Email Interception Warrants Prevention

The ETHICm@il® interception warrant prevention concept

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ETHICm@il's postulate & research

Acknowledging the legislative dimension of the contemporary violations of privacy, we believe that any effective confidentiality solution should integrate the very same instruments weakening privacy in so many parts of the world: Laws & Regulations.

After establishing an appropriate set of metrics, in the course of two years, we analyzed systematically many national legislations regulating privacy, lawful wiretapping, lawful data interception and seizure, and local operating practices of law enforcement agencies. This study revealed itself difficult to complete given the variable pertinence of available information.

The Undertaking

To understand the dimension of this undertaking, there are almost 200 nations registered as members of the United Nations. Each one of these countries implements its own set of Local, State and National legislations, which might be superceeded by specific supra-national agreements.

For example, citizens of the European Union are actually submitted to 32000 legal acts, 12000 court verdicts and 52000 international standards. Just in the USA, in January 2012, 40000 new State laws went into force.

To further complicate matters, many countries spread legislative texts concerning communication interception over several laws and amendments which can either complete or sometimes contradict each other.

Opacity Rules

There are cases where some nations simply do not publicly disclose any meaningful information. Besides, none of the companies producing or reselling interception equipment we approached accepted to share information, probably because these corporations benefit directly from the opacity surrounding the use of their products. Most information from private sources had to be gathered through unofficial channels.

Favorable Jurisdictions

Our requirements to consider a jurisdiction suitable for hosting our customer's data are based on the following conditions:

1) DISAMBIGUATION: Lawful motives for wiretaps and interceptions shall be specified explicitly.
(In most countries, legal motives are defined in such ambiguous terms that it is impossible to clearly limit the resulting scope).

2) INVARIABILITY: Lawful motives for wiretaps and interceptions shall not be subject to interpretation.
(In most countries, legal motives may be subject to interpretation by law enforcement agencies or judges which further blurs the matter).

3) LIMITATION: The number of various lawful motives for wiretaps and interceptions shall be reduced to the strict minimum.
(In most countries, the lists can often reach several hundred if not thousand of motives, including minor offenses or simple uncorroborated suspicions).

4) OVERSIGHT: Only warrants formally approved by a judge shall be deemed legally valid.
(In many countries, case-by-case courts oversight over the release of wiretaps and interceptions warrants has been abolished, and instead discretionary powers have been granted directly to law enforcement agencies).

5) MANDATORY EXPIRATION: The duration of interception warrants shall clearly be limited and restricted in time.
(In many countries, an absolute maximum duration of interception warrants is not explicitly defined).

6) LIMITED RENEWABILITY: The number of times an interception warrant can be renewed shall be clearly defined and restricted.
(In many countries, the same interception warrant can be renewed for as many times the inquiring authority requests it).

7) LEGAL ACCOUNTABILITY: The person target of an interception warrant, after finalization of the investigation during which said warrant has been executed, shall be notified in due time that a lawful privacy violation has been performed.
(In many countries, the law enforcement agencies operating wiretaps or interceptions and the related authorities have no legal obligation whatsoever to ever inform afterwards the victims).

8) RULE OF LAW: The jurisdiction shall allow legal challenges to be presented in response to notifications of warrants for wiretaps and interceptions.
(In several countries, challenges against such warrants are either impossible to formulate, not permitted, or are automatically overturned).

9) STABILITY: The jurisdiction's internal political and social situation, and its external international status, shall not be subject to foreseeable destabilization.
(Some countries present interesting profiles in terms of privacy, but are too unstable internally or too weak on the international scene to provide any expectation of foreseeable long term legislative stability).

10) INFRASTRUCTURE: The technical infrastructure & professional expertise must meet adequate levels of quality.
(The current state of development of some countries does not allow the operation of reliable datacenters).