Risk
5/31/2013
01:32 PM
50%
50%

Google, Facebook Told U.K.: We Won't Be Snoops

Major U.S. tech firms including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Yahoo! had rejected now-canned U.K. plan to make them archive user traffic, says newspaper.

The Syrian Electronic Army: 9 Things We Know
(click image for larger view)
The Syrian Electronic Army: 9 Things We Know
The debate over how best to equip the British police security services to stop more terrorist atrocities like the Woolwich slaying of a soldier last week has taken yet another turn -- with U.S. Web giants including Google revealed as saying they don't want any part in a possible revival of a "snooper's charter."

The term is shorthand for Britain's hobbled Data Communications Bill which supporters say would have helped law enforcement monitor email, Web and SMS traffic and perhaps cracked extremist chatter and online plotting leading to the attack.

The American-based companies told Britain in April that they agreed with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's halting of the bill's progress through Parliament. According to a letter apparently written to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, and leaked to the British press, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter all warned the British government they were unwilling to store data on U.K. users of their services for up to 12 months, as the draft legislation would have required of them.

[ What tops companies' security concerns? Read U.K. Public Sector's Top Security Worries. ]

They had instead pushed for a new bilateral agreement between the U.K. and U.S Internet firms that would have sped up the process of sharing user information to track terrorism, if needed. The companies also seem to have balked at the possible cost to them of maintaining such big databases, estimated to be as much as £1.8 billion ($2.7 billion).

"We do not want there to be any doubt about the strength of our concerns in respect of the idea that the U.K. government would seek to impose an order on a company in respect of services which are offered by service providers outside [the country]," said the private message, now in the hands of The Guardian. It goes on to say that, as the Internet is still a "relatively young technology" that is a great economic and social force, "there are risks in legislating too early in this fast-moving area that can be as significant as the risks of legislating too late."

The implication is that the U.K., which the document says has "rightly positioned itself as a leading digital nation," risks harming this status if it passed the bill.

The issue of how best to prevent attacks like the Woolrich incident is not settled yet. A Home Office statement issued earlier this week said that Her Majesty's Government is "continuing to look at ways of addressing this issue with communication service providers" and that "this may involve legislation."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-8802
Published: 2015-01-23
The Pie Register plugin before 2.0.14 for WordPress does not properly restrict access to certain functions in pie-register.php, which allows remote attackers to (1) add a user by uploading a crafted CSV file or (2) activate a user account via a verifyit action.

CVE-2014-9623
Published: 2015-01-23
OpenStack Glance 2014.2.x through 2014.2.1, 2014.1.3, and earlier allows remote authenticated users to bypass the storage quote and cause a denial of service (disk consumption) by deleting an image in the saving state.

CVE-2014-9638
Published: 2015-01-23
oggenc in vorbis-tools 1.4.0 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (divide-by-zero error and crash) via a WAV file with the number of channels set to zero.

CVE-2014-9639
Published: 2015-01-23
Integer overflow in oggenc in vorbis-tools 1.4.0 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) via a crafted number of channels in a WAV file, which triggers an out-of-bounds memory access.

CVE-2014-9640
Published: 2015-01-23
oggenc/oggenc.c in vorbis-tools 1.4.0 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (out-of-bounds read) via a crafted raw file.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
If youíre a security professional, youíve probably been asked many questions about the December attack on Sony. On Jan. 21 at 1pm eastern, you can join a special, one-hour Dark Reading Radio discussion devoted to the Sony hack and the issues that may arise from it.