What is a "communication"

Peter Fairbrother zenadsl6186 at zen.co.uk
Tue Aug 14 03:44:49 BST 2012

On 13/08/12 11:07, Charles Lindsey wrote:
> On Sun, 12 Aug 2012 00:08:12 +0100, Peter Fairbrother
> <zenadsl6186 at zen.co.uk> wrote:
>> Maybe we are on different pages - I am, initially at least, just
>> saying that in order to filter traffic data from the stream he has
>> to look at the stream, in order to filter it.
> Plod is a person. The bot running his filter is not.

Legally, it is a person.

find a lawyer who says, here, publicly, that it isn't a person, and then
we'll talk about that, but otherwise...

So if the
> (sufficiently smart) bot can remove the non-traffic data from the
> communication data before Plod gets to look at it, then it has not
> been "made available to any person". Yes, the bot writer (aka root)
> could log in and change the bot to divert it otherwise, but we have
> been around that one before, and I don't think it washes.

I'm not going to get into this old argument any more, except to say that
your following paragraph does not follow.

And that I won last time anyone checked :)

> If you follow that line of reasoning, then every router everything
> passes through is guilty of interception, because its operator
> "could" peek at all passing traffic.

Could != did.

> All reasonable steps have been taken to prevent Plod seeing what he
> should not see, and a court is likely to be satisfied with that.
>> Whether a computer filter or a human does the filtering, the raw
>> unfiltered feed has to be looked at. Plod cannot filter it without
>> looking at it, it is impossible.
> No it's not. Plod does not filter it. Plod comes after the filter.

Okay, I'll define it differently - hmmm, need a suitable name for the
filter operating agency envisaged in the Bill .. hasn't been decided yet
[]..- hmmm. perhaps GCHQ? - no, that's taken, let's say FHQ.

[] snort!

> Whether a practical filter could be constructed by a person familiar
> with the algorithms used by Facebook, or whoever, is a separate
> issue. For the purposes of this discussion let us assume it is
> possible.

Let's take an example, the chalk mark once beloved by fictional spies.
(aargh, I'm told it was actually often used in real life - well, you
live and learn).

Spy Alice places a chalk mark at spot x, and sometime later spy Bob
passes by the spot and sees it.

In doing so Bob receives a communication from Alice.

Now, can "a person familiar with the algorithms used by Facebook, or
whoever" write a filter to detect that?

I'm pretty sure he can't, he doesn't have the necessary information, ie
the placement, the viewing, or the significance of the chalkmark.

That's an extreme example, but more everyday ones are easy to find.

So no, I will not assume that it is possible for "a person familiar
with the algorithms used by Facebook to construct a practical filter" -
unless you care to define "practical" in specific and limited terms.

But that is not the point.

Or maybe it is - to pass all potential traffic data, the filter has to
pass all traffic.

>> Another question here, is traffic between me and mywebsiteserver a
>> communication?
> Yes, you sent a communication to your websiteserver and it returned
> information of use to you. The identity of your websiteserver is
> traffic data. The actual query and its response is not.

You probably can't have it both ways - my webserver is not a person. Or
is it?

-- Peter F

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