TOM McGURK hosted an interesting programme this morning on Irish national radio and one of his segments included discussion about the Irish government's data retention scheme. Simply put, the government is trying to expand its reach into mobile phones, email records and web browsing histories. Some view that as an intrusion. I heard from several people that they could not hear the audio across the Real streaming service and I expect that the 28-minute discussion [19.8 MB 96 kbps MP3 file] will be archived on RTE's site. A scratchy version snagged from a Tipperary antenna attaches itself to this post--I could not get the internet audio either. Remember, the Irish government
has will have a record of everyone who downloads or listens to this selection from this blog post once the legislation becomes law. But that's not a problem for some callers to the show who think if you're innocent of any crime, you shouldn't mind be watched. As discussions on the show concluded, that looks like a question for the Supreme Court.
00:26 It's worse than Orwell thought in 1984. Government can pinpoint you with smart CCTV and track you with mobile telephony.
01:34 Eoin O'Dell remarks on the State in the position to retain a significant amount of data: the number you dial, who rang you, the duration of your telephone calls.
02:05 Your mobile phone knows where you've been.
02:25 Every phone call (and) every web page is a matter of record.
03:58 TJ McIntyre is unhappy about the legislation which he equates to a garda looking over your shoulder. The guard is replaced by technology.
04:30 Billy Hawkes outines the principle of proportionality. The interference from the State should be proportionate. If we accept the point that the State has an interest, there must be safeguards to protect the data.
06:20 The Data Protection Administrator offers only a limited protection for data in Ireland. He has very little judicial teeth.
08:13 Paul Durant from Internet Service Providers Association Ireland (ISPAI) believes the confidentiality of e-mail data is vital. The data addressed in the legislation is not business data.
09:12 ISPAI: "We don't know exactly what we should retain."
10:15 Bernard Stowe. The vision of the future includes smart CCTV, a convergence of existing technologies. It involves recognising faces and objects, then linking them to databases with data mining on top.
11:40 So Mrs Jones can be followed on CCTV from Sainsbury as she makes her way around town.
12:30 Digitally-enhanced photographs could be put into the system. This already works for number plate recognition.
13:00 But having phone records helped in solving the Omagh bombing.
13:35 TJ McIntyre: The difference in the Omagh bombing is that you didn't go back three years. We are hard pressed to see why the Omagh bombing justifies three years worth of data retention.
14:17 Hawkes: There is no evidence to justify withholding data for this long of a time period. It's an issue of proportionality. Is the data retention proportionate to the gain?
15:00 Citizens have the right to tell the State to mind its own business. We should reflect carefully about the society we would have.
15:35 It is a right of a democratic society to tell the State, "It's none of your business. The right to be left alone is an important right in a democratic society."
16:05 Paul Durant: There will be costs incurred in data retention which will be passed onto customers.
16:46 Eoin O'Dell: Citizens have a right to their own privacy in the Constitution but that right has not been worked out.
17:53 Infringement is not justified.
18:30 You must have measures of control.
18:45 A great fear is the data can be applied to illegal purposes.
19:48 Digital Rights Ireland has commenced an action against the State.
20:05 Ultimately, the Supreme Court will have be asked for safeguards.
20:10 Texter says "the length of time argument is specious".
20:20 Texter says the arguments are "emotive nonsense". The State should be able to keep as much as it needs to help convict criminals.
21:05 Texter asks, "Can they track your phone when it's switched off?"
21:20 Texter suggests political activists are vulnerable to surveillance through data retention. When you store data, it is very easy for peple in power to target others.
22:05 TJ McIntyre: Examples of abuse, including data pulled from the personal details of Delores McNamara and the phone records acquired by Billy Flynn during the Morris Tribunal.
24:00 Worrying aspects of data protection. Once data is acquired, it is in the system forever. The fact that data are being retained means data can be sold or hacked.
24:20 Three years of data retention Imagine if Cromwell had access to this kind of information.
24:35 The whole point of the Constitution is that it protects the person. The State will always expand its power.
25:05 Texter says that information can be used to prove your innocence in cases. In the Morris Tribunal, questions arose whether gardai tampered with data.
25:55 Snoops that hack. Can Revenue be hacked? Can Revenue hack personal records?
26:25 The danger is that others can break in.
26:45 ISPs are being made responsible for security and integrity of data but no tech system is 100% secure.
27:00 Once the data is retained, the State can use the data. It is easy for the State to change so it can access any database.
Bonus Link: Scanner Darkly, the animated trailer.