GCHQ Says Its Surveillance Ability is Crippled Post-Snowden

According to the Telegraph the British Intelligence gathering agency Global Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, is warning people that it apparently can no longer effectively track people they refer to as "some of the world's most dangerous crime lords." Problems they claim to face in the post-Snowden age include people taking better operational security measures to avoid surveillance as well as a fear on their part to engage in many of the kinds of surveillance that have been revealed because they might be discovered. They also report that cooperation from communications companies has become problematic in smuggling and fraud cases as the companies insist requests concern matters that involve “direct threat to life” now.

Unlike the National Security Agency in the United States which has at least a pretense of separation from law enforcement activities in spite of the actual law enforcement use of information discovered by the National Security Agency through Parallel Construction, the United Kingdom's GCHQ in it's broad legally proscribed mission actually has an explicit law enforcement component. To be fair however the GCHQ had no legally recognized mission until the Intelligence Services Act of 1994 came around in the 75th year of the agency's history.

While private citizens would be reasonable in taking particular details of the report too seriously, it is encouraging that movement towards more secure methods of communication can at least slow and frustrate a large State Actor encouraging them to be more selective in selecting and prioritizing surveillance targets. With the continuing growth of interest in secure communication and computer security catalyzed by the Snowden disclosures, Heartbleed, and Bitcoin hopefully intelligence agencies will return to focusing surveillance on actual targets, like other State Actors.

3 thoughts on “GCHQ Says Its Surveillance Ability is Crippled Post-Snowden

  1. Since when have other state actors been the only threat to states? For all their hand-wringing and fear-mongering, states are as fragile as thin-stemmed crystalware. The Internet really is an existential threat to them. Pointing their efforts exclusively towards other state actors would be like an NFL player who only tackles players on his own team.

    States know this and will do what (little) they can to protect themselves. For starters, they'll demonize the Internet, as demonstrated by codswallop like the upcoming movie Blackhat, featuring ever-so-conveniently Sexiest Man Alive 2014 as lead.

    • Ah, but they do. How else do you explain the NFL's war on Running Backs which has claimed Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice this year?

      • At best, I'd explain that as a sport with bloated payrolls and too-expensive stadiums forcibly creating drama to drum up interest in the hopes of increasing advertising revenue.

        Alternatively, it's some kind of meta political stance the NFL is taking. "Violence is bad mkay" sort of thing. Again, in the hopes of appealing to a broader (female, older, etc.) audience.

        Or perhaps there's no explanation needed at all. Any more than there is for Donald Sterling.

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