France Already Expanded Surveillance Twice In The Past Year -- Perhaps Expanding It Again Is Not The Answer?

from the maybe-it's-time-to-think-a-little-differently? dept

I've been having this discussion on Twitter and a few other places over the past few days, so it seemed only right to put it into a blog post. For all the ridiculous talk with politicians grandstanding and using the attacks in Paris last week as an excuse to expand surveillance powers, it seems worth noting that France actually expanded its surveillance state powers twice in the last year -- and the first time it didn't stop the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and the second time obviously failed to stop the attacks last week. Already, before all of this, French intelligence had powers that were so similar to the NSA's that it was obvious that there had been some coordination. Then, late last year (actually on Christmas Eve), France quietly enacted a new surveillance law relating to data retention and requiring internet companies to cough up info on users.

That went into effect just shortly before the Charlie Hebdo attacks. And, of course, with that new law failing to prevent those attacks, the French government did the kneejerk thing and expanded its surveillance powers even more, claiming it needed to do so to protect against the next attack. That law, which allowed authorities to monitor communications of suspected terrorrists without a judge's approval, went into effect in July, with supporters, including Prime Minister Manuel Valls declaring: "France now has a secure framework against terrorism." Yeah, how did that work out?

Maybe, instead of calling for greater and greater surveillance, we should take a step back and think if there isn't a better approach that doesn't involve continually tossing civil liberties in the trash, for no clear benefit.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 9:50am

    Yup, they'll just keep tightening that ratchet. Who knows how things are going to look when that ratchet finally breaks..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Howard, Cowering, 17 Nov 2015 @ 9:52am

    Why we need more surveillance

    It's obvious: Intelligence agencies are hamstrung by do-gooders and inconvenient laws with insufficiently humongous loopholes. Terrorists have no such constraints. They can communicate by ANY MEANS NECESSARY, without having to get a blanket warrant under seal from a secret rubber-stamp court.

    Unless the following is true: The terrorists are attracting the most intelligent, crafty and innovative minds available, who are easily able to circumvent the bumbling efforts of the "intelligence" agents, and probably die more frequently from pent-up laughter than drone strikes. This makes sense, given the recent heavy emphasis on terrorists "going dark" to avoid detection and the subsequent inability of any of the alphabet soup agencies to detect their activities before they act.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 11:12am

      Re: Why we need more surveillance

      "attracting the most intelligent, crafty and innovative minds available"

      This is incredibly difficult to believe, perhaps you have data to back it up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 1:59pm

        Re: Re: Why we need more surveillance

        ---"attracting the most intelligent, crafty and innovative minds available"

        This is incredibly difficult to believe, perhaps you have data to back it up.---

        They keep foiling and circumventing and getting around agencies that focus on attracting 'the best and brightest minds', who already have powers and capabilities, legal or not, costly enough to bankrupt a developed nation and expansive enough to make Orwell look like a libertarian Utopia?

        If they aren't the most intelligent, crafty and innovative minds available, then what does that make our massive budget, huge, governmental, focused organizations?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 7:44pm

          Re: Re: Re: Why we need more surveillance

          I see the supposition and speculation, I was curious as to whether there is data in support of the claim. You can rant and rave all you want but that does not answer the question.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 2:08pm

        Re: Re: Why we need more surveillance

        You've clearly never seen a prison population.

        You want intelligent, crafty, innovative people... these include people who make a crossbow out of toilet paper, a plastic spoon and their underwear.

        Being choked for resources tends to REQUIRE you be craftier, cleverer and one step ahead. Its why independantly developed games tend to manage such impressive things with so much less than we are used to.

        Guess what these folks do?

        They take their obsolete computers, hook up to a dial up modem, use open source encryption tools (that won't magically vanish even if the rest of us aren't allowed to use them. Remember that, because that's important), and hit social media until their remote, middle of nowhere location is compromised.

        The good ones move on, the bad ones get caught. Doesn't matter, since that's like the ant you >notice

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 9:58am

    Oppression

    With enough oppression of your society, and eroding of their civil liberties, eventually everyone turns activist/terrorist - except the people in control.

    The people in control are the ones who are afraid - because they know they're the ones that are going to become the targets eventually.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 11:14am

      Re: Oppression

      But the most intelligent, crafty and innovative minds available are unable to see this inevitability, funny that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Groaker (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 10:22am

    Stop and question why there is more surveillance? Why? These are golden opportunities for the forces of the state.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 10:26am

    Common Factor

    Every time that they ask for more surveillance they've gotten it. When they don't ask, they took it. Yet, there is one common factor that they continue to ignore.

    The politicians and security "experts" remain the same and refuse to admit that they are incompetent. If they can't do the job with the tools at hand, they should step down and let someone who can do the job take over.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 10:41am

    ISIS leadership met & planned in US prison Camp Bucca

    the [Camp Bucca] US-run prison provided an extraordinary opportunity. “We could never have all got together like this in Baghdad, or anywhere else,” [Abu Ahmed] told me. “It would have been impossibly dangerous. Here, we were not only safe, but we were only a few hundred metres away from the entire al-Qaida leadership.”

    It was at Camp Bucca that Abu Ahmed first met Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi....

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/11/-sp-isis-the-inside-story

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Peter (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 10:58am

    Accountability

    There is a certain logic in the madness: Since it is impossible to prevent attacks like the Paris alltogether, those in charge of security don't have a choice but to keep asking for more until someone says no. Then, when an attack happens, they can kick off a discussion around the theme 'if only you had given me what I needed ...'.

    In Paris, for the first time, we have a situation where the security agencies had been given everything they asked for, and more. And they still failed to protect us.

    Consequences?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2015 @ 1:59pm

      Re: Accountability

      It's not impossible, just impolite. France could completely empty the banelieus if they wanted to but don't want to risk bad PR. Which means they're comfortable with sacrificing the blood of native French in order to avoid accusations of "racism" or "discrimination" or some other overblown J'accuse from the irrational bleeding-hearts.

      So in an effort to be "equal" and not hurt anyone's feelings, they blanket-surveil everyone except for potential terrorists, 100% of whom are the type to wear blankets on their heads as a sectarian fashion requirement.

      The U.S. won't empty out Dearborn; the U.K. won't empty out Birmingham; Sweden won't empty out Malmö, and Germany won't empty out, period. Until we start being smart about demographics and not worrying about Godwin's law or being "nice" and not offending the "marginalized," these attacks will continue on our soil.

      Name the enemy and act accordingly. We are most definitely at war, and wars are never won by Quislings like Hollande, Merkel and Obama. We don't have to look for a needle in a haystack. We've got 2 billion needles that need to be banned for life from Western countries and cordoned off in their sandbox, never to breach the gates of Vienna or the shores of Ellis Island again.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 11:31am

    Remember when France welcomed the Nazis?

    Of course, there were some resisters. But, like today, the majority welcomed them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whoever, 17 Nov 2015 @ 11:48am

    How to find a needle in a haystack

    According to security "experts", the best way to find a needle in a haystack is to dump 10 more haystacks on top of the existing haystack.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Nov 2015 @ 4:55am

      Re: How to find a needle in a haystack

      maybe they just want to have everyone's needle
      to jail you if you raise your voice a bit?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Rapnel (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 12:35pm

    Blind Fear

    First off, the intelligence services are so focused on what they cannot see that they are hurting both their cause and everyone else around them. "Having all the right tools" has become such a distraction that they are causing harm with the apparent inability to focus on information that they can see and DO (legally, real legal not secret legal) have and have had - time and time again. Every. Single. Law. that has been passed in an aim to better their access and toolsets since 911 is 91.1% bullshit and shows a distinct lack of foresight, focus and courage. The propaganda is sickening.

    Secondly, these panic sessions, reactions and laws they bring about have a HUGE money stake sucking up our rights and the income we provide to our governments in the form of taxes that are supposed to help make our societies BETTER, all around. Somebody is sure as hell not suffering the cost of milk and bread.

    Finally, terrorism is a crime. What does that mean, exactly? It means we're all scab scratching idiots believing we can heal ourselves faster if we draw blood, usurp rights and continuously strip away privacy. Our actions are direct causes of terrorist feeding frenzies.. not too hard to create and foster deadly temperaments when needless and senseless civilian casualties spring forth from the eyes in the sky.

    ponders self-censorship yet AGAIN - mother fuckers

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 1:00pm

    You know what they say...

    Third time's the charm after all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Hollande, 17 Nov 2015 @ 1:02pm

    le grand frère

    "I have decided to reinforce the powers to use the posibilities of new technology to find intelligence ..."
    26:51 youtu.be/lWFDVqQIJbo?t=26m51s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 1:23pm

    i still think this is not about preventing terrorism and all about stopping the people from being able to do what governments dont like, making money without paying tax, for example and preventing all the bad things that governments and the members do that they shouldn't in order to line their own pockets, like helping a particular industry from joining the digital age!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 1:46pm

    Gotta say, I thought that whole "report anyone who stops eating baguettes" thing was gonna work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 2:29pm

    Just make everyone be naked all the time Problem solved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Whatever (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 5:40pm

    You may feel right (and you may be right) but in the face of more terror attacks and more innocent people dying, the governments of the world will do whatever they think will (a) help them catch the baddies, preferably before the action happens, and (b) calm the public and make them believe things are getting better.

    Quite simply, the governments are not going to stick their collective heads in the sad and say "we can't do anything". They will keep working trying to make surveillance and monitoring work.

    It's a sad fact of modern life, but it's not going away. Waving your arms frantically and making a fuss (how many articles today) won't change it, unless you have some seriously better ideas, not just air.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 7:51pm

      Re:

      "They will keep working trying to make surveillance and monitoring work"

      Yup, they will continue jamming that square peg into that round hole.


      "Waving your arms frantically and making a fuss won't change it"

      At least someone has the guts to point out the Emperor has no clothes, unlike many who parrot the popular talking points.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2015 @ 10:27pm

      Re:

      (b) calm the public and make them believe things are getting better.
      I'll give you the fact that this is probably a big part of it. They get to play with credulous half-wits' money (unfortunately, everyone else's money gets swept up as well), and those half-wits get a sense of security. It's not even a false sense of security, since we're almost certainly almost as safe with fake defenses as we'd be with real, functional ones.

      It'd still be cheaper to start a federally funded 3mg/day ration of Xanax for every man, woman, and child in the US. Cradle to grave. Police officers get the Xanax plus all the Ketamine and Oxycontin they can take.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 11:03pm

      Re:

      They will keep working trying to make surveillance and monitoring work.

      No amount of ramped up surveillance will ever stop an independently formed (albeit indoctrinated by IS propaganda) terrorist cell consisting of some radicalized buddies from sussing out privately how to shoot up the next mall/convert venue/....

      So, you don't think it's gross negligence to invest spare resources in techniques that have proven (time and again) to be ineffective rather than spending that man- and brainpower on coming up with alternative solutions that actually might work?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Nov 2015 @ 4:21am

        Re: Re:

        No amount of ramped up surveillance will ever stop an independently formed (albeit indoctrinated by IS propaganda) terrorist cell consisting of some radicalized buddies from sussing out privately how to shoot up the next mall/convert venue/....


        But an all out assault (words not bombs) on the ideology that lies behind it just might stop them wanting to...

        The belief that you will go to heaven if you die in this kind of attack is a powerful motivator if we can persuade them out of this belief then this type of attack would stop.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          techflaws (profile), 18 Nov 2015 @ 9:44pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          But an all out assault (words not bombs) on the ideology that lies behind it just might stop them wanting to...

          And how do you plan to accomplish that when even "the good guys" cannot agree on the causes?

          http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/what-isis-really-wants/384980/

          http://thin kprogress.org/world/2015/02/18/3624121/atlantic-gets-dangerously-wrong-isis-islam/

          Who is right?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 19 Nov 2015 @ 3:13am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I agree with the Atlantic because they understand the motivations better than Think Progress. ISIS claim to have established a caliphate and they will defend it and work to expand it until it is accepted by the mainstream as their territory.

            They ABSOLUTELY want WW3. So does the American religious right, which is why they're so keen on a war with Iran.

            So what do we do? May I humbly recommend recruiting counter-propagandists to

            a) discredit the Caliphate as un-Islamic
            b) discredit ISIS methods as cruel and unpopular
            c) recommend alternative ways to dealing with the problems ISIS claims to solve

            You see, as with the Communists, Party membership brings benefits. Non members get treated like crap and they are the ones who are fleeing to the West. This is deliberate, the idea being to force people to take sides, by:
            a) making membership a condition of economic wellbeing
            b) committing terrorist atrocities to turn Westerners against Muslims, thereby making them a target for reprisals
            c) forcing people to flee leaves behind those who are either obliged to stay or are committed to ISIS

            You can tell a tree by its roots. That poverty is endemic there is indeed a massive component of the problem as it gives people impetus to join an organisation they believe will make them better off, but it's not the only one.

            Finally, what TP gets dangerously wrong about ISIS is that while most Muslims emphatically DO NOT agree that the Quran justifies what they're doing, ISIS itself and its supporters emphatically DO, and they say this all the time.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Wendy Cockcroft, 19 Nov 2015 @ 3:13am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              *You can tell a tree by its fruit.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              techflaws (profile), 19 Nov 2015 @ 10:47pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              a) discredit the Caliphate as un-Islamic

              How do you propose to do that given the stuff written in there? Don't start with "there are nice commands in there too" cause to fix the fact that an omnisicent, all powerful god would contradict itself in its holy book, the "scholars" agreed on the loophole that stuff "revealed" later supersedes the old.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Wendy Cockcroft, 20 Nov 2015 @ 3:10am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                That line of argument can be applied to just about everything, including code.

                People who want to behave badly usually don't like to call themselves the bad guys. To go against accepted moral norms, then, requires a certain level of cognitive dissonance in which we give ourselves permission to do things we wouldn't normally do if particular conditions apply.

                So we can, let's say, steal IF we are very hungry, utterly destitute, and have no other recourse as far as we're aware. Everybody, religious or not, does something like this sooner or later.

                Or we can encourage others to believe that they can have a better standard of living in this life and glory in the next IF they run around murdering people who disagree with them and nick their stuff. This is "okay" because the people who disagree with them are actively opposing them by the act of disagreeing with them and are therefore a threat to the spread of the "correct" doctrine. It's easier to build consensus for a new paradigm when dissent has been eliminated.

                Where ISIS is concerned, they're operating in Muslim lands and their main targets are "apostates," i.e. Muslims who think they are dangerous, psychopathic nutbuckets. This isn't being as widely reported as it should be, leading many of us to believe that we are the targets. No, for the most part it's the "wrong" Muslims. ISIS came after us in Paris because they want to turn the West against all Muslims in the hope of kicking off WW3 and going out in a blaze of glory.

                So what we need to do is work with those Muslims who hate ISIS and help them to build and maintain an anti-ISIS consensus to make it harder for them to recruit followers. That means we don't persecute them "on principle" as some have been known to do.

                And flat-out wholesale mass butchery is very un-Islamic, believe me. Ask a Muslim.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 25 Nov 2015 @ 2:15pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  But indoctrinating your wives and daughters to dress like cancer patients lest they trigger the sky wizard's hair fetish isn't un-Islamic? How about demanding, either by coercion or by force, that non-Muslims refrain from depictions of Muhammad -- any depictions at all, but especially "offensive" ones like the Hebdo cartoons and South Park?

                  The entire cult is little more than the feverish revenge fantasy of an illiterate, epileptic, pedophilic serial killer with schizophrenic psychosis and a severely narcissistic "God complex." Should we have been "tolerant" of Charles Manson and his mass-murdering groupies in the 1960s, or David Koresh and his child-harem compound (Reno's overreach notwithstanding, the guy was a serious whack job)? Should Japan have simply shrugged when Shoko Asahara recruited people to kill their fellow citizens on a Tokyo subway and nearly acquired his own personal nuke?

                  Islam is a mental illness, as all religions are. But there is just something stubborn about this one that renders it immune to mitigating the symptoms in the way that Christianity and Judaism have been largely diluted in the West.

                  Ayaan Hirsi Ali is right: Islam needs its own Reformation, leading up to an Enlightenment at which point enough people will say "this is bullshit" that it can finally be contained -- if not cast outright into the dustbin of history. But for some reason it just isn't happening, and if it's not going to, then the West has a duty to its people to isolate it, target it and let every last one of these 2 billion sheep-shaggers slaughter themselves to oblivion -- far away from where anyone in the Americas, Europe, the Far East and Australasia can know about it or care.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Nov 2015 @ 1:33pm

      Re:

      You may feel right (and you may be right) but in the face of more terror attacks and more innocent people dying, the governments of the world will take advantage of it to (a) help them help them increase their power, and (b) repress dissent.

      *Fixed that for you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 5:55pm

    I keep reading that the French intelligence were watching these guys and decided to do nothing to stop them.

    Or phrased differently, they let the attacks happen to reap the benefits of so many terrified people willing to give up their rights in an effort to prevent it from never happening again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 17 Nov 2015 @ 5:56pm

      Re:

      an addendum, apparently 8 of the 9 were on the French intelligence's watch list. But for whatever reason they decided to stop paying attention to what they were doing in the days leading up to the attack.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Nov 2015 @ 5:06am

    some techdirt readers deeply believe the aim of the government and the intelligence community is to protect their citizens and to avoid terrorist attacks????
    REALLY?

    have you read a book in your life?
    it is maybe the continuity and expansion of government?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Nov 2015 @ 4:26pm

    They'll keep expanding surveillance until the terrorists get bored.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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