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Whistleblower uncovers London police hacking of journalists and protestors (wsws.org)
764 points by troubleden on April 19, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 265 comments

That article is based on an article and an opinion piece that were published in the Guardian last month:



You make it sound as if the article was written by a journalist, not a person who had been leaked to and is a part of the story. Anyway, that whistle blower and the leaker could both get 14 years under proposed anti-whistleblower laws:

The Guardian failed to point out in its report that new legislation proposed by the Law Commission would make the author of the anonymous letter, Jones herself, and the journalists at the Guardian, liable for prosecution—with up to 14 years in jail.

It seems totally futile to stand up to these people.

> and the leaker could both get 14 years under proposed anti-whistleblower laws:

No, that's not a proposal of the Law Commission report (which isn't a proposed new law).

Here's the document. It's over 300 pages long. The consultation is still open.


The report gathers information about all the whistleblowing protection law in the UK; all the secrecy protection law (which exists in some weird places; and laws in other countries.

The 14 years comes from 2 places:

1) comparing the English "Official Secrets Act" maximum sentence (currently 2 years) with the equivalent in Canada (currently 14 years). But the report does not propose, even tentatively, that the English maximum is extended to 14 years.

2) Comparing the maximum sentence under the official secrets act with other laws. For example:

> 3.184 The maximum sentence for the offences contained in the Official Secrets Act 1989 is the same as many other offences that criminalise the unauthorised disclosure of information. For example, it is an offence punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment for an employee of the National Lottery Commission to disclose information that has been supplied by Her Majesty’s Commissioners for Revenue and Customs that relates to a person whose identity is specified in the information or whose identity can be deduced from the information. This is the same maximum sentence available for an unauthorised disclosure that, to take one example, damages the capability of the armed forces to carry out their tasks.

One effect is to lengthen the maximum sentence under the Official Secrets Act, but another might be to reduce the sentences in all these other laws.

>English "Official Secrets Act" maximum sentence (currently 2 years)

> This is the same maximum sentence available for an unauthorised disclosure that, to take one example, damages the capability of the armed forces to carry out their tasks.

I had to look that up - that's incredible. For all the fuss made about it 2 years seems very short. I was under the impression these kind of things carried passive penalties. Though I guess there's extra charges if you reveal secrets to an enemy or something.

Thanks for this! It'll take me a while to read but I'll have a look later. Great that the original article and my comment has been corrected by someone with more information.

I agree that it's worrying that UK gov wants more surveillance powers and doesn't seem to respect privacy. And police illegally spying on people is really worrying.

If it's futile now, just wait until they grow even stronger. It's now or never.

And do what exactly? Go to a protest? It doesn't work and never has; most people are content just by reading The Daily Hate.

They already won.

>It doesn't work and never has;

You'd be surprised. Maybe read some history. Except if you mean: it doesn't work to guarantee an utopia or even that the things/rights/etc won by protesters are secured for eternity. Then again, nothing does.

It certainly has worked in the past, but in more recent times in a western 'democracy'?

On February the 15th 2003, millions of people marched against the Iraq war across around 800 cities - with possibly as many as 1 million in London alone. This made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the largest ever anti-war rally.

What happened? We went to war.

That happens all the time in history too. There are thousands of failed demonstrations, protests, etc.

Demonstrations are not some guaranteed method that will always bend those in power: it's just one of the few methods that affect change and have in the past.

If demonstrations were all that it took every time, then the French wouldn't have to behead their king, and the Americans wouldn't have to fight a revolution.

It's also about how seriously those people mean it. Marching for a day is useless if you don't also change how you act politically, inform people, change your buying habits (e.g. boycott some company), vote differently, go on strike, etc.

Else, who cares if they protested? They just had their fun for a day and went back to watching their favorite TV series. They didn't even mean it that much themselves.

With a much smaller coalition than for the Afghanistan war---which had less demonstrations against it in eg Germany. So perhaps the amount of protesting did make a difference in some countries?

Protesting only works to persuade those who have a conscience, it does little against a faceless government or the class of property owners. A look at how protesting has worked in the past decades, with a few notable exceptions, will show you that protesting does little to alter the status quo.

>Protesting only works to persuade those who have a conscience, it does little against a faceless government or the class of property owners.

Protesting is not just standing around with some banners. Demonstrations, strikes, occupations, etc. are all part of it, and have brought down many a government.

It's not about "conscience" -- except if we mean some tame gatherings where people stand quietly and hold some picket signs for a few hours and then go home.

It works; it's just that the people fighting will be the one paying the worst price and getting the least benefits. Benefits will then go to the people than not only did nothing, but actively made things harder to fight.

Life is unfair that way.

> Go to a protest? It doesn't work and never has;

The civil rights movements of the last century are proof that it does in fact work when enough people engage.

The same civil rights movements that got a bunch of laws put on books barring discrimination? The same laws which have been proven to be ignored time and again by law enforcement?

> The same civil rights movements that got a bunch of laws put on books barring discrimination? The same laws which have been proven to be ignored time and again by law enforcement?

You say that like the current situation is no better than what came before the civil rights movement.

You say that like the current situation doesn't still garner a lot of attention.


The only time people in power make concessions is when there is a credible threat to them maintaining that power.

You mean, like an election?

Lol that an election in the UK will change the direction of the country in terms of civil liberties. No one with a remote chance of winning will do that. (and the upcoming election send like it will just give Theresa May a free hand to do what she wants)

Perhaps that's because most of the electorate think recent governments have struck a good balance between civil liberties and security.

I happen to believe that trade off has gone a bit far and I'm worried that significant further erosion of civil liberties would start causing some serious issues, but lets face it if we believe that we have to argue the case before the public. Whining about living in a police state isn't going to be very productive, or lend that struggle much credibility.

Perhaps that's because most of the electorate think recent governments have struck a good balance between civil liberties and security.

The results of surveys on this issue are interesting.

A clear majority of people in the UK do typically back some of the stronger surveillance and security measures, when (as is almost always the case) they are presented as giving the police and security services greater powers to prevent serious crime and terrorism. I mean, who doesn't want to prevent serious crime and terrorism?

On the other hand, when presented with more complete information about the actual laws that have been passed, such as the much wider range of government departments who have been given such powers, or when questioned in a way that demonstrates they themselves are subject to the same intrusions, many more people express concern and a lot object strongly.

Surveys also show pretty consistently that the vast majority of people don't know even roughly what the actual situation is, and assume it is more the former than the latter. For example, many people didn't even know about the increased surveillance powers granted a few months ago. Popular support is based on trust in our government and public services, rather than knowing the facts.

lets face it if we believe that we have to argue the case before the public

Unfortunately, the political party with the most credible basis for arguing in favour of stronger civil liberties seems to have decided they want this election to be about exactly one issue, Brexit. Whether or not that strategy works out for them over the next couple of months, it makes it highly unlikely that other important issues like this will even make it into the public debate at all.

Yes. That's why, after the "brexit election" a second election needs to be held. You know, to make sure the populace really meant it.

Of course, that's an improvement over the rest of Europe. Last time Europe got voted out of parliament they didn't even bother with redoing the election. They just went directly against the election results, like in Greece.

Why does anyone still pretend at this point ?

>to make sure the populace really meant it

Bizarre comment. Do you really think the election has a credible chance of overturning the result of the referendum? Or that this is the reason it's being held?

Every time an elected government does something random poster on HN or elsewhere doesn't like, it's the end of democracy and a conspiracy of the elite.

I voted Remain and still believe leaving the EU will harm Britain and the electorate was mislead and conned. But you know what? The electorate are all grown-ups that had access to the same information that I do. We hold regular elections to allow the electorate to change their mind if they are conned. But if they obstinately and persistently refuse to see things my way, well that's fine. Well it isn't, but I'm not going to throw all my toys out of the pram and start crying about it. Politics is messy and imperfect mainly because it's a reflection of us, the voters. Uncomfortable, but true.

> The electorate are all grown-ups that had access to the same information that I do

I am not sure I have ever heard such trust in the electorate. Isn't an uninformed electorate a huge problem in most western democracies?

Yes I believe an uninformed electorate is a significant problem, but you can force people to be interested in things, care about them or read the same magazines and web sites you or I do. But this is why I believe in representative democracy. Ideally you elect people you trust to know this stuff better than you and make sound judgments. But if you get it wrong, well that's why we have fresh elections every few years.

If you can suggest one?

Irish War of Independence? Hungarian Revolution of 1848? A little harder if you don't count independence efforts of distinct groups of people. Solidarność? Storming of the Bastille? Hungarian Revolution of 1956?

It's fairly pointless to list examples, as they are everywhere. Sometimes the goal is achieved more easily, sometimes it takes decades. But it can work.

Look at the peaceful transition in South Africa. Do you think that would have happened if the old government thought they could keep hanging on?

The campaign of the ANC* was peaceful?

*edit: I don't know what I thought ANG was...

No, but the transition was peaceful. FW de Klerk freely gave the power across instead of being murdered in his bed or trying to set fire to "the homelands".

Since then, despite the high crime rate, there hasn't been any ethnic cleansing or large scale retribution. Beyond generic Africa-standard corruption, the country has mostly taken the high road.

People have a funny way to look at how violent a transition and especially leaders are or aren't depending on whether they agree with the outcome.

The ANC ... well ... in the words of the Apartheid museum [1] (ie. The South African government's own words):

"Demonstrations against the killings followed in many parts of the country and led to the banning of the main African opposition organisations, the African national Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). Both went underground, and formed armed wings, Umkhonto we Sizwe (ANC) and Poqo (PAC)."

Yes, Nelson Mandela ... founded a revolutionary army. Yes, I agree with the outcome too, and the process was almost bafflingly well executed. Bombings, placing landmines on public roads, kidnapping and torture were some of the tactics used. Again, bonus points for the outcome, and for successfully keeping control of this army after it was no longer needed, but peaceful ? Please. Also, I would further argue that South Africa did not exactly become a haven of peaceful coexistence under Nelson Mandela.

India, and Gandhi is another example of this. So is Che Guevara. Looking how peaceful what happened with them at the helm of organisations is, you really, really, really wonder why these people are considered nonviolent.

Yes, Gandhi thought (and taught) that violence was beneath him, but he certainly had the option to act and prevent the people he led from using violence. What happened ... he sent out his forces and the opposing side sent out it's forces, and at least 10 million died. Granted, not during the revolution he was famous for, but he was in command during the partition wars. Doing India's independence he was not peaceful either. He commanded forces that, time and time again, attacked others.

And Che Guevara. He was not a violent man, you see, he simply saw the bourgeoisie as constantly committing violence upon everyone and he was just using the minimum amount of force to prevent them from continuing that. That minimum amount of force, of course, included things like shooting any medical doctors on sight, several massacres, and having his followers do worse than even that.

Plenty more along these lines, Kemal Ataturk, the French revolutionaries, the Communists (granted, not so much in the USA, but even in the USA the "real socialists" are peaceful), muhammad, the muslim prophet, ...

But men of peace ! Men of the people ! In reality, living with some of these men was like living as a Jew under Hitler. Ironically, Adolf Hitler is also a Nobel Peace prize laureate.

[1] https://www.apartheidmuseum.org/turn-violence

"Gandhi sent out his forces" LOLL!! He wasnt in command either! I need what you are smoking!

I said a peaceful transition, not a peaceful protest.

A non-peaceful transition of power is what happened in Zimbabwe, or Mozambique, or DRC or so many other African countries when the colonial forces let go of the reigns.

Seriously? Comparing Che to Ghandi? What a farce.

History is filled with suggestions.

Mate, the battle may have been lost but the war never ends.

This level of discourse is very embarrassing for HN.

Not as embarrassing as your comment I'm afraid. I'd refrain from commenting like that in the future.

I actually find this comment very embarrassing.

Yes, your comments are. Clearly we needed reminding and the point needed to be underscored.

Eugh. Such a shame

I'll agree on that, maybe the solution is to keep one step ahead at all times.

The problem there is that as techies we can keep one step ahead of what the average citizen could do (whether that is one step ahead of the authorities is another matter) but any popular movement that could emerge wouldn't be full of just techies.

That's one of the reasons why the concept of the 'cell' has emerged in multiple places in multiple movements, the only way to keep the organisation as a whole going under massive scrutiny from the authorities is to internally partition it so that compromise of one cell doesn't compromise the others, this only works for a longer period of time if the cell contacts up the tree are beyond the reach of the authorities for either political reasons (Sinn Fein in Ireland) or judicial reasons (they are outside the country in a place they can't be extradited from).

There is a fascinating history of the ANC in South Africa using a digital technology and long distance lines to London as a clearing house for information to avoid the security services in South Africa during apartheid.

You can still vote with your feet.

Well tried scotland yard, well tried...

>that whistle blower and the leaker could both get 14 years under proposed anti-whistleblower laws

Why do we have to consider what essentially is treason to a nation to be ok?

You have to go to the electorate and tell them "you see, this guy just leaked these documents which put our nation's security at risk. Shall we just set him free?". I'm sure that'll go well... you have Snowden/Assange to see how it went.

Why should we not support those who expose wrongdoing? That's the core of the issue you're ignoring here, whistleblowing is not just releasing whatever things you want.

If we as a nation want those activities, then we should make them legal and clearly defined. If not, then stopping those activities from taking place hardly sounds like "treason".

> then we should make them legal and clearly defined

We did, in 1998, in the Public Interest Disclosure Act https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Interest_Disclosure_Act...

And we made things a bit better for NHS Whistleblowers with the Freedom to Speak Up Review and and NHS Improvement (was Monitor) Freedom to Speak Up policy which is compulsory for NHS Trusts



Sorry, I think I wasn't clear. I meant making the activities that people blow the whistle on legal/clearly defined as expected practice, rather than whistleblowing itself. If as a country we're OK with doing X and not with people whistleblowing about the country doing X, then we should make X clearly defined as legal.

I don't think we should make these things legal, personally, but I think they should either be legal so whistleblowing doesn't make sense or illegal and whistleblowing is encouraged.

We have made surveillance legal, and provided a framework of protections, under Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

Before RIPA we had a bunch of different public bodies using surveillance with little control over what they were doing. After RIPA they can still use surveillance if they follow the correct procedures, and some of the abuses were reigned in.

The police especially have strong powers to use surveillance.

And so something that falls entirely within both the letter and spirit of those regulations wouldn't be something a person would have protections for 'whistleblowing', right? Since it's not really whistleblowing in those cases.

England has some weird bits of law.


If you leak data that damages the capability of the armed forces to carry out their tasks the maximum sentence is 2 years.

Compare that to:


> By way of contrast, sections 57 – 59 of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, when commenced, will make it an offence punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment for a Crown servant to disclose without authorisation anything to do with the existence or implementation of particular warrants granted pursuant to the Investigatory Powers Act, including the content of intercepted material and related communications data.

So, while it might be right that official secrets is made more restrictive, but with an increased max sentence, that is a bit worrying because other law tends to anchor to OSA sentences, and we don't want longer sentences all over other data privacy laws.

It's not treason to warn your nation about internal usurpers, and that's what some police were guilty of here. In a democracy, power belongs to the people, and when the government takes that away and operates in excess of their remit, they are the ones who are guilty of treason, not the whistleblower.

Is it treason to expose abuses of power and illegal practices?

Yes it is.

Anyone who works in a classified/borderline field signs multiple documents that skirt around this, limit rights, and especially allow some form of nonjudicial prosecution.

As for that being right or wrong on either side, that is a long and frustrating argument.

Not really. There can be whistleblower protections that supercede other laws and contracts. There can be illegal contracts, which are not valid regardless of whether you sign them. Do you believe every issue is governed by a single law that is set in stone for eternity?

Whistleblower laws haven't been working well. A wrong step could get you excluded from protections, put you in a situation where you can't defend yourself, you could be in a field where other organizations can bully their way in making everything more complex, if you're lucky you could just get kicked out with black marks on your records (with any information related sealed), if you do everything right it could end up pretty much ignored (or lost in paperwork) and similar.

Are laws set in stone for eternity? No.

Must acts that are committed now be judged by the laws that exist now? Yes.

How do laws change? Are the changes ever retroactive? Do laws ever exist on the books longer than they are enforced or considered moral? Seems like everything is black and white for you, but reality rather disagrees.

Anyway, there already are whistleblower protection laws in many places.

I hold this comment to be untrue. It is clear in common-law that our peers may find a law to be untenable.

So you may have some comparisons... How many people were actually killed by the military operations uncovered by snowden/Assange versus how many people were killed by the disclosure itself...


Per the article in the Guardian, the Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the claims.

I'll note that the corroboration was passwords of politically active people, which frankly doesn't do anything to implicate law enforcement. This may well simply be yet another "whistleblower" attempting to sow distrust of any authorities who are not beholden to their own influence.

Original source: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14145581 (or dang could change this one)

I personally prefer the currently linked article, it has more information.

Yes, can the link be changed to the Guardian piece, rather than this hard-left blog.

I'm not anti police or law but some chilling recent events worry me.

A similar thing happened in Quebec, Canada.


And in Newfoundland a man who made comments on Twitter criticizing the police was tracked down then hauled off to a psychiatric hospital. He was admitted against his will and using suspicious methods.


>The Bindmans LLP law firm, acting on behalf of Jones, contacted six of those listed to verify their passwords (the others could not be traced). In response, five of the six gave passwords that matched those given in the letter, and the sixth was nearly a match.

Well jeez no wonder they were hacked if they're that easy to socially engineer. "Verify my password? That's funny, you're the third one this month..."

I think your selling the victims short here. The law firm could of been more discrete. e.g. "Hello X, We are investigating a case involving the government hacking journalists. You are a person of interest in this case. The government records show that your password is Y. Can you confirm or deny that this was your password around the dates Z?"

Well, at the very least, "the sixth was nearly a match" is pretty damning.

"Nono, you've got it wrong, MY password is hunterTHREE - you see there was this incident..."

I'm gonna continue to play Devils advocate here and that person in question could of merely confirmed that it was close.

But realistically I think your right. People will gladly handout passwords to people who sound authoritative. It's amazing to me how many DEFCON talks begin with: "So we just pretended to be X and asked for their password and got it."

OT: I see you've used "could of" multiple times. Just wanted to say it's "could have". Cheers.

Thank you for the pointer. English is not my first language so I often get the grammar wrong.

Or could've, which is clearly the pronunciation s/he was going for.

For those who don't get this brilliant reference: http://www.bash.org/?244321

this is the funniest thing i have ever read!

> one of the 10 activists said “their password may have still been in use as recently as late 2015 or early 2016.”

So these were all abandoned passwords, at the point Bindmans confirmed them correct.

Having said which, the notion that people are generally crap with passwords is obviously correct. Also I wouldn't be at all surprised if the way the article reports the password verification is abridged or at least wildly inaccurate.

Edit: I notice the Guardian article says Jones is represented by Jules Carey, who's a very well known and trusted lawyer among UK environmental activists, not a random person. I don't know if that's who they gave up their old passwords to, but we seem to be generally letting our imaginations run away with us here so let's say it was.

Good catch! And, recognizing an old password is much harder than recalling it, which would seem to suggest the law firm volunteered the passwords they had first. Morevover, if anything, the fact that all passwords had been changed reflects well on the people in question. It seems I was indeed perhaps too hasty...

Hmm. Thinking realistically about threat model, a well-known law firm is obligated to behave ethically or will lose the ability to conduct business. If someone who can prove that they're from a reputable law firm - AND that they're acting on behalf of a former Deputy Mayor of London and current member of the House of Lords - comes to me and asks me for my email password with a good reason why they want it, it's not clear that saying yes would be a mistake.

Personally, I would almost certainly say no on the principle that nobody should have my email password, but I'd probably be okay with revealing one letter at a time while they also reveal one letter at a time of the alleged password.

Thinking realistically, the chance of a law firm asking for passwords, or any kind of personal information, would be a wise time to defer to legal council, compliance office, or whoever has expertise.

Yup. If this were my work account (or an account I use for work), I'd go in person to IT security and also to our legal counsel, say "Hey, this law firm contacted me because they think that the government has stolen my email password, should I work with them," and follow their advice. And I'd expect "Yes, we know them, they're good folks" to be a potential answer.

Indeed. And then the ball is in their court to pick up and deliver on.

Blaming the victims? Really?

Obviously the people hacking accounts are the baddies. But I don't think it's inappropriate to note that, seemingly, someone literally phoned them up, asked for, and received their passwords - and that's not even the main story!

I still can't believe the "humans are generally trusting and helpful to strangers" vulnerability has yet to be patched.


I've been installing cynicism for years. Its a huge patch and the devs seem to have added more bugs than they fixed. It causes some communication issues with those not running the patched version.

It is a wonderfully effective platform for compelling fiction, however! See: O. Henry.

When victims are overtaken by force, coercion, stealth, or a multitude of other reasons, you can't blame them. When a victim in their right mind offers up a secret to someone they didn't authenticate, "victim blaming" as a construct is a stretch.

It is not a stretch. The government must not spy its citizens. Period. They are the only ones to get blame.

If I get my bike stolen I am not be blamed if I use a shitty lock.

If I get raped I am not to be blamed if I was too drunk to resist.

If I get hacked I am not to be blamed if I was susceptible to social engineering.

Yes, it is very useful for potential victims to learn how to best protect themselves. But the moral responsibility in such violations is on the attacker, and is proportional to the damage caused to the victim, not the efforts taken to cause it.

Admittedly, this is part of why part of the crypto-activist community puts me off. Yes, cryptography is a great resistance tool, but my utopia is a society built on cooperation, equality and trust, not one of algebraic fences.

That doesn't mean it was a good idea to leave your bike unlocked, get blackout drunk and tell someone your password. I'm all for assigning blame to the police if these allegations are true, but this is a good time to remember: DON'T BE AN IDIOT WHEN YOU CAN EASILY PROTECT YOURSELF.

You're right about government spying, but my argument isn't specific to government so let's set that aside and talk more generically.

Bike theft: stealth, in my list above -- someone acted while you weren't attentive. You didn't hand over the bike, so you're not to be blamed. Even if you used no lock whatsoever, I wouldn't blame you. You could've done more, but you need to weigh the benefits against the burden of a massive lock so there's no perfect way out.

Rape: force, in my list above. You had no ability to change the outcome. I wouldn't blame you.

Hacked via social engineering: You spilled the beans. Spilling beans is avoidable with some practice, awareness, logic... this is not the same category as the others. I don't say "this is all you're fault," of course not. But unlike the bike thief and the rapist, all you had to do was ignore the attack.

Well then I guess now for you it's just a matter of going to live in the ideal world where all of that holds true, and you're golden to live without any care.

There is no reason to think, in this case, that it was a person they "didn't authenticate".

It's easy to think that, IMHO. Pre-arranging a challenge, recognizing by voice, performing a call-back to a widely publicized/trusted phone number... I really doubt anything like that occurred.

And even if there was authentication, now it's time for authorization. The only authorized recipient of a password is the exact same entity with which you established the password.

What do you think occurred?

Why this stigma against acknowledging that potential victims can (and would be wise to) take steps to protect themselves.

Yes, dressing a certain way, drinking a lot of alcohol, and attending a party doesn't begin to excuse rape. But that doesn't mean it was a good idea and is something you should do without considering the possible consequences.

If someone calls and says they work for a security firm, offers to confirm if you were involved in a hack and you do tell them your password, you are probably falling for a scam. That's all GP is saying.

Thank you. I've gotten particularly sick of the​ phrase 'blaming the victim'.

If you insult someone's mother, you might get hit. If you leave valuables or cash on top of a car in a bad neighborhood it might be stolen. It's still the fault of whoever did the bad action, and everyone would be better off if you didn't need to take precautions line that, but you could have easily taken steps to lower the chance of it happening.

If you say to buckle your seatbelt, get a fire extinguisher, or look both ways before crossing the road no one bats an eye. God forbid you acknowledge that there are bad people in the world and you should take steps to protect yourself from them.

> If someone calls and says they work for a security firm, offers to confirm if you were involved in a hack and you do tell them your password, you are probably falling for a scam. That's all GP is saying.

GP is suggesting that the people involved were clueless rubes who gave out their passwords to people of unknown identity, which I submit is almost certainly untrue.

You're possibly right, but that is pretty much what the article says. Perhaps there was more of a trust established between the parties. Perhaps they were shown a list of compromised passwords and asked if any of their passwords appeared on the list. But pointing out that what the article actually says happened makes you an easy target is hardly uncalled for. I'm taking issue with the "blaming the victim" card. Bad security practice is bad security practice and pointing it out doesn't make you Hitler.

> I'm taking issue with the "blaming the victim" card.

I also tend to gag slightly at the phrase "victim blaming", because I think it's a shibboleth that identifies your allegiances and shuts down critical thinking. But I don't actually think it's unwarranted here. Yes, the article says the people involved gave Bindmans their passwords. It also says those passwords were defunct, and that Bindmans had them anyway. It doesn't say that they didn't make reasonable efforts to verify that sharing the passwords was the right thing to do (which, as it turns out, it was). It's extremely ungenerous to respond to that by saying they deserved it for being so crap at security.

> Bad security practice is bad security practice and pointing it out doesn't make you Hitler.

I am willing to concede that it's unlikely anybody in this thread is Hitler.

Because it's easier to exonerate ourselves from any responsibility for our own mistakes than having to deal with that.

Its an issue when you self censor opinions which deviate from the mass. It also an issue of freedom of press. The government know who you talk to through metadata collection even if you use encryption.

To get that data, governments may need a bunch of things: the company being under their jurisdiction in some legally relevant sense, laws allowing for such requests (those may or may not be needed, sadly), the company keeping the data. If the company doesn't keep the data, they could try to compel it to or hack it, but those may be more difficult. So that's a lot of steps.

For this reason Signal is hardly comparable to Whatsapp and many other apps using the same protocol: the latter group openly logs metadata, the former says they almost don't, is open source, is more trustworthy due to the organizational structure. Finally, there's even some evidence ( https://whispersystems.org/bigbrother/eastern-virginia-grand... ) that they don't.

The server implementation is not open-source. I have a lot of respect for what OWS is doing but let's not peddle in false assurances.

Oh, I was thinking about this upon typing my message for the first time, but then forgot it upon retyping (my browser was being erratic). Thanks for the note.

At least parts of the server are open for a long time though[1], and they also recently exchanged some stuff into WebRTC. Could anybody clarify what part of it is still nonfree?

[1] https://github.com/whispersystems/Signal-Server/

>The government know who you talk to through metadata collection even if you use encryption.

Not as much these days. Even SMTP uses opportunistic encryption between email servers. So it takes a number of emails to make a statistical inference based on timing if there is any amount of traffic.

I find myself self-censoring on topics like this, not because of what I (don't) fear is being done by authorities, but because I can't help but to note that we're not, in fact, living in some Orwellian dystopia, and that seemingly the surveillance that is being done is promulgating a safe and stable society, but not toeing the sky-is-falling line doesn't do much for those numbers by my username.

Meanwhile, there are places that are living in a dystopia, and the single most important goal of the powers that be in those places is undermining the rule of law. So I can't help but be skeptical of stories like this.

We have a society where we can air discussions about topics like this, and where criminals can be kept out of the public sphere, and these are good things. There. And hey, tonight at least, for once, I won't go to a throwaway to say so.

>We have a society where we can air discussions about topics like this

If anything, cases like this demonstrate how quickly that can change when you soften surveillance and free speech laws. Look at Turkey. Turning a democracy into a dictatorship took only a few years.

The German government, too, is working on establishing a massive censorship complex. How can you tell it's censorship? They don't bother going after the people who make supposedly illegal statements. Instead, they pressure social networks directly to make the statements disappear without any legal process.

Right now, many people are cheering, because it works in their favor, but they're too shortsighted to realize that it'll eventually be used against them, too.

Note that I'm not even saying that certain statements shouldn't be punishable, but in a democracy, there must be a legal process for each and every case. When opinions or money decide what should be censored, it stops being a democratic process.

Sure the German justice goes after people making unlawful postings and entire specialized police units are being established. Charges and successful verdicts regarding internet posts are nothing new at all. However, going after the posters (and even just identifying them) takes a long time. Much to long compared to the speed postings get shared.

It's not the German justice going after it, that's the point. Why would they? They're not looking to punish anyone, but simply make unwanted statements disappear.

Right now, they've appointed a private organization (Arvato) that belongs to the Bertelsmann group, which has a strong lobbying branch and is very close to the government.

So basically, a private corporation is allowed to run its own show on all ends and it'll only get worse when they turn this into a law.

German sources:




>However, going after the posters (and even just identifying them) takes a long time.

That doesn't justify censorship in any way. You sound like a government shill.

How do you explain the countless penalty orders and verdicts over internet posts that were issued in the last thirty years then? People were punished for internet posts that are against the law and will continue to be punished for internet posts.

Arvato was contracted by Facebook to enforce their own terms of service and comply with the law. They are free to contract any company they like to operate on their platform. It's not the government that chose Arvato.

If you think that law is the result of lobbying alone you haven't followed to large public debate that happened over this topic the last year at all.

And please refrain from name-calling. This doesn't make your arguments look any better.

The Arvato team was appointed by Facebook after the German government complained and pressured them into deleting hate speech, without further explanation what exactly that is. They now want to turn that pressure on social networks into law.

Like I said:

>Right now, many people are cheering, because it works in their favor, but they're too shortsighted to realize that it'll eventually be used against them, too.

The problem is that hate speech is the most generic term ever and can be used (and already has been used) to censor anything.

>People were punished for internet posts

Yes, I mentioned that, but they didn't start an investigation against all authors of deleted posts. Millions of posts and pages with millions of followers were deleted without any legal repercussions. If the post is not enough concern to start an official legal investigation, there's no legal ground to delete it.

You are defending censorship. Saying you sound like a government shill is putting it very nicely.

Very good post, comrade! Remember to use your primary account when your comments are ideologically sound, this will ensure your Good Citizen points will get properly calculated.

> We have a society where we can air discussions about topics like this

What's the use of being able to freely discuss any story if the people who's job is to uncover sensitive stories are silenced?

This is the point. Many societies have devolved into autocracies with no freedom of speech, proving that it is a constant possibility for us too.

We like to think our Western countries somehow are immune, but without any particular reason. In reality we should worry more due to our technology. If lack of free speech combines with the ability to monitor everyone's speech (through phones, TV, breaking ssl) we will have recreated 1984 quite well.

There is no need to break SSL. Top Internet companies (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, WhatsApp) are under US jurisdiction and they have to do whatever US government tells them.

That seems unfair. I am sure there are many governments that would like to get their share of data too.

> we're not, in fact, living in some Orwellian dystopia

At what point along the path to that dystopia are you going to recognize that a problem exists and fight against it? It's far better to detect and try to fix problems before they spiral out of control. If you're waiting until you see a stereotypical Orwellian dystopia, it's too late.

> surveillance that is being done is promulgating a safe and stable society

Although many people claim surveillance is correlated with safety, there is very little evidence of it having any benefit.

> not toeing the sky-is-falling line doesn't do much for those numbers by my username.

That's not from a any party line, but instead is probably a reaction by the people trying to prevent a dystopian future. Pretending that problems don't exist just because they are not yet sufficiently terrible is how small problems grow into larger problems.

> is undermining the rule of law.

We've seen a many examples of that in recent times. I you believe the US is properly ruled by laws, you haven't been paying attention. We've had a two-tier justice system for such a long time it's spawned slang phrases such as "driving while black". Hang out with public defenders for a few days if you need any more proof.

> surveillance that is being done is promulgating a safe and stable society


Well, there is evidence to the contrary, at least: the lack of success of the NSA mass spying programmes, with experts like Schneier repeatedly showing why such programmes cannot in the near future even be useful for their stated purpose (anti-terrorism), and officials from the government admitting that they didn't really get much out of it - just some taxi driver who could hardly be called a threat.

The evidence that such systems endanger safety, meanwhile, should be obvious to anyone who has read about how surveillance has been used, from totalitarian states to even liberal democracies (even in the somewhat recent US history), as well as knowledge of how quickly the latter could turn into the former.

V for Vendetta was supposed to be a cautionary tale, not a manual or goalpost. Britain really has gone to shit. Probably one of the last countries I'd want to move to.

Agreed, I am British and got out just before the full power of the Conservatives was realised.

I would not plan on going back any time soon, I'm sure I'm not a minority in thinking this.

I'm British and I'm scared I'm going to be worse off staying in Britain - how did you come to be able to leave?

Ironically because we are in the EU I was able to find a job very easily.

This is a new chapter to:


"'Undercover lays bare the deceit, betrayal and cold-blooded violation practised again and again by undercover police officers - troubling, timely and brilliantly executed.' Henry Porter

The gripping stories of a group of police spies - written by the award-winning investigative journalists who exposed the Mark Kennedy scandal - and the uncovering of forty years of state espionage.

This was an undercover operation so secret that some of our most senior police officers had no idea it existed. The job of the clandestine unit was to monitor British 'subversives' - environmental activists, anti-racist groups, animal rights campaigners.

Police stole the identities of dead people to create fake passports, driving licences and bank accounts. They then went deep undercover for years, inventing whole new lives so that they could live incognito among the people they were spying on.

They used sex, intimate relationships and drugs to build their credibility. They betrayed friends, deceived lovers, even fathered children. And their operations continue today.

Undercover reveals the truth about secret police operations - the emotional turmoil, the psychological challenges and the human cost of a lifetime of deception - and asks whether such tactics can ever be justified."

- this book I read in three days, it was that thrilling!

So the Met asked the indian police, who in turn reached out to groups (!) of local hackers to carry out the work, who then presumably passed the data back through the chain to the Met.

Hard to believe someone found out with such a watertight process...

This is utterly unacceptable. Time for the electorate to put their foot down and set an example by disbanding the entire force and replace it with a new one.

But guess what the electorate will say? "They only came for the Socialists. I'm not a Socialist". Sad times.

The intelligence services have been doing this forever in most countries. If you don't know about it you're not paying attention.

Here is PJ O'Rourke writing about this in the 1960s in the US.


People don't just don't care that much.

It is worth worrying about though. With the NSA and computer surviellance we've created a 'turn-key tyranny'. And people have been worrying about that since at least the 1970s: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/04/influential-senator-w...

>People don't just don't care that much.

Well, it's not easy to understand. At times they've cared enough to extract meaningful change, so we shouldn't assume that that will never happen again. If you ask them privacy questions phrased in the right ways (I mean for clarity, not trick questions), they will often be pro-privacy.

Also, as Schneier says, we're relatively new to the internet. Who says people won't come to understand it, and the privacy issues that come along with it, better? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XF2EL43S8E

> People don't just don't care that much.

While I concur that many people have the "but I'm not doing anything wrong" mentality, even if you do care, you have no influence on the situation. Both of our 2 parties are apparently happy to let the intelligence agencies trample the 4th Amendment. It takes an odd duck like Ron Paul (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-06-11/ron-paul-warns-elec...) to actually stand up to such things. We need more of these kinds of voices in our political system, which is why I vote Libertarian in any race I can.

What about Intelligence services? This is a local police force!

I guess you could technically call the Met a "local" police force, but remember that the UK doesn't have a local/federal distinction. The Met in some of its functions is roughly comparable to the FBI.

Police have their own intelligence services in the form of "special branch". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Branch

There has always been a tension between the Met and the security service with the Met trying to get more powers in that area - even the Official Mi5 history comments on it.

Not "Socialists", "Saboteurs": https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C9wUH7PXkAUypzc.jpg

Actually the proper way to refer to people in GB is "subjects". Not Citizens, not "the electorate," rather "Her Majesty's Subjects".

Edit- Superficially wrong about this (the requirement for this nomenclature changed, but it's still acceptable usage). However, I think I'm right in the effect, as:

>The concept of a subject remains in the law, and the terms the Queen's subjects, Her Majesty's subjects, etc., remain in use in British legal discourse.

> police hacking of journalists and protestors

Because they are the real terrorists. I seriously think they had dissidents in mind when pushing for all those "anti-terror" surveillance laws.

If this was illegal surveillance, then obviously it wasn't within the scope of what's allowed by said anti-terror laws.

This doesn't add up for me yet, because I don't understand what the supposed motive is. Do the police have much interest in journalists accounts? I mean really, what's the thinking here? Are London police ignoring murders of journalists? The UK is hardly an autocracy.

Frankly we should wait to see what the IPCC says. This could easily be entirely fabricated, the only corroboration was information that would be accessible to cybercriminals, not anything that implicates law enforcement specifically.

> The UK is hardly an autocracy.

Not only autocracies do this kind of evil. Especially now that the (deeps state) ruling class consists mainly of capitalist, you can see that the police targeting dissidents fits a clear motive.

> Especially now that the (deeps state) ruling class consists ...

Sorry I don't think you should state conspiracy theories as fact without someone calling you on it. There are reasons for police to spy on activists (even illegally) without needing to assert the existence of a "deep state"

EDIT: to clarify, above where I say "reasons" I mean just that, not "reasons that I necessarily agree with"

And those reasons would be... what?

These are people with political views the government disapproves of. They are not bomb-throwing anarchists or people with a history of violence. They are not organising or threatening acts of public violence.

This is entirely a free speech issue.

Yes, the police can be in the wrong. But that's not reason (yet) to drag in conspiracy theories.

Internal politics, personal ambition, hammer-nail syndrome if an team or department has run out of other people to investigate, personal vendettas, jilted lovers, sexual obsession, regular obsession. No idea... but it doesn't take a huge amount of imagination to think of some, and doesn't require us to believe in conspiracies.

Environmental groups had plans to shut down nuclear reactors by blocking water cooling pipes in the sea.

Animal rights protestors have firebombed[1] several UK department stores (for selling fur), and abattoirs and milk distribution depots; dug up a corpse from a grave and held the body hostage; rescued animals from labs and caused damage to the labs;

Far right groups have rallies that attract considerable violence; an English politician was murdered by a far right extremist.

Illegal surveillance is obviously, unambiguously, wrong. The people who did it need to face both disciplinary action and criminal prosecution.

I do not consider potential property damage to be a form of terrorism (or otherwise a danger to the public). Potential property damage is not something that I consider a reason for surveillance. We can wait till the damage happens and the go look for the perpetrators.

There's real "people harming" evil all over our societies. Evil towards rather innocent people that destroys lives and kills, often benefiting the perpetrators (financially, or by pushing their agenda). These, to me, are the only crimes that need tough surveillance.

> I do not consider potential property damage to be a form of terrorism...

So under your definition of terrorism someone needs to be injured? You're diverging from the dictionary a little there.

I don't find it useful to use the term beyond attacks aimed at actually terrorizing people. Stuff like suicide bombs in crowded public squares or metros, sarin gas releases, etc. A particular attack doesn't have to actually have any victims to qualify (it could be unsuccessful, or the outcome could be lucky), but it at least has to have that goal, or else how is it in any way "terror"?

Some kinds of animal-rights attacks on shops or universities could qualify, especially ones using indiscriminate methods like car bombs. But I don't see how it makes sense, apart from wanting to use pejorative hyperbole, to use "terrorism" to describe sabotage that damages equipment on a lab or farm, things like throwing paint or glue on things, short-circuiting electronics, etc. We already have the perfectly good words "sabotage" and "saboteur" to describe those acts and the people who carry them out. If these all start being grouped under "terrorism", then we end up with absurdities like describing the Boston Tea Party as an 18th-century terrorist attack, which I've actually seen people do, but I don't think is useful.

For clarity: the examples I gave were of organisations using fire to destroy property in order to persuade those businesses to stop trading, or to make it economically impossible for them to keep going.

I mentioned a group that stole a corpse from a grave.


> The militants, including a vicar's son and a psychiatric nurse, led what they called a "holocaust" against a farm which bred guinea pigs for medical research. Jon Ablewhite, John Smith and Kerry Whitburn pursued a six-year hate campaign against Darley Oaks farm in Newchurch, Staffordshire. Whitburn's girlfriend, Josephine Mayo, was sentenced to four years for a lesser part in the campaign.

> Almost 100 people connected to the farm were targeted. Explosive devices were sent to some, mail threatening to kill and maim to others. There were attacks on homes, cars and businesses. The relentless campaign culminated in the theft of the body of Gladys Hammond, a close relative of the Hall family who ran the farm, from her grave in October 2004.

> For months, activists taunted the Halls, telling them the body would be returned if they closed the farm. The body was found only last week in woodland after Smith told the authorities where it was.

This is a campaign of violence, against people, for political reasons.

Sure. I don't think throwing paint is terrorism either.

The comment I replied to generalised the work of these activists as "potential property damage"... which in the case of the Animal Liberation Front's firebombing campaign, or the plan to interfere with the safe operation of a nuclear power station is incorrect. They're both acts that put lives at risk and clearly intend to cause fear beyond the event.

That is not terrorism, it's criminal damage.

"noun: the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims."

Firebombing department stores to stop them selling fur is terrorism by most definitions of the word.

Don't forget that arson is a particular type of criminal damage and carries much heavier sentences because it's so dangerous.

In Canada Police spied on journalists who were investigating police corruption https://www.cpj.org/blog/2017/02/surveillance-of-journalists...

There's been scandals in the UK recently of the Met using undercover police infiltrating peaceful groups and then attempting to incite them to violence.

No-one even knows why they were infiltrating them in the first place. The Met has got seriously out of control. Undercover officers with crazy fake identities not investigating crimes but acting as stasi agents.

This is not a surprise nor particularly unbelievable.

> No-one even knows why they were infiltrating them in the first place.

Talk to some anarchists, activists and others that may be labeled as dissidents by the capitalists ruling class. They will clearly tell you their motives: keep the status quo from being seriously challenged, allowing the rich get richer at the expense of the broader societies and the environment they exploit.

This doesn't add up for me yet, because I don't understand what the supposed motive is.

Authoritarians (like cops, broadly speaking) have always tried to spy on people who might subvert their own authority and the status quo, like protestors, activists, and the journalists who cover such things and who keep in touch with such people. It has ever been thus.

Social reformers sometimes actually change things - think of the labor movement, the civil rights movement - but foreign terror against random civilians usually only re-enforces the social order and the status of cops. The cops are, and have historically been, more concerned with domestic journalists than with foreign terrorists or even actual criminals.

"Cops caught spying on journalists and activists, won't even apologize" has been a pretty common headline for many decades.

> This doesn't add up for me yet, because I don't understand what the supposed motive is.

Journalists may have information that the state may want to know. For instance, you'd want to know if a new Snowden is leaking info to more Guardian journalists. It's wrong and worrisome, of course, but I'm not surprised in the least.

Once you set up the technology that enables this kind of police work, laws rarely suffice to stop its use.

No one has set up the technology that allows this, which is why the police had to break the law and use hackers outside the country to do this.

The police had legal surveillance powers available to them, but chose not to use them.

Now they face both disciplinary action and criminal prosecution; and the victims can sue for damages.

Almost makes you think we only have terrorism just so the countermeasures can be exploited to keep the masses under total control. ;)

I don't know if I believe that, however the spectre of terrorism is WAY overblown (more people die slipping and falling in the shower). So I do find it really unreasonable that it's used as an excuse to monitor our communication...

If you asked me which I fear more, the government (I'm British) slowly inching towards 'soft' totalitarianism or terrorism I'd have to say the former not the latter.

However I don't really fear either though I think the former is the more likely thing to affect me.

Exactly this - it exists. It's just overblown, as states have forever recognized that they can use fear for conformity and submission. But we should be careful to not say it's fabricated unless in specific cases where there is good evidence for it.

That's a super interesting stat. Do you have a source for it that I can use if I want to steal your quote?

I'm glad somebody asked for this. I'm going by this: http://reason.com/blog/2011/11/21/why-we-should-fear-bathtub...

I'm sure somebody out there will argue over the exact numbers, but the general point that terrorism isn't in the top 100 causes of death is unassailable.

I Don't know what you mean by leaked western links to terrorist organisations that go all the way up to the CIA, FBI, and NSA, Tony Blair (and the missiles he sold), etc...

>> This alleged criminality is the result of a deliberate government policy of using the police and security services to [...] protect company profits and the status quo. [...] it is not simply the case that the police and security services are just being used by the government. In fact, the police and security services are becoming emboldened to take a more independent role as direct agencies of the ruling elite, overriding other bodies.

No comments needed.

> No comments needed

Except that, you know, not sure how impartial the World Socialist Web Site is likely to be!!

Impartial or not: let's count the MSM-sources that do not report on this matter; or only report late (because it would otherwise become weird if they wouldn't).

I did not see this yet in any of the MSM sites I sometimes poll on these matters. Nothing yet! If this news if true, which I believe at this point, then it is a BIG story (proven total failure of democracy, high up officials in charge have to step down because of protests). Here on HN we seem to generally agree that it is a big story as it is on the front page for quite some hours.

> let's count the MSM-sources that do not report on this matter

It originated in the Guardian. That is a MSM outlet. That said, it originated in an opinion piece. What you have is something that the Guardian didn't have enough facts for to make a real story yet, and you are expecting other MSM sources to report on it, which means they would be reporting on a Guardian opinion piece, since that's all the evidence they have.

I find it much more likely that multiple investigative divisions are looking into this and trying to find something factual to report. In the end, that is still one of the major differences between MSM outlets and random small news sites - one of them is actually expected to be accountable for what they report.

> [MSM outlets are] actually expected to be accountable for what they report.

Dunno man. I've seen stuff being reported by MSMs that was well below the professional threshold for me. Guardian seems to be one to better big outlets.

But I have to give to credit for pointing out a very valid reason for other MSMs not reporting on it.

> I've seen stuff being reported by MSMs that was well below the professional threshold for me.

It's not perfect, but it exists. That's why you see retractions at major agencies[1]. That said, they don't generally feel compelled to retract conjecture, unless egregious, and conjecture is often misinterpreted as fact (likely sometimes because of purposefully vague presentation).

I still view an organization willing to make retractions as a level above one that isn't, even if the line between conjecture and fact is sometimes obscured (because they all do that, MSM or not).

1: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3891881/ns/about/t/nbcnewscom-corr...

To clarify, that quote was directly from Jenny Jones, a member of the UK Parliament. It was her editorializing, not the socialist web site.


They are biased but ime they're pretty honest about it, and still aspire to a high standard of truthfulness in reporting. It's not a regular part of my media diet but I'd say they have far more integrity than (say) Infowars or Democracy Now.

Do you have any specific criticisms of the partiality of the story, or are you just throwing bombs?

Who is your favorite "impartial" reporter? Publication?

It's entirely acceptable to raise the question of the quality of the source if it's unknown. I, for one, know nothing about the World Socialist Web Site, or whether they have a habit of pushing stories with glaring omissions, unfounded additions or in the worst case, plain falsehoods. I do know to some degree about a fair number of larger news organizations, and while none are perfect, I trust a number of them to not completely violate the faith many people have in them (as that would be counterproductive to their business).

If the WSWS is respectable, presumably it will have a history of handling stories responsibly, and someone here can vouch for that. If nobody here knows, then it is useful to note that so people can investigate before assuming truth.

I'd vouch for them, they've been around for a really long time and while I don't subscribe to their politics I've never come across blatant lies or propaganda* in >10 years of occasional reading, which is more than I can say for a lot of agenda-driven news sites.

By propaganda I mean stories whose only purpose is engender attitudinal change, eg gleefully reporting on sex scandals but only if they happen to your political enemies. Obviously they have a pretty orthodox Marxist/communist agenda but since they're completely open about that I don't consider it manipulative of their readership.

You're essentially doubling-down on speaking from ignorance.

> You're essentially doubling-down on speaking from ignorance.

For me to double down, I would have to have been the author of the original comment, or even agreed with the manner it was delivered, no? I can't help but find your response ironic.

>government policy of using the police and security services to [...] protect company profits and the status quo

If anyone needed more evidence that we are living in a bourgeois democracy rather than a people's democracy, look no further than this government policy enforced by their thugs.

Given how easy a group can be swayed and controlled given our current centralization of media/culture, our technology, and our understanding of psychology, is it possible for there to ever again be a people's democracy? Giving the vote to the people seems to be inherently giving the vote to those who control the information being fed to the people, be that an oligarchy or the government.

The only viable forms of government i see now is a benevolent enlightened dictator or a scientocracy.

The only way to remove manipulation is to remove emotion from politics. So you either need someone who knows what needs to be done and can't be influenced otherwise, or a system that is not easy to influence, like one based on facts and evidence.

Enlightened dictator is a high risk high reward type of deal though, even if he is awesome then there are no guarantees afterwards. Basically rolling dice. Of course you need to do other things too, like restricting the influence of money in politics, but even with decent politicians the masses are vulnerable to manipulation by various interests. That really is the Achilles heel of democracy. So the system needs to be transparent and based on the scientific method. It really is the only way to remain impartial and objective.

We have a long way to get there however, so I think a short term solution is to invest in education. I know it's kind of a platitude and also imperfect, but history and research has shown that education really is the defining factor between the good and the bad. A democracy needs an educated populace, monarchy was fine and natural for certain times because it pretty much the only thing that could have worked when 95% of the populace was illiterate and relatively stupid. Sudden democracy in the Middle Ages would have been a disaster. Unfortunately there seems to be a trend of anti-intellectualism recently is certain places like the UK and US. Make no mistake, whether it is deliberate or not, it is exactly what many interests want. Dumb people are much easier to manipulate.

> The only way to remove manipulation is to remove emotion from politics.

I don't think that's the only way. At least, I think there's a few things to try first.

If information dissemination is being exploited due to new technology, first we should try to fix that in various ways. There are various other problems that might or might not have full or partial solutions as well.

When you have a hole in the henhouse that lets a fox in, the first step is to try to close the hole and possibly trap or kill the fox, not to stop raising chickens. Even if new holes are occasionally dug, as long as it's still worth it to grow chickens, you don't just give up.

The thing is, I think it's the only real way to achieve anything of lasting impact.

There will always be ways to exploit various systems, you can only react, not prevent in those cases. Because of entropy, complexity is always increasing. It means that not only are the problems going to be getting harder to address individually but that new problems and systems will be created at an exponentially increasing rate. Those problems are superficial in nature and more like symptoms in any case, than real causes. You have to address the root of the problem and that is human nature. Instead of chopping of the heads of a hydra, shoot in in the heart or something.

As long as politics can play on emotions, people will be liable to act irrationally and thereby manipulated.

While I myself would make a wonderful monarch and encourage you all to nominate me as your king or queen, sadly I am not immortal and the problem you describe is a real one.

I personally think the solution may be to remove the idea of representation from government, because the perverse incentives for anyone at a structural node are tempting and human nature is fragile. You can try to engineer corruption and rent-seeking with rule systems, but as we've seen in many Communist countries taking money out of things doesn't necessarily get your a more equitable or sustainable society.

I see a future with a much abridged legal code that is maintained somewhat like Wikipedia or a version control system, and whose implementation is built around blockchain technology and a narrowly-defined ethical calculus. However I can only handwave this for the time being as the challenges of computation legal and governmental systems are non-trivia, not to mention offering the many novel problems that would surely ensue.

This is partly why I am an anarcho-Communist, in favour of decentralised planning or to a lesser extent market Socialism.

I'm not sure what to do about giving the vote to people; arguably democracy is very good, but I would rather have per-commune direct democracy (with instantly recallable delegates or without) rather than a representative democracy.

In short, I want to do away with voting for masters, as it will be unjustified authority no matter which way it's taken.

Edit: can people please explain why they are downvoting? It would be nice to know so I can improve the quality of my posts in future.

You're being downvoted on the basis of your ideology, which I imagine is somewhat unpopular here. Your posts are of otherwise good quality. It would be nice if people started a dialog instead of silently downvoting, but I guess that would take more effort...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the traditional nomenclature is anarcho-syndicalist. Or are you marking a difference in your beliefs from those. Am I just hung up on semantics, or are you espousing there will somehow be no competition between communes/factions without some central oversight body. I would wager that's highly unlikely.

Anarcho-syndicalism is not the same thing as anarcho-communism, though they overlap significantly both in terms of ideological content and as non-exclusive identities.

> This is partly why I am an anarcho-Communist

You believe in an oxymoron?

Anarcho-Communism isn't an oxymoron; people often (because Lenin) confuse Communism as an ideology with the practices of certain regimes which notionally were oriented toward achieving Communism (but never progressed beyond the phase they described as Socialism, which is distinct from Communism) and which leftist critics (including, among others, non-Leninist Marxists and other socialists) described as not even that, but State Capitalism.

In Marxist Communism (and, with variations that are important but not relevant to this discussion, it's derivatives through Leninism), "Communism" is the desired stateless end-state, and the "dictatorship of the proletariat" in which the workers seize control of the means of production through the State—Socialism—is a transitional stage used to get from Capitalism to Communism.

Non-Marxist Communism seeks the same stateless end goal by other means; Anarcho-Communism is, in a sense, among the purest forms of Communism, since it seeks fairly direct (not necessarily immediate, but constsntly in the same direction and not the out-and-back "empower the State to destroy the State" approach) transition to the statelessend end-state.

Anarcho-Communism is not an oxymoron; Communism is by definition a stateless and indeed classless society, as described by Marx and Engels.

While I feel this is deviating from the topic at hand, I have always had some questions about how a society could be classless. Even a kindergarten was made into a class society based solely on eye color after the teacher mentioned that eye colors meant certain things about a person. In a communist society, even if wealth were equal, there are many inherent factors that differ between people due to their unique genetics and life histories. Consider just charisma and attractiveness. Someone who was rich in both would still be in a vastly superior position compared to someone who lacked both, and would be able to secure themselves an overall better life (at least on average). The only way I could see full equality of outcomes would be with some power in charge directing it, and even then the one heading that power would still be superior.

Consider something else, reproduction. While not all people want to have children, it is a major desire of many people. How do we ensure equal opportunity of reproduction to all who wish to have children?

The kind of class Marx was referring to is that of economic class, that is, class created as a result of the relationship to the means of production. Marx's view was that throughout history, various groups of people have definitive relationships to their means of sustenance - that is, who provides for them, so that they survive? In slave society, it was the slave master providing to the slave, for example. In today's society, the largest group of people, the proletariat, sustain themselves via the bourgeoisie employment in the form of wage labour.

I do not think that Socialism itself does away with the problems of humanity, but it does away with the power relationship between proletarian and bourgeois, and also all those other historical classes.

Communism isn't about equality of outcomes, it's about having the ability to apply your labour in the way which you are able to, in order to provide for yourself. Of course we must work to live (which is unfortunate, but Socialism helps mitigate that by voluntary means). It is totally fine, in my opinion, to have more than the other person next door. In a Communist society, the only reason why you would have more is because you worked harder, put more hours in, or were more efficient at what you do than the other person.

With regard to children, I don't know how to answer that question, and I don't know if there exists such a way by voluntary association which leads to such an outcome as perfect equal opportunity for reproduction. I would be very interested in finding a way, though.

Well, this is the basic problem. Marx and Engels had a vision of society governed by the better angels of our nature, not to mention a relatively simple economic understanding of the world due to the technological limitations of their day.

Karl Marx died in 1883 so while he was probably able to make guesses about how steam engines would be deployed in the future he never lived to see an actual automobile. Adam Smith's economic insights were likewise somewhat limited by the technology of his day; one has to be careful not to attribute knowledge that we only enjoy with hindsight to economic theorists of earlier eras.

I don't think that most of Marx's analysis of capitalism falls flat in the face of modern developments; some of it of course do (such as his theorised 'Asiatic mode of production' which didn't exist) but for the most part I think a Marxian analysis is a cogent one, at least from what I've seen. Marx was in a good position to envisage how technology would develop, having seen the result of the industrial revolution himself. Marx intended for his analysis of capitalism to hold regardless of time frame; arguably, and indeed into the future beyond capitalism taking the form of the theory of historical materialism.

Anarcho-capitalism is an oxymoron in the understanding of most anarchists. It seems that type of capitalists have appropriated the "anarcho" bit, while it does not make sense in that construct as "anarcho's" are not down with unrestricted acummulation private property (which evidently leads to oppression).

"Ideologically, Republicans are as liberal as they come, outside of the Libertarians."

This statement is true in the same way 'Anarcho-Communist' is. Care to guess how?

Please don't take discussions further into general ideological territory. This rarely begets good discussion and is strongly discouraged on HN.

Submissions are mostly discouraged, but a civil discussion has no reason to be. It can easily go off the rails, but a lot of that is also based on how it's originally framed. This seems fairly open to discussion in a positive way, so I take the stance the mods seem to lately, which is "wait and see". We all have the tools to try to suppress the flames (or fan them, but that's where a little personal responsibility comes in) as needed.

Oligarchy is the word you are looking for.

Outrageous. I worry we in the USA are going this direction too.

Have you seen the FBI files on people like MLK and Malcom X?

In fact this goes as far back as the 19th century if not more, with workers rights activists, human rights activists and others. And doesn't stop at collecting data.

You are correct to point those cases out, and I am aware of them. It was also outrageous to infiltrate the MLK movement. Not to downplay those cases, but there is a distinction between these cases with the FBI and the current case with London police: The London police is a local enforcement agency. When local police forces start actively hacking citizens there is a different kind of danger than when a federal agency does so, mainly because they have different enforcement interests and powers. When a local enforcement agency begins to spy and hack, that is a new level of harassment and violation of civil liberties.

As a technique, it goes waay back. There is some reason to believe even the Gunpowder Plot was engineered by authorities.

You've been there for a hell of a long time. For over 50 years your government has been subverting its own citizens movements which it finds unsavoury...

Hate to break it to you but you've been there for some time now.

My siblings in this thread need to learn about the reforms that were done post-Watergate. The rule of law governs everyone, especially law enforcement, in the USA. If you don't believe that, why do you think lawmakers bother with getting laws passed to allow surveillance in the first place?

You can't have it both ways. Either LEO follow the letter of the law and we're not in some 1984 scenario (because there are, in fact, substantial protections for privacy under the law), or they do not, and we're left with this mystery of why things like the USA PATRIOT Act exist, which now needs to be explained.

I'm confused by your post. We see that these police had extensive legal surveillance powers available to them, but chose not to use those and to break the various laws to illegally spy on these people.

The rule of law governs everyone, especially law enforcement, in the USA

How many law enforcement officials have been indicted for homicide again?

Rule of law guarantees law will be applied, not that people rights and freedom will be upheld.

And it's not even much of a guarantee of that.

Yet another good reason to have 2FA enabled

Anti-Establishment == Terrorist.

(If you're a member of the Establishment, that is..)

When secure passwords are outlawed, only radical activists will have secure passwords. No, wait ....

It is so unfortunate this has been happening and that I am not at all surprised by it, Thanks

UK Police subcontract Hackers in India to do something illegal. You do realize this is stupid fake news??

If you do something colossally illegal, you'd usually try to hide it rather than subcontract to people you've never met...

London? Why does anyone have an anticipation of privacy in the UK? This is the city with police cameras on every block, surveillance vans, and a prime minister who literally called the privacy of encryption evil.

Most British subjects would probably want their police to be subject to the law, the same as all other subjects rather than running a criminal conspiracy. If the law is inconvenient or wrong, they can lobby to change it, same as everyone else. Break it, and they really ought to be in jail, same as anyone else.

> British subjects

Virtually nobody is a British subject, we are citizens.

There are only two cases where you can be a British subject: if you were born in the Republic of Ireland before 1949 and claimed British subject status before 1983, or if you were born in a British colony that gained independence but you didn't become a citizen of the new country.

> Most British subjects would probably want their police to be subject to the law, the same as all other subjects

I'm now 38 years old and have seen little evidence to support your statement, either in the UK or elsewhere.

Most people seem _totally_ okay with members of their ruling class being drone-murdering, tax-thieving, law-breaking, crotch-grabbing assholes.

It's not that they don't care, it's that they're conditioned to think it's too hopeless and complicated. The common people have the power, they only need to understand they do.

You forgot: pedophiles.

Oh, right - although one could argue that's a subclass of crotch-grabbers.

Yeah, but I think its a little more serious than Trumps' crotch-grabbing sexism, when such a significant swathe of UK politicians is embroiled in child-sex scandals, that it becomes a frickin' National Security issue to prosecute them.

If only the subjects of the UK had a spine, as a people, and the willingness to confront the dire evil that has usurped their political infrastructure .. alas, they don't. A nation of cowards, really.

Do you think the UK has more of a problem in this regard than the US? I'm unsure whether it's more prevalent in the upper echelons of British society than in America, or whether it's less well hidden.

I think both nations have been equally usurped by a criminal element, for which this situation acts as leverage and coverup. Neither nation seems to be immune to this dire influence, alas.

> A nation of cowards, really.

A nation of sheep perhaps but not a nation of cowards.

Until the people of the UK stand up and do something about the criminal factions that have usurped their government, I remain of the view that it is really a very cowardly society. There is simply no other excuse for the inaction and disregard for these heinous crimes.

Not to mention a significant portion of the society appears to be perfectly aligned with the need for a total surveillance state, due to an endemic national fear that, perhaps, the imperial acts committed in their name will come home to roost..

> due to an endemic national fear that, perhaps, the imperial acts committed in their name will come home to roost..

Not sure how you arrived at that conclusion, most people I know don't know much about what we did during the age of empire and the rest broadly think Empire was a good thing for the countries we conquered.

I'm not talking about some foregone era of the foggy, distant past.

I'm talking about here and now.

But you're right, nobody knows about that, either.

> This is the city with police cameras on every block

No, it is not. It is a city where tiny portions have police cameras. Somewhat larger areas have council-controlled cameras that it's fairly easy for police to gain access to. The vast majority of CCTV in London - and in the UK - is privately controlled, and most of it is not networked. Police can get access to it if/when something has happened, but most of them also either don't record or record only on a 24h loop, and access is often enough of a hassle that police does not even bother.

Certainly there is a lot of surveillance in London, and especially the central areas and around important buildings, but it's nowhere near as bad as you imply.

I live in London - I'd have about a 20 minutes walk to the nearest networked, police controlled camera, and about 10-15 minutes walk to any camera. In any direction.

> surveillance vans

Yes, but how many of them do you think there are? They are a rare sight, and they are obvious. I'm sure the Met would like more of them, but they don't have the budget to use them all over the place.

> [surveillance vans] are a rare sight

I see them often. But equally often I ask myself what the point is. What are the odds of catching a crime? Or do they work in tandem with dispatchers from the police, moving around in areas near reported crimes to try to capture footage?

I only ever see them when I go in towards the centre. I'm assuming they are moving them around known crime hotspots.

Expectation of privacy is quite a bit different from breaking locks to steal information without judicial oversight.

>> Why does anyone have an anticipation of privacy in the UK?

Because article 8 of the ECHR guarantees it and the courts generally uphold it. I haven't researched beyond this article but it clearly says what the Met is/was doing is/was illegal.

Which is why PM May has been saying she wants the UK to leave both the EU and the Council of Europe.

London doesn't have "blocks".

Surveillance vans are a myth.

Police cameras? Sure there is plenty of CCTV but most of its is privately owned and operated.

> London doesn't have "blocks".

I don't think they meant "block" in the usual American sense, but in the general sense, that is: "an area".

> Surveillance vans are a myth.

Simply Wrong.

Surveillance vans are not a myth, honestly. Maybe not in the what the police would call the "plebian" areas, but in the centre and Canary Wharf, you can see them every now and then, they even have their own WiFi you can try and connect to, which has like 3 password fields (I've tried when I was passing one in Canary Wharf).

> Sure there is plenty of CCTV but most of its is privately owned and operated

No evidence for this, and I think the parent comment meant "street-level" CCTV, not in buildings, and i'de be pushed to say it's more weighted towards public CCTV (govt.) rather than private.

Most of the "street level" cameras are council owned and operated, outside of a few areas where the police operate them. City certainly has a lot of police operated surveillance. But venture outside the most central areas and there's not much street-level CCTV. As I've mentioned elsewhere, where I live in London it's about a 20 minute walk in any direction to see one. There are many parts of London where that is true once you venture outside of zone 1. In zone 1, yes, you'll be on camera a lot unless you sneak around back streets and on purpose try to avoid them.

There's CCTV vans all over the City Of London. They don't tend to venture out much further, but they totally exist. I see them all the time.

City is "special", and City has its own police force, which is why they don't venture further out - City of London Police does not generally have any business venturing out of City unless cooperating with the Metropolitan Police on something or following a suspect.

City certainly is it's own little undemocratic (sure, you can vote, but so can nominees of corporations located in City), police-state fiefdom.

(for the non-Lononders, City of London is one of the financial districts of London, on the site of the historical site of the original settlement of London, and makes up a tiny portion of London; it's got its own police force, and a government that's entirely unlike anything else in the UK)

To add for non Londoners: the city is only one square mile

There are lots of council operated CCTV vehicles outside of the City. I've lived in two boroughs which operate them.

ANPR Automatic Number Plate Recognition vans are a common sight and a lot of police cars have he same tech.

Lots of cameras, sure, but so what? Can you elaborate why this is bad, in relation to how they are deployed and operated in London?

I was involved with a long trial that relied heavily on CCTV evidence and I'm interested to read how you think they are operated or owned.

Americans would rather the freedom to get shot at in private...

* Privacy

* Safety

Pick one.

The camera surveillance stuff hasn't been true since the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 when much of it was scrapped. I'm not sure I've never heard of surveillance vans on every block though, that's certainly not true.

There are a lot of fucking cameras in London - they didn't get taken down in 2012. Of course I'm fine with the cameras so ymmv.

Also, plenty of police vans with ANPR systems to check on cars etc as they drive about.

As for the rest, sometimes I wonder if people on HN have forgotten what the real world is like. Is encryption evil? Clearly not. Does it being prevalent cause issues with intercepting terrorist/criminal communications? Probably. So, sure, the prime minister said something which doesn't stand up to scrutiny - as have most politicians and indeed people. Just because someone is wrong doesn't mean that they've ill intentions.

"The road to Hell is paved with good intentions" - just sayin'

It's scary to hear such ridiculous propaganda. This is just as bad as Trump labeling areas in the UK "no go zones". It's just garbage.

shrug downvote away. It's complete fantasy. It doesn't exist.

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