Euro police press on ... and America's guiding hand is revealed

THE LATEST VERSION of the ENFOPOL 98 interception plan has just been leaked in London. It reveals that although the name of the key document has been changed, European Commission officials still want to make tapping the Internet official European policy by the end of May. They are pressing on, despite strong domestic opposition in Germany and Austria and recent condemnation by the European Parliament.

The new document is called ENFOPOL 19. It was obtained this week by Caspar Bowden of the London-based Foundation for Information Policy Research.

ENFOPOL 19 was written at a police officials' meeting in Brussels on 11 March, and was issued by the German presidency on 15 March. According to the British government, "the German Presidency has indicated that it hopes to seek agreement to the draft Council Resolution at the Justice and Home Affairs Council in May". The Council will meet on 27-28 May.

ENFOPOL 19 still concerns "interception of telecommunications in relation to new technologies". But instead of detailing massive new requirements for tapping the Internet and other new communications systems, the police group is now pretending that it is not a new policy at all.

Referring to the first European tapping plan of 1995, ENFOPOL 19 says that "the requirements of law enforcement agencies ... are applicable both to existing and new communications technologies, for example satellite telecommunications and Internet telecommunications". Thus, it claims, the "technical terms" in the 1995 plan "are to be interpreted as applying to ... in the case of the Internet, the static and dynamic IP address, credit card number and E-mail address". In fact, the 1995 policy says nothing about credit card numbers being used to tap telecommunications.

The new document points out that when tapping the Internet, it is not necessary to ask for the details of the sender and the recipient, because these are included in every "datagram" or IP packet. So new regulations for the Internet may not be needed.

But this is a deceptive manoeuvre. Successive redrafts of ENFOPOL 98 reveal that the original, highly controversial plan exposed by Telepolis has been broken up into at least five parts, which are now being handled separately:

  1. Plans for tapping Iridium and other satellite-based personal communications systems have been separated and are being discussed at a high level in the Commission;
  2. Part of ENFOPOL 98 which set out new requirements for personal data about subscribers will be included in "other Council Resolutions to be adopted";
  3. Another resolution will require Internet Service Providers to set up high security interception interfaces inside their premises. These "interception interfaces" would have to be installed in a high security zone to which only security cleared and vetted employees could have access. This is not included in ENFOPOL 19;
  4. ENFOPOL 19 also suggests that some tapping systems could operate through a "virtual interface". This would mean installing special software at Internet access points, controlled remotely by government security agencies.
  5. A fourth new policy concerning cryptography is now being dealt with separately.

The police group now plan that the old and new resolutions will be put into a monitoring "manual", together with detailed instructions on intercepting the Internet. This will include "technical descriptions" which have been taken out of the original ENFOPOL 98. If this manoeuvre succeeds, then ENFOPOL 98 will escape scrutiny by being smuggled through in parts, while the European Parliament is dissolved (because of the June Euro-elections).

But the biggest secret about ENFOPOL 98 has never been told, until now. The controversial document wasn't written by European governments or the European Commission. Both ENFOPOL 98 and Europe's 1995 monitoring policy were written by a US-dominated group of security and law enforcement agency experts, called ILETS. This group does not include any industry or human rights and privacy law advisers.

Over the last six years, ILETS has single-handedly forced governments and international standards bodies to build in their "requirements" to laws, networks and new communications systems. Their activities have never been reported to national Parliaments, the European Parliament or even the US Congress.

Not until Telepolis revealed the ENFOPOL 98 affair has the secret ILETS organisation been exposed or challenged.

Read also: The secret hand behind ENFOPOL (Duncan Campbell)