Webwereld, 4 Dec 2012: 'International opposition to Opstelten's hackback plan'
"More than 40 organisations and experts from home and abroad are writing an open letter to Minister Opstelten pointing out the dangers of so-called 'hacking back'. "Not acceptable."
Forty international organisations and individuals campaigning for digital civil rights are appealing to Minister Opstelten to abandon the plan to give police the right to hack back in the event of cyber threats and in tracking down (cyber) criminals. "Despite the fact that your goal of fighting cybercrime is laudable, the solution is not acceptable," the signatories write in a letter.
Even if used only domestically, computer intrusion restricts the privacy not only of the suspect, but additionally of all non-suspects whose information is on the computer in question, the signatories believe. "You have not demonstrated that your proposal is necessary and proportionate," they said.
Risks to the global internet
On the other hand, the proposal does pose risks concerning cybersecurity and "the global internet", experts believe. According to them, the proposal would incentivise governments to keep information technology security weak by no longer sharing vulnerabilities and instead exploiting them for their own purposes. "This puts millions of innocent computer users at risk," they said.
Should breaking into other people's computers also happen across borders, the complications of the proposal will only increase. It breaks the law in another country and is therefore illegal, in addition to violating the sovereignty of other countries.
Other countries follow the Netherlands
"The problem is compounded by the fact that other countries are likely to follow the example of the Netherlands, leading to a situation where countries start enforcing their own laws on foreign computers, instead of investing in international cooperation in enforcement."
This will eventually include the pursuit of political opponents, journalists and dissidents, the human rights activists write, with attacks on computers for blasphemy, hate speech, homosexuality or copyright infringements. In doing so, the signatories point to users of the Tor network, "who can speak out without fear of prosecution. It will be precisely these users who will be targeted without legal protection from the country where they reside."
Bruce Schneier and Richard Stallman
The letter is signed by Bruce Schneier and Richard Stallman, the Dutch organisations Bits of Freedom, Vrijbit, Free Press Unlimited, Internet Protection Lab, Humanistisch Verbond, Privacy First, Ouders Online and Vrijschrift, among others, and the foreign organisations Chaos Computer Club (Germany) EDRi (Europe), EFF (US), La Quadrature du Net (France), Netzpolitik (Germany) and the Tor Project (US), among others."
Source: Webwereld, 4 December 2012.