EU Officials Propose Internet Cops On Patrol, No Anonymity & No Obscure Languages (Because Terrorism!)
from the even-worse-than-we-thought dept
Back in February we wrote about the ominously-named "Clean IT" project in Europe, designed to combat the use of the Internet by terrorists. At that time, we suspected that this would produce some seriously bad ideas, but a leaked document obtained by EDRI shows that these are actually much worse than feared (pdf), amounting to a system of continuous surveillance, extrajudicial removal of content and some new proposals that can only be described as deranged.
Here's EDRI's summary of the central issue:
The leaked document contradicts a letter sent from CleanIT Coordinator But Klaasen to Dutch NGO Bits of Freedom in April of this year, which explained that the project would first identify problems before making policy proposals. The promise to defend the rule of law has been abandoned. There appears never to have been a plan to identify a specific problem to be solved – instead the initiative has become little more than a protection racket (use filtering or be held liable for terrorist offences) for the online security industry.
Instead of tackling concrete problems, the vague threat of "terrorism" is constantly invoked -- without ever defining what that means -- to justify a range of extreme measures. At the heart of the plans lies the "voluntarism" we discussed a few weeks ago:
Governments should stimulate self-regulation by Internet companies
And where there are laws, it must be OK for law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to ignore them and have content taken down on demand:
It must be legal for LEAs to make Internet companies aware of terrorist content on their infrastructure ('flagging') that should be removed, without following the more labour intensive and formal procedures for 'notice and take action'
Due process, who needs it? The plans also require some interesting new laws, like this one criminalizing merely posting certain hyperlinks:
Knowingly providing hyperlinks on websites to terrorist content must be defined by law as illegal just like the terrorist content itself
Here's another proposal -- no more anonymity online:
Internet companies must allow only real, common names. These must be entered when registering.
So what happens if you have an uncommon name? And then there's this:
Social media companies must allow only real pictures of users
Presumably you're not allowed to smile, either. Talking of social media, the Clean IT plans include the introduction of friendly "virtual police officers", constantly spying on, er, watching over Europeans online:
Virtual police officers must be used to show law enforcement is present, is watchful, in order to prevent terrorist use of the Internet and make regular users feel more secure.
The idea is that "virtual police officers" will be keeping an eye on you -- for your own safety, you understand. Other ways in which users will be protected from themselves is through the use of filters:
All kinds of Internet companies, LEAs and NGOs, but not governments, should promote the use of end-user controlled filters among their clients, the public and supporters
Note that "not governments" part -- people mustn't get the idea that this is censorship, oh no. Also required will be automated detection systems, because we know how well they work:
Automated detection systems must be used by LEAs, NGOs and Internet companies.
Among the even more interesting proposals in the leaked document seems to be the idea that the authorities can order encryption to be turned off, presumably to allow eavesdropping:
In some cases notice and take action procedures must lead to security certificates of sites to be downgraded.
But surely the most bizarre proposal for dealing with "abuse" -- an attempt to dress up as lamb the tired old mutton of "terrorism" -- is the following:
The use of platforms in languages abuse specialists or abuse systems do not master should be unacceptable and preferably technically impossible.
Incredible though it might sound, that seems to suggest that less common foreign languages would be banned from the European Internet entirely in case anybody discusses naughty stuff without the authorities being able to spy on them (haven't they heard of Google Translate?) You could hardly hope for a better symbol of the paranoid and xenophobic thinking that lies behind this crazy scheme.