They want your browser history

The UK wants to give police access to the web history of UK residents.

the police [is] to seize details of websites and access specific web addresses. … Internet service providers (ISPs) will be required to retain their customers’ web browsing history for 12 months.

The user can trivially prevent this kind of data collection by using a VPN or obviously, by routing his traffic over the tor network. In fact, from the viewpoint of his ISP, the VPN user technically never visits a “web address” at all. There would simply be nothing to retain. An example of a service with which you can defeat your ISP’s browser history retention policy:

The internet hangs together with VPN traffic. Pretty much every business generates it. The operational management of internet infrastructure would not be possible without it. Your VPN traffic would absolutely not stand out from the crowd.

To prevent terror attacks or serious offences we need to maintain surveillance capacity online

Anybody, who is not totally dumb, and who has anything serious to hide, already hides what he wants to hide.

We argue that there should be no dark, ungoverned spaces on the internet

Most of the servers powering the internet are inevitably located in other countries. What complicates things even more, is that servers on the tor network can effectively hide in what country they are located.

Furthermore, a growing part of the traffic on the internet is encrypted and effectively unreadable for outsiders. You cannot govern traffic that you cannot read.

If they go on like that, trying to control it, sooner or later the entire internet could turn into a dark and ungoverned space. By pressing the lemon too hard, all the juice will escape. New segments of the existing user base will start using VPN, encrypt all traffic, and gradually move over to the tor network. The long-term effect of what they are doing, is exactly the opposite of what they want.

Many users do not feel that they need to protect their privacy. They think: I am not doing anything illegal!

They do not get it. Things do not work that way. In western countries, ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ are pretty much arbitrary and notoriously inconsistent inventions that are continuously changed on the fly. You cannot even reasonably know if you are doing something illegal, let alone, claim that you are not doing anything illegal at all.  The average American commits 3 felonies per day. This does not matter much, until you somehow draw the attention in the wrong way, or until there is a quota that needs to be filled in your area, and you have been identified as an excellent candidate for that. Now it matters. They only have to watch you for 3 days to indict you on 9 felonies and then get you imprisoned for life. What they call the “law” is not what you think it is. It is indeed purposely conflated with some elements from the real law that governs the human race, but that is not its essence. Laws fabricated by man are not tools to bring justice. They are tools to justify injustices.

A pact with the US to ensure that US-based internet companies hand over data of suspects

No really sensitive service is ever operated from the US. It is the wrong place to look at. The really interesting places to store sensitive information are countries that do not care, or are in fact not capable of monitoring anything, but still have some, usable local infrastructure connected to the internet: Bulgaria or Paraguay are good examples.

Global users increasingly view US-based services as tainted. Google and Apple may manage to survive all of this, but the whole situation throws a spanner in the works of many smaller, American startups. Storing data in the American cloud is often considered a no-no elsewhere. The activities of the NSA will end up bankrupting large segments in the American technology industry. Spying on Angela Merkel was a very high-profile gaffe that will not easily be forgotten. In past times, a cloud company located elsewhere than the US would not have stood a chance. Nowadays, not being located in the US has become a unique selling proposition.

Russia and China, just like the US, are quite capable of monitoring things, but they are not interested in monitoring the same kind of traffic. Furthermore, these countries may not always be cooperative. Since it is generally not permitted to hand over user information from the US or the UK to China or to Russia, they may reciprocate by not doing that either. You see, Russia refuses to extradite Snowden. The reason for this is not that they would approve (or disapprove) of what Snowden has done, but rather the fact that they do not want to be seen cooperating with the US on this matter.

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I mostly work on an alternative bitcoin marketplace -and exchange applications. I am sometimes available for new commercial projects but rather unlikely right now.

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