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Internet anonymity endangered by UN agency project

updated 04:50 pm EDT, Fri September 12, 2008

Internet anonymity threat

A set of technical standards being developed behind closed doors by a United Nations agency that would potentially curb users' ability to remain anonymous on the Internet has privacy advocates and technologists alarmed, according to a Friday report. The standards are proposed by the Chinese government and the US National Security Agency is also part of the IP Traceback drafting group, named Q6/17. Headed up the by the UN's International Telecommunication Union, the group is due to meet next week to work on the proposal, though the meeting will be closed to the media and public, the report suggests.

Critics point out the newfound powers that would strip users of their anonymous identities could be misused, and in many cases violate an individual's human rights that are protected by law particularly in the United States and internationally by the Council of Europe.

A document submitted by China and obtained by CNET News proposes to log essential information about the originator to ensure traceability. Another reportedly leaked document would give government reign over free speech, allowing it to quash their opposition and violating the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, though at least one member of Q6/17 does not recognize the political document as being part of any Q6/17 meetings.

While most parties involved agree tracebacks would be an efficient way to counter DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks, technology experts doubt experienced hackers would be susceptible to be caught by the proposed measures. The DDoS argument has little weight, according to technologist Steve Bellovin, as few attacks use spoofed addresses. There are said to be too many sources in a DDoS attack and the source computer is likely to be hacked.

An earlier proposal from Israel wants Internet providers to be responsible for getting user identification before granting access, akin to the process individuals go through when opening a bank account.

The traceback proposal is scheduled for completion sometime in 2009, although not all members are in favor, says an industry source. In the US, court precedents make a legal requirement to adopt IP traceback a violation of the First Amendment. The ITU constitution has mention of "ensuring secrecy of international correspondence," while the Council of Europe stance is that nations should respect Internet users' wishes not to disclose their identity, although it leaves room for law-enforcement tracing.

by MacNN Staff



    Comment buried. Show
  1. Monstermind

    Joined: Dec 1969


    U.S. OUT OF U.N.

    John Bolton was - and continues to be - right. Our so-called "standing in the world" would be better served if we bail from the UN and pursue our own path.

  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969


    aside from...

    The US First Ammendment issue - even if the UN ratifies this in the long term - the US as an independent nation would have to pass it tthru both levels of Congress and it would have to become law here to be infocred.

    And the DoS attack issue is BS as well - seeing as how there are techniques such as masking and IP redirects - piggybacking and many many other ways to circumvent tracing. What if an attacker is behind a University Firewall where thousands of people work every day and the university runs DHCP all over and someone is pulling attacks from an open comupter lab. You might be able to narrow this down to the university or even the lab - but good luck hunting down a specific person.

    And if someone is dumb enough to do this from their home - hopefully they are smart enough to circumvent any tracing efforts.

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Broken clock > Bolton

    A broken clock is at least right twice a day. John Bolton can't manage even that.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: out of UN

    Gee, except the US is one of the countries pushing for this stuff. So its not like they're just being hijacked by all the other countries.

    Oh, and the US has done a pretty good job of pursuing their own path for their own needs as it is. The UN didn't exactly stop Bush and co. from invading iraq or anything.

  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Bolton's favourite

    Bolton's favourite government agency, the NSA, is apparently working closely with the Chinese on this Traceback draft. How is the US government going to get this passed in the ITU if they pull out of the UN???

    The world's two biggest dictat... democracies (China and US) are working closely together to make sure they can easily find out exactly who did what and when online.

    May some universal force protect the rest of the world from this work...

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Our rights

    Has anyone noticed how many of our rights are being overturned since Bush became president? This man has just about ruined everything our constitution has ever granted us.

  1. Titanium Man

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Hope for a delay

    All we have to do is hold on until January, then Bush and his cronies will be gone and the next administration can scuttle this, assuming it's not Palin & co.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Somebody has to do it

    I am against this traceback plan as much as the next person. But this is not Bush's fault. Think back before the liberals rewrote history. Saddam Hussein was doing as much or more as Iran's bad guy is now. Yes, he was developing WMDs, in spite of Joe Wilson's public postering to the contrary. Read his official report, not what he said to the media. Did anyone read about the tons of Yellowcake removed from Iraq about 3 months ago? Yes, it was from Niger. The US was not wrong attacking Iraq and spent over 18 months waiting for the UN to pass resolution after resolution, then do nothing about Hussein's belligerence and terrorist support. Come on, people. Stop drinking the liberals' kool-aid on this. Remember back.

  1. BelugaShark

    Joined: Dec 1969


    RE: aside from...

    If someone is "attacking" from a university, a little investigation can spot a suspect.

    Find out when the data was jeopardized, open the log file and find the DHCP address, open the routers DHCP log find the MAC address, pull the video footage of the room that had the computer with that MAC address, ask questions.

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Right-Wing Wackos

    Since the Bushies have been working diligently to tear apart the Constitution, who better to than China to teach the fundamentals of running a totalitarian regime.

    It's sickening to think that the United States is pushing for this kind of thing. The level of paranoia is mind-boggling.

    I wonder if Cheney has learned to use chopsticks yet?

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