Feel free to fire me your questions – the theme for the debate is going to the Future of Communications Security, which gives rise to the hashtag for this debate: #comsecfuture
Archive for category: News
Edward Snowden’s revelations to the world about the US’ monitoring of communications is the gift that keeps on giving.
The Advocate General to the EU Court of Justice has today issued a legal opinion which makes two findings:
1. That the Commission’s acceptance of US safe harbour arrangements does not override the ability of local courts to make their own determination as to whether the arrangements meet their local laws.
2. That the current decision of the Commission to accept the safe harbour arrangement is no longer valid.
The first finding is, in my view, fairly logical and not contentious at all – that member courts should be able to decide whether an arrangement fits their local implementation of an EU-wide directive seems logical, especially given that although the laws stem from the directive, they may not all have the same implementations.
However, the second finding is much more damning and interesting. The BBC article sets out the background to this case, but the Advocate General makes a few key statements:
It is apparent from the findings of the High Court of Ireland and of the Commission itself that the law and practice of the United States allow the large-scale collection of the personal data of citizens of the EU which is transferred, without those citizens benefiting from effective judicial protection. Those findings of fact demonstrate that the Commission decision does not contain sufficient guarantees. Owing to that lack of guarantees, that decision has been implemented in a manner which does not satisfy the requirements of the directive or the Charter [of Human Rights].
It’s clear then that based on the Snowden information, the Advocate General doesn’t believe that the US is able to offer the appropriate level of protection. This has wide ranging impact to all manner of people from service providers who have servers in the US to companies that use services like Amazon’s cloud services and even, potentially, to industries like banking and even air travel. Ultimately, it’s in the US’ interests to get this right since it will hit US business if the rest of the world can’t transfer data over there – of course that’s a pretty extreme outcome and I fully expect the EU and US to come to a new “arrangement”. They’re already negotiating, which simply lends even more weight to the advocate general’s statement:
Given such a finding of infringements of the fundamental rights of citizens of the Union, according to the Advocate General the Commission ought to have suspended the application of the decision, even though it is currently conducting negotiations with the United States in order to put an end to the shortcomings found. The Advocate General indeed observes that, if the Commission decided to enter into negotiations with the United States, that is because it considered beforehand that the level of protection ensured by that third country, under the safe harbour scheme, was no longer adequate and that the decision adopted in 2000 was no longer adapted to the reality of the situation.
Now the legal opinion is not binding on the Court, however it’s a pretty damning statement in its own right. Given the enormity of the impact this could have, I’m watching this case with interest. It might finally wake the US up to the fact that its human rights record is pretty shambolic, all the more considering their self-appointed status of police of morality for the rest of the world.
Firstly, normal service has been restored here – I had an issue with the virtual machine that this blog was hosted on and it’s taken a little time to get it back up to speed again.
In other news, we’ve made some changes in Siphon this year – at the start of the year, I handed over the operational reigns to a good friend of mine, Steve Ralfe, who will be taking the operations team forward from strength to strength. Passing the operational side over to Steve will allow me to focus on a different area – new products and innovation.
Siphon has from its first days focused on two types of products – market leaders with well-established and solid products like BroadSoft’s BroadWorks and the AcmePacket range of SBCs; and in the hope of encouraging new entrants in the market and bringing new and exciting products and technologies to our customers. As our customer base, product range and indeed the company itself has grown, we need to be able to dedicate more time to finding, evaluating and bringing these new products to the market and our customers. This year, we have opportunities to bring a number of new products to the market that are going to be disruptive and incredibly exciting and I’m going to be focusing on delivering these products.
This is an exciting time and I’ll be using this blog not only to provide the usual technical advice and industry analysis on our existing products but also on the new products we’re bringing to market.
Watch this space.
Just around Christmas we announced the acquisition of VCOMM, previously a subsidiary of Coms PLC. With all of the integration work that’s going on at the moment work has been pretty busy, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about what this means for my team and I – I’m sure our MD, Steve Harris would have plenty to say on the commercial side, but I’m going to focus on the technical and service delivery aspects.
Those people who read this blog who are our customers are already familiar with the incredible quality of service that we already offer. We’ve made it a point that any new product we bring on board isn’t sold until we understand the equipment, how to design networks with it, deploy it, configure it, break it, fix it and debug it. We make a point of knowing the products well enough that most of the questions we see are answered within the team and not escalated to the vendor. As a result, we close some 75% of tickets in-house. This has resulted in some interesting feedback including one customer who’s a major UK provider of hosted telephony remarking that he would groan when we said we’d have to escalate to a vendor as he knew it wouldn’t be resolved quickly.
Of course, this kind of knowledge doesn’t happen overnight, so products in the VCOMM range that we don’t know will take a little time to get to that standard, however there’s some crossover there that we can take advantage of immediately. Our ideals and goals that our technical team applies to the work we do will apply equally to the work we do with the VCOMM customers, something I think will benefit everyone in the long run.
Although this isn’t going to have a significant impact on our operations in Siphon immediately we’re working hard to make sure that whatever changes we make are for the better for both companies – and I can tell you that the team is excited by the acquisition and the opportunities it’s going to bring us and our customers!
Having decided that there aren’t enough next-generation-related Communications blogs out there already, I figured it was time for me to finally put my money where my mouth was and write my own.
This is my corner where I’ll be feeding up snippets on new technologies, companies and systems in the communications world, along with some of the exciting stuff I’m doing.