A new United Nations report calls for internet surveillance in the name of fighting terrorism, reports C|Net. The report points out the lack of international agreements on the retention of data, and concerns about open Wi-Fi networks in places like airports, cafes and libraries that are likely prime spots for terrorists and cyber terrorists chatter.
The United Nations report calls for more international cooperation on Internet surveillance, saying the lack of an "internationally agreed framework for retention of data" is a problem, as are open Wi-Fi networks and media that promotes terrorism.
The 148-page report (PDF) released this week is called "The Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes" and warns that terrorists are using social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Dropbox, to spread "propaganda." The report also indicates that it would be advantageous for VOIP services like Skype to retain records of conversations. Some of the report echoes what the U.S. Department of Justice has been asking Congress; for example the DOJ wants ISPs to keep track of their customers in case law enforcement wants to review data at a future date.
Rights groups have already mobilized against such ideas, and ISPs are likely to hate the idea too because they would be compromising the privacy of their customers and would be stuck with paying the cost of maintaining massive amounts of data... The report also touches on a number of other points like Wi-Fi networks, cellphone tracking, "terror" themed video games, and the cost of surveillance.
On Wi-Fi networks, the report notes that "requiring registration for the use of Wi-Fi networks or cybercafes could provide an important data source for criminal investigations," but goes on to says that "there is some doubt about the utility of targeting such measures at Internet cafes only when other forms of public Internet access (e.g. airports, libraries and public Wi-Fi hotspots) offer criminals (including terrorists) the same access opportunities and are unregulated."
On cell phone tracking the report notes that "location data is also important when used by law enforcement to exclude suspects from crime scenes and to verify alibis."
On video games that promote terrorist acts, the report says that something should be done about "video footage of violent acts of terrorism or video games developed by terrorist organizations that simulate acts of terrorism and encourage the user to engage in role-play, by acting the part of a virtual terrorist."
The report was put together with the help of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, which includes the World Bank, Interpol, the World Health Organization, and the International Monetary Fund. You can read the whole thing here (PDF).