Felipe Rodriquez on 16 Feb 2001 15:42:29 -0000

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<nettime> Interception Requirements Get Dutch Internet Providers Into Trouble


Interception Requirements Get Dutch Internet Providers Into Trouble

Jelle van Buuren   15.02.2001

A third of Dutch Internet Providers are feared to face bankrupcy due
to the high costs of mandatory interception of Internet traffic

Dutch Internet Providers announced last week that they are unable to
fulfill their legal obligations concerning interception. The deadline
for the service providers is the 15th of April 2001. But due to
technical difficulties and high costs it is doubted if the providers
will manage to make their systems interceptable at this date.

The new Telecommunications Act that came into force on 15 December
1998 extended the compulsory obligation to intercept messages for
telephone companies to include Internet service providers (ISP) and
other telecom providers. Internet providers were granted temporary
exemption from the mandatory installation of interception equipment,
but were ordered to comply with all the regulations by August 2000.
The providers had not had enough time to prepare for the installation
of the necessary equipment and besides, the technical, financial and
judicial consequences were not entirely clear.

The Dutch interception requirements were a direct copy of the demands
that had already been formulated in international treaties. Neither
the providers nor the government knew how these demands were to be
translated either practically or organisationally. Many unresolved
details appeared in the minutes of the Partial Organ for Interception
(a deliberative body between the government and market parties
concerned with the interception of telecommunications which falls
under the control of Ministry of Transport and Waterways). A. Eisner
from the organisation of Dutch Internet Providers, the NLIP,
announced that "world-wide there are approximately three companies,
located in America, which are producing interception equipment for
the Internet. It could be another two years before adequate bugging
devices are developed."

Different Interception Standards in Europe

There is also dissent on the interception protocol to be used. The
Judicial Tap Standard (JTS), which is currently in use, cannot cope
with tapped information originating from high-speed services like ATM
and XDSL. The protocol that was developed by the European
Telecommunication Standardisation Institute (ETSI) and that is
supposed to be applied to all European businesses still does not meet
requirements of the Netherlands. This standard is not suitable for
tapping or transmitting quick Internet connections.

The negotiations between members of the EU on the European tapping
protocol are still dragging on. Dutch companies do not relish the
thought of making installations suitable for interception by the JTS,
when in all likelihood a new interception protocol in need of new
modifications and financial investments will be introduced within the
next few years. Secretary of State De Vries from The Ministry of
Transport and Waterways announced in February 2000 that a European
protocol is not in sight that all the member states can agree on. For
the time being, national regulations will continue to apply. The
Dutch service providers were granted another year to resolve the

Last week however, the Dutch providers announced that the new
deadline is unrealistic. They claim there are still no clear
technical specifications for the way in which intercepted traffic has
to be delivered to the police. Therefore manufacturers of Internet
interception equipment couldn't develop the proper installations.
'This indistinctness has resulted in a lack of relevant offers from
which Internet Service Providers can choose,' stipulate the providers
in a letter to the Ministry of Transport and Waterways.

They also point again at the differences between Dutch and European
requirements for the interception of Internet traffic:

'The Dutch government has chosen to implement the interception
obligation at a time when the European interception standard still
has to be completed. Most other European countries wait for that
standard, before they compell their providers to make their systems

The Dutch providers fear that their international competitive
position will be weakened:

'Dutch ISP's have to shoulder the initial costs of the development of
the interception equipment, whereby there is still the risk that the
Dutch interception standards will differ from the final European ETSI

The Dutch ISP's also claim that the costs of the interception
obligation are too high. The Dutch Providers have to pay for all the
costs resulting from the interception task. 'This will have
disastrous effects on the Dutch Internet market,' the providers
state. 'A third of the Internet providers are expected to end their
business as a result of the high interception costs.'

The Dutch digital privacy watchdog Bits of Freedom [0] warns that the
interception obligation of the Internet providers will lead to a rise
in interception. Figures show that since mobile telephones are
interceptable, the interception numbers have grown. For years, the
number of intercepted normal telephones where 3000 a year. But in
1998, when there were only two mobile operators, the numbers rose to
10.000. New communication technologies lead to more interception,
Bits of Freedom concludes.


[0] http://www.bof.nl

Artikel-URL: http://www.telepolis.de/english/inhalt/te/4932/1.html

Copyright  1996-2000 All Rights Reserved. Alle Rechte vorbehalten
Verlag Heinz Heise, Hannover

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