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EU's anti-terrorist Internet guidelines a waste of money, says group

The EU project is so vague that no one will take it seriously says EDRi

An EU project to draw up guidelines to reduce terrorist use of the Internet has been described as a total waste of money by independent watchdog EDRi (European Digital Rights).

The Clean IT project published its final report on Monday, but the 30-page document "meanders directionlessly from the vague to the vacuous and back again," said EDRi coordinator Joe McNamee on Tuesday.

According to the Clean IT report: "The vast majority of Internet use is legal and beneficial to its users. However, the Internet is also used for illegal purposes." Such insights cost more than ¬325,000 (US$432,737) to the European Commission, which McNamee said is money down the drain.

"On the other hand, as the policy behind the document is so bad, we should be happy that the whole project is so incompetent," he added.

The stated aim of the project, which started in 2011, was to draft a set of "general principles" and to identify "best practices".

One example of a best practice that the Clean IT document advocates is: "The legal framework to reduce the terrorist use of the Internet should be clearly explained to users; service providers should explain to their users how flagging systems work; abuse of the flagging mechanism should be prevented as much as possible." It continues, "While in practice it is difficult to assess whether specific content or activity is actually terrorist, some activities on the Internet are not, such as political speech, reporting about terrorism in the media and research on terrorism for academic purposes."

The report also notes that "Not all Internet companies state clearly in their terms and conditions that they will not tolerate terrorist use of the Internet on their platforms, and how they define terrorism. This makes it more difficult to decide what to do when they are confronted with (potential) cases of terrorist incitement."

The document continues: "In general, blocking and filtering options are considered a "bad practice", especially if it is used at state level or if it is otherwise forced on Internet users. Nevertheless, at a parental/end-user level individuals should not be limited in the possibilities to protect themselves or their children from what they believe is inappropriate."

Even the Commission's own independent evaluations of the initial proposal were highly critical, EDRi said, and commented that there was no clear path to the project's objectives and that methodology was lacking.

The project received financial support not only from the European Commission, but also government partners from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. Yet the end result is "drafted so badly that it is unlikely that anyone will take it too seriously," said McNamee.

No one at the Clean IT Project responded to a request for comment.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

More about: EU, European Commission

Comments

Jacob

1

I was tortured for almost 3 years by the FBI and their friends only
because 85 years old man, Roland Sibens(chicago) convinced them that I
am a terrorist. I was tortured for working on my prosthetic legs in
the basement. I done absolutely nothing illegal or wrong. They thought
that in theory it is possible to hide bomb in them. They saw an
opportunity to get famous, so they were trying to torture me till I
sign their insane story. They tortured me using more than 100
different torturing methods and trust to me waterboarding is not how
they torture nowadays. I dont know where to find justice.

I think that after 9/11 things got out of control. Freedom fighters
became tyrants. In 1945, most Germans had an opportunity to learn about Nazis death
camps. I hope that one day American citizens will get chance to learn about people
like me, who were tortured with no reason for years.

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