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This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Leaking IP address information is illegal in UK

I have already discussed many of the evils of attempts to ban commenters by means of IP address blocking. I have now discovered that blog service Scienceblogs' leakage of IP address information to blogger Ed Brayton (Dispatches from the Culture Wars) is a criminal offense in the UK and possibly elsewhere in Europe, as discussed below:
.
IP address legality in Europe

It is important to note that unlike the US, under European Union law IP Addresses are considered to be personal data as defined by article 2(a) of Directive 95/46/EC " 'personal data' shall mean any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person ('data subject'); an identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity; " Also see Directive 2006/24/EC.

In association with Time Codes, IP Addressing information will always identify unique ISP account holders unless there is translation of that information.

It is important that this significant difference in legal status is appreciated, since Websites that provide for third party interception of IP addressing information and Traffic Data, without Website visitor consent, are committing a criminal offence in the UK by virtue of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, where through the requirements of European Council Decision 2005/222/JHA such Website owners face serious sanctions, including the winding up of their businesses, being debarred from running a business, and more than 2 years imprisonment.
(emphasis added)

IP addresses do not always identify specific individuals (e.g., my AOL proxy's static IP address is shared with many other AOL users), but the potential is certainly there. If I had a static IP address uniquely associated with my personal computer, I would be afraid that some blogger with a grudge against me would try to use that address to invade my computer. Also, there is the danger that a particular IP address will be blacklisted.

These European laws are a great deterrent to blog services that might try to help bloggers use IP address blocking. Since the Internet is so highly internationalized, blog services may be cautious about the potential of getting into legal trouble anywhere.

The "By details" webpage of a Site Meter (click on the Site Meter icon at the bottom of the left sidebar, then click on "By details") lists some visitors by IP address but does not give the last three digits, e.g., 76.171.246.#. That gives out some unnecessary information but at least shows some respect for the privacy of the visitor.

Here are some excerpts of the Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995:

Article 1

Object of the Directive

1. In accordance with this Directive, Member States shall protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, and in particular their right to privacy with respect to the processing of personal data . . . . .

Article 2

Definitions

For the purposes of this Directive:

(a) 'personal data' shall mean any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person ('data subject'); an identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity
. . . . .(emphasis added)

Article 6

1. Member States shall provide that personal data must be:

- - - - - - - - -

(e) kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the data were collected or for which they are further processed . . . . .

Article 7

Member States shall provide that personal data may be processed only if:

(a) the data subject has unambiguously given his consent; or

(b) processing is necessary for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is party or in order to take steps at the request of the data subject prior to entering into a contract; or

(c) processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the controller is subject; or

(d) processing is necessary in order to protect the vital interests of the data subject; or

(e) processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller or in a third party to whom the data are disclosed; or

(f) processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by the third party or parties to whom the data are disclosed, except where such interests are overridden by the interests for fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject which require protection under Article 1 (1).

Section 2 (8) of the UK's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 says,

(8) For the purposes of this section the cases in which any contents of a communication are to be taken to be made available to a person while being transmitted shall include any case in which any of the contents of the communication, while being transmitted, are diverted or recorded so as to be available to a person subsequently. (emphasis added)

Leaking IP addresses is also contrary to Amendment IV of the Bill of Rights:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

.

Labels:

22 Comments:

Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

I would recommend that everyone use the link that you provided to Ed Brayton's blog as it shows one of your more humorous attempts to misrepresent yourself.

So you are saying that you have been engaged in what would be criminal behavior in the U.K.? Your recent visitors link gives e exactly the same information.

As usual, the clown protests what he himself practices.

Thursday, March 29, 2007 9:56:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> I would recommend that everyone use the link that you provided to Ed Brayton's blog as it shows one of your more humorous attempts to misrepresent yourself. <<<<<

I did not misrepresent myself. That was Dave, my real brother.

Tricking Ed into revealing Scienceblogs' IP address leaks would have been a brilliant sting operation were it not for the fact that Fake Dave is not my real brother. BTW, Ed's posting of the IP address information is also a crime in the UK.

>>>>>> So you are saying that you have been engaged in what would be criminal behavior in the U.K.? <<<<<

Misrepresenting yourself on the Internet is not a crime in the UK, but leaking an IP address is.

>>>>>> Your recent visitors link gives e exactly the same information. <<<<<

No it doesn't. I pointed out that the Site Meter does not give complete IP addresses.

Thursday, March 29, 2007 4:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> I did not misrepresent myself. That was Dave, my real brother. <

Do you believe that you are fooling anyone? If you actally believe what you are saying you really need help.

> Tricking Ed into revealing Scienceblogs' IP address leaks would have been a brilliant sting operation <

If it is brilliant than obviously you could not have anything to do with it.

> were it not for the fact that Fake Dave is not my real brother. <

No. Real Dave, the one you call Fake Dave is your real brother. The one you identify as your real brother was definitely proven by Ed to be you. Now that was brilliant!

Now explain again how Ed's identification of IP addresses differs from Ed's?

Thursday, March 29, 2007 11:51:00 PM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

>>>Ed's posting of the IP address information is also a crime in the UK.<<<

No, Larry, that's the only thing that would have been a crime. Ed is part of ScienceBlogs, not a third party.

Also, the 4th Amendment only applies to government action.

Friday, March 30, 2007 8:00:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

W. Kevin Vicklund said...
>>>>>>Ed's posting of the IP address information is also a crime in the UK.

No, Larry, that's the only thing that would have been a crime. <<<<<<

AHA! You admit that Fatheaded Ed did something that is a crime in the UK! Hallelujah!

>>>>> Ed is part of ScienceBlogs, not a third party. <<<<<<

Kevin the pettifogger strikes again.

Ed is not part of Scienceblogs -- he is an outside party. He might be a paying customer or he might have been invited to join Scienceblogs for free, but in either case he is not part of Scienceblogs. If what you are saying were true, then in any case in which one party knowingly assists another party in obtaining an IP address, the claim that the two parties are not separate would always be a valid defense. I presume that Ed could not obtain commenters' IP addresses without the assistance of Scienceblogs -- Scienceblogs set up the blogging software to provide this information to bloggers and so could be considered to be aiding and abetting the commission of a crime. For example, I cannot obtain visitors' IP addresses here without the assistance of my blog service, Blogger.com, and I don't know if I could do it even if I were a skilled Internet programmer because I might not have access to the relevant parts of Blogger.com's software. And obtaining IP addresses by reprogramming the blogger software would certainly be an offense in the UK. Ed's use of this IP address information could be a criminal offense even if Ed were an employee of Sciencblogs -- for example, my quote from the UK law says,

(8) For the purposes of this section the cases in which any contents of a communication are to be taken to be made available to a person while being transmitted shall include any case in which any of the contents of the communication, while being transmitted, are diverted or recorded so as to be available to a person subsequently. (emphasis added)

I presume that Ed is a "person" for purposes of the above provision. I presume that if Ed were an employee of Scienceblogs and recorded the IP addresses of commenters on Scienceblogs' blogs, it would be considered to be a criminal offense in the UK.

Furthermore, Ed not only used the IP address information himself but published it on his blog.

Also, my following quotes from Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 are also applicable, though this directive does not have the force of law but is only a recommendation:

Article 6

1. Member States shall provide that personal data must be:

- - - - - - - - -

(e) kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the data were collected or for which they are further processed
. . . . .(emphasis added)


Article 7

Member States shall provide that personal data may be processed only if:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

(e) processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller or in a third party to whom the data are disclosed; or

(f) processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by the third party or parties to whom the data are disclosed, except where such interests are overridden by the interests for fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject which require protection under Article 1 (1).


Also, Scienceblogs has no control over how the IP addresses are used after they are given to the bloggers.

>>>>>> Also, the 4th Amendment only applies to government action <<<<<<

Show me where the government is mentioned in the 4th Amendment. And even where the government is mentioned in Bill of Rights amendments, the amendments implicitly apply to governmental entities not mentioned and even private entities. For example, the 1st Amendment expressly applies only to Congress but implicitly applies to other governmental entities and even private entities.

As I said, the IP address of my AOL proxy is not static, but some personal computers have their own static IP addresses, which have sometimes been automatically provided for free by ISP's or which can sometimes be rented from ISP's. If my personal computer had a static IP address and Ed or some other party used my IP address to invade and harm the computer or steal confidential information from it, I could possibly sue Ed and Scienceblogs.

Legal rules concerning the Internet are not yet firmly established because the Internet is relatively new. For example, bloggers have been sued because of comments that others have placed on their blogs.

Friday, March 30, 2007 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You seem to think you know a lot about (a) how Scienceblogs works and (b) UK law. You're utterly wrong on both counts and the UK law part is astoundingly irrelevant anyway.

You are what experts call "not very smart".

Friday, March 30, 2007 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

"Show me where the government is mentioned in the 4th Amendment."

Are you serious? The Constitution describes the CONSTITUTION of the government. It describes the form of the government and restrictions on its behavior. I challenge you to show even ONE successful prosecution of a private entity under for violating ANY of the amendments. One newspaper that was sued for violating the 1st amendment or one private citizen that was sued for unreasonable search and seizure. Just one.

Friday, March 30, 2007 2:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> AHA! You admit that Fatheaded Ed did something that is a crime in the UK! Hallelujah! <

Once again the buffoon shows that he can't read!

Friday, March 30, 2007 5:40:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Matt said,

>>>>>"Show me where the government is mentioned in the 4th Amendment."

Are you serious? The Constitution describes the CONSTITUTION of the government. It describes the form of the government and restrictions on its behavior. I challenge you to show even ONE successful prosecution of a private entity under for violating ANY of the amendments. One newspaper that was sued for violating the 1st amendment or one private citizen that was sued for unreasonable search and seizure.<<<<<<<

Private entities have been convicted of violating the 14th amendment that protects civil rights and the 13th amendment that prohibits slavery. Under the 1st amendment, newspapers have been sued for not giving individuals free space to rebut defamatory statements against them that were published by the newspapers. Public officials accused of unreasonable search and/or seizure have been sued as private individuals as well as in their official capacities. My argument here that violation of privacy by a private entity is a violation of the 4th amendment may be breaking new legal ground, but there is a beautiful Supreme Court precedent -- I wish I had the citation -- that says that someone invoking a law need not prove that the law was intended to benefit him (another of my favorite Supreme Court rulings says, "the cardinal rule is that repeals by implication are not favored").

Saturday, March 31, 2007 3:40:00 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

I'm still waiting. Cite a single case where a private entity has been found guilty of violating a Constitutional amendment. I assert that there are no such cases and that your suggestion that there are represents a deep misunderstanding on your behalf of the purpose of the Constitution.

Just a single case.

Saturday, March 31, 2007 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Matt said...
>>>>> I'm still waiting. Cite a single case where a private entity has been found guilty of violating a Constitutional amendment. <<<<<

Waiting for what? What is the matter with you? Do you think that I run around with the names of specific cases at the top of my head? I gave you some general examples. Have you never heard of a case where a private individual was sued for violating the civil rights of another person? That is a 14th amendment violation, and you don't need to be a public official to be sued for such a violation. 42 USC §1983 authorizes lawsuits against private individuals on charges of civil rights violations, and that statute is based on the 14th amendment. A specific example of where people were sued as private individuals for an alleged constitutional violation is Hurst v. Newman, the Tejon, Calif. school district establishment clause case where the school board members were sued as private individuals as well as in their public capacities.

Saturday, March 31, 2007 1:25:00 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

They were state employees who acted illegally in their positions. If they were, say, administrators of a private school the plaintiffs would have not been able to sue.

As to being sued in "their individual capacities":

"All of the defendants are being sued in their official capacities with respect to the plaintiffs’ claims for injunctive relief, and in their individual capacities with respect to the plaintiffs’ claims for nominal damages."

It's a legal technicality required for a certain type of relief, but it still depends on these individuals having acted as agents of the state.

I don't expect you to have an exhaustive knowledge of constitutional law, but I do expect you to back up your claim with a single example of a private entity, not acting as an agent of a government body, that has been successfully sued for violating a constitutional amendment.

Saturday, March 31, 2007 3:31:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Matt said,
>>>>>>> I don't expect you to have an exhaustive knowledge of constitutional law, but I do expect you to back up your claim with a single example of a private entity, not acting as an agent of a government body, that has been successfully sued for violating a constitutional amendment. <<<<<<<

Why are you making such a big deal about this when I have already given you satisfactory answers? For example, many or most charges of violating the 13th amendment's prohibition of slavery are against private defendants. And I hear all the time about private entities being sued for violations of civil rights -- I just don't happen to recall the names of specific cases. Also, I gave you the example of 42 USC §1983, which is based on the 14th amendment. Sheeesh.

Saturday, March 31, 2007 4:38:00 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I just don't think you quite get it. People are sued for violating constitutional rights only when they are acting as an agent of a government body. People who behave in a way that interferes with other people's civil rights while not acting as agents of the government tend to be sued or prosecuted under other laws.

For instance, a robbery is not a 4th amendment violation and you'll see no references to "unreasonable search an seizure" in the court record for a robbery case.

Civil and criminal law covers some of the same ground as constitutional law but it is not a 1:1 relationship. Constitutional law applies to government bodies and agents. Civil and criminal law applies to private entities.

Your one example involved school board members acting as agents of the government.

Ed Brayton is not a government agent so he cannot be violating the 4th amendment. Perhaps there is a US law somewhere that he is violating, but the 4th amendment ain't it.

Saturday, March 31, 2007 5:14:00 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

RE: 42 USC §1983

This law applies to persons acting "under color of [state law]". In other words - it applies to agents of the state. Typical applications of this law include cases against police officers that have overstepped their authority.

Saturday, March 31, 2007 5:19:00 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

An excellent commentary on 42 USC §1983 that makes it very clear hot it applies exclusively to government agents.

Saturday, March 31, 2007 5:22:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>>I just don't think you quite get it. People are sued for violating constitutional rights only when they are acting as an agent of a government body. <<<<<<

Look, I am really getting tired of this. I gave you the example of the 13th amendment. People who are prosecuted for violating the 13th amendment are often private individuals. Being a private individual is not a defense against a charge of practicing slavery. This is the "single example" that you requested.

>>>>>>> People who behave in a way that interferes with other people's civil rights while not acting as agents of the government tend to be sued or prosecuted under other laws. <<<<<

"Tend to be"? Not always? You have just proven my point.

>>>>>>RE: 42 USC §1983

This law applies to persons acting "under color of [state law]". In other words -- it applies to agents of the state. <<<<<<

It says "persons," not public officials, and covers "customs" and "usages" as well as statutes, ordinances, and regulations. It can be used against vigilantes, for example.

>>>>>> An excellent commentary on 42 USC §1983 that makes it very clear hot it applies exclusively to government agents. <<<<<<

Wrong -- this commentary talks about this statute being originally directed against the KKK, a non-governmental group. In fact, this commentary says that this statute is also known as the "Ku Klux Klan Act."

Saturday, March 31, 2007 5:45:00 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

"People who are prosecuted for violating the 13th amendment are often private individuals."

The 13th amendment says that congress may enact legislation to prevent involuntary servitude. It is under that legislation (USC Title 18, Section 241/242), not the amendment itself, that a prosecution would occur.

""Tend to be"? Not always?"

Sometimes people are not sued or prosecuted at all. When they are, it's under civil or criminal law.

"It says "persons," not public officials, and covers "customs" and "usages" as well as statutes, ordinances, and regulations."

Read the commentary more carefully. The furthest they stretch the definition is to doctors under contract by the state to administer to prisoners.

"this commentary talks about this statute being originally directed against the KKK, a non-governmental group." Nope. Try as you may, you'll never find a case where the KKK was prosecuted under this law. It was an answer to the inaction of law enforcement re:the KKK and meant to provide a means to address the criminal inaction of law enforcement that turned a blind eye to the KKK's actions.

You still haven't been able to cite a single case where an individual was sued or prosecuted for violating an amendment while not employed by, or under contract with, a government entity. I'll happily conceded the matter if you can produce such a case. I don't believe that you can.

Saturday, March 31, 2007 9:14:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Matt says,

>>>>>>"People who are prosecuted for violating the 13th amendment are often private individuals."

The 13th amendment says that congress may enact legislation to prevent involuntary servitude. It is under that legislation (USC Title 18, Section 241/242), not the amendment itself, that a prosecution would occur. <<<<<

Sheeesh, you are a bigger nitpicking, hairsplitting pettifogger than Kevin Vicklund and Bob Serrano. Does the 13th amendment say that no one may be convicted of violating it except as expressly authorized by Congress?

Why don't you claim that the governments in the USA have no right to protect the privacy of IP addresses because the 4th amendment does not begin, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, effects, and IP addresses .... " ?

The Constitution means whatever judges want it to mean. And did you know that judges in the USA have started to support their decisions by citing foreign laws and court decisions? And you say that the US courts can't cite our own Constitution without express permission from Congress? You have cited no court decision saying that a private person may not be convicted of violating a constitutional provision except as expressly authorized by Congress.

>>>>> Sometimes people are not sued or prosecuted at all. When they are, it's under civil or criminal law <<<<<

Sheesh -- those are the only two kinds of law we have!

>>>>>"It says "persons," not public officials, and covers "customs" and "usages" as well as statutes, ordinances, and regulations."

Read the commentary more carefully. The furthest they stretch the definition is to doctors under contract by the state to administer to prisoners. <<<<<<

The commentary only gave that as an example. The commentary did not say that is as far as the courts have "stretched" -- or as far as they are willing to stretch -- the law in applying the law to private individuals.

>>>>>> Try as you may, you'll never find a case where the KKK was prosecuted under this law. <<<<<

How do you know? There may be such a case (or cases) that we are not aware of.

>>>>>>> It was an answer to the inaction of law enforcement re:the KKK and meant to provide a means to address the criminal inaction of law enforcement that turned a blind eye to the KKK's actions. <<<<<<

Show me where it says that in the law.

>>>>>> You still haven't been able to cite a single case where an individual was sued or prosecuted for violating an amendment while not employed by, or under contract with, a government entity. <<<<<

And you have not cited a single case where, prior to the 13th amendment, someone was convicted of practicing slavery in a state or US territory where slavery was not prohibited. The sole authorization of such a conviction under federal law is the 13th amendment. Saying that a person has been convicted only of violating a federal law that was passed pursuant to this amendment and not convicted of violating the amendment itself is just nitpicking pettifoggery.

BTW, you still haven't explained why a blog service's leakage of IP address information is not a crime in the UK and perhaps elsewhere in Europe and also contrary to general EU policy.

Sunday, April 01, 2007 2:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> Why are you making such a big deal about this when I have already given you satisfactory answers? <

No. You dodged his question. You proved that you know of no specific cases to back up your ignorant statements.

Matt is clearly winning this one.

Sunday, April 01, 2007 2:59:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

I can always count on ViW to chime in when another commenter has already lost an argument.

ViW driveled,
>>>>>> You dodged his question. You proved that you know of no specific cases to back up your ignorant statements. <<<<<<

I don't know the details of the charges or findings of specific cases, but as I said, it is nitpicking pettifoggery to claim that a person convicted of violating a law that is based upon a constitutional provision and that owes its existence to that constitutional provision (e.g., a law based on the 13th amendment) has not been convicted of violating that constitutional provision itself. And now that the US courts have started supporting decisions by citing foreign laws and court decisions, a citation of the Constitution by a US court without the express permission of Congress could hardly be considered to be an outstanding example of unrestrained judicial activism.

Also, the courts make their own rules in applying constitutional provisions to cases where private individuals are the defendants. For example, it is no defense to claim that there is no law against shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre. On the other hand, the courts have said that US flag burning as symbolic expression is OK, any laws to the contrary notwithstanding. And if the courts can independently decide that a private person has not violated the spirit of a constitutional provision (acquittal of flag burners is an example), then the courts should certainly be able to independently decide that a private person has violated the spirit of a constitutional provision.

Finally, the Constitution itself does not say that its provisions cannot be applied to private individuals.

Sunday, April 01, 2007 9:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Wilderness said...

> I can always count on ViW to chime in when another commenter has already lost an argument. <

How would you know as the situation has never arisen? Matt is making sausage out of you.

Monday, April 02, 2007 4:49:00 AM  

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