Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

Intercepting the Internet

29 April 1999

From: "Caspar Bowden" <>
To: "Ukcrypto (E-mail)" <>
Subject: Guardian 29/4/99: "Intercepting the Internet"
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 10:52:58 +0100,3605,45981,00.html Intercepting the Internet

A secret international organisation is pushing through law to bring in eavesdropping points for websites and other forms of digital communication. Duncan Campbell reports

Thursday April 29, 1999

European commission documents obtained this week reveal plans to require manufacturers and operators to build in "interception interfaces" to the Internet and all future digital communications systems. The plans, drafted by a US-led international organisation of police and security agencies, will be proposed to EU Justice and Home Affairs ministers at the end of May. They appear in Enfopol 19, a restricted document leaked to the London-based Foundation for Information Policy Research (

The plans require the installation of a network of tapping centres throughout Europe, operating almost instantly across all national boundaries, providing access to every kind of communications including the net and satellites. A German tapping centre could intercept Internet messages in Britain, or a British detective could listen to Dutch phone calls. There could even be several tapping centres listening in at once.

Enfopol 19 was agreed by an EU police working party a month ago. It was condemned last week by the civil liberties committee of the European Parliament. But the European Parliament will shortly dissolve to face elections in June. Meanwhile, EU ministers are preparing to adopt a convention on Mutual Legal Assistance, including international interception arrangements.

If the Enfopol 19 proposals are enacted, internet service providers (ISPs) as well as telecommunications network operators face having to install monitoring equipment or software in their premises in a high security zone.