2006-11-28

Stopping terrorism vs blocking internet traffic - In the EU

In Mid-August the Vice-President of the European Commission, Franco Frattini, commented on websites that can be used for terrorism. He concluded that the aim was to make the Internet an "hostile environment" for terrorists. “I think it’s very important to explore further possibilities of blocking websites that incite to commit terrorist actions,” he said.

So, the Spy Blog wrote to Frattini asking on just how they figured they would do that, putting forward a list of 17 questions on the topic. What they received recently were a lenghty reply that essentially included numerous avaisive statements.

Basically, the commission seems to know approximately what it wants to do, but it has no idea on how to do it.

However, one point is interesting - they don't seem to rule out much, right now. On the first question asked,

Are you proposing a European Union version of the national level firewall content filtering and censorware software such as is used in the 'Great firewall of China' or in Saudi Arabia and other repressive regimes?


the reply is:

At such an early stage of our consultations it would be premature to speak about a specific solution...


As in, "We don't know yet, but we are not ruling out the possibility that we might build a Great Firewall of Europe."

But they are also quick to add:

the European Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law. In consequence, policy options undermining such principles will be necessarily ruled out.


Which means that the commission might try to build up a firewall that filters out dangerous materials but maintains our basic democratic values. Which are two interesting principles to let oppose each other.

As concluded, the European Commission wants to make the Internet hostile grounds for terrorism. This obviously raises the old question of wether it's okay for democracy to overrule itself for self-protective reasons, as in: is it okay to set aside democratic principles to defend democratic principles, and who decides what is set aside to protect what.

In any case, watchdogness is called for, because even if people can be trusted enough to act without monitoring, authorities has proved that they obviously can not. Which means that we might want to watch out, lest some politicians might in the future tell a couple of network security experts what European citizens can and can not access on the world wide web.

Disclaimer: Some of this post has been shamelessly stolen from theRegister. I urge everyone to read this article as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is not about crime, it is much worse. It is about those hwo openly are communicating information - they do put it on the Internet... It is fear. But the fear for other peoples opinions is not the hwole story, though it is often just used as an excuse, many times even unconscious.

The stupidity becomes obvious when they want to close down sites that anyone can access. No reasonably minded person imagines that terrorist will openly display and be promiscuous about their activities. It would only be a very good thing if they where, since it would be so much easier for the society to track them down.

Knowledge and opinions can never be dangerous, it is when they are put in active use or beeing isolated without fresh air it can develop into something dangerous. It is a "head-in-the-sand-politic", they think they wont be hurt by things they do not know.

This is about something completley different. The biggest lobbyists to this has been large american firms in film and music through their organisations, like MPAA, BSA and such. This is an deliberate strategy that corresponds very well to the proposed EU IPRED directive that will make criminals out of filesharing youngsters. Those hwo, without the authors consent, merely are communicating allredy published information that is not stamped with secrecy. This is the "terrorists" they are trying to close down.

But the Internet has only dramitically lowered the barrier to spread information, nothing else. Exactly the same thing that the printing press once did. But unfortunatley the "power and the church" of today reacts in the same manner as it did in the times of Gutenberg, with fear, protectionism, mysticism, myths and allmost domesday prophecies.