Roland Perry lists at internetpolicyagency.com
Tue Jun 19 13:24:17 BST 2012

In article <DAEE1FEA-05E9-406B-B325-62CFFEC67AC5 at batten.eu.org>, Ian 
Batten <igb at batten.eu.org> writes

>>> If the beef isn't extraction of communications data from content
>>> data without an interception warrant, what is?
>> It has to be "moving the dividing line beyond the first forward slash".
>I'm not so sure.  That's codified in RIPA S.2(9)(d):
>> any data identifying the data or other data as data comprised in or 
>>attached to a  particular communication, but that expression includes 
>>data identifying a computer  ?le or computer program access to which 
>>is obtained, or which is run, by means of  the communication to the 
>>extent only that the ?le or program is identi?ed by  reference to the 
>>apparatus in which it is stored.

That wording is the best we could do at the time (remember, I negotiated 
it) to convey an approximation to "the first single forward slash".

There are numerous cases where even that reveals content, and also 
numerous cases where content is only revealed after the nth forward 

>but the introduction to the draft says:
>> Communications data from [new internet services including voice over 
>>internet,  online gaming and instant messaging] is not as accessible 
>>as data from  older communications systems like ‘fixed line’ 
>>telephones. Although some internet  data is already stored by 
>>communication service providers, other data is neither  generated nor 
>>obtained because providers have no business need for it.
>The trailing part of a URL (leaving aside the issue of encryption, 
>because the bill interestingly doesn't mentioned it at any point) is 
>trivial to obtain: indeed, you need to actively discard it in order not 
>to store it.

The old Act couldn't ask for it, and the new Bill seems to wanting to 
introduce filters which discard the sensitive part (and therefore allow 
the authorities to ask for and get more).

>But fishing out information about which parties are communicating via 
>Skype, WoW and IM requires going into the content stream, because those 
>protocols don't segregate communications data from content data either 
>temporally (as SMTP and HTTP do, because you can identify when in the 
>protocol exchange it stops being comms data and starts becoming 
>content) or spatially (by having a separate control channel as some 
>audio and voice protocols do).

It's by no means clear that those drafting this new Bill are 
significantly more up to speed with things at that level of complexity 
(other than by trying to ignore the complexity by saying "give us 

>I think the new legislation is entirely about extracting who's talking 
>to whom via WoW and IM.  I base this on the plain reading of the 
>introduction :-)

That seems doomed to fail, if the WoW and IM servers are overseas, and 
you can't translate "screen names" into real people.
Roland Perry

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