The privacy and dignity of our citizens is being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually each step may be of little consequence, but when viewed as a whole, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen – a society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of a person’s life.
Britain's spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world's phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA).The sheer scale of the agency's ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate.One key innovation has been GCHQ's ability to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed. That operation, codenamed Tempora, has been running for some 18 months.GCHQ and the NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects.
The NSA’s PRISM scheme is already surveilling the entire American public to an enormous level, culling massive amounts of data from the PRISM Nine companies that have been complicit in that policy.So it’s no surprise that the International Cyber Security Conference in Tel Aviv this week turned its focus on PRISM. Here’s the scary part: they don’t think it goes far enough.RSA’s chairman, ironically the head of a company that used to be about protecting data from prying eyes, argued for “full visibility into all data” as the only real path to cybersecurity.“All data” is exactly what it sounds like, literally everything, everywhere, in the world. Which would’ve been unthinkable just a couple of weeks ago, but now that we know that the NSA is already spying on a solid majority of our most important and most private data, it isn’t that surprising that they’d like to have everything else too. I mean, why not go for broke?See it’s no longer just enough to have access to all your emails, they also need access to the preferences file of your email client, because maybe the way you configured it is significant. Knowing everyone you called is nice, but how about what custom ringtones you used?
On May 29th, 2013, the Swiss government proposed legislation that would permit banks to release certain information to the U.S. authorities. Under current Swiss banking secrecy laws, such actions would be prohibited. The legislation is to be rushed through the Swiss parliament in their June summer session. The freedom would ultimately allow individual settlements to be made with the U.S. and they are expected to require the banks to pay fines totaling billions of dollars. The deal is to be rushed because: “the United States is unprepared to wait any longer with the arrangement for the past for Swiss banks.”
HMRC’s powers to obtain information on UK taxpayers with foreign bank accounts is increasing day by day, with the recent signing of the so-called “G5 Tax Agreement” between the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The UK Government’s attack on “tax havens” has been bolstered by additional news that similar agreements have now been discussed with British Overseas territories including Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar and Turks & Caicos Islands. These agreements follow the UK’s implementation of disclosure facilities with Crown Dependencies: the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey which includes information exchange agreements.
"New Zealand cannot afford to be seen as a weak link in the chain of international efforts to tackle money laundering and the financing of terrorism," Reserve Bank anti-money laundering manager Rob Edwards told a seminar on the issue in Wellington.
@robhosking @JudithCollinsMP @GraemeEdgeler Mrs H & I can drink in a week the $1,000 reporting threshold 4 o/seas transfers. It's crazy.
— Mark Hubbard (@MarkHubbard33) June 18, 2013
I broke the law yesterday and again today and I will probably break the law tomorrow. Don’t mistake me, I have done nothing wrong. I don’t even know what laws I have broken. Nevertheless, I am reasonably confident that I have broken some laws, rules, or regulations recently because it’s hard for anyone to live today without breaking the law. Doubt me? Have you ever thrown out some junk mail that came to your house but was addressed to someone else? That’s a violation of federal law punishable by up to 5 years in prison.(Snip.)If someone tracked you for a year are you confident that they would find no evidence of a crime? Remember, under the common law, mens rea, criminal intent, was a standard requirement for criminal prosecution but today that is typically no longer the case especially under federal criminal law .Faced with the evidence of a non-intentional crime, most prosecutors, of course, would use their discretion and not threaten imprisonment. Evidence and discretion, however, are precisely the point. Today, no one is innocent and thus our freedom is maintained only by the high cost of evidence and the prosecutor’s discretion.One of the responses to the revelations about the mass spying on Americans by the NSA and other agencies is “I have nothing to hide. What me worry?” I tweeted in response “If you have nothing to hide, you live a boring life.” More fundamentally, the NSA spying machine has reduced the cost of evidence so that today our freedom – or our independence – is to a large extent at the discretion of those in control of the panopticon.
Repeat after me: Government is power. Government is not to be trusted. Ever. Even if you believe that some government is and will always be necessary, that ‘necessary’ piece of government should always be regarded as a prudent lion tamer regards the big carnivorous cats that are ‘necessary’ for him to make a living. To imagine that seemingly subdued purring lions can be trusted to be dealt with in any ways that do not include the use of strong cages, leashes, ceaseless and deep suspicion, and escape hatches is the height of romantic absurdity – wishful thinking of the most extreme and inexcusable sort. Government is by its very nature a dangerous, untrustworthy, dishonest, arrogant, slippery entity – characteristics that are by no means reduced anywhere near to insignificance by a wide franchise, regular elections, and sturdy ink-on-parchment documents called “constitutions.”Unless you are a high-ranking government official, government - no government – is ever “Us.” It is always “Them.” And They are not to be trusted. Ever.
New Zealand Law Society (rightly) Slams Spy Agency Bill.
United Police States find it troubling Hong Kong failed to arrest Snowden; not strange that it spies on every one of its own citizens, and most of every other country.
Coincidentally, I'm filling in the form for my professional indemnity insurance. Question 11.
'What policies and processes has your organisation put in place to comply with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Act. Please provide details.'
Answer: small, farming client base; practice just my wife and I; I watch her very, very closely.
Bugger off. See how things just go nuclear with bullshit surveillance state nonsense like this?