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Privacy Government Communications News

Germany Implements Sweeping Data Retention Policies 210

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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  • Defeat it by.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Friday November 09, 2007 @06:42PM (#21302083) Homepage Journal

    Flood the internet with grabage

    Oh, wait, spammers, worms and bots are already doing this.

  • by sneakyimp ( 1161443 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @06:46PM (#21302145)
    but it seemed marginally more appropriate here:

    In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist;
    And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist;
    And then they came for the Jews, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew;
    And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up."
            - Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984)
  • by Adeptus_Luminati ( 634274 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @07:04PM (#21302341)

    Step 1. Encrypt all outbound traffic (hushmail, https, sftp, ssh, etc).
    Step 2. Use TOR to anonymize all your source/destinations
    Step 3. Simultaneously run encrypted torrent traffic (say 25% of all your bandwidth) to increase volumes of crap they have to sort through, making their costs increase.
    Step 4. Where possible borrow your neighbours unencrypted WiFi/WiMax connections to do your real encrypted/anonymous surfing.

    2009... 100Gigabit Ethernet is standardized & sold to carrier backbones. 10G Ethernet becomes cheap & FTTH becomes more affordable. The crappiest computer you can buy now is a quad core with a combined core speed of 10Gigahertz speed.
    2010... Their retort: Use Quantum computing to break your encryption. Buy kilometers of underground bases and install thousands of rows of racks filled with multi-terabyte hard drives to store it all.
    2011... You upgrade your computer with a quantum chip and use unbreakable encryption.
    2012... They are *$(*#ed and you WIN! All Internet is now encrypted and unbreakable and everyone has multi-terabyte hard drives and multi-hundred Megabit or gigabit speeds to home.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2007 @08:01PM (#21302859)
    Otherwise you're complicit, and that means you're to blame.

    Every sysadmin in the country, just stop working. A couple dozen do it, and that's just 12 sysadmins without a job. Several thousand do it, and the government will realise that it exists to serve the people, not vice versa.

    None of this, "Oh oh but I have commitments to my family," bullcrap. We're all unemployed from time to time. Hopefully none of us would do jobs that more obviously involve the destruction of our freedoms, even if that means temporary hardship - so let's not allow us to be indirectly responsible either.

    N.B. Yes, I've put my personal progress above everything in the past. I have since grown, and gone on to quit jobs over moral concerns. Yes, I enjoy my life more as a moral man than as a rich man. It's easy to make money; it's much harder to express love for the freedom of one's fellow man, and to prepare to act on that love.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2007 @08:06PM (#21302901)
    is to use Freenet at []. It's an anonymous p2p application.

    I used to think that Freenet really wasn't that useful, but it's becoming clear that it's necessary as an insurance policy against censorship.

    If you think about any law that has been created with regard to the internet, was it to protect and promote it or was it to try to censor and control? What's nice is Freenet was lacking in 'useful' content since the Internet was free enough for the 'wierd' things to be readily available. However, with a crackdown in many countries (, including Italy ( there will likely me more and more people who have use and need of Freenet, and thus increasingly more things to do and see.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2007 @08:28PM (#21303087)
    That this law was passed so anti-democraticly and in public, probably helped us long-term. Many of my friends are now asking for support with hard disk and communication encryption. I even expect commercials to supply easy to use crypto devices in result. (something like PGPphone..)
  • by mi ( 197448 ) <> on Friday November 09, 2007 @08:29PM (#21303095) Homepage Journal

    Before we in the U.S. get to patting ourselves on the back for not being this bad

    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.

    Germany's surveilance of the e-mail headers and connection's IPs is no different — fair game, as long as the contents is not looked at.

    It's not right in Germany, and it's not right here.

    It's been "right" here and there for decades — possibly, centuries. I can not even find any links quickly, which means, it is certainly a pre-Internet thing...

  • EU law (Score:3, Interesting)

    by emilv ( 847905 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @09:06PM (#21303353)
    This law is necessary for all countries which are members of the European Union to implement, because it is a EU directive.
    Germany are not the only country in EU that will pass this law. Every country in the union are obliged to have their telephone companies and ISPs keep the information for at least six years (I think Sweden are going to recuire the companies to keep the data for at least a year, but I have not followed the debate for the last months).

    It is important to point out, however, that it's only the metadata that will be saved. You can see that a person have contacted another person, and probably even where this was (if it's a mobile phone), but you can't see what they have been talking about.
  • by Qubit ( 100461 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @10:10PM (#21303753) Homepage Journal
    How long can you retain data if you send email with the content in the headers?

    At some point, even if you have Terabytes of disk space, you're going to run out of room. Then what?

    Here's a sure-fire way to mess things up:

    1. Implement IP over SMTP headers. (already done, I believe)
    2. Use it in Germany.
    3. Watch as your ISP hates you. A lot.

    But anyhow, it says that it's retaining headers, but not content. But sometimes there's content in the headers, right? Got a Catch-22 there, I think.
  • by zildgulf ( 1116981 ) on Saturday November 10, 2007 @12:16AM (#21304299)
    We have more food, water, power, etc. than we need and we can get the goods we need (at a price). Now, if we can't get stuff we want at any price and we no longer have water, or power, or food, then that's the stuff that revolutions are made from. In today's political climate, economic realities make a major revolution unlikely in America or Western Europe.

    And YES, we have at least a million Americans totally brainwashed and mindf*cked enough that if, for some highly outlandishly unlikely chance, President Bush decides to declare a State of Emergency and suspends elections next year, these people would not terribly mind this inconvenience. They would come to believe that this would be a necessary action and the President Bush would be in the right for doing it. For them, the President cannot be wrong and can do no wrong. I guarantee we will hear a LOT from this group during the next 12 months because they don't like any of the current Republicans and they certainly hate the Clintons with all of their soul.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday November 10, 2007 @12:26AM (#21304343)
    Most revolutions come in times of despair. When you look at the French and the Russian revolution, both were in the end caused by people having the alternative of either starving to death or overthrowing the government. I'm not so sure about the American revolt. Maybe it was the only one that wasn't caused by utter desperation.

    Now, the US economy is maybe moving downwards currently, but we're far from the point of starvation and economic desaster. Everyone's fed, everyone's entertained. That's how the Roman Empire survived even long after it was clear that it will crumble.

    Also, people are more than ever concerned with their life and wellbeing. We want to live, and we want to live long. We kinda expect to reach the age of 70. We expect to have a cure for pretty much everything. We're deadly afraid of the avian flu even though the number of victims is insignificant (compare it to diseases people were subjected to earlier, like the plague, dysentery, smallpox and so on), and we're evenly afraid of terrorist attacks even though the chance to die from it is near zero as well.

    We're just not used to things people had to deal with on a daily base in earlier times. We don't expect to die at work from something falling down or being exposed to hazards. We have safety regulations for that and we observe them, so we don't die at work. We don't expect to die from some disease, medicine has almost everything that was lethal until a century ago under control, we don't expect our buildings to collapse on top of us or that some tool we use blows up in our face, we got building codes and safety rules in place to keep this from happening.

    That was normal until a century or two ago. That was everyday life. Life was dangerous and if you didn't watch out you died. Simple as that.

    We don't die today anymore from such accidents, we don't die from strange diseases. Our life is safe and sane. And that's how we want it.

    Now, a revolution doesn't fit into this safe lifestyle. We're already pissing our pants if we can't afford an insurance for every bit of our life, heaven forbid something actually happens! We're used to a very predictable and safe life. Revolutions don't fit in there.
  • by Cheesey ( 70139 ) on Saturday November 10, 2007 @06:05AM (#21305407)
    The meta-conspiracy theory says that Governments now encourage conspiracy theories in order to decrease the "signal to noise" ratio outside of official media channels.

    The result is that independent media is totally unreliable because every fact is swamped by a million paranoid half-truths and lies. But the official media is also unreliable due to bias. So, (1) people have no reliable source of information, and (2) almost any criticism of the Government can be dismissed as the ravings of a crazy conspiracy theorist.

    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.

    Indeed yes. You don't need to "disappear" the dissenters. You just need to make them look like crazy paranoids, and in many cases, they are perfectly capable of doing that for themselves.
  • Re:Fascism Anyone? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spikedvodka ( 188722 ) on Saturday November 10, 2007 @10:40AM (#21306279)

    Truly. The real thesis of 1984 is not the constant supervision of the people, but the twisting of thought by language. The concept of Newspeak is quite interesting because it erodes people's perceptions of something that is intrinsically bad, but twists it to seem, if not completely opposite, but neutral to the communication at hand.

    The constant vigilance of Big Brother was only to ensure that those who even hinted at seeing past Newspeak and the overall deception were properly dealt with.
    Sadly, we're already beginning to see this with English, but they're being far more subtle about it than were the engsoc's in 1984.
    they're not trying to create a separate language, rather they're just starting to use existing words differently.

    as an example: A bumper Sticker I saw the other day "My son is an Iraq Freedom Fighter" with a US Army Logo. "Freedom fighter" is what is sometimes used by the "Insurgants" as they are fighting to free their country from the ocupying force.

Information is the inverse of entropy.