Future Data Acquisition Techniques

Richard Clayton richard at highwayman.com
Thu Sep 16 10:52:47 BST 2010

In article <AANLkTinT0y1tm-1-1Udpj0m7aoYgBJ26GxRue=29FKZn at mail.gmail.com
>, Zbigniew Kwecka <z.kwecka at gmail.com> writes

>    As a PhD student at Edinburgh Napier University I research the 
>    future investigative data acquisition techniques for use by public 
>    authorities. Investigators often use traffic data obtained from 
>    ISPs under RIPA 

seldom, they mainly do "reverse directory lookup" to establish a real-
world link for a cyberspace identifier

>    and other information available to selected public 
>    authorities under the voluntary disclosure mechanism of the Data 
>    Protection Act, 

seldom -- and the Home Office encourages ISPs to tell them when they are
asked for data under the DPA, so that the asker can be re-educated!

>    but the current techniques for gathering data from 
>    third-parties (Internet Service Providers, employers, etc.) are 
>    slow 

varies -- some of the automated systems at the large ISPs are very fast;
and the manual systems at the small ISPs can also be fast because the
enquiry is unusual and is therefore promptly dealt with.

My own impression is that it's the run-of-the-mill stuff at mid-range
ISPs (and of course telcos) that tends to be slow, because queues build

>    and lack privacy measures. 

the automated systems are unlikely to be routinely checked by any humans

>    I have set-up an on-line 
>    questionnaire which aims to evaluate different approaches that 
>    police and other public authorities could use to gather data faster 
>    while respecting privacy. 

hmmm... unless I went through it too fast, it suggested just two
approaches. One was the high-cost, high-risk data warehousing approach
that the government has floated from time to time; and a second vaguely
described method which sounded like one of the information theoretic
privacy preserving database access systems...  a triumph of carbon
emissions over common sense :(

    BTW: you might usefully discuss the retrieval system here, or point
    at papers -- since there's still a lot of people here with relevant
    knowledge of such mechanisms.

However, I'm not at all sure that a questionnaire, even on such an
erudite list as this one, will assist very much -- albeit it may help
identify which issues might usefully be researched. Perhaps, since you
haven't just used Survey Monkey like everyone else, you're actually a
psychology PhD and the topic is merely an excuse for testing out
questionnaire designs :)

richard                                                   Richard Clayton

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary 
Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Benjamin Franklin 11 Nov 1755
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