Police knowing YOUR web use doesn't stop crime. Surprise.

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An interesting press release from NO2ID about the usefulness (or not) of web monitoring:

Blanket collection of telecommunications data has been proved by German police statistics to be entirely pointless.

Indiscriminate, blanket telecommunications data collection had no statistically relevant effect on crime or clear-up rates, according to Germany’s Federal Crime Agency [1]. The controversial policy of collecting information on ALL telephone and internet use was the subject of an EU directive pushed through at the insistence of the Home Office under Charles Clarke in the aftermath of the London tube bombings of 2005.

After Germany's highest court ruled the policy unconstitutional and rescinded the law in March last year, crime declined and the crime clearance rate was the highest ever recorded [2]. These findings confirm the position of more than 100 European organisations [3] opposed to the policy of disproportionate, unnecessary mass data retention introduced across the EU in 2006.

The statistics refute the myth spread by politicians and police chiefs that without gathering huge amounts of information on non-suspects the Internet is 'a lawless space' – without mass-collection of telecoms data German police achieved a clearance rate of nearly three out of four Internet offences (71%) in 2010, exceeding by far the average clearance rate for crimes committed without any use of the Internet (55%).

The Scientific Services of the German Parliament analysed 'the practical effects of data retention on crime clearance rates in EU Member States' and concluded: [4] 'In most States crime clearance rates have not changed significantly between 2005 and 2010. Only in Latvia did the crime clearance rate rise significantly in 2007. However, this is related to a new Criminal Procedure Law and is not reported to be connected to the transposition of the EU Data Retention Directive.'

Michael Ebeling of the German Working Group on Data Retention said:

'In light of these statistics, the irresponsible campaign of fear and scaremongering by some politicians after the annulment of the German data retention law is completely unjustified.

The truth is that exaggerated and emotionally charged descriptions of isolated cases in the media aimed at supporting mass retention is both misleading and unethical. It is nothing less than a populist defence of the most privacy invasive and unpopular surveillance measure ever adopted by the EU.'

Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID said:

'Throwing away basic standards of privacy in a panic was foolish. We've always known that it is properly controlled investigation of rational suspicions that gets convictions. Now it is obvious that treating everyone as a suspect doesn't work. Would it be so hard to stop?'

[1] German crime statistics for 2010: http://www.bka.de/pks/pks2010/download/pks2010_imk_kurzbericht.pdf
[2] AFP report: http://www.thelocal.de/society/20110521-35163.html
Figures – 2007: 6,284,661. 2008: 6,114,128. 2009: 6,054,330. 2010: 5,933,278.
[3] Letter of more than 100 organisations from 23 European countries to the EU Commission: http://www.vorratsdatenspeicherung.de/images/DRletter_Malmstroem.pdf
[4] Report by the Scientific Services of the German Parliament:
[5] Letter of more than 100 organisations from 23 European countries to the EU Commission: http://www.vorratsdatenspeicherung.de/images/DRletter_Malmstroem.pdf