Invasion of Internet privacy
Other Names: Abusive email interception
Nature: The fluid structure has not protected the Internet from interception and control by authorities. Because the medium is new, it often lacks the protections found in conventional telephone systems. Law enforcement and national security agencies throughout the world have moved swiftly to establish default capabilities to intercept and analyse email and Internet traffic.
Background: One fundamental element of democracy and freedom of speech and thought is the ability to access information anonymously. We cherish the ability to access all kinds of information to explore ideas freely without fear someone may use that information against us or may be watching what we're reading. Even when agencies have policies in place protecting this right, there are no guarantees that the policy is being followed.
Incidence: Law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom have argued that interception of email traffic should be permissible through agreements between police and internet service providers (ISPs), the conduits for Internet traffic. The move has caused alarm, with rights groups demanding that email interception should not be treated differently than telephone interception. In Singapore, all ISPs are operated by government-controlled or related organizations and reportedly provide information on a regular basis to government agencies. In Russia, a proposal that all ISPs place a black box and high speed link connected to the Federal Security Service is currently being debated. In Finland, a popular anonymous remailer (the Internet equivalent of the PO Box service) had to be shut down due to legal challenges that forced the operator to reveal the name of one of the users.
Problem Type: E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update 19.09.2000 – 00:00 CEST