Tor (The Onion Router) is an anonymity network that directs Internet traffic through a worldwide volunteer network that consists of relays, known as nodes, concealing the location and usage details of users, to protect their privacy. It is used for example by journalists and political activists to guarantee the confidentiality of their communications, but can also be used by criminals to hide their tracks from law enforcement.
It transpires that when the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) was being drafted no-one realised it could be used to access journalists’ communications and thus compromise their confidential sources. One of those who helped to draft the act, Michael Drury, who was GCHQ’s director of legal affairs between 1996 and 2010, said journalism was barely considered.
Drury told the audience that during the period of drafting attention was focused on privacy rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), rather than the right to freedom of expression under Article 10.
On Tuesday 10 January, the European Commission put forward a series of new texts on personal data protection in the EU. It includes the upcoming ePrivacy Regulation which will frame the confidentiality and security of our electronic communications, as well as the famous internet cookies, among other things. Before the legislative process had even started, lobbies from the digital industry and telecom operators collaborated closely to water down as much as possible the reform that was supposed to not only provide better security and confidentiality to electronic communications, but also to give users control of their data back.
The Digital Bill guarantees the principle of confidentiality of electronic correspondence. Emails shall henceforth be as confidential as physical letters, and may not be analysed by email services, except in order to detect spam and viruses.
Hidden software that can record every letter typed on a computer keyboard has been discovered pre-installed on hundreds of HP laptop models.