The former Technical Director of the NSA has warned that should the UK Investigatory Powers Bill – nicknamed the Snooper’s Charter – pass into law that it will result in the deaths of innocent people. Bill Binney says that the sheer quantity of information that GCHQ analysts will be forced to sift through will actually distract them from protecting citizens, leaving the country more vulnerable to attack.
“It is 99 per cent useless,” Binney said in a letter to MPs leaked by human rights group Liberty (via InfoSecurity). “Who wants to know everyone who has ever looked at Google or the BBC? We have known for decades that that swamps analysts,” adding that mass surveillance “costs lives, and has cost lives in Britain because it inundates analysts with too much data.”
While mass surveillance data has proved useful in the aftermath of, say, the World Trade Center attacks, to provide further background on the perpetrators, Binney argues that the act of collecting that data makes such an attack more likely to slip through the net.
“The net effect of the current approach is that people die first, even if historic records sometimes can provide additional information about the killers (who may be deceased by that time),” Binney wrote. “The alternative approach based on experience is to use social networks as defined by metadata relationships and some additional rules to smartly select data from the tens of terabytes flowing by. This focused data collected around known targets plus potential developmental targets and represented a much smaller set of content for analysts to look through.”
Binney, who left the NSA in 2011 in protest at its mass surveillance program and became a whistleblower, will be speaking to MPs at the Joint Committee today (6th January) about the ineffectiveness of GCHQ’s BLACK HOLE data collection system which will support the IP Bill.
Image courtesy of The Independent.