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Privacy Government Communications News

Germany Implements Sweeping Data Retention Policies 210

Posted by Zonk
from the bad-day-for-leaving-people-alone dept.
G'Quann writes "Starting next year, all communication providers in Germany will have to store all connection data for six months. This includes not only phone calls but also IP addresses and e-mail headers. There had been a lot of protest against the new law, but it was ignored by the government. Quoting: 'The content of the communications is not stored. The bill had been heavily criticized. Privacy [advocates] had organized demonstrations against the bill in all major German cities at the beginning of this week. In October there had already been a large demonstration with thousands of participants in Germany's capital Berlin. All opposition parties voted against the bill. Several members of the opposition and several hundred private protesters announced a constitutional complaint.'"
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Germany Implements Sweeping Data Retention Policies

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  • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Friday November 09, 2007 @05:34PM (#21301985) Homepage Journal

    Before we in the U.S. get to patting ourselves on the back for not being this bad, consider the story [slashdot.org] just two posts down that discusses how this is probably already being done here with no one's knowledge or consent. I say "probably" because no one really knows. No laws passed, no protests staged (hard to protest something you don't even know about), just government silently doing whatever it wants after slapping a "national security" label on it.

    It's not right in Germany, and it's not right here. The difference is that at least in Germany, this type of gross invasion of privacy happened on the public record and they can react and do something about it now.

    Of course, we in the U.S. can do something about it too, but most people won't get worked up over what government might be doing without it being proven true, and our government is mercilessly exploiting that fact right now by keeping everything secret and implying that anyone who thinks otherwise is some kind of kooky conspiracy theorist (while they spy on them to make sure they don't get too far out of line).

  • by GeneralEmergency (240687) on Friday November 09, 2007 @05:40PM (#21302059) Journal
    &nbsp:

    One Word:

    Crapflood.

  • Spoofing? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by corsec67 (627446) on Friday November 09, 2007 @05:43PM (#21302089) Homepage Journal
    What if you use an exploit that takes only 1 packet, and spoof the IP addresses? If they try and trace the "hacking" back to one of these IPs, do they get into serious trouble since "of course it is you"?
  • Re:Fascism Anyone? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wattrlz (1162603) on Friday November 09, 2007 @05:45PM (#21302129)
    No, this is a state sponsored invasion of privacy of orwellian scope. Fascism is an authoritarian system of government involving a dictator and heavy on the censorship and public executions.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2007 @05:46PM (#21302137)
    Hmm.
     
    The people who see this coming are a minority. I don't think Germany is special in this way. Governments all over the world are doing this quitely and slowly, so almost nobody will notice the difference or will do anything, because the difference is so small.
     
    Germany just introduced fingerprints in their id cards. Very few people think that this is a bad idea.
     
    20 (maybe less) years and we are in 1984.
  • IP addresses? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Friday November 09, 2007 @05:47PM (#21302159) Homepage
    Yeah, sure. Whatever. If you're on a P2P network, or even just downloading a linux distro you're probably connected to hundreds of ips which have absolutely nothing with you to do. Good luck on mining that unmanagable mess.
  • by What the Frag (951841) on Friday November 09, 2007 @05:49PM (#21302187) Journal
    > Maybe somewhere in the Swiss Alps?

    As being German: Definitely yes. Island may be an other option to consider

    If the current politics remain, Germany is going to be a police and surveillance state in near future...
  • Re:Fascism Anyone? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday November 09, 2007 @05:53PM (#21302235) Homepage Journal
    Please make a better attempt at understanding '1984'.

  • by wattrlz (1162603) on Friday November 09, 2007 @05:55PM (#21302243)
    The quote at the bottom of the page says:
    The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings
    Eerily appropriate?
  • by nautsch (1186995) on Friday November 09, 2007 @05:56PM (#21302253)
    you will care, when you have to login to the outside of your house. And when it will be tracked where you go. ... ALWAYS!
  • History (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iknownuttin (1099999) on Friday November 09, 2007 @05:59PM (#21302297)
    If the current politics remain, Germany is going to be a police and surveillance state in near future...

    You would think that the German people would look back on their own history and say "Never again!"

  • by Irvu (248207) on Friday November 09, 2007 @06:00PM (#21302305)
    In the early days (first 30 years) of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover made heavy use of his "special investigators" to gather dirt on members of congress, the President, and probably parts of the judiciary. This blackmail material was carefully saved for use to protect both himself and advance his power. He also used this against other such noteable figures as Martin Luther King whom he blackmailed with secretly recorded audio of his marital infidelity. Ironically some people regard this as King's fault not Hoover's. It also set the precedent for branches of the government spying on one-another.

    The simple fact of the matter is that once you give someone the ability to spy on you they will use it, for themselves. This story and the one two posts down about the NSA make perfect sense. The best way to keep yourself and your party on top is to have all the information, all the secrets that you can about your opponents. That way anyone who might challenge your power could be cowed by threats to expose their, or their childrens' embarrassing secrets.

    Quite some time ago Gonzales announced that the Justice Department would begin extensive investigations into the world of Pornography, legal pornography. He candidly admitted that they were not breaking the law nor did he expect to find that Playboy was in violation of some statute. He only said that he wanted to keep track of 'them'.

    Forget finding criminals, the Mafia isn't real. It's all always about power. You think Bin Laden and Mullah Muhammed Omar are dumb enough to be googling "Bomb" no they're using trusted couriers and decentralized structures that don't rely on the use of easily traced e-mails. It's all of us and our elected representatives who are the target here.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2007 @06:06PM (#21302361)
    The dark night of fascism is always falling in America, but it always manages to actually land in Europe.
  • Um. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by neimon (713907) on Friday November 09, 2007 @06:13PM (#21302437)
    So. Like. They have a law? That admits what they expect? And defines what they're allowed to do? And there's a limit to what they can do? And it can help identify evildoers? But after 6 months, the data goes away? And we're thinking that's scary? Sounds like goddamned paradise to me. Here, they just drag you off and you disappear and *no carrier*
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2007 @06:13PM (#21302439)
    ----------
    2013... Encryption is outlawed. Worldwide.
    ----------
    2014... You are *$(*#ed and you LOSE! All encrypters is now jailed.
  • by TheMeuge (645043) on Friday November 09, 2007 @06:53PM (#21302789)
    You forgot the key date:

    2008/9 - When it becomes a felony to use any encryption that does not have a back door for the NSA (or RIAA... whichever comes first).
  • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Friday November 09, 2007 @06:57PM (#21302825) Homepage Journal

    Dude, employees coming to congress and saying this is happening is not equivalent to some nut bag who believes in space aliens giving him an anal probe.

    When did I say it was?

    I'm referring to things such as the practice of extraordinary rendition, torture by waterboarding, silently monitoring all Internet traffic, etc. Stuff that the administration in charge keeps waving their hand at us and telling us, "There's nothing to worry about."

    There's an unprecedented level of government secrecy in the U.S. now, secrecy about stuff that has little or nothing to do with national security. Well, secrecy except when it comes to disclosing the names of CIA personnel who happen to be involved with your political enemies. That's what makes me so nervous, it's secrecy for political reasons, not secrecy for security reasons.

    It's kind of ironic that all of this is done in the name of protecting me from terrorists. I'm more afraid of my own government today than I've ever been of terrorists. And frankly, I feel that the government that has spent so much time, money, and effort, breaking laws whenever convenient, to protect me from terrorism has made us more vulnerable than ever.

  • by owlnation (858981) on Friday November 09, 2007 @07:03PM (#21302879)

    The difference is that at least in Germany, this type of gross invasion of privacy happened on the public record and they can react and do something about it now.
    Yeah. That's the thing. This is happening everywhere in western "democracies". The problem is... where totalitarian dictatorships went wrong in the past, is that they try and shut people up. That causes trouble. There's really no need to to quieten and remove dissidents. No-one really cares.

    People get all het up about changes to Facebook, what's on Reality TV, the price of gas, road traffic enforcement -- but stuff like this, stuff that really matters. Meh, forget it, nobody cares...

    Are people already brainwashed? It's really impossible to imagine The American / French / Russian / etc revolution happening now. What happened? Seriously, how did this happen?

  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79 @ g m ail.com> on Friday November 09, 2007 @07:25PM (#21303063) Homepage
    I say "probably" because no one really knows. No laws passed, no protests staged (hard to protest something you don't even know about), just government silently doing whatever it wants after slapping a "national security" label on it.

    In other words, "groundless speculation."

    The Bush administration doesn't have a really good record of keeping such programs under wrap. Why would this be any different?
  • logical fallacy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by erlehmann (1045500) on Friday November 09, 2007 @07:45PM (#21303211)

    It's been "right" here and there for decades -- possibly, centuries.
    same thing could be said about slavery some hundred years ago. only because something is law, it isn't automagically right.
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Friday November 09, 2007 @07:51PM (#21303249)
    >> Maybe somewhere in the Swiss Alps?
    >As being German: Definitely yes. Island may be an other option to consider
    >If the current politics remain, Germany is going to be a police and
    >surveillance state in near future...

    Living in Germany you should know better than that.

    Don't worry. In two months from now someone will the surveilance will cost money and jobs and eventually eliminate 15% of the positions for human investigators at the federal german BKA, thus costing more jobs. An uproar will shake the nation. Some guy at some obscure bureau of the Interior Ministry will also notice that this law makes their recent pet project, the German Federal Trojan (TM) officialy 65% superfluos. Another big no-no. Some other intellectual will publically notice that all info about all Germans is either available at StudiVZ (Germanys Facebook/MySpace), Amazon.de Marketplace or Ebay Germany anyway - which is allready completely scanned and archived (backups included) by the German IRS - and we know everything worth knowing about everybody allready. 10-15 different factions and public bodies of interest groups will have allready filed 20 complaints to the Federal Constitutional Court and the country will be plaqued by a lengthy debate that will have Secretary of the Interior Schäuble eventually drive his wheelchair off a cliff in frustration. Just before the current coalition of two big parties ends it's legislature there will be a watered down full-compromise version of the law with 8500 exception rules and modifications delivered on 2000+ pages in three big-ass Leitz file-covers, German style. Two months after the federal vote and three months into the new law someone in the EU Gouverment Headquarters will notice that this law breaks somewhere between 23 and 65 terms of union contracts, the British will wine that the Germans are now also attempting to take over the EU lead in surveilance, directly competing the UKs last big resort of excellence. Eventually the then new German gouverment will be bitch-slapped into revising its 10kg online surveilance law into a new draft as not to be fined by Brussels for a kazillion Euros.

    Bottom line: No need to worry yet. Even by the most optimistic projections I wouldn't expect this law to gain any tracktion before 2015.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2007 @09:00PM (#21303691)

    It was ruled long ago by the American courts, that the information on the envelope of a letter is not subject to privacy expectations and can be examined by the police without a warrant.
    Could there be a slight difference in proportionality between "being allowed to examine the information on the envelope of a letter without a warrant" and "requiring the information on the envelope of every single letter to be recorded and kept available for six months"?
  • by cddp (1187057) on Friday November 09, 2007 @09:45PM (#21303897)
    Sadly, out of all the comments here, he's the only one who got it right. This is NOTHING like what we're seeing here in the US. There are quite a few important differences: - This is a public law that has been voted on by the legislature (UNLIKE anything we've seen here). - They are not saving the actual content, but just the connection data (eg. A talked with B). - The government is not the one who's saving this data. Individual providers are now required to keep the data for 6 months. That certainly limits the potential for abuse and it's different than the NSA installing 'secret' rooms in Telco buildings. - A warrant is still necessary to get access to the data. In short, this seems like a reasonable step to take. Unlike with the illegal wiretapping and all sorts of other clearly unconstitutional things we've seen around here, these measures only require providers to keep this data for 6 months. NOTHING else.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:04PM (#21304249)
    Being more afraid of government abusing its power against its people than from terrorists who may or may not attack you doesn't mean you support terrorists.

    I'm also more afraid of a government using its power to eliminate my freedoms than of terrorists using violence to achive the same goal. Simply because of statistical probability of either happening and the relative likelyness of success.

    What can a terrorist do? He can strike a certain target to limited damage. It can be a serious blow like what happened at 9/11, but this hardly affected the whole country directly. What affected the whole country were the actions taken by the government as a response to it.

    So yes, I'm more afraid of an abusive government. It has far more effective means on its hands to have a negative effect on my life than any terrorist could have.
  • Re:Fascism Anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cheesey (70139) on Saturday November 10, 2007 @07:27AM (#21305799)
    You can see a present day example of Newspeak in the redefinition of words such as "liberal". In this topic, there is at least one example of someone using the new definition [slashdot.org]. It's quite amazing (1) how that word has been redefined to mean something bad, and (2) how many people have bought into the redefinition by using it. That's the power of television, I guess.
  • by vertinox (846076) on Saturday November 10, 2007 @09:39AM (#21306271)
    The problem is... where totalitarian dictatorships went wrong in the past, is that they try and shut people up. That causes trouble. There's really no need to to quieten and remove dissidents. No-one really cares.

    Actually, during the cultural revolution [wikipedia.org] in China this technique was used for a bit. Basically, they let people to openly criticize the government and even encouraged it. The went around and said "See! We are democratic! We let people complain about the government!"

    Later, they thought it was a bad idea and used all the open criticism to determine who was loyal or not and when back to the old way of not allowing criticism at all.

    I believe if used correctly, allowing dissent could be used to prove legitimacy of a dictatorship or plutocracy. The powers that be could say "Hey! Look at this guy who complains about us! That means we are a democracy! A dictatorship would never allow someone to complain. Never mind the fact we don't have free and fair elections because we choose the candidates for the people!"

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