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I know this will be unpopular here, but personally, I would like to see the Guardian prosecuted for its reckless reporting of stolen information in the same way that phone hacking was dealt with.

You can't just steal documents from governments and publish them without any consequences.

If your government is doing something bad, then it should be dealt with legally, and via the established checks and balances. Newspapers shouldn't be above the law.

How are you supposed to deal legally with your government doing something bad, when it is illegal for you to know about the bad things?

Just think about your proposition for even ten seconds.

Just think about your proposition for ten seconds.

You're suggesting that the entire government is corrupt, and covering up 'something bad'?

There are endless systems of checks, balances, and disclosure within our government.

Sorry, I don't buy the conspiracy theories, endless theoretical debates about what the government "could" do with data it has. It's moot.

It is the government's own claim that, for example, the President didn't know what the NSA was doing:


In the absence of leaks and whistleblowing, how do you propose that this kind of power be reined in?

A large, perhaps majority, of the government, didn't know what was happening.

Whistleblowers like Snowden are apparently a necessary check within our government, when one of them finds such widespread blatantly unconstitutional activity occurring. (I upvoted you for your point though.)

They haven't stolen anything the government still has the information which is public domain.

Citizens have the right to know what the laws of their country are, if the government believes it has the right to snoop your phones calls then it must submit a request to change the law to parliament.

You can't just steal documents from governments and publish them without any consequences.

Erm, why?

What's your reasoning here beyond "but the laaaaaaw"?

Do you even have any moral reasoning backing that?

So you'd be fine with someone stealing data the government holds on your, say your medical records, and publishing them on the front page would you?

Maybe your last few tax returns. May as well publish those as well!

How about state secrets on any weak parts of military defences?

Yes I have moral reasoning. It's stolen information.

(I'm going to ignore your presumption that information can somehow be "stolen" in any meaningful sense, but you really ought to explore that notion further.)

For your first two examples (my medical records and tax records), that is personal information which is limited utility to others. By contrast, the state "secrets" here directly impact the day-to-day lives of thousands if not millions.

Your third example is exactly something that would be beneficial to know--any enemy presumably already knows about it, and keeping it secret from the public at large only serves to allow the people who should be working on it to function without oversight.

As for the actual information being leaked: that is not personal information; a good chunk of it is operations details for state security apparatus, and that's exactly something that I, a citizen, would prefer to know about.

With such great resources at its disposal and so much power at its beck and call, we simply cannot afford to allow the government any secrecy or opacity in its functioning. To do otherwise is to encourage the sorts of corruption and corrosion that turn a state into a horrendous place to live.

Well, agree to disagree. It would be a far worse place to live where newspapers are allowed to break laws "in the interest of public interest".

I hope you can realize your dream of starting a new live in the utopia of China, Russia, or North Korea...

Well trolled...time to move on.

There is a reason we have a public interest defence - the Guardian believes that it is in the public interest that these documents and their implications are made public, discussed and changes made to our security services.

I agree, but I see why others do not - but I ask you, how would we have the debate without the leaks and without the defence? If there is a way, please tell me.

I trust my government to do the right thing. I don't think we have an awful problem in the UK with corrupt greedy government abusing its power in the main.

No shit. Well, I'm for one glad the UK hasn't had any problem with, you know, extraordinary rendition, torture, extrajudicial executions during the Troubles, warrantless surveillance of political opponents during the Thatcher era. And I'm sure Tony Blair was telling the truth, and nothing but the truth, about these weapons of mass destruction.

> Yes I have moral reasoning. It's stolen information.

Well, you're free to believe that the right not to have one's information copied trumps any other concern. How are you feeling about your information being illegally copied by your own government, and freely shared with other security apparatuses?

The guardian didn't steal documents.

The fourth estate is part of the established checks and balances you mention, in fact it's the most important and independent part.

Why do you feel their reporting is "reckless"? Do you believe that the Guardian's reporting has reduced GCHQ's ability to protect UK citizens? If so, do you have any evidence to support this belief?

Yes I do believe that, and it's what the heads of GCHQ MI5 etc told the government when they were asked that question.

"because the people on trial said so" does not really constitute evidence.

(not that they are in any real way on trial mind, they got to vet and prepare for every question before hand.)

booyaa00: I think it's also funny that some people are under the delusion that sites like this and reddit, are actually controlled by the 'voters', and that everyone has the same power. They're not. They're controlled by editors who will place items where they want to. For me, the worst part of hacker news is the silent banning if you are critical of any YC funded startup. Censorship is ugly, but it happens routinely. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6807033

I appreciate the courage it takes to make an unpopular comment. That said, given your interpretation of HN (however accurate) you might express a little caution in calling for the censorship of a newspaper reporting extraordinary information.

No. It's totally different.

This is not about censorship. Newspapers can say what the hell they want. Unless they obtained that information via illegal means - which The Guardian did.

They are absolutely the same as the phone hacking papers.

They are absolutely the same as the phone hacking papers.

No, they are not.

Here's why:

Voicemail hacking - journalists directly hired and instructed investigators to hack voicemail of celebrities and murder victims in order to print salacious stories and earn money, they also paid off police and other public servants to obtain information. They did this to sell newspapers (and for that reason alone) - no other defence could be given for their actions.

Snowden's disclosures - journalists received a story and documents to back it up from Snowden, they did not solicit and pay for the information, and published only those stories which they felt were in the public interest. They informed the public of a major scandal, and potentially illegal actions on the part of the authorities (actions which the spies tried to have legalised retrospectively).

That's the job of the fourth estate - holding the government accountable, keeping them honest, and informing the public. That's why we have a public interest defence (at least in the UK), or a 1st amendment (in the US).

Now you might argue that Snowden broke the law, I'd absolutely agree he did, but some laws are bad laws, and sometimes to fight an unjust system you must break the law - examples from history are legion of people fighting unjust laws who in retrospect are seen as heroes - I suspect Snowden will be amongst them, but arguing over the legality of his actions is a distraction from the to me more important questions of a free press and how we can restrain a government which aspires to know everything about every one of us.

I would be careful with putting so much emphasis on legality. The fact is that there are so many laws, and some of them are so weird and convoluted, and nobody really understands them all; pretty much everyone does several illegal things every day without even realizing it:


Under these kinds of conditions, if someone in an appropriate branch of government wants to nail you for any reason, they can. Especially now that widespread spying makes it much easier to identify specific transgressions.

So I am not so sure why you would take such a hard line on legality when in fact such a stance is just waiting to come back and bite you (and everyone).

... In fact, now it is the government's position that there are SECRET LAWS that you can be violating but not even know why you are violating them; they can arrest you and not tell you exactly why they arrested you, because the reason is secret. How are you supposed to engage in strictly legal behavior when you don't even know what is legal and what is illegal?

Can you provide a citation regarding any of these secret laws that I could be arrested for, or show any example of people being arrested and tried for violating secret laws? Or was all of this done in secret?

The only secret "laws" that I've seen come out of the whole Snowden affair were FISC opinions dictating how the NSA can and cannot act with regards to existing public laws.

Are you kidding? This is well known and the administration even admits it.

For example:


The established checks and balances failed. There is a very good reason that journalists often have special protection in a free society: when they do their job, they help to bring balance to what might otherwise be unchecked government power.

> You can't just steal documents from governments and publish them without any consequences.

I'd draw the line: You can steal documents and publish them, if they reveal that the government has acted against the laws, or unconstitutionally.

Basically if you're breaking the law to reveal that someone else has broken the law in order of magnitude worse way, then it's ok.

I'd agree. But in this case, the claim from GCHQ etc is that they have acted fully within the law.

The guardian just loves anti-government stories, bashing anyone in power.

Look at the "expenses scandal". The Guardian was all over it! Publishing pointless details of how an MP claimed £5 for a taxi to a restaurant.

The inquiry into the "expenses scandal" cost more to the tax payer than the entire amount of expenses given to MPs! What the hell was the point of that then?!

It would be good if people recognised how biased The Guardian is. It has an agenda, and searches out the stories which will further it.

> the claim from GCHQ etc is that they have acted fully within the law.

And you're going to just believe the claim? Come on. Actually, if all that was fully legal, that is IMHO more shocking.

> It would be good if people recognised how biased The Guardian is. It has an agenda

And yet you can't see GCHQ' self-serving agenda. I see that you "trust your government to do the right thing". The right thing for who, them or you? Why do you trust them and not other parties?

> The inquiry into the "expenses scandal" ... What the hell was the point of that

And you don't see the point of uncovering corruption in elected officials either? Perhaps you don't want your trust undermined? Nice selective use of logic there!

The point is to hold MPs to the same standard as anyone else

The expenses-scandal stories came from the Telegraph.

The media "bashing anyone in power" is not an agenda. It's a counterweight to the huge, well, power that anyone in power has. It's a very important part of the checks and balances you mentioned.

Feel like I am replying to a obvious troll, but one thing that annoys me is when people blame the press for the leak.

Either the leak is justified or it's not. Either way the press is not responsible.

If the leak is not justified then the blame lies with the leaker and the organisation that the info was leaked from. If private companies poorly secure customer info they often get fined, but there seems to be no comeback when the leak involves a government.

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