Understanding traffic data and deconstructing technology-neutral regulations, Workshop on E-regulatory framework, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

Published 6 Mar 2002 by Ian Hosein and Alberto Escudero Pascual

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United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Initiatives to update traditional powers of investigation involving technology do not always reflect the sensitivities raised by the current technological environment. In this paper we review the common policy initiative to extend traditional powers of access to communications tra°c data, designed for the plain old telephone system, for mobile telephony, internet communications, and wireless local area networks.

We will then present some of the data that may qualify as traffic data from these communications infrastructures, to show the varying level of details that can be derived from that data.

As new technology-neutral policies are implemented, we argue that this is increasingly dangerous as traffic data granularity a˙ects the sensitivity of the data collected. To conclude, we propose that lawful access policies must be technology-specific, and as a result governments must consider protecting the right of privacy of an individual's traffic data equally to that of communications.

Keyword(s): Traffic data, Privacy, Policy