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EU Parliament: Other Countries Spy, But Less Than the UK, US 170

Posted by timothy
from the devils-you-know dept.
itwbennett writes "An E.U. Parliament survey of 5 member states found that 4 of the 5 (U.K., France, Germany and Sweden) engage in bulk collection of data. Only the Netherlands doesn't, but that's not because it doesn't want to. In fact, The Netherlands is currently setting up an agency for that purpose. France, which summoned the U.S. ambassador to explain allegations that the NSA spied on Alcatel-Lucent, ranks fifth in the world in metadata collection. And Sweden? Its National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) is alleged to have been running 'upstreaming' operations (tapping directly into the communications infrastructure as a means to intercept data) for the collection of private data — collecting both the content of messages as well as metadata of communications crossing Swedish borders through fibre-optic cables from the Baltic Sea."
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EU Parliament: Other Countries Spy, But Less Than the UK, US

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  • Problem? (Score:2, Insightful)

    I still don't see the problem. Spying on foreign countries has happened since they were invented, it's entirely legal and expecting it not to happen strikes me as hopelessly naive.
    • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 26, 2013 @01:55AM (#45243087)

      Spying on foreign countries is feasible when there is an immediate threat. In a globalized world where most countries sort of "work together" and their borders become blurry (from an industrial point of view) it does more harm than good. Companies fear industry espionage and pull back or limit interaction with those "excessively spying" countries and that harms global economy which eventually boils down to every single one of us.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        The Chinese have been into industrial espionage more than anybody for decades and it doesn't seem to be limiting trade much. That's not a convincing argument. On the other hand, I do support making it illegal to pass information from government spy agencies to private companies.
        • Yeah, but how many countries can count on them offering so crappy worker protection that companies don't care that they're being spied on.

      • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 26, 2013 @02:29AM (#45243181)

        Bullshit. Spying on allies is often as important as spying on "immediate threats". I, for one, hope that the US is spying on Israel and that the information gathered has prevented them from pulling us into a war with Iran.

        The issue isn't spying but the scope and the escalation. Violating the privacy of millions of citizens for a dragnet is not just spying but a violation of sovereignty. The same applies to escalating the spying up to the phones of heads of state. Effectively, the US just built an espionage nuclear weapon. Now the rest of the world is going to do the same, meaning everybody is fucked. The unwritten lines of common decency that restricted spying based on an actual purpose have been crossed. Now we are in the land of spying on everybody and everything with the goal of just holding the information until it becomes useful. Privacy has just taken a mortal blow.

        • by kermidge (2221646)

          bingo
          Animal Farm, now with computers. And Internet. Now watch for all kinds laws against keeping electronic tabs on one's rulers.

        • by Linzer (753270)

          I, for one, hope that the US is spying on Israel and that the information gathered has prevented them from pulling us into a war with Iran.

          Interesting point, but don't you think there are ways to achieve that without spying on Israel? Intelligence on Iran, added to shared knowledge with Israel, should be enough. Really, one could figure out that it would be silly to go to war with Iran, based on publicly available information alone.

          • by amjohns (29330)

            Not at all. By necessity, Israel is one of the best countries at deception, and they use that against everybody.

            Given their nature to overreact to threats, I'll sleep much better if ALL the UNSC countries are heavily spying on them, and calling them out when something sketchy is brewing. Looks like they're about to re-invade the West bank?? Bring that up in the spotlight!

          • I, for one, hope that the US is spying on Israel and that the information gathered has prevented them from pulling us into a war with Iran.

            Interesting point, but don't you think there are ways to achieve that without spying on Israel? Intelligence on Iran, added to shared knowledge with Israel, should be enough. Really, one could figure out that it would be silly to go to war with Iran, based on publicly available information alone.

            Depends on how much you trust Netanyahu.

            I don't trust him one bit. I suspect that if the IDF told him they could save one Jew by leveling a building where 100 innocent gentiles live the only reason he'd hesitate is PR (note that the US is actually better than this, the point of using drones is you can wait until the one bad guy in the building is in the car with his innocent, but not-that-innocent family members and only kill three or four instead of 100). I further suspect that he believes Israel was more

          • I , for one, hope that the US is spying on Israel and that the information gathered has prevented them from pulling us into a war with Iran.

            Interesting point, but don't you think there are ways to achieve that without spying on Israel?

            I suspect GP is referring to information about Israel. What do you suggest - asking them nicely, scouts' honour, to tell the truth?

            I can't work out if you're hopelessly naive, a troll or a zionist.

      • by stenvar (2789879)

        In a globalized world where most countries sort of "work together" and their borders become blurry (from an industrial point of view) it does more harm than good.

        Seems to me that in those circumstances, spying is even more important. After all, just because Germany or France say they support us in something doesn't mean they actually do. They have their own agendas and interests. As the French president used to say: countries don't have friends, they only have interests. The reason the Europeans are making

        • Seems to me that in those circumstances, spying is even more important. After all, just because Germany or France say they support us in something doesn't mean they actually do. They have their own agendas and interests. As the French president used to say: countries don't have friends, they only have interests. The reason the Europeans are making such a fuss about this is because their formerly great and powerful spy agencies can't keep up anymore.

          That does play in to this a bit, but it's not the main reason. A good reason to make a fuss is that there is popular public opposition to having the NSA and GCHQ hoovering up our data. It's political capital for opposition politicians, and a massive pain in the arse for the leaders who know their own security services are not much better. The UK government, in its long-running role as the poodle of the US, is way to deeply involved to be able to decry any NSA activities. This is why Cameron's sops to concer

          • by stenvar (2789879)

            Look, Americans and Europeans are going to continue spying on each other; it's the rational and right thing to do. All the hoopla about it is just political theater. Americans and Europeans should focus on fixing domestic spying, because that really is a problem.

      • Re:Problem? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by amjohns (29330) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @07:25AM (#45243897)

        Absolutely wrong. In many cases, sprying on countries prevents an immediate threat! That said, you have to be sure you're getting accurate data, and not repeat the iraq invasion fiasco.

        Should the west stop spying on Iran, and just wait until the day they announce "We've got nukes!"? I think most people would rationally say no way. Should US stop spying on China's buildup of missiles aimed at Taiwan?

        But besides the purely miltary applications, here's another equally valid one [wikipedia.org], well documented by the EU in their Echelon investigations: The US spied on Saudi Arabia and airbus, and found the Saudis were bribed by Airbus to win a massive airplane purchase, over Boeing. When the US blew the whistle, a new clean competition ended up with the US manufacturer winning. That probably saved or created thousands of jobs, clearly protecting US financial well-being. If they had waited until the winner was announced, they would have never known the bribes happened in the first place, so preemptive spying saved jobs, which protects the economy.

        • I'm sure that France was happy when Airbus didn't get the contract....

          • by amjohns (29330)

            They were probably pissed, of course. But if their company had the right product at the right price, they could have won.

            There's a difference between exposing corruption and fostering it. In that specific case, the US had a valid concern of impropriety, were proven right, and protected the national economic health.

            Any other country would do the same, and if they're not, then they're failing the citizens...

      • That makes intuitive sense.

        But historically the French have been the most enthusiastic industrial spies because it's pretty hard to figure out where major French Companies (ie: the "National Champions") start and the state ends. But the French are doing ok in economic terms. The country doing the best economically over the past decade (the Chinese) engage in industrial espionage on such a massive scale that most businesses won't let you take your normal employee laptop to China. They figure someone will sne

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cold fjord (826450)

        Spying on foreign countries is feasible when there is an immediate threat.

        Waiting until there is an "immediate threat" before building an intelligence apparatus isn't really feasible. Your statement is nonsense.

        In a globalized world where most countries sort of "work together" and their borders become blurry (from an industrial point of view) it does more harm than good.

        Because knowing about wars or impending wars, the results of natural disaster, or economic dangers isn't helpful in managing a nation's affairs?

        Companies fear industry espionage and pull back or limit interaction with those "excessively spying" countries and that harms global economy which eventually boils down to every single one of us.

        That doesn't seem to have stopped investment in China, does it? Everyone knows about problems of massive IP theft when dealing with China, either purely for sales, for manufacturing, and yet people keep selling, building, and dev

      • Spying on foreign countries is feasible when there is an immediate threat.

        If you wait till there's an immediate threat to do your spying, you might as well not bother.

        Remember, all the immediate threats take a long time to create - tank factories aren't built overnight, and neither are Manhattan Projects...

      • by emt377 (610337)

        Spying on foreign countries is feasible when there is an immediate threat.

        Observing is essential to identify threats in the first place. Naively sitting and assuming that without an express threat sent to you in a pretty envelope, wrapped with a blue ribbon, all is good a fine means you'll quickly become a footnote in history. That's the sort of juvenile, childish assumption that just doesn't work in reality on any level.

        Observing is essential to deescalate conflict early and maintain good relations.

        Lack of response to a potential conflict means the other party may assume in r

    • by maroberts (15852)

      Entirely legal depends on which country you happen to be in when you're spying!

      The current spying argument is silly though. Nations have a clear duty to both protect and maximise the benefit to their own citizens. Some people and nations are or may be hostile to others, and it is only natural to want to determine real intentions.

      To counterbalance this, I fully accept that no one should make it easy for conversations to be listened to.

      • I meant legal according to the laws of the country doing the spying. Other than that I completely agree with you.
    • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 26, 2013 @02:27AM (#45243173)

      There's nothing legal about it; it is entirely outside the scope of the law.

      What you mean is that it is common practice to keep an eye on your enemies and on your friends since it allows you to prepare for what's coming. And everyone does it from the youngest age, through gossip and eavesdropping.

      The problem here is the scale at which it can be practiced nowadays by the most powerful entities. You should always be wary of that kind of concentration of power. The strong often abuse their power.

      A state maintains itself by keeping its own citizens under control and keeping at bay outside threats. But in modern times, for economical reasons, the outside threat is quite weak. States have every incentive to cooperate with each other. All the power granted by this collection of information is thus turned towards the only outlet: population control and the erosion of freedom. This is hardly comforting...

      • by stenvar (2789879)

        The problem here is the scale at which it can be practiced nowadays by the most powerful entities. You should always be wary of that kind of concentration of power. The strong often abuse their power.

        You should. That's why Americans should complain about being spied on by American spy agencies, and French should complain about being spied on by French spy agencies, and Germans should complain about being spied on by German spy agencies: it's your own government that has power over you, not foreign governmen

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Europeans don't seem to care that their own national governments spy on every aspect of their lives.

          This quote is so stupid, you'd have to be an american to write it.(Or I guess generalisation is only bad when done to americans...)

      • Apparently you have read a lot more dystopian sci-fi then US history.

        In the US it's typically low-level groups several tiers below the NSA that do oppressing. In Michigan recently we has something called a "Grosse Pointe System," where real estate agents with no legal powers would keep blacks/Jews/Italians/etc. out of Grosse Pointe simply by utilizing their free speech rights to lie. "I'm sortry Mr. Cohen, there simply are no homes in Grosse Pointe that suit your needs, let's try the West Side." Slavery was

    • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bkmoore (1910118) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @02:31AM (#45243193)

      Yes, a certain amount of spying is expected and allowed. An ambassador is basically a legalized spy who has diplomatic protection and is allowed to work in the open.

      The problem is that the NSA is not following the same priorities as the State Department. How many European political leaders will give the American diplomats their private phone number in the future? The NSA's spying on allies is destroying any future back channel communication abilities that we may have. The conspiracy theorist in me would be saying it's intentional so that the NSA becomes the ONLY source for intelligence gathering in the American government.

      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        No professional diplomats run a mile from anything to do with the "dirty business of spying" to protect their diplomatic status - read any history of any of the major western spy agencies and there is a lot of push back from the diplomats against spies.
    • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kermidge (2221646) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @02:40AM (#45243221) Journal

      What the problem is as seen by a number of people including the original submitter of the Patriot Act to Congress, is the wholesale collection by the NSA of all the electronic communications _of its own people_ - to no known good purpose and in direct contravention of law, the Constitution, and what some might even quaintly characterize as morality.

      To state it somewhat differently, Optimal Cynic (now there's a fine thought, that handle, and a heavy responsibility to live up to), the problem is not about having an agency tasked with foreign signals intelligence (one of the NSA's founding tasks; there are several more including cryptanalysis of said signals and cryptography in aid of securing our own communications) "spying" on the communications of other governments.

      The problem as talked about here and elsewhere since, what, June?, is the total Hoovering of all internal electronic comms, on the off chance that sometime between now and the heat death of the Universe some citizen might have some electronic intercourse with someone from another country and that that communication might somehow possibly have some relevance to some potential investigation of someone else who talks with someone else who is also from another country and that what is talked about might be flagged for inquiry as being somehow inimical to the interests of this country or of its safety or that of its citizens. Or so the ostensible reasoning goes.

      The totality of this has been done in secret from the secret court charged with issuing warrants and conducting oversight and from the Congress which set out as part of the Patriot Act a section setting up such court, etc., and which is supposed to be in charge of oversight which includes being fully briefed on what said court and agency are doing vis-a-vis their tasking. This isn't following the comms of a suspect under investigation via warrant and foreign intel as is done in normal fruitful investigations by police agencies, this is the complete sucking up of all electronic comms excepting garage-door openers on everyone inside our borders. Just in passing, the agency has consistently lied about this to the secret court and to Congress. Well, technically, no; the lies changed in light of every new revelation as to what they were doing, so it might be better to say repeatedly than consistently.

      D'you begin to get a glimpse or glimmer that the problem is not spying on others, but on us? (I think it might have been Shaw, "The ability to see things as they are is called cynicism by those who haven't got it." May have been Bierce. Or even Wilde; they were all pretty sharp.) Anyway, do you see, optimally or otherwise?

      • "he wholesale collection by the NSA of all the electronic communications _of its own people_" - which is why I specifically said "on foreign countries".
      • by AHuxley (892839)
        The problem for the EU is they now know their NATO generals are more loyal to the USA and seem to have taken segments of the EU telecommunications industry with them.
        The EU now has their own EU generational telco staff reconnecting the EU communications networks for a few foreign governments.
        Who can EU courts trust as expert witnesses? Who can EU political leaders trust during hearings to provide any form of a truthful statements?
        Who can a right/right wing or centre EU political leader trust in their
        • by kermidge (2221646)

          Wow, yes, no doubt; problems aplenty. I fear the repercussions will be a long time unfolding, will get worse, and will do some lasting harm.

          I'm a U.S. citizen and wish no harm to my country. This in no way means I can excuse what it's government, or some parties in that government, have done. Doing the harm was easy, "because we can", but making things right is not a gimme.

      • The thing people forget is that with so many nations doing the spying, everyone is a foreigner to many of those nations. Even if your home country isn't spying on you, the neighbours are. And if they find anything interesting about your traffic, they let your home country know about it through "bi-lateral security agreements".

        i.e. Every country spies on it's own citizens by proxy.

        Canada. The US. Australia. New Zealand. Germany. France. The UK.

        There don't seem to be any exceptions. Over-reachi

        • by kermidge (2221646)

          Yeah, and ouch and oh-shit.

          Extrapolating not all that much, Planetary Panopticon, anyone?

    • by jopsen (885607) <jopsen@gmail.com> on Saturday October 26, 2013 @02:46AM (#45243243) Homepage

      I still don't see the problem. Spying on foreign countries has happened since they were invented, it's entirely legal and expecting it not to happen strikes me as hopelessly naive.

      Spying on citizens of foreign countries is still a violation of the human rights convention. It's not legal!
      Spying on foreign diplomats is a violation of Vienna convention, tapping into foreign government networks is an aggression (act of war, US. govt. said so a while ago) not legal without prior declaration of war (not all declarations of war are legal either).
      Sure "legal" is hard to define, but let's just say there's nothing honest, fair or acceptable about spying on your allies!

      On topic, I don't see a problem with having some level of surveillance, but it must be transparent!
      If you tap cables or whatever, let the public know and make sure access, disclosure and queries are all subjected to public court hearings.
      Then it's fair, honest and acceptable, let's call that "legal".

      • People are incredibly naive.

        How could you have a relationship with Israel, at any level, without spying? The Israelis have an explicit policy of not telling anyone which hair-raising schemes they are involved in in the Middle East, so you have no way of knowing whether their latest proposal to you is an honest proposal and not a Byzantine Scheme against some Lebanese terrorist without spies.

        How can the Baltic states, allied with the West, trust they are truly protected from Russia without spies? So we don't

    • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sique (173459) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @02:51AM (#45243251) Homepage
      Spying was never legal. This is the main mistake you make in your assertion. Only your own spies had some legal cover in your own country. But in every other country, your spies are criminals.
      • by AHuxley (892839)
        Re But in every other country, your spies are criminals.
        What about the local staff helping with maintenance or contract work at very secure telco sites in the EU? If they sold out the US and UK - who next for the right price?
        • by Sique (173459)
          They are guilty of conspiracing with a foreign intelligence agency while being in a position of power, which doubles the penalties at least in Germany.
      • Legal according to the laws of the country that sent them. Obviously spying is illegal according the country being spied on, duh. That's irrelevant though - it's the sponsoring government that matters in this case.
        • by Sique (173459)
          That's completely relevant, it is the only relevance there is. Of course no one will hold the NSA responsible in the U.S. for spying for instance on Brazil, but Brazil is entitled to the extradiction of every single person to Brazil that helped bugging the Brazilian president.
      • Spying was never legal. This is the main mistake you make in your assertion. Only your own spies had some legal cover in your own country. But in every other country, your spies are criminals.

        NSA spies can't be charged under any countries laws. They are officers of their country's government, engaged in actions against other countries governments. Those other countries new the US had an NSA when they recognized us, and they knew it was engaged in SigInt.

        If they were using some German national to give them info on Merkel that guy could be charged, but actual officers of a sovereign government recognized by every government, spying on members of that government, are perfectly within their rights.

        T

    • Morally if not legally, a distinction can be made between spying on the governments of other countries and spying on the people of other countries. An interest in military matters is obviously an essential part of national defense. Monitoring political situations is important in foreign policy. But mass-collecting phone calls and emails from tens of millions of people is another thing altogether.

      • There's a definite legal distinction here.

        There is no treaty that says governments give up the sovereign right to spy on each-other. AFAIK there are no national statutes banning spying on governmental authorities by other governments. Spying on governments is a right governments have, kinda like Bolivia has the right to have a Navy despite the fact it hasn't had a coastline since 1883. Which means that Germany probably does not have a law that could be used against the NSA.

        OTOH it does have strong privacy l

    • Spying used to be a punctual stuff. You could only do as much as you could field agents, double agents, and other folk. Maybe a tapping ehre and there. But with the systematic bulk spying the NSA did, spying become a liability for the economies and diplomatic relationship between countries. It also has a shilling effect. Will me critizing the war in Irak bite me in the ass, later ? In a world where such data is lost among a sea of other, probably not and I can be a voice among other. In a world of systemati
      • It also has a shilling effect.

        well, it would depend on how farthing they take it, I guess.

      • Don't worry about Iraq War criticism. Everybody criticized that war, including Obama. Moreover I doubt they have mechanisms to a) figure out you criticized the war and b) do anything to you.

        The only case I can think of where the US government had personal data on a large group of people analogous to Iraq War critics, and actually managed to get it's act together enough to use it on them was Japanese Internment. And in practical terms being interned was probably a better alternative then being left at the me

    • The problem is ... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by golodh (893453) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @05:42AM (#45243657)
      that it's now out in the open.

      Don't kid yourself that the EU didn't know the NSA was hoovering their data. They knew (with the probable exception of bugging their embassies), and they were doing approximately the same thing.

      Only ... as long as that was done in secret, only a handful of intelligence professionals, senior military officers, senior civil servants, and politicians charged with intelligence oversight knew about it (and in particular the public and parliament didn't). And such people see data-collection in a different light than the public, because they depend on it to do their jobs.

      It was also readily deniable by politicians (in the absence of hard evidence to the contrary), and isolated cases where evidence did surface could be dismissed as "incidents". So it didn't have a big political dimension. As it is now, John Q. Public (who never cared before) has suddenly found out and decided he resents it. This leaves the responsible politicians embarrassed and in need to be seen to respond to it (and do something about it). In other words: it all got a political dimension.

      That's the downside of Snowden's revelations, and that's what's meant by the claim that those revelations are "damaging".

      My personal guess is that it will lead to a tightening of rules (for the next 10 years) for data storage by Internet companies and will cause the bill for tapping communications in the EU, Brazil, and other countries to go up and the volume and quality to go down somewhat.

      What will definitely not happen is that this sort of thing will stop. Just consider: there are milions of muslims within the EU with ties to a range if Islamic nations, and if even 0.1% of them radicalise you have a steady supply of terrorists. And given the EU's openness (not to mention its porous borders) you are going to have international terrorists within your borders.

      The EU knows this full well and also knows that it doesn't have the wide signals interception coverage the US has. So their intelligence professionals will advise their governments that it's in their national interest to cooperate with the US and not to make massive data collection by the US (or even data-sharing) unreasonably hard or even impossible.

      Only ... the NSA must in return accord them the courtesy of staying off the front page. Nobody likes to be embarrassed, and politicians can afford it less than most.

    • by wmac1 (2478314)

      In most countries if you arrest a spy she/he will receive a death penalty. See the problem? You can spy but when it is known you will pay the costs and you will be punished. Is that normal to you?

      In this case US deserves to be sanctioned, economically, politically and in any possible way. If it is not, it is because those countries are either not capable to punish the US or ...?

      • Yeah, but if you're an officer of a foreign government you don't get the death penalty. You get sent home with a really testy note. Which means the NSA guys are fine, can't be executed, and since they're already home all that can happen is the testy note bit. The people who'd get shot would be the humans who told the NSA info, which is nobody because the NSA doesn't spy by asking people questions (Human Intelligence or HumInt), it spies by listening in to people's electronic conversations (Signals Intellige

        • by wmac1 (2478314)

          "Yeah, but if you're an officer of a foreign government you don't get the death penalty. "

          You are wrong! That's only when you have diplomatic immunity. Otherwise the country may exchange you or just send you to court. And you may receive a death penalty in court (which might be performed or remain pending for exchanges).

          • Name a single intelligence officer executed by the country he's spying on during peacetime.

            For convicted there is a guy, but he wasn't convicted of spying, he was convicted of kidnapping.

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      And there is an EU directive on tracking that all members are supposed to impliment
    • by rtb61 (674572)

      You sound just like some idiot child but it's OK mommy because everyone does it. Hacking into computers and interfering with computer networks is a criminal act, it should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, end of story.

      Right now various security agencies around the globe should be having their heads handed to them on a platter for the incompetence in securing their countries essential infrastructure. They should now, each and every individual be required to prove that they were not individuall

  • by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @01:58AM (#45243101)
    The bastions of civilization are threatening my rights to privacy and it seems to be a systemic problem across many nations and interests.

    The question I have is, if 'everyone' (almost) is doing it, when do us sheeple get to say 'no' and have it count for something?

    I ask this question, and nothing seems to change. I vote for people I see as less persecuting, and the problems get worse. My fellow compatriots get angry, protest and demonstrate, try to keep the issue in the light, and we are largely ignored. Fellows that whistleblow are retaliated against, persecuted, and no positive action taken.

    When do we get to remind politicians that they are servants of the people and that the government should act in our interest, not its own?

    <metadata>Dear NSA, I'm not having subversive thoughts, so please don't interpret my post that way.</metadata>
    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      The first step is to stop using the word "sheeple."

      • The word "sheeple" more than adequately describes the actions of citizens who do nothing.

        America, look in the mirror and you will see the embodiment of the word "sheeple". Correcting the ills of your country will take action, not talk, nor worrying, nor hand-wringing, nor anything else that prevents you from getting off your collective asses and _doing_ something about what's been forced on you while you've been distracted by the myriad unimportant distractions you call living.

        The first step is to stop using the word "sheeple."

        • Yeah, but it marks you as an arrogant idiot, which is why I didn't read anything more than the first line of your post. If you want to have your voice heard, don't say stupid things.
        • The word "sheeple" more than adequately describes the actions of citizens who do nothing.

          America, look in the mirror and you will see the embodiment of the word "sheeple". Correcting the ills of your country will take action, not talk, nor worrying, nor hand-wringing, nor anything else that prevents you from getting off your collective asses and _doing_ something about what's been forced on you while you've been distracted by the myriad unimportant distractions you call living.

          The first step is to stop using the word "sheeple."

          So?

          This is a democracy. This means the majority tends to get it's way. If you go around comparing the people to sheep the majority will not like your dumb ass, and will vote against you.

          I suspect that's actually what you want. As a non-sheeple person you can construct elaborate castles in the sky with no risk of those castles becoming reality. You can then argue whenever anything goes wrong that it's because those ovine idiots in the majority didn't listen to your brilliance. If anything goes right you can

    • The question I have is, if 'everyone' (almost) is doing it, when do us sheeple get to say 'no' and have it count for something?

      I ask this question, and nothing seems to change. I vote for people I see as less persecuting, and the problems get worse. My fellow compatriots get angry, protest and demonstrate, try to keep the issue in the light, and we are largely ignored. Fellows that whistleblow are retaliated against, persecuted, and no positive action taken.

      As long as you live in a different country then everyone else the two countries will try to get info on each-other, and the people trying to get that info will try to operate below the RADAR; which means that if they do something you think of as unethical you won't know it. In other words you shouldn't be voting for an ethical President of the US, PM of the UK, or whomever, you should be voting for candidates who want to abolish the US/UK/whomever even if they are incredibly unethical.

      Moreover I'm not sure

  • Couldn't Care Less (Score:5, Insightful)

    by some old guy (674482) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @02:18AM (#45243151)

    I really couldn't give a fsck what one government does to another government. They all suck.

    What I DO care about is my own corrupt, power-mad government spying on me and my fellow citizens as if we are all suspect.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Where the USA/UK got in, so will Russia, China, then banks, big pharma, agribusiness, oil, a few foreign princes and then drugs and organised crime.
      Thanks to the junk US export crypto you will have a lot of groups buying into the same EU telco networks and software.
      • I guess "Cryptogeddon" is only a matter of time. Once Wall Street and the big cartels and crime syndicates have everything, everyone's credit rating will drop to bugger all, and thus the credit-based economies, along with the banks and the governments they own, will collapse.

        I'm making popcorn. This ought to be good.

        • by AHuxley (892839)
          Yes ex gov staff, private contractors and telco officials will on the open market with the codes, skills and tech. The offers will be lucrative and never ending.
          What will the EU admins be able to do against hardware NSA backdoors in the EU telco systems been repurposed by any interest party?
    • So if you're American you like the NSA because it does it's best to not spy on Americans. If you're not you hate it.

      Do I have that right?

  • by Cyvros (962269) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @02:46AM (#45243241)
    The problem isn't so much that countries engage in spying. That's to be expected, really. The problems are in 1) how they go about doing it, 2) whom they're targeting and 3) what data they're collecting. So if they're 1) using backdoors in consumer products without use of warrants, 2) targeting members of the public without necessarily having good cause to do so and 3) collecting everything they possibly can, then there's a big problem. Spying on other countries or persons of interest with good cause and/or warrants is what these agencies generally do. What the NSA and GCHQ in particular are doing is far more than this and far more invasive for what seems like little meaningful return and at the risk of their reputations and their respective countries' reputations.
  • by Troed (102527) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @03:55AM (#45243381) Homepage Journal

    Wait what? It's no secret that the reason FRA exists is to tap the underwater cables carrying almost all of Russia's traffic and hand it over to the US. There was an uproar against the creation of FRA in Sweden - but it was met with statements from our prime minister to the effect of "It's best for us all if we don't talk about this anymore".

    Earlier documents put in context with recent revelations show that Sweden has been systematically wiretapping Russia on behalf of the United States. This is clear after putting a number of previous questionable agreements and developments in context today.

    http://falkvinge.net/2013/07/07/documents-sweden-wiretapping-russias-international-traffic-for-the-nsa/ [falkvinge.net]

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      The UK had an electronics intelligence agreement with Sweden - a swap of airborne electronics intelligence collection for ground station work i.e. third party.
    • by kthreadd (1558445)

      Uproar against FRA? No, they have been around since the 40's and there was no uproar at that point. What happened recently was that they got approval to not only listen in on wireless radio communications but also wired communications, *that* was what the uproar was about.

    • by Carewolf (581105)

      Uhmm, the IT community in Sweden was in oproar about FRA, but most Swedes support it. They actually like being watched all the time by the government. It is like the NSA in the US except it is all public and supported by the people. Why did the EU parliament choose to investigate Sweden again? FRA is not exactly secret, just creepy and weird, or as we say in Denmark, very Swedish.

  • As more than 90% of all e-mails are spam-mails, will the NSA & Co. also collect all of that trash? Or have they good filters at hand to avoid filling their storage capacities with junk? What filters are they employing? If their filters are good, and the monitor *all* national and/or worldwide traffic, they could do us all a big favour and filter out that junk! Or even better: identify and eliminate the sources of this nuisance. Thanks in advance!

  • "Spying" is misleading when what we're really talking about it mass surveillance.

    Its one thing to say "Countries have always spied on each other", when it used to mean having one or two "diplomats" at the embassy and debriefing businessmen when they came back from trips to X. Its a very different affair when intelligence gathering means everyone in the country is effectively targetted (70m phone calls a month is hardly discretely targetting a country).

    Mass surveillance is to spying as martial law is to poli

    • It gets really complicated with this case because a lot of what sets governments off is not the mass-surveillence, it's actual spying. Merkel isn't justifying her opposition to the NSA solely by claiming a duty to protect German's privacy, she's unhappy her personal phone got tapped. Rousseff isn't setting up a national email system all Brazilians can use to avoid the NSA, she's setting up a secure email system so her cabinet can't be spied upon.

      In general I'd prefer if the media would refer to spying on pr

      • by fritsd (924429)

        Merkel isn't justifying her opposition to the NSA solely by claiming a duty to protect German's privacy, she's unhappy her personal phone got tapped.

        Well, don't blame her; see it from her personal perspective: in her youth, her parents' phone was tapped by the Stasi, and now her phone is tapped by the NSA (oh ok according to Obama not anymore). It would bring .. associations and similarities .. to a person's memory. Germany didn't get rid of the Stasi on order to have it replaced by the NSA (I honestly beli

        • On a personal level I don't blame her for being unhappy. But as a simple matter of public policy she is a perfectly valid target for surveillance. That's not a matter for debate, it's a simple fact. The NSA's entire job is top spy on people like Angela Merkel.

          She's a good enough politician, with a dominant position within Europe, and the Stasi-story is heart-rending enough, that she can make a case against NSA wiretaps quite effectively, but that doesn't imply she's not wrong on the facts.

  • by TwineLogic (1679802) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @11:34AM (#45244929)
    It is as if they were the two countries who defeated the Nazis in World War II. It's almost like every other western country collapsed, and only the countries with the best intelligence and geographic advantage to apply it (i.e., water) avoided being occupied by Nazis.

    I don't know how many people here have read "Between Silk and Cyanide," but it is worth reading. This system we are learning about (Echelon) pre-dates 9/11 and stems from the lessons that U.S. grandparents received during World War II.
  • by ecbpro (919207) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @02:04PM (#45245983)
    What would have happened if Merkel or Hollande had spied on the phone of Obama? How would the US react to that? Interested to hear your opinion!
  • Either one of those countries, or a private enterprise, based in say, the Cayman Islands, could take their own data collection and make it completely public. What's good for the goose, is good for the gander. Then we'd have full dossiers on every politician in the world, phone records, credit info, criminal records, etc. And more and more citizens would be beset with corporations abusing their data in offensive ways. We might finally see a majority recognizing the value of privacy laws.
  • France is fifth in suveillance ranking, it is also fifth in GDP ranking. US is first in both ranking

    That reminds me a Jean-Jacques Rousseau observation that government is the luxury of the People. The more wealth a country produce, the more a government may grow strong and oppressive.

    With this idea in mind, it is not a surprise to see that GDP and surveillance ranking overlap. The interesting points are the country that rank high in surveillance but not in GDP. That suggests and odd situation.

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