2007 - 2021

Sim City

apple_microsimBy Mike Small

The tweet is simple: “EU’s signal to Greece is clear: Democratic will of people no longer means anything in Europe. Banks trump democracy. Today we are all Greeks”.

Its not just the Gankster Economy that undermines democracy, it’s the state spying on its citizens and the blooming of surveillance culture unheeded and unrestricted. It’s an emerging travesty that gets overlooked in the light of enduring cultural myth-building and self-satisfaction.

One of the central myths that the stage-hypnotists of the Union like to maintain is the impartiality of the British state. Indeed, during the referendum campaign a queue of politicians lined up to explain how we’d been left vulnerable if we no longer had the ‘protective arm’ of the SIS to help us. Theresa May led the way boasting: “The UK currently boasts “some of the finest intelligence and security services in the world”.

“The national security risks the UK faces are complex and changing,” she said on a visit to Edinburgh.

“Terrorists and organised criminals will seek new ways to exploit any weakness in our justice and policing capabilities, and the scale of emerging threats such as cyber-crime demands a comprehensively resourced response. Now is the time to work more closely together for the security of all citizens.”

The message was clear and simple, stay with Britain, for greater security.

This was clearly nonsensical ahistorical propaganda, but in the maelstrom of negativity it was a key note to strike, even if such awkward moments as extraordinary rendition or abuse of powers were quietly shuffled away from the gaze.

It’s interesting to note then, as time goes by, exactly how this benign state operates.

Extraordinary revelations have been released about how the biggest manufacturer of Sim cards in the world has reportedly been hacked into by the US NSA and UK GCHQ. Read the full story here.

The security agencies stole the encryption keys that are built into every one of the Sim cards made by the Dutch firm Gemalto.

The revelations of the hack come from the NSA files supplied by Edward Snowden and reported on by Glen Greenwald’s The Intercept. The files reveal that Gemalto was targeted by the Mobile Handset Exploitation Team (MHET), a unit formed by the NSA and GCHQ in April 2010 to target vulnerabilities in mobile phones.

Gemalto’s motto is “Security to be Free.”

Safer Together. Stronger Together.

Comments (45)

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  1. Karen Dietz says:

    It’s like a movie… except that it is real… eek!

  2. Monty says:

    This kind of stuff worries me a little. Did many people listen to let alone buy into what May said during the campaign. Would a Scottish state be any better than the British state in this area? Britain at least has a fairly robust and proactive media who exposes this sort of stuff, Scotland has a media even weaker than most of it political parties. The everyone is wrong, agit prop paranoid school sort of response only gets us so far and tells us nothing we don’t already know

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      It’s not paranoid, its proved. I didn’t make any claim that everything would be hunky dory in a Scottish state, that’s an important separate question.

      1. A scottish independent state would prosper well doubters of Scotland’s wealth and resources have hidden agendas we have soil for fruit and veg fishing towns for fish fields full of live stock we have water whiskey it bru heaven and light industry we could survive well without fracking and burning coal the people behind the unconventional extraction of scotlands natural resources are greedy and out for profit only so there would be massive incompatant health and safety breaches a would advice all scots to mobilise like you’s did in the poll tax and save ur rivers and seas from filth toxic water produced in the process the only way to stop business is to blockade and road or office or company taken to do with it we have wind and waves for energy so why would we let any new investment dirty our community’s keep lobbying on it and right the good fight for scotlands future free and clean of toxics after 100s of years of being England’s chemical dump !

  3. alexairlie says:

    this is the style of writing that can and does put people off blogs/online news. Maybe that’s what you want?Just a limited appeal…terrible stuff

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      What’s the problem Alex? Seems fairly uncontroversial – big claims of security by the British state who then within a few months are exposed to be spying on their own citizens?

      1. alexairlie says:

        I suppose I should have explained myself more: It’s not the content of the piece it’s the writing style.Using the likes of ”gankster” for christ sakes!!…Elitist,middle class tripe. This suits National collectives types, is that the target audience ?

        1. bellacaledonia says:

          Why is using ‘Gankster’ middle class? I’m not sure what you’re on about?

      2. I rather like “Gankster”. It sums up the way the international economy is run rather neatly.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Evidence? Click on the links – read the full story here? https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/19/great-sim-heist/

      1. kencfisher says:

        Sorry, should have made it clear I was querying an earlier post by Monty. He painted a picture of the Scottish media that I didn’t recognise.

    2. Voline says:

      Don’t miss the link to the leaked GCHQ documents that revealed the operation. Read the primary sources if you doubt the article.


  4. zeno says:

    And they wanted to privatise GCHQ. Not sure how far that has gone yet, but it seemed a barmy proposal to me.

  5. tartanfever says:

    The Intercept is one of my regular news sites and their reporting has been exemplary, especially from Scottish journalist Ryan Gallagher. He specialises in Government surveillance. His report on GCHQ’s hacking of Belgium’s TELCO is extraordinary. Remember, this is where most of the EU headquarters are based, so many MEP’s will use TELCO as their foreign roaming service. TELCO also handle much of the e-mail and landline traffic from the EU parliament.

    The scale of this hack is virtually immeasurable and asks serious questions about our democracy. If you think that hacking Merkel’s cell was bad enough, imagine if GCHQ had access to all politicians phone calls and e-mails. Well it seems they do.

    You can read his report here:


  6. Johnson. says:

    It’s a shame because no doubt there are some important things to consider here, but I agree with Alex. This comes across as a bit sixth year studies. The conflation of everything with the ‘unionist’ etc, when it is clearly deeper issue affecting many states (presumably also an indy Scot also unless they’re going to cut all ties with GCHQ/ Pentagon/ other intelligence agencies. I hope not!) seems a bit paranoid? After all rendition was colluded in by Scottish govt also (allegedly – Preswick airport) and let’s not forget the travesty that was the Lockerbie trial and the subsequent brushing of it under the carpet when Al Magrahi was about to publicly appeal.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      It’s not paranoid it’s been proven, or are you challenging the facts (which the security services don’t?).

      Being part of the union and the geopolitical structures of the shared intelligence between the US and UK security services was a key part of the argument – was it not? Of course issues of abuse of surveillance power are not confined to Britain but there was extensive discussion during the referendum of the potential to do things differently in smaller state, with the potential to have a written constitution for example.

      1. Johnson. says:

        Not at all. I’m sure it’s all true. The problem is that you try to pin it all on ‘the British State’ when it is a wider more serious issue of state surveillance. Or do you think Germany Italy Russia China etc are different?

      2. tartanfever says:

        Johnson, it’s widely recognised that the biggest surveillance operations and developments are made by what’s known as the ‘five eyes’ – the USA,UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

        What is worrying is that the operations they are carrying out deliberately breach any basic understanding of citizen privacy and the one specific problem they are trying to overcome is that of encryption. The data they are trying to access is ours – it’s not Russian intelligence or the Chinese (although I’m sure their are very active programmes in those fields) it’s anyone who may have a dissenting voice against the government, or lawyers or politicians or indeed to hack conversations that may influence trade and economic deals.

        Thats the entire premise around Snowdon’s leaks and what Greenwald and staff at The Intercept are doing, to show that our governments are instructing intelligence agencies to spy on their own civilians, which in the USA is a breach of their constitution. Not having a written constitution in the UK means that we don’t even have platform from which to launch a protest, which is why the NSA love GCHQ so much because they just do what they want.

        This isn’t a Le Carre novel or the Cold War – it’s nothing to do with foreign powers or international espionage it’s about the state spying on it’s own people.

  7. Johnson. says:

    Is a good article but I was also thinking of the writing style…bit OTT? Too many adverbs? You don’t need to constantly emphasize the point about the ‘Union’ all the time. We get it.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      I didn’t just live through a process to decide whether I had to live in ‘Germany Italy Russia and China’ – but I do think you conflating the four countries as if they are the same is, frankly hilarious. I don’t ‘try’ and pin it on the British State it’s out there as fact, or did you not read the story? Or, are you challenging an aspect of it?

      You don’t get it.

  8. Illy says:

    Same story, different names…


  9. This is awful writing. I lost interest after a paragraph. “Gankster”? The topic of the article was lost almost instantly.

  10. zeno says:

    I think these are valid points that are raised about surveillance being something that affects all states, and no, I don’t think being smaller would necessarily protect us against it, even with limitations written into a constitution, because how would we enforce it? What would it take, financially, twchnologically? Would we have the capability? I voted Yes, but one of the unresolved questions never raised, as far as I am aware (maybe I missed it?) was what would an indy Scotland do about GCHQ? Do we want our own one? How much do they cost? If we’re part of Nato could we share the formerly British one? Would it being spying on us? Trident couldn’t be shifted overnight, what oversight would we have over GCHQ in the interval?

    But lay off Mike’s style if you don’t like it. It’s the substance that counts. This is a serious issue, beyond style!

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Anyone can complain about my style – that’s fine – I don’t see any substantive arguments about the actual facts in the piece I’m reporting though?

      1. zeno says:

        I’m not disputing your facts Mike, sorry if I gave that impression.

  11. cirsium says:

    and here’s more about GCHQ


    What would be a good description of this kind of action – above the law, beyond the law, lawless?

  12. Kailyard Kenny says:

    I’m a bit surprised at the number of people here who complain about style , effectively valuing style over substance. There was someone who grumbled ”Elitist,middle class tripe.” but was unable to back up this wild allegation, suggesting a chip on the shoulder which by its nature, evades reason. It’s a ‘prolier than thou’ attitude which I know only too well.

    ”Too many adverbs”? FFS. I’m sure that’s a windup. How many adverbs would you like?

    I’ll suggest that folk address the issues first, and if it’s really necessary (like needing the lavvy) end with a word on style.

    What was it that Neil Acherson said about Scotland, the Sunday Post, strangling and ministers?

  13. mrbfaethedee says:

    Read the story on The Intercept the other day – well done for bringing the story to potential new audience Mike, and for placing it in the context of our recent national choice.

  14. John Page says:

    Is it just me?
    I have noted two things
    Firstly, Bella has moved up a gear…..some really excellent topics
    Second………..a lot of criticism with two elements………a snearing tone…….and an insinuation that there is no real alternative to Unionism
    Is Mike Small getting above himself?

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      I fear I am John … I should really know my place

      1. JBS says:

        And your place is down among the bearded men of National Collective, strumming a few chords on a battered old acoustic guitar…

  15. Darien says:

    The British state is what the security services are tasked with protecting. The Yes camp are viewed as an enemy because independence would more or less mean the end of the British state. It is disappointing that nobody has yet exposed the role of the security services during the referendum campaign and their work for Better Together. Generating hundreds of thousands of extra ‘No’ votes must have been a challenge.

    1. Doon the A701 says:

      Darien, beware of men in white coats!

      1. Darien says:

        The men in white coats must be rather busy rounding up the likes of Brown, Lord Robertson, and soon Murphy.

        It will come out eventually that the referendum was fiddled – probably in 29 years from now.

  16. Darien
    The ways things are now, I think it would be rounded up in 29 minutes.
    Mike Small
    -it looks like you’re gettin trolled on bigstyle.
    A sure sign you’re getting up their noses.
    Keep up the good work.

  17. arthur thomson says:

    An interesting post which I am glad I have read and will need to time consider its implications. For the record, I agree entirely with you Darien. Of course the referendum was corrupted, It defies logic to imagine that the vote was not going to be interfered with – there was never the remotest possibility of a Yes vote being returned. Ultimately what was important from my point of view, as a lifelong supporter of independence, was the enlightenment of our people through discussion. We Scots should surely be aware that we will always be defeated in an open face to face confrontation with an immensely greater power. Offered a pound, the Scotch in our midst will always seek to undermine us from within. But all is not lost. The Vietnamese people showed the world how the greatest power on earth could be defeated by a small people using guile and primitive methods. In my opinion it is the proliferation of pro independence groups, not connected to form one homogeneous and easily controlled body but working independently of each other, that will ultimately bring success. One thing that this post underlines for me is that we need to be absolutely open in our intentions and in what we do. We can never keep secrets. There will always be a Judas there to betray us, always someone listening in to our communications. I wonder who is listening into Nicola’s phone calls. Imagine doing that for a living! A life devoted to undermining democracy. I’m glad it isn’t me.

    1. Darien says:

      “we need to be absolutely open in our intentions and in what we do”

      It would be sensible for the 40+ SNP MP’s to say they will declare independence in the event of a red and blue tory alliance blocking any shift of power north. Time to up the stakes, as well as be honest with the electorate.

  18. fearnach says:

    Excellent post, Arthur!

  19. Johnson. says:

    “I didn’t just live through a process to decide whether I had to live in ‘Germany Italy Russia and China’ – but I do think you conflating the four countries as if they are the same is, frankly hilarious. I don’t ‘try’ and pin it on the British State it’s out there as fact, or did you not read the story? Or, are you challenging an aspect of it?”

    ‘You don’t get it.’

    Sorry Mike, I didn’t mean to offend but was genuinely confused at the post.

    And I’m sure it’s all very clear up there on your cloud but it’s a struggle for us mere mortals down here to make sense of things. Firstly. I also voted Yes, I also campaigned, and I also live in Scotland. You don’t seem to get this. The indyref is/ was not about YOU. (I hate this Americanised ‘personal exploration of the political’ infusing objective analysis with endless emoting. YUK! – please don’t tell me about ‘your dreams of living by the sea growing organic veg or about your late dead grandparents wishes or your journey/ epiphany or how you had never considered having a political voice until your wee humble enlightenment…because I really don’t care!!!!! This site is now oozing too much schmultz. Give me serious debate!

    1) Content. No one has argued with veracity of the Gemalto hacking. It has been reported far and wide. What the objection was the vague nonsensical all pervasive ‘conspiracy’ that you accompanied it with (for which there is no evidence – unless you have access to places other journalist don’t?). The ‘British state’ did not hack and invade privacy, an ELEMENT of the ‘British State’ security services did – the MHC wing of GCHQ and NSA – probably known by the Home Secretary – but not PROVEN – to imply so is libelous. The ‘British State’ is a complex framework of inter acting and contradictory power centers and interest – with checks and balances (that have clearly failed). It is not necessarily the ‘the British state’ that is at fault but the mechanisms within it. A subtle but important distinction. Other elements of ‘The ‘British State’ also last month prevented the ‘Snoopers Charter’ from going through again. They also blocked ’40 days detention’ earlier. Also has one of the world’s most open access to information policies and uses public funds/ resources to support ‘non political partisan’ debate and lobbying for NGO’s. Charities like errm…..LIBERTY.. . and there lobbying power consistently influence the ‘British State’. Oh and an independence referendum! If libertarian David Davis had been prime minister, given his outlook. the likely hood is that this would not have happened. But it would still be ‘the British State’!!!

    Conflating this hacking with an overarching conspiracy that includes ‘Ganksters’ ‘Greek debt’ ‘Scottish independence’ ‘the entire motivation of the security services to spy on their citizens – really you have proof of this?’ ‘rendition – which the SCOTTISH STATE/ many, many others were complicit in.’ ”questioning the veracity of the danger of attack on British citizens’……let me guess…’7/7 was Margret Thatchers fault – a secret cabal of Unionists murdering 55 people in London to undermine Scottish independence?’ ‘democracy????? – what, please explain????’ etc etc comes across as paranoid and ridiculous. And juvenile and is pointless. Paranoia is when you see patterns that aren’t actually there and that are quite impossible or implausible!

    What has happened is a serious breakdown in the checks and balances within ‘the British State’ and an abuse of privilege. Questions need to be asked!

    This is an interesting debate and an important one. The very thorny and morally nuanced issues relating to the inescapable necessity of public security and need for civil liberties. This has little to do with any individual state but is universal (and – as my girlfriend kindly reminds me – size of state has NOTHING to do with it.) And where you live has nothing to do with it! If you hadn’t noticed the it was a ‘Dutch company’ that was hacked into by British and American (and probably others who haven’t been caught), for Sim cards that are used all over the world!!!! Apologies for crediting you with too much intelligence with this basic observation!! Complexity clearly eludes your binary world view where their is a bald man sitting in Whitehall stroking a white cat out to get turnip growers in Fife…’So Mr Small, we meet again!’


    ‘It’s an emerging travesty that gets overlooked in the light of enduring cultural myth-building and self-satisfaction.’ What?????

    ‘the stage-hypnotists of the Union…’ how very grown up of you.

    ‘….like to maintain is the impartiality of the British state.’ Impartiality? since when. The state is by definition Partial and partisan. That is the whole point, that is why it exists???? – you mean benign? or Benevolent? I think?

    ‘This was clearly nonsensical ahistorical propaganda, but in the maelstrom of negativity it was a key note to strike,’ Really…why is it a nonsensical or ahistorical? and you’ve used a double negative.

    I could go on.

    Sorry Mike it’s YOU who doesn’t get it. So wind your neck in before patronizing others.!

    Don’t worry, I won’t be back!

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Er, right enough.

  20. Johnson. says:

    Oh and a final thing. I’m off to have a nice juicy imported steak from Argentina, washed down with a delicious Californian Merlot, followed by real Italian gelato (chocolate from Kenya). Yum yum yum!

    Enjoy your oat cake and boiled cabbage, miserable git!

  21. Johnson. says:

    Here’s something proactive you can do….rather than whinging…https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/

  22. Kenny Kailyard says:

    Johnson says ….”Sorry Mike, I didn’t mean to offend but was genuinely confused at the post. And I’m sure it’s all very clear up there on your cloud but it’s a struggle for us mere mortals down here to make sense of things.”

    Johnson! May I say that there’s something deeply contradictory above. To paraphrase – you didn’t mean to offend but you’re going to offend.’ Foxtrot Oscar!

    I think that your following post has much to offer- if I can see the wood for the trees in this deluge of….stuff. It’s full of ”sound and fury, but signifies ……. ” Can you fill in the missing word?

    Johnson, may I say that your acerbic tone has obscured what you wanted to say. I would love to know what you’re on about.

  23. Barontorc says:

    As far as I am concerned this article has informed me. As for some comments on here, well, where to start, or why even bother, which is the road I’m travelling.

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