From World Wide Web To World Wide Watch

GCHQ Building at Cheltenham, Britain
GCHQ Building at Cheltenham, Britain – spying on Ireland and elsewhere for nearly four decades

The newspaper revelations by the Guardian and the Wall Street Journal in relation to the NSA’s positioning of itself as a global “Big Brother” seems to have surprised many but most people who have been observing the growing “intelligence-industrial complex” (to rephrase Eisenhower’s warning) will have been aware of the outline of these programs already. It’s not so much a case of telling us something new but rather confirming what we already know.

In Ireland of course we have been the subject of electronic surveillance by the British for nigh on four decades (and longer). Most people are aware that regular communications in and out of Ireland are monitored by GCHQ though the growth of the internet has made that significantly harder in recent years (at least until they became junior partners in the United States’ attempt to turn the world wide web into a world wide watch). By the late 1990s the north-east of Ireland, under the British Occupation, had become a police state the likes of which only the KGB and Stasi could have dreamed of. Much of that paraphernalia of Intelligence gathering and observation remains in place or has been superseded by other even more insidious forms of mass surveillance of the local population.

Helpfully Winston Ross in a post for the Daily Beast offers a few (very basic) tips on how to maintain at least a shred of one’s privacy in these open-door times. Think you have no presence on the internet that anyone anywhere could ever possibly be interested in?

“Skip on over to MyShadow if you believe that nonsense. There, you can find out exactly what kind of a shadow your computer and mobile-phone usage casts. It’s pretty scary and fascinating.”

Of course a few will complain that if one is an innocent citizen with no criminal intent then one has nothing to worry about. On that principle maybe we should all walk around at night with all our house-blinds up, curtains open and lights on? No matter if people are standing outside with binoculars trained on your home. If you’ve nothing to hide?

UPDATE: In a timely article The Guardian’s Ask Jack’ provides some advice on computer encryption. It’s not half as scary as it sounds and in most cases even the most technophobic can make use of the numerous premium and free programs out there. Definitely worth reading.

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3 comments

  1. This has been ongoing by NATO,US or Britain especially in the border areas here since the 70,s. These were the UFO phenomenon in my opinion. I experienced like others did red globe type lights etc appearing/disappearing on the roads etc.Strange lights in the sky etc. Today we know it had a lot to do with experiments for heat seeking technology and Radar applications.The Stealth Technology regarding Radar detection on B2 aircraft was an example. It was so secretive that Universities were sending out personnel to investigate Alien UFO sightings. Some Military or Police were convinced it was a possible local ploy to confuse their patrols etc.Theres many a funny story told and people giving exaggerated reports of abduction by Aliens
    Like this latest report by the Guardian, confirms this is old news . Its always a long time after that revelations are made public. Presently there’s plenty of Drones etc around for G8.

    1. I wonder how long it will be before some irregular force makes use of drones as improvised ordnance-carriers? Hezbollah have already shown their capacity to operate surveillance ones (albeit Iranian-supplied). In built-up areas they might be safer to use than (improvised/conventional) missile technology (let alone improvised mortars). And the technology is already widely available in civilian markets.

      There was (possibly idle) talk of weapons engineers with the Irish Republican Army looking at remotely controlled toy aircraft in the late 1990s as a possible mechanism for flying small amounts of explosive against the comm-antennae and cameras on the British observation towers along the border but deciding that it was more trouble than it was worth (the payloads would have been so small as to be negligible, not to mention the difficulty in launching, detonating the payload, overcoming signal jamming, etc.). Then of course the Peace Process overtook all that.

      Now though with the new helicopter-like drones, some of which can carry significant payloads, who knows. Hezbollah seem to be the most likely group to make use of armed drones in the near future.

  2. Sionnach: always expect the worst and nothing can surprise you – trust and oversight are long gone! – irishstatutebook.ie/2005/en/act/pub/0002/sec0064.html#sec64 – Beir bua, Peadar Ó Lorcáin

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