Monday, November 09, 2015

New "snoopers charter" is a threat to ordinary people - but not to serious criminals - Frank Hindle

The proposed Investigatory Powers Bill will put law abiding citizen's personal data at risk - while the seriously bad guys will simply use servers that are based overseas. It seems that Ministers need to find out more about how internet services work before they try to legislate about them.

Low Fell Lib Dem Councillor Frank Hindle, a former Head of Computing at Northumbria University, has pointed out that the proposed requirement for Internet Providers to keep people's browsing history for a year is a threat to the privacy of ordinary people.

 "Our browsing habits say a lot about us. Whether it is looking up information about places before going away on holiday, or researching our own or our relatives’ illnesses, or simply the absence of any browsing when our homes are empty and unguarded, a perfectly innocent web browsing history will reveal things that we are entitled to keep private. Whatever safeguards the law might have (and at the moment they are inadequate) about how government agencies could use this data, the recent problems at TalkTalk demonstrate the risk that criminals will hack into and steal this data, and be able to use it to target their activities, or simply sell or publish it.

"But for any serious - or even semi-serious - criminal such as a terrorist, child pornographer, or drug trafficker it isn't hard to set up encrypted systems using a server or servers located outside of the UK that will let them do all the browsing they want out of reach of this proposed law. Expecting the internet service provider of someone doing this to be able to provide a meaningful browsing history is impossible.

"Similarly, the proposals don't make sense when it comes to services such as WhatsApp and iMessenger - internet companies are expected to be able to decrypt any messages, even though the companies have no way of knowing the key that is needed to do the decryption.

"Many of the proposals seem technologically illiterate and their absurdity is summed up by a quote by a researcher at University of Kent in New Scientist 'I don’t know what the legal position is on a government requiring a company to do something that is logically impossible.'"

No comments: