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Fallacy of the anonymous Internet vanishing
Thursday 14 August 2008 15:45:53 by Andrew Ferguson

The Internet is a very powerful tool and this has not escaped the notice of people who wish to subvert the law. Some countries around the world have very strict controls, with massive Internet firewalls to ensure the public only sees what the government wants them to see. There is a common feeling that the UK is moving to a surveillance society, and with laws coming that will require communications providers to retain telephone and internet records and allow local councils and public bodies access to these the parallels with the old East Germany will be obvious to many.

A consultation period is running on the final phase of the Transposition of Directive 2006/24/EC which ends on 31st October 2008. The consultation period covers the areas of internet access, internet telephone service, and internet mail. At some 300 plus pages, the document is not easy going, but it is keen to point out that while the law would require retention of the fact an email went from Fred to John on 14th August 2008, the content of the email would not be recorded.

The report confirms that a number of communications providers already retain the necessary records as part of their normal business or under previous voluntary schemes. The concern of many will centre around areas like how RIPA has been used by local councils. The family in Dorset that was under surveillance for three weeks could with the new law expect the council to be trawling their email records for any communication with a school outside their catchment area.

The consultation paper talks about retention of internet connection info, e.g. where and when, internet telephony and e-mail, but does not mention other areas such as instant messaging. It is possible that due to the voice and video aspect of most instant messaging applications these will count as internet telephony. The successes under current retention policies are highlighted in the paper, but there is little talk of how false positives will be handled, and what abuse safe guards are in place. The aim of the regulations are "to ensure that this data is available for a minimum of 12 months to assist in the investigation, detection and prosecution of serious crime".

There will be concerns about those with access to these powers abusing them. One could see a local councillor perhaps abusing the powers to spy on political opponents. Most people will accept that investigations into serious crimes such as child abuse and kidnaps will benefit from the obligation to retain internet communications data but public confidence in such measures for local authorities is unlikely to be strong.


Posted by Aqualung over 9 years ago
If you believe that communications wont be read you are living in cloud cuckoo land.
They always roll out the child abuse/serious crime etc etc when its intention is far from that purpose.
With the abuses of the legislation already in place there is no need for more snooping and the fact that communications could be read europe wide fills me with dread.It is the equivalent of the post office opening and photo copying all your mail.
Posted by damien001 over 9 years ago
all you do is run you own email system with the proper sercurity in place and you should be fine. It not going to be bullet proof but they won't waste their time trying to break in as it would not be worth the effort
Posted by Guzzo over 9 years ago
There is no Government or Police body watching the Internet. We are all free all the time and safe and snug to do as we please. This consultancy document is fiction. Just ask that big fat "C" poster and he will dismiss it as usual 5 employees do.
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
well the chances of a human reading what you doing is tiny however I think the upsetting part is the fact they can snoop on people who have no conviction and are innocent, they passing on the guilty until proven innocent treatment from benefit claimants to the general population now.
Posted by ajamsandwich1 over 9 years ago
Why would the local government require this kind of information serious crime is down to the police and they can get access as needed with a judge’s permission and that is how it should be like phone tapping! Enough is enough aren’t our civil liberties eroded enough? I forgot when I voted for this government that I was voting to remove free speech! The only one organization that can have any kind of argument to having access to logs and e-mail would be the police and they would need to come up with a ruddy good excuse for snooping where no crime is committed!
Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
@damien001. More likely that is exactly the sort of setup that would invite investigation. Do you think international criminals would fail to use your idea as it wouldn't be fair on the police?

Don't forget that it won't be long before newer technology will give instant decryption and key-word searching of all traffic.

Decent encryption is illegal in the US, I don't know about here.
Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
Please read "allow instant", not "give instant" above.
Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
@chrysalis - see my reply to damien001.
Posted by uniquename over 9 years ago
Re the original article - "to ensure that this data is available for a minimum of 12 months to assist in the investigation, detection and prosecution of serious crime".

Note "a minimum". Maybe a default of 42 years soon as well? The DNA database is 100 years retention.
Posted by robbieglover2k7 over 9 years ago
This gives me a bit of a double edged sword leaving me with the current thoughts

What happened to privacy,I dont think anyone has any right to look into my personal conversations & would be pretty damn annoyed knowing someone was snooping in on my stuff,its not their business & they have NO right in that

HOWEVER serious crimes are done too easily over the net,so their should be something to stop this.

I dont know how but saying "We have the right to snoop into your business" is bang out of order as NO ONE has the right to JUST do that unless REAL genuine concern.
Posted by robbieglover2k7 over 9 years ago
Though I DO believe something needs to be done & in real genuine concern they should be allowed some access.

Though that just means storing & saving everyone's private conversations etc.. it is a double edge'd sword.

But I do agree with it to some level anyway, though the snooping into privacy is about principal for me, it'll be innocent people getting prayed on and criminals being ignored & getting away with things (as usual)
Posted by ajamsandwich1 over 9 years ago
A level for storing logs etc, fine no problem but I think that ONLY the police should have access and only with reason to believe a crime is taking place (Already exists)

No public body or council need access, I can't think of a single reason why they would. With the abuse of power that councils have and use already this is just like giving them the knife ready to jab in your back!
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
They can read all my emails if they wish i dont really care..... Makes notes add a new signature saying "The government are (self edits for this forum ;)"
Posted by bosie over 9 years ago
We are already a surveillance society - it hasn't made a jot of difference to the occurrence of serious crime and it never will. By creating a suspicious society of people spied on, what's left of community spirit will evaporate entirely and renegade families will become the norm. We must not forget how to enjoy a free and peaceful life by voting out the bureaucracy which seeks to turn us into robots.
Posted by ajamsandwich1 over 9 years ago
He is a possibility someone on benifits is just getting by, that person is disabled. This person sells something on ebay and receives cash via paypal. A local council working in his lunch break has nothing to do and thinks ill have a look at someones e-mail, he see's paypal emails and cross checks that person that person then has to explain why they received money.

Far fetched I know give it 5year at the rate of errouding civil liberties and that story may come true.
Posted by Guzzo over 9 years ago
I get remarks from the C cretin about paranoi. Tell that to the 25,000 people now facing £300 fines for filesharing.
"they have already obtained almost 5,000 addresses after providing evidence that illegal file-sharing had taken place"
How did they get this data? I always said the net is monitored day and night. This is just the beginning.
watch this space
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
^^ Dunno if that little mindless, anarchist and pretty whacko rant was aimed at me but i didnt call you paranoid anywhere in this thread. Are you now paranoid about being called paranoid????
As said they can read all my emails as much as they want, id even happily print copies for them.
Why is it everytime you come on here guzzo and post its dribble about how some evil overlord genius is watching us all and we should all mess our pants. Run for the hills someone might read an odd email to uncle fred. Do you have something to hide guzzo or are you just very confused?
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
People facing fines for file sharing have had that dangled over their head for years..... That is nothing to do with this news story, thats to do with hitler like organisations like MPAA, RIAA etc etc getting their knickers in a knot someone downloaded a tune or movie.... They record the IP address from the filesharing app and report it to the ISP....... This has happened for years and years. Some get fined, some dont.
Posted by KnightOfDay over 9 years ago
Fact: The RIAA sat on its fat arse,while the technology over took them.There was no foresight whatsoever.One wonders who the hell was overseeing that blunder.So what did they do .. instead of trying to put checks and balances into their own systems of operations .. and to take a fair percentage of the blame .. they decided instead it would be a great idea to go after and prosecute the very consumers whom had made them all so very fat and rich .. In a word ... Morons!!

Posted by KnightOfDay over 9 years ago
And getting back on topic .. if anyone thinks that whatever they do ONLINE and think that there is a shred of privacy involved .. One would be living in La La Land .. Ones Email can be read (Eschalon).. web browsing history can be tracked and that's just the Government agencies.Don't get me started on Hackers ... Privacy .. whats' that!
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