[IRP] Building in Surveillance

katitza at datos-personales.org katitza
Sat Aug 15 17:29:40 EEST 2009

Bruce Schneier.

Building in Surveillance:

"China is the world's most successful Internet censor. While the Great
Firewall of China isn't perfect, it effectively limits information flowing
in and out of the country. But now the Chinese government is taking things
one step further.

Under a requirement taking effect soon, every computer sold in China will
have to contain the Green Dam Youth Escort software package. Ostensibly a
pornography filter, it is government spyware that will watch every citizen
on the Internet.

Green Dam has many uses. It can police a list of forbidden Web sites. It
can monitor a user's reading habits. It can even enlist the computer in
some massive botnet attack, as part of a hypothetical future cyberwar.

China's actions may be extreme, but they're not unique. Democratic
governments around the world -- Sweden, Canada and the United Kingdom, for
example -- are rushing to pass laws giving their police new powers of
Internet surveillance, in many cases requiring communications system
providers to redesign products and services they sell.

Many are passing data retention laws, forcing companies to keep
information on their customers. Just recently, the German government
proposed giving itself the power to censor the Internet.

The United States is no exception. The 1994 CALEA law required phone
companies to facilitate FBI eavesdropping, and since 2001, the NSA has
built substantial eavesdropping systems in the United States. The
government has repeatedly proposed Internet data retention laws, allowing
surveillance into past activities as well as present.

Systems like this invite criminal appropriation and government abuse. New
police powers, enacted to fight terrorism, are already used in situations
of normal crime. Internet surveillance and control will be no different."


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