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BAE accused of flogging mass-spying toolkits to assh*le autocrats

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"It works with keywords"

""[It] works with keywords. You put in an opponent's name and you will see all the sites, blogs, social networks related to that user.""

By 'eck, but that's a bloody clever bit of software! So I just type in "Ali bin Mohammed" and it not only knows which one I mean, but can link it to his El Reg user account where he calls himself "Princess Alice", and his Facebook a/c where he's "Mad Gordon III"

Kudos to the software engineers. I wish I had their brains.

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Re: "It works with keywords"

...I must stop replying to myself...

Actually kudos to BAE for persuading them to buy such an unbelievable crock of brown stuff. It may well have had some clever bits in it, but "typing in an opponents name" ain't one of them.

I wonder, did they also buy any of those clever hand-held bomb-detectors that some British guy was flogging a while bag. The ones that couldn't detect anything?

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Re: "It works with keywords"

While most names have multiple matches, if you know the opponent’s IMEI you probably could achieve that from knowledge of the device's location and traffic.

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Big Brother

Re: "It works with keywords"

> By 'eck, but that's a bloody clever bit of software! So I just type in "Ali bin Mohammed" and it not only knows which one I mean, but can link it to his El Reg user account where he calls himself "Princess Alice", and his Facebook a/c where he's "Mad Gordon III"

Yes, more or less. It will initially show many Ali bin Mohammed's but for each of them, it will show a network of connectivity to people emailed, people who viewed his social media sites and so on. It won't take long to work out which one is the the one they are interested in.

If you have just two friends who know that you are 'Pen-y-gors' here and 'Princess Alice' elsewhere, the fact that they periodically check both sites creates a link between the two. The more people that know, the stronger the link becomes. Just half-a-dozen in the know creates a situation where it becomes extremely unlikely that Pen-yGors and Princess Alice are not related, and the most likely relationship is that the author is the same, or at least there is the same editorial controller for both pseudonyms.

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Re: "It works with keywords"

Not only that but other data could be combined, know his likes and cross reference etc.

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Re: "It works with keywords"

Sounds like google search to me.

Wouldn't surprise me if it was google search, wrapped up in a BAe front end.

And if it's not, I've just had an idea for a great new product to sell to oil-rich barbarians.

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Re: "It works with keywords"

"The ones that couldn't detect anything?"

Good at detecting gullible procurement officials apparently.

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Meanwhile in the EU and 5-eyes...

They are trying to mandate this capability in law and every computing device sold.

What could possibly go wrong? Oh yes massive human rights abuse and cover-up for corruption and vested interests...

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Re: Meanwhile in the EU and 5-eyes...

A terrible human rights record doesn't factor in as much as "pays their bills on time" record.

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Well, we know at least one likely customer

BAE accused of flogging mass-spying toolkits to assh*le auto/bureaucrats.

Now she needs it to watch the other members of the coalition as well as the rest of us.

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Anonymous Coward

If it wasn't us flogging it then it would be the US, Chinese, Russians, French or some other nation. It's the same with defence equipment.

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It's the same with defence equipment.

Like land mines. And cluster bombs. And torture equipment.

Just because there's a commercial opportunity selling evil stuff to evil cunts doesn't mean that you can wash your hands of how they use it.

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Trollface

Like land mines. And cluster bombs. And torture equipment.

Just because there's a commercial opportunity selling evil stuff to evil cunts doesn't mean that you can wash your hands of how they use it.

Well the human race does keep breeding at a frightening rate, there has to be some ways of decreasing the surplus population

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Facepalm

Well hey AC, if it's not me breaking into your house, it'll just be someone else right? So by your logic I might as well come round and help myself to your telly.

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Anonymous Coward

>Well hey AC, if it's not me breaking into your house, it'll just be someone else right? So by your logic I might as well come round and help myself to your telly.

Selling arms and aggravated theft are two totally separate issues, note one is the exchange of goods for payment where the other is both actus reus and mens rea to permanently deprive another of their property possibly with violence. The selling of non prohibited arms or monitoring tools is not illegal (but arguably immoral) where as aggravated theft is both immoral and illegal.

A rather shit comparative all in all me thinks.

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Unhappy

"doesn't mean that you can wash your hands of how they use it."

As Upton Sinclair observed a century ago "No man's ignorance is so great as a man whose livelihood depends on his ignorance."

Land mines could be used to protect their borders from their neighbors, cluster bombs likewise and torture equipment. I don't know that's what it's going to be used for. El Presidente may just have a very active personal life. Humans beings have a near infinite capacity to rationalise away the choices they make.

Most people who sell this stuff are not actually psychopaths. Like those selling milk powder to the third world, it's a career path with a large multinational company. They simply want a good standard of living and don't look too closely at what the effects of their choices have on anyone else.

Most of them actually think they are quite good people. Just looking after their families, move up the promotion ladder etc.

Except it's said that for evil to triumph it is only necessary that good people do nothing.

But these "good people" are not just doing nothing.

They are actively facilitating it.

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Unhappy

Clearly BAe using what they learned being prime contractor on the UK ID Cards project

About shmoozing up repressive governments.

Starting with Tony Blairs.

They really do supply a soup-to-nuts service to regimes with almost-no-questions-asked (except perhaps "does the US like you?")

No doubt a business model Mrs May would dearly love other companies to follow with Brexit looming.

A small factoid for UK readers. % of overseas business Germany does with UK 7.5%. % of business Germany does with all other EU members 50%

So the German car industry may sell a lot of cars in the UK but the rest of the EU is 6 2/3:1x bigger.

Something all those Brexiteers hoping for a "special deal" should ponder.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Clearly BAe using what they learned being prime contractor on the UK ID Cards project

"Something all those Brexiteers hoping for a "special deal" should ponder."

FFS, you sad, sad Remoaner. Nothing to do with the topic, but you're prattling on about Brexit, because it was SO unfair that we had a referendum, and the "wrong" result came out. Get over it.

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Re: Clearly BAe using what they learned being prime contractor on the UK ID Cards project

Dear AC,

With regard to your comment:

'you're prattling on about Brexit, because it was SO unfair that we had a referendum, and the "wrong" result came out. Get over it.'

It was a referendum, a non binding decision.

It was a very close result.

Thatcher wannabe Terrible May got lucky after Cameron's demise and called it a mandate.

It bloody well wasn't, and such a close result over a 'what do you think' rather than a 'this is what we are going to do' vote should have been thought through very carefully.

Unfortunately TM is a self serving asshat wanting to hang on to power at any cost,

In or Out, it's a big step either way, but

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Re: Clearly BAe using what they learned being prime contractor on the UK ID Cards project

My editing time ran out...

But TM had no problem twisting the result of a general election by bringing in the DUP as obnoxious allies to form an unpopular coalition government just as she twisted the referendum to be a mandate.

Whatever your opinion is I hope we can agree TM is not to be trusted in any capacity.

I'm not great fan of Jeremy Corbyn, but at least he is consistent and honest.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Clearly BAe using what they learned being prime contractor on the UK ID Cards project

The Brexiteers want us to return to the glorious days of the 1970s.

When apparently we had a naff car industry, brown outs regularly, a 3 day week, massive industrial unrest, bailout by the IMF because we couldn't stand on our own two feet financially. And ethics / morals didn't matter one jot, personally or corporately.

But hey, the grass always looks greener...especially greenbacks.

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Unhappy

"FFS, you sad, sad Remoaner. Nothing to do with the topic, "

Wrong again Mr AC.

With hopes fading (inside the Conservative party, everyone else thought they were nuts to start with) of any kind of sweetheart deal on Brexit, BAe's business model is highly relevant to the UK economy.

A (nominally) UK company already sells arms to questionable regimes world wide.

Perhaps it's time other industries considered the same approach?

Glaxo SKB could greatly widen its range of supplied drugs (for foreign consumption only of course) while BA could consider changing it's slogan to "If you have the fare we will take you there."

And I'm surprised BAe didn't try to sell to India, but they seem to be planning nationwide net surveillance at a price BAe simply can't match. Still not to worry, with the greatly relaxed border controls I' sure the will be able to import more of those devs with much less hassle than in the past.

Granted this sort of behavior might have the UK labelled as a "rogue nation," but wasn't part of May's massive election failure her inability to paint a "Bright post Brexit future" As the Sunday Times put it? When you have a reasonable absolute majority in the House and you call an unnecessary election you do it to

a) Increase your majority by a lot

b)destroy your majority so you have to fight every vote depending on the support of a party 1/32 your size ?

Because it's pretty clear that after May 2019 the people who voted Leave will be split into 2 groups,

Those who realized they've been played like "A banjo at an Ozark hoedown," to coin a phrase, and those who don't.

"Billions Above estimate" could be the UK's post Brexit motto.

"Ethics?" That's a county next to Kent isn't it?

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Re: Clearly BAe using what they learned being prime contractor on the UK ID Cards project

>So the German car industry may sell a lot of cars in the UK but the rest of the EU is 6 2/3:1x bigger.

The biggest exporters of cars from N America are BMW and MB, so the Germans just export cars made in the USA to UK while happily locking the UK out of the Eu.

Or do you think May is planning a simultaneous trade war with the USA ?

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Unhappy

The biggest exporters of cars from N America are BMW and MB,

so the Germans just export cars made in the USA to UK."

I did not know this. I'd assumed they came from Germany.

I guess "closest to biggest market" trumps "close to market" every time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Clearly BAe using what they learned being prime contractor on the UK ID Cards project

Dear Keef,

I agree with your negative views on Theresa May, although that doesn't alter the EU issue. If a majority of the electorate who chose to vote, AND the largest number of votes for anybody, any party, or anything in British history voted "leave", then that's not a mandate?

But lets ignore the sad-sack squealing about that, and have a check: Where was the mandate to JOIN the EU? Oooh look, there never was one. The electorate in the UK never got a say in all the EU treaties, all the crappy, damaging backroom deals (like the one that's fucked up energy policy). The nearest we ever had was the now ancient referendum on joining the "Common Market" of the EEC, which was not in any way the same as the festering, blundering superstate that Brussels is aiming for. And if push comes to shove, more people voted to leave the EU than to join the EEC.

Perhaps you could offer us your guide to "When referendums and elections offer a mandate, and when they don't"?

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Unhappy

"Or do you think May is planning a simultaneous trade war with the USA ?"

Of course not.

She's not that....

Oh.

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Re: Clearly BAe using what they learned being prime contractor on the UK ID Cards project

"Perhaps you could offer us your guide to "When referendums and elections offer a mandate, and when they don't"?"

My version is that when people think their actions will have an unavoidable outcome the will take some care over how they vote.

When people are asked for an opinion, in a non binding referendum, they are more likely to vote as a protest with no long term view to the consequences.

I hope that clarifies my opinion for you.

Cheers,

Keef.

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Re: Clearly BAe using what they learned being prime contractor on the UK ID Cards project

I hope that clarifies my opinion for you.

So, to paraphrase you, any referendum that is non-binding should be ignored? The logic there is not to hold non-binding referendums. But do you really think people would have voted differently? I don't. My work involves working in a provincial city with a large European owned business, but engaging with London based think tanks and NGOs, who are largely liberal intellectuals. The liberal elite were (to a man, woman, and transgender thing) united in being believers in Remain, the more down to earth workforce of my employer were much more given to Leave. The Leave contingent understood that the metropolitan brigade were adamantly pro-EU, the urban Remainers were absolutely clueless as to the mood outside London, and when the result became clear, they were utterly amazed. They couldn't understand who, how, or why anybody might vote to leave, and this in part explains the left wing press attempts to characterise the Leave contingent as mouth-frothing racist Little Englanders.

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Unhappy

"left wing press attempts to characterise..contingent as mouth-frothing racist Little Englanders."

Hmmm.

What is this "Left wing press" of which you speak?

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Unhappy

"When apparently we had a naff car industry, brown outs regularly, a 3 day week, "

Nostalgia.

The Universe's way of telling you too many of your brain cells have died to maintain reliable long term memory.

I looked it up. Apparently Labour continued in power at one point with a majority of 1 seat.

Which is still more than May managed to scrape up.

Then they went into coalition with the Liberals, stringing them along with promises of electoral reform (sound familiar?). When the Liberals told them to put up or shut up they balked, so the Liberals walked. Leaving the way clear for the glorious ascension to power of the Leaderene, and the start of the "Adoration of the Maggie" as some called it.

As Henry Spencer's sig used to put it "The good old days, weren't "

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Devil

Reminds me of

The Night Manager

Unfortunately, Dickie Roper will get away completely this time. They aren't called Death Merchants for nothing.

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Unhappy

Re: Reminds me of "The Night Manager"

Sadly no.

Rotter Roper (you just can't see the name, factor in the age of the author and not be thinking "rotter.")

is a full on illegal arms dealer.

He's "unofficially" protected by US and UK intelligence officials (spookocrats) for (occasional) intelligence on his customers and (regular) bags of cash.

BAe is a publicly quoted company with a CEO who has on-demand access to the Prime Ministers office (I wonder what an FOIA request would show about how often he's visited Cameron and May over the last few years, and how that compared with Blair say)

It's an arrangement that I think the CEO's of Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrup Grumman can only dream of.

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LDS
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"It's an arrangement that I think the CEO's of Lockheed Martin, [...]"

They call Kushner. Or Kushner call them when he need a discount.

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Holmes

"They aren't called Death Merchants for nothing."

Actually companies in the arms defense business sector prefer people not to use that term.

They feel it has very negative connotations.

Yes, really.

I think they prefer to think of themselves as suppliers of high quality engineering products (like high intermittent pressure gas piping for example) for applications in National Defense.

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And this weeks "No Shit Sherlock" award goes to...

Seriously, anyone who thinks this stuff isn't happening is kidding themselves. BAE, and the rest of the defense industry, will sell to anyone they can as long as it's legal*

*For varying interpretations of the term.

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Coat

"will sell to anyone they can as long as it's legal*"

"*For varying interpretations of the term."

Interesting question would be wheather this software qualifies as arms (excluding the encryption which still is).

Arms usually need an "End User Certificate" from the country of final use.

It might be quite interesting to compare the EUC's issued with the actual inventory of the (alleged) end user countries, but that's never going to happen.

I sometimes wonder just how many have been supposedly signed by the Nigerian Minister of Defense for example.

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Facepalm

Re: And this weeks "No Shit Sherlock" award goes to...

Seriously, anyone who thinks this stuff isn't happening is kidding themselves. BAE, and the rest of the TECHNOLOGY industry, will sell to anyone they can as long as it's legal*

FTFY...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "will sell to anyone they can as long as it's legal*"

AFAIK, it's not just arms. There's also "double use technology" which may require governmental approval to be sold, especially outside EU or NATO, and especially to some countries.

So I guess BAE got the green light to sell the systems there.

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Anonymous Coward

A BAe spokesman said

Yes, but look at all the money.

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Unhappy

"assh*le autocrats"

TBH couldn't that also characterize the British government as well?

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