After one year of negotiations, a second element of the telecoms regulation was also agreed by the EU Council: arbitrary, ad hoc law enforcement by internet companies. The Council has decided that this is something that internet companies may do, may not do and may do (Council text, pdf).
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.
The US government invoked the All Writs Act in order to compel the assistance of smartphone manufacturers in unlocking devices pursuant to a search warrant. Orders from federal magistrate judges in Oakland and New York City require companies to bypass the lock screen on seized phones and enable law enforcement access.
A former Conservative cabinet minister who chaired the parliamentary inquiry into the snooper’s charter has told four senior peers not to go ahead on Monday with their last-minute attempt to sneak it into law before the general election.
Lord Blencathra, a former Home Office minister, has written to the former Tory defence secretary Lord King, voicing strong concerns over his attempt to “insert the whole of the discredited draft communications data bill” into the counter-terror legislation being fast-tracked through the House of Lords.
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.
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.”