[This message was originally posted on the Global Knowledge for Development list on Janary 3, 199: <http://www.globalknowledge.org/english/virtual/gkd>] The following is an excerpt from the CSS Internet News. Please feel free to pass this along to other Netizens provided that the complete message is forwarded with all attributes intact. -------------------- YEAR-END WORLDWIDE ROUND-UP ON INTERNET PRIVACY by Andy Oram American Reporter Correspondent http://www.american-reporter.com/ CAMBRIDGE, MASS. -- The most prominent cyber-rights issue of the year is privacy. Several other pressing problems vie for top billing -- such as freedom of expression, which was the subject of a recent Human Rights Watch report, or universal service, which got a battering in the United States as the government fought over the E-Rate for schools and libraries -- but in historic world trends, privacy saw the most interesting developments. The fight for privacy took contradictory paths this year. In toto, there will be more snooping and more data collection over the next few years. But some positive developments can also be seen. The right of consumers to protect their personal information from businesses took a couple steps forward. At the same time, protections against snooping (particularly from the government) were weakened. Encryption, which is essential to all forms of privacy protection -- as well as freedom of expression, as pointed out in the Human Rights Watch report -- remains legislatively crippled. A natural place to start our survey is the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act, the earliest legal attention given by government to the Internet and, appropriately enough, the area also providing the most recent news. CALEA, a law extending traditional wire-tapping capabilities to digital telephones, was proposed during the Bush Administration and passed in 1994. Every step was dogged by debates over how much power the law should give to the police. Amazingly, four years after the law's passage and months after the original deadline for implementation, the combatants are still arguing over it. The outlines of the new wire-tapping capabilities are now clearly drawn. But on December 14, various telephone companies submitted comments to the FCC complaining about some details in its proposed technical requirements. Several civil liberties groups (the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the ACLU) raised similar concerns. The technical arguments over requirements are arcane: for instance, should call-completion information include the keys pressed by a suspect after making a call, or should that keying information be given only when the police have the right to listen to the content of the call? Arguments over details are not worth retelling here. The point made by the telephone companies is that the FBI is demanding, and the FCC willing to ratify, wire-tapping requirements that would raise telephony costs substantially, or worse still, require major technical design changes to wireless phones and networks. Telephone companies fight parts of CALEA for financial reasons, while the civil liberties groups talk of the frightening extension of governmental power. Digital, wireless telephones expand the range of activities available to the public. It is now clear that, at least in small ways, CALEA will also expand the information available to the police through wire-taps, which have increased in number over the years. Expanded access to law enforcement was not the intent of the law, but it is the outcome of negotiations over its implementation. One provision that law enforcement didn't win as part of CALEA, "roving wiretaps" that cover a suspect rather than a particular phone, was granted in a separate law that passed the House in October. The goal of CALEA, which is to permit the government to tap into digital communications, spread internationally this year. Governments as diverse as Great Britain, Russia, and India proposed requirements for Internet providers to give law enforcement access to their customers' personal communications -- bypassing, in all cases, traditional legal checks on wiretapping. Four weeks ago, the European Union proposed a sweeping surveillance system to be called ENFOPOL. It goes beyond CALEA by covering all digital communications (such as electronic mail), not just telephony. ENFOPOL is an imitation of a mysterious global surveillance system called Echelon, whose operation is shrouded in the same kind of secrecy that used to completely hide the National Security Agency. Recent news reports exposing the existence of Echelon led some privacy advocates to hope that European governments would fight it, but they have taken warmly to the idea instead. There is another wave sweeping the world, however, driven by public opinion. This movement calls for restrictions on databases, both in government and in private industry, and for control by individuals over critical data like their medical histories and purchasing habits. October 1998 was to be the date when all member countries of the European Union were to adopt strict laws regulating what information is collected from people, how it is collected, and with whom it can be shared. On the same date, European countries were supposed to stop sharing data with companies in countries that lacked similar protections -- a bold threat to bring international trade to a halt. While governments around the world passed laws to protect privacy so that their trade with Europe would not be disrupted, U.S. representatives expressed confidence that no drastic severance of trade would occur. Their gamble paid off, because data exchange between the U.S. and Europe continues while negotiations over the privacy directive drag on. Even in the EU, several countries have missed the deadline for passing privacy laws. But it is important to realized that many, notably Germany, have strong laws in place. These laws have proven that a modern economy can include privacy protection, and have formed the basis for the EU directive. In the U.S., government and business tend to agree that restrictions on data sharing are costly and (the ranking sin of government) an expression of over-regulation. Polls show that the public takes a dramatically different view. In the absence of laws, sophisticated tracking continues to encroach on privacy, through such systems as the Doubleclick service that allows multiple Web sites to share purchasing information. But a few cracks have appeared in the government's anti-regulation position. In June, after a year of investigating commercial practices on the Web, the Federal Trade Commission suggested for the first time that Congress pass a law to protect privacy. The scope of the proposed law was narrow -- to keep sites from asking children under 13 for personal information unless their parents approved -- but the very idea was an admission that self-regulation by businesses is not always enough. Furthermore, the FTC's report contained an enormous amount of evidence that businesses were not taking privacy seriously. The final major issue for our privacy wrap-up is encryption. Here, the status quo remains relatively untouched. Encryption is a rare instance of a technology that works well and whose spread is hampered only by law. The U.S., where most encryption products are developed, has held back the export of strong encryption for decades through Commerce Department regulations, unshaken by many Congressional attempts to remove them. Unlike the past few years, no law was introduced into Congress this year either relaxing or strengthening laws against encryption. Luckily, government proposals for cumbersome key escrow systems -- where central databases keep users' keys and hand them over to governments upon receiving legal wiretapping requests -- have waned. Perhaps the FBI is busy with other things, such as the investigation of campaign finance law violations (although one could ask then why it have done so little about them). Congress and the Clinton Administration also seem preoccupied with other matters. The British government, however, has floated a plan for key escrow, and a law remains on the books in France requiring it for all encryption used in that country. There is no reason to believe that such a system will actually be feasible, though. The main encryption battle took place around the international Wassenaar Agreement, which tries to control the spread of military and "dual use" technologies. The agreement always contained a place-holder for encryption, but it had serious holes and left many encryption experts hoping that it would prove useless in the face of movements in many nations to liberalize encryption. Instead, at a conference that met earlier this month to update the agreement, the U.S. persuaded delegates to add clauses that essentially committed the 33 member countries to adopt restrictions like those in the U.S. Encryption of any strength can be developed and sold within these countries, but cannot be exported to a non-member country unless it includes a maximum key length of 56 bits -- a length making it easy for governments (or anyone with a lot of computing power) to break the key and view the communication. Having completed our privacy wrap-up, I will follow the poor example of many other journalists at this time of year and leap into the crystal ball with some predictions: - Privacy protection laws will spread. They are popular, and the experience of European nations show that they are feasible. - Front-line volunteers in the privacy battle, through well-tested techniques like submitting personal information under invented names, will expose the sale of information by famous businesses in violation of privacy laws or posted policies. - Finally cornered into obeying privacy restrictions, businesses will solve the problem by expanding the obnoxious practice of offering discounts to customers who volunteer their personal information. - Law enforcement agencies will continue to push unworkable schemes like key escrow and ENFOPOL just to enhance their images in the eyes of legislatures and ministers. - More effectively, governments will continue to hold the line against strong encryption. Although such policies hamper commerce and threaten civil liberties, they are clearly winning over more governments as reports come out about pornography rings and terrorist networks. - Most of us will muddle along using 56 bits or whatever kind of encryption governments allow. Few of us will experience difficulties, because it takes work to track down our communications on the Internet. - Given the use of weak encryption, occasional scandals will emerge concerning sensitive communications that are broken by unethical business competitors, sensation-mongering journalists, or angry opponents in lawsuits. These breaches will be reported as if they were sad acts of nature, not the preventable results of public policy. - Meanwhile, law enforcement will continue to spar with political dissidents (including that tiny fraction that can legitimately be called terrorists) to find ways to alternately conceal and break communications, cheerfully ignoring applicable laws. So that's the scene. If you don't like it, there is still time to speak up. Unless you feel safer keeping your opinions private. Link: Echelon: Exposing the Global Surveillance Network http://www.bestnet.org/~jwalker/resource.htm --------------- Also in this issue: - YEAR-END WORLDWIDE ROUND-UP ON INTERNET PRIVACY CAMBRIDGE, MASS. -- The most prominent cyber-rights issue of the year is privacy. Several other pressing problems vie for top billing -- such as freedom of expression, which was the subject of a recent Human Rights Watch report, or universal service, which got a battering in the United States as the government fought over the E-Rate for schools and libraries -- but in historic world trends, privacy saw the most interesting developments. - MS sues men over domain names HOUSTON -- Microsoft has filed a federal lawsuit against two Texas men who have registered Internet domain names including microsoftwindows.com and microsoftoffice.com. - Defining moments of the Internet, 1998 It was quite a year for the Internet, a medium that's only recently emerged in the commercial form known to most users. - Catalog and internet sales threaten state surpluses, report warns WASHINGTON -- Cautious spending and a robust national economy have left virtually all the states in solid financial condition for the fifth year in a row, but facing the possible loss of billions of dollars in tax revenue to the sale of goods via mail order and the Internet, according to a fiscal survey released Wednesday. - Anti-spam laws to aid California Internet users California consumers and Internet service providers gain two of the toughest laws in the country tomorrow to help them rid their e-mail inboxes of unwanted messages promising everything from sudden wealth to titillating pornography. - New Year's Resolutions, the Web Way Achieve perfection by 2000--with a little help from the Web. - New Lists and Journals 1) IDFA Magazine on the Internet 2) Global WealthStream News 3) Babel 4) The Amateur Poetry Journal 5) Journal of Cotton Science 6) Developmental Science 7) Circles of Light 8) Weekly Web Newsletter 9) The Parenting Network 10) The Mezzenger NewsLetter 11) FreewareWeb Online! 12) Annual Reviews: Physical Sciences On-line Learning Series of Courses http://www.bestnet.org/~jwalker/course.htm Member: Association for International Business ------------------------------- Excerpt from CSS Internet News (tm) ,-~~-.____ For subscription details email / | ' \ email@example.com with ( ) 0 SUBINFO CSSINEWS in the \_/-, ,----' subject line. ==== // / \-'~; /~~~(O) "On the Internet no one / __/~| / | knows you're a dog" =( _____| (_________| http://www.bestnet.org/~jwalker ------------------------------- ---------------------------------- Send mail for the 'huridocs-tech' list to 'firstname.lastname@example.org'. 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