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Rainer Böhme – Data Retention – A Threat to Online Anonymity? Theory and Empirical Facts

Thursday, February 25, 2010
12:30 pm


Sherrerd Hall, 3rd floor open space
Princeton, NJ 08544 United States + Google Map

Food and discussion begins at 12:30 pm. Everyone invited.

The European Union’s recent legislation on data retention is highly controversial and perceived as threat to an array of individual freedoms. Its technical provisions cover all kinds of communications providers, including proxy servers. This justifies a closer look at how data retention affects the ability to deploy mix-based anonymity services and what level of security can still be provided legally. Rainer will talk in particular about the situation in Germany and the experience gained from the popular cascade-based web anonymizer AN.ON, which is operated at his former university TU Dresden. Citing empirical data collected from AN.ON, new “legal adversary models” are introduced, calibrated, and assessed. While the overall situation for online anonymity is not too bad under current law, an outlook on possible future developments and adequate technological responses is given.

Link to paper: “Data Retention and Anonymity Services: Introducing a New Class of Realistic Adversary Models” by S. Berthold, R. Böhme & S. Köpsell, 2009.


Rainer is a postdoctoral fellow in the Networking Group of the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). His research interests include privacy-enhancing technologies, economics of privacy and information security, and multimedia forensics. He holds an M.A. degree in Communication Science and Economics, and a PhD in Computer Science, both from Technische Universitaet Dresden in Germany. Before he obtained his PhD, he worked in the European Central Bank, where he served in the directorates for economics and financial stability and supervision.

Rainer Böhme