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The Apple letter to customers couldn't happen under proposed UK law (privacyinternational.org)
471 points by J-dawg on Feb 21, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 102 comments

The court order was public. Apple didn't reveal anything not already known. This article seems unaware of that fact.

Also, there's NSLs in the US as well.

That wouldn't make a difference here in Airstrip One - the court order can be public, but you're still not allowed to respond, or even mention it, as while it's a matter of public record, it's also secret.

There's a whole bunch of stuff like this. Turn up at a classified government site and ask to see the silos, and watch a press officer do impressive mental gymnastics.

The most hilarious example to me is that the BT Tower (originally Post Office Tower) did not use to appear on Ordnance Survey maps because its location was deemed an official secret.

In 1993, an MP finally "revealed" the location to draw attention to the idiocy by exercising parliamentary privilege and mentioning the location in parliament.

For those of you who have not been to London, or isn't aware which tower I'm talking about, this is it (note the pictures showing it in the London skyline...):


It is rather hard to miss, given that it rises 177 meters above street level in a part of London where the nearest other highrise is a 117m building about 1km away...

It also had a viewing platform and restaurant open to the public for 15 years while it was still an official secret...

The UK is quite fantastic at this. When you know about stuff like this, it puts UK comedy like Monthy Python's Dead Parrot Sketch[1] into very different perspective as a good illustration of behaviour that officialdom in the UK see as perfectly rational.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Parrot_sketch

To be fair, 1993 is a long time ago. Today, even Menwith Hill and 'the secret nuclear bunker' are on Google Earth.


1993 is the year bookmakers cut their odds on the monarchy being abolished by the year 2000 from 100/to 1 to 50/1

New Teletext service on ITV and Channel 4

Ford unveils its new Mondeo

Unemployment is still just short of the 3,000,000 (no real change there then?)


The Bank of England lowers interest rates to 6%

Not having a go, just interesting what was also going back then.

That's true. But since the BT Tower was built, the Official Secrets Act has gotten stricter, not more lenient (e.g. in the 80's the previous public interest defence was removed). That they've given up on restricting knowledge about buildings that are in plain view reduces the comedy effect somewhat, but they still have occasionally made idiotic attempts to restrict information that's already public.

E.g. in 2004, a government source leaked a document purporting to show that Bush discussed plans with Blair to bomb Al Jazeera, and eventually it got into the hands of Daily Mirror who put it on their front page.

Government officials subsequently tried to threaten the other national papers with the Official Secrets Act if they republished the information (it didn't work; the papers ignored the threats).

I'm sure the overall level of idiocy in this respect has fallen as they've come to terms with a reality where trying to restrict information like this just makes things worse, but it's not because they wouldn't like to.

For those interested, the reason the Official Secrets Act removed the public interest defence was that someone successfully used it. (Clive Ponting disclosed details of the sinking of the Belgrano, an hugely controversial action during the Falklands conflict, unanimously acquitted.)

Yup, overall, agree with the sentiment.

You may think it was a long time ago, I can remember it clearly :)

A few years back, I was looking in a road atlas for a spot to go picnicking on the weekend with my wife, and I found a little island about 20 miles away that looked promising. On the map, it's criscrossed with charmingly-named little streets like Anderson Road, Ferry Street, etc., but when we got there, it was surrounded by a razor wire perimeter with armed guards at the gate. Looked it up on Google Earth later and all of the charming streets were lined with bunkers. According to Wikipedia: "Indian Island is a major U.S. Navy munitions handling facility..."

> It also had a viewing platform and restaurant open to the public for 15 years while it was still an official secret...

I am fairly certain I remember the BBC broadcasting the christmas morning special of the Multi Coloured Swap Shop[0] from the BT Tower at least once during the "secret" period.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-Coloured_Swap_Shop

I get that you're using "the silos" as something uber-secret, but note that the UK does not have (and never had) land-based nuclear weapons, so does not have any missile launching silos. The only nuclear weapon the UK has is Trident - submarine launched missiles.

> note that the UK does not have (and never had) land-based nuclear weapons

It did used to have US nuclear artillery under a dual-key arrangement, but admittedly those didn't have silos.

> and watch a press officer do impressive mental gymnastics.

What? There's no gymnastics. They just don't talk to you. "We don't confirm or deny that" is one standard answer.


The first section referenced in OP says:

>A relevant telecommunications provider who has been required under this Part to provide assistance in giving effect to a targeted equipment interference warrant, and any person employed for the purposes of the business of the relevant telecommunications provider, may not, without reasonable excuse, disclose to any person— (a) the existence and contents of the warrant

>(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), it is, in particular, a reasonable excuse if the disclosure is made with the permission of the person who imposed the requirement.

So the fact that the FBI made it public is a reasonable excuse to talk about it.

The second section says:

>A person to whom a relevant notice is given, or any person employed or engaged for the purposes of that person’s business, must not disclose the existence and contents of the notice to any other person.

We have

>In this section “relevant notice” means— (a) a national security notice under section 188, or (b) a technical capability notice under section 189


> But a national security notice may not require the taking of any steps the main purpose of which is to do something for which a warrant or authorisation is required under this Act.

So the first category couldn't have included this, which required a warrant. The second category seems like it could apply (although there's some ambiguity over whether it applies to entities outside the UK which I haven't dug through), but it's for general "maintain ability to comply".

>The only steps that may be specified in a technical capability notice given to a person are steps which the Secretary of State considers to be necessary for securing that the person has the practical capability of providing any assistance which the person may be required to provide in relation to any relevant authorisation

So a specific warrant would not fall under that.

I don't see how any section that the OP refers to would apply.

You're assuming that "reasonable excuse" means what you and I might think it means - "reasonable" has a very specific meaning in UK tort law, and it doesn't mean reasonable - it means whatever a judge decides to be reasonable when put to several specific tests - so in practice that specifically means little.

It explicitly includes if the disclosure is made with permission of the person who issued it. I think if that's included, it stands to reason that the order being public would count as well. (They're obviously fine with it being disclosed, implicit permission.)

Do you have a link to the specific tests?

I pointed out elsewhere in this thread that the BT Tower was deemed an Official Secret for years and did not appear on maps, despite being a 177m building in Central London, standing out like a sore thumb in the middle of an area where the only other highrise, a km away, was 60m shorter. There were public tours and a restaurant for the first 15 years.

Yet disclosing its location would still have caused you to run foul of the Official Secrets Act for years.

The UK government and courts has very little sense of humour about these things and you most certainly can not in general assume that making information public even in the most blatant manner will mean that they won't still insist that the information is still legally restricted as if it is still a secret.

That would be a problem with the OSA, not with the act in OP. That specifically says "reasonable excuse" which would seem to include this case.

I gave the example to point out that the government itself have historically often very explicitly not "obviously [been] fine with it being disclosed" even when they themselves have made the information in question easily accessible, such as by plopping down a 177m tower in the middle of London and inviting people to tour it.

It remains to be seen if "reasonable excuse" as interpreted under UK law will be interpreted the way you assume it should, but assuming that making information public in one context means it should no longer be treated as secret has often been a bad bet in the UK, even when it gets totally ridiculous.

> while it's a matter of public record, it's also secret.

Is that a typo, or is it "doublethink"?!

The opposite of "public" is "unreleased"—it's about whether something is known to people without clearance. Whether information comes out by being officially released or by being leaked, it still ends up "public."

The opposite of "secret", meanwhile, is "unrestricted"—it's about whether people charged to act in the country's interests (public servants, politicians, members of the military, and corporate employees who have signed contracts granting them clearances) are required to avoid mentioning it in any document or speech that would be public-accessible.

A well-known example is the content of the Edward Snowden leaks. They're also "public secrets": things civilians are allowed to talk about, but which people with clearance—having more restricted rights than regular people—are prevented from talking about to civilians.

Do note that there are good reasons for this distinction, although it can seem absurd. Things are restricted or classified in large chunks. Because of this, a part of a secret can be public (e.g. the name and purpose of a secret project), without the entire secret becoming public.

If public awareness meant declassification, you'd see a lot more still-secret information leaking out, as various people would think—since there's no "here's exactly what was leaked and what wasn't" memos that go around—that some part of the secret was leaked which wasn't, and is therefore fine to talk about.

The simplest way to avoid leaking anything else is to just go on pretending that even the first part of the secret hasn't been leaked and preventing everyone from talking about even that—so that the rest of the secret can't be socially engineered out of them.

Yes, and in a bizarro twist it was Apple who asked that the warrant be filed under seal (according to NYT).

yeah i think that's an important point that this article should have mentioned:

rather than a company trying to embarrass the government for asking, it's the government trying to embarrass a company for not complying! -- the opposite situation from what's addressed by the UK Law.

This is already the case. Wiretapping orders in Europe can come from a large number of organisations, including any police force, interpol, a few UN departments, some branches of the EU itself, ... there is no judicial review. The wiretap orders do not mention a court case, there is no way to appeal them, and telling anyone about any order, even in general terms, is punishable by jail time (for the person who does it, not the person responsible for them. In other words, technically if you're an engineer at a telco and you tell your boss why you're spending hours without telling anyone anything, technically that's 2 years). There's no appeal, no information about a court case linked (because there may not even be a linked court case, e.g. when a kid I knew ran away I know the police tapped her phone to find her. There never was anything more than an investigation). And of course, the government is under no obligation to even pay for the time spent doing the wiretap, nor does it pay for the equipment and upgrades needed to make them happen (for instance cisco's "lawful intercept" licences, which run in the thousands of euros per device, alcatell, lucent, etc. have similar stuff).

The one positive is that it's a huge mess, and many police departments have no idea how to use these laws. But I find it hard to believe that there aren't a few police departments that are actually capable and using these rules for personal gain.

In the UK wiretap (and any other surveillance) orders can come from local council officials (and hundreds of other public and some non-public bodies) and have been used for such major crimes as dog fouling and placing your child in the local school [1]. Councils have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds following innocent people for months using these powers. It did lead to some changes but did not actually remove these powers from minor petty officials. The new bill is reintroducing far reaching powers which were originally rejected from the first RIPA legislation and extending the powers already there by very significant levels (beyond where they were originally before being rolled back).

PI are highlighting that in the US, Apple were at least able to publicly disclose what they believe is an egregious over-reach by a law enforcement body. In the UK, Apple execs would currently be facing significant jail time for what they have done.

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/12/police-ripa-pow...

[edit: grammar, sorry]

The more the UK slips down the hole of tyranny and fascism, the more despondent I become - even though I'm not a UK citizen.

The reason is, I just don't know of any way that the British people can claw their way back up out of this hole - their tyrannical government seems to be 10 steps ahead of every effort to reign it in.

So I feel like I'm witnessing, helplessly, the decline of the UK as a power, and as a nation of free peoples, and the despair comes from knowing that as time goes on, the likelihood of non-violent solutions to the oppression of the British people are ever-more unlikely.

My initial response to the IPB was that, when I graduate from my UK university, I would simply move to some other European state and enjoy less pervasive surveillance.

However, after giving it more than a seconds thought, I realised most of my life I've had no reason to pursue a second language so I am limited to the anglosphere. In addition, 5 of the 6 anglosphere countries form the Five Eyes alliance, so my data would probably go back to the UK government no matter what.

In most European countries foreigners find it harder and harder to learn the local language because the locals tends to switch to English the moment they notice you stumble if you try to speak theirs. It's to the point it's annoying if you're travelling to practice another language.

Not speaking the local language would lock you out of certain types of jobs with language requirements, e.g. civil service jobs and customer facing roles typically, but depending on what you want to do they might not care at all.

But yes, leaving the UK to escape spying elsewhere in Europe wouldn't really achieve much.

Language shouldn't be a barrier, especially in western Europe. While people will appreciate it if you speak their language (and you should try to learn it), there are so many languages spoken across Europe that English is the default interchange language. And if I remember correctly, some German companies even require staff to speak English at work just so employees from different countries can all understand each other.

If you have the right to live & work in the EU, you're very lucky & years ahead of some of us. I've been learning German for 5 years & spent a lot of time looking into the EU Blue Card program.

>> "If you have the right to live & work in the EU"

This might not apply to UK citizens very much longer if the referendum vote goes the wrong way.

Don't Encourage the little Enganders to leave. If they are happy with their limited world, then so be it.

Welcome to Finland. We are so struck by americanism that English is practically the third national language here. (After Finnish and Swedish) We have lots of immigrants who don't bother learning Finnish because they don't have to. English is also the work language in many companies.

I'd guess it is way ahead of Swedish. I was over there on a business trip a couple months ago and I only met one person that spoke Swedish to the point where she could understand my Norwegian.

Everyone got English :)

It's the same here in Norway, we have multiple English speakers at work, and the working language is English in a lot of places.

Technically Finland is bilingual - but not in practice - except for the 5% Swedish speaking minority. Everyone is forced to learn Swedish at school starting from year 7 but obviously the results are poor since it's not optional and it's useless. I refuse to ever speak Swedish yet I was forced to learn it.


> unlikely that your data is even being seen by an analyst

Of course not. Did you forget all of the automated analysis methods that are featured most days right here on HN? The analyst only gets involved at the end of the process.

This meme about the likelihood of being a target is shockingly naive; do you really believe the FVEY intelligence agencies somehow missed the rise of "Big Data"?

Way too trusting of government, are we?


I think the Snowden revelations (and those of subsequent leakers) has shown that the reality is often far more radical than even the craziest of conspiracy theorists has dreamt up.

Its amazing how ill-informed the average UK citizen is about the Snowden revelations. It appears that the propaganda against Snowden has quite effectively resulted in people ignoring the facts he revealed.

Agreed. To be honest, with the exception of the The Guardian, it hardly even gets any column inches or air time on the news here.

That's rich.

This argument is flawed. Free democratic countries do not keep files on the private lives of all their citizens. It doesn't really matter what is done with the files. Their very existence creates a chilling effect which is not compatible with a free open democratic process.

To be fair, most people are more pragmatic than politically idealistic. To me, living in the UK remains, pragmatically, a more appealing notion than living in (almost) any other nation state I can think of. Even if there are shady things going on politically, pragmatically and factually one's life in the UK is less affected by government corruption than it would be in 90%+ of the world.

This is what you are supposed to think, but what do you do when the Government won't rid itself of pedophiles, for example? When it grants itself the power to censor any individual, for any reason whatever?

I think a big problem with the UK is that its people are comfortable with their ignorance. Would you agree?

I think a big problem with the UK is that its people are comfortable with their ignorance. Would you agree?

That's a human problem. At least the Brits are lucky enough to be ignorant about issues that rarely affect their daily lives.

When the majority of the world has government-induced issues like corrupt or racist judicial systems, conscription, violence, a lack of universal healthcare, the death penalty, a lack of food and water, disease, etc. it seems rather first world to talk about violent revolution in a country that's easily in the bottom quartile of countries that needs it.

Is this idealistic, positive talk? Certainly not, but do I feel "oppressed" by living in the UK rather than, say, Russia or the US? Heck no, I feel very lucky to live here and I know about the problems. Could it be better and should we always remain vigilant as voters? Definitely! :-)


That one sounds like a weird one out there. Especially if you consider that the UK has (re)instated (and probably would in future) draft if the situation warrants.

The last time the UK had conscription was 56 years ago - even longer ago than capital punishment was taken off the books.

It would take an event of monumental proportions for conscription to be reinstated in modern British society.

"Look, over there! A worse situation! See! That could be you .. now tie this noose and get ready.."

Every government slides into tyranny. It is inevitable. The government can never on itself go back to being smaller/less powerful.

In france they increased the emergency for 3 more months. I will bet it will be increased again.

You need cataclysm to revert things - revolution or badly lost war.

The US held as long because it had been created intentionally weak. It needed Civil War and a World War to be able to consolidate its powers. The cold and war on terror suited just fine the power creep.

> Every government slides into tyranny.. It is inevitable.

That's why the constitutional framework on which a government was formed upon is very essential. And the strange thing is that America has the needed provisions in the constitution to prevent such tyrannical abuse in future. The Fourth Amendment[1] clearly states that:

> Amendment IV to the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.

So you see, the government is blatantly violating the fourth amendment by invading its citizens' privacy, but the point is that the constitution doesn't allow it and nor is it common for governments to do this thing.


John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!

It's worrying how much mileage "think of the children" and counter-terrorism gets.

Well, today IDS has told us that the entire EU is a terrorist threat that we must be rid of, because the children. Also paedophiles.

He did that because the other side in the debate is claiming staying in is important for the same reasons.

And ISIS are both terrorist and pedophiles (what happens to Yazidi girls is not for the faint of heart).You can kiss all of your civil rights goodbye the moment there is ISIS inspired attack on british soil.

The worst thing is that though another government could be elected and clean up some of the mess, it wouldn't have time to undo 30 years of damage, and it wouldn't even try to make the desperately needed constitutional reforms to prevent more of this happening in future.

The UK has been declining as a power for the last 100 years..

Also most of this "tyranny" and "fascism" doesn't impact on the vast majority of the population, you probably care more than most of us do.

That is exactly the point. Your society is falling into the abyss, and none of you care. If you did care, it wouldn't be happening - the fact that you don't care, is precisely why its being allowed to happen.

"Fine by me if the English people are okay with being governed by pedophiles, pimps, war-mongers and criminals."

Actually, it isn't fine by me.

It impacts every one of us.

The problem is most are apathetic or ignorant of what is actually happening.


There's some useful, informed, discussion in the UK Crypto mailing list.


The purpose of the non-disclosure sections of this law is to prevent the suspect being wiretapped (or similar) knowing that they're being wiretapped.

It's not exactly very useful if someone under active investigation finds out that they're being watched, and changes their communications behaviour as a result.

In this case, it wouldn't need to be applied as the suspect is dead.

Unfortunately your conjectures are not in the bill; what is in the bill is broad and vaguely worded as to what applies (just about any security related request), but very precise and forceful about what is not allowed to be communicated (nothing is allowed to be said about the request; ever).

If you read the Parliamentary Commission's criticisms of the IPBill, it looks like the spy agencies intend to use a lot of "bulk collection" capabilities, even with "targeted" warrants, which means there will be more than one person "wiretapped" at any given time.

So in practical terms, this will never be disclosed because everyone will be wiretapped, and disclosing it would mean "endangering the wiretap".

The UK lacks a formal Constitution with something like the 1st Amendment. Instead it has something called the Human Rights Act which includes all kinds of exceptions to free speech. The US 1st Amendment is not absolute but it's the closest thing we have to an absolute right here. The infringement of free speech is possibly the single most controversial aspect of US National Security Letters. It's generally very difficult to limit a person's free speech because of the 1st Amendment. While in UK it seems like they can easily add exceptions like not being able to discuss a court order.

The FBI use NSLs fairly freely and nobody really seems to object. The first amendment doesn't really seem to help us here.

I think the only reason this wasn't done under a gag order is the FBI wants to use public response to win this case since it's about a terrorist attack (IIRC, they tried the exact same request about a Meth dealer and it was refused) so they can set a precedent. You can't set a precedent for open court and rally the public behind you if it's all secret.

Most gag orders can be challenged and have to serve a benefit of some kind and be of limited duration (like to guarantee a fair trail).

A NSL gag order can be challenged.

In December 2008, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that some of the NSL gag provisions were unconstitutional, in part because they limited judicial review of the gag orders and forced courts to defer to the government’s assertions about the necessity of a gag order and also thwarted the ability of recipients to challenge a gag order.

[source:] http://www.wired.com/2010/08/nsl-gag-order-lifted/

And more gag provisions were overturned in 2013.


I think the overturning of these provisions of the NSL gag order she the power of the 1st Amendment a show the US judiciary tend to be skeptical whenever the government attempts to limit free speech.

If only it were so easy to use party affiliation to identify adversaries on this topic.

Those in favor of government power to compel Apple to commission software, laws to weaken encryption or safeguards such as rate limiting, and spending public funds to aid closed research to crack encryption have one thing in common. They are statists. They believe in the absolute authority of the state.

Guess again if you think it's a dysfunction of government when parties disagree. Extra scrutiny is required when they agree.

That's a blanket, incorrect generalization.

I'm strongly opposed to government crypto backdoors. Cryptography is protected expression under the first amendment.

However, there's no participation award for weak crypto systems; you don't get immunity from lawful search under the fourth amendment because you tried (or claimed) to implement strong crypto.

If a legal search is possible because you intentionally backdoored your crypto system by giving yourself access to tamper-resistent key derivation hardware on the devices your customers own, then that legal search is ... still legal.

The All Writs Act, and this application of it, has been held up by the Supreme Court. Furthermore, much more demanding requirements have repeatedly been supported by the courts:


The DoJ stated this quite clearly in their response to Apple's public efforts to obfuscate the issue:

"... iPhones will only run software cryptographically signed by Apple ... Just because Apple has sold the phone to a customer and that customer has created a passcode does not mean that the close software connection ceases to exist; Apple has designed the phone and software updates so that Apple's continued involvement and connection is required."

If Apple didn't hold keys that trump the owner of the device, Apple couldn't aid the government. They do hold those keys, however, and the fourth amendment still applies: they get to assist with a reasonable search.

Well when people want the government to step in and pay for everything, enforce their personal rights to have other people pay for stuff, why would they not expect the same government to limit their privacy at the same time?

Really do they think the piper is not going to get paid?

Keep asking the government to do stuff for you, step on people you don't like, and it will one day do it to you.

You know what this would lead to in the UK? The spy agencies would gag companies to even tell their customers they got hacked, if it happens to be because of a vulnerability they created for the spy agencies.

So people will continue to have their accounts hacked more and more and everyone will keep quiet about it.

Probably gone amiss in this whole thing. Apple technically could post this letter under the proposed legislation because they are not a "telecommunications provider" which is a specific term in UK law referring to those companies who provide telecoms services usually mobile operators, BT etc.

Apple is not a licensed telecoms provider as they would never of been able to provide iMessage in the UK as it lacks any ability for real-time intercept a requirement on telecoms providers.

Are there any precedents where the UK has placed a gag order on a foreign company, and successfully extradited and imprisoned a CEO for violating said gag order?

That's a privilege reserved for America, but the nearest I can think of is the Matrix-Churchill fiasco ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arms-to-Iraq ) in which the directors were very nearly jailed by the customs authorities for doing things which they were ordered to do by the intelligence services.

That is interesting. I honestly believe America wouldn't extradite or even convict a CEO like Tim Cook but in this climate who knows.

@pjc50 Could you imagine a trade embargo between tech companies and the UK OR a ban on the sale of phones that do not adhere to the newly proposed laws?

There was the whole John Delorean weird business, although that was allegedly plain old cocaine dealing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_DeLorean#Arrest_and_trial and there's allegations of someone else having their business destroyed for refusing to cooperate with surveillance but I cannot remember the name.

I can't imagine the UK having a tech embargo that affected iPhones; that's the kind of stupidity that brings down governments. However, I should note that the ARM TrustZone technology that's critical to the iPhone security is developed in the UK...

"that's the kind of stupidity that brings down governments" - Do you know who David Cameron is?

That John Delorean is some weird business. Not sure how it pertains to extradition re: gag orders.

I think when it comes to laws around murder, drugs, and other organised crime it quickly becomes clear that cooperation is important and most countries would support a mutual extradition.

I believe that when it comes to laws surrounding political issues; freedom of speech, privacy, removal of encryption (for all phones without warrant or guilt) etc., some foreign companies may not feel obligated to partner up as it were. And rightly so.

You can say 10% of the phone is created in China with 30% of the R&D in Poland and 5% design in LA and so on. That division of labour doesn't really matter and it's not really the point. If the company that owns and sells the product remains outside of the UK then I very much doubt the gag order portion would be enforceable. In fact, you would just need to schedule technology to prevent the sale of none compliance. We do that in all other industries and it would be the easiest way to go.

You could argue that tech companies would still comply with warrants and you could even argue that the they could eventually add backdoors BUT you can't say the gag order would be enforceable. Companies like Samsung and Apple sell to countries other than the UK.

tldr; UK Gov demands a backdoor in the iPhone. Apple reject the gag order and backdoor. Why should the UK demand foreign companies weaken foreign technology sold domestically that would globally affect not only the sale of the product but the trust of consumers in other countries where privacy is paramount. And how or whom do they arrest when nobody complies? ;)

Apple did not want to make this public, and would have been quite happy to give the FBI what it wanted under seal. It was the FBI that actively wanted to make this public, ostensibly to establish legal precedent. See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11131866

Isn't this close to the essence of NSA letters, that have in-built-in gag orders?

I can't believe the USA is being shown up by UK on the topic of government corruption. We gotta step up our game. Time to vote Trump.

It's not as if the Clinton Dynasty ever attempted to mandate the use of "clipper chips" (encryption chips with a government backdoor) in mobile phones, or tried to ban strong encryption.



FYI, the primary political folks promoting encryption were small government, libertarian republicans. (These folks mostly don't exist anymore.) John Ashcroft was fairly prominent among them:


Kids these days don't even remember the 90's.

Clipper was horrible, that said:

John Kerry and John Ashcroft were two of the most prominent opponents of clipper. It is dishonest and inaccurate to claim that the Republicans were against it and the Democrats were for it, both sides were split.

Similarly, it's a bit of a reach to claim that "the Clinton dynasty" tried to mandate usage. The NSA offered the chip without royalties, and Bill Clinton endorsed it and proposed it be added to the NIST crypto standards. It was a strong nudge to make it available for free; but it never really approached the level of an attempted mandate.

Clipper was a horrible horrible idea; and there were (and still are) members of both parties who think that these sort of backdoored crypto schemes are a good idea. Clipper (and similarly flawed proposals) don't typically originate from a politician; they typically originate from the military-industrial complex and are expressed through a politician.

Partisans always have trouble remembering history though... they forget when "their side" does wrong, but they remember clearly the wrongs of the "other" side. And vice versa for good things.

During the 90's I started off as a Clinton-supporting democrat. At that time, support for encryption was primarily a position held by the "black helicopter" crowd. ("Black helicopters" refers to allegedly paranoid fantasies by right wing militias that federal agents will come for them in black helicopters.)

Note that I'm not attempting to promote any particular party - note that I said the folks who promote encryption don't really exist anymore.

> FYI, the primary political folks promoting encryption were small government, libertarian republicans. (These folks mostly don't exist anymore.)

We exist.

More of us though are handing in our Republican membership cards. If Trump wins the nomination, I'm done with the Republican party.

I hear John McAfee is running for the Libertarian party ticket? That might be fun.

If John gets the nomination, it might be entertaining, but would be another example of the LP shooting themselves in the foot (he's great guy, but not a politician). This election cycle is the best chance they've had to date to become a major party, and I hope they pick someone that at least looks and acts mainstream so they get TV airtime (while keeping LP culture close to their heart)

How are the Clinton's a Dynasty, if only one of them has been President?

When people talked about the Dynasty candidate I assumed they were talking about Jeb! (please clap).

President, Governor, Senator, Secretary. For decades in national politics. That's a dynasty.

I disagree. Four decades isn't that much, given it's totally achievable for one person to spend that much time in public office. Bernie Sanders has 35.

Yeah, totally. The dems have such a great record on privacy! /s

This is a good discussion to have if everyone can keep our feels to ourselves.

Why do some people seem to have the opinion that authoritarianism (anti-privacy) is a feature of one political party (or ideology) more than another. As far as I can tell, there are only a handful of congresspersons who are strong protectors of the fourth amendment. Amash - R, Wryden - D, Rand Paul - R, Ron Paul - R, Udall - D. and a few others. Most just follow whatever the party whip tells them to do, and then there are a handful of very authoritarian troublemakers: ie: Pete King - R and Dutch Ruppersberger - D, et al.

I think many people are more focused on party affiliation than actually paying attention to what their party is doing.

Identity politics.

> Why do some people seem to have the opinion that authoritarianism (anti-privacy) is a feature of one political party (or ideology) more than another

The parties market themselves as anti-authoritarian to their own base, while (correctly) characterizing the other party as authoritarian. The marketing propaganda plays off peoples' varying desires for specific freedoms, and whips them into an aggressive fervor bent on taking away freedom from the other team. The politicians are then free to implement the authoritarian policies purchased by their respective sponsors.


That allegation was never proven.

And yet, Trump does not even have any unproven allegations. A long way to go to match our beloved leader Cameron.

We (and our governments) need to recognise that there is no such thing as secrecy anymore, just as there is no privacy anymore.

So just as we as individuals need to adjust to a world where our love affairs are known to our telcos and smartphones before our spouses, we need to require our governments to adjust to an open-by-default world where most of what they want to keep secret is just out there.

this is the idea that a city watched over by CCTV is a police state if only the police can view the cameras.

If everyone can view the cameras it's a free but different society

> So just as we as individuals need to adjust to a world where our love affairs are known to our telcos and smartphones before our spouses

Wait, what? Why should we simply accept mass, indiscriminate surveillance that has an incredible potential for misuse now and in the future?!

Because the upsides, properly managed, outweigh the down.

My lifestyle, as a piece of anonymised health data, along with my genome can benefit medical research as well as my own health choices

who I meet or converse with, who is nearby, who is willing and able to purchase the same product as I locally to gain discounts, who is looking to hire someone with my skill sets, who is looking for sex.

So many options exist once We all place our digital life up on a publically readable board that it is hard to imagine we will refuse it.

But there are about four options

1. Police state. The only people with access to my digital life are the police. China is currently looking at a digital credit score, incorporating party loyalty amoungst other things.

2. Private walled gardens. AOL, Facebook, health insurers, driving insurers. All of these private companies collect my digital life right now. Some of not all can or are compelled to give the data secretly to 1. Above. Even if they were not, the total utility of the data is dramatically reduced in walled gardens plus why is trusting Facebook more sensible than trusting my government with the same data.

3. Anonymised and public. So no walled gardens but lots of open protocols for sharing data, and anonymising that data. This means my weight and most recent meal can be used by medical researchers. However, anonymising data sets sucks - there is little chance I will remain as anonymises as the idea of "privacy" indicates

4. Totally open. Just stick the raw data up and let cottage industries come tell me something interesting.

It's most probable that "good" societies will find a balance between 3 and 4. Some my even be the societies currently seen as developed democracies, but there is no guarantee.

The advantages of data are such that a society built around the right precepts for big data will win big time - like a society that wrote down its precepts 250 years ago, "we hold these rights ..."

The only protection against being blackmailed for being gay in the military is to not make homosexuality a criminal offence and then have all the gays in the military come out.

This is the same protection we have against all the mass surveillance - that we know everyone's business. Is it going to be really hard to manage? Yes, and that's why some Socities will make it and many won't. Most have not grasped modern democracy.

Anonymizing data is a myth. Enough data, and you can guess from only a few details who its about. There are ways of identifying a computer by what software/updates are installed. Identify a 50+ male on my street who buys embedded processors - well, that's only me. See how easy?

That's what I said. But somewhere between trying to anonymise and totally open is likely to be the sweet spot of the next 100 years

No, somewhere between anonymizing and not collecting the data at all, will be the safe spot. Otherwise, Big Brother.

We won't avoid collecting the data. It is then just about who has access to that data - I say that giving everyone access to everything is the "safest", and that we can pull back from that in a controlled manner towards anonymising data.

But we cannot avoid this. For example one suggestion is that paving stones will come embedded with "RPi-level" computing (IoT will be so cheap ...) and will in essence be used by my local council to assess wear and tear and potholes etc.

What this means is that my paving stone outside my house will be able to report every time I leave, and you can tell the difference from me stepping out or in and someone walking on the preceding flagstones.

Can we complain about the council improving how it handles potholes? But it is a total loss of privacy at my front door.

This stuff will be everywhere

Your theory is thought provoking but it seems to fall under the same problems as the others.

1. How do you regulate that companies are actually giving things up? People will hide things if it's beneficial to them and there's very little you can do about it short of becoming the police state you said you didn't want.

2. How do you deal with the fact that some entities will have more resources than others to make use of that open data? It doesn't seem to level the playing field as you suggest. If you think that you can force them to level the playing field because their pursuits will be open as well, go to 1.

3. Innovation, competition, defense, dealing with other countries who won't act the same way and a long etc.

While I understand the abstract concept I'm not sure how much thought you've put into it with regards of the practicality.


1. Is very interesting 2. Well, need to think 3. I think the upsides to a strong data-ocracy is so great countries will copy you

But yeah worth thinking on

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