FBI: IPv6 Could Shield Criminals From the Police

The new internet—or at least, the new IP protocol that allows the internet to work—rolled out earlier this month. Shiny and new, it's the future of our online lives. But US law enforcement agencies are worried that it could be abused in intriguing new ways by online criminals.

It's not that IPv6 is less secure than its predecessors; it's actually to do with the administrative side of looking after the new protocol. You see, the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) will be handing out new addresses on a much less regular schedule—every 10-15 years—and that will mean that ISPs have far less incentive to keep their public IP databases up to date. An FBI spokesperson explained to CNET:

"An issue may also arise around the amount of registration information that is maintained by providers and the amount of historical logging that exists. Today there are complete registries of what IPv4 addresses are "owned" by an operator. Depending on how the IPv6 system is rolled out, that registry may or may not be sufficient for law enforcement to identify what device is accessing the Internet."

In terms of policing, that means that law enforcement agencies could have a tougher job tracing IP addresses through publicly available logs—in turn requiring them to file subpoenas or court orders to gain information from internet service providers. That process will both disincentivize such detective work and make the process longer and more complex. Unless, of course, the FBI can do something to solve the problem. [CNET via The Verge]

Image by nrkbeta under Creative Commons license