Research Analyst, Information Design, Nokia Networks
Wendy Grossman reports in the September 2001 issue of Scientific American, in an article entitled “Surveillance by Design,” that the US Justice Department and the Council of Europe are currently developing a cyber crime treaty that would require ISPs in the United States and Europe to maintain logs of users’ activities for up to seven years and to keep their networks tappable. The rationale for this is to protect us from cyber crime. However, it would be a clear violation of the first and fourth amendments of the US Constitution. But because no US law is required for implementation of a treaty, it will bypass the protection of the US Bill of Rights.
Under this treaty, everything you do on the Internet will be available to the US federal government and the governments of Europe. Grossman points out that this treaty would be the Internet equivalent of legally requiring valid return addresses on all postal mail, installing cameras in all phone booths, and making all cash traceable. As more and more information about us travels through the Internet, our governments will be able to develop accurate information about our lifestyles, our medical histories, and our communication profiles.
You can get more information about the US Justice Department’s take on this from their Web site.