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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

EFF urges Internet community to oppose data bill

Leading civil liberties group defending human rights in the digital world, the United States-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has urged the Internet community to shun plans by the Congress to order internet service providers (ISPs) to spy on their customers.

A press statement from the group urged Internet community in the States to oppose the data retention bill.

The group noted that the U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering H.R. 1981, a bill that would order all online service providers to keep new logs about online activities, logs to help the government identify the web sites people visit and the content posted online

“ This sweeping new ‘mandatory data retention’ proposal treats every Internet user like a potential criminal and represents a clear and present danger to the online free speech and privacy rights of millions of innocent Americans,” part of the statement read.

EFF maintained that internet consumers tell their Representatives to oppose this dangerous bill, before this week’s critical vote.

H.R. 1981, the group explained would impose sweeping requirements on a broad swath of online service providers to keep new records on all of their customers, just in case the police ever want to investigate any of them.

In particular, the bill would require any “provider of an electronic communication service or remote computing service” to keep for at least 18 months a record of which users were assigned to particular network addresses at particular times.

Such addresses, like the Internet Protocol (IP) address assigned to consumer cable modem by the cable company, or to their laptops by a wireless router, could be used to identify who visited particular websites or posted particular content online, thus threatening the right to privately browse the web, speak and read anonymously when online.

Mandatory data retention, EFF said, would force ISPs and workplace, school, library, corner coffee-shop with free WiFi, and anyone else that offers consumer internet access -to create vast and expensive new databases of sensitive information about users.

That information, EFF emphasised would then be available to the government, in secret and without any court oversight, based on weak and outdated electronic privacy laws.

Accordingly, EFF pointed out that same data would be available to civil litigants in private lawsuits--whether it’s the RIAA trying to identify downloaders, a company trying to uncover and retaliate against an anonymous critic, or a divorce lawyer looking for dirty laundry.

“These databases would also be a new and valuable target for black hat hackers, be they criminals trying to steal identities or foreign governments trying to unmask anonymous dissidents,” EFF stated.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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