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Internet Anonymity Being Reviewed By U.N. Agency With IP Traceback Initiative

 5:20 pm on Sep 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Internet Anonymity Being Reviewed [news.cnet.com]By U.N. Agency
A United Nations agency is quietly drafting technical standards, proposed by the Chinese government, to define methods of tracing the original source of Internet communications and potentially curbing the ability of users to remain anonymous.

The U.S. National Security Agency is also participating in the "IP Traceback" drafting group, named Q6/17, which is meeting next week in Geneva to work on the traceback proposal. Members of Q6/17 have declined to release key documents, and meetings are closed to the public.

The potential for eroding Internet users' right to remain anonymous, which is protected by law in the United States and recognized in international law by groups such as the Council of Europe, has alarmed some technologists and privacy advocates. Also affected may be services such as the Tor anonymizing network.



 5:36 pm on Sep 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

right to remain anonymous

If I want to remain anonymous IRL, I have to put on a disguise or do something to hide myself. Why should the Internet be any different? While I don't necessarily like governmental bodies drawing up these standards, IP authentication would have many positive effects on the Internet.

Lord Majestic

 5:41 pm on Sep 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Why should the Internet be any different?

Many good reasons. One of them is that in real life snooping on your is very hard, Govt can't check which book you buy or read - online it can be logged and if IPs are easily associated with names then it is easy to make lists of people who (say) read political stuff that is not in the interests of the ruling party. Internet allows to automate such analysis, something that is not easily possible in real life.

I am all for spammers/crackers being whacked for what they do - there is a due process for that, it just needs to be streamlined. But making everyone carry ID papers for every search we make or every (possibly) wrong url clicks, just think of scammers doing stuff on zombie PCs - good people will be affected where as bad ones will still hide behind stolen identity - this is much worse than if they those bad things anonymously.

It's not job of the UN anyway, they should focus on stuff like genocide in Darfur and other places and stop wasting money on stuff like this.


 5:42 pm on Sep 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

UN initiative...proposed by China. Hmmm.... Can I opt out?


 6:22 pm on Sep 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

i dont think this will hold up in a free society


 6:25 pm on Sep 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Why would anonymity be a right ?

People often confuse the right to free speech with anonymity. There's a big difference. Just because you can express your political ideas -without having to fear repercussions of your own government-, doesn't mean you earned the right to remain anonymous. If somebody commits libel you want to know who to sue ;-).

Lord Majestic

 6:35 pm on Sep 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Why would anonymity be a right ?

There is a direct correlation between available anonimity and actual effective presense of free speech.

Say people who go to demonstrate against something should not have to provide their IDs before hand.

If somebody commits libel you want to know who to sue ;-).

You can already obtain ISP records in relation to a lawsuit in order to identify defendant and then pursue via normal channels in courts. This is a fairly established procedure now.


 7:03 pm on Sep 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

we might as well come up with laws and standards to force people to install and wear surveillance gear connected to those agencies' systems (particularly to the chief people who are making all the money behind this - maybe their PC's?)!
this way they can finally have a peace of mind... they can trace everything we do in and out of our homes, online and offline! who cares about privacy anyway?! it's becoming "overrated"...


[edited by: ReDSecToR at 7:04 pm (utc) on Sep. 12, 2008]


 7:17 pm on Sep 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Why would anonymity be a right ?

It isn't but privacy is.

I can be a source to a news story and remain anon... Why can't my blog be the same?

Maybe you have heard of deep throat. If he had the right to remain anon then we all should.


 7:24 pm on Sep 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

The United Nations would love to control the internet. I think it's a top priority for them. This is clearly a step in that direction.


 7:33 pm on Sep 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

the same way you have the right to publish an anon poster and pass it around the neighborhood. Same principle: if you fear, you will not exercise your rights. The market of ideas is supreme.


 8:10 pm on Sep 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

You can even publish books anon.

If fact there was a very famous case about this about a publishing house that made "how to" manuals about how to murder someone, how to make bombs, all sorts of bad stuff.

The family of a murder victim sued the publisher after their book was found at the perpetrator's house, they tried to get the publisher to reveal the name of the author and all sorts of big names came to the defense of this sleazy publication not because they were right to publish that crap but because the author had the right to remain anonymous.


 9:15 pm on Sep 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Why can't my blog be the same?

Because you are posting on a publicly available medium. Usually super secret anonymous sources and journalists don't hold their meetings in front of a large group of people using loud speakers. Also, while the article was short on details, how is "IP Traceability" really any different than what we have now. Unless you know how to spoof IP addresses, your anonymity for doing something online is reliant primarily upon the records your ISP keeps and how willing/unwilling they are to give them out.


 9:49 pm on Sep 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Traceback techniques might be very useful in fighting e-mail spam.


 12:18 am on Sep 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

i dont think this will hold up in a free society

And where might I find one of those (a free society, that is)?

On the one hand, freedom is an absolute in as much as we always have the ability to choose. On the other hand, freedom, as in a "free society" is largely an illusion maintained by the ruling elite.


 2:35 am on Sep 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

For most of us this means nothing. We aren't (generally) political, agitators, insurgents, terrorists, etc. We offer goods and services or information sites and why should we care?

Indeed... why?

If you run a blog and one of the above should drop a post. Maybe.

If you run a business site, however innocent, and your products can be turned to evil by a customer, why worry?


Since we don't have the details of this meeting, or the technical specifications, I'll hold off making a judgment until more info is available. Then again, by the time that happens it might be too late.



 4:50 am on Sep 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

Just use a proxy and u'll be fine, if that is what you need...


 5:32 am on Sep 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

Just consider this: In the country from which I am posting this morning, a prominent blogger who frequently criticises the government was arrested yesterday and will be help without charge up to an initial period of 60 days. He chose to waive his anonymity and has paid the price.


 7:26 am on Sep 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

UN initiative...proposed by China.

Indeed. Is there really any more we need to know?

As mentioned there are already more than sufficient avenues that can be used to associate an IP with a user in the event that a crime has been commited.


 7:27 am on Sep 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

It is amazing how naive people are. They think because they live in a democracy nobody will misuse all the data that is collected. Right: All the information will be stored in high security server farms where nobody can break in and will solely be used for the purpose of catching criminals.

Oh no wait: It seems in some countries the information is stored on laptops and USB sticks and harddrives which are then lost or sold at ebay:



Or published accidently on websites where anybody can read the information:

There have even been governments in the past which have used the means provided to the executive for political purposes. Rememeber the infamous memorandum of the Nixon administration:

"This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration; stated a bit more bluntly—how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies."

So don't be surprised if someone breaks in your home in the future with a detailed list of all the things you ever bought online, which he found on a used harddrive he bought at ebay for $9.99.

Fortune Hunter

 4:58 pm on Sep 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

One of the reasons the Internet has created so much material that would be considered free speech is because of the anonymity that people expect. It takes a brave person to go against a big government agency or company and take the lumps that will go with it, but the Internet has allowed that information to come to light more readily because people have some sense of privacy. If you remove that you will remove a lot of the free speech that goes on and hence the free speech movement on the Internet and in general will suffer because people will fear speaking out.


 6:43 pm on Sep 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think there is more good than bad in this propoosal. Yes, there are some downsides... but people here make it sound like this is going to shut down all free thinking in the world - it won't.


 7:20 pm on Sep 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

It's exactly that kind of thinking that allows free (fill in the blank) to be removed one piece at a time.


 8:22 pm on Sep 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

I bet some "agency" is well on its way to having this already implemented on some level.


 5:55 am on Sep 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

"UN initiative...proposed by China."
"Indeed. Is there really any more we need to know?"

Yes, the U.S. National Security Agency is also participating.

Don't just point at the Chinese!

Members of Q6/17 have declined to release key documents, and meetings are closed to the public.

So everyone in Q6/17 wants to suppress freedom.

BTW, what does "Q6/17" mean? Quintessentially 6 clout nations behind the proposals (China, USA, Russia, UK, Australia, Japan) with 17 lacky nations (Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, etc. etc.) in nodding head agreement?


 7:35 am on Sep 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

I was just thinking about the traceback issue...

This "initiative" would not make it significantly easier to trace people using open public connections and bouncing requests through multiple proxies.

In other words it wouldn't stop criminals. It wouldn't even make them change their methods.

It would, however, make it far easier to monitor innocent people who are doing something you disagree with.

It's another example of an attempt at arbitrary net control which relies on the public's ignorance of technology to make a case for itself.


 11:03 am on Sep 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

They say "If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear"
I say If authorities did nothing wrong we would have nothing to fear.
There was a case in the UK a few weeks ago. Parliament recently (quietly), passed a law permitting authorities to use surveilance services. The law rhetoric highlighted terrorisim and major crime, so of course the law passed. HOWEVER this law was used by a local council to hire a detective to spy on a mother to check where she lived, in case her kids should be attending another school.

When authorities are no longer found corrupt or incompetant, I will applaud all the surveilance and data systems they propose.
How many examples have YOU heard in just the last few years of 'trusted' authorities losing data, making secret deals, twisting hard won rights.... We have a long way to go before authorities are grown-up enough for this kind of power.


 1:28 pm on Sep 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Good luck, I'm behind seven proxies!

Fortune Hunter

 6:06 pm on Sep 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Parliament recently (quietly), passed a law permitting authorities to use surveillance services.

This is always how all sneaky politicians do it. In the U.S. they introduce legislation like this in tiny little pieces that they slip into a bill here or there and quietly build it up or I should say strip it [freedom] away over time. And they wonder why we don't trust them...


 7:36 am on Sep 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

The phrase everyone is searching for is "mission creep".

Whatever purpose they originally tout it's use for (anti-spam, anti-phishing, anti-identify theft) and sell it to the public with, "law enforcement" will sooner or later abuse for far worse purposes, not by illegal entities but by governments themselves against their people. Judging by recent history it will be in the sooner category.

While China will love it so they can pre-arrest people who even plan to protest, the USA will love it more so they can pre-arrest people who plan to protest (yes that wasn't a typo and no it's not funny).

This 36 message thread spans 2 pages: 36 ( [1] 2 > >
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