back to article Protonmail celebrates Swiss court victory exempting it from telco data retention laws

Encrypted email provider Protonmail has hailed a recent Swiss legal ruling as a "victory for privacy," after winning a lawsuit that sees it exempted from data retention laws in the mountainous realm. Referring to a previous ruling that exempted instant messaging services from data capture and storage laws, the Protonmail team …

  1. jmch Silver badge

    Note the subhead:"Doesn't stop local courts' surveillance orders, though"

    That is hitting the sweet spot for the balance between privacy and security. The default is and should be privacy, with data not necessary for the functioning of the system not collected at all, and any data needed to be collected for the system to function to be encrypted where technically possible, and in any case deleted after no longer needed.

    If police/prosecuters have a specific* request, they go to a judge with any evidence. If the judge deems that evidence good enough, they get a warrant for the provider. The provider only starts collecting additional data not needed to run the service when compelled by warrant, only within the limited scope of the warrant. And when ready, hand over the data to the requestor, stop collecting data again and delete themselves any data they collected.

    I appreciate it makes life more difficult for investigators, but the solution is to train and resource investigators better, not to allow fishing trips.

    * designated person(s), limited scope, limited timeframe - if scope needs to be extended / renewed, get another warrant!

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Note the subhead:"Doesn't stop local courts' surveillance orders, though"

      Yep, this is supported by "Protonmail chief exec Andy Yen told The Register his business doesn't routinely collect such data on its users."

      Note the word "routinely"

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Government thinkers believe they can create a "safety tech" sector off the back of this potentially harmful idea and market it to foreign countries' governments as a British innovation.

    The government that doesn't even know who its citizens are or its resident population wants to sell age verification to other countries. That's a very courageous policy.

  3. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
    WTF?

    scan under-13s' faces in real time to determine their true age

    So much wrong that statement it's hard to know where to begin.

    Of course, there's absolutely no one in the world that looks younger or older than their true age. You might be able to land in a +/- 5 year ballpark, but that's a massive error range.

    Never mind this is explicitly gathering images of young children. Have to wonder what's going through the minds of people who think this is a good idea.

    And of course, everyone has a high quality webcam and decent ambient lighting while they're online. Not like there's an enormous user spectrum from no camera to ultra HD, and no one ever browses in the dark.

    And also of course, the training sets used will be sufficiently diverse and wide ranging, with no implicit, explicit or accidental biases, because we all know that all facial recog so far has never suffered problems due to poor data sets. No. Wait... always, not never.

    I bet they can identify criminals too, based on the shape of their foreheads.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: scan under-13s' faces in real time to determine their true age

      Completely agree but the webcam and lighting aren't an issue with smart phones having decent cameras.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: scan under-13s' faces in real time to determine their true age

        But why would someone use a squitty little phone when they could have a decent sized screen that they don't have to hold up ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: scan under-13s' faces in real time to determine their true age

          But why would someone...

          Because they are the young people that our government hopes to make money off.

    2. Twanky Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: scan under-13s' faces in real time to determine their true age

      I bet they can identify criminals too, based on the shape of their foreheads.

      Is this the time to suggest retro-phrenology?

      RIP Sir PTerry

      Icon: obvs

    3. jason_derp Silver badge

      Re: scan under-13s' faces in real time to determine their true age

      "I bet they can identify criminals too, based on the shape of their foreheads."

      That's pesudoscience you fool! What are you? A 19th-century phrenologist?! They use the width of the bridge of the nose and the flaring of nostrils! All criminals are constantly flaring nostrils due to their deep-seated rage and disgust towards law-abiding citizens and society, and this causes the bridge of their nose to expand to take in greater volumes of air, a trait passed on to their children, a la Lamarck. Science!

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: scan under-13s' faces in real time to determine their true age

        I always suspected my cat had criminal tendencies but now I know for sure.

      2. EVP

        Re: scan under-13s' faces in real time to determine their true age

        Don’t forget black hoodies. Stupid criminals try to hide their bridge of the nose, but instead reveal themselves.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: scan under-13s' faces in real time to determine their true age

      It's gathering everbody's images, not just those of young people. The un-young have to prove it too.

  4. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Important question

    "Have to wonder what's going through the minds of people who think this is a good idea"

    This likely arises from "Digital" having been tacked onto "Culture, Media and Sport" without ensuring sufficient recourse to relevant expertise. It's highly probable that the decision makers don't really know much about the subject, but keep having bright ideas that they think will solve their perfunctory analyses of the symptoms of problems.

    Indeed "digital" is clearly not viewed as a fundamental technological and societal discipline, but as a political imperative, which is probably why no moves are being made to ensure product quality while maximum effort is being put into driving deployment. I suspect we'll only find out the error of this approach slowly, but by that time it'll be hard to recover.

    1. Blazde Silver badge

      Re: Important question

      This likely arises from "Digital" having been tacked onto "Culture, Media and Sport"

      I like to think somewhere deep in the DCMS there's a small but determined group of retro analogue revivalists engaged in bitter daily struggle against the encroachment of 'digital' into their department. They organise by communicating entirely in hand-typed letters, trade cassettes and LPs over lunch while watching Jo Coburn's colours bleed on Politics Live rendered in 625 beautifully curved scan lines, and tonight they're meeting to discuss the pros and cons of cubic grain and play with a boxed Instamatic Reflex one of them has just acquired.

      The first we'll know of their victory is when we're each issued a bundle of sepia paper identity documents. To be presented to the newsagent clerk whenever we require something from the top-shelf.

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