The cost of online anonymity

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Sun Sep 11 18:34:07 EDT 2005

From: "R.A. Hettinga" <rah at>

>  <>

>   Digital evidence expert at the London School of Economics, Peter Sommer
>  says: "A few years ago I was very much in favour of libertarian computing.
>   "What changed my mind was the experience of acting in the English courts
>  as a computer expert and examining large numbers of computers from really
>  nasty people, who were using precisely the same sort of technology in order
>  to conceal their activities.

Assuming someone has come under suspicion in some other way and that they
continue to use a computer to view illegal material wouldn't the likes of
TEMPEST, hidden cameras and tampering with the suspect's software provide
all the computer-based evidence necessary ?

Combine that with a raid thats finds only one person in the house at the time
and what more do you need ?  I think it should be possible to debunk the idea
of lawlessness expressed in the article.

There is also this mail from (I think the same) Mr Sommer
that mentions wider goals, but even these may be tackled to some extent
by observations like thoe above.   Especially (in the absence of Trusted Computing!)
and amended version of Freenet s/w that produces concealed logs.

I suppose some estimate of the number of "really nasty people", of Freenet users
and the cost of investigating this way would be good to have.

According to this article
there's an attempt to speed up Operation Ore (and I think all will agree it
needs it).

>   Peter Sommer says: "Ian [Clarke] is placing a powerful tool in the hands
>  of other people. He's like an armaments manufacturer.

Should we see as virtual armaments all encryption software, digital cameras,
CD burners etc ?  And if not where should the line be drawn ?

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