QuickLinks - Interception
QuickLinks - Interception
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Issue no. 413 - 20 February 2011
EU - Taking on the Data Retention Directive
Cecilia Malmström, Member of the European Commission responsible for Home Affairs, European Commission conference, Brussels, 3 December 2010. The evidence the Commission has collected so far suggests that the data retention Directive has made a substantial contribution to security in the EU, and provided a more level playing field for telecom operators. The costs for operators have not been unacceptably high. Valid concerns over the impact of data retention on privacy remain, although there is no evidence that it has led to serious abuse in any concrete cases. Building on the evaluation report, which I expect to be published early next year, I intend to prepare a proposal to amend the Directive. That proposal should cover all relevant issues. To name just a few: We must reflect again on the purpose of data retention, including the types of crime that the Directive covers; We may need to agree on more harmonised, and possibly shorter, retention periods; We should consider defining who may access the data and according to what procedures. Should there be a central contact point in each Member State? Should judicial authorisation be compulsory? What about cases of urgent need for access? We need to agree on whether operators should be compensated by the State for the costs incurred. We need to ask what types of data to retain.
Issue no. 412 - 28 November 2010
UK - Watchdog to meet Home Office about plans to track email and phone use
The information commissioner is to meet the Home Office to clarify his concerns over the potential privacy risks involved in a revived Whitehall project to track the email, internet and mobile phone use of everyone in Britain. David Cameron promised at prime minister's question time that coalition ministers would work with the commissioner, Christopher Graham, on the details of the project.
Issue no. 409 - 6 June 2010
EU - MEP condemns plan to give authorities access to stored search logs
An MEP has warned colleagues not to sign a declaration demanding that search engines keep a record of searches for examination by authorities. Cecilia Wikström said she had signed the declaration but has now withdrawn her support. Two MEPs have proposed a 'written declaration' to set up a system they say will act as an 'early warning' system to identify paedophiles and other sex offenders. The Data Retention Directive means that telecoms operators keep details of the use of their systems for a period, set country by country, of between six and 24 months. Details of calls made and internet usage are kept but not the content of the communications. Tiziano Motti and Anna Zaborska have proposed the call for an 'early warning' system and also for an extension of the Data Retention Directive to the content of communications, to search engine use.
Issue no. 407 - 28 March 2010
DE - German Federal Constitutional Court rejects Data Retention Law
The German Federal Constitutional Court rejected the legislation requiring electronic communications traffic data retention for a period of 6 months. The legislation on data retention, implementing the similar EU Directive, was passed by the Bundestag on 9 November 2007 and entered into force on 1 January 2008. The court judges considered that the data storage was not secure enough, that it was not clear what it would be used for and that it could "cause a diffusely threatening feeling of being under observation that can diminish an unprejudiced perception of one's basic rights in many areas," as stated the president of the court, Hans-Jürgen Papier. They considered that "such retention represents an especially grave intrusion" into citizens' privacy. The court did not annul the legislation entirely but suspended it, asking for the immediate deletion of the data already collected and for the massive modification of the law in order to provide stricter conditions for to the use and storage of the data. According to the decision, the data should be encoded and there should be "transparent control" of the information usage.
DE - Karlsruhe kippt Vorratsdatenspeicherung
Die Massen-Speicherung von Telefon- und Internetdaten zur Strafverfolgung ist unzulässig. Das Bundesverfassungsgericht in Karlsruhe entschied am Dienstag, dass die Vorratsdatenspeicherung gegen die Verfassung verstößt. Sie ist dem Urteil zufolge mit dem Telekommunikationsgeheimnis unvereinbar.
Issue no. 397 - 8 March 2009
EU - Eurojust retracts Skype wiretapping plans
In an apparent U-turn, the EU's judicial cooperation body has said it is not officially examining ways to wire-tap Skype and other computer-to-computer conversations. Eurojust retracted previous statements saying it was taking the lead in helping national authorities to wiretap Skype conversations, saying they were issued "prematurely" and were "incorrect". See
EU group aims to eavesdrop on Skype calls
IT - Italy police warn of Skype threat
Criminals in Italy are increasingly making phone calls over the internet in order to avoid getting caught through mobile phone intercepts, police say. Officers in Milan say organised crime, arms and drugs traffickers, and prostitution rings are turning to Skype in order to frustrate investigators. The police say Skype's encryption system is a secret which the company refuses to share with the authorities.
Issue no. 393 - 9 November 2008
UK - Government gives more detail on communications surveillance plan
The Government has postponed planned legislation which could create a giant central database containing records of every email, web session and phone call made in the UK. The Government said before summer that it would create new communications legislation that would make the recording of the fact of communications, though not their content, compulsory. It has emerged that that law had been planned for the end of this year but will now be postponed until next year following consultation. Government sources have told reporters that one option is to create a single, Government-operated database of call and web use records but that there would be a public consultation on measures before the law is passed. The Government has announced that any law would extend the powers of communications logging so that they could track the use of communications through websites such as social networking sites.
UK - Government will spy on every call and e-mail
Ministers are considering spending up to £12 billion on a database to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain. GCHQ, the government's eavesdropping centre, has already been given up to £1 billion to finance the first stage of the project. Hundreds of clandestine probes will be installed to monitor customers live on two of the country?s biggest internet and mobile phone providers - thought to be BT and Vodafone. BT has nearly 5m internet customers.
Issue no. 392 - 5 October 2008
CN - China 'spying on Skype messages'
China has been monitoring and censoring messages sent through the internet service Skype, researchers say. Citizen Lab, a Canadian research group, says it found a database containing thousands of politically sensitive words which had been blocked by China. The publically available database also displayed personal data on subscribers.
Issue no. 391 - 31 August 2008
UK - 'Spying' requests exceed 500,000
More than 500,000 official "spying" requests for private communications data such as telephone records were made last year, a report says. Police, security services and other public bodies made requests for billing details and other information. Interception of Communications Commissioner Sir Paul Kennedy said 1,707 of these had been from councils. A separate report criticises local authorities for using powers to target minor offences such as fly-tipping.
Issue no. 389 - 22 June 2008
DE - Did Deutsche Telekom Spy on Journalists and Board Members?
German telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom stands accused of having monitored telephone calls of business journalists, board members and shareholders. An anonymous fax may result in a criminal investigation.
ITU - New report on Lawful Interception
The sixth in a series of ITU-T Technology Watch Briefing Reports covers the technology and standards behind lawful interception (LI), the lawfully authorized monitoring and interception of telecommunications. The report addresses the importance of developing international standards assuring a transparent process of interception, focusing on the sometimes conflicting goals of privacy and security. Download
Technology Watch report on Lawful Interception
SE - Sweden approves wiretapping law
Sweden's parliament has approved controversial new laws allowing authorities to spy on cross-border e-mail and telephone traffic. The country's intelligence bureau will be able to scan international calls, faxes and e-mails. The measure was passed by a narrow majority after a heated debate in the Stockholm parliament. Critics say it threatens civil liberties and represents Europe's most far-reaching eavesdropping plan.
Issue no. 385 - 21 March 2008
DE - Karlsruhe lässt kaum Raum für heimliche Online-Durchsuchungen
Das Bundesverfassungsgericht hat die entscheidende Klausel zur Ausforschung "informationstechnischer Systeme" im nordrhein-westfälischen Verfassungsschutzgesetz, das erstmals in Deutschland verdeckte Online-Durchsuchungen erlaubte, für verfassungswidrig erklärt. Zudem hat das höchste deutsche Gericht ein neues Grundrecht auf "Gewährleistung der Vertraulichkeit und Integrität" informationstechnischer Systeme etabliert. Es tritt zu den anderen Freiheitsrechten wie insbesondere dem Schutz des Telekommunikationsgeheimnis, dem Recht auf Unverletzlichkeit der Wohnung und dem informationellen Selbstbestimmung hinzu", erklärte Hans-Jürgen Papier, Präsident des Bundesverfassungsgerichts, bei der Verkündung des Grundsatzurteils am heutigen Mittwoch in Karlsruhe.
Internet wiretapping: Bugging the cloud
Law enforcement: Governments want to extend wiretapping rules from phones to the internet, but doing so is hard.
Issue no. 379 - 2 September 2007
DE - German spyware plans trigger row
German government plans to spy on terror suspects by deploying malicious e-mails have drawn sharp criticism. The e-mails would contain Trojans - software that secretly installs itself on suspects' computers, allowing agents to search the hard drives. German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is quoted as saying the spyware would be used only in a few cases and for a limited time.
US - Bush signs controversial surveillance bill
US intelligence agencies will no longer need a warrant to eavesdrop on US citizens' international phone calls and emails after George Bush signed a temporary surveillance bill. The law, which was approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives just before Congress adjourned for the summer, had been made a priority by Mr Bush and his chief intelligence officials.
Issue no. 376 - 10 June 2007
FR - Le Conseil d'État valide la traque automatisée des téléchargements illégaux
Le Conseil d'État a validé la mise en place de systèmes automatisés de surveillance des téléchargements sur réseaux P2P, estimant que ces dispositifs ne sont pas disproportionnés au regard de l'étendue du phénomène du piratage en France. La Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (Cnil) avait rejeté la demande de quatre sociétés d'auteurs et de producteurs de musique pour renforcer la lutte contre le piratage par internet.
Issue no. 372 - 25 February 2007
DE - BKA-Chef hält Online-Durchsuchungen für dringend erforderlich
Der Präsident des Bundeskriminalamts (BKA)hat nach dem vom Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) verhängten Verbot heimlicher Online-Durchsuchungen von Computern eine schnelle Rechtsgrundlage gefordert. Die Polizeipraxis benötige zur Bekämpfung des internationalen Terrorismus und der organisierten Kriminalität auch die Online-Durchsuchung.
Issue no. 370 - 3 December 2006
DE - E-Mail-Konto nur noch gegen Personalausweis?
Der Referentenentwurf zur Neuregelung der Telekommunikationsüberwachung aus dem Bundesjustizministerium fordert eine Identifizierungspflicht von E-Mail-Nutzern und eine Vorratsspeicherung von Verbindungsdaten bei Anonymisierungsservern. Und die Anbieter von E-Mail-Konten müssen nach dem Entwurf Kundendaten erheben und ihre Nutzer so eindeutig identifizieren. Die rasche Eröffnung eines Accounts ohne Vorlage eines Personalausweises bei einem deutschen Webmail-Dienst dürfte damit passé sein.
Issue no. 368 - 15 October 2006
IT - Italy blocks phone tapping leaks
Italy has passed a decree banning the use of illegally tapped telephone conversations in the media and as evidence in court. Leaked phone taps sparked a series of scandals in Italy, including one that rocked the country's football league. The former security chief at Telecom Italia was recently arrested as part of the investigation. The new legislation makes it illegal to possess or publish the contents of unauthorised phone taps. Newspapers face a fine of 50 euro cents for every single copy published containing such information. The fine can rise to as much as one million euros for major broadcasters and publishers.
Issue no. 367 - 23 September 2006
UK - Attorney General for admissibility of phone-tap evidence
The Attorney General Lord Goldsmith says he now favours allowing intercept evidence to be used in court. He told the BBC he thought it would increase the chances of jailing crime bosses and terrorists. He had been persuaded of the benefits by seeing how the US had used intercept evidence to jail five top Mafia bosses. see also
DPP backs attorney's call to admit phone-tap evidence in court
Analysis: phone tap U-turn would end 'illogical' law
Issue no. 366 - 3 September 2006
US - Federal judge rules wiretaps illegal
A US programme to tap some phones without warrants is unconstitutional, and must be halted at once, a federal judge in Detroit has ruled. The scheme, approved by President George W Bush in 2001, involves tapping conversations between some callers in the US and people in other countries. Civil liberties campaigners brought the case against the programme, which was uncovered by the US media. Mr Bush authorised the Terrorist Surveillance Programme, as the secret interception scheme is known, after the 11 September 2001 attacks on Washington and New York and insists that it is a vital tool in the US war on terror.
Issue no. 357 - 26 March 2006
GR - More on Greek Wiretapping
(Schneier on Security)
Earlier this month I blogged about a
in Greece. More details are emerging. It turns out that the 'malicious code' was actually code designed into the system. It's eavesdropping code put into the system for the police.
Issue no. 355 - 5 February 2006
GR - Olympics phone tapping revealed
The mobile phones of Greek prime minister Costas Caramanlis and top government and security officials were tapped by unknown individuals during the Athens 2004 Olympics and for nearly a year after.
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