This morning's Times again reports on the plans to start recording and monitoring us even more when we use the Internet, send email, make a phone call, and that local Councils will now have the power to see these records, no doubt for things unrelated to terrorism. I sense some slight problems here and very good technical reasons why it won't catch criminals but will snare ordinary people.
- How will this give any meaningful information if someone uses a Internet cafe?
- What if someone uses an unregistered 3G dongle? (pictured) You will be able to triangulate a position roughly from it when it is online, but any sensible terrorist is going to make use of multiple unregistered sims.
- Who becomes the target when a wifi network is used that does not belong to the person you actually want to snoop on? A terrorist or criminal could quite happily use someone elses connection. How can you know that the "who" is who you think it is?
- The assumption behind monitoring email is that people use an email client and use standard TCP ports, any would be criminal is going to make sure they don't do that, use a secure tunnel and proxy, and send mail via a website hosted in a country like, say Russia?
- The throughput on store and forward of all traffic information, whether you have content or not, will be immense.
- How are you going to search such data in a timely fashion? Raw text files on scale being touted will not be very easily searchable.