Austria, and Other Privacy Related News in January 2008

Quite a few things happened this month in regard to privacy. I highly recommend the [url=]24C3 Conference Talk about Tor[/url] to all german readers. Tor allows oppressed citizens of censoring countries such as China and the USA (see below) to bypass filters and surf anonymously, but only with your support (see “related links”). It is not yet clear whether german Tor nodes will be required to log IP data next year as a result of the new data retention law passed in December, which will effectively kill most of them (the amount of data collected over a period of 6 months will be several terabytes). The Chaos Computer Club argues that Tor and similar anonymity services cannot be seen as communication providers and thus are not affected by the law, the Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung isn’t so sure about that. We’ll see.
One month after Austria has passed a new controversial security law (Sicherheitspolizeigesetz) which allows police to access provider data (including cellphone location and IPs) without the consent of a judge, the left wing party [i]Die Grünen[/i] set up a video/blogging platform to monitor Home Secretary Günther Platter, [url=]PlatterWatch[/url]. More importantly, they published a draft form of Viennas police, which in it’s current form allows up to 30 queries at once and supports police officers with clearly illegal requests, for example for IMSI information. The party argues that with the responsibility to decide if a request is legal in the hands of the provider – who might be faced with hundreds of requests – this will certainly lead to abuse.
Video surveillance is another hot topic in Austria at the moment. While many attorneys state that more than 100.000 video cameras are currently being operated without legal grounds, the Ministry of Transport plans to monitor highways and automatically detect car types and license plates in one central police database. Also, federal government is looking into “suitable legal foundations for public video surveillance by individuals”.
On a side node: AT&T is [url=]preparing to filter internet content[/url] for copyright violations.
I have cited a few more privacy related news from Heise Newsticker in the german version of this article for all german readers.