The Guardian (UK) reports this morning that the Police and various intelligence agencies are still pressing hard to be allowed snoop on VOIP calls. The fact that it is hard to trace VOIP calls “poses significant threats to our democratic society” – seemingly.
Its gas. The same thing happened with mobile phones when Eircell and Esat got big years ago. That was the big fear, that Ireland’s criminal underworld were now escaping the land lines and using mobile phones and text messages to conduct their daily business.
Without these records, VoIP services will become the communication method of choice for criminals and terrorists, secure in the knowledge that their activities are untraceable by law enforcement agencies. I
There’s no real easy way for people to intercept VOIP calls since they’re not physically passing through an exchange (until you start to go offline) and this is the big worry. But requesting that agencies be allowed monitor VOIP calls and traffic? Sure why don’t we just all stick tagging devices on our laptops or just invite your local law enforcement into a conference call the next time you’re trying to organise a drug run or a weapons drop or something.
It’s another area where the technology has outstripped the legislation, the traceability and the powers that we have … You could buy a smart phone or PDA that’s wirelessly enabled that comes pre-loaded with Â£10 of wireless credit on it, download a program like Skype and then start making calls anonymously, and that’s got to be attractive to a criminal.
I picked myself up a HP 6515w phone earlier this year, I used a pre-paid sim card (refuse a bill for personal use) and I just happen to have a wireless network card in the phone, and a copy of Skype! That should mean I’m all set to enter the criminal underworld – and little did I know it!
With all this talk of policing the net, net neutrality, internet regulatation etc. is there no room left for privacy at all? Or is it that fact that the internet can still provide an element of privacy that scares governments and intelligence agencies? Big Brother might be watching, but he can’t see everything just yet – and I would hope it stays that way too.
The article in itself, is published on today’s Guardian by Peter Warren and while heavily UK based, makes for some great morning reading.