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Europe votes to end data privacy
The Guardian ^ | Friday May 31, 2002 | Stuart Millar

Posted on 05/31/2002 3:18:30 AM PDT by gd124

Europe votes to end data privacy

Law will allow police to spy on phone and net traffic

European law enforcement agencies were given sweeping powers yesterday to monitor telephone, internet and email traffic in a move denounced by critics as the biggest threat to data privacy in a generation. Despite opposition from civil liberties groups worldwide, the European parliament bowed to pressure from individual governments, led by Britain, and approved legislation to give police the power to access the communications records of every phone and internet user.

The measure, which will be approved by the 15 EU member states, will allow governments to force phone and internet companies to retain detailed logs of their customers' communications for an unspecified period. Currently, records are kept only for a couple of months for billing purposes before being destroyed.

Although police will still require a warrant to intercept the content of electronic communications, the new legislation means they will be able to build up a complete picture of an individual's personal communications, including who they have emailed or phoned and when, and which internet sites they have visited.

From mobile phone records, police will also be able to map people's movements because the phones communicate with the nearest base station every few seconds. In urban areas, the information is accurate to within a few hundred metres, but when the next generation of mobiles comes on stream it will pinpoint users' locations to within a few metres.

Tony Bunyan, editor of Statewatch, said: "This is the latest casualty in the war against terrorism as far as civil liberties are concerned. The problem with wanting to monitor a few people is that you end up having to keep data on everybody."

The British government, which played a key role in driving through the new measures, has already introduced such powers as part of the anti-terror bill rushed through in the immediate aftermath of September 11, although the data retention measures have yet to be implemented.

UK civil liberties groups had hoped that if MEPs rejected data retention, it would open up the possibility of a legal challenge to the British legislation on the grounds that it was incompatible with European data protection law. After yesterday's vote they now expect the government to press ahead with implementing the act.

The measure is contained in an amendment to a bill originally intended to improve the security of e-commerce transactions. "Looking at the results, it amounts to a large restriction on privacy and increases the power of the state," said Italian independent MEP Marco Cappato, the bill's author who tried to prevent the amended clause being added.

Last night, the Home Office welcomed the result. "The UK is very pleased that the [European] council and parliament have reached agreement on a text that will ensure that the fight against terrorism and other crime will be given the appropriate weight. It is, of course, very important to protect people's fundamental rights and freedoms, but, as the tragic events of September 11 show, this must be balanced with the need to ensure that the law enforcement community can do its job."

But critics said the move amounted to blanket general surveillance of the whole population. The communications industry has also opposed data retention, questioning the feasibility and cost of storing such vast amounts of information.

John Wadham, director of Liberty, said: "This violates a fundamental principle of privacy, which is that data collected for one purpose should not be used for another.

"The police and other authorities will be able to trawl through all the details of the communications of millions of innocent people merely because there is a possibility that they might come across something suspicious."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Germany; Government; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: euro; europe; europeanunion; freedom; freespeech; privacylist

1 posted on 05/31/2002 3:18:31 AM PDT by gd124
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To: gd124
but, as the tragic events of September 11 show...

Blah, blah, blah.

"The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." -
Edmund Burke

"Necessity is the plea for every infrngement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." -
William Pitt

2 posted on 05/31/2002 4:08:49 AM PDT by metesky
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To: gd124
Hint....subvert.
3 posted on 05/31/2002 5:13:09 AM PDT by G.Mason
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To: gd124
Hasn't anyone heard of the anonymous browsers. Even the ISP has a hell of a time finding out where you have been. The system bounces you around servers in countries that don't care about the EU and won't respond to their warrants.

As for the cell phones, any fool who thought they weren't being monitored already has his head in the sand. I forget the name of the company in Jersey, but in archives cell records on a national basis for "marketing and research" purposes already.

The news in this article is old news in "the land of the free"

4 posted on 05/31/2002 5:43:54 AM PDT by WilliamWallace1999
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To: gd124
You could call this ironic, if it were truly ironic, and not an intended venture. From one socialist state to another, good going. Can't let us Yanks get one up on ya'. Blackbird.
5 posted on 05/31/2002 5:52:05 AM PDT by BlackbirdSST
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To: gd124
Ah yes...the slippery slope of socialism.

Just one big happy family...


6 posted on 05/31/2002 5:55:39 AM PDT by BureaucratusMaximus
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To: WilliamWallace1999
E-mail monitoring is next to useless. The real bad guys will simply use encrypting.
7 posted on 05/31/2002 6:23:19 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants
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To: WilliamWallace1999
Your web surfing would still be "monitored". Your ISP would be able to track the locations you went to regardless if you are using an anonymous browser or not.

This whole scenario is rather chilling...

8 posted on 05/31/2002 6:29:21 AM PDT by oc-flyfish
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To: Blood of Tyrants
"The real bad guys will simply use encrypting. "

I suspect that's exactly what the NSA looks for in the billions of messages sent every hour. Encryption tags probably cause the message to be directed to queues for brute force decryption and examination. If you're a bad guy, encryption is probably the worst thing you can do.

9 posted on 05/31/2002 6:45:42 AM PDT by elfman2
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To: WilliamWallace1999
"Hasn't anyone heard of the anonymous browsers. "

Can you give me and example of one?

10 posted on 05/31/2002 6:46:56 AM PDT by elfman2
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To: WilliamWallace1999
"As for the cell phones, any fool who thought they weren't being monitored already has his head in the sand."

I think they have to be on for this to work, but I recall hearing about one coming out which may transcend that.

11 posted on 05/31/2002 6:49:18 AM PDT by elfman2
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To: WilliamWallace1999
"The news in this article is old news in "the land of the free""

American's have had more liberty from government, but I don't think American's have ever been more 'free' from prying eyes and social pressures as they go about their business than we are today. The internet and computer technology has invested us with unprecedented power and anonymity that is being abused. It's inevitable that something will need to come along to balance that out, be it private databases or government eavesdropping.

I doubt that any of the chicken-littles on this thread noticed it, but the article states that the, "police will still require a warrant to intercept the content of electronic communications". Some may not even notice it after reading it again in my post…

12 posted on 05/31/2002 6:59:08 AM PDT by elfman2
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To: WilliamWallace1999
""Hasn't anyone heard of the anonymous browsers. ""

I found a feature list of 'anonymous' browsers.

And here's an article dismissing anonymous browsers.

Even if logs are not kept, what do you think are the odds that some agency isn't intercepting all the traffic to and from these things.

13 posted on 05/31/2002 7:33:50 AM PDT by elfman2
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To: elfman2
I heard that one of the ways that the Taliban sent instructions and messages was to encrypt the message in a porno jpeg file and post it on the some porn website. The recipient simply downloaded it and decrypted it. Anyone else just got a porn picture.
14 posted on 05/31/2002 7:47:02 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants
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To: elfman2
I agree clear text beal type coding is excellent and nearly impossible to break. I bet they are using the koran or parts of it as a key. PGP, and xxxk computer bit is easy prey, just takes time and effort (but not that much).
15 posted on 05/31/2002 8:22:36 AM PDT by CJ Wolf
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To: metesky
Great quotes.

You think Uncle Sam will have these powers by the end of the year or the end of the summer?

16 posted on 05/31/2002 8:23:42 AM PDT by Askel5
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To: elfman2
brute force decryption and examination

ROFL. Brute force doesn't get you anywhere.

See http://senderek.de/security/secret-key.protection.html

But the point of this vote would be to ensure that anyone who used this security was a criminal just for doing so, whether or not they were hiding anything criminal. Or, as the page says about this very legislation:

The British Government has pushed the Regulations of Investigative Powers Act (RIPA) through legislation which provides for orders to disclose private encryption keys and threatens everyone served with those orders with two or even five years of jail who fails to comply with the demands. While some are still figuring out how far the powers provided by this act will reach - - - - the conditions under which orders may be served or surveilance devices can be installed seem pretty much stretchable - others begin to protest while other EU governments seem to show the political will to adopt this famous legislation. The unequivocal obligation to reveal your private communication by law is an effective method to tempt the uninformed public into not using cryptography to protect their privacy and to criminalize those who do.

(boldface mine)

Similarly, over here FBI can now get no-notification warrants to tap your keyboard; all the fancy crypto means nothing if you hand over your keys without knowing it. But that at least requires a warrant, which means they're not simply sitting back watching everyone at once but forced to identify wrongdoers first and then proving it (and best wishes to FBI, too, when they stick to this normal approach).

17 posted on 05/31/2002 8:35:40 AM PDT by No.6
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To: Privacy_list
Index
18 posted on 05/31/2002 8:53:11 AM PDT by Free the USA
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To: No.6
"ROFL. Brute force doesn't get you anywhere."

<g> Maybe you better do more investigating and less ROTF. (Though admittedly, it's not pure brute force.)

19 posted on 05/31/2002 10:47:32 AM PDT by elfman2
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To: elfman2
Umhmm. 512-bit is trivial to break, PGP goes 1024 to 2048 bit, and that's an open method; governments and other covert groups undoubtedly do more. Even dedicated factoring circuits won't stop the fact that it is always easier to just add more bits. I'm not even touching 'fractal' crypto (because, for one thing, I haven't done the research on it)

The goal of crypto isn't, by the way, to make the plaintext unreadable forever. It's just to make it unreadable until its intelligence value degrades. For example, if Rommel had a coded msg from 3rd Army HQ and didn't get plaintext until 6/7/1944, it's kinda old news...

20 posted on 05/31/2002 11:16:46 AM PDT by No.6
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To: No.6
" Umhmm. 512-bit is trivial to break, PGP goes 1024 to 2048 bit, and that's an open method"

Umhmm, I think that is addressed in the link that you're responding to, including reference to an architecture design to crack 1024 bit keys in less than a minute. Who knows what really exists so I'm in disagreement with your dismissive boast that "ROFL. Brute force doesn't get you anywhere.""

21 posted on 05/31/2002 11:38:05 AM PDT by elfman2
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To: elfman2
"Bernstein's machine, once built, will have power requirements in the MW to operate, but in return will be able to break a 1024-bit RSA or DH key in seconds to minutes."

There's something about those powers of 2, though... oh yea, that's right, they're exponential :)

So use 2048-bit keys as the post you referenced suggests. Or 4096, or 8192, or whatever level makes you comfortable. Now for most of us who might want to use a public key present PGP is limited to 1024 bit (it's the old command line one that was more robust) but if you actually cared about your data (like a company might be if its competitors were snooping) and not just encrypting everything just to make life difficult for snoopers, you could use more since your recipient would expect it.

Of course if everyone is encrypting, even if its all breakable with some effort, it's not feasible to scan through everything. Thus EU is putting a stop to that possibility.

Or, to put it another way, the fact that they are bothering to pass laws like this is an indicator that breaking crypto is not yet incidental to various governments.

22 posted on 05/31/2002 12:16:18 PM PDT by No.6
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To: No.6
"Or, to put it another way, the fact that they are bothering to pass laws like this is an indicator that breaking crypto is not yet incidental to various governments"

Or that they'd rather just spend the 10 billion instead of 20 billion next year to update their equipment.

23 posted on 05/31/2002 1:48:54 PM PDT by elfman2
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