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Revealed: How the UK Spied On Its G20 Allies At London Summits 262

Posted by timothy
from the free-latte-sirs-and-madams? dept.
Writing "Wow, this is going to really set the cat amongst the pigeons once this gets around," an anonymous reader links to a story at The Guardian about some good old fashioned friendly interception, and the slide-show version of what went on at recent G20 summits in London: "Foreign politicians' calls and emails intercepted by UK intelligence; Delegates tricked into using fake internet cafes; GCHQ analysts sent logs of phone calls round the clock; Documents are latest revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden."
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Revealed: How the UK Spied On Its G20 Allies At London Summits

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  • A great service (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mendax (114116) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @07:53PM (#44024799)

    Mr. Snowden may eventually be captured by the U.S. government and be hanged by his balls, he may be a Chinese spy as has been alleged by some in the government, but if his revelations are true he is doing you and I ordinary people a great service by airing all this, at a minimum, naughty, and, at most, highly illegal shit. If this stuff is true, I want to see some high government officials hanging by their balls (or tits for those of the female species) for their actions.

  • by MitchDev (2526834) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @07:55PM (#44024817)

    DUH!

    Is anyone really surprised by this?

    • Re:File this under (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lennier (44736) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @08:06PM (#44024867) Homepage

      DUH!

      Is anyone really surprised by this?

      I bet the foreign G20 heads using those netcafes and their Blackberrys were, yes. And they may be a little unhappy that this spying was done for apparently commercial gain and express this at the upcoming G8.

      It's been widely suspected since the 1990s that the NSA and friends use their spying to enhance commercial contracts, but they've always denied this strongly. But now there's proof. That could also set a few chairs alight.

      Also, perhaps, Blackberry is unhappy that their phone being hacked (or backdoored) has become known, with their reputation for security. World's most boring but secure smartphone, so uncrackable it's used by Obama himself, hated by the Saudis because they can't bug it, etc. This is not something they really want to become known, I think.

      It used to be we'd read about the Russians pulling stunts like this in their embassy and we'd be all, 'oh, those wacky Soviets, we know they bug everything, they're so barbarous and uncivilised. In a proper country we're much more law-abiding.'

      But, no.

      • I missed the part where this was done for commercial gain. Please find the excerpt. I looked for it, but didn't see it. Perhaps I missed something?

        • Re:File this under (Score:5, Informative)

          by lennier (44736) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @09:05PM (#44025123) Homepage

          I missed the part where this was done for commercial gain. Please find the excerpt. I looked for it, but didn't see it. Perhaps I missed something?

          You're right, the exact word used in the article is a "political objective" related to "finance" and not "commerce". My mistake.

          The officials summarised Brown's aims for the meeting of G20 heads of state due to begin on 2 April, which was attempting to deal with the economic aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis. The briefing paper added: "The GCHQ intent is to ensure that intelligence relevant to HMG's desired outcomes for its presidency of the G20 reaches customers at the right time and in a form which allows them to make full use of it."

          The document explicitly records a political objective – "to establish Turkey's position on agreements from the April London summit" and their "willingness (or not) to co-operate with the rest of the G20 nations".

          There is of course absolutely no connection between engineering desired financial outcomes and commercial gain. All financial insitutions, and especially those related to the British Government, operate from a completely non-self-interested desire to make others nations rich.

          • OK I am not being combative nor was I in my first post. I meant just what I said- I dint' see it.

            The excerpt you quote is ambiguous to me. I am not sure what is meant by that. I don't see any indication of commercial gain through spying, I only see information being collected (through spying) and made available. I am not sure what information and I am not sure how it's of commercial use. They're concerned with "outcomes for it's presidency of the g20" . That itself is ambiguous (to me).

            They want to see i

      • by chill (34294)

        My suspicion on the BlackBerry claim is that what was intercepted was regular SMS messages, and not the secure BB PIN messaging.

        The latter is what is super secure, because it traverses via the data link to the BES and is essentially opaque to telcos.

        While BBs have the PIN messaging capabilities that are super-secure, most people I know just use regular SMS because they don't know any better. And you can't use PIN messaging outside your own BES network.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          My suspicion on the BlackBerry claim is that what was intercepted was regular SMS messages, and not the secure BB PIN messaging.

          The latter is what is super secure, because it traverses via the data link to the BES and is essentially opaque to telcos.

          Completely false. You really don't understand the blackberry platform.

          Here's a better explanation: http://www.berryreview.com/2010/08/06/faq-blackberry-messenger-pin-messages-are-not-encrypted [berryreview.com]

          PIN messages do NOT go via the BES (blackberry enterprise server). Nei

          • by lennier (44736)

            While the BES platform is nominally secure, I'm intrigued by one "interesting" fact about the design of the message routing system.

            You see, although each organisation can run their own BES server in their own datacenter, all data packets sent from a Blackberry handset to their BES have to be routed through Blackberry's own routing infrastructure. Even if you're inside your own corporate LAN, sending an email to your own corporate Outlook server through your own corporate BES server. Your packets can't just

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        perhaps, Blackberry is unhappy that their phone being hacked (or backdoored) has become known, with their reputation for security.

        Well, they'd already admitted doing it in other countries; anyone who didn't believe they were doing it in this one was a fool. I was recently asked to provide proof of my assertion that they were doing this in the USA, and I simply neglected to reply because I knew there would be evidence along shortly.

  • then turn into enemies to keep them even closer. After all, if they have something to hide they should be conspiring against us.
  • Convenient partners (Score:4, Informative)

    by readingaccount (2909349) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @08:20PM (#44024927)

    "Allies" (at least as far as Governments are concerned) are just partners of convenience. They are not friends, and although they might be allies one day they could easily be enemies the next. Now the Brits might have been acting a bit slimy in their methods (I don't like the idea of well-meaning delegates being tricked into using fake Internet cafes), but it's what's done in the Intelligence business and I d

    It is not unusual to spy on your allies - indeed it's expected, plus you'd have to be pretty naive to think your own allies aren't doing the same to you. Again, your allies might end up being your enemies one day, so it's important to keep up with what they are doing. Even with the US/UK alliance, a traditionally strong alliance, the US still felt the need to have its own plan in case war with the Brits became necessary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Plan_Red [wikipedia.org])

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      but it's what's done in the Intelligence business and I d

      I apologize for the abrupt end to my sentence. Either I forgot to finish what I was typing or the NSA intercepted it and removed impor

      • but it's what's done in the Intelligence business and I d

        I apologize for the abrupt end to my sentence.

        OK, we're placated.

  • Knowledge is power. The problem isn't spying, it's who has access to the information. I say: Spy on everyone, and let everyone have access to the information. It might even help with unjust censorship laws -- Like in the UK where they want to sensor porn by default... If we can look in the public spy data and show that everyone is looking at porn, but don't openly admit it, then we shouldn't enact such retarding laws.

    Capturing such data could be huge tools for transparency but since the public isn't

  • I am actually kinda surprised people are surprised about this. Both British and American intelligence agencies have a long history of spying on delegates at various summits, and I suspect that the other countries just take it as part of the game, likely they are doing the same thing on smaller budgets. Not saying it is a good thing, but it is a pretty well known 'secret' at least in a general sense.
    • Yeah, this is old news. Spying on diplomats is a great way to figure out how to bribe them into pushing their host nations in your direction.

  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @10:09PM (#44025439)
    This latest revelation shows the true nature of the "War on Terror". It is actually a war on everyone. On one side are the political insiders and the ultra rich, and on the other side is the rest of the world. It also illustrates that there is no honor among thieves, but that shouldn't be a surprise.

    The full bore surveillance state that has emerged in the US/Great Britten/etc since the 9/11 attacks has an autonomous agenda. Coping with terrorism is not it's primary goal. It's aim is to permanently protect the current ruling clique from all challenges. It is intrinsically anti-democracy and anti-capitalism. Functioning democracy and capitalism reduce the control and economic position of the power elite, so democracy and capitalism must be being suppressed.

    This is the inevitable result of an out of control security system. There are secret organizations governed by secret charters overseen by secret courts with elected officials sworn to secrecy. The people running the organizations lie to everyone all the time. They justify their behavior by claiming that since they are the "good guys", it's OK to do evil things. This is literally the road to hell based on good intentions.

    Once an unaccountable organization has the ability to spy on anyone for a good reason, it will spy on everyone for any reason.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      War on terror? Surveillance emerging *Since the 9/11 attacks?*

      You have a poor grasp on history, my friend, and one that's been much shaped by political rhetoric from one side or the other (doesn't matter which) about 9/11 being some sort of meaningful turning point for the NSA.

      The NSA has been intercepting anything that was technologically feasible since 1945, when it was still the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA). Read up on Projects SHAMROCK and MINARET (which have nothing to do with Ireland or MENA,

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      For all of you who agree that this reveals that government is untrustworthy, do you START to understand why some people have wanted to LIMIT the power of the federal (and by extension, all) government to the absolute minimum necessary to fulfill its absolute minimum necessary functions?

      As shocked as you may have been at the idea your personal info has been Hoovered by the government for decades, does it give you an inkling of how angry and betrayed the founding fathers - loyal British subjects all - must ha

  • Public Laws (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AndyCanfield (700565) <andycanfield@NOsPAM.yandex.com> on Sunday June 16, 2013 @10:47PM (#44025639) Homepage
    The worst part about PRISM, IMHO, is that this debate should have taken place ten years ago.

    The only (partial) fix that I can imagine this morning is a constitutional amendment saying that any law passed by congress has to be public. Secret laws ought to be unconstitutional, and thus inoperative. It would help.
    • Sure, and those new laws will be publicly posted in the 3rd Subbasement of the Administration for the Middle of Fuckbutt Nowhere.

      The current state of affairs is Orwellian in ways worse than surveillance. Words are simply redefined to make anything legal and everything illegal, depending on who's got the mic. We've traded rule of law for rule of lawyers.

      But rest assured, citizen, the republic is alive and well. You live in a country where torture is outlawed, you cannot be denied life or liberty without due

  • There are two things in play here.
    1 Ethically questionable behavior on the part of the UK government which I suspect has drifted into a groupthink position of thinking that conventions and laws relating to privacy and decency doesn't exist and don't apply to them. Before you get upset contemplate if your government behaves in the same manner.

    2 All of these 'exploits' rely on poor security practices on the part of the other delegates. Where is the two factor authentication, where are the secure channels, whe

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday June 17, 2013 @01:57AM (#44026529) Homepage

    It's going to be a long time before anyone holds another major international meeting in London. Geneva, maybe.

    • by Xest (935314)

      Yeah, because of course Britain is the only country that spies on conference delegates.

      You really think this doesn't happen in every single country? You really think delegates aren't aware of this?

      Hell, I ran for a run of the mill not particularly large engineering firm for some time and we got enough memos round reminding people when they're overseas to be cautious of where they plug there laptops in and so forth for precisely this reason.

      This wont change a thing because everyone that mattered for this so

  • This fits with reports that UK/USA have spied on the UN
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spying_on_the_United_Nations [wikipedia.org]

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Monday June 17, 2013 @09:49AM (#44028559) Homepage Journal

    The cat's out of the bag now. It won't be long before they're all at it.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo. - Andy Finkel, computer guy

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