Hewlett-Packard announced today their Data Retention And Guardian ONline (DRAGON) solution for telecommunication service providers that are being asked by governments to join the fight against global terrorism, organized crime and drug trafficking. DRAGON will help telecommunications companies and ISPs comply with governmental requests for detailed customer records and usage histories.
The US Department of Justice is asking ISPs and telecommunications companies to retain more information for longer periods of time, something which is already law in other countries.
Coincidentally, the subject of using live CDs to evade criminal detection came up today at the DSL Forum, with someone openly expressing his desire to use DSL to violate laws. Sadly, one of the responses was filled with political rants and condoned terrorism in certain instances.
I don’t think open source communities should enable or encourage criminal behavior of any kind. You may not be able to stop someone from using your code or your distro for law-breaking, but you shouldn’t enable others if they make it clear that’s their intention. Law enforcement have enough trouble reigning in criminals who use technology that should benefit individuals and society, not cause harm. Child porn rings are using encryption to evade detection and prosecution, terrorists planning their next attacks are using technology to stay a step ahead of people trying to prevent mass carnage.
And while some dipshit who wants to purchase steroids to inflate his body to compensate for his deflated ego may not rise to the same level of moral concern as a child pornographer or a terrorist, the harm the person can do to himself playing with chemistry is real.