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Google and Facebook Can Be Legally Intercepted, Says UK Spy Boss

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the you-can-trust-us dept.

United Kingdom 104

mpicpp sends this news from the BBC: The U.K. government has revealed that intelligence service GCHQ can snoop on British citizens' use of Facebook, Twitter and Google without a warrant because the firms are based overseas. U.K. spy boss Charles Farr said that such platforms are classified as external communications. The policy was revealed as part of an ongoing legal battle with campaign group Privacy International (PI). PI said the interpretation of the law "patronizes the British people." According to Mr Farr, Facebook, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and web searches on Google, as well as webmail services such as Hotmail and Yahoo are classified as "external communications," which means that they can be intercepted without the need for additional legal clearance."

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um... (3, Insightful)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 4 months ago | (#47259917)

Fascist toadie says what? :p

Re:um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47259969)

What?

Re:um... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47260303)

I don't know. All I hear is mumbling while he's got Obama's cock and balls in his mouth b

Re:um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47260657)

Fascist toadie says what? :p

i can see a certain Mr Farr, on the rock& roll soon as the next election arrives .
  PS not posting as Anonymous Coward out of choice but the shit tard moderators on here are so whacked out of their trees on crystal meth or something i cant post as i would like to .

Re:um... (3)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 4 months ago | (#47260839)

I complained to my MP about this. She passed it on to some other ministers and after a few months the reply came back. It was two pages long but could be accurately summarized as "fuck off, pleb".

This is pretty much their attitude. They feel righteous and in their minds every threat is blown out of all proportion and justifies the means.

Re:um... (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 4 months ago | (#47260911)

The key is to write to your MP, but to also copy in your local press. If you're articulate, present a cogent arguement, and are frank though polite in your wording, it should gain traction.

Re:um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47261445)

All that effort just for the sake of having "fuck off, pleb" written in local yellow paper?

Re:um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47279889)

And all your fellow citizens will also see them saying fuck off pleb so might decide to say fuck off back in the next election.
If you don't try and live in a democracy you wont.

Re:um... (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 4 months ago | (#47261391)

Not to worry about Charlie Farr, Ive been banging his wife for two years now and he hasnt detected it. I guess he was too busy reading Facebook.

Re:um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47263437)

Now he knows. It is not just Facebook that he scans all day long, Slashdot is also on his list. Now would be a good time for you to get out of his bed, put your pants back on, and start running if you want to live. Or, come to think of it, don't waste time with the pants; you want every second of lead time that you can get.

Re:um... (1)

neoform (551705) | about 4 months ago | (#47261859)

You know the US government says stuff like this *all the time*.

How many times have I heard the US gov say it's ok to spy on non-Americans, or even that non-Americans don't have the constitutional right to a trial before they kill you.

Everyone was up in arms over an American that was killed by a drone strike, but those same people shrug when non-Americans are killed by the same drones.

Re:um... (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 4 months ago | (#47265989)

You know the US government says stuff like this *all the time*.

No way! Two different countries that're both involved in operating ECHELON [wikipedia.org] have been known to make similar justifications for their data-gathering activities?! You don't say!

Seriously, though; are you attempting to imply that it's therefore acceptable for the U.K. to say stuff like this, because the U.S. says it?? If not, what, exactly are you trying to say? Because what you did say clearly came across as a reactionary and poorly-thought-out attempt to divert attention away from the actual matter at hand...

Re:um... (1)

neoform (551705) | about 4 months ago | (#47267443)

No, I'm saying it's strange to see this outrage from Americans over something non-Americans have been outraged by for a long time.

It's hypocrisy.

Internal and External Simultaneously (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47259919)

Funny that Facebook et al are internal when EU courts want to issue subpoenas or legal rulings, yet are external when the spy agencies want to snoop on them.
Captcha: Gambit

Re:Internal and External Simultaneously (1)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 4 months ago | (#47260469)

Aye, saw an excellent comment elsewhere that if that's the tack they're going for, then surely any comment made on twitter/fb has protection under the 1st amendment? Of course not, but it'd be good if they followed their own laws now and then.

First Amendment to what? (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 4 months ago | (#47260565)

surely any comment made on twitter/fb has protection under the 1st amendment? Of course not, but it'd be good if they followed their own laws now and then.

They are following their own laws: that is quite literally the problem. Despite the best efforts of the US government, and apparently to the surprise of some of its citizens, the US constitution does dot apply to other countries like the UK. It is perhaps even more surprising that it often does not seem to always apply in the US as well but that's a different issue to the one being discussed here.

My guess is that there was probably some Victorian-era law on the books passed back when international communication was a rare and uncommon thing which allowed the government to monitor such rare events. Fast forward 100 years and suddenly a huge fraction of everyone's communication is international. So for a group called "Privacy International" the sad irony is that there is no international privacy in the UK.

Re:First Amendment to what? (1)

Harlequin80 (1671040) | about 4 months ago | (#47260767)

I don't believe it to be that old.

Working purely off my memory here but I am sure that the UK (and in fact most other first world countries) retain the right to intercept any communications that cross their borders. Again working off my memory but I seem to remember that cross border communication intercepts were used in prosecuting the pirate bay founders...

Re:First Amendment to what? (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | about 4 months ago | (#47260981)

1994, actually; "Intelligence Services Act (1994)" to be precise. Though GCHQ has been around since the early C20th.

Said act uses wonderfully nebulous language that basically comes down to "we can intercept anything we want because we say so".

Re:First Amendment to what? (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 4 months ago | (#47265667)

Ok, I stand corrected. It's a relatively recent law passed by Victorian-era MPs who back in 1994 had probably never heard of the internet and certainly not the web.

Re:First Amendment to what? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47261141)

They are following their own laws: that is quite literally the problem. Despite the best efforts of the US government, and apparently to the surprise of some of its citizens, the US constitution does dot apply to other countries like the UK.

I think you missed his point. GCHQ are saying that as Twitter is a US service its users communications are treated as external. Effectively, even though I am a UK citizen located in the UK my actions on twitter are treated as being external because the service is in America. It's the same logic that means that if I hack a server in the US I can be prosecuted by the US even though I was physically in the UK. This does beg the question however as to why if I post something that the UK government would consider libel/harassment on twitter they treat it as being a UK crime even though by their own argument it took place in America where they neither have jurisdiction nor would it be illegal under American law.

Aside from "because it suits them" there's no way the government can argue that twitter use is both within their jurisdiction and also that using twitter is 'external'.

Re:First Amendment to what? (1)

Golddess (1361003) | about 4 months ago | (#47261997)

Aside from "because it suits them" there's no way the government can argue that twitter use is both within their jurisdiction and also that using twitter is 'external'.

Not saying it's right, but prosecuting a UK citizen for what they said on Twitter is not saying that Twitter is within UK jurisdiction, it is saying that regardless of where a UK citizen is, the UK citizen is within UK jurisdiction.

Now, when the UK government demands that Twitter do something about the offending post, that is them claiming that Twitter is within UK jurisdiction.

Re:First Amendment to what? (1)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 4 months ago | (#47262033)

Thank you, that's exactly what I was trying to say!

Re:First Amendment to what? (1)

GNious (953874) | about 4 months ago | (#47261205)

[..] apparently to the surprise of some of its citizens, the US constitution does dot apply to other countries like the UK

You misspelled the word "most" ...

Re:Internal and External Simultaneously (5, Funny)

brainboyz (114458) | about 4 months ago | (#47260503)

We consider these services to be in quantum hyper-position states until a need is chosen.

Re:Internal and External Simultaneously (2)

rtb61 (674572) | about 4 months ago | (#47260573)

Actually in the eyes of the law intent counts. So by his on words he is convicted "GCHQ can snoop on British citizens' use of Facebook and Google". So the intention is not to spy on Facebook and Google, as his distorted claim of legal espionage implies but to "snoop on British citizens' without a warrant. So why the need to 'snoop' on British citizens without a legal trail. Keep in mind this legal trail, establishes why the invasion of privacy is occurring, what evidence is sought, who is seeking it, how it will be used and that no counter evidence is destroyed (proof of innocence). This to ensure that the power is no not abused for personal use, perverted power over individuals and extortion ie sick stuff like them having evidence of crime and demanding sex or they will prosecute and it's not like there is no history of extortion for sex including with minors happening on the internet.

So are the agents of GHCQ, claiming they are the perfect angels of security, the Gods of privacy, that they need no legal trail in their privacy invasive perversions. That's what warrants are about, a legal trail for the justification of the invasion of privacy, a means of proving that the invasions of privacy were not abused or abusive in intent.

Re:Internal and External Simultaneously (3, Informative)

moronoxyd (1000371) | about 4 months ago | (#47260967)

This is the UK, not the EU.
This is about UK law and a British intelligence service, not about the EU.

As far as I know Facebook and Google have their European headquarters in Ireland or Luxembourg or something, which is outside of the UK.

Re:Internal and External Simultaneously (1)

donaldm (919619) | about 4 months ago | (#47261383)

If it is legal for UK intelligence to monitor people connecting to a service outside of the UK then using their argument it should be legal for them to monitor all incoming and outgoing communication and by that I mean phone, fax, surface mail etc. Where do you draw the line? Hmm! better get out your brown shirts and polish your jackboots (be careful of knives in the night), fortunately I have not seen anyone sporting a Charlie Chaplin moustache yet :)

Re:Internal and External Simultaneously (1)

grep -v '.*' * (780312) | about 4 months ago | (#47261235)

internal when ... yet are external when ...

It's all that damn quantum mechanics double-slit experiment stuff -- is an electron a WAVE or particle? Is the cat ALIVE or dead? Is it HEAD or shoulders? It is INSIDE or outside?

The answer is: it's both! See? That makes everybody in government happy!

Re:Internal and External Simultaneously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47263135)

It's all that damn quantum mechanics double-slit experiment stuff -- is an electron a WAVE or particle? Is the cat ALIVE or dead? Is it HEAD or shoulders? It is INSIDE or outside?

Is it alive, or is it dead?
Or did the gas open up instead?
Superpositions messing with my head
Schrodinger cat,
Schrodinger cat.

- with apologies to They're In A Superposition Of Giant And Not-Giant States.

Oh, so THAT'S how they do it "legally" (1)

davide marney (231845) | about 4 months ago | (#47261421)

Now this is making more sense. When the NSA says, "we aren't spying on all Americans", it means "WE aren't spying on all Americans, the Brits are, and then we get to see what they collected." So: technically correct, but morally bankrupt.

Is it any wonder that ordinary citizens are cynical about their representatives? Whose interests are they really representing? Not ours, that's for sure.

Re:Internal and External Simultaneously (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 4 months ago | (#47268537)

That's just what I was thinking: if they're firms based overseas, then they can't force them to disclose SSL keys (making the communication secure-er). They shouldn't be able to force them to do anything, legally.

But doesn't facebook have a UK subsidiary, and offices in the UK (and mirrors, since I'm pretty sure they use CDNs)?

It's Britain (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47259921)

They never had a concept of the individual being anything but a serf to the state. And before people mention the magna carta, that's a document for the nobles protecting them from a tyrant kind.

Just as in WW2, they had laws illegalizing looking for radio transmissions by saying that it's illegal to capture transmissions NOT MEANT for you. And other such hamfisted means. They would have made Dick Cheney proud.

In America that wouldn't fly (up to 40~ish years ago), although our governement has slightly different means to achieve basically the same end. It just realizes that our sensibilities are a bit different historically.

Maybe not so much anymore. In terms of domestic oppression, we're lagging just a few decades behind in some area and in others we just don't tell the citizenry. What they don't know can't hurt them, right?

Re:It's Britain (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 months ago | (#47260119)

The GCHQ found this with their first Intelsat sites at Goonhilly Downs (Morwenstow/GCHQ Bude), in the late 1960's. The UK gov constructed another local receiving station for the spillage and got all the international calls and more. The NSA provided hardware, the UK the land, running costs, staff, all data was shared.
Gating provided realtime like sorting so only select product was kept. The GCHQ found they where working on local and all the commercial satellite calls.
Domestic material under such a system where not a UK legal issue back in the late 1960's, in public print by 1992, why would it be different now?

Re:It's Britain (2)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 4 months ago | (#47260239)

The NSA and GCHQ are still working together today. The ECHELON group, also known as the "five eyes" spying network or referred to as AUSCANNZUKUS (for the five members, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US) simply get around each individual nation's constitutional rights to privacy by spying on each others' citizens and then exchanging the information after-the-fact. If GCHQ considers these "foreign" sites to be fair game, there's nothing preventing them from then making the information available to the other members, including the NSA.

Re: It's Britain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47260265)

WW2? Man, have you not heard of the Zimmerman telegram? They were intercepting comms back in WW1. It was even encrypted.

Re:It's Britain (2)

mirix (1649853) | about 4 months ago | (#47260127)

Just as in WW2, they had laws illegalizing looking for radio transmissions by saying that it's illegal to capture transmissions NOT MEANT for you. And other such hamfisted means. They would have made Dick Cheney proud.

Whereas the US just cut the shortwave coils out of German immigrant's radios. The american broadcasts were ridiculously scripted as well.

A lot of stuff 'flew' during the war that people wouldn't normally stand for, like say, internment of 'enemies', food & fuel rations, etc.

Re:It's Britain (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47260319)

40 years ago the NSA was spying domestically against citizens for political reasons. It's why we had the Church Committee.

Re:It's Britain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47264063)

And in America you had merely the ignorance of not knowing your status to the rich due to your country being so large and lack of technology to cover that distance.

Most of you STILL choose ignroance.

Excellent, we'll place bugs in parliament tonight! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47259939)

After all, it is a foreign entity ripe for the plucking, cams in the ladies rooms, and judges chambers just to be prudent, and we'll even setup fereign websites for all you Brits to log into to watch those skanks in their daily habits.

misquote (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47259965)

patroniSes

It's the same in Sweden (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 4 months ago | (#47260003)

FRA only interecept traffic passing the boarder.

Oh wow ..

But at least we've always known about it.

Re:It's the same in Sweden (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47260677)

FRA only interecept traffic passing the boarder.

Oh wow ..

But at least we've always known about it.

Yeah, thing thing they forgot to mention was that they send all data they collect to a foreign intelligence agency called NSA. It is still not known in what way this benefits Sweden.

Nuh-uh! (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about 4 months ago | (#47260067)

Only Americans are allowed to spy on other people because non-citizens have no rights. Not cool if they do it to US.

Re:Nuh-uh! (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 4 months ago | (#47261009)

Only Americans are allowed to spy on other people because non-citizens have no rights. Not cool if they do it to US.

No you misunderstand.

Legally, GCHQ cant spy on UK local stuff and the NSA can't spy on US stuff. But they can spy on everything not local. And "security agreements" mean they can share information. This way they get to spy without apparently breaking the law.

Re:Nuh-uh! (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47262361)

So, collectively the US and the UK have decided it is their right to spy on the entire world and share that information among themselves and the rest of the "5 eyes"?

Fuck them all, the rest of the world didn't sign up for this.

So, basically, the US and the UK have given the rest of the world carte blanche to spy on them. Unless they'll somehow claim it's OK if they do it but not for anybody else.

Re:Nuh-uh! (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 4 months ago | (#47262935)

So, collectively the US and the UK have decided it is their right to spy on the entire world and share that information among themselves and the rest of the "5 eyes"?

Pretty much yes.

Fuck them all, the rest of the world didn't sign up for this.

Never mind the rest of the world, plenty of the population of the US and UK didn't sign up for it either.

Re:Nuh-uh! (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47263481)

Well, they're pretty much fucked too.

Freedom was a good experiment while it lasted, but if the goal of 9/11 was to shake our entire society ... it succeeded brilliantly.

Pretty much any time the US claims to be the champions of freedom and democracy, you can either start laughing, or start crying. Because they've more or less destroyed it.

So, why pay UK taxes? (1)

1000101 (584896) | about 4 months ago | (#47260081)

If Google is considered 'external communications' and an 'overseas' company, then why is Google paying UK taxes? [forbes.com]

Re:So, why pay UK taxes? (2)

whoever57 (658626) | about 4 months ago | (#47260115)

If Google is considered 'external communications' and an 'overseas' company, then why is Google paying UK taxes?

The level of ignorance in that article is amazing. Google does pay taxes, but it also shifts the vast majority of income that is arguably earned in the UK to Ireland. Sales to British companies made by British salespeople, working in Britain, are reported as sales made in Ireland. That's the issue.

Re:So, why pay UK taxes? (0)

tlambert (566799) | about 4 months ago | (#47260301)

If Google is considered 'external communications' and an 'overseas' company, then why is Google paying UK taxes?

The level of ignorance in that article is amazing. Google does pay taxes, but it also shifts the vast majority of income that is arguably earned in the UK to Ireland. Sales to British companies made by British salespeople, working in Britain, are reported as sales made in Ireland. That's the issue.

If the contracts are signed in Ireland, and both parties agree that the terms of the contract are to be governed by the laws of Ireland, then they are made in Ireland. It's the same reason Apple has its call centers in Ireland, and the same reason contracts between French companies and Google are executed in Ireland. If you want them executed in your EU member country, match the Ireland corporate tax rate, or quit whining when companies follow the rules of "least money into government pockets", and said government pockets end up being Irish pockets instead of yours.

Re:So, why pay UK taxes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47260337)

If the contracts are signed in Ireland, and both parties agree that the terms of the contract are to be governed by the laws of Ireland, then they are made in Ireland.

Yes, but if your product is delivered to a customer in a different country, that other country's laws apply too.

It's the same reason Apple has its call centers in Ireland,

You gotta be kidding. I've called Apple many times, and never gotten anyone with an Irish accent.

and the same reason contracts between French companies and Google are executed in Ireland. If you want them executed in your EU member country, match the Ireland corporate tax rate,

You gotta be kidding. The issue isn't that Irish corporate tax is low, it's that Irish law allows for the double-Irish Dutch sandwich arrangement which lets you create a corporate structure which is resident nowhere for tax purposes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... [wikipedia.org]

quit whining when companies follow the rules of "least money into government pockets", and said government pockets end up being Irish pockets instead of yours.

That's the thing - Ireland doesn't pocket much cash from the arrangement.

Re: So, why pay UK taxes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47260363)

It does not matter where the product goes, because EU is a single market. Indeed, from a revenue recognition perspective, the sale would be recorded and recognized by the Irish subsidiary in this example.

Re:So, why pay UK taxes? (4, Insightful)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 4 months ago | (#47260607)

If the contracts are signed in Ireland, and both parties agree that the terms of the contract are to be governed by the laws of Ireland, then they are made in Ireland.

They are not signed in Ireland they are signed in the UK where both parties live and work. You should not be allowed to just arbitrarily decide which countries laws apply when everything is taking place in the UK unless you are going to give individuals the same power and I can go shopping for the country with the lowest income tax rate too. The problem is that large, international companies can afford enough lawyers that they twist laws into knots to get out of paying their share of society's infrastructure costs.

Re:So, why pay UK taxes? (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 4 months ago | (#47261233)

You should not be allowed to just arbitrarily decide which countries laws apply when everything is taking place in the UK unless you are going to give individuals the same power and I can go shopping for the country with the lowest income tax rate too.

And in fact, you can. It's not anyones fault that you are not personally a multinational organism by nature, and that in order to do this, you'll have to physically relocate to Ireland, rather than merely relocating your consciousness to your body already living in Ireland. Sucks to be made out of meat, I guess.

Re:So, why pay UK taxes? (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 4 months ago | (#47262059)

...and that in order to do this, you'll have to physically relocate to Ireland

The point is that the people making the deal are not physically located in Ireland. The negotiation, sale etc. is all taking place in the UK. They then twist the law to the point where they can legally claim it took place in Ireland. Also while you might be able to decide whose laws are used to negotiate disputes regarding the contract you cannot decide whose laws apply to taxation resulting from the contract.

They are following the absolute letter of the law and using it to get around their social responsibilities to support the society in which they operate which is immoral, or to put it another way evil. So I'm guessing they have had the same lawyers figure out how to get around their "do no evil" rule.

Re:So, why pay UK taxes? (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 4 months ago | (#47264461)

The point is that the people making the deal are not physically located in Ireland. The negotiation, sale etc. is all taking place in the UK. They then twist the law to the point where they can legally claim it took place in Ireland.

Nobody cares about the people doing the negotiation. The contracts are not between people, they are between companies, or at best, between people and companies, and what matters is where the contracts are *executed*.

Also while you might be able to decide whose laws are used to negotiate disputes regarding the contract you cannot decide whose laws apply to taxation resulting from the contract.

Actually, you can. And companies do. Because nations let them do so. Because it's in the nations best interest to get some of the take, rather than none of it.

They are following the absolute letter of the law and using it to get around their social responsibilities to support the society in which they operate which is immoral, or to put it another way evil. So I'm guessing they have had the same lawyers figure out how to get around their "do no evil" rule.

First, I'm guessing we are now specifically talking about Google's "Don't be evil" motto, which is specifically a reference to the Chinese wall between advertising income and search results (i.e. search results will not be swayed just because you buy advertising for sponsored links). Which means it's irrelevant to this discussion, but if you want to read more about it, knock yourself out, the reference is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... [wikipedia.org]

Second, you appear to be equating giving money to a government which has admitted to spying on its own people as a means of social and political control as "moral", which I have to believe is a passing reference to Rosseau's "Social Contract", aka: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]

I think if you read that, you'll see that the U.K. government doesn't qualify as what Rosseau is describing in his social contract as "monarchy" or "aristocracy", since the U.K. is, at best, a Representative Democracy, or Republic, rather than a true Democracy.

But let's grant you that anyway, at the same time granting the same to the U.S., which is also technically a Republic.

I'd argue that Google has done a better job in terms of the social contract than those elected to govern. Specifically, the difference between the government doing "Google Fiber" and Google doing it, is that Google actually did it. It's not like the government lacks for money (if it needs money, it borrows it against the credit of the citizens, or it confiscates it from the citizens by way of taxation, or it confiscates it from the citizens by printing it - with concomitant inflation (e.g. so called "Quantitative Easing").

So Google is a better adherent to the social contract, if we can agree that by virtue of being born into a society, you tacitly agree to the societies shrink-wrap license, even though it's not like you had any choice in the matter.

Until the U.K.government can demonstrate better social responsibility than Google, I'm pretty happy to leave the money in the hands of those who will use it most wisely, as opposed to giving it to people with a demonstrably poor track record instead.

PS: One of the main tenets of philanthropy by individuals who have accumulated extreme wealth is that they have a demonstrated track record of understanding the system; a second tenet is that one persons enlightened judgement is often better at making socially beneficial decisions on how to wield the economic power of society than a bunch of bureaucrats - Carnegie Free Libraries, and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation's emphasis on clean water and maria eradication, and the Rockefeller Foundations charitable works all being examples of where governments talk a good game, but end up doing squat in terms of useful effect.

Re:So, why pay UK taxes? (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 4 months ago | (#47265633)

First, I'm guessing we are now specifically talking about Google's "Don't be evil" motto, which is specifically a reference to the Chinese wall between advertising income and search results

What? No, Google's motto is to do with doing good for the world rather than take short term gains, see this [wikipedia.org] . Not paying taxes and forcing others to pay more to cover the shortfall is precisely taking a short term gain and causing others pain. Sounds pretty close to the definition of 'evil' to me.

I'd argue that Google has done a better job in terms of the social contract than those elected to govern.

Really? You mention surveillance of citizens which is exactly what Google does for economic gain. They also do what Google thinks is good for society which is not the same as what people think is good for society. Google is not elected by, nor accountable to, the people of the UK and worse, is in fact a foreign corporation with interests that may diverge greatly from those of the UK. I will grant you that I tend to agree with a lot of Google's aims (other than immoral tax evasion) but people have no control over this and it could change in a second with a new CEO.

Indeed if we are to discuss types of government then I would suggest that the corporate philanthropy model you espouse is more akin to a feudal system. Google is the feudal lord who does what it thinks is best for us peasants without us having any input or control whatsoever. That model only works when you have a benign lord but, as history shows, the next to inherit the throne may be far from benign and that overall this model of government is an abject failure. In addition it is not just Google who is doing this but Amazon, Starbucks etc. Are you going to argue that all the large multinational companies playing this tax evasion game are contributing more to society than they would if they had to pay tax like the rest of us? Google may be the best of the bunch at the moment but there is more than just Google playing this game.

As Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.". You can quibble about the type of democracy in the UK and you can argue that the government should be doing a better job with the way it spends taxes (and I would not disagree) but I would still claim that history shows that, averaged over time, it is still far, far better than letting unelected, powerful corporations decide.

Re:So, why pay UK taxes? (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 4 months ago | (#47269387)

First, I'm guessing we are now specifically talking about Google's "Don't be evil" motto, which is specifically a reference to the Chinese wall between advertising income and search results

What? No, Google's motto is to do with doing good for the world rather than take short term gains, see this [wikipedia.org] . Not paying taxes and forcing others to pay more to cover the shortfall is precisely taking a short term gain and causing others pain. Sounds pretty close to the definition of 'evil' to me.

You realize quoting back at me the link I used to prove you wrong doesn't prove you right, right?

I'd argue that Google has done a better job in terms of the social contract than those elected to govern.

Really? You mention surveillance of citizens which is exactly what Google does for economic gain. They also do what Google thinks is good for society which is not the same as what people think is good for society. Google is not elected by, nor accountable to, the people of the UK and worse, is in fact a foreign corporation with interests that may diverge greatly from those of the UK. I will grant you that I tend to agree with a lot of Google's aims (other than immoral tax evasion) but people have no control over this and it could change in a second with a new CEO.

Google gather information in *aggregate*. It does not spy on individuals specifically. And yeah, Google does what Google thinks is good for society, rather than what "people" think is good for society. For example, the "people" who make up the Taliban believe that women shouldn't learn to read, and if they do anyway, they should be stoned to death, and that everyone should live under Sharia law, and that blowing up people is a reasonable political statement. "People" have a pretty piss poor track record, compared to enlightened individuals.

I;ll also point out your "what if there's a new CEO" scenario can't happen with Google: Sergey and Eric and Larry make stock grants out of non-voting stock. Any stock splits are designed such that, ig you have N shares of voting stock initially, and there's a 2:1 split, you will end up with N shares of voting stock, and N shares of non-voting stock. This is the difference between the "goog" (voting) and "googl" (non-voting) ticker symbols. And new employees get their GSU's (basically performance pro-reated RSU's) in "googl" stock - non-voting.

That means that they will never lose voting control of the board, and so if a new CEO came in (which they'd have to approve), and decided to be an asshole? They'd just throw him out the day after in an emergency board meeting that pretty much doesn't have to be more than a conference call between the three of them.

So your fear-mongering there is totally fabricated.

Indeed if we are to discuss types of government then I would suggest that the corporate philanthropy model you espouse is more akin to a feudal system. Google is the feudal lord who does what it thinks is best for us peasants without us having any input or control whatsoever.

They are totally incomparable to a feudal lord. A feudal lord doesn't give a crap what the peasants think, so long as they keep producing. So under a feudal lord, conditions will improve only if there's widespread rebellion, but not otherwise.

If you want a feudal lord comparison, you should look to Verizon vs. Netflix, or Comcast trying to acquire Time Warner so that there's a single monopoly cable company everywhere, and zero other choice for Internet service. The model these guys use is "you send us money each month for no reason, and we will (reluctantly) provide you service, if you complain loudly enough that you start sucking the profit we are making from you out through our call center".

You can quibble about the type of democracy in the UK and you can argue that the government should be doing a better job with the way it spends taxes (and I would not disagree) but I would still claim that history shows that, averaged over time, it is still far, far better than letting unelected, powerful corporations decide.

What historical examples of corporate rule are you able to cite again?

Re:So, why pay UK taxes? (1)

cardpuncher (713057) | about 4 months ago | (#47261307)

>You should not be allowed to just arbitrarily decide which countries laws apply

It's a long-established principle that you should be able to decide, as part of a contract, how disputes relating to the contract should be resolved. That includes things like alternative dispute resolution (arbitration, clerical courts, spinning a bottle...) as well as a national jurisdiction.

However, this only applies to the two parties.

You can't arbitrarily decide how a third party (such as the government of the country in which the contract is effectively executed) should treat you. Google, Apple, et al, can shift their earnings around the globe because of international accounting regulations to which governments, including that of the UK, have subscribed. Partly, they did that because they hoped that by competing with each other to offer favourable tax treatment, they could get international companies to relocate and make up in volume what they were losing in margin by dropping rates.

Surprise, surprise, small countries which get the greatest proportional benefit from headquartering multinationals are able to offer the lowest rates.

Blame your politicians, not the companies they are actually encouraging to behave in this way.

Re:So, why pay UK taxes? (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 4 months ago | (#47262173)

Blame your politicians, not the companies they are actually encouraging to behave in this way.

I will admit that this was my first reaction upon hearing it too - blame the politicians for not having set up laws to stop this. However when you think about things more it is extremely hard to come up with any rules to fix this unless you tax the revenue of companies rather than their profits. I don't see anyway that you can easily differentiate between a genuine expense for a company vs. a profit moving expense designed to make the purchasing company unprofitable while making the selling company profitable.

The only way I could see this working would be to pass a general law forbidding the movement of profits by this method and giving the Inland Revenue the power to decide when this has taken place. This would be a very vague law with potentially far reaching consequences that gave government a lot of power. However when it comes to these large, multinational companies I'm not sure there is any other way because they can use their army of lawyers to devise a way around any concrete, well defined law that does not enforce a general principle.

Re:So, why pay UK taxes? (1)

Xest (935314) | about 4 months ago | (#47260829)

Wow, I always thought Forbes was a fairly professional business oriented publication like The Financial Times, but if their writers can't even grasp the difference between revenue and profit and show absolutely no understanding of the fact that taxes are paid before profit what hope is there?

I guess I'll avoid Forbes in future, I didn't realise it was quite such an amateur and clueless operation.

As for your point, well 1000101, it's really quite simple. An overseas company is defined as one that doesn't have it's headquarters in the UK. Doing business in a country does not make a company resident in that country, even though it makes it liable for tax in that country on revenue earned in that country post other deductions on revenue.

But most importantly in this case it's primarily the routing of communications that matters in GCHQ's argument, and if the data is crossing out of the UK then of course it's overseas data.

Which isn't to defend the practice, it's disgusting and unacceptable, but if we're going to argue against it we need to stick to arguments that actually make sense and that hold up in the face of counter arguments.

Why your government is so corrupt and arrogant (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47260143)

"The State's criminality is nothing new and nothing to be wondered at. It began when the first predatory group of men clustered together and formed the State, and it will continue as long as the State exists in the world, because the State is fundamentally an anti-social institution, fundamentally criminal. The idea that the State originated to serve any kind of social purpose is completely unhistorical. It originated in conquest and confiscationâ"that is to say, in crime."

"Like all predatory or parasitic institutions, its first instinct is that of self-preservation. All its enterprises are directed first towards preserving its own life, and, second, towards increasing its own power and enlarging the scope of its own activity. For the sake of this it will, and regularly does, commit any crime which circumstances make expedient."

"Here is the Golden Rule of sound citizenship, the first and greatest lesson in the study of politics: you get the same order of criminality from any State to which you give power to exercise it; and whatever power you give the State to do things for you carries with it the equivalent power to do things to you."

The Criminality of the State, Albert Jay Nock, American Mercury, March 1939. http://alumnus.caltech.edu/~ck... [caltech.edu]

"What we call a government is after all nothing but a group of individuals, who, by a variety of sanctions, have acquired the power to govern their fellows. The sanctions range from the fraud of divine right to that of sheer conquest; from the imbecility of hereditary privilege to the irrationality of counting voters. In most cases the extent to which these sanctions produce capable legislators, judges, and administrators will not bear critical examination. Nominally, government exists and functions for the public. Actually it exists and functions for the benefit of those who have in one of these absurd ways acquired power to govern. It is accepted mainly because of the sheer inertia of great masses of people. Ostensibly, of course, it is accepted because it confers a sufficiency of visible benefits upon society to make the officials who operate it tolerated in spite of the selfish and idiotic exercise of the powers conferred upon them."

Ralph Borsodi, "This Ugly Civilization", Ralph Borsodi, Simon And Schuster, 1929. http://www.schoolofliving.org/... [schoolofliving.org]

Re:Why your government is so corrupt and arrogant (1)

BranMan (29917) | about 4 months ago | (#47264541)

And to add insult to irony, even though both tomes are approaching 100 years in age, neither one has passed out of copyright protection into the public domain. Isn't THAT depressing?

I worry about the blowback on this... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47260211)

I worry about the blowback on this. Not just the hardened diaper snipers (the hardcore CP guys who will not turn on each other because no prosecutor will ever cut them a deal, ever) will still be tough to prosecute, but now everyone and their brother will go that route and be equally as hard to catch, be it true crimes like CP and explotation of children or other offenses (extortion, blackmail, etc). TrueCrypt may no longer be developed, but it is going to be the de facto encryption standard for a long time.

In fact, there is interest in PGP and GPG again, utilities thought too cumbersome in daily life.

The result is going to be active security on endpoints, and maybe even a wholesale move to encryption providers that don't like the US or the UK. China and Russia will be happy to protect someone, provided their guys have their own backdoors. Yes, endpoints are spy-able, but if people on a whole start having an offline computer just for signing and encrypting, it means every endpoint needs a physical black-bag attack mounted against it to be effective.

Re:I worry about the blowback on this... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 months ago | (#47260371)

How did the security services work before easy global networks and tame commercial junk encryption?
You round up everybody of interest to a concentrated, secure, remote location?
Track their sloppy spies and work back?
You find the enemy locals in neutral countries, befriend and rendition them. The offer of total collaboration is then the only option.
Before the "internet" it was one time pads, radio i.e. real people finding other people. If hi tech nations have bet all on signals intelligence that was their own method to build on.
The rest of the world can work with their culture, diaspora, faith, cult, dual citizens. This was not unexpected or anything new?
The West got lucky as China and the Soviet Union/bloc had to do vast national mil system tests, get into global electronic banking and go digital.
Everyone and their brother always could have understood where cheap POTS, fax, ISDN, adsl, optical on standardized networks would end up. There where enough hints in the free press, academic 'tech' history books, magazines, public court cases from the 1950's on.

Re:I worry about the blowback on this... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47260739)

And then you'll get all kinds of fun new ways to get sent to jail like 'unauthorised use of encryption' and 'accessing the Internet anonymously'.

Re:I worry about the blowback on this... (1)

jeIlomizer (3670951) | about 4 months ago | (#47263079)

be it true crimes like CP

True crimes like looking at images.

Does anyone really get emotional about that 'for the children' garbage? I just can't fathom how stupid people are.

Post Office and Telephone Calls? (1)

canatech (982314) | about 4 months ago | (#47260243)

Mail and telephone calls from off shore are also external communications.
What's their status?

Re:Post Office and Telephone Calls? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 months ago | (#47260461)

Telephone calls from off shore are also external communications?
Every call to or from Ireland was 'collected' as the tech of the day allowed.
Your off shore call would have to find someones telco network.
Mail was fair game after Defence of the Realm Act 1914, you had a HOW (home office warrant) for ~MI5. Indian Police Intelligence, SIS, General post office censors i.e. mail was always in play before and after WW1.

Re:Post Office and Telephone Calls? (1)

Xest (935314) | about 4 months ago | (#47260853)

I think that's the problem, I think this law was enacted in an era where off-shore communications were rare, such that any mail sent to somewhere like Russia during the cold war might be a bit suspicious. Although not everyone, not by a longshot, the ratio of legitimate overseas communications to subversive ones would have been much lower when this law was written. There was also no trivial way to blanket intercept all postal mail, open it, and record it automatically without greater risk of the recipient and sender being aware either.

The problem is now it's being applied when everyone and anyone now communicates overseas on a daily basis. There is a far greater ratio of innocents to threats, and collection is arbitrary of everyone. That means the law is being used well beyond it's originally intended purposes which were actually more likely the two examples you cite.

Guy Fawkes (2)

EzInKy (115248) | about 4 months ago | (#47260271)

I foresee an uptick in the sales of Guy Fawkes masks, and it isn't even November.

Re:Guy Fawkes (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 4 months ago | (#47260623)

Better hope they are not made in China otherwise that will be an external communication and they will be able to track exactly who ordered them!

state of affairs (3, Funny)

epyT-R (613989) | about 4 months ago | (#47260275)

These are the kinds of politicians that need to be excised from their positions, regardless of party or affiliated ideology. They are supposed to treat their positions as duties, not twist the law to justify committing 'end justifies means' immoral acts out of self interest.

Re:state of affairs (1)

Anonymous Cowled (917825) | about 4 months ago | (#47270409)

These are the kinds of politicians that need to be excised from their positions, regardless of party or affiliated ideology.

I've always believed that anyone who actually wants to work in politics should be automatically disqualified from the position on the basis that they are clearly degenerate.

Legal... (3, Insightful)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 4 months ago | (#47260427)

"Legal" means whatever you want it to mean when you're the one who gets to determine what it means.

'While peering you overseas for national traffic' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47260451)

That's why peering disagreements are very useful for these types of national security threats.

NSA/GHCQ/SIS/TLA/etc paid pervs are an immediate, specific, and harmful impact to the national security of 'insert your country here'.

Time for them to be severely reduced in size with much increased oversight.

"Legally"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47260515)

Who the hell cares about "legally"?? Certainly not the people who vote for and reelect the crooks that are doing this. Fuck you people! Vote for something different if you don't like it. Vote for the same old shit like you're doing, and you get what you deserve. I have no sympathy.

Asshole moderators are forcing me to post AC. Fuck them too.

-F

American citizens (1)

gringer (252588) | about 4 months ago | (#47260539)

And, of course, they can snoop on American citizens on google and facebook, as well as for all other communications in Great Britain because the Americans are foreigners.

When you have five eyes, and each eye is in a different country, it's quite easy to work around those pesky "no watching yourself" laws.

Someone needs to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47260669)

hold Charles Farr down and shit down his throat. Teach that authoritarian fuck whose boss.

Re:Someone needs to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47270673)

hold Charles Farr down and shit down his throat. Teach that authoritarian fuck whose boss.

Whose boss what?

Of all the arseholes we've had in the British govt (2)

UpnAtom (551727) | about 4 months ago | (#47260699)

... Charles Farr is the worst. Maybe even worse than Blair.

He is the main driving force behind the Snooping Charter, both under Brown.. and resurrected under the Coalition.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

Remember, these were the powers he was pushing for whilst the NSA was reading our FB accounts and email, had compromised elliptic curve cryptography etc. GCHQ was recording our phone calls and even webcam images.

Bonjour spooky types (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47260727)

Hello NSA and GCHQ,

Well done lads. May I congratulate you on all that newly gained data. You must be now possess the world's biggest archive of webcam pics of teenage girls, X-Box One videos of kids playing CoD and truly immense amounts of cat Gifs. Am sure your highly regarded intelligence analysts can gain amazing insight as they engineer software to tell the difference between 'Lol, I was soooo drunk' and 'Allah wants me to declare Jihad on my local pig farm' posts. You also deserve a clap for replacing the shaky centralised Total Information Awareness project by simply spying on everything.

So while Iraq burns, Russia moves on Ukraine, terrorist attacks blast through Kenya you fucking idiots are probably spending all those taxpayer resources on collecting pointless shit.

Still never mind - at least those teen girl webcam pics will all go into the facial recognition database. Makes it easier to track them in case their future sluttiness becomes a threat to the British and American way of life.

Art.12. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1)

Max_W (812974) | about 4 months ago | (#47260883)

Article 12.The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

http://www.un.org/en/documents... [un.org]

Universal means it is about all humans, not only Anglo-saxons, British or US citizens.

Re:Art.12. The Universal Declaration of Human Righ (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 4 months ago | (#47261003)

Key word that you failed to highlight - "arbitrary". Changes the meaning of that sentence a *lot*.

Re:Art.12. The Universal Declaration of Human Righ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47261149)

Also 'interference'. Me viewing all your twitter messages without you knowing isn't interferance.

Re:Art.12. The Universal Declaration of Human Righ (1)

Camael (1048726) | about 4 months ago | (#47261125)

A declared "right" is useless unless it is recognised and enforced. Who's going to do it?

Re:Art.12. The Universal Declaration of Human Righ (1)

Max_W (812974) | about 4 months ago | (#47261153)

But UK signed the The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It should either follow it, or withdraw its signature. I am not singling out UK or any other nation. Every government, which signed it, should work on compliance.

If there is a criminal activity, then a judge must look into it and give a permission to search the Gmail account of a particular individual. It is as simple as that.

Re:Art.12. The Universal Declaration of Human Righ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47261363)

Well, the current government keeps attacking and undermining human rights so lets see.

https (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 4 months ago | (#47260937)

This brings me to the question: how secure is https these days?

Re:https (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 4 months ago | (#47261041)

Everything is a piece of a puzzle. You just need a weak element on the combination of many. At work, they can monitor your machine remotely, or even pay a dummy to look all day to your desktop in an extreme and improbable case (i.e. desktop at work or school are inherently not secure by nature). They have invited people to talk with them while they "visit" their home, and plant bugs in the keyboard, they can send emails or make you visit a page through compromised DNS or injected HTML to plant malware, they can use bugs in the system to plant viruses, use the official Windows backdoors from Microsoft, have some malware installed at browser level that redirects your queries, compromise your DNS to intercept your communications either via malware or via the actual infra-structure you are working (ISP), intercept all your communications at ISP level, or even do man-in-the middle attacks to your SSL connections. At corporate levels, most firewalls do man-in-the-middle attacks to SSL connections in the name of security, and as everything is their installation they install the root firewall certificates in every desktop for the browsers not to bork, or display warnings.

Re:https (1)

BranMan (29917) | about 4 months ago | (#47264773)

Against the average Joe, fairly secure. Against the wrong people? Not even a speed bump. HTTPS works using Public Key encryption, not Secret Key encryption. That difference makes all the difference - Public key encryption is used to generate Secret keys, which are then used to pass information back an forth securely.

      The problem is that Public key only depends on mathematically hard problems to make is secure (it's a hard math problem to break it, but not anywhere near impossible) vs Secret key, in which the key is basically random, and can be made long enough (i.e. use enough bits) to be physically impossible to break, no matter what (though often fewer bits than that are used to make it faster). Public key also has part of it public (hence the name) and part private. If you know the private key - game over - 'cause the Public key is already out there, by design.

      Piled on top of that are Certificates that make sure you are using the right Public key to talk to who you want using encryption. Assume all the Certificates and Certificate Authorities (who vouch for them) have been compromised. Assume Public keys used by a lot of people have been broken (I'd include HTTPS to any well known group).

      Today? I'd assume HTTPS is not secure - at all. Kinda leaves you SOL though, so really we're stuck with it.

      Does that help?

"Google" not outside UK (1)

Hypotensive (2836435) | about 4 months ago | (#47260961)

However the Google pages that get returned by all UK ISPs are in the UK, because those ISPs use DNS hijacking to return their own servers' IP addresses (with a nice Google skin) whenever UK citizens ask for Google, and those servers are in the UK.

As to why they do it, something to do with complying with UK censorship legislation.

Re:"Google" not outside UK (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 4 months ago | (#47261047)

Google is known to have local mirrors, are you sure of what you are saying?

Re:"Google" not outside UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47261269)

Sane people do not use their ISP's DNS.

NIGGA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47261011)

Can be "intercepted"? (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 4 months ago | (#47261017)

It is rather well know facebook and google are in bed with the government...do they need to intercept it? This is just throwing sand in our eyes...

The FSA vs OathBreakers (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47261257)

The problem here is one of The FSA vs OathBreakers. Those in the F_ree S_hit A_rmy want youtube channels and free email and that crappy webpage on facecrook. The OathBreakers don't give a f**k about the rule of law. My personal oppinion is that if you publish to a website you don't actually OWN, then you

A. have to trust said company, not so incompetent to expose your database tables accidentally, or maliciously, or secretly.
B. anything actually published is now in the public "somewhere" if not archive.org, *.cache.com ; If the Oath breakers want to collect that "published data" without a warrant who cares.
C. The FSA wouldn't be here if they paid for their own websites. WHY DO YOU HAVE ACCOUNTS ON THESE WEBSITES STILL? WHY?!

anyway, you know how the latest in that Stingray ( http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/06/judge-allows-us-marshals-seizure-of-stingray-records-dimisses-lawsuit/ ) ordeal with the ACLU getting end-run by the US Marshalls well now then

A. Whoever has the data can manipulate/ cleanse it / further deny it - fsck all burn in hell you backstabbing piece of dung fsck OathBreakers )
B. WHY do you PAY for a god dammned phone still?! WHY?! Go buy a HAM RADIO for god sakes, learn electronics, pay for something that is going to last your lifetime and can be either sold at Estate Sale or Passed down to your children when you die. All you young ass idiots, do you know back in the 60's we didn't have no fucking mobile phones, you had to find a PAY PHONE BOOTH. You had to coordinate when people would be around--to even answer the phone sometimes. Phone Tag. You all don't seem to grasp that. You are allowing "a Luxury" , a Convienence, a NON necessity to steal your fscking data!!
C. This stops overnight when nobody will buy their god damn phones or deal with these fscking communications companies gone fascist. IF nobody has a fscking AT&T account, AT&T doesn't get paid, enough time and eventually NO MORE AT&T at all. Unless AT&T want to spend their own money to stay lit -- make no mistake they have a LOT of money.

  Somewhere down the line, Government has tossed the rule of law out, this is the neucleous for all this grief. Banksters are propped up by NSA spying, and nothing is sacred anymore with this fscking Extra Constitutional HORSESHIT.

Re:The FSA vs OathBreakers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47264023)

That's quite a bold statement...

in accordance with the law != right/just (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47264729)

'nuff said

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