Archive | September, 2014

EU to beef up IPRED?

Lately, the Italian EU Presidency has demonstrated that policy making is something rather random. A policy can easily be decided on even if it is contrary to experience, judicial realities and common sense.

In this case the Presidency suggest that the EU beefs up the much criticized Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive, IPRED.

In plain English: To significantly step up the fight against illegal file sharing.

That would be in conflict with EU consultations, damaging implementation reports, the ECJ ruling against data retention–and it would kill our (fairly) free and open Internet.

EDRi sums it up…

“However, having established that the current legislative framework is not fit for purpose, the best thing that the Presidency can think of proposing is to expand and deepen the failed, not fit for purpose enforcement measures that are currently in force. The Italians apparently hope that, if they do the same thing over and over again, different results will be produced.”

So far this is just policy making, not law making. But it might be a signal from the Council to the Commission to remove the dust cover from IPRED 2.

Read more and find links to documents at EDRi: Italian position on IP Enforcement – the essence of insanity? »



EU Commissioner Malmström – on our side?

Finally there seems to be real evidence that some fractions of the EU Commission has been acting behind the scenes–with the US–to water down EU data protection laws.

According to the human rights organisation Access, recently released documents show that outgoing EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström fed Americans information they needed to undermine privacy issues in the EU data protection package.

For many who have been following the E.U. privacy reform debate closely, this trans-Atlantic cooperation was an open secret. However, until now, it has not been possible to demonstrate DG Home’s maneuvers. Beyond the implications for the Data Protection Reform, the contents of the acquired document give cause for concern about Ms. Malmström’s suitability for leading EU negotiations with the USA on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), given that she has recently been chosen E.U. Commissioner-designate for Trade.

When considering this information one should also keep in mind that Commissioner Malmström has pushed back on the European Parliaments request to suspend the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP), giving the US intelligence bureaucracy access to bulk data on European bank transactions.

Also Malmström took a quite distant attitude, when information came to light that the US spy organisation NSA had broken into the EU based SWIFT database (handling much of the worlds bank transactions).

There is a rather telling hearing on mass surveillance in the European Parliament, from September 24th last year–with Commissioner Malmström, Europol Director Rob Wainwright and Blanche Petre from the General Council of SWIFT. Commissioner Malmströms unwillingness to protect European interests or to do anything that might upset the Americans is obvious. (Link/video»)

I would like to think that Commissioner Malmström and her staff was just a bit to naive and friendly with the US when it comes to EU data protection. But Malmströms paper trail is consistent. For example she was a member of the Swedish cabinet that made Sweden the closest NSA partner outside the Five Eyes-group. And as Commissioner she has been a strong proponent of Passenger Name Records (PNR), giving the US access to personal data about air passengers.

So, no. I’m not convinced that Cecilia Malmström is on the same side as the European people.

EU home affairs chief secretly worked with US to undermine new privacy laws, campaigners claim »
Big brother’s little helper inside the European Commission »


Update: This actually lead to a decision to vote on Malmströms candidacy in the EP Trade Committee, tomorrow, Tuesday.

Update 2: After todays letter from Malmström, she was approved by the EP Trade Committee.

Update 3: This is not over yet… »


Finally, someone is barking under the right tree

When the Swedish Tax Authority (Skatteverket) was hacked a few years ago–all attention was focused on the court case that followed against the alleged hacker, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg (a.k.a. anakata).

There was little or no notice taken to the fact that the IT system in question was poorly protected.

During the entire process, Skatteverket as well as its system contractor Logica tried to keep that aspect of the case under the radar.

But finally someone has picked up on this. Today the Swedish Pirate Party former member of European Parliament Amelia Andersdotter has submitted a complaint to the Swedish Data Protection Agency (Datainspektionen).

The point of the complaint is that Skatteverket doesn’t care enough about security in IT system procurement.

This will be interesting to follow, as EU public procurement rules in many cases don’t really give that much room for other considerations than price.

(In addition to traditional IT security issues, it might also be a good idea to look into contractors relations with other countries intelligence and surveillance networks–so that they won’t provide backdoors for NSA, GCHQ or others.)

Amelias blog post (in Swedish) »



“The Letter”

Over at Torrentfreak, Rick Falkvinge explains the right to private communication in the simplest possible way–with the old-fashioned letter: anonymous, secret in transit, under mere conduit and untracked. So obvious in the physical world, yet so disputed when it comes to electronic communications.

“All of these characteristics, which all embed vital civil liberties, have been lost in the transition to digital at the insistence of the copyright industry – so that they, as a third-party, can prevent people from sending letters with a content they just don’t like to see sent, for business reasons of theirs.”

Read the article here »


Intellectual property and trade agreements vs. a free and open internet

Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights is often included in various international trade agreements.

Sometimes this is done in general terms, not making any distinction between e.g. patents, copyright, trademarks and geographical indications. Politicians just look at the supposed value of IP–and decide that they want to protect it. (A rather blunt approach.)

In other cases IP issues are very specific, like in the (rejected) ACTA agreement. In ACTA the text suggested “voluntary cooperation” between copyright holders and internet service providers (ISP:s) to curb online piracy. This would, had the agreement been approved, have led to ISP:s having to police the net. And to police the net, you need to inspect and analyze all internet traffic.

Both approaches are problematic. Especially as international trade agreements normally are negotiated by bureaucrats behind closed doors–in effect impossible to influence for the general public and our elected representatives. This is a serious problem, as these agreements often will have the same impact as laws.

Naturally, you must be able to distinguish between different sorts of IP.

And you must make sure that international trade agreements are in line with important legal principles–as mere conduit in the EU E-Commerce Directive, ensuring that internet service providers are not liable for the information transmitted.

The next international trade agreement that might try to enforce IP rights is the EU-US free trade agreement, TTIP.

Naturally, free trade as in free trade is commendable. And if the interested parties are serious about setting up a transatlantic area of free trade–they ought to go easy on the IP chapter (or leave it out all together).

Any new attempts to enforce certain IP rights by trade agreements will backfire the same way ACTA did.

Cato Institute on Intellectual Property in Trade Agreements »
The ACTA demon rises. Again. And again. And again… »
Electronic Commerce Directive (EU) »
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) »



And now: Total Control

Indect is an EU funded program for surveillance. Or rather for control. Pre Crime style.

This is a program coordinating many different elements and procedures…

  • CCTV and surveillance drones.
  • Various data bases (e.g. information from data retention)
  • Automated behaviour analysis.
  • Analysis of citizens web activities.
  • Mass surveillance NSA style.

And today, media reports suggest that the American FBI is ready to launch its new Facial Recognition System. (Links:  |  | )

With such a technology finally in place Indect can take a significant step towards completion. And society will take yet another step towards a total control state.

Let’s hope that all our leaders–politicians and bureaucrats–are good, decent people. And that all those who will follow also are. Because if not, we have given people in high places a horrendous weapon against the people.

Read more about Indect here: Wikipedia»Incect»

Or watch this video from Anonymous


This is not Science Fiction. This is not conspiracy theories. It’s official. And it’s happening right now.



Using copyright to silence people

The Disruptive Communications Project runs an important and interesting piece about “jurisprudence-shoping”— by Georgetown adjunct professor Matt Schruers.

His point is that copyright law and its’ far reaching remedies “are so attractive that they attract plaintiffs from other areas of the law”. This leads to legal migration, where all sorts of legal conflicts are dealt with under laws written with a totally different purpose.

For instance copyright law is being used to silence people who ought to be protected by freedom of speech.

For me, the Nadia Plesner case springs to mind. This artist was sued under copyright law by the luxury brand Louis Vuitton for depicting an undernourished African child holding a designer handbag in her painting Darfurnica.

Read the Schruer piece here » (Via: Techdirt)