These cops must be crazy!
There is this amusing bit of trivia that a friend of mine shared with me a long time ago. He was working in Saudi Arabia during the time the US bases there were bombed using trucks laden with explosives, following which the Saudi police were stopping and checking every truck on the roads to prevent a repeat of the same.
Apparently, such stellar deductive abilities and analysis are not limited to the cops of the oil-rich kingdom; it also finds a deafening resonance in law enforcement in our part of the subcontinent. Police investigations are said to have shown that a lot of the planning behind the recent Hyderabad and Mumbai blasts was done using the internet, especially chat rooms and the way they plan to tackle this is by installing keyloggers in cyber cafes.
The money quote from the relevant Midday article:
The police needs to install programs that will capture every key stroke at regular interval screen shots, which will be sent back to a server that will log all the data.
The police can then keep track of all communication between terrorists no matter, which part of the world they operate from.This is the only way to patrol the net and this is how the police informer is going to look in the e-age. — Vijay Mukhi, President of the Foundation for Information Security and Technology
Anyone with even half a brain can immediately see the problem with the approach, that it assumes anyone who uses a cyber cafe is a terrorist, if they want to pre-empt attacks. And as far as I know, nobody has yet claimed to have accessed or intercepted any data before or after any such attacks from the wires that has given them access to this information. In all probability it is the confessions by the suspects that would have led to the accounts being accessed.
Secondly, there is the convenient assumption that the terrorists will use only cyber cafes to communicate. And considering the amount of paperwork that is required now to access one (couple of days ago I had chanced on a list that said documents like driving license as needed to allow you to use one), these new moves will only drive them farther, deeper underground and harder to track. Besides, you can easily plot an attack by sitting anywhere else than Mumbai and still not be caught, rendering the this whole affair quite inconsequential.
And on a final note, it is not like our systems and communications are not tapped into enough already. It is not a very well kept secret that telecoms don’t put up much of a fight at their operation centers when cops turn up there whenever they deem that there is a threat to the nation and allow them access to their systems and I’d not be too surprised if the same is not the case with the ISPs too.
As someone said, privacy is just an illusion.