The United Nations is calling for more surveillance of Internet users, saying it would help to investigate and prosecute terrorists.
A 148-page report (PDF) released today titled “The Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes” warns that terrorists are using social networks and other sharing sites including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Dropbox, to spread “propaganda.”
“Potential terrorists use advanced communications technology often involving the Internet to reach a worldwide audience with relative anonymity and at a low cost,” said Yury Fedotov, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The report, released at a conference in Vienna convened by UNODC, concludes that “one of the major problems confronting all law enforcement agencies is the lack of an internationally agreed framework for retention of data held by ISPs.” Europe, but not the U.S. or most other nations, has enacted a mandatory data-retention law.
That echoes the U.S. Department of Justice’s lobbying efforts aimed at convincing Congress to require Internet service providers to keep track of their customers — in case police want to review those logs in the future. Privacy groups mounted a campaign earlier this year against the legislation, which has already been approved by a House committee.
The report, however, indicates it would be desirable for certain Web sites — such as instant-messaging services and VoIP providers like Skype — to keep records of “communication over the Internet such as chat room postings.” That goes beyond what the proposed U.S. legislation, which targets only broadband and wireless providers, would cover.
Other excerpts from the UN report address:
Open Wi-Fi networks: “Requiring registration for the use of Wi-Fi networks or cybercafes could provide an important data source for criminal investigations… 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.”
Cell phone tracking: “Location data is also important when used by law enforcement to exclude suspects from crime scenes and to verify alibis.”
Terror video games: “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.”
Paying companies for surveillance: “It is therefore desirable that Governments provide a clear legal basis for the obligations placed on private sector parties, including… how the cost of providing such capabilities is to be met.”
Today’s U.N. report was produced in collaboration with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, which counts the World Bank, Interpol, the World Health Organization, and the International Monetary Fund as members.
A House committee voted to strongly rebuke a United Nations sustainability initiative Tuesday, one day after hearing more than an hour of testimony against it.
With minimal resistance, House Federal and State Committee approved a resolution “opposing and exposing the radical nature of United Nations Agenda 21 and its destructiveness to the principles of the founding documents of the United States of America.”
The resolution, supported by Rep. Greg Smith, R-Olathe; Rep. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona; and Rep. Dennis Hedke, R-Wichita, is now available for a full House vote with only a few days remaining in the legislative session.
“Of course we’re pleased with the committee’s handling of the resolution and the outcome,” Hedke said. “It’s late in the session, but I’m hopeful the leadership will allow it to come above the line for a full debate.”
Agenda 21 (referencing the 21st century), encourages governments to adopt environmentally sustainable development through a number of methods, including conservation, management and changing consumption patterns.
Smith, Knox and Hedke described the nonbinding U.N. agreement signed by 178 nations in 1992 as an unauthorized power grab by radical environmentalists bent on ending private property rights in favor of communism. They said it is pervading local governments and is “an aggressive attack on individual liberty and the foundation of our country.”
Implementation of Agenda 21 is voluntary, and according to Principle 2 of the Declaration on Environment and Development that came out of the 1992 conference, the nations who signed it have “the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental and developmental policies.”