Normalization Of Mass Surveillance Continues: Ireland And Georgia Join The Snoopers Club

from the in-camera dept

One of the consequences of the Snowden leaks of mass surveillance around the world is that a number of governments have been bringing in new laws in order to provide a legal framework for the snooping they have previously been carrying out illegally, when they obviously thought that no one would ever find out. Here’s a story in The Irish Times about recent moves in Ireland:

Foreign law enforcement agencies will be allowed to tap Irish phone calls and intercept emails under a statutory instrument signed into law by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.

Companies that object or refuse to comply with an intercept order could be brought before a private “in camera” court.

The legislation, which took effect on Monday, was signed into law without fanfare on November 26th, the day after documents emerged in a German newspaper indicating the British spy agency General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) had directly tapped undersea communications cables between Ireland and Britain for years.

As that reports, there’s also a troubling new secret court for enforcing such intercept orders — something that is extremely unusual in Ireland:

“Even with very sensitive cases in Ireland they?re not prosecuted in camera,” said TJ McIntyre, lecturer at University College Dublin?s school of law and chairman of advocacy group Digital Rights Ireland. “It’s worrying because it means telecommunications companies might be pressured into doing things that aren?t entirely legal.”

The companies would be prosecuted in secret, and would be unable to disclose their objections publicly ? or even the fact that they were being prosecuted.

Ireland’s move is a further example of how enshrining the ability to spy at home and abroad is taking precedence over basic rights — in this case, to an open trial. Another country making worrying moves to normalize snooping on its citizens is Georgia, whose Parliament gave a first reading to new laws covering this area, as reported by

The government-backed package of bills allows the Interior Ministry to retain its direct access to telecom operators’ networks, but also empowers the office of personal data protection inspector to electronically monitor if the security agencies are carrying out surveillance lawfully, based on court warrant.

But the opponents, which also include civil society groups who have long been campaigning for reining in security agencies’ unrestricted direct access to telecom operators? networks, argue that actual wording of the bill, full of complex technical terms about lawful interception management system, hash codes and log files, is far from what its sponsors are trying to portray and leaves room for the Interior Ministry to bypass personal data protection inspector for carrying out illegal monitoring of mobile phone and internet communication.

Unfortunately, the more these laws are passed, the more other countries are likely to follow suit, until legalized mass snooping becomes the norm. That’s all the more reason to challenge these early examples in any way possible, as is happening in the UK, for example, before the idea spreads everywhere.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and +glynmoody on Google+

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Normalization Of Mass Surveillance Continues: Ireland And Georgia Join The Snoopers Club”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

seems like what i read that Bin Laden was supposed to have said is coming true, that we wouldn’t have to worry about terrorists, our own governments will do far worse themselves!! as it is, we are being overtaken by mass paranoia for surveillance on everyone, even when there is no need and even when we are innocent of any wrong doing. 1984 and similar offerings in movie format like The Matrix and The Terminator are going to prove correct if we are not careful. what all these people in charge are forgetting is that we have one shot at this living thing. we dont have anywhere else to go that we can reach other than in a dozen plus lifetimes or that can sustain us. fuck this one chance up and we cease to exist and it will all be down to those who are so scared of being hurt, they want to hurt everyone first!! how absolutely fucking ridiculous!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“does this mean that microsoft now has to comply with the us doj’s request (complete with a gag order) for some citizen’s emails stored in ireland’s servers (and it is widely suspected that the person is an irish citizen)”

It might be possible to bypass MS and for the UK to co-operate with the US with the usual info-swap back-scratching. From the linked article:

“Interceptions can only be used in cases with reason, where an investigation is under way, and cannot be used to tap calls indiscriminately.


The newly enacted section also … sets out how requests from other countries to Ireland for such interceptions should be handled.

These are separated into requests for technical co-operation, when the assistance of an Irish-based company is needed to set up an interception, and a requirement that the Irish State be notified when a foreign state intends to tap lines but can legally do so without direct Irish assistance.”

So if the GCHQ notified Ireland that it was ‘tapping’ communications and some ‘accident’ caused a need for transmission (via some external-to-Microsoft routing) of the sought data from one server to another, then it could be intercepted again on the fly and the Irish government need not participate.

It isn’t mentioned in this article but the linked article does show Ireland’s excuse

“The Department of Justice said: “The decision to commence part 3 of the Act arises from an obligation under the Treaty of Lisbon whereby the State would otherwise be in breach of its obligation to fully implement the provisions of the EU Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters by December 1st, 2014.””

I think this convention applies to EU states plus others ratifying it but so far there are only 3 non-EU countries that have done this and entered into enforcing it, so far as I know (Chile, Israel, S Korea)

Pandora Opticon says:

Jesus watches me, this I know, because Snowden told me so.

Mass surveillance is now a fact, legal or otherwise. The future will be about setting its bounds and controlling its operators. Not for personal or corporate gains? Not for personal titillation? Not for personal revenge or for those who enjoy the pleasure of causing pain? Not for political control? Stopping, once again in democracies, Courts of Star Chamber that pop up like flies at feces? Monitoring that the watchers follow any rules that a given society puts in place? Setting penalties for violators of the above? Developing a societal consensus about which behaviours for all of the above are acceptable?

tqk (profile) says:

Update your dictionaries.

New addition to the definition of politician: “One who couldn’t be bothered to read his Orwell.”

“Yeah, yeah, you caught us. We’ve been snooping on everyone and everything for years, but it’s okay. We’re passing a law to make it legal.” When the Russian FSB or PRC wants to tap in too, will that be an amendment to this bill, or will they need a new one entirely?

Child porn, drug dealers, terrorists; the keys to the kingdom for the surveillance state. We need to send all politicians like this packing.

wireless camera (user link) says:

Wireless cameras

Audio/video recorder

Digital system with integrated monitor

Audio video recorder digital system composed of a minute dimension camera and a digital video recorder with 2.5-inch color dispay integrated.. It can be easily connected with other devices on demand like button cameras, screw type cameras, snake-cameras, or sunglasses-cameras.

Specially designed for Law enforcement agencies for their hidden investigation. This amazing device is ideal for covert or spy operations.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...