Recent interviews: UK Cyber Security, Kim Dotcom, and Iraq

I’ve done a few more interviews this month for RT, on a variety of issues:

US boots on the ground in Iraq

USA Boots on the Ground in Iraq – again. from Annie Machon on Vimeo.

The extradition case against Megaupload’s founder, Kim Dotcom

Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom faces extradition from NZ to USA from Annie Machon on Vimeo.

And the launch of the UK’s new Cyber Security Centre, soon after the new Investigatory Powers Act (aka the “snoopers’ charter”) became law

The launch of the UK’s new National Cyber Security Centre from Annie Machon on Vimeo.

Head of MI5 goes public

Andrew_ParkerFor the first time a serving head of a major intelligence service in the UK, Andrew Parker the Director General of the UK domestic Security Service, has given an interview to a national newspaper.

Interestingly, he gave this interview to The Guardian, the paper that has won awards for publishing a number of the Edward Snowden disclosures about endemic illegal spying and, for its pains, had its computers ritually smashed up by the powers that be.

The timing was also interesting – only two weeks ago the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (the only legal body that can actually investigate allegations of spy crime in the UK and which has so far been an unexceptional champion of their probity) broke ranks to assert that the UK spies have been illegally conducting mass surveillance for 17 years – from 1998 to 2015.

This we could all deduce from the disclosures of a certain Edward Snowden in 2013, but it’s good to have it officially confirmed.

Yet at the same time the much-derided Investigatory Powers Bill has been oiling its way through the Parliamentary system, with the culmination this week.

This “Snoopers’ Charter“, as it is known, has been repeatedly and fervently rejected for years.

It has been questioned in Parliament, challenged in courts, and soundly condemned by former intelligence insiders, technical experts, and civil liberties groups, yet it is the walking dead of UK legislation – nothing will kill it. The Zombie keeps walking.

It will kill all notion of privacy – and without privacy we cannot freely write, speak, watch, read, activate, or resist anything future governments choose to throw at us. Only recently I read an article about the possibility of Facebook assessing someone’s physical or mental health – potentially leading to all sorts of outcomes including getting a job or renting a flat.

And this dovetails into the early Snowden disclosure of the programme PRISM – the complicity of the internet megacorps – as well as the secret back doors what were built into them.

It will be the end of democracy as we (sort of ) know it today. And, as we know from the Snowden disclosures, what happens in the UK will impact not just Europe but the rest of the world.

So how does this all link into the MI5 head honcho’s first live interview?  Well, the timing was interesting – ahead of the Investigatory Powers Bill passing oleaginously into law and with the ongoing demonisation of Russia.

Here is an interview I gave to RT about some of these issues:

Commentary on MI5’s first nwspaper interview from Annie Machon on Vimeo.

RT Going Underground – the Snoopers’ Charter

Here is a recent interview I did for the RT UK’s flagship news channel, “Going Underground” about the horrors of the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill – the so-called “snoopers charter” – that will legalise previously illegal mass surveillance, mass data retention, and mass hacking carried out by GCHQ in league with the NSA:

My interview starts at 19 minutes in – there is Brexit stuff first, about which I shall write more about soon….

Magna Carta versus Snoopers’ Charter

black_sheep_text_OK, this has to be a bleeding obvious point, but I feel moved to make it anyway.

After the brutal Woolwich murder of  Drummer Lee Rigby,  there were calls from the British securocrats to resurrect the discredited Communications Data bill – aka the Snoopers’ Charter.  Capitalising on the nation’s shock, they believed it was the right time to push through a particularly draconian piece of legislation, as I wrote at the time.

The aim of the Snooper’s Charter is to store all the meta-data of our communications in the UK, which means they can potentially be used as evidence against us at some nebulous future point if the legal goalposts shift – as they seem to be doing at an alarming rate these days.

Not only are activists now being called “domestic extremists” or “terrorists”, but the concept of secret courts seems to be metastasising at an alarming rate – it is not longer just a concept used in immigration and now civil courts, it has reached the giddy heights of the Supreme Court in the UK, with the secret hearings around the Iranian Mellat bank. Top UK Law Lord Neuberger was recently quoted, in the Daily Mail of all places, as saying that secret justice is no justice.

But I digress. Post-Woolwich, the securocrats were overtaken by events. The courageous Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the fact that the NSA and its pals like GCHQ are already hoovering up all our electronic communications, as well as spying on top politicians. As a result the securocrats have gone to ground, but no doubt they will try to slither out again soon.

Or perhaps not – today still further surveillance horrors emerged as a result of the Snowden disclosures: the UK listening post GCHQ, which has long had an unhealthily incestuous relationship with the NSA, has gone to the next level with the “Total Mastery of the Internet” programme, codenamed “TEMPORA”.

The reported capabilities of TEMPORA are huge – GCHQ can tap into all the information flowing through the trans-Atlantic fibre optic cables and beyond. It is truly sucking on the fire hydrant of information

This should be gobsmacking news, but the concept was already reported in The Register 4 years ago. The trouble is, nobody really cared then or just thought it was a bunch of geeks being paranoid. Now this is global news thanks to the brave actions of a whistleblower.

One has to wonder if the UK government is so keen to ram the Snoopers’ Charter into law as a retrograde justification for the endemic PRISM and TEMPORA snooping that has already been going on for years? And let’s not forget the old prototype snooping programe, ECHELON

As a leading European privacy campaigner recently wrote, by the year 1215 British barons had more basic rights under the Magna Carta than we modern day serfs can possibly aspire to now.

How can we be going backwards, so fast?

O tempora, o mores indeed….. some classicist, somewhere in the bowels of the British intelligence agencies, is having a laugh.

BBC Radio interview about the “snoopers’ charter”

Yesterday I gave an interview to BBC Radio Ulster about the security fall-out of the Woolwich murder and the cynical political opportunism of those calling, inevitably, for greater powers for the spies and a reintroduction of the proposed Communuications Data Bill, dubbed the “snoopers’ charter”.

Here is the link.