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[FYI] (Fwd) Wired news article: Did UK Internet Firms Aid Cops?

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Tue, 2 Feb 1999 17:38:39 GMT0BST
From:          "Yaman Akdeniz" <lawya@lucs-01.novell.leeds.ac.uk>
Subject:       Wired news article: Did UK Internet Firms Aid Cops?
To:            gilc-plan@privacy.org
Reply-to:      gilc-plan@gilc.org


Did UK Internet Firms Aid Cops?
by Alan Docherty 

>From Wired News, 2.February, 1999

LONDON -- An online free speech advocacy group here obtained new
evidence Monday that the nation's Internet service provider industry
association has given secret interviews to law enforcement and advised
them on access to personal emails.

Yaman Akdeniz, director of Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) said in
a statement that the industry group, the Internet Service Provider
Association of the UK (ISPA), now "runs the risk of becoming the Big
Brother Providers Association." 

The group represents 90 percent of all dial-up Internet companies in

According to Akdeniz, the association furnished the Association of
Chief Police Officers (ACPO) with a report about the type of
information stored by Internet service providers, how long the
information could be stored, and how it could be accessed.

A disgruntled member of the ISPA leaked the police briefing report --
`Industry Capabilities of Information' -- to Akdeniz last year. The
report follows accusations from several civil liberties organizations
of secret deals between the police and ISPA.

Akdeniz said that the incident is only the latest in a series of
incidents that the self-regulation group such as the ISPA -- an
industry group charged with regulating and policing the Net -- has
been accused of secrecy and subterfuge.

Last August, the group Internet Freedom reported that Internet service
providers were attempting to reach private arrangements with police.
Last August, Computing magazine reported that police were close to
reaching a `memorandum of understanding' with Internet service
providers that could enable officers across the country to read an
individual's email.

In response to this latest report, the trade group London Internet
Exchange and the regulatory body Internet Watch Foundation issued an
official denial that such talks had ever taken place. 

In January of this year, unsatisfied with how the ISPA was handling
approaches from the police, Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK)
encouraged its supporters to send a pro forma letter to their Internet
service providers. Nicholas Lansman, secretary general of the ISPA,
advised ISPs to ignore the letters.

Lansman then denied his comments to several journalists before finally
admitting "the words had been used." Lansman's deception did little to
convince Net users that ISPA could be trusted.

Tim Pearson, chair of ISPA, claims that reports of the talks between
the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Internet industry
were overstated.

Pearson said the latest report was simply a briefing document
outlining the workings of the industry for the police. ISPA's current
advice is that emails can only be handed over once a court order had
been obtained.

Free speech organizations say that the report points to a lack of
accountability in the self-regulatory industry. Organizations such as
the ISPA are accountable only to their members, work to their own
guidelines and policies, and have resisted calls for increased public

"For months, ISPA and the IWF have been denying that any secret deals
were in the making, despite indications to the contrary," said Chris
Ellison, founder of Internet Freedom.

"Finally we have concrete evidence that ISPA has been collaborating
with the police and misleading the public. It's about time they came

Akdeniz agrees about the lack of accountability.

"The Association of Chief Police Officers ... has no statutory basis.
ACPO is a body set up by chief police officers.

Yaman Akdeniz <lawya@leeds.ac.uk>
Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) at: http://www.cyber-rights.org

Read the new CR&CL (UK) Report, Who Watches the Watchmen, Part:II
Accountability & Effective Self-Regulation in the Information Age,
August 1998 at http://www.cyber-rights.org/watchmen-ii.htm