No More Mandatory Data Retention in Italy? – Update

As a consequence of the Parliament/Govern inactivity, the huge quantity of traffic data that survived the June, 30 midnight – and that some ISP might still have in its own hand, maybe hoping for a last-minute, never passed, prorogation – is currently being deleted.

Right now, traffic-Database deleting schedules should have been re-set to the old standard: one year retention period as set forth by sec. 132 of the Italian Data Protection Act.

And the Data Protection Authority still hasn’t hissed a word.

 

The Web is ISIS’s Nuclear Bomb

The Web is ISIS’s Nuclear Bomb. This is what Loretta Napoleoni, author of books on the economic side of terrorism, wrote in an article for the leftwinger Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano.

Napoleoni claims that – as the Marxist ideology did in the past with the “word-of-mouth” or, better, “word-of-book” – ISIS’s propaganda gets its power from a new “ideology-spreading-tool”: the Internet, and thank to the Internet will last, no matter what:

Even though, hypothetically, we should succeed in taking out all of ISIS’s warriors by bombing them and killing al Baghdadi, the ideology that these people have created and their universal message will last on the Internet. 1

I don’t have enough authority to challenge the curious association Napoleoni did between Karl Marx philosophy and ISIS’s vision of the Islamic religion, but I find grossly superficial and offensive for the victims of (every) war to compare “the Web” to a nuclear bomb.

As I wrote in a post, war is made of bullets, and bullets hurt as do (nuclear) bombs. Bombs make carnage, slaughters, shred a human being in pieces, burn, annihilate, vaporize, wipe communities, blindly kill innocents, pollute lands for centuries or millennia (ask Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors for additional info, just in case.) E-mail, newsgroups, chats, FTP (yes, Napoleoni, the Internet is not only made by HTTP) are tool of freedom designed by free people to give humans a free chance to communicate with no physical and social barrier.

Those like Napoleoni – and her cultural associates, member of the “Internet-as-a-threat Club” – should simply accept the fact that ideas are countered (and sometimes, fought) with ideas and that the worst way to challenge a disturbing statement is to censor it.

The idea that a sole statement might change somebody’s personal philosophy up to turning him into a human bomb carrier is simply wrong. Change of mind happens by way of  tragedies, loneliness, apartheid and injustice and not because of a tweet.

As per the “Internet Patrolling” advocated (not only) by Napoleoni – though sadly labelled by her as ineffective – again, let’s go back to basics: as the East Germany, Russian and Italian political police history show, to fight an enemy and prevent attacks there is no substitute for an actual, massive, ruthless and pervasive physical control. But t this is disturbing and, rightly so, nobody in the Western world is available to give a government so much power.

And here comes the brilliant solution: let’s fall back on the Internet and blame “the Web” as a radicalization tool.

No, Napoleoni, ideologies will not last because of a blog. They will stand until there will be inequality in world, it means until the end of time.

  1. Orginal text in Italian: Anche se, ipoteticamente, riuscissimo a stanare con le bombe tutti i guerrieri dello Stato Islamico e a far fuori al Baghdadi, l’ideologia che costoro hanno creato ed il loro messaggio universale in rete rimarrà

War is fought with bullets

True, the monumental unscrupulousness of the ICT business (which sells systems
without concerns for the security side), and the naïveté of its clients (trusting hardware instead of good practice and appropriate security processes) built today’s western digital infrastructure as a Colossus with feet of clay.

True, this made the Western World a soft target for computer-related criminals and terrorists.

True, a lot of damage can be done in a short time by a committed digital strike.

But don’t forget that war is fought with bullets, real bullets.

And bullets do hurt.

Légion étrangère and Kamikaze. Dangerous Rethorical Stunt of Italian Politicians and Media

Undersecretary Marco Minniti, superseeding the Italian Intelligence activities on behalf of the Government, gave out his two cents about the war on terrorism – the Italian Way, announcing a private-public project to fight cyberterrorism and claiming that Europe hosts the Légion étrangère of Terror.
Here is the screen-shot of his statement:
ForeignLegionWell, I don’t want to talk about the merit of the cyberterrorism response of his announcement. It is too early to actually assess a proposal that ranges from catastrophically ineffective to functional.

Let’s wait and see, but in the meantime I’ve found grossly misinformed and misleading the association Mr. Minniti  did between the terrorist forces and the French Légion étrangère. It is a fact that people from many different countries are joining the terrorist camp, but in no way this can be compared to what (like it or not) the Légion is.

What I find rather disappointing is that to obtain a rhetorical stunt in front of the Press, a politician that is supposed to know better just let slip easy and wrong messages. I can imagine a newspaper’s title when the next attack will strike: “Terror Foreign Legion vs France’s Foreign Legion!” Awful sounding isn’t it?

This is what happened so far with the word “Kamikaze” whose meaning has been turned upside down by the Italian media.

Kamikaze was (and still is) the name for a desperate military tactic (BTW, not so different from the one Winston Churchill thought of fighting German panzers in case of invasion of the British soil) conceived by an army against another army, and has nothing to do with the exploitation of an individual as human bomb carrier targeting people with non combatants status.

Words’meaning grip loss leads to confused ideas, and cloudy thoughts produce wrong decision.

Italy To Storm Playstation Networks? The Steve Jackson Game Case Strikes Back

According to Andrea Orlando, Italian Minister of Justice, Italy plans to fight  the war on terrorism on Playstations.

In a press conference, Mr. Orlando said that new technologies are exploited by terrorists, and it is imperative to keep pace with the innovation, by allowing the capability to wiretap chat (whatever this means) and Playstations.

Apart from the merit of the issue (we might either agree or not about the strategy, but this is a horse of different colour) what matters is the clear uneasiness of the Minister in  talking about topics he’s clearly not knowledgeable in.

I really wander how the law enforcement agencies will be able to extract something useful by wiretapping network games that deal with assaults, terrorist actions, covert operation and so on.

Will they be able to sort the truth from the game?

Are we on the verge of a new Steve Jackson Games scandal?

The usual approximation showed by a politician in charge of taking the lead on technology-related issues shows that key decision on such a sensitive matters are made elsewhere, by someone else not at all well versed in the matter. And it would be interesting to know who this “Mr. Someoneelse” actually is.

To have a better grasp on the operative issues before talking to the Press,  maybe it wouldn’t had been a bad idea  for the Minister to spend some spare time playing Call of duty or Splinter cell.

 

How Do Cameron and Obama Are Going to Forbid This?

cipherThis is – the news is as recent as today – what the Italian Polizia di Stato found during a Ndrangheta (organized crime from Calabria) related investigation.

Although the cipher, in this case, is not that hard to handle for an expert codebreaker it shows that “old school” systems still work.

So, following the announced ban of side-to-side encryption application made by US Presidente Obama and UK Prime Minister Cameron (coupled with the statement by Italian Home Affair Ministry) I wonder how they’re going to fight this “new”, dangerous way to exploit the encryption.

Maybe outlawing paper and pencil?

The Italian Home Affair Minister To Call For Another Internet Crackdown

In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, as a way to improve the “safety” of the citizen, the Italian Home Ministry Affair, Alfano (a right-winger)  called for:

  • a “registration” of “dangerous” websites,
  • a further enhancement of the ISPs duty to block access to
    (terrorism-related) Internet resources,
  • an exception to the data-protection regulation, to allow the law
    enforcement agencies to easily access “sensitive” data.

This is an exploitation of the recurring rhetorical locus: “enhance safety needs the fundamental rights to be weakened”.
It is easy to answer with an often quoted statement by Benjamin Franklin:

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

But this is not the point.

From a “terrorism” fighting point of view, what Alfano is calling for is simply useless.

If the target is to gather as much information as possible to prevent new attacks, blacklisting websites obviously doesn’t help. It neither stops terrorists from talking each-other, nor allows to spot upcoming threats.

If the target is to gather advance information to run “pre-emptive actions”, it is useless to “weaks” the data-protection regulation to ease the law enforcement agencies access to “sensitive” (i.e. political-related) information. Those who need a fast and direct access to such king of information, in fact, are the secret services (whose activities are neither handled nor reported to a magistrate) and not the law enforcement bodies, that can only act, in Italy, AFTER a crime has been committed (having, in this case, full access to everything they need, under the control of the public prosecutor.)

Then, a couple of questions:

  • why does Alfano calls for measures that don’t help fighting terrorism, but allow a crackdown against normal citizens?
  • why the ISPs should be burdened to act as censors and central scrutinizer on behalf of the government?

The Security Excuse

This is a close-up of a banner belonging to the Prefecture de police, Paris, Rue de la citè.

Actually this banner says nothing special but what a public police power is supposed to do; nevertheless  – as I wrote commenting the picture – I don’t know why, but every time I hear a public power saying that he cares about me I feel a bit worried.

Reverse Engineering of the gray world: Intelligence as a black-box

Back to one of my first love: next March 11 (Rome University La Sapienza) and 20 (Milan University Statale) I have been asked to talk about “Reverse Engineering of the gray world: Intelligence as a black-box” and “Use(less) online Open Source Intelligence”.