First reports of the impact of the data retention laws
From a law firm:
A potential client worries about the trouble he might have gotten into, for example. We don’t talk about anything for which the new laws were nominally created. But naturally he is careful, since the fact that he approached me is now leaving traces. And who knows, the call for a defender who has no mandate and might possibly never even have one, might even justify an initial suspicion in the future. […] The response may read as follows:
“If you are concerned about the confidentiality of your call or the retention of connection data, you or a person of your trust may also deposit the consulting fee in advance, for example in cash at the Post Bank. In that case I wouldn’t have to ask for personal data on the phone. You might then call me from a public telephone, say.”
From an editorial:
A colleague has taken the day off tomorrow. He estimates that he will be absent for two to three hours. That’s because he has a meeting with an informer, one who no longer wants to talk to him. Not on the phone anyway. He is afraid of his cover being blown. “All traceable now and all”, the informer said. Therefore he will only talk with the editor of his trust in person. Preferably outdoors. And he’s going to turn off his cellphone meanwhile. Because in case he gets a call, his location will be recorded.
ZAPP had an insightful report on the situation of journalists in Belgium some time ago, where data retention has been in force for a while.
But the examples also show that there are ways to circumvent data retention. A lot is happening in that arena lately. At AK Vorrat we get a lot of requests along those lines from the press, and the collection of relevant tips is ever growing. The issue has even made it to Reuters and FTD. At the Chaostreff in Bremen we’re being deluged by requests from political groups that want to secure their internal communications, and the hacker scene in general has increased their darknet efforts.
But because such technical solutions aren’t practical or reasonable for everyone and at all times, and because the problem is political and not technical in nature, continuing political protest beyond the complaint of unconstitutionality remains important. Here, too, there is renewed impetus since New Year’s Eve and an influx of worried people who want to resist.
Cheers, Germany. Now I might just as well emigrate to the U.S., since it doesn’t make a damn difference anymore. Actually, not quite – habeas corpus still exists over here. Faint praise…