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Communications Government The Courts United Kingdom United States

Could Slashdot (Or Other Private Entity) Sue a Spy Agency Like GCHQ Or NSA? 188

Posted by timothy
from the oh-you-meant-sue-and-actually-win? dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "When the GCHQ agency (Britain's equivalent of the National Security Agency) reportedly decided to infiltrate the IT network of Belgian telecommunications firm Belgacom, it relied on a sophisticated version of a man-in-the-middle attack, in which it directed its targets' computers to fake, malware-riddled versions of Slashdot and LinkedIn. If the attack could be proven without a doubt, would the GCHQ—or any similar spy agency engaging in the same sort of behavior—be liable for violating trademarks or copyrights, since a key part of its attack would necessitate the appropriation of intellectual property such as logos and content? We asked someone from the Electronic Frontier Foundation about that, and received a somewhat dispiriting answer. "From a trademark perspective, if a company uses another company's marks/logos to deceive, there may be a trademark claim," said Corynne McSherry, the EFF's Intellectual Property Director. "But it's complicated a bit by two problems: (1) the fact that while there may be confusion, it's not necessarily related to the actual purchase of any goods and services; and (2) multiple TM laws are in play here—for example UK trademark law may have different exceptions and limitations." McSherry also addressed other issues, including governments' doctrine of sovereign immunity."
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Could Slashdot (Or Other Private Entity) Sue a Spy Agency Like GCHQ Or NSA?

Comments Filter:
  • Sue them... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14, 2013 @10:51AM (#45422933)

    And magically drugs appear inside your house plus pictures of you fondling kids.

    • Re:Sue them... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ciderbrew (1860166) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @10:54AM (#45422949)
      if you're lucky. the other choice being ending up dead inside a padlocked suitcase which you locked yourself into. Your death will be an Accident!
      • It was a gym bag, not a suitcase..

        This was made famous by Salvador Allende when he committed suicide by airstrike and shooting himself 37 times.

        • by NettiWelho (1147351) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @01:21PM (#45424360)
          Since this thread seems to be riddled with the misconception that sovereign immunity grants government blanket immunity to liability for wrongdoing, I feel the need to insert this in a position with better visibility.

          The United States has waived sovereign immunity to a limited extent, mainly through the Federal Tort Claims Act, which waives the immunity if a tortious act of a federal employee causes damage

          Intentional torts
          Torts against the person include assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and fraud, although the latter is also an economic tort.
          Property torts involve any intentional interference with the property rights of the claimant (plaintiff). Those commonly recognized include trespass to land, trespass to chattels (personal property), and conversion.

          Further, in the article talking about the specific Federal Tort Claims Act...

          However, the FTCA does not exempt intentional torts for "investigative or law enforcement officers," allowing aggrieved individuals to bring lawsuits

          Attacking a civilian owned computer system is definitely violation of property rights.

          Also, the action they are taking is directly forbidden in the United States constitution.

          Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
          ...
          The Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.
          ...
          One threshold question in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence is whether a "search" has occurred. Initial Fourth Amendment case law hinged on a citizen's property rights—that is, when the government physically intrudes on "persons, houses, papers, or effects" for the purpose of obtaining information, a "search" within the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment has occurred.
          ...
          The Fourth Amendment proscribes unreasonable seizure of any person, person's home (including its curtilage) or personal property without a warrant. A seizure of property occurs when there is "some meaningful interference with an individual's possessory interests in that property"

          I'd argue that inserting malware is again, "meaningful interference with an individual's possessory interests in that property".

          • Re:Sue them... (Score:4, Informative)

            by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Thursday November 14, 2013 @03:31PM (#45425828) Homepage

            Yeah whatever. How about the State Secrets Doctrine which really took hold after the widows of some RCA engineers sued the USAF after the plane their husbands were on crashed (they were testing some equipment). The widows wanted the crash report, the USAF said it contained secrets. No judge, not even any on the Supreme Court, ever checked to see if the USAF was flat out lying. Which they were as it turns out. 40 years later when the accident report was declassified, it contained no national security level secrets. It did contain information that the USAF neglected to maintain the plane properly and neglected to install heat shields in the engines -- a manufacturer recommended modification to prevent engine fires. The plane that killed the geeks on board suffered engine fires exactly like those the modification was designed to prevent.

            So yeah, the Feds have waived SI to some extent, but that won't stop them from lying to everyone and anyone, even the Supreme Court, in order to cover up malfeasance and negligence.

            http://www.dcbar.org/for_lawyers/resources/publications/washington_lawyer/october_2008/books.cfm [dcbar.org]

            The State Secrets Doctrine has been used by the Feds to get away with all kinds of crap, most recently of course, with a focus telecommunications masspionage, preventing people who were innocent and tortured from seeking redress, and so forth. As for the 4th Amendment -- it's a joke because of the Third Party Doctrine which equates "reasonable expectation of privacy" to "complete and total secrecy." Anything that is not absolutely secret has no 4th Amendment protection, and if you think about, barely anything in modern life does not include third parties in some way. The whole fucking post 9/11 debacle has the Feds using the State Secrets Doctrine and the Third Party Doctrine as a bulldozer to burry every American ideal we've pretended to revere for centuries.

            So again, whatever. If a Fed. agent dings your bumper, the Feds will pay out, but the sovereign immunity waiver is only for such trivial things. If it matters, the Feds will fuck you over till Christmas, and then kick you in the teeth before taking a crap on you.

            • If the governments representative lies in court is he not guilty of perjury? I was under the belief statements in court are always made under personal liability.
              • by anagama (611277)

                Yes. There is an unwritten exception for Federal Employees of course. For example, see James Clapper lying to Congress about scooping up phone data. Lying to Congress is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Clapper hasn't even lost his job, let alone faced prosecution.

        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          This was made famous by Salvador Allende when he committed suicide by airstrike and shooting himself 37 times.

          So sad, to see such severe depression go untreated and proceed to such a spectacular self-harm.

      • by Applekid (993327)

        Considering the way the pedophilia moral panic will ruin your life and the lives of all your relatives, I would call death the lucky option.

        • Couldn't agree more. You'd have to make it your life's work to comprehensively ruin the accuser, and even then it would only be seen as retaliation.

          Though an unpopular opinion, I am absolutely behind the idea that the identity of any person accused of a crime should not be released to the public until after conviction, regardless of crime committed. It's far too easy to smear someone with baseless accusations, especially if they're of a sexual nature.
    • And magically drugs appear inside your house plus pictures of you fondling kids.

      These days, no such trouble is necessary. They'll just come get you and haul you off indefinitely with no explanation. At least, that's the case in the US. Maybe the Brits are better protected from their government.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Better protected? We are worse off.. :(

    • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @11:20AM (#45423257)
      I think it is obvious to all following the Snowden revelations that these spy agencies do not play by the law, anyones law - as can be seen with all the data sharing agreements to circumvent their respective nations laws. Any small group of individuals causing the spy agencies grief will have their life investigated inside out exactly like what happened to the engineers in this Belgacom case. Small step from there to "neutralize" or coerce the threat though many different means. The only way that these agencies will be reined in and subjected to national laws is if there is a massive public outrage forcing a lot of politicians to put a leash on the rabid attack dog (without getting bitten themselves for trying to do it). So far none of that looks to be happening or that it even will happen... police states here we come.
      • by cusco (717999)

        Not likely that politicians will even come close enough to touch that leash, they're well aware that the intel agencies have pretty much unlimited access to any mercenary group they want in exchange for some minor favor. "Wink, wink, nudge, nudge" and your kid disappears for a week and comes back a heroin junkie.

        • It's simpler than even that. Reining in a "national security agency" means being able to be painted as "weak on national security" in the next election. No politician wants that as it's basically political suicide. If there's a huge amount of anger over such an agency's actions, they'll hold hearings and introduce "leash" bills that actually do nothing to rein in the agency - to say that they worked for the people - but they won't actually DO anything.

    • Re:Sue them... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @11:22AM (#45423265)

      Well, you have a lot of faith in British law enforcement and security.

      No, you'll suddenly decide to kill yourself just before you're going to present important information, like David Kelly. Or you'll commit a minor infraction like jumping a ticket barrier and be shot a few times for "oh he was totally about to set off a bomb", a la Jean Charles de Menezes. Or you'll have a heart attack after being lightly handled by a police officer during a protest, like Ian Tomlinson.

      • I'm betting there is a think tank for "unexplained deaths" to come up with new, plausible ways to remove irritating people.

        The "small plane crash" is notorious for Latin American leaders standing in the way of multinational profits. There's many ways to cause heart attacks. Perforations with an ice gun that leaves nothing but a small hole (been around for decades).

        So yeah -- you bring up some good cases of deaths that make you go "hmmm".

        It's important for dastardly deeds to have some level of novelty, so th

      • by Yakasha (42321)
        Pigs are pigs regardless of who fills their trough.

        Sad thing is, I don't hate cops. I totally understand the stress they're under whether they're policing high-crime areas or grandma's backyard (just before they shoot her based on a crack-addict's "tip"). As individuals, I'm still confident they're no different than anybody else on the street.

        However, corporate ownership of the government and the unwillingness of even "good" cops (and prosecutors) to hold other cops accountable for misdeeds, forces the pu

      • by symes (835608)

        Erm - the guy that jumped the ticket barrier. A bunch of explosive devices had just gone off in London on public transport, the police were actively searching for more terrorists. This guy fitted the description of the bombers, had a back pack (as they did) and ran from armed officers towards a train station. I am not surprised he was shot. It was a very unfortunate set of events and his death was a terrible tragedy. But shit happens sometimes.

        No one from David Kelly's immediate family are saying anything t

        • 1) I didn't realise that jumping a ticket barrier while looking a bit Arab was sufficient grounds for being shot several times. I must have been dreaming through the twenty-five years my father and I lived through IRA bombings in London as commuters using the underground, running around looking like Arabs, and never being shot.

          This included the time my foreigner-with-a-suitcase father had to run from a bomb which had just gone off. Thank goodness our services weren't always this incompetent;

          2) Can you think

        • by tomtomtom (580791)

          Erm - the guy that jumped the ticket barrier <snip> ...

          He didn't jump any ticket barrier [wikipedia.org]. The "jumped the ticket barrier" comment was attributed at the time to an eyewitness but it has been alleged that it was in fact one of the police officers involved (and if that's true then it appears consistent with the idea of the Met realising their mistake and trying to smear him through this and other 'off the record' briefings to the press with the aim of making themselves look less incompetent).

    • by jythie (914043)
      Luckily, I suspect the only real outcome would be they laugh at you and then go out for a light lunch. Threatening to sue the NSA is about as likely to frighten them as threatening to drink all the water.
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Add the fact that you can not sue the government unless you get permission from the government to sue them.

        Yes this is a real thing.

        Sovereign immunity is a real bitch.

        • Re:Sue them... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Decker-Mage (782424) <jack_of_shadows@yahoo.com> on Thursday November 14, 2013 @02:06PM (#45424800)
          tl;dr

          Sovereign immunity is a real bitch.

          Got that one right. I'm a disabled vet as a direct result of a shipyard accident in the US Navy. Both the Navy and VA really fucked up by not following up on neurological problems that developed over the next few years. Bone spurs were forming in the cervical (neck) vertabrae, slicing through the spinal cord. What should of happened is that when they found the symptoms were not a result of damage outside the spine, they should have done an MRI. Oops. The Veteran's Administration also failed to follow up for an additional seven years over the Navy's four before doing the MRI. Then they waited for another four years before telling me that I'm inoperable and terminal. Oops! I have a team of doctors, now, at the VA who can't help me on the pain issues or much of anything else other than trying to keep me from killing myself as I have done, unsatisfactorily, over a dozen times. Whatever.

          The actual point of the post is that my medical team keep pushing me to sue the US Navy and the VA for malpractice (and the US Navy for wrongful termination ;-0). Yeah, like that's gonna fly. You have to get a Federal Judge's permission by finding an overwhelming need for justice in your case. Hell, you also need a lawyer who's willing to go out on a limb as, in my case, what disability I do get just allows a hand to mouth existence. No room for legal fees there. I get just enough ($1K) to stay off SSI and that's after a twenty-three year wait.

          Now, I do like to keep track of these things, but the last lawsuit that did go through, well this cardiac surgeon killed 60+ (65?) patients. A bunch of people kept going before a judge to certify and finally, FINALLY, after killing all those people, they're allowed to sue for malpractice. Fortunately,.I'm not to the point of really blaming anybody. I should have pushed for other tests beyond the electro-myelogram [it tickled, which is NOT a good thing for an EMG, in case you've never had one. Almost every patient screams.] For all our experience in delivering destruction, it's funny that you hardly ever going postal at the VA facilities or the courthouse. Lucky, I guess.
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Naw you will just go broke trying to win.

    • by alen (225700)

      not even that

      your case will be thrown out of court. you cant sue another country for spying on you

  • No. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SenorPez (840621) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @10:53AM (#45422945) Homepage
    Laws only apply to little people. Go back to shoveling dirt you peasants, and leave your governmental overlords in peace.
    • Help! Help! I'm being repressed!

    • by BSAtHome (455370)

      Surely, there is a very simple method to do something about it.

      When the state oversteps its boundary, it is time to replace the state. If not in orderly fashion, then with force. It is called revolution.

      • by alen (225700)

        yes, and when other states want to invade and conquer your state then you need to be able to defend against your enemies, hence a military and intelligence gathering system

      • Re:No. (Score:5, Informative)

        by f3rret (1776822) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @01:11PM (#45424254)

        Surely, there is a very simple method to do something about it.

        When the state oversteps its boundary, it is time to replace the state. If not in orderly fashion, then with force. It is called revolution.

        Welcome to the NSA watch list.

        • Except that I thought we discovered (thanks Snowden! I'm going to name my first born after you!) that everyone who uses the Internet is already on the NSA watch-list. Hmm?

          Merely calling for world revolution to bring about an international communist* society would have put me on the watch-list years ago. So far nothing obviously negative has happened to me.

          * I actually call for an anarchist society. But think that any long-lasting anarchist society will end up being communist (classless and free) anyway. Als

        • I don't care if I am; It just makes my list of holiday destinations one item shorter.

          Anyone who continues to travel to the US for any reason by default agrees with their trade, domestic surveillance, and foreign policies. Sadly the UK isn't far behind them in this regard, and in some instances is worse, but that's just a feature of where I was born. We'll see at the next General Election just how much of the populace agree.
        • by f3rret (1776822)

          Surely, there is a very simple method to do something about it.

          When the state oversteps its boundary, it is time to replace the state. If not in orderly fashion, then with force. It is called revolution.

          Welcome to the NSA watch list.

          Seriously...you think my post was informative? You guys are weird...

  • by TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @10:55AM (#45422973)

    Betteridge's law wins again!

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      No, you can definitely sue them.

      Winning...? That's another question.

      • There are other questions to be considered as well, like "What is your goal?". If you file with the intention of drawing attention to the issue then you may achieve that goal even if it is never heard in any court the case could still be tried in public opinion with the help of the media.

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          ...with the help of the media.

          I think I see a flaw in your cunning plan.

          • I said "may" but I think what you noticed I left out is that you need to be a manipulative genius to get them to report what you want them to. {Some CEOs are really good at that but not from some random little company}

          • by Sarten-X (1102295)

            Depends how it's spun. If it's presented as a censorship issue, where Big Bad Gubment could have replaced the Slashdot stories with their own, then the media's more likely to talk about it. As the story goes now, it's James Bond using a clever bit of infiltration to get intelligence on a highly-specific enemy. Nobody's going to get properly outraged about it, and it certainly won't sell more dead trees.

      • You could certainly try to sue them.

        Whether you would succeed or not (or live to see whether you succeeded or not) is another story.

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @10:55AM (#45422975)
    I really think you will get a better answer from your attorney than you will get from Slashdot. But for the sake of discussion -- why is a trademark claim the first thing that comes to mind? To my non-lawyer mind, impersonating someone's business sounds like fraud, which I believe is actionable in civil court.
    • Right. No different than If you bought a Crown Victoria, painted it up to look like the po po, then pulled over people and molested them.
    • by Ed Johnson (2881561) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @11:05AM (#45423073)
      BUT - governments are special; essentially you can't sue them unless they agree to allow it. Neither US nor UK governments would allow such a suit to proceed, even if all the facts were publicly known, they would invoke "state secrets" and quash any civil action. The only hope of proceeding in court is to show they violated a law, and even then you'll have a long drawn out battle to prove that you have standing to sue, and to find a judge who would allow the suit to proceed. Lots of people with much stronger cases demonstrating actual harm have had, so far, little or no success in getting the NSA into court and I doubt very much that the UK government is any less skilled at this sort of manipulation of the courts. In then end I doubt anything short of a revolution, or at least the credible threat of one will get any noticeable reform. There are a handful of politicians on both sides of the Atlantic trying to reign these agencies in, sadly they are a minority and unlikely to succeed unless a large wave of public outrage forces a majority of the political class to care about this issue. The best hope is that brave whistle blowers like Snowden will continue to expose the shenanigans of these agencies and that the reporting will be honest enough to get the public to wake up to the profound dangers they pose to all our freedom.
      • But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed

      • The UK is a member of the EU, and as such the European Court of Justice [europa.eu] has a higher authority than any UK court, or the government.....

        The Court of Justice interprets EU law to make sure it is applied in the same way in all EU countries. It also settles legal disputes between EU governments and EU institutions. Individuals, companies or organisations can also bring cases before the Court if they feel their rights have been infringed by an EU institution.

        Find an EU law that the UK government has broken (shouldn't be too hard!), and then file a case. If the case is from an individual, then the European Court of Human Rights [coe.int] may be an alternative. (IAANL, so YMMV)

      • by tomtomtom (580791)

        BUT - governments are special; essentially you can't sue them unless they agree to allow it.

        In the UK, unlike in the US, there is no longer automatic sovereign immunity for the government from suits for contract or tort. However the legislation which governs the intelligence services is so very broadly drawn that I suspect that anything and everything they do is always legal (or, at least, can be authorised ex post facto by a minister without the involvement of parliament or a court and thus made legal). That leaves, perhaps, seeking a judicial review of the authorising minister's decision but I'm

      • by jrumney (197329)

        Exactly. GCHQ moves to dismiss your case on grounds which it cannot specify for reasons of national security. Game Over.

    • To be fair, a trademark claim is a type of fraud.

      • by sanchom (1681398) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @11:18AM (#45423229)
        Trademark infringment is not a subset of fraud. Trademark law came out of the tort of passing off, which originally was a descendant of fraud/deceit, but they're now different in that fraud happens between the lier and the listener; trademark infringement happens between the lier and the owner of the mark that they co-opt. It isn't a subset-superset relationship anymore.
    • by sanchom (1681398)
      Trademark law originated as the common law tort of passing off. Passing off is *like* fraud, but differs in that fraud requires proof of damages, while passing off/trademark infringement does not require proof of damages. Passing off/trademark infringement is what the intellectual property owners could sue for. Fraud is what the end-users could sue for.
    • by Xest (935314)

      Fraud, damage to reputation, loss of business.

      These all sound like more fruitful avenues than pursuing a trademark violation.

      • Slashdot claiming damage to reputation?

        It's like Paris Hilton suing far having her chastity questioned.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      To my non-lawyer mind, impersonating someone's business sounds like fraud

      Except when you do it for national security, then they give themselves an exemption.

      You could try, but I suspect the judge would get told that, due to national security reasons, the trial may not proceed and you have no standing to sue.

      Suing a government is tough when it's about matters they can control so tightly. And damned near impossible when it's something like the NSA or GCHQ.

      Hell, I suspect they'd just charge you as a terrorist

    • If the goal was to infect you, you have a much better standing using the laws on breaching private IT networks, since have lots of teeth and over-broad reach given who sponsored them...

      The hacked you? Get a judge to hand out hackers minimum sentences!

      [/dreaming]

  • by Noryungi (70322) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @11:04AM (#45423053) Homepage Journal

    Hmmm... "Good luck with that" is the first answer that comes to mind.

    On the other hand, one potential legal solution who go something like this:

    - Get Belgacom on your side ;
    - Find the person(s) at Belgacom who have been infected through the fake /. site by GCHQ ;
    - Sue GCHQ and the UK government in Belgian and UK courts - yes, I think there are some jurisdictions that will hear cases even if their protagonists are out-of-country and Belgium may be one (some Rwanda genocide cases were tried in Belgium if I remember correctly) ;
    - Get the case thrown out of court repeatedly all the way to the local equivalent of the Supreme Court ;
    - Appeal all the way to the European Court of Human Rights (which is, according to the EU Charter, one step above local Supreme Court);
    - Profit! Well, only if the European Court of Human Rights decide that, yes, there is a clear violation of due process and invasion of privacy, etc... Which, in that particular case, seems pretty much open-and-shut at this point.

    In other words: this is definitely a case the European EFF should take on immediately, on behalf of /. and the person (and corporations! Belgacom was, after all, the subjectaffected - it will take years and stupendous amounts of money, but, heck that's why Kickstarter is for (I would send money immediately to such a project!).

    Try suing in different jurisdictions at the same time - the French governement - in that particular case, is begging for someone to come and kick its butt, Germany also sounds like a prime candidate, as well as some of the Scandinavian countries.

    The interesting side of this case is that it could result in a binding ECHR court decision that would force all European governements - not just the UK - to rein in and place GCHQ and others (DGSE anyone?). It would probably take years and a lot more money and a lot more suing to make them all apply this ruliong in their respective jurisdictions, but it would be money well spent (IMHO).

    Please don't quote me on this - IANAL even though I play one on /. ;-)

  • by edibobb (113989) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @11:05AM (#45423071) Homepage
    In the United States, anybody can sue anybody else for anything, regardless of merit, and have a reasonable chance of winning. It only takes time and money.
    • Re:Of Course (Score:5, Informative)

      by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @11:09AM (#45423105) Journal

      In the United States, anybody can sue anybody else for anything, regardless of merit, and have a reasonable chance of winning. It only takes time and money.

      Not if the second "anybody" is the government. Unless the government consents to being sued (in othe words, there is a law allowing citzens to sue the government over that particular injury) the government will merely plead sovereign immunity and the suit will the thrown out of court.

  • Functionally, No. (Score:5, Informative)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @11:09AM (#45423115) Journal

    "In the United States, the federal government has sovereign immunity and may not be sued unless it has waived its immunity or consented to suit. The United States has waived sovereign immunity to a limited extent, mainly through the Federal Tort Claims Act, which waives the immunity if a tortious act of a federal employee causes damage, and the Tucker Act, which waives the immunity over claims arising out of contracts to which the federal government is a party."
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_immunity#United_States)\

    Did you REALLY think there would be another answer?

    • Re:Functionally, No. (Score:5, Informative)

      by bigHairyDog (686475) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @11:22AM (#45423273)
      Except that GCHQ is a UK government organisation, and in the UK Sovereign Immunity only protects the monarchy. People can and do sue the government for not adhering to the law, in a process called judicial review: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judicial_review_in_English_law [wikipedia.org] That said, I don't think any lawsuit would be successful.
    • by sanchom (1681398)
      Functionally, this just means you have to sue the department head responsible for the execution of the practice in question. See Clapper v. Amnesty International, for example. They didn't sue the NSA, they sued the director of national intelligence, James Clapper.
    • Ahem...

      The United States has waived sovereign immunity to a limited extent, mainly through the Federal Tort Claims Act, which waives the immunity if a tortious act of a federal employee causes damage

      Intentional torts
      Torts against the person include assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and fraud, although the latter is also an economic tort. Property torts involve any intentional interference with the property rights of the claimant (plaintiff). Those commonly recognized include trespass to land, trespass to chattels (personal property), and conversion.

      Further, in the article talking about the specific Federal Tort Claims Act...

      However, the FTCA does not exempt intentional torts for "investigative or law enforcement officers," allowing aggrieved individuals to bring lawsuits

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @11:18AM (#45423227) Homepage

    See, they have secret laws which say what they're doing is legal.

    The government would essentially have to consent to being sued, which they won't.

    As long as the position of the government is "what we do is legal, and even where we might skirt around the law, it's still legal. And we don't care about the rights of citizens of other countries." -- they can do anything they like and call it legal.

    I figure your lawsuit would last about 20 minutes before it got tossed out, or the government basically said "we don't care, we're not showing up, too bad". Short of some pretty heavy diplomatic pressure (still likely to do nothing), my guess is you have absolutely zero recourse.

  • A better choice might be to sue those well known private companies that helped the agencies do this, the enablers so to speak. Make it annoying enough and these companies may think twice about co-operating so freely next time.

  • by WillgasM (1646719) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @11:20AM (#45423255) Homepage
    but you won't win. That whole "If the attack could be proven without a doubt" assumption doesn't exist. At least in the USA, they'll just claim all evidence falls under the state secrets privilege, and the case will be immediately thrown out.
  • Lily Tomlin Said: "We don't care, we don't have to...we're the phone company."

    Similarly: "We don't care. We don't have to... we're the GCHQ."

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      If the funding can be raised a stream of outside experts who present well in a court setting could speak to the history of crypto, weakened junk crypto, govs and academics who do nothing, telcos and isp's who did nothing. The fact that the crypto keys are now in many hands for many reasons, for sale.
      That in a public, historical and legal setting.... vs a gov legal team that wants the court closed to the public, that all court staff are security cleared if the case is to be allowed to continue?
  • This is due to their complicity with the NSA so it's hard to argue that they should be compensated for losses unless they had complete assurance that "no one would find out." In which case, the NSA failed to live up to their end of the bargain.

    I'd like to say "I told you so!" to all those people out there who responded with doubt that the NSA's activities will undermine the value of US products and services, but it's out there now. Cisco is down 10% and falling.

  • by borcharc (56372) *

    Isn't it time slashdot implemented ssl? Perhaps a self signed key that is widely publicised ahead of time. Also, sue them in US Federal court for violation of US laws. This type of thing happens all the time.

  • While I'm sure the Corporate Parents of slashdot and linked in are in all sorts of rage and feeling dirty and used, think of the users. As a user of both, I'm certainly displeased.

    A virtual protest may be asynchronous, but could go on for quite some time. It could be one more thing encouraging the less corrupt elements to help reign in such abuses.

  • for the law to apply, it must apply to ALL in equal measure.

    Just from the summary, I can say that the law certainly has been broken. The Computer Misuse Act specifically forbids unauthorised interception of network signals - as has clearly happened here. It also specifically forbids unauthorised manipulation of computer code - as has clearly happened here. I could write a list, but I'll leave that exercise for the guys and legals at Dice. Hint: write the informations against the Corporate Director at GCHQ a

  • Try those in the UK legal system. They are absolutely horrible laws, since you can even sue someone and win if they have only stated facts. Just because you actively did something to make them look less good, not by slander or falsely claiming they did something illegal, you're committing a crime.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @12:16PM (#45423812) Journal

    There's a pretty clear copyright claim here. Every poster owns the copyright to their posts, and there is no license granted to anyone but Dice.

    Of course, to pursue such action we'd have to have a government that obeyed the rule of law. But that is not the case.

  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @12:42PM (#45424008) Journal
    If they used a proxy serve up the malware and to deliver the images, logos, comments, etc. then you have a very weak case and end up with interesting unintended consequences if you win.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Just having the material presented in open court is the 'win', the press is aware, law reformers can quote it, people see it on the news.
      Maps, colourful charts, cross examination, witnesses, clearances, front companies, funding, tax, laws... contracts, who knew what and when... who pulled a "national security" and will not be attending court?
      The daily acts of 'not recalling' and that hardware 'team' been cleared by 'someone' and 'sometime'... all makes for great optics.
      If you win the case its a "win"
      If
  • IMO there are different rights at stake here. Indeed there is intellectual property, but I suspect CGHQ would argue spying has its root into the people right to security (they spy on us for our own good, right?). The latter is likely to trump the former. But perhaps the idea that spying on us is for our security can be debunked?
  • No, you can't sue the government.

    Because if you could, we could shut down NSA wiretapping in a heartbeat by bringing a massive class action suit against them, where every victim of a crime that could have been prevented by NSA surveillance between 2005 and 2013 would be a member of the class.

    If you ever watch "Person of Interest" that's exactly the kind of crimes I'm talking about -- the "irrelevant list" of criminals that are ignored because they don't touch national security.

    What the hell good is a police

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