GCHQ supplier pans government file-sharing plans

GCHQ supplier pans government file-sharing plans

Summary: Intelligence-tech supplier Detica has said government plans to force ISPs to identify unlawful file-sharers are 'not necessary or proportionate'

TOPICS: Security

One of the companies that supply intelligence technology to the government has criticised UK plans to monitor file-sharers.

Detica told ZDNet UK on Thursday that government plans to force ISPs to identify unlawful file-sharers were not proportionate.

"If the government chose to go down that route, we would come out strongly against," said Detica media accounts director Dan Klein. "It's not necessary or proportionate."

Detica, a BAE subsidiary, provides technologies that are used by the intelligence services and law enforcement to gather intelligence. While targeted monitoring of potential terrorists was proportionate, said Klein, using similar technologies for civil infringements was unnecessary.

The Digital Economy Bill, part of which proposes that persistent unlawful file-sharers be cut off from the internet, has caused a storm of criticism from UK ISPs.

One of the main issues under contention is that monitoring file-sharing on UK networks would require some form of surveillance by ISPs — such as deep packet inspection — of traffic going over their networks. While non-anonymised monitoring of web users is technically feasible, said Klein, such measures would probably not be popular with UK citizens.

"Detica will not go down that route," said Klein. "It's not doable in the marketplace, because of the consumer."

Virgin Media announced on Thursday that it would trial technology designed to monitor the level of file-sharing on its network. The company is using a Detica product, CView, to monitor web traffic. Klein said CView, which is in its beta phase, does not enable Virgin Media or rights holders to identify individual file-sharers.

Klein told ZDNet UK that Detica had no plans to enable file-sharers to be identified through CView. "There's no way we would be interested in finding out about individual [file-sharers]," he said.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills responded to Klein's comments on Thursday. "The measures set out in the Digital Economy Bill seek to protect our creative and online economies from the real threat of unlawful online file-sharing," a spokesperson told ZDNet UK.

"If warning letters backed by legal action do not prove as effective as we expect, then an additional obligation to introduce appropriate technical measures is worth considering. If we move to this stage, Ofcom will advise what measures would be the most proportionate and effective for ISPs to apply," the spokesperson said.

Topic: Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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  • and so...

    File sharing will move to encryption and it won't just be 256bit either probably 512bit and above, the amount of hardware that would be needed to tackle that would supersede the hardware to provide an isp service altogether for 10+ million people.

    I believe thats check.
  • Hang on a moment.

    You do not seriously expect fools to back down from a stupid suggestion.
    That is against the nature of any fool.
    Why do I say fools ?

    It TAKES a fool to come up with "solutions" to "problems" he has very little knowledge about.
  • Its hardly foolhardy...

    When it works! people even use blowfish at 1024bit encryptions the amount of hardware and time needed to be able to open & read them packets, irregardless of which organization makes it completely implausible when such methods are standardized through the software means.

    Apply that a few million times over, and I think its safe to assume the government and co are stuffed, whats next they going to outlaw the use of encryption? id like to see them enforce it.

    People have a right to privacy and protection from others that would seek to condemn them, because of there own self woes.
  • Oh my bad...hkommedal

    But me argument still stands. :)
  • It certainly does.

    The "media mafia" seems to get (unelected) politicians on their side pretty easily.
    Neither of them is able to see the writing on the wall; they keep trying to paint over it.

    Last time I looked at Ktorrent ( a KDE program), encryption was on the main menu.

    It seems they will never see reality until society is taking copyright law back into their own hands.

    These copyrights are after all PRIVILEGES given by society, and the blatant misuse from media (semi-) monopolies, gives society every reason to rethink copyright law completely.

    History is full of cases where misused privileges has been taken away completely.
    One day society will have had enough.
  • To truly hide, stream encryption is not the key (no pun intended)

    The type of Torrent user encryption you describe is to limit Deep Packet Inspection and subsequent throttling (More a current US problem). It is easy to find file sharers in spite of this: Load up your favourite torrent client, open a torrent and look at the Peers list.. Simples. If the government and enforcement agencies want to bypass the ISP's then they can do, by just logging on.

    I think the real problem is that power users can isolate themselves from this (and DPI), just using three things: VPN (Or SOCKS), Encryption and Proxy. The stream is encrypted, then sent down a secure HTTP tunnel (so no TCP port sharing), to a proxy in GodknowsWhere, whos' IP is the one that shows up on the swarm.

    Not only can ISPs not decrypt the traffic, but outside observers cannot "see" your IP. Decrypting 256bit is far harder than movies make it out to be.

    The digital economy bill will not effect power users, just the poor kid who wants to hear the latest pop tune, or a casual user who missed an episode of Heroes.

    Total waste of time, and just more hot air from the Westminster gasbags.
  • Not just talking about...

    torrents I was talking about everything needs to be moved to encryption standards, email, http, ftp, p2p, the whole lot! your forgetting the bigger picture and yes yes I know all about the VPN's proxy's etc.

    What about protection for the people collaborating on work projects together from different locations, that are not finished nor copyrighted ie; independent music, movies, pictures, writings, softwares, etc.

    If the governments passing bills in favor of large media organizations & large IP corporation's, that in turn are ordering ISP's to snoop everyone's packets and pass a copy of them over to themselves, and government's large data retention farms, so that they may continue to pry in future without drawing attention to themselves.

    Then whats to stop these large corps from stealing other peoples intellectual properties before there even finished/published?!!

    Or there again maybe thats the whole point of this in the first place!