Tag Archives: gchq

The physical network behind surveillance – an extraordinary video about Cornish internet apparatus


The path to the beach at Porthcurno - geograph.org.uk - 1298346
The path to the beach at Porthcurno, Cornwall. The diamond-shaped sign indicates the presence of underground cables, of which there are many buried under the beach, this place being the landfall of many cables under the Atlantic Ocean. The small building houses the terminals of these cables.

Here on Liberal Democrat Voice, we often debate the subject of government surveillance. But do we ever consider the actual physical network of cables and buildings which underpin that surveillance?

Videographer Mark Thomas has published an extraordinary video on You Tube which shows cables, manhole covers, buildings and the like, to give a detailed picture of how the network, which presumably facilitates surveillance of data, works on the ground.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 7 Comments

GCHQ apologises to gay people

 

The boss of GCHQ has apologised for banning gay people from working for the organisation right up until the 90s. Robert Hannigan was speaking at a conference run by Stonewall, when he referred to a spy called Ian who was sacked in the 1960s for being gay.

After seven years of exemplary service, with very strong prospects for the future, he was interrogated on suspicion of being homosexual, he was summarily dismissed and escorted out of the building. He got no support from anyone in authority at all, even his union, and no-one ever followed up to check on his well-being or to show any compassion. Not surprisingly, his health suffered and the psychological effects of that humiliation were long-lasting.

… Their suffering was our loss and it was the nation’s loss too because we cannot know what Ian and others who were dismissed would have gone on to do and achieve.

Whenever a group of people are excluded from areas of employment and expertise for reasons that have nothing to do with their competence, then we have to ask what could have been achieved if they had been included in the pool of talent. There is always the question about ‘what might have been’ if the organisation had been completely free to choose the best candidates for a job.

What caught my eye, though, were the references to Alan Turing in Hannigan’s speech:

But in our building he is revered as a genius, as a problem-solver who was not afraid to think differently and radically – an example to others. And in the horrifying story of his treatment, a small ray of light is that he was not abandoned by all of his colleagues at GCHQ – many stood by him and our then Head of Cryptanalysis – chief code breaker – testified at his trial.

… We did not learn our lesson from Turing.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Theresa May does a Paul Daniels on internet surveillance – but the devil is in the detail

Theresa May has pulled off quite a trick in the last couple of weeks. She built up the impression that the government would store the entire nation’s internet browsing history (which must have had computer storage salespeople salivating heavily) and ban encryption (effectively banning WhatsApp and Snapchat).

But now she’s spun the upturned eggcups around the table and revealed that she won’t be doing that after all, so isn’t she soooo reasonable?

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 29 Comments
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