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Dutch Gov't Has No Idea How To Delete Tapped Calls

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the these-days-neither-do-the-swiss dept.

Government 186

McDutchie writes "The law in the Netherlands says that intercepted phone calls between attorneys and their clients must be destroyed. But the Dutch government has been keeping under wraps for years that no one has the foggiest clue how to delete them (Google translation). Now, an email (PDF) from the National Police Services Agency (KLPD) has surfaced, revealing that the working of the technology in question is a NetApp trade secret. The Dutch police are now trying to get their Israeli supplier Verint to tell them how to delete tapped calls and comply with the law. Meanwhile, attorneys in the Netherlands remain afraid to use their phones."

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You can't make this stuff up (3, Insightful)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843667)

Absolutely superb.

y0u fai1 i+ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29843703)

m0d d03n

Re:You can't make this stuff up (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843919)

Absolutely superb.

It's called a Dutch Delete. It helps deleting the case by messing up the evidence.

Re:You can't make this stuff up (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843935)

I thought a Dutch Delete only applied to torrents?

Re:You can't make this stuff up (4, Funny)

rvw (755107) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843957)

I thought a Dutch Delete only applied to torrents?

No no! The Dutch Police used to share all phone taps via torrents, and now they don't know how to delete those. That's the real reason why The Pirate Bay should be shut down.

Re:You can't make this stuff up (2, Funny)

ZeRu (1486391) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843993)

"Meanwhile, attorneys in the Netherlands remain afraid to use their phones." Apparently they need some Dutch courage.

Re:You can't make this stuff up (2, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844163)

Dutch courage eh? /me hands the Dutch legal fraternity a nice, cold glass of encryption.

Seriously, why don't we all just move to encrypted SIP clients? It's not like there aren't a pile of open source ones out there.Yes, it'll never be mass market, but it's now easy enough for anyone clued up enough to know that they need to be using it.

Failing that, there's always encrypted email. Thunderbird + Enigmail is a no-brainer.

Re:You can't make this stuff up (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844655)

Seriously, why don't we all just move to encrypted SIP clients? It's not like there aren't a pile of open source ones out there.Yes, it'll never be mass market, but it's now easy enough for anyone clued up enough to know that they need to be using it.

But then how would big brother monitor our phone calls to protect us from ourselves???

Re:You can't make this stuff up (1)

Nossie (753694) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844301)

And in related news...

"The law in America says that file sharing hosts and their clients/files must be destroyed. But [what] the Dutch ISP Nforce has been keeping under wraps for years [is] that no one has the foggiest clue how to delete them"

So many levels....

I know! (1)

puroresu (1585025) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843697)

rm filename

Nuke it from orbit its the only way to be sure (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843813)

rm -rf /

Re:Nuke it from orbit its the only way to be sure (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843873)

I was thinking a large hammer would do it... or run over the device with a tank.

Re:Nuke it from orbit its the only way to be sure (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844141)

A nice little woodchipper would do the trick.

Re:Nuke it from orbit its the only way to be sure (4, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844355)

Store the data on your Sidekick device?

Every knows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29843717)

Every knows that you have a very high risk of getting tapped here. At least i'm glad to have a DSL connection as phoneline now, as it no longer introduces those annoying clicks traditional phonelines suffer, indicating recording started, whenever you say numbers, raise your voice or trigger a keyword, as it all is digital. I find it in particular funny to get 'observed' as i got nothing to hide, but just may have a couple 'interesting' friends between my connections. Also, by living in this town for a little, i know about at least 1 person for 100% sure he works for secret intelligence (y, i learned deduce at skool). Call me paranoia or not. I'm knowing for sure me and some friends getting traced, and i don't fucking care except to think of bullshit stories to confuse them. I'l make them easy this time by just publishing my IP: 127.153.231.2. You'r welcome.

Re:Every knows (2, Insightful)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843805)

Have you tried a tinfoil hat?

Re:Every knows (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29843851)

Whatever his mental state, according to the official numbers (which don't include the secret service) in the Netherlands the number of wire taps is over 10 times that of the number in the US and we've only got 15 million people...

Re:Every knows (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29843921)

Sounds more like they are 10 times more honest about it in The Netherlands than in the US.

not afraid (5, Interesting)

Djinh (92332) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843725)

Lawyers aren't afraid at all to use the phone: If a tapped conversation between them and their client turns up later in court, their client usually walks.

Re:not afraid (5, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843747)

I think you're only looking at the simple case. What about: I find out the intimate details of what you and your client were talking about on the phone and then use those details to dig deeper and find evidence I never would have without that phone call? Then I turn up in court, destroy your case, have nothing but hard evidence and you have no way of knowing that I used your taped conversation to do so (and probably couldn't prove it even if you thought that).

It'd be immoral and illegal but it *would* destroy your case outright and the chances of me getting caught are probably quite low if I'm someone with intelligence and knowledge of legal workings like, say, another lawyer?

Re:not afraid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29844049)

It'd be immoral and illegal but...

Indeed. If we assume that police do illegal things, the laws we have to restrict this sort of stuff mean nothing. In example you described, it wouldn't matter what sort of laws we have about wiretapping.

But honestly, why would police do something like that? They get paid to do their job, they have no incentive to do anything more than they are required to. It's pretty much the same as it is with IT administration. If my boss asked me to look through someone's emails, my first answer would be "I don't get paid to do that. Give me a raise, but that in the job description of my contract and then we'll discuss this again."

I could see some individual cops wanting to break law ("That guy annoys me... Maybe circumventing the rules to get him caught is worth it... Especially as I might get a promotion!") but that's were the bureaucracy steps in. There needs to be *extremely* widespread for such to get authorized, implemented, paid for, the actual discussions followed, etc. without someone asking "Wait a minute. Why are we doing this again?".

Re:not afraid (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844451)

But you would need a plausible reason for finding that other evidence or your case would fall apart. Probably not difficult to manage but you would need to cover your back.

Re:not afraid (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844583)

It'd be immoral and illegal

Is it really immoral if you're trying to pin someone down for harm done to society? (The potential for abuse is high which is why it's illegal, but illegal doesn't automatically mean immoral.)

Re:not afraid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29844683)

The problem is that what constitutes a "harm to society" is more and more defined by corrupt politicians and lobbyists; both of which only act in favour of their own agenda and not the wellbeing of the society.

Re:not afraid (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844755)

Yes. Knowing that the prosecution might be listening, the defendant will be afraid to speak frankly to his lawyer. This will result in inadequate defense and consequently to the conviction of innocent people.

Re:not afraid (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29843753)

The police wouldn't be dumb enough to use that as evidence.

What they are more concerned about is the police hearing "Oh, you did do it? Right, this is how we'll get you off..."

Once they know you did it, even if they can't use that recording, you can bet your bottom dollar they will put every resource to use in finding the proof you did it, where without that taped call they may see no surface evidence and move on to the next suspect.

Lawyer client privilege (5, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843913)

I don't know if the law is different in the Netherlands, but in the UK if the client tells the lawyer that he did do it, he has to either find a new lawyer or agree to plead guilty and present mitigating circumstances. A lawyer is not allowed to tell actual lies in court.I doubt it is different elsewhere in the EU.

Re:Lawyer client privilege (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29844265)

I didn't know lawyers existed in the UK...the SOLICITOR advises on law and then passes it to a BARRISTER to argue it in court, so it'd be the barrister who'd be lying in court.

What then do you call Law Society members? (3, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844359)

Members of the Law Society are lawyers. I have both branches of the profession in my family, and I think I know the difference. At the level of criminals stupid enough to tell someone they did it, the solicitor will typically be representing them in court as well. At higher levels, the solicitor cannot be told by the client the he did it and withhold this information from the barrister.

However, your post is utterly uninformed. Solicitors advise clients on law in lower courts. In higher courts barristers will more usually do the work. Commercial clients who don't like solicitor's advice will frequently try to get advice from a QC - a senior barrister - in the hope it will persuade their boss to go on with the case, hence my father's oft-repeated comment to clients "You can have counsel's opinion and it'll cost you £30000, or you can slip me £15000 and I'll tell you that it's 50-50 for half as much."

Re:Lawyer client privilege (2, Informative)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844439)

I don't know if the law is different in the Netherlands

Since most of mainland Europe uses the Napoleonic legal system then yes, it is.

A lawyer is not allowed to tell actual lies in court.

Apart from summing up[1], lawyers[2] ask questions which by definition are neither true nor false. It's witnesses who answer them, under oath.

[1] And from what I've seen, they always talk in a strange indirect manner - "we have shown that...", "if foo then you must acquit", "witness X's testimony is unreliable" etc. They never actually say that he did or didn't do it.

[2] Using that as a blanket term, since solicitors can sometimes appear in court now.

Re:Lawyer client privilege (3, Interesting)

brillow (917507) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844621)

Lawyers in the US cannot lie either, nor can they knowingly prompt clients to lie. They cannot allow clients to testify information they know to be false. There are ways around this however, as only the client and lawyer know about the lie, its easy to hide and I imagine its done all the time. The client can also recant the truth they made to the lawyer and the lawyer can then claim they believed it (though if they end up in front of a bar they will have to be pretty persuasive in why they beleived the 2nd story and not the first.) >What about: I find out the intimate details of what you and your client were talking about on the phone and then use those details to dig deeper and >find evidence I never would have without that phone call? Then I turn up in court, destroy your case, have nothing but hard evidence and you have >no way of knowing that I used your taped conversation to do so (and probably couldn't prove it even if you thought that). Youd have to be pretty persuasive, evidence obtained through illegal means is itself inadmissible. Search a house without a warrant and find a dead body, and you get a murderer that walks free. It would be difficult to find physical evidence in this manner due to chain of custody. If youheard a call explaining that the gun was buried in the woods, and went and found it, a judge would want to know how you knew to look there. If you were pointed to evidence, like bank records etc, that would be easier. However, a prosecutor would be stupid to try this unless it was perfectly air-tight. That kind of misconduct (at least in the US) can give retroactive grounds for appeal for every case they've done, it would unwind much justice. Not to mention your career would be over and you would probably serve some jail time for contempt.

Re:not afraid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29844149)

In fact, GP is right. Here in the Netherlands, several cases basically took the course that GP describes.

Re:not afraid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29844223)

The police wouldn't be dumb enough to use that as evidence.

Yes, they are that dumb. They actually tried to do that in The Netherlands in a case against the local hells angels club (and the judge threw the case out because of it).

Re:not afraid (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29843767)

That may be true, but if the police / the prosecution is smart, they don't use the tapped calls themselves as evidence, but simply use them during their own investigation, and to better prepare their rebuttal to the defense attorney's arguments.

Regardless of lawyers' feelings, this is a major violation of a basic right to have a private conversation with your defense attorney. The fact that these calls are tapped at all is outrageous. If those calls were occasionally accidentally stored that would be even more outrageous. But if they are not only recorded but even impossible to delete, ... well I can't think of a word.

Re:not afraid (3, Informative)

dajak (662256) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844113)

The conversation between lawyer and client may be confidential, but the extent of the protective perimeter you set up around it is a practical matter.

You may declare prison and law office phones sacred altogether in order to make sure you don't record such conversations, missing a lot of useful conversations, but if you don't, you will have to listen to the conversations to establish, firstly, that it is a confidential conversation, and secondly, that the recording doesn't contain parts you presumably may use (for instance the lawyer dictating something to a secretary in the background).

Dutch practice is that you may not use or store it in principle but you may listen to the recording and store it until you did. After that, you have to destroy it, and the suspicion is now that the system only deletes it.

Having said that, this whole thing became an issue after it was discovered confidential phone conversations were actually copied to DVD by the police in one high profile case, which is indeed outrageous.

Re:not afraid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29844155)

The question is one of whitelisting versus blacklisting.

You're worried about NOT recording potentially useful conversations. That's obviously not how the system should work. I'm worried about recording private conversations in general.

The Netherlands is rapidly moving towards "screw privacy, let's record everything". I'd prefer it if the police only use a wiretap when they have actual evidence that a useful conversation is about to take place.

This has the additional advantage of not generating enormous amounts of useless data which the police are (apparently) unable to manage.

Re:not afraid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29844437)

The conversation between lawyer and client may be confidential, but the extent of the protective perimeter you set up around it is a practical matter.

You may declare prison and law office phones sacred altogether in order to make sure you don't record such conversations, missing a lot of useful conversations, but if you don't, you will have to listen to the conversations to establish, firstly, that it is a confidential conversation, and secondly, that the recording doesn't contain parts you presumably may use (for instance the lawyer dictating something to a secretary in the background).

The proper term for this is called "minimization", something I hope the Dutch know how to do. Here in the US, Title III wiretaps require that whoever is monitoring the call can only listen to pertinent conversations on the tapped lines. As a result all tapped calls MUST be monitored in real time. Before monitoring, all staff must have be briefed on what they are allowed to listen to.

If the conversation is not related to the crime, the monitor must mute the call and recording stops. (Software vendors usually have to prove that nothing is recorded, otherwise no one would buy their tapping software due to legal issues) The trick is when the conversation swings between pertinent and non-pertinent conversation. There are guidelines for handling this, usually occasionally checking in on the call every few minutes to see if it has become pertinent.

Re:not afraid (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844165)

It's not as simple as that.

The phone call is never going to appear in court. What could happen is that the police listen to the call and then have a better idea where to look to find evidence that will help them with their case. This evidence will be presented to court, will be solid evidence that proves the accused guilt, and there is no way you could prove it was obtained as a result of tapping a privilidged phone call.

Now (1)

MistrX (1566617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843727)

Wait for the claims against the state!
Is this already on failblog?

Quick and permanent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29843729)

drop database;

Easy (2, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843737)

Take media with recorded conversations, place in a pile, load it up with a half-tonne of aluminium filings and iron oxide, and apply a high temperature heat source.

You might want to wear safety goggles.

Re:Easy (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843759)

Make sure to grind the aluminum oxide and iron filings very very finely, this is a mistake that beginners often make and then it doesn't work. I personally recommend a fine file, but this will be SLOW.

Re:Easy (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843929)

The best place to set fire to your mixture is in the basement of your houses of parliament [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Easy (1)

N!k0N (883435) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844529)

best to wait til the 5th of November if you're going to do it that way....

Re:Easy (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844677)

What, no abandoned tube line?

don't tape (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29843749)

So then the only way to comply with the law is to not tape them in the first place.

Re:don't tape (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843795)

If you automatically tape every phone call on a certain phone, you have to sort later (and according to the law delete calls from and to the lawyer).

Just put an average user at the console ... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29843755)

... and tell them that there's no way they could ever delete anything. Trust me, they'll find a way.

So many telcos (3, Informative)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843799)

Use Israeli telco supply firms for outsourced backend billing and interception.
Fox new did a report on it
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kle7ZgmFcpQ [youtube.com] (pt 1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeaXlrldqwo [youtube.com] (pt 2)
Why or how so many national telcos let interception drift away from core in house responsibilities is just strange.
If your an attorney and your client is literate, buy a note pad, write out your work, read and then destroy (with a few pages under the written page too).
With fusion centres in the US and any suspect now a "terrorist" most of the attorney client privilege protection is getting blurred.

Re:So many telcos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29843893)

And of course "securesuite.co.uk" is Israeli - all your VISA card transactions going through a server beyond the reach of European Law.

Conspiracy theory (4, Interesting)

chrb (1083577) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844195)

It's a well-known conspiracy theory: that Mossad has created Telco front companies throughout the world to spy on other nations. See The Israeli Spy Ring [whatreallyhappened.com] , which talks about the Fox News articles, and another typical story [counterpunch.org] . Of course, a conspiracy theory doesn't make it true...

Re:So many telcos (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844369)

>>...revealing that the working of the technology in question is a NetApp trade secret

Apparently, there IS an app for that.

>>With fusion centres in the US and any suspect now a "terrorist" most of the attorney client privilege protection is getting blurred.

Well, I certainly hope they keep those terrorists away from the fusion centres!!

Re:So many telcos (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844429)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_center [wikipedia.org]
Sort of like NSA meets army meets FBI meets NYPD meets you and your lawyer.
Under section 802 its "any action that endangers human life that is a violation of any Federal or State law" and the full force of the the US gov starts to warm up around you and your lawyer ;)

Re:So many telcos (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844647)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_center
Sort of like NSA meets army meets FBI meets NYPD meets you and your lawyer.
Under section 802 its "any action that endangers human life that is a violation of any Federal or State law" and the full force of the the US gov starts to warm up around you and your lawyer ;)

Whoosh. Fusion Center:
http://www.psfc.mit.edu/research/alcator/intro/info.html [mit.edu]

any slashdot reader surprised? (2, Informative)

kubitus (927806) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843803)

Israels IT industry is world champion in wiretapping everything.

And I am not sure if they are interested in having tapped calls deleted

I mean really deleted!

Re:any slashdot reader surprised? (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843823)

void DeleteCall(Call *ip_call) { ip_call->SetVisibleFlag(false); SendCallToEchelonServer(ip_call); };

If they can't delete them.... (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843811)

....the system is probably a piece of shit built by incompetents. What are the odds they can even find them after 3 years?

On the other hand perhaps they can delete them but they're claiming not to be able to so they can hang onto them.

Either way police that don't comply with the law, or incompetent fools - not good.

Re:If they can't delete them.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29843847)

What happens if they created a system so good at backing itself up, we can't ever delete anything off it?

Could God create a system so good at backing up that not even he could delete calls off of it?

Re:If they can't delete them.... (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843901)

Apparently so: The Bible

(yeah, yeah. I know. I'm joking).

Re:If they can't delete them.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29843937)

It's not a bug. It's a feature!

Re:If they can't delete them.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29844407)

>>....the system is probably a piece of shit built by incompetents.

Citation Please

No joke, it's hard (4, Insightful)

Odo (109839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843815)

Deleting data is really really hard. If one is storing large amounts of data it is difficult to put a system in place which can prove that every copy in your posession has been deleted. Think about the work of sifting through thousands of write-once offline backups, be it tapes or CDs or whatever, locating the data, copying the original minus the data and destroying the originals. If that's not hard enough, what about data that's not in discrete files. Say there's a PostgreSQL database that's zipped and spans a thousand peices of physical media. The only way to delete a record is to load the whole database then redump it. And don't forget about regenerating all the index files. And dealing with obsolete file formats.

This sounds like a stupid problem, but in reality it is really tough to delete something and be certain that you've got it all.

Re:No joke, it's hard (4, Informative)

petrossa (792314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843945)

And, the Netherlands have about the most all encompassing citizens database on the globe. So all data is cross referenced all over the place amongst databases of all civil governmental and semi-governmental agencies . It's so vast that indeed it's not only hard, but virtually impossible to remove data completely. As an example: The colour, structure and density of pubescent children is stored. All this data is directly accessible via the misnomed 'Citizen Service Number'. We dutch tend to call it the 'Citizens Spying Number'.

Re:No joke, it's hard (3, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843947)

I think what it is easy to forget as geeks is just how hard everything works to keep data. All our technology is designed around the assumption that you never want to lose any data. Thus completely removing it gets harder all the time.

As another example snapshot backups are now real common. NetApps can be configured, and often are, to take periodic snapshots of your data. That way, if something is accidentally deleted or modified, there are point in time shots to go back to. Likewise Windows Vista and 7 now keep revisions of files automatically. If you change a file, a new version is written and the old one is kept, by default, so long as there's free space on the drive.

Now none of this is stuff you can't turn off or remove but it is all stuff that adds to the complexity. Just deleting the file, and even overwriting it, doesn't necessarily do it. The computer may still have a copy. It is designed such to try and keep you from losing your data accidentally.

None of this is to excuse the government, if they have a requirement to delete these things they need to work out a way to do so, however that doesn't mean I don't sympathize with the problem. It isn't trivial to ensure all copies have been delete and have been done so in a provable fashion.

This is why when we surplus old computers, the harddrives never go with. They are taken to be wiped and/or destroyed later. We are just not interested in screwing around with making sure the data is gone and then screwing that up. Instead a simple visual inspection tells you there is no data (since there are no drives).

Re:No joke, it's hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29843981)

It sounds as if they may have employed a NetApp archival technology called SnapLock Compliance. If this is the case, they will not be able to delete the data, by design. All media upon which the data resides, would need to be destroyed. The product is designed and sold that way, and I am sure the admins knew that from the beginning.

Re:No joke, it's hard (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843985)

Deleting data is really really hard. If one is storing large amounts of data it is difficult to put a system in place which can prove that every copy in your posession has been deleted. Think about the work of sifting through thousands of write-once offline backups, be it tapes or CDs or whatever, locating the data, copying the original minus the data and destroying the originals. If that's not hard enough, what about data that's not in discrete files. Say there's a PostgreSQL database that's zipped and spans a thousand peices of physical media. The only way to delete a record is to load the whole database then redump it. And don't forget about regenerating all the index files. And dealing with obsolete file formats.

This sounds like a stupid problem, but in reality it is really tough to delete something and be certain that you've got it all.

Which makes them look even more dumb for not asking how difficult/expensive the task is in the first place.

Re:No joke, it's hard (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844157)

They may have bought this app *deliberately* to stop deletion of data, and maintain an audit trail: say for example they wanted to ensure that no-one could run a tap, then delete the evidence that it'd been done - this might even have been a legal requirement.
If the law has changed since then, changing the requirements, then sure they need to go back to the vendor and ask what can be done about it. To be honest, if the alternative is that an operator can casually alter the audit trail and delete records, I'd prefer this option.

Re:No joke, it's hard (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844143)

This sounds like a stupid problem, but in reality it is really tough to delete something and be certain that you've got it all.

I really can't believe I'm saying this, but this sounds like a technical problem that really does need a legal solution.

You are quite right regarding how difficult it can be to delete every copy of a piece of data, on the technical side.

Instead of all of that, it might be easier to enact an actual law saying a recording of a conversation is only legally valid for that time. Or at the least, have both. Then if one side fails you, the other hopefully will help pick up the slack.

No calls recorded before that time would be admissible in court, releasing calls recorded before that time would result in fines and/or further punishment, and if someone attempts to use a recording in court that is older than allowed, the entire trial is up for being dismissed.
I'm sure I am missing other problems that still need addressed, but you get the idea.

I realize a technical solution would be best, as one can not assume a law will always be in place, always followed, and never changed or twisted around based on the current politics of the time.
However as we have seen, even technical measures can be easily bypassed if it fits someones political agenda to do so, with the convenient excuse of "I don't know how those computer things work, we had no clue it was doing that!"

Having both in place would make it easier on the technical side to not constantly worry if every copy is destroyed.
If the telco can easily have a datestamp pop up, and it is beyond the retention date, they should have every legal point on their side to tell the law enforcement or court requesting the recording that it does not exist (even if that isn't the truth technically)

The technical policy must remain however, to help ensure people don't try to find a way to skirt the law.

In the US legal system, there have been times where one side of the case knows without a doubt that they are not allowed to present a piece of illegally obtained evidence to the jury, but does so anyway, with the hopes that the jury will form an emotional opinion on that evidence before the judge instructs them to ignore it.
I would assume that is one of the more important aspects that a pure legal solution can not solve, so will still need the data destroyed in the end.

Re:No joke, it's hard (1)

Filip22012005 (852281) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844267)

Would it be possible to encrypt all the mediafiles and keep the keys in a separate database? That way one could just delete the keys to make the data impossible to recover without actually going through all the tapes. Of course, you'd keep a backup of the keys, but that would be much easier to keep track of.

Wish i was surprised... (5, Insightful)

Veneratio (935302) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843849)

But im not, really. Having worked for the Dutch police twice now, I can safely say that the majority of their IT staff are completely clueless. A few years ago they "outsourced" their IT to a seperate entity to handle all their IT, but this entity was staffed mostly with the people they already had, so there wasn't any actual increase of knowledge (as far as I could tell). They got a nice fat bag of money and an unclear manifest, all paid for by us - the Dutch taxpayer - and this is what we get.

The Netherlands: No privacy, no competence and instead of capable beatcops we get highway robbery in the form of a cop with a lasergun having his daylong break sitting behind a bush next to our highways. And they wonder why the populace is starting to hate law enforcement.

Do yourself a favor and do a search on Google for "C2000", another one of the Dutch police success stories.

I could weep. Or well....puke really.

You appear to have adopted British methods (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843941)

..but are just a few years behind. You need to get up to speed on sucking up to the American DHS and spying on your citizens. Could I make you an offer? We will soon have an Administration that is surplus to requirements. Why don't you take it over?

After all, in 1688 we acquired our Government from the Netherlands and it was a big success story. Now it's time to return the favor. Gordon Brown is not quite as glamorous as William of Orange, but I'm sure we'd let you have him and his Cabinet for free.

We also have some bankers you might like. The famous Dutch bankers were the Fuggers. We call ours by a very similar name, sometimes prefixed with "mother".

Re:Wish i was surprised... (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844275)

Somehow I think things could get worse:
Imagine the same attitude and objectives, but now with competent staff...

Re:Wish i was surprised... (1)

Veneratio (935302) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844367)

Somehow I think things could get worse:

Imagine the same attitude and objectives, but now with competent staff...

You mean Britain?

Anything can be deleted (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843859)

You can delete anything with a sufficiently large hammer or a can of kerosene.

Re:Anything can be deleted (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844391)

Sigh kids theses days and thier old fashion ways.
Get modern; use thermite or go home.

Will it blend? (1)

MPAB (1074440) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843865)

That is the question.

Call Tom Dickson.

What's the dutch for... (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843871)

rm -fR /

Re:What's the dutch for... (1)

isama (1537121) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844331)

del *.*

they shold've just used (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29843875)

msft products, they consistently delete data automatically for you with no interaction required

The good news is (0, Troll)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843881)

since they went with an open source solution, they can easily... oh, wait.

This is real good news. (1)

Fengpost (907072) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843943)

If the Dutch government can not figure out how to delete the files, how can they expect TPB to delete the torrents!

Delete, Remove, & Drop (5, Insightful)

blavallee (729704) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843959)

For those who are offering commands to get rid of the data, you need to understand the why they will not work.

This issue is that the storage system used is designed is such a way that you CAN NOT modify any data once it is written to the disk.

Once the data is written, it can not be modified or deleted. Now, the reasoning behind this is so the police can not digitally manipulate the timestamps or data in any way. This is to protect the integrity of the data so it can withstand legal challenges.

They are faced with a 'catch 22' situation. If they can figure out a way to delete a 'prohibited conversation' they could theoretically modify the data too. Opening up the possibility of having a criminal conversation being invalidated.

Re:Delete, Remove, & Drop (0)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844095)

Once the data is written, it can not be modified or deleted. Now, the reasoning behind this is so the police can not digitally manipulate the timestamps or data in any way. This is to protect the integrity of the data so it can withstand legal challenges.

Deleting and modifying are two distinctly separate things. It shouldn't be a problem for a system to allow deletions but not modifications.

Combined with proper backups and auditing, that should be sufficient to retain the legal value of any digital data.

I have designed systems just like this (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29844291)

Once the data is written, it can not be modified or deleted. Now, the reasoning behind this is so the police can not digitally manipulate the timestamps or data in any way. This is to protect the integrity of the data so it can withstand legal challenges.

The way (the only way) to remove protected data from this class of enterprise storage system is to copy off all data except the data you need to delete/destroy, bring the vendor in to do what is essentially a low-level reformat of the entire enterprise storage system and then copy back the subset of data that was saved. Is it expensive? yes. Is it time-consuming? Double yes. Is it a major PITA? Triple yes, because of all the paperwork and manual effort you have to do to retain the chain of custody for the evidence data that you're taking through this process. DOES IT ACHIEVE THE LEGALLY-REQUIRED RESULT? YES.

Deleting and modifying are two distinctly separate things. It shouldn't be a problem for a system to allow deletions but not modifications.

Combined with proper backups and auditing, that should be sufficient to retain the legal value of any digital data.

Tell that to O.J.'s lawyers and anybody else who wants to claim, or actually believes, that the police might want to tamper with evidence to frame them. Or tell that to all the commentators on fark who are certain that the police would delete evidence to help protect one of their own. You should understand that these kind of enterprise storage systems that protect data from any kind of tampering (and "losing" data is a kind of tampering) even by system administrators are intended to be used in lieu of mountains of WORM media. When you've properly designed for their use they offer a worthwhile benefit.

It's hard to be sure because I don't read dutch, but it may be that the designers of this Dutch system botched it. The system should have had the Verint recording software tag recordings with a limited duration retention flag at the time the recording is made and then required human intervention to mark for longer retention any specific recordings that can and should be held on to. That partially re-opens the window for "losing" data, but that is necessary to allow legally-required data to be deleted.

Now if you want to tie the whole discussion back to rights in the U.S. ... how many police departments do you think actually have the technological ability to "purge" juvenile records? (hint: not that many) Of those which do, how many do you think actually know how to use that ability?

Re:Delete, Remove, & Drop (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29844375)

I would set it up so that when a piece of data is added to the system, it's signed with the investigator's private key and then the file, the signature, and a timestamp are in turn signed by a private key on a central server. With these signatures you can verify in court that a piece of evidence was uploaded by someone with a particular investigator's credentials and that it was uploaded at a particular time (at least, unless someone had access to the central server to modify it, but the central server should presumably be secure).

With a system like that in place, allowing deletion shouldn't allow other modifications to the data. Furthermore, you could design it so that a delete command requires a judges credentials and leaves an audit trail showing the command to delete was signed by a judge.

About destroying not deleting... (1)

dajak (662256) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843967)

The issue is the difference between destroying (in practical terms: erasing), as they are legally obliged to do, and deleting it. This pdf document [www.nrc.nl] linked from the article explains in laymen's language how the "pointer (or route) in the system to the data concerned" is removed, making 1) the data inaccessible to investigators, and 2) freeing up the space of a hard disk array for new data, and then goes on explaining that the data may theoretically still be retrieved from the disks if not yet overwritten. They don't know whether the commercial black box system they use erases the data, and suspect it doesn't.

No problem? (1)

Nomen Publicus (1150725) | more than 4 years ago | (#29843973)

There is this company called "Danger".......

Law required change of supplier (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844015)

It seems to me that, now that this is certain knowledge, the police cannot legally continue to outsource their tapping to this supplier. Surely there are required to find another, compliant, way of doing their intercepts with emergency status. Otherwise, they themselves are committing a crime. They could reasonably plead ignorance up to a certain point, but they cannot do so now.

Dutch justice... (3, Informative)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844037)

Over the past few years quite a few criminal cases were lost exactly because of this problem. In Amsterdam a huge case against Hell's Angels [www.nos.nl] went south in 2007 (everyone was set free) because they didn't destroy tapped recordings with attorneys. Last year it happened again [www.nos.nl] (dutch links, sorry).

I hope someone got canned because of this, but given our incompetent justice department I really can't see that happening. Phone tapping has reached epidemic proportions over here (highest number of taps per person in the western world), as it's much easier than actually investigating a case based on given evidence.

Funny that this is the second article on our incapable justice system within a day on /., go us \o/

pathetic fauxking shill gets blind trust (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29844073)

lamenting his 'work' is not just paid ads for his advertising customers.

http://www.nytimes.com/ref/technology/poguedisclosure.html

This sounds like SnapLock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29844179)

Seriously, when you buy a tamper-proof data retention system - don't be surprised if it does exactly that! :)

Way to go! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29844253)

So can the western world stop mocking privacy in China now?

Re:Way to go! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29844771)

as soon as there's privacy in china, then yes, we can.

Dutch secret service tapping journalists... (1)

BlackCreek (1004083) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844363)

Illegal tapping of newspapers in the NL:

http://blogs.journalism.co.uk/editors/2009/07/09/nisnews-nl-dutch-newspaper-suing-state-for-phone-tapping-journalists/ [journalism.co.uk]

http://badnewsfromthenetherlands.blogspot.com/2009/10/court-intelligence-service-illegally.html [blogspot.com]

The Amsterdam court has determined that the General Intelligence Service AIVD broke the law of freedom of press by tapping the phones of journalists of the Telegraaf daily

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29844387)

Wow, the Netherlands have their phone service going through a Mossad front company, Verint. How very fucked up.

Vendor lock-in (1)

Jerry Smith (806480) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844389)

That's all: it's a black box situation, the police have no control over the data, maintenance is done purely by the manufacturer and tampering will be punished. Somehow somewhen in the past (at least for a decade) the decision was made to purchase (probably read "lease") this Israelian device. And de peaple pay dearly.

Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29844643)

1) Move tapes to Soviet Russia
2) Tapes delete you
3) ????
4) Profit!

How dumb can you be? (1)

X10 (186866) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844699)

The actual problem is that they don't know how to delete calls that they shouldn't have recorded in the first place: conversations between lawyers and their clients. Why am I not surprised? Someone told me a couple of years ago that Dutch police staff is not allowed to be present when staff of the Israeli vendor of the equipment is performing maintenance. I'm sure Moss^H^H^H^H Verint has put in components that send the calls to more recipients than it should.

isn't there a law (1)

brillow (917507) | more than 4 years ago | (#29844729)

Isn't there a law which would prevent an entity from blocking another entity from complying with the law? For instance, if I sign a contract with you that requires me to break the law to fulfill it, the contract is invalid and you can't hold me to it. How does this work in the case of one entity withholding information which compels others to break the law? I'd not heard of this Dutch wiretapping of lawyers stuff, but its ironic that a society which many naive American liberals (of which I am one) view as more-enlightened than the use would so quickly slide down the slope of injustice. Privilege is one of the pillars of society.
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