Fri, Jan. 12, 2007

Data and Idea Flows

.   While data protection is pretty much settled in Germany and rarely raises to the level of concern that, for instance, phishing and lost laptops cause in the United States, the prosecutorial side of ideas to address data flows raises eyebrows. Project Mikado involves a wholesale search of credit card records that a Halle D.A. imposed on credit card companies.

They complied, some 300 transactions involving a payee in the Philippines were found, and the country is in uproar over its privacy rights. Bloggers are filing criminal complaints against the D.A. with the Halle district court. They rely on press reports according to which the D.A. failed to obtain a warrant. In addition, they consider a search of 20 million accounts illegal on its face. The Halle court ordered the D.A. to show cause.

Meanwhile, Arne Trautmann proposes in his Law-Blog a nifty solution to the criminal problems that could result from the shared use of wireless networks. On July 26, 2006, a Hamburg court had come up with the daft finding, docket number 308 O 407 / 06, that an open WIFI network should render its owner liable for whatever data flow through it, illegal content included. Trautmann offers more than ideas. On January 10, 2007, he published a draft contract, principally addressing the use of shared WLANs in buildings.

The core of his agreement is that all housemates warrant to abide by the law when using the shared system. Much of the draft would not apply to the laws in jurisdictions where the concept of vicarious liability for LAN-sharing has not taken hold. Even in Germany, the concept stands on shaky ground and is typical only of the extremist Hamburg court. With better technical information made available to the courts, it will hopefully fade away.

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