Monday, March 16, 2015

Intelligence Organisations and IS

Greetings from the Australian National University where Professor Keith Jeffery, Queen’s University Belfast, is speaking on"Keeping secrets? Lessons from history on the challenges facing intelligence organisations in the age of IS". He commented that the Internet had redressed the balance of information in favor of the public. However, there is a danger of information which needs to be kept secret by government becoming public. He pointed out that Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden were relativity low level functionaries in the US intelligence community, they had access to large volumes of information. He also pointed out that the quantity and quality of information about consumers which businesses have may be of higher quality than that at GCHQ. He related how Sir Compton Mackenzie revealed some details of UK intelligence in WW1 (he also appears in the novel "Murder and Mendelssohn" by Kerry Greenwood with the fictional Phryne Fisher).
Professor Jeffery also commented that "techies" seemed to be more likely reveal secrets that others and that ideological driven whistle-blowers are most useful sources of information.

Professor Jeffery mentioned the UK Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament's report "Privacy and Security: A modern and transparent legal framework" (12 March 2015):
i. The internet has transformed the way we communicate and conduct our day-to-day
lives. However, this has led to a tension between the individual right to privacy and the collective right to security, which has been the focus of considerable debate over the past
18 months.
ii. The leak by Edward Snowden of stolen intelligence material in June 2013 led to
allegations regarding the UK Agencies’ use of intrusive capabilities – in particular those
relating to GCHQ’s interception of internet communications. This Committee investigated
the most serious of those allegations – that GCHQ were circumventing UK law – in
July 2013. We concluded that that allegation was unfounded. However, we considered
that a more in-depth Inquiry into the full range of the Agencies’ intrusive capabilities
was required – not just in terms of how they are used and the scale of that use, but also
the degree to which they intrude on privacy and the extent to which existing legislation
adequately defines and constrains these capabilities. "
Unfortunately I had to go across campus to hear his Excellency Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, Minister of Planning and Strategic Investment for the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste and so missed the mention of IS by
Professor Jeffery.

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