UK Police Tell Cybercafe Owners 'We're Not Asking You To Spy On Users... But Spy On Users'

from the that-thing-we-said-about-not-spying-on-users?-yeah,-ignore-that dept

Over in the UK, police are apparently going around to various cybercafes and telling the owners and operators to be observant about what customers are doing, even to the point of examining the hard drives of the public computers after people have used them. Amusingly, the police then say, "It's not about asking owners to spy on their customers..." -- except that it is. The recommendations specifically included "encouraging people to check on hard drives." But that's not spying?


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    Richard (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 3:11am

    I've been to cybercafes that have their systems setup to automatically wipe the hard drive back to a "fresh install" state. My school does the same thing to their computers every night as well. I would be surprised if it wasn't a common practise, as it protects their customers from other customers, and keeps their machines running well.

     

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Mar 29th, 2010 @ 4:31am

    very out a business if they get caught doing it

    ....

     

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      Dementia (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 4:35am

      Re: very out a business if they get caught doing it

      And you think that the point would be something other than to create hostility towards the businesses? Seems like it would make it easier for the police to track down so called "criminals" if they didn't have access to fairly anonymous setups like those at a cybercafe.

       

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    NullOp, Mar 29th, 2010 @ 5:03am

    Spy

    Yep, resetting the drive to zero after every use is a great way to keep things fresh. And if done correctly, its also hard for someone to use the cybercafe computers do some dirty.

    In any case, the owners should be watching what is being done on their computers anyway.

     

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      Hulser (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 6:17am

      Re: Spy

      In any case, the owners should be watching what is being done on their computers anyway.

      I have a serious question. It's not that I merely disagree with your statement. It's that I honestly can't even comprehend the state of mind of someone who could hold this opinion. Please explain what you mean by "watch" -- it's sound less sinister than "spy", but it has the same effect -- and also can you explain why you think it's reasonable for cybercafe owners to "watch" their customers?

       

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        LduN, Mar 29th, 2010 @ 6:21am

        Re: Re: Spy

        would you let random people off the street use your system(s) and not be worried what they're doing or did? Internet Cafes are liable for what their customers do on their systems, that's why they should be worried about what's happening on their systems.

         

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          Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 6:32am

          Re: Re: Re: Spy

          "would you let random people off the street use your system(s) and not be worried what they're doing or did?"

          I understand your point, but you're talking about two different animals here. One is a private system that you might allow a guest to use, the other is being used commercially for the strict purpose of other's use. They're not the same.

          "Internet Cafes are liable for what their customers do on their systems, that's why they should be worried about what's happening on their systems."

          Actually, I happen to agree with you here. For two reasons, really:

          1. It IS their property and their business. If they want to watch, they should be able to. If they want to sweep the hard drives after use, they should be able to. But they should also be forced to plaster that they're going to do those things all over every workstation in the cafe. There's no reason that users shouldn't know it is being done.

          2. I would much much much much much much much much rather have the businesses being the ones doing the spying rather than any law enforcement agency.

           

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            LduN, Mar 29th, 2010 @ 6:38am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Spy

            You made good points, the cafe should really tell customers what they do for security. Internet Cafes should be run kinda like a post office, they don't read your letters(content, emails, keylogging etc) all they do is make sure nothing illegal or dangerous is being shipped.

             

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            Hulser (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 6:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Spy

            Actually, I happen to agree with you here. For two reasons, really:

            I don't see how your two statements support your agreement that Internet cafe owners should be responsible for any activity that their customers do on their computers. Both of the reasons you provided appear to me to be focused on the cafe owners protecting themselves from some kind of cyber attack i.e. inside the cafe, whereas the topic at hand is the UK police encouraging cafe owners to spy on their customers in the hopes of catching illegal activity outside of the cafe.

             

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          Hulser (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 6:38am

          Re: Re: Re: Spy

          would you let random people off the street use your system(s) and not be worried what they're doing or did?

          To answer your question honestly, I might be a little worried, but I think the more appropriate point is that I would not feel responsible. Just as if I was the owner of a car rental company, I might be worried if my customers were driving on a snowy day, but I would understand inately that I'm just providing them with a tool and that they are responsible for how they use it.

          Internet Cafes are liable for what their customers do on their systems, that's why they should be worried about what's happening on their systems.

          Based on the article, the requirement to "watch" their customers is voluntary for UK Internet cafe owners, so they are in fact not liable for what their customers do. Which pretty much renders your point moot.

           

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            Sean T Henry (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 10:12am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Spy

            HAha "watch".

            Did you just "watch" that guy rob that old lady and then steal that kids bike to get away? I did.

            Watching does not call for any action other than looking.

             

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    JohnForDummies (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 5:43am

    Useless

    Portable apps. Put portable Firefox on a thumbdrive and nothing is left on the host computer. "Checking hard drives" will only be successful in catching the less tech savvy criminals...

    Guess the next thing they "won't" encourage them to do, will be to install keyloggers and packet sniffers...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2010 @ 6:01am

    Re: Spy

    "In any case, the owners should be watching what is being done on their computers anyway."

    Absolutely! And the rental car agency should install cameras and watch those drivers. What if they target a bank?

    @Nullop
    Iran, Cuba, North Korea and China need people like you. You could join the high ranks of The Party!

     

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      LduN, Mar 29th, 2010 @ 6:12am

      Re: Re: Spy

      yes, because making sure you're not getting screwed over is un-humane and stuff. Car rental agencies don't need to install cameras, most of them have GPS devices so they can locate stolen cars.

      Don't be a dipshit next time :)

       

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    Jake, Mar 29th, 2010 @ 6:05am

    Since when is there an expectation of privacy about browser history on a computer that doesn't belong to you?

     

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    VoicesInMyHead, Mar 29th, 2010 @ 6:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Spy

    @Ldun & @Dark Helmet

    "Internet Cafes are liable for what their customers do on their systems..."

    Really? It's early here where I'm at in the US, but man, using that logic, then ISP's are also liable for what their user's do (can ya hear the sound of th can of worms opening?).

    Not sure how it works in the UK, so I can't speak to liability there, but imagine if the rental car agencies were responsible for anything a person did that used one of their cars...

    What the heck happened to personal responsibility? It's never my fault, if that cafe didn't have internet access, I wouldn't have hacked that company and downloaded all that software! Whaaaaaaaa.

     

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      LduN, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 7:11am

      Re: Re: Re: Re: Spy

      ISP are not liable for what is done, but if someone uses your personal network for illegal activity, you get the blame. Personal responsibility, and common sense, sadly went the way of the dodo after court cases like the person who burnt herself with hot coffee and sued the restaurant.

       

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    Evan, Mar 29th, 2010 @ 7:06am

    Non-issue

    This is a non-story. The police are only suggesting these things - there's no requirement that Internet cafe owners oblige to the request.

    And anyway, is this even surprising, coming from the land of CCTV?

    Really, everyone should just move on. There's nothing at stake here.

     

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      Hulser (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 7:52am

      Re: Non-issue

      This is a non-story. The police are only suggesting these things

      So, you really don't see any problem with the police going into a private business and suggesting that they spy on their customers? It'd be one thing if it was a PSA-type ad campaign, but when a cop is standing right in front of you suggesting that you do something, it carries the presumption of law. And in this case, it's not the law. Their suggestion is like an offer you can't refuse.


      "I would suggest that you give me free donuts whenever I come into your store. Do you have to? No! I never said that. I just suggested it."

       

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        Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 7:55am

        Re: Re: Non-issue

        "I would suggest that you give me free donuts whenever I come into your store. Do you have to? No! I never said that. I just suggested it."

        Actually, the police don't suggest they get free donuts. They just relay the suggestion originally provided by their loaded sidearm....

        "Shooty here thinks I deserve free donuts, propriater. Do you disagree with Shooty?"

         

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    mike allen (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 8:02am

    mike

    Can you bsn the spammer i dont think we want his f*****g crap!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     

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    AdamR (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 8:03am

    Off topic, but what's up with the spam? Two articles and both have spam?

     

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