(It works for me whilst the original link doesn't as the BBC thinks my IP is in .ch despite me being less than a mile from the Houses of Parliament.)
Things like this matter in the long run. Remember how, before the war in Iraq, over 1 million people marched in London against the war? We still went to war, but Tony Blair never recovered from it, and when the issue of Syria came up recently, MPs opposed intervention - that is the legacy of the opposition to the war in Iraq.
In Britian at least, policy trends seem to be set over periods of 10-15 years. (The battle with the miners is another example). Things rarely get sort out in one big showdown. When it comes to government surveillance and privacy, the important thing is that we keep the story going, that we keep the pressure on, that we keep explaining to people why this is an issue and keep building the argument. And making intelligence chiefs squirm is all part of that.
They have provided zero public evidence that they are following the law. Just their word.
edit: in reply to your edit, I would choose my tin foil hat any day over your glasses of ignorance.
Listening to this, I feel like the difference between storage and actually looking at data is an important one. The view of the quasi-totality here seem to think it's the same, but I think the distinction is important. Especially when being looked at through search programs (and not human eyes), we run into the whole "Chinese room" problem: the program doesn't understand what it's looking at, so is it really "breaching" privacy? And what is the difference between your e-mails being in a locked box at an ISP or a locked box with the NSA if the key is in the hand of a judge anyways?
Then again I'm more of the sort to think that if a judge agrees, then access to the info should be swift. Some people disagree with that.
The problem with the locked box analogy is that my ISP isn't going to potentially scrutinise my data and decide that because I read stuff from all sorts of sources - including the blogs of subversives, activists, hackers, and political outliers (along with the thousands of other things I read online) that I should be considered a threat to a society I am part of, and could be considered a 'baddie', espescially given the UK's stupidly broad definitions of terrorism.
Perhaps that is a slippery slope argument, but it's a valid one IMO especially given that the reason for excusing it is one that not many of us put much credit in (the omnipresent threat of terror and violence from fanatical foes). I'd sooner we just didn't go around making enemies.
The fact that certain communication methods are not secure or are hard to secure has been know to people in IT for some time. The Snowden revelations would've only helped those with no idea about IT. Are these people now going to be immediately tech-savy enough not to choose another insecure communication method? Or will they just give up?
Blaming the Snowden leaks for informing all the criminals about how not to get caught is like blaming Google for enforcing HTTPS.
Are they expecting us to believe they have a perfect system? If so, why collect all the data in the first place and run their queries in real time?
The board questioning doesn't have the technical background to ask any challenging questions.
uuum... what did he think his job was?
Asked about complicity in torture. Sir John of MI6: "I don't accept the allegations that have been made against us"
There have been several court cases about M16 involvement in torture, including that of Abdel Hakim Belhaj, which exposes our cynical backing for terrorists when it suits our agenda after sending them to be tortured just a few years before.
GCHQ denies listening into telephone calls or reading emails of the majority. "That would not be proportionate, that would not be legal, and we would not do it."
Like Obama, they're denying something they haven't been accused of. Tempora is storing and sharing with the NSA as much data as they can manage, even though it's not legal or proportionate. This non-denial is very misleading if you don't know that background. They don't need to read emails or listen to phone calls for this to be incredibly dangerous - it's enough that everything is recorded and stored for potential future or current use by any partners with access.
34 terrorist plots have been thwarted in the UK since the 7/7 London bombings. One or two were major plots aimed at mass casualties.
What's most interesting is the focus on terrorism as a way to deflect criticism - they've learned that talking about terror switches off the brain quite effectively and stops people doing a risk benefit analysis. This is incredibly useful, as along with having broad laws passed which restrict rights as part of the war on terror, they can tar anyone with that brush, and immediately turn the public against them. According to Kovats QC for the gov. in the Miranda case, we have a new definition of terrorism: "simply having this data is terrorism".
Terrorism is not a great threat to either the US or the UK - a tiny number of people have been killed by it, and yet it is painted as an existential threat which must be fought at all costs. Many of their activities have nothing to do with terrorism, but we've heard nothing about the Belgacom hack (Operation Socialist), tapping cables crossing the Atlantic, subverting encryption protocols, tapping internal traffic at providers like Google for the NSA, tapping G20 attendees, Mastering the Internet™ with Tempora, or tapping Merkel's phone. Very little of that is useful for combatting terrorism (most terrorism is not organised on the internet but face to face, terrorists like Bin Laden are not stupid), but it's very useful for economic and political espionage.
That none of that has been mentioned, let alone questioned, betrays just how little proper supervision this committee provides.
I see this type of argument often, and I wonder how people can take this type of logic seriously. If I say: "I had a cold 9 months ago. Immediately after, I ate an apple. I've been cold-free ever since, so it must be that this apple was effective at preventing colds". The logic flaw here is that I don't know what would have happened had I not eaten that apple. Maybe I would not have had a cold either so the causal conclusion is flawed.
If you transpose that example to the "terrorism" case, you get a similar type of logic flaw. I can believe that 34 plots where thwarted since the 7/7 bombings. But do we seriously believe that 0 plots would have been thwarted without the new security measures? Not really. Maybe 33 would have been thwarted. Maybe 34, which would mean that all the money poured in the system as well as the privacy sacrifices were made in vain. Who knows? Inferring causal relationships from this type of flawed reasoning is very misleading.
"Americans Are as Likely to Be Killed by Their Own Furniture as by Terrorism"
Few people were killed in the Boston Marathon bombings. But many were maimed , and it will remain traumatic for them for the rest of their lives. But , more importantly, this bomb hit a group of people whose only reason for being hit/killed was that they were in the same geographic area as this bomb. There was no reason for this tragedy.
In drunk driving, you can place the cause relatively easily. Furniture falls over because a shelf was badly built. You can place the cause. Most acts of terrorism happen due to extremely nebulous and complicated reasons, so the people who die in events such as 9/11 and Boston died "for no reason".
Talk to some Japanese people about the March 11th Tsunami. the feelings about that event are very similar to those Americans have about 9/11, as a turning point in society and something where many innocent people died for no good reason. Terrorist attacks are basically on the same level as huge natural disasters, emotionally.
Terrorist attacks are extremely traumatising for people just like getting an arm cut off is traumatizing a lot more than being slowly bruised over and over on the arm. It's a huge shock event that feels unavoidable, and people don't want to experience it ever again (because we're not all robots who count lives like we're accountants). It's a major event and trying to avoid it is entirely reasonable.
You can also place the cause of the bombing extremely easily - the person with the bomb. In drunk driving accident, people get hit/killed just because they were in the same geographic area as the drunk driver. They will also get sometimes extremely traumatised (enough to avoid any road travel).
Both cases are completely out of control for the affected people. What's the big difference?
"Sawers says it is not like it was in the cold war, states trying to destroy our government and way of life, but there are very diverse threats: the biggest is terrorism. Then there are states that want to harm us, he says."
So it's not like the cold war with specific states, but there are specific states that want to harm us. A bit of a weird flip-flop.
They also use the excuse that Snowden leaks could "help paedophiles (it always seems lead to this one, doesn't it?):
Let's not forget that whatever they say about the terrorists learning from these leaks, the leaks wouldn't have happened if they didn't spy on everyone. They could've just spied on the people they actually suspected of terrorism.
I don't want to live on this planet any more.
It's backwards, the citizenry doesn't have to tolerate their government, the government must serve its citizenry.
You should ask yourself why the police should not be allowed to do this. And then if you do understand, you may perhaps realize why the GCHQ should not be allowed to carry out mass surveillance.
So which is it. Do you expect people to stay and fight perceived injustices, or leave? You can't have it both ways.
Its not about having anything to hide. Its about whether or not others can use your work against you. This happens far more often than real terrorism, and it ruins lives, industry, and culture when it happens.
Even setting aside crimes, there's plenty of things that happen in peoples' day-to-day lives that the government has absolutely no business even being aware of. It's not hard to imagine that they could collect vast troves of information on a person and then that information can get misused in any number of ways by rogue employees or by the government itself.
It's their job to spy on people. It's what they are for. If the legal regime they operate under is faulty, it needs to be fixed. If they have overstepped, they need to be reined in. Lumping them in the same category as race militias butchering women and children with machetes is not helpful.
Now, it just so happens that I agree with Benjamin Frankin's assertion that those who trade freedom for security deserve neither. Nevertheless, going all "stick it to the man, they're all out to get us" puts no votes in the ballot box. These people can be fought and the laws they operate under can be changed. So lets work towards changing them.
But I agree with you: change the politicians in power, change the laws.
PS your latest comment is [dead]...
Edit: You say "Guardian readers/conspiracy nuts in the comments section, who aren't able to listen to reasoned debate". That's a well-reasoned rebutal right there to the people who replied to you with facts. Could you expand on it? I'm listening.
The idea that this makes one "Guardian readers/conspiracy nuts" is laughable.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
There is a reason that democracies around the world don't allow police to just randomly walk into your house and arrest you. A good reason.
Just because terrorism has to be prevented, doesn't mean that our basic rights have to be violated. By that logic, let's go even further and install CCTV cameras and microphones in everyone's homes. All crimes can be prevented. And perhaps the next step can be to have thought control devices even.
As for the assertions about terrorists moving to other communication methods, that horse already bolted years ago. Osama Bin Laden's reliance on a hand courier made that crystal clear. They've known that their communications were at risk for years now. In that sense, the Snowden leaks revealed nothing new to terrorists.
And if op's were at risk they'd have made arrests immediately or D Noticed the Guardian immediately. As they haven't, it's probably a load of shit.
I would think "we only do it to the extent neccesary" would be what an argument is meant to show, not the argument itself.
Mass surveillance is not the solution.
Also, their claim that 'they operate fully within the law' is just a claim without any public evidence to back it up, if all three of them were subject to a polygraph during this then I might take it a bit more seriously. Otherwise, why should I be inclined to trust the words of a organisation that clearly does not trust me?