A top EU official wants internet and telecommunication companies to hand over encryption keys to police and spy agencies as part of a wider crackdown on terrorism.
The EU’s counter-terrorism co-ordinator Gilles de Kerchove, in a document leaked by London-based civil liberties group Statewatch, says the European Commission should come up with rules that require the firms to help national governments snoop on possible suspects.
Prime minister Tony Abbott visited the Australian Federal Police (AFP) headquarters in Melbourne on Thursday to campaign for the proposal to store people’s phone and email records, three weeks before a bipartisan committee examining the legislation is due to complete its report.
“I hope it’s a unanimous report and then let’s get this legislation dealt with as quickly as we can,” he said during a media conference alongside the AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin.
“I believe that in the wake of the attack on the policemen here in Victoria, in the wake of the Martin Place siege, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo atrocity, the public want protection, and this gives the public the protection they have a right to expect.”
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) exists to ensure that national security does not trump privacy and civil liberties, and it has been especially busy since the publication of the first Snowden leak.
The NSA uses Section 215 of the Patriot Act to justify its bulk telephone records collection program. But as we have noted repeatedly, there’s no evidence that the Section 215 program is necessary for stopping terrorism—something PCLOB, the President’s Review Group, and even the administration itself have all admitted. On the other hand, there’s plenty of evidence of how the program invades innocent peoples’ privacy. And PCLOB’s recommendation is very simple here: the program should end.
France has introduced a new law that allows government agencies to order the blocking of websites that advocate acts of terrorism or contain images of child abuse.
The legislation was brought in by revisions to 2011’s Loppsi Act, and an anti-terror bill passed by the French senate in October, but can now be used by the general directorate of the police’s cybercrime unit to force French internet service providers to block sites within 24 hours, without a court order.
Sites that are blocked will redirect to a page from the interior ministry describing why the action was taken. The sites will be checked quarterly to make sure they continue to display the proscribed content and that the block is still appropriate.
Today, the Paraguayan House of Representatives postponed for eight days a mandatory data retention proposal. The bill, if passed, will require Paraguayan telecom providers to store highly personal information about their customers Internet use, for one year, for possible future access by law enforcement agencies.
The bill was introduced last year under the flimsy pretext that this measure is urgently needed to prevent crime. These weak, but repeated arguments are a tried and tested technique, fomenting a culture of fear of ceaseless war or terrorism, in order to justify arbitrary and totalitarian incursions on civil liberties.
In one of world’s largest efforts to collect biometric information, Pakistan has ordered mobile phone users to verify their identities through fingerprints for a national database being compiled to curb terrorism. If they don’t, their service will be shut off, an unthinkable option for many after a dozen years of explosive growth in mobile phone usage.