Exploiting the Charlie Hebdo attack

Written By: - Date published: 7:21 am, January 15th, 2015 - 52 comments
Categories: australian politics, Spying, uk politics - Tags: , ,

How many governments are using the Paris / Charlie Hebdo attack as an excuse to increase surveillance or otherwise remove civil protections? In the UK the Tories certainly are. But PM Cameron’s proposals are idiotic – this piece in The Guardian is particularly blunt:

Cameron wants to ban encryption – he can say goodbye to digital Britain

Online shopping, banking and messaging all use encryption. Cameron either knows his anti-terror talk is unworkable and is looking for headlines, or he hasn’t got a clue

On Monday David Cameron managed a rare political treble: he proposed a policy that is draconian, stupid and economically destructive.

The prime minister made comments widely interpreted as proposing a ban on end-to-end encryption in messages – the technology that protects online communications, shopping, banking, personal data and more.

“[I]n our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?”, the prime minister asked rhetorically. … This means that even in principle Cameron’s approach is darkly paradoxical: the attack on Paris was an attack on free expression – but it’s the government that intends to land the killing blow.

Terrorists must not be allowed to disrupt our way of life, we’re often told in the wake of atrocities. We must leave that to governments to do in the wakes of these attacks.

But it’s in the practicalities that the prime minister’s approach slips from draconian to dull-witted. There is no such thing as “good guy encryption” and “bad guy encryption”. The same encryption that protects you and me protects companies, protects governments, and protects terrorists.

If Cameron is proposing an end to encryption in the UK, then any information sent across the internet would be open for any company, government, or script kiddie with 10 minutes “hacking” experience to access. It would spell the end of e-commerce, private online communications and any hope of the UK having any cybersecurity whatsoever.

The response of Australia’s Abbot government displayed (of course) the same authoritarian bent. Coverage in The Age points out the futility:

George Brandis still struggling with metadata

While it is perhaps unsurprising, the Attorney-General’s latest attempt to use the Sydney siege and recent events in France as justifications for the government’s mandatory data retention laws is as distasteful as it is misleading.

The problem with citing France and Sydney as examples, apart from leveraging a number of tragic deaths for political gain, is that they are in fact fairly strong cases of why mandatory data retention may not be the critical necessity he asserts it to be.

Two other recent “acts of terror” similarly point to the same conclusion, namely the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013 and the brutal murder of Lee Rigby in London the following month. In each of these four recent examples, the perpetrators were well-known to police and intelligence agencies. The Attorney-General quotes former ASIO chief David Irvine as saying that access to metadata is “absolutely crucial” in identifying terrorist networks. As these examples clearly show, identifying the perpetrators was not the problem.

In each case, it was rather decisions taken to not commence, or to cease, close surveillance of these individuals that arguably contributed to the failures of law-enforcement and intelligence agencies to prevent each attack.

For more on the Australian response see here and here. The broad European response is to increase censorship (with the “assurance” of a safeguard for “fundamental freedoms”):

Europe’s answer to France terror ‘attack on free speech’ is greater Internet censorship

Summary:After three days of terrorist attacks in the French capital, European leaders are pushing for stronger measures to crack down on online “extremist” content.

About half of Europe’s member states are pushing for greater online censorship powers in the wake of the terror attacks in France earlier this month.

In a joint statement, interior ministers from 11 European member states — including Germany, Poland, Spain, and the U.K. — expressed condemnation of the attacks, while stressing further cooperation between their law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Members of the European Union, along with a delegation from the U.S. government — including outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder — adopted, among other sentiments, a resolution to create a partnership of major Internet providers to report and remove material associated with extremism.

My guess is that the only reason that our own government hasn’t jumped on this bandwagon is that they are still on holiday. Expect to see Paris trotted out as an example next time they want to “justify” increased surveillance.

52 comments on “Exploiting the Charlie Hebdo attack”

  1. Paul 1

    I was criticised for saying this yesterday, but until we stop behaving like sheep, all these actions by big business will go unchecked.

    New Zealand’s apathy towards anything other than house prices, rugby and reality TV is not helping. It is complicit in the corporate take over of everyone’s lives.

    If some folk don’t like the word sheep then maybe ostrich would be a better description. They bury their heads in the sand and hope the problems will go away.
    They won’t.

    It’s no point just blaming the politicians. New Zealand voted these people in. People deserve what they get.

    • That was me Paul. I just find the sheep analogy to be unhelpful.

      “People deserve what they get.”

      My point around this is we know the propaganda and the challenges that people constantly face in our capitalistic exploitative society – we all put our heads in the sand whether in big or small ways. If we want to help people realise the truth and make real changes that make a positive difference in their and our lives then the starting point isn’t to call them derogatory terms – that doesn’t work – for some reason people get defensive when we do that and even when they know they should adjust they don’t because their defenses are up.

      imo selfishness, myopic thinking and inability to look past our own noses are the byproducts of our society but i think they are unintended and when recognised, unwanted.

      • Paul 1.1.1

        Yes I would agree with you in part.
        However if people don’t take responsibility for their actions, we’re going nowhere.
        1 million people voted for this government. Clearly the majority of those golf will not benefit from this decision.
        They are more likely to vote in NZ’s Got Talent than participate in any form of democratic action.
        Meanwhile the world burns.

  2. vto 2

    Yes interesting isn’t it…….

    sole reaction to the middle east’s reaction to the wests actions in bombing the middle east for 15 years is ……. more warmongering (this post) and more bombs (French sending aircraft carrier to bolster yanks)…….

    there is one hell of a long way to go in this war yet ……. it hasn’t even got through the start-up phase yet

    murderers

  3. Tracey 3

    rOb, a couple of days ago I posted a pdf link tot he GCSB manual for all departments about handling information. Iain Fletcher’s big work which covers alot of IT stuff. I am not an IT person so alot of it was another language to me. I wonder if any here with IT background peeked through it and understood the implications, good and bad which might relate to whether the kinds of measures intended by Cameron Abbott and when he comes back from holiday our own Mr Key?

    http://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCsQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gcsb.govt.nz%2Fassets%2FGSCB-NZISM%2FNZISM-2014-November-Release.pdf&ei=tLm2VPDSJ4qH8QWE64K4CQ&usg=AFQjCNGqMai3Fegy2y2hnqtJBzh03iaxQw&bvm=bv.83640239,d.dGc

    • RedLogix 3.1

      At a quick glance it seems mostly related to the typical kind of concern everyone operating any kind of system has these days.

      My particular area is industrial control systems, and the chapter headings look like the usual familiar topics relating to the concept of “defense in depth”. I’m not pretending to be an expert in this niche – unfortunately until very recently most clients (in my field at least) have either ignored security, or it’s been a total afterthought that came after the system was running.

      Not all of the GCSB’s remit related to active collection of data – there was another portion which related to a legitimate need to reduce NZ’s vulnerability to industrial espionage, hacking, and unauthorised access etc.

      It’s been a live concern in my field for about a decade – but in the last five years there is no question the credible threat level has ramped up considerably. And there is a real shortage of good specialists available. In that sense this work by the GCSB to provide a some locally relevant standards and good practise guidelines is probably quite welcome.

      (The US based NIST has done similar work I used in the past.)

      • Tracey 3.1.1

        Thanks Red

        I am wondering how easy it will be to justify withholding information on the basis that wording or phraseology is vague, something I can’t tell because I dont have the expertise technically.

        • RedLogix 3.1.1.1

          It’s a fair question. I haven’t read the whole thing for fish hooks. Even then I might not spot them.

          But at first glance it’s purpose is not dissimilar to this document I’m pretty familiar with:

          http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/drafts/800-82r2/sp800_82_r2_draft.pdf

          • Tracey 3.1.1.1.1

            Any reason we couldnt have saved money and just copied that one? IT language is universal, no? and systems?

        • The Murphey 3.1.1.2

          It is a manual which has been reproduced centrally and distributed into ‘local markets’. The GCSB did not author this document

          While the standards are ‘robust’ as outlined inside the manual there is unlikely to be many entities including the ‘spooks’ who could match the standards due to lack of specialist skills required to implement and maintain even a percentage of the standards in perimeter security alone

          Development of systems since early industry and the practice of ‘solution delivery’ are such that meeting the standards outlined in the manual is almost impossible to achieve. It could be described as impossible even if resources were ‘unlimited’ certainly from ‘top to bottom’ it would be impossible to match the standards in the manual

          Legislation wording is where you should be analyzing word use not this manual.

          That said the manual is likely to be reproduced with components used in proposed bills leading to becoming ‘laws’ and certainly in compliance which government departments at all levels are bound to meet. That they do not and will continue not to meet the standards and the reasons why is another discussion

          • RedLogix 3.1.1.2.1

            It is a manual which has been reproduced centrally and distributed into ‘local markets’. The GCSB did not author this document

            Most local standards owe a lot to work done elsewhere. For the most part I see that as a good thing.

            But otherwise yes, what I see is that most organisations look at a document like this and select the bits they see as the ‘low hanging fruit’ – the implementations which give the best results relevant to their situation and budget.

          • Tracey 3.1.1.2.2

            Sorry, but Ian Fletcher clearly claims to have authored it.

            • The Murphey 3.1.1.2.2.1

              Q. Does claiming something or having a name on it prove authorship or production ?

              Fletcher neither authored or produced that document and the reasons why he did not are quickly identifiable

              Good link

              Thank you

              • Tracey

                having your name on it is prima facie evidence you authored it. You are right though, Fletcher is merely “commending” it to CEO’s and others. Copyright belongs to the Crown but the document is definitely purporting to have been written by the “GCSB”.

                Perhaps an OIA might resolve the issue, and the cost 😉

  4. Colonial Rawshark 4

    So much for those “world leaders” marching for civil liberties the other day.

    • Skinny 4.1

      All propaganda when you consider the anti democratic invasions air strikes/drone warfare. Like many I found the gate crashing Isreli was insulting.

      The National Party spin merchants will be gearing up to serve New Zealanders with a full on ANZAC memorial blitz. Expect an announcement that we will be joining the wars in the Middle East and the need for tough new measures to counter the threat of terrorism. All though the later could happen earlier with the pending Cricket World Cup.

      • Wayne 4.1.1

        it is pretty obvious that Prime Minister Netanyahu was there because of the attack on the Jewish supermarket. But on this site I am not surprised at the usual anti-Israel theme. It seems to be a requirement for any fully paid up member of the Hard Left.

        I was more surprised at Prime Minister Abbas being there. But perhaps the two of them chose to be in Paris so they could also have private discussions on the Israel/Palestine issues

        • Skinny 4.1.1.1

          “it is pretty obvious that Prime Minister Netanyahu was there because of the attack on the Jewish supermarket”.

          More like the thug Netanyahu was there (uninvited I might add) to bolster his election chances back home. The French Leader was quoted as “fuming Netanyahu gatecrashed” the event. Given the crimes against humanity that the Israelis have inflicted on the Arabs, your view is oneway traffic.

        • tricledrown 4.1.1.2

          Wayne Kerr Rogers brother.
          Charlie Hedbo sacked a journalist 12 days before this fundamentalist jihadist abhorent attack!
          The journalist poked fun at fundamentalist Jews!
          But it’s okay to poke at one and not the other!
          Fairness is what Most posters want on this Site Wayne!
          Framing us as bigotted shows how narrow your world view is!
          The Ethnic cleansing that the right wing fundamentalist Jews have perpatrated on the Palestenian Arabs since 1947 is one of the main reasons Muslim Fundamentalism has got out of control!
          A recent poll in Israel showed 56% of Israeli’s were against the way its right wing govt was treating the palestinians.
          This right wing netenyahu lead govt is deliberatly settling fundamentalist Jews on Palestinian land,using the IDF to take the land by force,while none of these fundamentalist jews have to serve in the the IDF as their cultism says they are superior to ordinary Israeli’s!
          fundamentalist extremism has grown out of control,the other main reason was the unescessary invasion of Irag And Afganistan this has opened up a hornets nest that George HW Bush warned his son against publicly but was silenced quickly by the Chaney Cartel!
          You are just a yesman Wayne no research of historical fact!
          Trying to shut down free speech in New Zealand the very thing you claim to be defending!
          Wayne that makes you a tool a bigoted naive tool of the propaganda war aligning all Muslims!

        • Paul 4.1.1.3

          Hard left…hard left….hard left…

          A little repetitive Wayne.

          Personally I’m not a Maoist.
          Have you looked up Overton’s Window yet?
          Typical of the extreme right to see Social Democrats as communists.
          You should google McCarthyism, Wayne.

          • Skinny 4.1.1.3.1

            “Hard left…hard left….hard left…”

            In Wayne’s World it’s “Fully paid up member of the Hard Left” whatever that means?
            I hope we don’t permit an Israeli embassy here, not after their spy agents were caught using false New Zealand passports. No doubt up to no good, like murdering people from other nations.

            Wouldn’t mind handing you over to my elderly 90 year old uncle who has a framed photo of Gobbles on his wall. He will give you some hard left alright.

        • The Murphey 4.1.1.4

          I’ll ask you again Wayne as you did not respond a few days back.

          In your comment above it can be interpreted that your position is ‘pro Isreal’ because you are not “hard left”

          Q. What is your position regarding Isreal and its ongoing genocide against the Palestinian people ?

          Q. Do you believe anti war anti murder and anti genocide perspectives to be “anti Isreal” ?

          Q. Are you an Isreali citizen or decendent or have jewish heritage such as John Key claims ?

          Q. What is you view on influence exerted by AIPAC for example and the influence of the dual Isreali citizens occupying swaths of US legislative and departmental positions at the highest levels ?

          • Colonial Rawshark 4.1.1.4.1

            clearly, we’re OK with military and economic occupation of foreign lands and foreign peoples, as long as it is our friends who do it.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.1.5

          Wayne Mapp, I doubt you are ignorant of the difference between criticising someone’s behaviour and attacking therm personally.

          So on the one hand people criticise Israeli behaviour in Palestine, and on the other you make up dehumanising labels for the critics.

          It looks deliberate, and speaks volumes about your moral compass.

          • Tracey 4.1.1.5.1

            You’re walking by a shallow pond, and there’s a child who’s drowning there. And you could wade in and save this child easily, but if you do this, you’re going to ruin your new Italian suit. (In something I wrote, I said, “It cost you $500.” And my colleague Dan Gilbert says, “They cost a lot more than that, Josh.” (Laughter). Two-thousand-dollar suit.) Now, you say, is it okay to let the child drown? Most of us would say, you’re a moral monster if you say, “I’m going to let this child drown because I’m worried about my Armani suit.”

            Now, next case: There are children on the other side of the world who are desperately in need of food and medicine, and by making a donation smaller than $2,000, you can probably save at least one of their lives. And you say, “Well, I’d like to save them, but I have my eye on this Armani suit, and so I think I’m going to buy the Armani suit instead of saving them.” There, we say, well, you ain’t no saint, but we don’t think that you’re a moral monster for choosing to spend your money on luxury goods, instead of saving other people’s lives.

            Peter Singer

        • Tracey 4.1.1.6

          No one could get flights to Nigeria Wayne?

        • Naturesong 4.1.1.7

          What anti-Israel theme?

          Or are you talking about Skinny pointing out Netanyahu’s hypocrisy?

        • Naturesong 4.1.1.8

          When you say hard left, what on earth are you talking about?

          Or is it simply a divisive rhetorical device to create an “other” group to be demonised?

          • Tracey 4.1.1.8.1

            he means people who don’t agree with his world view/

            • Naturesong 4.1.1.8.1.1

              It’s not just that.

              I’ve seen this “Hard Left” label used quite a lot lately.

              The idea is to create an identifiable group that the writer’s supporters can identify as an “other” group whose interests are opposed to yours.

              This ensures that there can be no conversation, no meeting of ideas, no discourse at all; IT IS POISON

              That this is an ex Member of the New Zealand Parliament employing this type of language fills me with sadness and a deep sense of shame.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                +1

              • Tracey

                he does seem to be using it to create a meme…

                but the kneejerk reaction of otherism is quite common, Wayne is succumbing to his stone age wiring.

                AND current Law Commissioner…

              • Skinny

                Mapp was no great shake as an MP, didn’t know if he was Martha or Arthur, started in Labour but they didn’t want a light weight. The LP read it well he got shuffled out the back door in the end. Bitter old man by the looks.

                • Tracey

                  “started in labour”

                  source please

                  • Skinny

                    Oh please Tracey your so demanding lol and more importantly interrupting my drinking time while watching one day cricket.

                    ” He even stood against Phil Goff for the Labour nomination for Mt Roskill in 1981″.

                    I remember hearing this, a quick google search shows up with a reference on Kiwi Blog of all places, more an attack on Mallard I note.

                    • Tracey

                      i googled first and couldnt find any mention. i guess he is ashamed 😉

                      you have your computer in the wrong room. i can ask you questions and watch the cricket…

                  • Anne

                    Yes Tracey he was a member of the Auckland Central Labour Party during Richard Prebble’s reign. That would have been in the late 70s and 80s. I don’t know when he parted company with Labour but am guessing it was sometime during the David Lange era. I was involved with Labour in the 1970s up to 1984, then had a long break from politics. I have no recollection of ever meeting Wayne Mapp during that time so he can’t have been all that active.

                    • Skinny

                      Or relevance I may say. Although he would have inadvertently added to Prebble’s longevity, which as history shows hurt the Left.

                    • Tracey

                      go to wiki…. it seems he wants no one to know. mind you it gives an insight to how ” hard right” that labour govt was

        • adam 4.1.1.9

          As a member of the Hard left. I’m offended you think fluffy, whimsical, and middle of the road leftist who do dominate this site could be on any planet called hard left. Wayne you’re delusional, and just on some bad drugs for such utterances. Try pot, it may amp you’re paranoid moments, but lots of loud music and time by yourself, may just help you overcome that.

          As a hard lefty I oppose all theocracies, and ones who lock up and kill children are just a little hard to justify, unless you’re a right wing nut job. But, hey go ahead – defend the killing of children there Wayne. I wait with baited breath – nah I know you’re not going to, it’s important not to criticise Israel as a rogue state. States which kill children are just OK by Wayne. Wayne, the child killer by proxy.

        • joe90 4.1.1.10

          it is pretty obvious that Prime Minister Netanyahu was there because of the attack on the Jewish supermarket

          Netanyahu was politicing.

          After the French government began to send invitations to world leaders to participate in the rally against terror, Hollande’s national security adviser, Jacques Audibert, contacted his Israeli counterpart, Yossi Cohen, and said that Hollande would prefer that Netanyahu not attend, the source said.

          […]

          According to the source, Netanyahu at first acquiesced to the French request. In any case, the Shin Bet security service unit that protects public figures considered the arrangements for the prime minister’s security to be complex. And so, on Saturday evening, Netanyahu’s people announced that he would not be flying to Paris because of security concerns. Netanyahu told the French he would come to France on Tuesday for a Jewish community event.

          […]

          However, on Saturday night, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett announced their intention to go to Paris and take part in the march and meet with the Jewish community. When Netanyahu heard they were going, he informed the French he would be attending the march after all.

          According to the source, when Cohen informed Audibert that Netanyahu would be attending the event after all, Audibert angrily told Cohen that the prime minister’s conduct would have an adverse effect on ties between the two countries as long as Hollande was president of France and Netanyahu was prime minister of Israel.

        • Anne 4.1.1.11

          Wayne @4.1.1

          I’ve had enough of your hard left meme. It’s crap and you know it. I’ve actually stuck up for you once or twice in the past on this site because I gave you credit for being better than the Hootons, Keys, Joyces and Slaters of this world. I didn’t think you would stoop to this kind of cretinous C/T nonsense. I was wrong it seems so I won’t be sticking up for you again.

          There is no one who is hard left on this site – particularly among the authors. Sure… there are a few commenters who can be a bit extremist in their choice of words, but no-one who is hard line or even marginally dangerous. They wouldn’t last long here of they were.

          So bloody grow up and stop behaving like a slimy rwnj trole!

          Edit: that’s telling you mate how it is mate.

  5. The Murphey 5

    Q. It is possible as the frequency of such ‘events’ rises the rhetoric and actions of the ‘actors’ will become transparent to greater numbers of people who may have previously related to great surveillance as ‘necessary’ ?

    Q. Or is it more likely that ‘greater numbers’ will simply tune out of any discussion making it easier for the hypocrite actors to deploy ‘crazier rhetoric and tactics’ against the populace ?

  6. Kiwiri - Raided of the Last Shark 6

    My guess is that the only reason that our own government hasn’t jumped on this bandwagon is that they are still on holiday.

    When this National Government gets on to squeezing every bit out of the issues to play politics and promote the surveillance state, let’s hope the Labour Caucus and Party will not play origami with themselves.

    Labour’s call on the bill being pushed under urgency last month was weak and very difficult to explain or justify over family Christmas dinner and New Year’s drinks. Let’s hope Labour will demonstrate its true principles and stick to them, and actually give, to those of us who care, a party that we can really support without excuses or embarrassment.

  7. Dave 7

    Banning encryption would be as difficult as stopping movie piracy. It is nature of technology that allows users to ran. What they want or create new ideas like uber it can’t be stopped look at the movie and music businesses general purpose devices can configured any way a user likes

  8. Philip Ferguson 8

    One of the best writers on the issue of ‘race’, difference, critical of identity politics and the growth of irrationalism, is the anti-racist veteran Kenan Malik. Kenan was a key figure in Workers Against Racism, which was the main group organising physical defence of Asian families under attack by racist gangs in Britain in the 1980s and also campaigning for the repeal of all immigration controls.

    His take on the murders at Charlie Hebdo is well worth reading:
    https://rdln.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/charlie-hebdo-radical-islam-pusillanimous-liberals-and-free-speech/

    I’d suggest it is read in conjunction with his much longer piece on secular leftism, multiculturalism and Islamic fundamentalism:
    https://rdln.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/secular-leftism-multiculturalism-and-islamic-fundamentalism/

    Phil

    • Ad 8.1

      Rushdie’s own memoirs on the fatwa give the insiders’ view to the extraordinary challenge the state faced to assert Rushdie’s rights as citizen against extremist Muslim death threats – both statist and individual.

    • Tracey 8.2

      Thanks Phil. I couldn’t agree more with the expression in the first link. I am enjoying your linking btw and don’t always come back to indicate I have read them, but I am.

  9. Iron Sky 9

    The surveillance guys don’t seem too concerned if you die early from poor wages and naff jobs. They are not worried about the back handers from Stadium builds, roads of no significance and BS convention centers.

    Instead they chase pumpkins:

    “But Gedalah had something in mind. He sent four men to collect a dozen pumpkins, and he had them set in the pylons that supported the overhead power line that ran the train, one pumpkin to each pylon.

    “What are they for?” Mendel asked.“Nothing,” Gedaleh said. “They’re there to make the Germans wonder why they’re there. We’ve wasted maybe two minutes; they’re methodical, they’ll waste a lot more.”

    “…We also have friends among the railroad men, and they tell us that so far the Germans of the garrison haven’t dared touch the pumpkins. They’ve blocked the line and have brought in a team of mine detectors from Cracow. They’re more worried about the pumpkins than about the car you stole.”

    ― Primo Levi, If Not Now, When?

    Lessons Learned: Make pumpkins (lots of them, cyber space, real space etc…. keep them employed and feeling important)

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