UN Slams Mass Surveillance: “Trying To Appear Tough On Security By Legitimising Largely Useless ... Measures"

George Washington's picture

A White House panel has previously slammed the NSA, and said that mass spying is unnecessary.

Now, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy notes in a new report (with our comments)

Deeply concerning … the status of the right to privacy in the surveillance area of activity has not improved since the last [UN surveillance] report. [Indeed, it’s getting worse … and will only expand unless we fight for privacy.]




Increasingly, personal data ends up in the same “bucket” of data which can be used and re-used for all kinds of known and unknown purposes. [Numerous high-level NSA whistleblowers say that NSA spying is about crushing dissent and blackmailing opponents … not stopping terrorism.] This poses critical questions in areas such as requirements for gathering data, storing data, analysing data and ultimately erasing data. As a concrete example a recent study carried out by the Georgetown Center on Privacy and Technology in the United States has found that “one in two American adults is in a law enforcement face recognition network.” As the authors of the study put it: “We know very little about these systems. We don’t know how they impact privacy and civil liberties. [We have a pretty good idea.] We don’t know how they address accuracy problems.




While often “traditional” methods, such as the interception of phone calls and communications in general, are subject to judicial authorisation before the measure can be employed, other techniques such as the collection and analysis of metadata referring to protocols of internet browsing history or data originating from the use of smartphones (location, phone calls, usage of applications, etc.) are subject to much weaker safeguards. This is not justified since the latter categories of data are at least as revealing of a person’s individual activity as the actual content of a conversation.  [Correct.] Hence, appropriate safeguards must also be in place for these measures.




It is important that government authorities carrying out surveillance, as well as civil society and other stake-holders, have a clear view on what they actually mean when they use these terms relating to surveillance …. [Otherwise, the intelligence agencies will play word games to deceive Congress the public and oversight agencies.] What is necessary is a more comprehensive and harmonized use of terms and their understanding in exchanges between governmental authorities carrying out surveillance. However, also oversight bodies of the judicial and political branch, civil society, security research and corporations should be able to understand and use these terms appropriately.




The Snowden revelations and their aftermath have clearly shown that there is a pressing need for government authorities to explain their work. This may partially be achieved through ex post notification of those individuals who are subject to surveillance. Once this can be done safely, those should be notified and explained the consequences of such operations. They also should be entitled to alter and/or delete irrelevant personal information provided that information is not needed any longer to carry out any current or pending investigation for which the collection and use of that information had been appropriately authorised.




The past eighteen months have seen politicians who wish to be seen to be doing something about security, legislating privacy-intrusive powers into being – or legalise existing practices – without in any way demonstrating that this is either a proportionate or indeed an effective way to tackle terrorism.


The new laws introduced are predicated on the psychology of fear: the disproportionate though understandable fear that electorates may have in the face of the threat of terrorism. The level of the fear prevents the electorate from objectively assessing the effectiveness of the privacy-intrusive measures proposed. [That’s a feature, not a bug.]


There is little or no evidence to persuade the [Special Rapporteur on Privacy] of either the efficacy or the proportionality of some of the extremely privacy-intrusive measures that have been introduced by new surveillance laws in France, Germany, the UK and the USA.




We must ask as to whether it would not be much more proportional, never mind more cost-effective and less privacy-intrusive if more money was spent on the human resources required to carry out targeted surveillance and infiltration and if less effort were expended on electronic surveillance. This, in a time when the vast majority of all terrorist attacks were carried out by suspects already known to the authorities prior to the attacks.  [Top security experts agree that mass surveillance makes us MORE vulnerable to terrorists. Indeed, even the NSA admits that it’s collecting too MUCH information to stop terror attacks. Indeed, virtually every recent terror attack – in Boston, Paris, San Bernadino, Orlando, etc. – the suspect was already on a terror watch list, known to authorities, previously interviewed by the FBI, or the like.  They were already known to authorities.  Instead of focusing on known bad guys and their associates, the government is flooded with surveillance data from spying on everybody. So they can’t do their job to stop terrorists.]


There is also growing evidence that the information held by states, including that collected through bulk acquisition or “mass surveillance” is increasingly vulnerable to being hacked by hostile governments or organised crime. [Indeed.] The risk created by the collection of such data has nowhere been demonstrated to be proportional to the reduction of risk achieved by bulk acquisition.




Once the data sets produced by mass surveillance or bulk acquisition exist and a new unscrupulous administration comes into power anywhere in the world, the potential for abuse of such data is such so as to preclude its very collection in the first place.




Trying to appear tough on security by legitimising largely useless, hugely expensive and totally disproportionate measures which are intrusive on so many people’s privacy – and other rights – is patently not the way governments should go.




The type of activities revealed by Edward Snowden lie outside the scope of the Cybercrime Convention and for these to be regulated satisfactorily the scope of Convention 185 would need to be considerably extended or else we would need to have a separate but complementary treaty that adequately covers surveillance in cyberspace.

Indeed, Western governments’ entire approach to terrorism is counter-productive and dumb.

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J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock's picture

Mass Surveillance has evolved from a tool of the state to a self perpetuating nemesis.

Agencies have jobs for life, governments have martial powers at a keyboard press, MIC and I.T. prostitutes run rampant over budgets.

You wanted safety and security at any cost and you got what you deserved.

It's got so bad that Mrs. Gruntfuttock (Buttercup) now keeps the shades drawn during our marital duties for fear of 'peeping drones'.


J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock

the French bitch's picture

The world we live in now:

Occasionally now when I'm out and about, I will check if there are cameras overhead recording

mendigo's picture

I suspect that what has happened is that we are now more keenly aware that our privacy was never protected. Nor do we have any other rights beyond what our respective wallets can buy. When they discuss the issue they are really only lamenting that they are exposrd and how to put that genie back as it is bad for business and complicates the claim that america is land of opportunity and freedom.

I think it would be more constructive to point out: thats the way it is so deal.

JailBanksters's picture

It does 2 things

1. Justifys their own existance

2. Arrest people for Pre-Crimes, Crimes they have not yet committed


It never has, and never will prevent Terrorism, which is the central aim it's being sold as.

To keep you safe.


Reaper's picture

In 2014, 80% of all US calls were recorded.  They most probably have improved that percentage.  https://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/crime/item/18681-nsa-whistleblower...

in 2016, any more than half-witted potential terrorist would not communicate by phone.  The recorded calls are used to ask for warrants to obtain evidence already known.   http://thefreethoughtproject.com/parallel-construction-law-enforcement-i...

Worse, gullible Americans believe their government  would not alter transcripts to convict or extort false testimony against others.   http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Quick-Hits/2015/04/20/FBI-s-Lies-Damn-Lies

Your trust in government is the much greater threat than any terrorist.

scouzi's picture

We're under Facebook and Google surveillance. They know a lot more about you than the government. Maybe even some patterns you haven't even noticed about yourself.

TeethVillage88s's picture

SOB, Pedogate X 10.

GPS our kids? Track our Kids? Monitor our Kids? Open Video on TVs, PCs, Laptops, other devices in our homes on our kids?

God Damn.

- US Constitution, Amendment 3, Quartering of Soldiers/Paramilitary/Spies/Govt in our homes
- We have enough missing kids, missing adults, Human Trafficking Programs, Sex Slavery Programs... what is the NSA & CIA doing designing flaws into our appliances, computers, phones,... making our kids vulnerable at school, at the Mall, around Town, and in their bedrooms??????

Chupacabra-322's picture

The "Spoofing" or Digital Finger Print & Parallel Construction tools that can be used against Governments, Individuals, enemies & adversaries are Chilling.

Effective immediately defund, Eliminate & Supeona it's Agents, Officials & Dept. Heads in regard to the Mass Surveillance, Global Espionage Spying network & monitoring of a President Elect by aforementioned Agencies & former President Obama, AG Lynch & DIA James Clapper.

The CIA can not only hack into anything -- they can download any "evidence" they want onto your phone or computer. Child pornography, national secrets, you name it. Then they can blackmail you, threatening prosecution for whatever crap they have planted, then "found" on your computer. They can also "spoof" the source of such downloads -- for instance, if they want to "prove" that something on your computer (or Donald Trump's computer) came from a "Russian source" -- they can spoof the IP address of a Russian source.

The take-away: no digital evidence the CIA or NSA produces on any subject whatsoever can be trusted. No digital evidence should be acceptable in any case where the government has an interest, because they have the complete ability to fabricate and implant any evidence on any iphone or computer. And worse: they have intentionally created these digital vulnerabilities and pushed them onto the whole world via Microsoft and Google. Government has long been at war with liberty, claiming that we need to give up liberty to be secure. Now we learn that they have been deliberately sabotaging our security, in order to augment their own power. Time to shut down the CIA and all the other spy agencies. They're not keeping us free OR secure, and they're doing it deliberately. Their main function nowadays seems to be lying us into wars against countries that never attacked us, and had no plans to do so.

Solio's picture

Right, get all rewstrictive on The People who could put end to pedo/ponzi/fugate. It makes sense.

shimmy's picture

Only morons think all the mass spying is to counter "terrorism"

scv's picture

everyone is on the ter0r watch list. we are watching you.

nmewn's picture

Oh baby, if this plays out right heads are going to roll...


fishpoem's picture

Great link! Thanks. Comey is a dangerous rodent...

nmewn's picture

Opinions vary on Comey, at first I had him as a straight laced, head-up-his-ass G-Man, then he let Hillary off...who broke more laws than a Black Panther in Philly on election day...then he let her off...again...along with...Huma.

Now I'm not so sure ;-)

TeethVillage88s's picture

I'm still piecing this article together in my mind.

"Trying to appear tough on security by legitimizing largely useless, hugely expensive and totally disproportionate measures which are intrusive on so many people’s privacy – and other rights – is patently not the way governments should go."

I've taken that out of context since this is fight club.

Dr. Tainter Video posted a couple years back reveals St. Augustine's Laws... one of which is that at some point in the future Military Aircraft will be so expensive based on inflation rates and USD deflation... that only one manned aircraft could be purchased in the US Budget & That 3 Services would have to share the craft.

Winslow Wheeler revealed in 2011-2012 that the US MIC Budget was $1 Trillion USD.

- This article reflects the immense cost of perfect information without showing us the Price Tag... since it is all kept secret by the US Royal Crown (USSA)
- This article touches the immense cost of perfect information in terms of Violations of Civil/Individual Rights
- This article reflects only partially the cost of war

RagaMuffin's picture

Unfortunately, that will require a lot of luck and courage, character,  integrity..... the American people are running out of the first, because the last three ain't in DC.........

RagaMuffin's picture

The only reason  the UN is sqawking is that they were targets........ karma's a bitch and if we are lucky she's not finished with the UN....