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