CCDP

This Spring, stories about the innocuously-titled but sinister “Communications Capabilities Development Programme” emerged, in the form of leaks and partial confirmations to Sunday newspapers.

The second story, in the Sunday Times on April Fools Day, had many people asking if this supposed plan was a joke. The CCDP, it was claimed, is a plan collect as much data as possible about who you talk to online, and when. Could such an outrageous story really be true?

Within a day, minister Theresa May was wheeled out justifying the idea by reminding people that “traffic data” had in the past been used to investigate terrorists and paedophile rings. She told the Sun:

“I’m not willing to risk more terrorist plots succeeding and more paedophiles going free …

“Data like…

ACTA

The Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is the latest attack on your digital rights: and it will live or die because of the campaigning work of European citizens like you.

Earlier this year, tens of thousands of citizens took to the streets, and 1.4 million of us signed AVAAZ’s petition against the Treaty. People were livid and EU ratification stalled as a result.

The ACTA treaty is not what it sounds. It is not a simple trade agreement, or even primarily targeted at ‘counterfeit’ goods. It was suggested by US trade officials as a means of clamping down on online and pharmaceutical infringements of intellectual property. It is being agreed as a high standard of enforcement among a small group of mainly developed nations, with the aim of bringing other states in later.

After…

Privacy battles

Every year recently, privacy threats have grabbed the headlines. Identity cards, credit cards being leaked by Sony or personal details of UK citizens being lost by government: bad systems and bad ideas seem to lead directly to serious debacles. And it is unclear if our governments know how to fix the problem.

2012 is no exception. But this year, while I can’t predict who will bungle their network security, I can tell you how the battles for our privacy rights will be shaping up.

You’ll know exactly why the problems is developing at root. Our computers are getting better and better at collecting, storing and processing information. There’s no reason to suppose the trend will slow down or stop. And as we get better at using all this data, new ways to strip our privacy emerge,…

Copyright controversies

The war in the USA between the open Internet and copyright industries pushing for draconian controls took an unexpected twist in the last weeks.

The Bills – SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protection of Intellectual property Act) – were withdrawn. President Obama threatened to veto SOPA. Republican candidates were highly critical.

It looks like a straightforward victory for common sense: which would be an unexpected twist. Normally, copyright industries seem to cloud political judgements to an extraordinary extent. Internet activists don’t expect their campaigns to be easy or quick. Victories are often last minute, down to the wire affairs.

The proposals – for Internet censorship of foreign “infringing” websites, interference with DNS, possibly intrusion into…

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