(credit: Aurich Lawson)
The head of the UK ISP Arnold & Arnold, Adrian Kennard, has pointed out a number of major technical issues with the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill (aka the Snooper’s Charter). Kennard and other representatives of the UK Internet Service Provider’s Association (ISPA) met with the Home Office on Tuesday, where they presented a number of ethical, technical, and privacy related issues with the incoming new law. These issues, plus some of the Home Office’s responses, can be found in written evidence (PDF) penned by Kennard.
Kennard’s key point is that the Internet Connection Records, which lie at the heart of the UK government’s proposals, are largely meaningless for most modern online services. He recounts that, in the Home Office briefing this week, the example of a girl going missing was used once more to illustrate why the authorities want to be able to see which services she accessed just before disappearing, in the same way that they can track her phone calls. But Kennard and the other ISPA members pointed out this example betrayed a lack of understanding of how the Internet works today:
“If the mobile provider was even able to tell that she had used twitter at all (which is not as easy as it sounds), it would show that the phone had been connected to twitter 24 hours a day, and probably Facebook as well. This is because the very nature of messaging and social media applications is that they stay connected so that they can quickly alert you to messages, calls, or amusing cat videos, without any delay.”
He also pointed out that the main protocol used online, TCP, can maintain a connection for hours or even days at a time, and that others such as SCTP and MOSH are designed to keep a single connection active indefinitely even with changes to IP addresses at each end,
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