Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Sunday, 9 June 2013

PRISM - GCHQ/NSA, Who Gives a Flying F**K?

So, the news has been full this weekend that apparently the NSA in America has been spying on it's citizens through a computer programme called PRISM and have been accessing people's GOOGLE, FACEBOOK and other social media sites, although the owners of all these companies have denied, well they would wouldn't they, giving access to their sites to the Agency; other than what they would normally do as required by law or warrant. So, that's in the US, but what about here in the UK?


Well, most of us on social media are signed up to all these sites and I can't think of one that is actually British, so therefore, we are, by default, signing on to our social media sites through our American cousins in Silicon Valley or Seattle or in some non descriptive nuclear bomb proof shelter in the desert somewhere. 


Now I don't know about you but have you looked at my twitter string or Facebook page or indeed my blog page, it's full of personal crap. My emails are normally me ranting to some service provider, usually a utility company and if not ranting they are full of boring mundane shit that no one wants to, or should want to read, although me and my Internet thingy BFF were messaging each other the other day about shotguns, in-laws from hell and setting up landmines around the approach to the house with sensors programmed for a specific person! I made a joke on one of the messages informing the security services that we were only joking, well one of us was, but I ain't telling you which one.

My point is, that even if GCHQ or the NSA were to look at that particular string I am fairly confident that I wouldn't have the SAS or anyone else storming the house or the office with stun grenades and gas, flinging me to the floor and cuffing me with plastic ties., (but if you do can you bare in mind I have a sore tummy after recent abdominal surgery that no gives a F**k about unlike Prince bloody Blundermouth Philip oh, and I have cancer, so be gentle on me if you do storm the place) No, I think they would look and say "Look, we've got a couple here talking about shotguns and land mines, and killing someone." Then they would hopefully look at our Internet history and emails and blogs and see that we are normal every day people who rant and rave occasionally about Big Brother our completely and utterly useless politicians, who should in fact be monitored for criminal activities on a daily and 24 hour basis, and decide that we are harmless venters who jokingly talk about serious stuff, including the Mother-in-Law, Politicians and the unfair System that Joe pubLic lives in from time to time, and THEN leave us completely and utterly alone in our own little worlds. 

Sure, I would be worried if it was an 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 type society and as much as some of our dictators, sorry I mean Prime Ministers and Presidents or J Edgar Hoover, would like to have seen most of the population locked up and the keys thrown away on most of the population, for what they said, did or wrote, we aren't quite there yet, I don't think. 

Off course the argument will then be put forward, yes Tom and therein lies the problem with allowing them to snoop on us now and to gather, collect and save this information on us from our private and personal (well as much as Facebook, twitter, google and blogging are our private little worlds and only those we allow to see it can see it, yeah right) Internet accounts and come the day when The Man does decide to really grind us into the ground, they'll have the information that 'we gave them'! 

Now look at your own Internet footprint, is it as boring and mundane as mine, are you really worried that Big Brother is looking at what you're looking at, or what you are saying through the various mediums, nope probably not. So why are all those folk screaming about the infringement of civil liberties then? As I understand it these men and women who are sitting in their little dark cubicles are looking for key words or phrases that could lead them to find terrorists who are intent on KILLING US. 

If that's the case, and I also realise that many will say that I am being a naive Buffoon and I don't understand the implications, well maybe. But, I do understand that if terrorists, killers, or even everyday criminals, including politicians, and lets not forget paedophiles can be stopped from carrying out these activities then I really don't give a fig how much of my Internet traffic the security services look at.  It does not, that I know off, restrict my liberty or my thinking in my everyday life. 

The only other comment I have on this is the Political one, where politicians, both from the Conservatives and Lib Dems, the parties in power here in the UK, and from Labour, who are hitting the airwaves and being quoted in the press, that this is a 'snoop to far' and are demanding questions be answered on this matter. This just takes party politics too far, again, as they would be the first ones or should be, to tell the other political parties too shut the F**k up, as they would if they were in power. Come on, Is it Me, or are these people just to dumb to be in positions of power?

And finally, I opened up my GMail inbox today to be confronted with this:

"2 people spied on you) - Safe*************** - Free tool that shows you who's spying on you."

Paranoia, really does take over the world at times and my only gripe is that no matter how rude I am to Facebook and Google and Uncle Tom Cobbly and all, they still insist on putting F*****g adverts on my F*****g timelines and web pages, now if the libertarians really want to help, help me to get these folks to stop putting F*****g adverts on my mail and timeline pages


  1. Well written Tom. It should be noted that I took a break from creating a landing page for people who click on the ads I am about to run...yes, I'm now part of the problem.

    I have found all the news troubling, but only mildly so. Does my search history have some questionable stuff? Yes, but when they come knocking I can explain that it was research for my books and give them a copy. Hopefully, that will do the trick.

    Of course, if it doesn't, I'll have a lot of time to write from prison. I definitely a glass half full sort of guy.

  2. Right, that's it Meeks you're coming of my list of 'the worlds nice people' and I will be demanding a refund from Amazon on my Free copy of Henry Wood Detective Agency , bloody adverts damn your eyes........

    I just think, like you that the glass is always half full and while our politicians are probably all SUSPECTS the folk who are looking at this stuff are trying to protect us and if they manage to prevent a bombing, a child abduction or the next gazillion $ or £ robbery, then let them get on with it without all this crap going on. In fact they should just come out and say they are dong it and be warned all you dodgy folk better start using carrier pigeons cause we'll find you and kill you before you kill any of our good citizens or destroy our way of life....

  3. Oh no - they will probably find my secret recipe for G&T jelly.

    1. They probably already have it Kerry and you might be doing the world a service if they overload on it while monitoring us they miss some stuff as they'll be too drunk to notice ........

  4. Good job, Tom. This is very specific and effective.
    Uh...doesn't it make you wonder who sees and shares all your medical records along with other things? This isn't 1984, but it's a safe assumption that Big Brother (and Great Uncle) have been watching many things for a very long time.
    I'm sure they find my things very boring.

    1. Thanks Marylin, but if someone does see my medical records are they going to start targeting me with a cure for throat cancer, or obesity or asthma. Or maybe they could sell me a new finger to replace the one tht was shot off al, those years ago...... But then I hope I am old enough, wise enough and still cantankerous enough to do do what I still do with cold callers and that's to tell them to ....... Off in a most unpleasant fashion. Please don't think badly of me on that revalation on my character I have just had so many of them over the years and I have learnt that being polite and respectful does not work with them.

      But, seriously, is it only me that thinks that this whole issue is being made into a mountain ......?????

    2. Your character is never in question, Tom, and I'm not the least surprised at your response. On these issues, we can use more "attitude" like yours!

  5. I'm disturbed but not surprised. Of course they listen in. They are Big Brother. Hopefully someone will not be knocking on my door tomorrow....

    1. Well if they doo make them a home made Lemon Curd sarnie, that will do the trick xxxx

  6. Very well said, Tom. The unfortunate thing is that the government (both there and here in the US) and the agencies involved have their hands tied to a great degree in terms of being able to explain to their citizens just what's going on. People hear these "revelations" and have no one providing any explanation other than the fear mongers who don't actually know anything about how things are done on the inside, or people who are foolish enough to believe that nations shouldn't keep secrets, and don't seem to understand that if those secrets were released to the public at large, those who wish to harm us could easily deny us the ability to know what they're up to.

    Looking beyond the real or imagined technical capabilities, people on the outside also don't understand two critical things. First, those who work in agencies like NSA or GCHQ are, first and foremost, citizens like everyone else. They're not jack-booted automatons who blindly do whatever they're told. They have wives and kids, they have the same joys and face the same trials of daily life like everyone else. They're neither gods nor pawns, just people.

    Second, and more important in this context, both agencies have expended enormous resources in creating both a cultural mindset and technical means to safeguard the civil liberties of their countrymen. At least at NSA, where I worked for over 25 years, the single most powerful organization beyond the director's office is the General Counsel, which we refer to as "The Lawyers." If you think NSA and GCHQ are like Big Brother watching you, The Lawyers *are* Big Brother watching those who have access to technical data. Analysts have to provide justification for everything they do in terms of targeting, and it's all validated and monitored by multiple layers of auditors. Anything that is potentially questionable raises a flag and is investigated to make sure whatever the analyst is trying to do is compliant with the laws, and The Lawyers are also there to field questions when analysts need guidance. The rare person who does something stupid or intentionally wrong (they're people, remember!) has their accesses revoked. And while they might not be fired, someone who's done something like that has pretty much torched their career.

    Another thing that gets me is what seems to be the growing public acceptance or even fondness for those on the inside who divulge secrets. Those people aren't patriots with a conscience - they're oathbreakers betraying the public's trust! When you go to work at one of these "top secret" agencies, the documents you sign and/or the oaths you take mean that your country and its people are trusting you with some of its most valuable and hard-won information that could, if revealed, cause great damage and potentially (in some cases) get people killed. If such people had been around during the Second World War, revealing the work against the Japanese and German ciphers, the Japanese would have defeated the US Navy at Midway and sunk the carriers they missed at Pearl Harbor, completely changing the course of the war in the Pacific, and the U-boats would have kept the upper hand in the Atlantic, strangling England. With "whistle blowers" like these, the Allies literally would have lost the war. Now such things are almost blasé, and have caused incalculable damage and likely billions of dollars to the taxpayers from secret projects that, in some cases, took years to put together but died overnight after one of these revelations. They used to have a quaint word for people who did that sort of thing: traitor.

    Anyway, that's my two bits on the topic, for what it might be worth...

    1. Michael, as ever your two bits is much more than that and of course as you point out as an ex NSA employee you and men and women like you in there, and in GCHQ are ordinary folk much like the rest of us, doing a necessary job that helps us to continue to have the freedom that the libertarians are always shouting about, they seem to forget this most of the time...

      The checks and balances you mention are interesting and go a long way in convincing me that what is going on, in my name, isn't going to make me lose any sleep over my internet footprint, or emails being looked at by someone in a darkened room somewhere.

      I'm also in full agreement with you on the public acceptance of the whistle blower but with just some minor reservations. If someone is actively breaking the law or covering up the deaths of patients in a hospital or something like that then I have no problem with someone blowing the whistle, BUT when you have taken a job in the NSA, GCHQ, or other governmental organisation that is working for the 'good' of the nation and you then find that you are being asked to do things that you do not agree with, then get the F... out and resign and say my conscience won't allow me to do that or be part of that, but that should be it, end of.

      And these folk who are saying they have found a new hero in Snowden will be the first to complain that the security services did not do enough the next time a plane is flown into a building or a terrorist bomb is let off in a crowded city in the US / UK. Just how far do these people not want our Security Services to go to stop these things from happening. And as I understand it, Snowden's revelations have already shown a sharp decrease in the amount of internet chatter from terrorist organisations around the world since Sunday; Will these happy people still be so bloody happy then when the next atrocity is committed thanks to Mr Snowden, I wonder.


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