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  • Interception versus privacy – contents


    1. #@??KQP/X:+GT^^C;*A![]W>
    The keyboard as weapon

    The harmonisation of international requirements for interception

    Cross-border operational cooperation

    Combating encryption

    Cybercops in the Netherlands



    For some time now, the struggle against cybercrime has enjoyed a prominent place on the political agenda. The government of the United States in particular is worried. The denial-of service attacks against a number of important commercial websites, including yahoo! Amazon.com and CNN were grist to the mills of American law enforcement. In these attacks, enormous amounts of information were sent simultaneously, causing a traffic jam in the computers which put the websites temporarily out of action. It was like a shop blockade, but then in cyberspace.

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    1. #@??KQP/X:+GT^^C;*A![]W>

    The keyboard as weapon

    When calling from a mobile phone or sending e-mail, most people assume that no one else is listening to their conversation or reading their mail. If, however, they want to be absolutely sure of this, they must encrypt these messages. Protecting one’s privacy or sensitive information can be good and legitimate reasons for using encryption. Police and intelligence services, however, seem to think that encryption is suspicious by definition. Their line of reasoning is that anyone who encrypts a message has something to hide. The possibilities for the police to intercept communications have reached unprecedented heights, but recently, the wide scale use of encryption has threatened to bring this development to a halt, something that the authorities are none too pleased about.

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    Eavesdroppers at the table

    The harmonisation of international requirements for interception.

    The efforts to bring the Internet and encryption under control have, by their very nature, an international character. The Internet is, after all a worldwide communications network, and therefore requires worldwide control. One of the authorities’ first concerns was to ensure that they could intercept all the new communication systems that followed each other in such rapid tempo. The harmonisation of the technology needed for interception and the devising of means to ensure that the telecommunications industry complies with these requirements are chief topics at international meetings on interception.

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    Eavesdroppers international

    Cross-border operational cooperation

    Controlling the Internet is, by its very nature, an international affair. The Internet is not restricted by national boundaries, whereas governmental legislative authority is still largely subject to national boundaries. In order to actually monitor and trace on a global level, legal authorities must be in tune with each other. Efficient international cooperation, preferably without too many complicated bureaucratic procedures is also essential. The harmonisation of rules regarding the penalisation of Internet criminals, the regulation of tracking powers and cross-border cooperation are regular topics at international meetings.

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    The key to success

    Combating encryption

    In recent years, western governments have created new powers to allow them to intercept e-mail and Internet correspondence. Internet providers are obliged to make their systems capable of being intercepted, as telephone companies are. However, the authorities have been struggling with the problem of encryption for years. Tapped messages are not much use if they cannot be read or listened to. For years, the United States in particular tried to regulate the export of encryption by the introduction of strict regulations. In the meantime the judicial authorities have had a change of thought about cryptography.

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    Intercepting the low lands

    Cybercops in the Netherlands

    In view of the transnational dimensions of the digital society, it is scarcely surprising that the law enforcement, the police and intelligence agencies in the Netherlands more or less go along with international developments. This is largely due to the intensive international discussions, in which the Netherlands plays a role. The inventory of methods available to the police and intelligence services whilst conducting investigations in the digital world has been laid down in a number of bills that have become law in recent years.

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    Since the arrival of the new communication technologies, the police and law enforcement have issued repeated warnings about the dangers posed by encryption. For a long time, the interests of police and law enforcement were diametrically opposed to individuals’ and organisations’ need for privacy and the business community’s need for both privacy and the protection of their commercial interests. This essentially political discussion was influenced to a large degree by technological developments. The police and law enforcement’s wish to keep communication comprehensible and legible were threatened by the distribution of relatively high quality encryption via the Internet. When efforts to restrict the use of encryption techniques failed because they were technically and legally unviable, law enforcement agencies were forced to consider other options. Since then, a broad packet of measures has been created to give the authorities enough scope to restrict any problems caused by encryption to a minimum.

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    Interception versus privacy – colophon

    Dossier cryptography

    august 2000

    Buro Jansen & Janssen
    Stichting Eurowatch


    This dossier cryptography is made on the initiative of Bits of Freedom, a privacy and civil liberties organization for the information society.

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