Monday, January 12, 2009

Laws to keep us all secure in the digital era…you are joking, aren’t you?

Starting 11 September 2001 and reinforced after the Atocha and London terrorist attacks, the law in both side of the Atlantic has been adapted, changed and twisted so security agencies have more a more rights to intercept, search and store everything we do online with the clear and specific purpose of keeping us safe…or so the governments say. We will need not a post on a blog neither a book but a library to go through all the instances where in the last seven years the US and European governments have decided that the centuries old protections against the state interference with people’s communications without a reasonable cause sustained by an oath of affirmation have been good to defeat communism and fascism but would not do it against a bunch of lunatics that follow a guy that lives in a cave…and they keep doing it…but only against its citizens (who are normally simply exchanging information) and not against those that are actually using information technologies to help groups or countries deemed not friendly (by acts, politics and law).
Some reports have recently referred to the problems, in fact, finances and law that the transposition of the EU Directive 2006/24/EC on Data Retention would bring to most countries in general and to UK in particular. Fore example, it seems that the Government (means us, the taxpayers) will have to pay more than £25 million to ensure the law is obeyed, which would include the cost of recording every single e-mail which arrived to every email addres, including spam, but since only the fact that an email has been received and not its content is going to be recorded, we could well end in trouble due to being guilty by association…and the solution is not to also retain the content but to use the existing and proper principles of law that say that we are all innocent until proved otherwise. Strangely enough, while Lord Falconer has defended the not very nice ruling of Justice Eady in the Mosley case, saying that “the human rights convention does say we've got a legitimate entitlement to privacy”, does not seem to have the same view when the information of every resident in UK is going to be appropriated, without any reasonable cause, by the authorities. But what seems even more outrageous is that, once somebody is actually found commiting a crime via electronic networks, hiding the identity of the owners of large sums because the transfer in question were prohibited and that “somebody” is one of the big banks that only recently needed public money (again, our money), only a fine and a slap in the wrist is what is given. British bank Lloys TSB accepted that is had criminally hidded information about illegal transfers with Iranian and Sudanese customers in the US.

Court documents say for more than a decade Lloyds had been falsifying data which
moved through U.S. institutions by "stripping out" of wire transfers any
references to business deals involving customers in the two countries.
officials acknowledged they feared if the U.S. had been aware of the deals they
would likely have been blocked because of restrictions on commercial deals with
Iran and Sudan.
"For more than 12 years Lloyd's facilitated the anonymous
movement of hundreds of millions of dollars from U.S.-sanctioned nations through
our financial system," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew
"Lloyds stripped identifying information from international wire
transfers that would have raised a red flag at U.S. financial institutions and
caused such payments to be scrutinized," he said.
Although the money must be
forfeited, under terms of the deal Lloyds will not presently be prosecuted
because it accepted responsibility and has vowed to abide by the U.S. laws.
After two years the U.S. will forego prosecution and formally drop the criminal

No. it is not a joke…if you receive an email that you haven’t requested from somebody that knows somebody that has a cousin of a friend of somebody that may have some link to an organization that may have some sympathy for some lunatic that may have been related to some terrorist activity, because the data of that email will be stored for a year and somebody needs to justify the existence of his/her job in order for a politician to justify that the legislation that he/she put forward was not a complete stupidity and a waste of government’s money (yes, our money), your communications will be investigated and you will be put in lists that will your life a little more difficult, but if you are the manager of a huge bank that authorizes the commission of a crime involving people that the law of some countries have certified have some links to at-least terrorist-friendly groups, then you don’t go to jail; your bank has only to pay a fine, for which it can use money that the government just gave to it to keep your job secure, government money that, yes, as you imagine, comes from the same taxpayer that is being investigated for receiving and unwanted email from somebody that knows somebody….

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