by Raymond Johansen, member of the Board of Directors of the Pirate Party of Norway
This year the Norwegian government will consider copying every byte going in or out of Norway. This is the response of the Norwegian Pirate Party.
- 1. Why is it called Project Digital Border Defense?
- 2. Why should we sacrifice an entire people’s privacy?
- 2 a) Terrorism
- 2 b) Cyber crime
- 3. General considerations
Digital Border Defense, (DGF)
The Pirate Party understands that DGF is suggesting that the intelligence service copy all data passing our borders. This means that the collected data will be stored for a period of time. We further conclude that analyzing these large amounts of data will require enormous computing power. We also note that Parliament has allocated money to purchase and operate a supercomputer which is partly a collaboration with the US NSA. Here we read that the DGF documents are intended to protect Norway against terrorism and cybercrime.
On the basis of this simple summary, it is tempting to end our response to the consultation here. It goes without saying that this is a very bad idea. However, because we have followed the trend in many countries in this area for many years we’ve been forced to delve deeper into the issue. First, we’ll touch on the name, then we will go into why we should not sacrifice an entire people’s privacy in the fight against international terrorism and cybercrime. Finally, we will list some general considerations.
1. Why is it called Project Digital Border Defense?
The Pirate Party wonders why a name, which includes the words border and defense, was given to a project intended to copy 80 percent of what the Norwegian people do and say. For us it is crystal clear that they have chosen this name to trick people into believing that this is about a border and that they are there to protect us from an enemy.
On the internet there are simply no borders. That simply lies in the nature of the technology. Data flowing through the Internet knows no geography. An email from a Norwegian to his neighbor will potentially visit Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United States and then come back to Norway via a route that only perhaps is somewhat similar to what it took to begin with. The internet is transnational in every conceivable way. Since we cannot stop all e-mails on “a border” to see if it might contain anything criminal before we release it. We think that the name of this project is not only misleading – it is directly intended to manipulate the common man.
On our physical border crossings we have customs and passport control. Here, people from other countries are asked about their intentions for the visit and then their identity is checked. This is only natural and necessary. On the Internet there are no borders, customs or passport inspectors. That is simply not possible. It is difficult to avoid words like ridiculous, technically impossible, grossly misleading and direct manipulation – considering what they chose to name it.
The Pirate Party wants to be a Privacy Border Defense in the coming year. It is particularly sad that this work must be done, but it seems as if we are the only ones willing to take up arms against those who would erode our rights.
2. Why should we sacrifice an entire people’s privacy?
The Lysne II – Commission’s report is clear that the motivation for the invasion of the Norwegian people’s privacy is terrorism and cybercrime, (industrial espionage and criminals who want to steal your money).
2 a) Terrorism
The Pirate Party will always shape our policies based on facts. Some call this science-based policies. If we are to provide the intelligence service with access to everyone’s privacy due to terrorism, we would want to look into whether the threat is real or not. First, let’s look at GTD, Global Terrorism Database. GTD has registered all kinds of events in Norway from 1970 to 2015. The database includes everything from kidnapping and extortion – to bombs. There we find 26 events, 3 of which take place abroad and only 2 that had fatal consequences. One of them was the murder of Benjamin Hermansen at Holmlia – carried out by neo-Nazis. The other one was obviously the Utøya / Regjeringskvartalet. These are the only two incidents that can objectively be called terrorism. Source: (Global Terrorism Database – with all details)
There is no question that international terrorism is a major problem. Similarly, it is also crystal clear that it does not affect Norway at all. The Pirate Party has, to put it mildly, difficulty understanding how the monitoring of all Norwegians will help the fight against terrorism. It is not true that we have terrorist cells hiding in an apartment in Selbu or Nedre-Eiker.
All western countries have a responsibility to safeguard their security. The Pirate Party thinks that the best way of accomplishing that is to ensure that it pursues a foreign policy that does not create terrorists while at the same time implementing an effective integration policy. Let’s take a look at the numbers, or science if you will. The United States, our closest ally, has implemented national and international mass surveillance. They have not been able to document a single case where such monitoring has stopped a single terrorist act. Source: “U.S. Mass Surveillance Has No Record of Thwarting Large Terror Attacks, Regardless of Snowden Leaks”
While the NSA claims that they have thwarted terrorist attacks through mass surveillance, one can see dozens of articles refuting their claims. DHS (Department of Homeland Security), has published a report on preventing terrorist attacks which you can read here: (Isil-related arrest-in-homeland-from-jan2014). The article from The Intercept above explains why the NSA claims are not true.
As mentioned, Norway has had only two terrorist attacks in the past 30 years. What about the US then? Is terrorism really a reason to “eavesdrop” on it’s own citizens and the rest of the world? Reports show that since 9/11 there have been less than 100 people killed by terrorists. To understand how insignificant a problem that is we can point out that more than 15,000 were killed by firearms in the United States last year. If we only look at Chicago, a single city, 767 people were shot and killed in 2016. Source for the number of terrorist killed: “RAND Database of Worldwide Terrorism Incidents”
There are still politicians in the United States who claim that mass surveillance helps, (most of them are paid by entities that profit from “The War on Terror”). Here is an article from The Atlantic which solidly removes any residual doubt. (The last defenders of the NSA)
In Norway we do not have terrorism. In the US they have fewer victims of terrorism killed than those who died from falls in bathtubs in Europe during the same period. In Norway there are many who vote for a particular party because they fear Muslims.
Since we have little more than zero victims of terrorism killed in the past 30 years in this country, the Pirate Party looks at Europe in this context. From 1970 to 2016, just under 2 percent of all terrorist attacks in Europe were religiously motivated. In France, the same number is under 1 percent. Source: Global Terrorism Database, GTD.
The Pirate Party cannot find one single piece of evidence that convinces us that we need to sacrifice every citizens privacy.
2 b) Cyber crime
Hackers will break into any network where there is information that enables them to earn or steal money. Hackers working for a country such as Russia, China or the United States, do so because they want oil-secrets or to understand our country’s foreign policy. The last three years, the United States and Canada have negotiated the TPP, TTIP, CETA and TISA. They have, of course, utilized their digital spies to gain advantage in their negotiations.
From the Snowden revelations we know that the GCHQ (UK) and the NSA (USA), actually hacked Belgacom. Belgacom is the EU’s ISP (Internet Service Provider). Furthermore, we know that the main ISP for the Norwegian oil sector and oil platforms is an American company. Do we truly believe that the intelligence services that are monitoring Norwegians will protect Norway’s industry? Both Russian and American oil companies have been drooling for Norwegian technology for decades. In recent years, oil prices have been extremely low. In this kind of situation, Norwegian technology would be highly sought after. Do we have to wiretap every Norwegian to stop this kind of espionage? The answer is obviously no. The Pirate Party wants to be clear that we do not, for one second, believe the Lysne II – Commission justifications for sacrificing Norwegian privacy.
Risking ridicule, all supporters of “surveil everybody all of the time”: DGF have the dumbest rationale for mass surveillance we’ve ever heard. What the Intelligence service is proposing is that we invade the privacy of every citizen in Selbu simply to catch a potential bank robber from Russia who might be thinking about robbing a local bank. BTW the local bank is called Selbu Sparebank. The Pirate Party knows that sounds ridiculous. Equally ridiculous as Digital Border Defense. If you do not want the Russian cyber criminals to hack a business, you will help the business, of course, to close the door to the vault. Obviously, you do not expose everyone’s private life and tell them that you need to see the contents of all their letters – because bank robbers. You implement cybersecurity at the local level in every company and not on a non-existent internet border.
During the last 10 years, the NSA spent billions on mass surveillance of its own citizens and the rest of the world. Has it stopped any cybercriminals? Of course not. It was only when the Americans took a plane to China and negotiated face to face that they saw some reduction in attacks. Every day technology companies, health institutions and even intelligence companies are being hacked in the United States, even though they have had mass surveillance for years.
At this point we feel that it is right that we remind everyone of the Pirate Party’s fundamental ideas. One of them is that we make decisions based on science, or if you prefer: facts. The facts tell us that the “Monitor everybody – always” concept is not a good reason to sacrifice the privacy of an entire population. We therefore formally challenge all politicians or actors in the Intelligence services to meet with us for a debate. You can decide the time, place and content. Jacta est alea!
3. General considerations
– The Constitution
We refer to paragraph 102 and leave it at that
– The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) // Cour de justice de l’Union européenne
Twice in the past two years, the EU has concluded that mass surveillance is illegal. The Pirate Party adds that it is also morally and ethically reprehensible. Here is an analysis of the Court’s decision: European Court of Justice rules against mass data retention in EU
– Norway’s adherence to international conventions
The Pirate Party is confident that the Norwegian government is aware of all the international treaties we have signed. This is just a reminder that we are signatory to many international treaties with the United Nations. We do not think it is necessary to list them all.