EU Data Retention Directive Declared Invalid

The Court of Justice of the European Union today declared the Data Retention Directive invalid in a joint case brought by Digital Rights Ireland and an Austrian group. This is a great win by privacy advocates against a law that was over reaching, uncontained and unsafe. The courts own press release is a short three page read but some of the key elements include (all emphasis theirs):

  • the data “may provide very precise information on the private lives of the persons whose data are retained, such as the habits of everyday life, permanent or temporary places of residence, daily or other movements, activities carried out, social relationships and the social environments frequented”;
  • the directive interferes in a particularly serious manner with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data
  • “the directive covers, in a generalised manner, all individuals, all means of electronic communication and all traffic data without any differentiation, limitation or exception being made in the light of the objective of fighting against serious crime”
  • “the directive fails to lay down any objective criterion which would ensure that the competent national authorities have access to the data and can use them only for the purposes of prevention, detection or criminal prosecutions concerning offences that … may be considered to be sufficiently serious to justify such an interference” and “the directive does not lay down substantive and procedural conditions under which the competent national authorities may have access to the data and subsequently use them”
  • “the directive does not provide for sufficient safeguards to ensure effective protection of the data against the risk of abuse and against any unlawful access and use of the data.”
  • and, shockingly (if none of the above was shocking enought), “the directive does not require that the data be retained within the EU“.

This is indeed a good day for digital rights, privacy rights and common sense. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the volunteers at Digital Rights Ireland.

Useful RIPE Database Links

Some very useful RIPE database links that I was recently shown include:

 

Pastebin Alternatives

Update 2019: we now use PrivateBin a lot. It is a self-hosted, minimalist, open source online pastebin where the server has zero knowledge of pasted data.


Pastebin has been a valuable tool for years – to the extent that pastebin it has entered the common lexicon of sysadmins, network engineers and developers.

There are, however, a few notable alternatives:

  • GitHub Gists – what’s particularly cool about these is that each Gist (which is just pasted text) is also a fully fledged Git repository with versioning and the ability for fork. There’s also syntax highlighting and a nice UI. If you’re a GitHub user, your own Gists are also linked to your account.
  • p.ip.fi – this scores big points for its pure simplicity. You’d argue that a pastebin doesn’t really need a complex UI and p.ip.fi is laudable in its complete lack of a UI. Just paste and hit Ctrl-S and you’re done. Very nice. (Credit to Nick for pointing this out).
  • sprunge.us – this is a command line pastebin which should appeal directly to sysadmins and network engineers. (Credit to dnolan for leading me to this one). This is best demonstrated via an epic traceroute:

Check out the result at http://sprunge.us/THie.

DNS Blacklists, DNS Monitoring and Related Links

Irish Radio Stations on Linux (2013)

This is updating an older article from October 2010. While Linux has come a long way since then for playing back various types of media (and new services such as tunein make it easier again), I still like to just play the radio from the command line.

The following are updating working aliases: