backtop


Print 25 comment(s) - last by The0ne.. on Aug 23 at 6:53 PM


  (Source: Warner Bros.)
The press isn't quite so free in the Queen's country

With the 250th anniversary of the United States of America's war to win its freedom from the oppressive British monarchy but a little more than a decade away, the recent developments in the case of U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) secrets leaker Edward Snowden remind us how far the U.S.'s freedoms are, even after decades of efforts by some Americans to erode the Constitution.

I. For Now Media is Ahead of Gov't Oppression, Thanks to Digital Tech

A recent piece in one of England's top newspapers, The Guardian, reveals that the publication -- which was the primary recipient of Mr. Snowden's trove of documents on classified spying efforts on law-abiding citizens -- has suffered numerous cases of harassment at the hands of UK secret police in recent months, following the initial publication of a partial analysis NSA files.

The report describes how UK authorities threatened to take the publication to court, and eventually settled with a forced destruction of the hard drives with the Snowden documents on them (of course The Guardian implies it had ample backup thumb drive and paper copies):

And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. "We can call off the black helicopters," joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.

Whitehall was satisfied, but it felt like a peculiarly pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age.

The publication points out that such seizures would likely be far too embarrassing -- and likely not allowed in the first place due to their illegality in the U.S.  In the U.S., reporters -- including those who do whistleblowing reporting related to the government -- are protected by the Constitution, which enshrines freedom of the press (for example the Obama administration received heavy pushback over its decision to spy on the Associated Press). In the UK there are some laws that protect the press, but overall if the government badly wants something, there's no such prime directive for members of the media to shield themselves with.

Destroying hard drives
UK agents destroyed The Guardian's hard drives after the Snowden files were published.
[Image Source: Corbis]

In the past, this would make the UK media much more weak and vulnerable from a exposé reporting perspective, however The Guardian raises an interesting point. In a digital era industrial country that allows free press, strong legal protects are no longer as crucial.  As long as the government stops short of charging reporters involved in such publications or forcing the shuttering of the publications themselves, they are stuck in a losing game of cat and mouse with the media.

II. Ubiquitous Surveillance Could Spell an End to the Free Press in the U.S., UK

Most recently UK agents -- likely with the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain's NSA counterpart -- detained a Guardian employee, David Miranda, at an airport for 8+ hours under the pretense that they were investigating a "terrorism" incident.  

Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda
Glenn Greenwald (left) and David Miranda [Image Source: Reuters]

Mr. Miranda, the boyfriend of Glenn Greenwald -- the primary reporter on the NSA story -- had been serving as a research on the Snowden documents and the public's reaction to them.  During the detention he had his laptop, smartphone, DVDs, and USB sticks seized and was forced to surrender his passwords to the devices.  However, The Guardian writes that the seizures were the failings of a weak and panicked government, unable to keep up with the empowerment of the digital era.  It remarks:

We will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won't do it in London. The seizure of Miranda's laptop, phones, hard drives and camera will similarly have no effect on Greenwald's work.

The GCHQ and NSA's common goal of ubiquitous surveillance threatens to be the high tech poison to this newfound digital freedom.  The Guardian reporter, Alan Rusbridger, writes:

The state that is building such a formidable apparatus of surveillance will do its best to prevent journalists from reporting on it. Most journalists can see that. But I wonder how many have truly understood the absolute threat to journalism implicit in the idea of total surveillance, when or if it comes – and, increasingly, it looks like "when".

We are not there yet, but it may not be long before it will be impossible for journalists to have confidential sources. Most reporting – indeed, most human life in 2013 – leaves too much of a digital fingerprint. Those colleagues who denigrate Snowden or say reporters should trust the state to know best (many of them in the UK, oddly, on the right) may one day have a cruel awakening. One day it will be their reporting, their cause, under attack.

That's a pretty powerful message.  And even in the U.S. -- where the press is safer -- it rings true, given the ongoing efforts of some judges and politicians to erode the protections of the Constitution.

Source: The Guardian





Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

English as a Second Language?
By DaveLessnau on 8/21/2013 10:56:28 AM , Rating: 5
Jason,

If you're too busy to do it, how about you have someone proof-read these articles before you publish them? Errors I found:
quote:
UK Destroys Hard Drives, Seize Laptops...

Plural vs singular. Pick one (it's the title for Pete's sake).
quote:
...the recent developments in the case of U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) secrets leaker Edward Snowden remind us how far the U.S.'s freedoms are, even after decades of efforts by some Americans to erode the Constitution.

Where's the end of the statement?
quote:
...following the initial publication of a partial analysis NSA files.

...analysis OF THE NSA files.
quote:
The publication points out that such seizures would likely be far too embarrassing -- and likely not allowed in the first place due to their illegality in the U.S.

"in the US" should probably be in the first clause.
quote:
...from a exposé reporting perspective...

"AN expose"
quote:
...strong legal protects are no longer as crucial...

"Protections." Not "protects."
quote:
Most recently UK agents -- likely with the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain's NSA counterpart -- detained a Guardian employee...

Comma missing after "Most recently." "Help" missing after "likely with the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)." And, how many parentheticals do you intend to use in one sentence?
quote:
...had been serving as a research on the Snowden documents...

Researcher? Research assistant? Some type of noun instead of verb.
quote:
During the detention he had his laptop...

"During the detention COMMA..."

And, that's not including the run-on sentences.




By superstition on 8/21/2013 1:13:25 PM , Rating: 2
Orwell thought better use of language would help to save us from fascism, but...


RE: English as a Second Language?
By Samus on 8/21/2013 4:35:41 PM , Rating: 2
I think DT needs to hire DaveLessnau as an editor ;)


RE: English as a Second Language?
By Reclaimer77 on 8/21/2013 5:22:29 PM , Rating: 1
Man what an asshole...

Nobody likes a grammar Nazi on the Internet, nobody.

quote:
how about you have someone proof-read these articles before you publish them?


Right because you have contributed so much to this site monetarily, as we all have, I'm sure Jason can go right out and hire an editor!


RE: English as a Second Language?
By Paj on 8/22/2013 8:31:02 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Man what an asshole...
Nobody likes a grammar Nazi on the Internet, nobody.


Not when dealing with forum posts or comments, no.
But a journalist should know better.

quote:
Right because you have contributed so much to this site monetarily, as we all have, I'm sure Jason can go right out and hire an editor!


Editing != proofreading.

Proofreading an article can be done in minutes. Basic grammatical errors should be corrected, or better yet, never made in the first place. Mick's articles are full of them, and it takes away from his pieces a lot.


RE: English as a Second Language?
By Spookster on 8/22/2013 3:32:17 PM , Rating: 2
ROFLMAO! Jason is not a journalist.


By flyingpants1 on 8/22/2013 1:22:34 AM , Rating: 2
quote:

UK Destroys Hard Drives, Seize Laptops...

Plural vs singular. Pick one (it's the title for Pete's sake)


Seize vs. seizes is verb tense. Nothing to do with plural vs. singular.

quote:
Where's the end of the statement?


Not seeing what you mean there.


RE: English as a Second Language?
By The0ne on 8/23/2013 6:53:57 PM , Rating: 2
Jason is the worst and I truly believes he loves it that way. Anand could care less as well, as it seems. Some of us have been complaining for years now about his atrocious spelling and use of grammar. Oh well, me no care no mo cause me canot have time for "pushers."


Miranda?
By chripuck on 8/21/2013 9:56:39 AM , Rating: 5
Does anybody find it unbelievably ironic that the man that was illegally detained for 8+ hours was named Miranda? You can't make this stuff up...




RE: Miranda?
By junooni on 8/21/2013 2:29:16 PM , Rating: 2
This comment deserves a 6!


RE: Miranda?
By maugrimtr on 8/22/2013 10:43:21 AM , Rating: 2
Well, technically, Miranda means nothing outside of the US. Nicely spotted even so!


How silly was this
By Tony Swash on 8/21/2013 2:25:24 PM , Rating: 5
The image of the the two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just about sums up how out of touch and ludicrous some parts of the security system are in the face of modern communication technology. I suspect they knew it was futile and pointless but like all good career bureaucrats needed to be able to show that something, no matter how laughable, was being done.

I think that we must remain focussed on the very important real issue which is that legislation giving unusually draconian powers to the security forces to detain people at airports, which it was argued were required to prevent imminent possible terrorist attacks, were in this case actually used against someone who clearly has no connection to terrorism and which no member of the security forces or the UK government has ever suggested has any connection to terrorist activity.

I understand the need to give legally defined powers to the security forces to act decisively when it is suspected an imminent threat is looming but once in place the actual use of such powers must be monitored very closely in order to prevent the sort casual extension of those powers into non-terrost areas of investigation as seen in this case. I am hoping this issue will continue to generate pressure for some sort of inquiry into who authorised the detention of the journalist's partner using such powers as it was clearly an abuse of the system.

I should point out that my daughter is a journalist at the Guardian.




RE: How silly was this
By JPForums on 8/21/2013 3:47:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The image of the the two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just about sums up how out of touch and ludicrous some parts of the security system are in the face of modern communication technology.
Where was that again. I see the image of the drive being destroyed and the image of Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda. Didn't catch the image of the two security experts, but I'd love to see them so I know what you're talking about. Though going by your tone, I'm going to assume that it looked like a pointless waste of time (which it seems to have been).
quote:
I think that we must remain focussed on the very important real issue which is that legislation giving unusually draconian powers to the security forces to detain people at airports, which it was argued were required to prevent imminent possible terrorist attacks, were in this case actually used against someone who clearly has no connection to terrorism and which no member of the security forces or the UK government has ever suggested has any connection to terrorist activity.
Bingo. Legislation should come with some type of clause of intent and limitation of scope. It should only be able to be applied to situations that both fall within the intent of the law and the scope for which it is given validity. Some would argue that this would leave potential crimes unpunished, but I would suggest that it would force law makers to do their jobs instead of relying on laws that were put into place for alternate purposes that are neither accurate nor adequate for what they are applied to.
quote:
I understand the need to give legally defined powers to the security forces to act decisively when it is suspected an imminent threat is looming but once in place the actual use of such powers must be monitored very closely in order to prevent the sort casual extension of those powers into non-terrost areas of investigation as seen in this case.
I would argue that the scope of this law should be limited to imminent threats. Any officer who detains someone without a present imminent threat would not be protected by this law. Further, the officer in question should be subject to the same proceedings and punishment as any other person who decides to detain someone illegally.


RE: How silly was this
By Tony Swash on 8/21/2013 6:09:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Where was that again.


The image was a mental one not an actual one :) It meant thinking about what these twits from GCHQ were doing made my head hurt.

It referred to the information in the fourth paragraph from the bottom of this article by the Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/...

quote:
And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. "We can call off the black helicopters," joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.


Slow news day?
By Integral9 on 8/21/2013 10:39:21 AM , Rating: 2
I have this wierd Deja Vu feeling....
http://www.dailytech.com/British+Police+Detain+Har...




w­w­w.w­o­r­k­2­5.c­o­m
By darlaj.tyson on 8/21/13, Rating: 0
By villageidiotintern on 8/21/2013 2:57:02 PM , Rating: 2
Good. Maybe you and Helen can get off welfare and food stamps now.


re passwords
By wolfmanjam on 8/22/2013 6:05:38 AM , Rating: 2
as far as im aware, the reason mr miranda was detained for 9 hours over here was because he refused to hand over any passwords. when they realized they were never going to get their hands on the passwords they then destroyed all his electronic devices. good on him for standing up to them i think i would have done the same. i do however feel that this may have been set up and he wasnt actually carrying any of the information they were searching for which im thinking may have traveled in with someone else....and that this was in fact a decoy and possibly even an excuse to uncover certain misgivings in the way our security forces operate in which case a huge well done! im impressed. it got the exposure it needed. finally, i dont care about my grammar. ive been awake for 9 minutes and havnt had my first cigarette of the day nore my first cup of coffee so suck my balls :)




Nice work
By amypaige654 on 8/21/2013 4:58:33 PM , Rating: 1

Visit the below mentioned link and follow simple steps in order to earn money online. Make money online in the partime with a bit effort and enjoy a gentle man life like me. ... http://xurl.es/mie6b




Hello!
By Ammohunt on 8/21/13, Rating: -1
RE: Hello!
By tigz1218 on 8/21/2013 3:01:15 PM , Rating: 2
So Ammohunt, let me throw a scenario at you.

Lets say you are working for a top secret agency in the government. You know through your high level clearance rights that your agency is illegally detaining citizens and/or physically harming them. You would not say anything about it because it is illegal. Is my understanding correct?

If so, congratulations, your attitude is the reason people like Hitler were allowed to come to power and murder millions upon millions of people throughout human history and you are a disgrace to what America stands for.


RE: Hello!
By chris2618 on 8/21/2013 3:14:51 PM , Rating: 2
Reductio ad Hitlerum


RE: Hello!
By superstition on 8/21/2013 3:35:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Lets say you are working for a top secret agency in the government. You know through your high level clearance rights that your agency is illegally detaining citizens and/or physically harming them. You would not say anything about it because it is illegal. Is my understanding correct?


argumentum ad baculum ("argument from the stick")

The broken logic: "Because something is illegal, it must never be done without punishment. Why? Because an authority says so (i.e. because it's illegal)."


RE: Hello!
By superstition on 8/21/2013 3:45:06 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
There are two types of logical error that may be involved in appeals to force:

Some appeals to force may be appeals to the consequences of a belief. What sets the appeal to force apart from other appeals to consequences is that the bad consequences appealed to?that is, the use of force?will be caused by the arguer. Attempts to change people's minds by threats of punishment are appeals to consequences, since the bad consequences appealed to are not consequences of what is believed, but of the belief itself. As such, they are irrelevant to the truth-value of the belief.

However, because it is impossible to read a person's mind, the attempt to use force or threats to change minds is usually ineffective. Instead, threats are more commonly reasons to act, and as such can be good reasons to do so if the threat is plausible. People are sometimes intimidated into pretending to believe things that they don't, but this is not coming to believe something because of the fear of force. So, appeals to force which are appeals to consequence may fail one criterion of a logical fallacy, namely, that it be a common type of bad argument.

When force or the threat of force is used to suppress the arguments of one side in a debate, that is a type of one-sidedness. Governments are always tempted to use police powers to prevent criticism of their policies, and totalitarian governments are frequently successful in doing so. Extremists use threats or actual violence to silence those who argue against them. Audience members "shout down" a debater whom they disagree with in order to prevent a case from being heard. This is, unfortunately, common enough to qualify as a logical fallacy.

However, force or the threat of it is not an argument, which means that appealing to force is not a logical fallacy. Since hitting someone over the head with a stick is not an argument at all, a fortiori it is not a fallacious one. However, withholding relevant information can lead people into drawing false conclusions.

For these reasons, calling the appeal to force a "logical fallacy" is misleading. More accurately, it is a logical boobytrap, that is, a way of tricking someone else into reasoning incorrectly .


Hiding (via downrating) and deleting comments can actually qualify, by the way. I've been banned from a number of forums, not for breaking stated rules, but for challenging the comfortable (and erroneous) beliefs of people who have moderator power. I've found that, no matter what beliefs people espouse, they will always resort to silencing critical voices rather than rebutting them -- provided the usual routine of mockery and fallacies (ad hominem, bandwagon) fail to do the trick.

The most recent ban was for telling John Aravosis that his attitude toward beauty pageants is fascist in nature. He argued that women are "degraded" by them, which suggests that they should be banned. I replied with a photo of women in burkas. The notion he expressed is that people should not be allowed to judge others by their appearance, which is ironic given that he posted a video of a commercial from Wendy's in the 1980s which criticized the "communist" idea of not keeping oneself up by showing a fat woman in a factory outfit as a beauty pageant contestant. Plus, the way he publicly lusts after "hot" young men in posts makes his attitude certainly hypocritical. (Aravosis had previously banned me for challenging him on Obamacare, saying that I was insane, heartless, and political idiotic for arguing that it should have a public option.)


RE: Hello!
By Ammohunt on 8/21/2013 5:26:53 PM , Rating: 2
I am not a lawyer so legality is best left to those who are experts in the law. If something is un-ethical i would just find another job. This idea that anyone say at Snowdens level would have all the information in order to interpret the legality of the NSA's actions is laughable at best not to mention he isn't a lawyer either.

I am sure you find yourself in the company of people using illegal drugs all the time. What stops you from calling the police to report such illegal behavior?


"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook






Most Popular ArticlesFree Windows 10 offer ends July 29th, 2016: 10 Reasons to Upgrade Immediately
July 22, 2016, 9:19 PM
Top 5 Smart Watches
July 21, 2016, 11:48 PM







botimage
Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki