XS4ALL is one of the quality ISP’s here. It’s original founder is the guy behind “we don’t trust voting computers”. The only reason I really don’t like them is that they use the network of the former monopolist KPN, which I consistently refuse to pay any penny more than stricktly necessary. The Dutch lawmakers are forcing ISP’s to install tapping equipment at their own expense, to be used at will by the government. While this has an economical background too, XS4ALL is a provider with principles. They do not deny the government’s right to tap (with the proper procedures in place), but they refuse to pay for the equipment. This could end up in the highest European courts.

XS4ALL appeals the decision of the The Hague court. In it’s decision, the court argued “it was not logical that commercial entities like XS4ALL have to pay for making their network tapable, but found no juridical means to force the state to pay for it.

In the Netherlands, courts cannot rule about the lawfulness of “normal” laws against the constitution. XS4ALL does not deny this, but according to the ISP the court DOES have means to judge on the “tapping-law”, which is if it contradicting European law and rulings.

The court CAN rule about the lawfulness against European treaties and rulings. And since tapping is a matter of common interest, it falls under “commonality law”, and THAT is layed out in European treaties.

This could take years and if they win, the grapes will be sour, as we, the taxpayers will have to pay for the equip instead of XS4ALL customers, but still.

Added: Austria just awarded it’s Big Brother award, given to the worst (potential) privacy violators to my countryman Peter van der Arend. He is head of the ETSI working group Technical Committee on Lawful Interception, which is setting standards which would make all phone and internet networks tapable in an international, uniform way. I won’t start a rant here, go to the EFF to find out more about digital (un)privacy.

Earlier on the nest: The Wiretappers of Europe. The Diebolds of the world.