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British Prime Minister Theresa May has asked spy chiefs to help tackle illegal immigration into the UK as Europe’s migrant crisis rumbles on for a second year.
Mrs May has asked the heads of intelligence agencies MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to spy on people smuggling gangs in order to find evidence that could secure convictions.
Speaking in New York, the Prime Minister said the world was experiencing unprecedented levels of migration and called for people smuggling and modern slavery to be raised to the same level of concern as terrorism and serious organised crime.
Britain has gone “further than any other Western democracy” in its expansion of surveillance powers and its ability to collect bulk data without justifiable reason, a British MP has said.
Joanna Cherry, a Scottish National Party (SNP) MP, made the comments in reference to the Investigatory Powers (IP) Bill, which has been introduced to extend surveillance and data-gathering laws. It will allow UK intelligence agencies to collect, store and access information about internet users.
American spies and the UK’s listening post GCHQ regularly intercept the emails of British MPs and peers, including privileged correspondence between parliamentarians and their constituents.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) reportedly has access to intercepted emails sent and received by all MPs and peers through Parliament’s Microsoft computer system, Office 365.
Intelligence agency GCHQ on the other hand, allegedly accesses the data when it leaves UK’s borders on its way to Microsoft’s data centers in Dublin and the Netherlands.
The revelations have been made public through an investigation by Computer Weekly, based on leaked documents by the now-exiled former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The super worm known as Stuxnet was but a cog in an active US war program in which hundreds of thousands of network implants and backdoors in Iran networks were actively maintained to facilitate a devastating barrage of hacking attacks, a documentary claims.
Zero Days, due to screen at the Berlin Film Festival today, claims that Stuxnet was just one part of an operation called “Olympic Games” that is itself part of a wider effort dubbed “Nitro Zeus” that involves hundreds of US defence personnel.
British spies enlisted the help of the US National Security Agency (NSA) to learn how to hack firewalls made by top internet security provider Juniper, according to leaked documents.
Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which is the UK’s foremost electronic intelligence and surveillance agency, looked to its counterpart across the Atlantic to access the firm’s firewalls.
The revelations come as the Intercept website released a six-page document dating back to 2011 titled “Assessment of Intelligence Opportunity – Juniper.”
Privacy International, which has been engaged in legal challenges over GCHQ spying for the past few years, has obtained an oversight document as a result of its litigation. What they show is the agency’s broad hacking powers and the reluctance of its oversight to condone these actions.
The Commissioner of the Intelligence Services was slow to respond to hacking. Many of the concerns the Commissioner raised in his 2014 report [published July 2015] are the subject of PI’s legal complaint, including whether it is lawful to use broad “thematic warrants” to justify the hacking of people in the UK. The Commissioner questioned this practice in depth. He was concerned that current law “does not expressly allow for a class of authorisation”, and therefore the warrants were too broad. As a result, the Commissioner was worried that the Secretary of State was unable to properly assess whether the warrant authorised activity was necessary and proportionate. [ibid, p18] This means that GCHQ could get a warrant in the UK to hack the computer of everyone in Birmingham with little meaningful oversight.
An additional 2,000 spies will be hired at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to fight those “who would destroy us and our values” in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, David Cameron has said.
The number of spies will rise by 15 per cent in what is expected to be the biggest expansion of the security services since the 7/7 terror attacks in London in July 2005.
The UK government’s proposed surveillance legislation is “worse than scary”, the United Nations privacy chief has said.
Joseph Cannataci, the UN’s special rapporteur on privacy, attacked the government’s draft Investigatory Powers Bill, saying he had never seen evidence that mass surveillance works. He also accused MPs of leading an “absolute offensive” and an “orchestrated” media campaign to distort the debate and take hold of new powers.
The comments came during a live streamed keynote presentation at the Internet Governance Forum in Brazil, where leading experts from around the world have gathered to discuss the future of the internet and web policy.
– New Snowden docs show how US cooperates with allies in drone killings (RT, June 26, 2015):
New Edward Snowden leaks shed light on the details of US drone strikes in places like Yemen and Pakistan and the tracking technologies that helped them. They focus on a strike targeting an Al-Qaeda surgeon that resulted in civilian casualties.
The documents reviewed by the New York Times and the Guardian deal with the March 30, 2012 attack aimed at killing Dr. Khadim Usamah. The GCHQ newsletter, Comet News, described Usamah as a member of the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and “the doctor who the doctor who pioneered using surgically planted explosives.”
– UK Government Quietly Rewrites Hacking Laws to Give GCHQ Immunity (Ars Technica, May 17, 2015):
The UK government has quietly passed new legislation that exempts GCHQ, police, and other intelligence officers from prosecution for hacking into computers and mobile phones.
While major or controversial legislative changes usually go through normal parliamentary process (i.e. democratic debate) before being passed into law, in this case an amendment to the Computer Misuse Act was snuck in under the radar as secondary legislation. According to Privacy International, “It appears no regulators, commissioners responsible for overseeing the intelligence agencies, the Information Commissioner’s Office, industry, NGOs or the public were notified or consulted about the proposed legislative changes… There was no public debate.”
– Worst Spying In World History – Worse Than Any Dystopian Novel – Is Occurring RIGHT NOW (Washington’s Blog, Feb 21, 2015):
NSA Spying Worse than Stasi or Nazi Germany, J. Edgar Hoover … Or Orwell’s 1984
We noted in 2012 that Americans are the most spied upon people in world history.
Spying by the NSA is also worse than in Nazi Germany:
– ‘Dangerous as terrorists’: Snowden leaks reveal GCHQ stores journalists’ data (RT, Jan 19, 2015):
British security agency GCHQ has stored thousands of emails from journalists working for the world’s biggest news organizations, according to a new batch of Edward Snowden leaks.
Emails from the BBC, Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post and others were saved by GCHQ, allegedly as part of a ‘test exercise’ conducted by the agency.
Journalists’ communications were among 70,000 emails harvested during one day in November 2008. They were obtained by one of GCHQs taps into fiber-optic cables used to transfer information on the internet.
– Press Rebellion in the UK – British Media Launches Protest Against Spying, as GCHQ Places Investigative Journalism in Same Category as Terrorism (Liberty Blitzkrieg, Jan 19, 2015):
Emails from the BBC, Reuters, the Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde, the Sun, NBC and the Washington Post were saved by GCHQ and shared on the agency’s intranet as part of a test exercise by the signals intelligence agency.The journalists’ communications were among 70,000 emails harvested in the space of less than 10 minutes on one day in November 2008 by one of GCHQ’s numerous taps on the fibre-optic cables that make up the backbone of the internet.
New evidence from other UK intelligence documents revealed by Snowden also shows that a GCHQ information security assessment listed “investigative journalists” as a threat in a hierarchy alongside terrorists or hackers.
– From the Guardian article: GCHQ Captured Emails of Journalists from Top International Media
Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, is the United Kingdom’s equivalent to the NSA. As you might expect, it is no less immoral or shady than its domestic counterpart. While most of the surveillance related posts here at Liberty Blitzkrieg have focused on the NSA, GCHQ has been front and center from time to time. For example, see the following from 2014:
– GCHQ spying ‘doesn’t breach human rights’ – UK tribunal (RT, Dec 5, 2014):
Surveillance conducted by British intelligence agency GCHQ does not contravene human rights, a tribunal has heard, despite warnings from civil and internet liberties activists.
The decision was made by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), after the case was brought to British courts by a collection of civil liberties groups including Privacy International, Amnesty International and Liberty earlier this year.
According to the IPT, it could only find one area of surveillance procedures that they were concerned about, regarding whether they would breach internet users’ right to privacy.
– UK hackers face life imprisonment, threat to whistleblowers – activists (RT, Oct 23, 2014):
Internet users who ‘threaten’ national security, by causing economic or environmental damage, could face a life sentence under new government plans to crack down on internet crime. Campaigners say the move will target whistleblowers.
The government proposal claims the laws are needed to deal with “catastrophic” cyber-attacks that “result in loss of life, serious illness and injury, or serious damage to national security, or a significant risk thereof.”
Proposals would update the existing Computer Misuse Act 1990, and would give judges the power to hand down harsher penalties on hackers. The laws would also incorporate internet users spying on the activities of UK businesses.
A demonstrator holds a placard depicting German chancellor’s Angela Merkel and US President Barck Obama reading “That does not work” (Das geht gar nicht) during a demonstration against governmental surveillance on August 30, 2014 in Berlin. (AFP/DPA)
It could also be translated as … “This is totally unacceptable”
– Thousands of Germans rally to end government spying (RT, Aug 31, 2014):
The rally in Berlin against federal surveillance gathered thousands of people under the motto ‘Freedom not fear,’ who were calling for stricter control of German intelligence agencies.The organizers said about 6,500 demonstrators, a broad coalition of pro-transparency, anti-surveillance and civil rights groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Reporters Without Borders, Digital Courage, and Amnesty International joined the rally as they marched from the Brandenburg Gate to the Federal Chancellery.
– Masters of the Internet: GCHQ scanned entire countries for vulnerabilities (RT, Aug 18, 2014):
GCHQ is scanning servers in multiple foreign countries for vulnerable ports, according to German newspaper Heise. Using a tool called Hacienda, the intelligence agency seeks to ‘master the internet’ for sources of espionage.
Spanish for estate, Hacienda can port scan all of the servers in a country to provide information on user endpoints and scan for potential vulnerabilities. The ability to port scan is not new, but the scale of its use by government spies, with 27 countries scanned by 2009, has shocked many familiar with the software.
“In 2009, the British spy agency GCHQ made port scans a ‘standard tool’ to be applied against entire nations,” Heise reports. “Twenty-seven countries are listed as targets of the Hacienda [program].”