back to article Data retention 'ineffective' in fighting serious crime

Comms data retention is ineffective for the prosecution of serious crime, according to a study of German police statistics by local privacy activists. Germany implemented a European Union directive in 2008 requiring telecoms operators and ISPs to retain data about customers' communications, including numbers called or email …


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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I say you need to think about this a bit more

      Yes, it is, in theory, useful to have a gigantic database that you can /just/ pull out /just/ the right data to simply solve the crime you're trying to solve. If only you /just/ knew /just/ what to pull out of that database, silly. And in the meantime it's a big fat threat to privacy, safety, and freedom from government bother, to everyone including the big majority who have not and never will done anything wrong.

      That means that data retention is /just/ Not Worth It. Even if in the far or unlikely near future your vaunted all-solving new vapourware will suddenly become less vapour and actually somewhat useful. You're basically touting "Total Information Awareness" for use against all civilians this time.

      The thing isn't that retaining all data on the theory the right stuff you need is in there somewhere is suddenly feasible so you can conveniently gloss over whether it is desirable. The thing is that even with the best of the best data mining apps ten years down the road it's still an unwieldy moloch and threat to civil society, stasi style. Some of us have been there and have learned. Some of us, clearly not so much.

      What you do not need is heaps and heaps of tech and a good filtering app. What you do need is to very precisely know just what data you need, where and how to get it, and how to make sense of it. Then you can go about your crime solving business with maximum effectiveness for minimum privacy invasion.

      You know, the reason why there's such strict controls on police powers is exactly to try and protect the innocent majority from privacy invasions necessary to dig out the criminal very few. This here data retention is about maximum privacy invasion inevitably, logically, necessarily resulting in minimal effectiveness. Is that what you really want?

  2. Ubuntu Is a Better Slide Rule

    Criminals Will Use TOR, Everbody Else Is Spied On

    99% of people in the EU are not doing criminal business on the internet or the telephone system. They use it to send email to business partners, lovers, politicians, activists.

    If Intelligence Agencies want to influence an election, they will identify key people and key networks from these big heaps of data and then let quite a few funny things happen. The surveillance industry (dozens of billions of worldwide revenue) will certainly feed everybody with arguments why each bit must be inspected, recorded and analyzed. Surely their Artificial Intelligence can identify the bad guys before they become bad guys, irrespective of the definition of "bad guy", certainly.

    I personally had the pleasure to have an American-speaking reception committee in a restaurant in Germany, after making an appointment to meet a friend there. One of the black-glass guys was at one point standing in a threatening pose in front of me. I decided not to hit him but to just leave that Pizzeria and its underling owner who didn't throw that merkin out of his premises.

    No, this is just a quest for government money and for power of intel agencies to control those 99% who are law-abiding. The 1% criminals will either use TOR or be in prison. When they come out, they will know what TOR is.

    All parties except the FDP (liberals) want to control people, including the lefties and the greenies. When it is about anything important, the greenies will regurgitate the Langley agenda, anyway.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Criminals will use Tor

    How is Linux distributed?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "data retention is essential for police in the fight against serious crime"

    Of course they'd say that. And of course it isn't true. Otherwise, we should've seen a sharp increase in crimes solved with the introduction of this "essential tool". As in, from nearly zero to at least over half of all serious crimes, suddenly solved thanks to this tool. We haven't seen such, so as such it isn't an essential tool. Or what else did you think "essential" means, hm?

    Unreasonable? Moi? If that's what pedantically insisting that the words be used according to what they mean, instead of letting them get bent all out of shape for your political gains, means these days, then yes. I don't see it that way, of course. But then I also do wish for and insist upon integrity in government, and all that'll get me these days is a free ticket to the happy place with the nice people in white coats.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    But ideal for blackmailing people though.*

    *Only applicable if you're above the law.

  6. Dave 15

    Of course its ineffective

    Those people engaged in illegal activities will hide their identity from such stupid ideas using a range of products and services (internet cafes, unprotected wifi, annonymisers etc etc etc etc) or swapping pay as you go sims etc etc etc

    The number caught by retaining data is going to be vanishingly small and restricted either to the terminally stupid or those engaged in fairly low level civil disobedience (such as denial of service on particularly objectionable corporations).

    Basically as normal this is hare brained politicians pandering to an even more stupid press and doing something thats obviously insane, expensive and ineffective. About the same level of stupidity as the gun laws and the ID card scheme. It does NOTHING to fight crime but everything to inconvienience and cost the average law abiding citizen.

    The police of course love this sort of thing, makes them feel big and important.

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