Australia the idiot in the global village, says Geoff Huston

Net luminary unloads on data retention

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One of the individuals who first brought the Internet to Australia, Geoff Huston, has unloaded on the federal government's chaotic attempt to introduce its data retention regime.

Now chief scientist at APNIC, Huston has written in his Potaroo blog that one of the key assumptions behind the data retention regime, a stable mapping of IP addresses to endpoints, is pretty much obsolete in a world of exhausted IPv4 addresses.

“We are trying as hard as we can to retain the role of Global Village Idiot,” Huston writes, because in spite of repeated assertions that Web browsing history won't be retained, that's the near-certain outcome of data retention.

He wrote: “the Australian Data Retention Laws say something has to be stored, and the bureaucrats running the Attorney General's Office of Data Retention say something has to be stored, and the industry players are trying to understand what exactly should be stored, because in shared address-based networks there is nothing around that meets the intended requirements of this law.”

The problem Huston believes will lead to storage far beyond the mandate of the law is that (apart from the relatively small number of people who shell out for a fixed IP address) the account-to-IP mapping is recorded in only one place: the carrier-grade NAT's logs.

“Every transaction generates a new NAT binding, and that NAT binding generates a log entry. So every DNS query, every part of every web page, every individual email collected by your device - in short, each and every individual network transaction - will generate a CGN log entry. This is no less than your entire Web browsing history, your DNS query history, and the history of everything else you are doing on the net.”

The reason, he suspects, is simple cluelessness: nobody in parliament nor among the various departmental heads that demanded data retention understands how the networks operate: "They just don’t get it", he states.

At least such a large data trove will be unlikely to fit on a USB key. ®

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