Agree: You Will Have No Electronic Privacy
The Nestmann Group, Ltd.
by Mark Nestmann: Expatriation
and Gold Prices
change a winning strategy.
this truism more slavishly followed than in the global campaign
to eliminate financial and electronic privacy.
is simple. First, the governments that find privacy inconvenient
create a purportedly independent commission, funded by a non-governmental
entity, such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
of the commission is to find a solution to a problem.
The problem could be the disturbing tendency of individuals to take
measures so as not to have their wealth confiscated. Or, their equally
disturbing desire not to have their communications monitored.
establishes minimum standards to deal with the problem.
These standards often run roughshod over human rights protections
established over centuries and enshrined in national constitutions.
Nonetheless, influential organizations publish reports calling for
the minimum standards to be adopted globally. Politicians clamor
that the severity of the crisis de jour overrides any concern
for human rights. Most countries make the necessary accommodations,
and the standards eventually become law.
If this sequence
of events sounds familiar, it should. It is precisely the way in
which the OECD largely dismantled offshore bank secrecy over the
past 20 years. Critics of this process have dubbed it policy
laundering, but it persists because it works.
Now, a similar
sequence is playing out in the realm of Internet privacy. In 1994,
the United States enacted the Communications Assistance for Law
Enforcement Act (CALEA). This law requires that electronic communications
companies construct equipment and networks to facilitate government
surveillance. In what must have appeared to be a remarkable coincidence
to the uninitiated, in quick succession, several other nations introduced
legislation similar to CALEA.
of this global flurry of surveillance legislation was an FBI-funded
consortium of national law enforcement and intelligence agencies
called the International Law Enforcement Telecommunications Seminar
(ILETS). Among other initiatives, ILETS proposed storing Internet
traffic and transactional data by commercial organizations for at
least one year.
quickly came into line with this requirement. In 2006, the European
Union incorporated most of the ILETS requirements into the Directive
on Data Retention. This directive requires EU telephone companies,
Internet Service Providers and other electronic communication services
to maintain records of customer e-mails, telephone calls, Web surfing
habits, etc. for at least six months and made available to police
all countries meet these requirements. Embarrassingly for the FBI,
one of them is the United States.
With this background
in mind, I recently reviewed legislation now before Congress with
the provocative name of the Protecting Children from Internet
Pornographers Act. Among other provisions, H.B.1981 would
require Internet service providers to store customer data for a
year and give it to investigators without a warrant.
of child pornography with Internet privacy is a cynical yet brilliant
strategy. Yet, its nothing new. The OECD and its minions did
something very similar when they forced low-tax jurisdictions into
signing tax information exchange agreements. To persuade taxpayers
in high-tax countries to give up their financial privacy, politicians
convinced them with mostly contrived evidence that
wealthy taxpayers had stashed trillions of dollars of untaxed income
in offshore tax havens. Public opinion quickly turned in favor of
outing the errant taxpayers.
Even if H.B.-1981
doesnt become law this year, something similar probably will.
And of course, investigations wont be restricted to child
porn. That would mean the law had to be used exclusively for the
purposes the fear-mongers pointed to as making it necessary. Instead,
in the name of protecting the children, well all
lose our Internet privacy.
may say, as long as the law reduces child porn, Ill
sacrifice my Internet privacy. But, the law wont even
do that. Its easy to use virtual private networks, encryption,
and other technologies to render the record-keeping mandated by
H.B.-1981 ineffective. Perhaps the next step is for the FBI to create
an association of anyone who uses these technologies with child
porn. And subsequently, to restrict those technologies to individuals
and companies who agree to unlock their data stream
for warrantless inspection.
This is also
part of the ILETS agenda. Nearly 20 years ago, the Clinton administration
proposed that anyone using encryption be required to provide the
government the ability to read the contents of any encrypted message
in plain text. And if child porn isnt a potent enough threat
to bring about an end to uncontrolled encryption, a data security
meltdown real or contrived that leads to widespread
disruption of everyday life just might do it.
with permission from The
Nestmann Group, Ltd.
Nestmann [send him mail]
is a journalist with more than 20 years of investigative experience
and is a charter member of The
Sovereign Societyís Council of Experts. He has authored over
a dozen books and many additional reports on wealth preservation,
privacy and offshore investing. Mark serves as president of his
own international consulting firm, The
Nestmann Group, Ltd. The Nestmann Group provides international
wealth preservation services for high-net worth individuals. Mark
is an Associate Member of the American Bar Association (member of
subcommittee on Foreign Activities of U.S. Taxpayers, Committee
on Taxation) and member of the Society of Professional Journalists.
In 2005, he was awarded a Masters of Laws (LL.M) degree in international
tax law at the Vienna (Austria) University of Economics and Business
© 2011 Mark
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