Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

What’s in a name? “Mass surveillance” becomes “bulk collection” because it sounds better.

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Governments, as the article points out, like to use euphemisms to make their crimes seem less offensive. Glenn Greenwald writes at The Intercept:

Just as the Bush administration and the U.S. media re-labelled “torture” with the Orwellian euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” to make it more palatable, the governments and media of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance are now attempting to re-brand “mass surveillance” as “bulk collection” in order to make it less menacing (and less illegal). In the past several weeks, this is the clearly coordinated theme that has arisen in the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the last defense against the Snowden revelations, as those governments seek to further enhance their surveillance and detention powers under the guise of terrorism.

This manipulative language distortion can be seen perfectly in yesterday’swhite-washing report of GCHQ mass surveillance from the servile rubber-stamp calling itself “The Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK Parliament (ISC)”(see this great Guardian Editorial this morning on what a “slumbering” joke that “oversight” body is). As Committee Member MP Hazel Blears explained yesterday (photo above), the Parliamentary Committee officially invoked this euphemism to justify the collection of billions of electronic communications events every day.

The Committee actually acknowledged for the first time (which Snowden documents long ago proved) that GCHQ maintains what it calls “Bulk Personal Datasets” that contain “millions of records,” and even said about pro-privacy witnesses who testified before it: “we recognise their concerns as to the intrusive nature of bulk collection.” That is the very definition of “mass surveillance,” yet the Committee simply re-labelled it “bulk collection,” purported to distinguish it from “mass surveillance,” and thus insist that it was all perfectly legal.Mass surveillance

This re-definition game goes as follows: yes, we vacuum up and store literally as much of the internet as we possibly can. Then we analyze all the data about what you’re doing, with whom you’re speaking, and who your network of associates is. Based on that analysis of all of you and your activities, we then read the communications that we want (with virtually no checks and concealing from you what percentage of it we’re reading), and store as much of the rest of it as technology permits for future trolling. But don’t worry: we’re only reading the Bad People’s emails. So run along then: no mass surveillance here. Just bulk collection! It’s not mass surveillance, but “enhanced collection techniques.” 

One of the many facts that made the re-defining of “torture” so corrupt and indisputably invalid was that there was long-standing law making clear that exactly these interrogation techniques used by the U.S. government were torture and thus illegal. The same is true of this obscene attempt to re-define “mass surveillance” as nothing more than mere innocent “bulk collection.”

As Caspar Bowden points out, EU law is crystal clear that exactly what these agencies are doing constitutes illegal mass surveillance.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 March 2015 at 4:36 pm

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