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A victory for privacy in Germany

by IdiotSavant Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 at 11:20:20 PM EST

From No Right Turn - New Zealand's liberal blog:

In 2006, as a response to hysteria whipped up during the war on terror, the European Union passed the Data Retention Directive.  The directive requires member states to log and store all telecommunications and internet data, such as call times, destinations, IP addresses - effectively, full traffic data - for six to 24 months so that police can datamine it (with a court order, of course - but they have tame judges to give them that).

The German Constitutional Court has just ruled Germany's implementation of that directive illegal.

The reason, of course, is privacy.  The law requires that the communications details of everyone, regardless of guilt or innocence, be logged and made available to police.  While the communications themselves are not recorded and stored, the fact that they were made is - and that violates individual privacy.  Who you talk to and when is fundamentally private information, and requires strong evidence of wrongdoing (not to mention relevance) to justify.  The law did not require any evidence of wrongdoing at all.  As a result, it was a "particularly serious infringement of privacy" and has been struck down.

This means that Germany will be violating the Data Directive.  But from the BBC story, it sounds like that will be being "reassessed" later this year.  Hopefully Germany and other countries will decide to ditch it entirely.


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Rumanias courts has already declared it unconstitutional.

In Sweden it is causing quite some debate. In January Sweden got fined for not implementing it after a lack luster defense by the swedish government in the EU court. The opposition presented their alternative as a better storage, whereupon the greens got thoroughly bashed on the internets. Yesterday they did about face and promised that within a green-red government they would block any proposition on introducing data storage.

Of course, the reason it has not been implemented, and the reason the greens found their spine is the risk of loosing votes to the Pirate Party.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Mar 4th, 2010 at 04:11:41 AM EST
re: relevance (to criminal activity), applied "research," commercializing privacy hacks

To enable their computer system to learn from blogs, the team followed a two-step process. The first step was for humans to flag thousands of blog entries as either "story" or "not story". People use different words with different frequencies when they are telling stories, as compared with other forms of discourse. By tallying up the frequencies of parts of speech such as pronouns (I, she, we) and past-tense verbs (went, said, thought) in these flagged blogs, it is possible to distinguish between the two types--regardless of what the story is actually about, says Dr Gordon. His computer system could then look at other blog entries and work out whether they were narrative or not.

Read more...



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Mar 14th, 2010 at 09:48:34 AM EST


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