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Cybercrime and Patents in Europe 141

Hairy1 writes: "The Council of Europe has been working on a Cyber Crime Treaty for some time. The final version is now available, and makes interesting reading." The submitter points out that treaty signers will be obligated to create legislation, as the UK already has, to force people to disclose passwords and encryption keys to the authorities. The U.S. may well sign this treaty - we've participated in the drafting process. On a slightly different note, people are up in arms because the European Patent Office has decided, apparently on its own, that software programs are patentable. Update: 11/09 15:23 GMT by M : A reader sent in this interesting bibliography of the treaty's history.
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Cybercrime and Patents in Europe

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  • Hmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by flumps ( 240328 ) <matt,corby&gmail,com> on Friday November 09, 2001 @10:06AM (#2542896) Homepage
    I'm dubious.

    Ok, I'm sure loads of other countries have participated, but it seems to me that this will be nothing but red tape to businesses.

    As a citizen of "europe" I have yet to see the EU write one single peice of legislation that a) makes sense, b) actually has an effect other than to annoy people c) does any good. d) doesnt cost tonnes of money for sod all.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm glad government are trying to get a hand into formalising these sorts of things, but what we really need is competant people advising them. I mean, look at what incompetance in these matters [] gave us the last time.

    I won't hold my breath.
  • by titurel ( 228551 ) < minus bsd> on Friday November 09, 2001 @10:14AM (#2542917)
    On November 13 the EU Parliment will vote on the the proposal for a European Parliament and Council directive concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector
    Read the report here [] . If passed it would make it illegal to idenitfy users on the internet without their permission. Keep your fingers crossed.

    Not all things that come out of the EU are bad. Belive it or not :)
  • DOJ Wrote it! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BuckMulligan ( 255942 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @10:19AM (#2542935)
    The US didn't help write the treaty. The US DOJ wrote the damn legislation. This is what is called "policy laundering" in Washington. If you can't pass the surveillance powers you want in the US, just shop the same provisions around in a treaty in other countries.
  • Is it just me... (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Colin Bayer ( 313849 ) <vogon@i[ ] ['ccu' in gap]> on Friday November 09, 2001 @10:20AM (#2542940) Homepage
    or does Afghanistan keep sounding better and better as a choice of homes? You lose a hand for shoplifting, among other draconian laws, but at least you don't get punished for writing a program like DeCSS or Advanced eBook Processor...
  • by the_Bionic_lemming ( 446569 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @10:24AM (#2542952)
    Look, They can regulate to their hearts content on transmission of stuff over the internet, But How the Heck can they now tell me my computer, and notably the hard drives, are subject to search and seizure , and that I am REQIRED to protect the information they want on MY OWN PROPERTY.

    Don't get me wrong - child porn is bad, But taking away my rights to my own property is NOT the way to stop it. By all means, monitor for child porn, nail the ftp sites that hst it, but stay the hell away from my hard drive.
  • right (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2001 @10:28AM (#2542971)
    " The U.S. may well sign this treaty"

    you like they signed

    -Global warming treaty
    -Chemical weapons treaty
    -Land mines treaty
    -nuclear weapons treaty

    US won't sign shit
  • Mathematics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HalfFlat ( 121672 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @10:40AM (#2543006)

    According to the EuroLinux article,

    the European Patent Office just published a new examination directive which extends the realm of the European patent practice to software, business methods and mathematics.
    Patenting mathematics is outright crazy. It's the same sort of crazy that allows the patenting of software, but in the past one could always say: patenting algorithms is like patenting mathematics, and thus clearly nonsense. reductio ad absurdum has come along and bit us all on the arse.

    Trying to imagine a world where mathematics is patentable is both hard and disturbing. Can you imagine if only licensed physicists were allowed to use Hilbert space theory? If one needed to pay a levy every time one used Shannon's law to help design a product? Where would we be if the finite element methods could only be applied to engineering analyses with the blessings of its creators?

    How much mathematical progress would be made, if every mathematician had to check whether the work they were building on was patent-encumbered? If every publication had to first get the approval of some patent holders, with the possibility of a required payment?

    It quickly gets surreal. Many statements in mathematics are equivalent when viewed in the appropriate fashion. Many too are based on certain sets of axioms. What does patentable mean when viewed in this light?

    This to me is a clear sign that extreme IP advocates have just completely lost the plot.

  • by SomethingOrOther ( 521702 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @10:41AM (#2543012) Homepage

    This Wired Article makes interesting reading. It gives the impression that the preasure to alter Europes (mainly very strict) privacy laws has come from as high up as Bush Himself []

    As we all know, wherever America goes, Europe gets dragged along kicking and screeming!
    However, I definately couldn't imagine the Duch or the Danes going along with such draconian anti-privacy laws, even if we in the UK seem complacent about our privacy and rights.

  • ECHELON in UK and US (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SomethingOrOther ( 521702 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @10:57AM (#2543093) Homepage

    Sorry, I dont want to sound like flame-bait but I must chukkle at your nievety! (sp)

    The 5th amendment only applies in the US!
    If the US applied its own laws (including the 5th amendment) to other citizens of the world then maybe the US wouldn't have such a sh*te forign policy. (And I didnt say anything about Afghanistan!)

    My main point however is that the US uses this to its advantage.
    Since it is illegal for the US gov. to spy on its own citizens, it gets the UK to do it for them.
    Since it is illegal (atm) for the UK to spy on its citizens it gets the US to do it for them.
    They then simply swap the information.

    And no I haven't been reading alt.conspiricy! This was mentioned in the European parliments report into ECHELON.

  • Terrible.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by saqmaster ( 522261 ) < minus herbivore> on Friday November 09, 2001 @11:27AM (#2543260) Homepage
    To be honest.. I find the whole RIP bill disgusting.. It's a complete violation of your privacy.. but saying this is nothing new and I won't go there..

    One things i've noticed though, is the amount of UK ISP's (Freeserve, AOL to name two), to me, seem to be abusing their shadow proxies (cisco cache engines I presume)..

    For, whilst using AOL or FreeServe, you try and telnet to _any_ outside mailserver on port 25, you get their mailserver. It's actually _impossible_ to get to any other SMTP service whilst dialled-up with one of these ISP's.

    Now, sure this could be because they're attempting to optimize their network, but on the other hand, they could have their SMTP relays configured to store/cache messages locally - ideal for RIP bill investigations..

    Scary thought..
  • by gagravarr ( 148765 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @11:41AM (#2543316) Homepage

    It states:

    Article 3 Illegal interception
    Each Party shall adopt such legislative and other measures as may be necessary to establish as criminal offences under its domestic law, when committed intentionally, the interception without right, made by technical means, of non-public transmissions of computer data to, from or within a computer system, including electromagnetic emissions from a computer system carrying such computer data. A Party may require that the offence be committed with dishonest intent, or in relation to a computer system that is connected to another computer system.

    Given the number of organisations that the UK government is planning to give access to your IT data under "anti terrorist legislation" (eg Guardian article []), this will surely require some tricky legal manouvers to get every man and his dog working for the government classed as "with right" to intercept?

    Also, what it'll be interesting to see how the data that the ISPs are being told to collect for "anti terrorist" means will be classed as "with right" to intercept, given the provisions in the human rights act on privacy...

  • Re:Evidence? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2001 @12:03PM (#2543529)
    I find precious little evidence that the US PTO wants to improve its handling of patents.

    Look at /jobs.htm which is the patent office's hiring page. It seems they're only hiring people in areas of new technology. I would call that wanting to improve handling.

    It seems to be rathe[r] a case of, to paraphrase a Bell executive, "We're a monopoly, we don't have to care." Experience can't make up for lack of interest in quality. And that's what the US PTO has been exhibiting to increasing degree the last couple of decades

    What does that even mean? It is not the job of the patent office to evaluate quality. For one thing, if they were evaluating quality, the very definition of quality could be used nefariously to control what gets patented. Say, for example, that you create a device which has bad uses and good uses, for example, a machine to encrypt messages. Does that machine have low quality since it can be used for bad things? What if the machine is inefficient, is it of low quality?

    Monopolies, whether commercial or governmental, tend to develop in the same way.

    And what does that mean? You don't like the patent office's monopoly on granting patents? Or perhaps you don't like patents period? You must remember that patents are a time limited monopoly. They are economic tools, and if you really want to use something patented BUY IT. Buy the patent, buy the rights to use the patent. If it is so important to you, put your money where your mouth is. Business have patents to make money. Period. If you can offer them enough money, they'll sell it to you. If it's worth it for society as a whole (or universities or whatever) to have the patent, then society (or universities or whatever) should just buy the thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2001 @02:06PM (#2544506)
    It would work like this: Take two plaintext messages -- one innocuous and one more, um, poignant. Encode both, using different keys, into a single ciphertext. If the authorities intercept it and demand the key, just give them the one that decrypts the innocuous message, leaving the other one safely hidden.
  • by Dr. Manhattan ( 29720 ) <[sorceror171] [at] []> on Friday November 09, 2001 @03:42PM (#2545104) Homepage
    Best Practices says that if your password or keys are compromised, you need to change them as soon as possible.

    Of course, the authorities may have already backed up your data. And the new password can be compelled out of you by various means. (So-called "rubber hose cryptography", as in, "We beat the password out of him with a rubber hose.")

    So you use a cryptographic filesystem [] that has several passwords. One retrieves mildly incriminating data, and another one gets the real data. So you can look like you complied but it doesn't do them any good.

    Available for Linux 2.2, *BSD ports coming along.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard