Big brother (and his mates) are watching

There is a programme that I am told is shown on the television called "The News".  This television programme has a number of, what I assume are spin-off daily and weekly pamphlets, called "Newspapers".  I try to avoid both the television and printed versions as they drive me right up the sodding wall!  However, I've been unable to escape the story of how the Government is planning to introduce legislation, similar to that it opposed in opposition (lying bastard politicians), that will allow the police and MI5 (and no doubt your local council) to intercept you electronic communications.  Obviously, they won't be allowed to read any of the intercepts (and I'm sure we all trust government employees not to sneak a peek) without a warrant from a judge.

If this story is true then it is an outrageous intrusion into our privacy. 

There are already procedures in place that allow intercepts to be performed.  But they do have a lot of rather boring and tedious rules associated with them.  Given that intercepts can already be performed lawfully with good reason, I can only assume that the new information will be sought where there is not good reason, i.e. the Government is arranging a fishing expedition for the security services.  As with most things politicians do, it's not the doing that is important but the being seen to appear to be doing.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter what our lot get up to because as usual they do it bigger and better in the USA.  The US Government, through the National Security Agency (NSA) is currently spending about $2 billion on a brand spanking new home for its cyber spies.  The facility in Bluffdale is designed to house up to a yottabyte of data (that's about 500,000,000,000,000,000,000 pages of text or about a quadrillion gigabytes), which will be processed by a supercomputer capable of speeds over 1.75 petaflops (one petaflop means the execution of a quadrillion operations every second).

The purpose of this facility is to monitor and read all electronic communications.  To be clear, electronic communications includes emails, website visits, web searches and most telephone calls.  The NSA, like our own GCHQ, already has the ability to monitor communications for certain key words and flag up those words for more detailed examination.  However, the new NSA facility will do this on a truly industrial scale and it will monitor ALL communications not just particular ones from specific targets.

Why should we care about some secret US listening post?  It has nothing to do with us because we're not American, right?  Don't forget that our own Government already allows a giant US satellite listening post at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire, which has just undergone a multi-million pound refit and currently sports 33 eavesdropping domes.

So while the UK Government plans to allow British intelligence services to listen into our communications for somewhat vague reasons, it seems that the US will also be monitoring us.

I am a little surprised that there's been very little press attention paid to the US plans.

On a side note, I suppose if we really wanted to annoy the NSA we could all sign up for huge amounts of spam mail and let the NSA fill its data centres with that rubbish for a bit... they probably have quite good spam filters though I imagine.


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