their involvement in any specific case, whether or not it it went to court will probably not be revealed until 30 years later. If then.

      Note that I'm not defending them, I'm against this widespread surveillance.

      There certainly may be such cases, as there have been a number of terrorist plots uncovered in recent years. Then again GCHQ might have played no role in them. Impossible to tell.

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      Hurrah! Quoting works now!