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EU "Clean IT" Project Considers Terrorist Content Database 101

Posted by samzenpus
from the consider-yourself-reported dept.
schliz writes "Internet users could contribute to an official blacklist of suspected terrorist content under a budding 'Clean IT' project, backed by the European Commission. Participating governments are putting together 13 proposals in a text that commits web hosts, search engines and ISPs to helping to weed out content that incites acts of terror. From the article: 'Among those 13 courses of action is a proposal for a system that will allow users to "flag" content they believe to be illegal when surfing the web. These alarms would be sent for review to the service provider and in turn, a government agency.'"
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EU "Clean IT" Project Considers Terrorist Content Database

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  • Already broken (Score:5, Insightful)

    by overbaud (964858) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @11:42PM (#40240853)
    All that is needed is malware that randomly flags sites. The amount of submissions would create so much noise the system would be unable to serve its purpose. Game over.
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @11:48PM (#40240885)

      All that is needed is malware that randomly flags sites.

      It's broken even without needing someone to write malware that abuses it.

      Have you interacted with some of the people on the Internet? They're fucking insane already.

      Giving them an opportunity to flag anything they disagree with for "governmental review" would result in them flagging just about everything.

      • by txoof (553270) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @12:17AM (#40241017) Homepage
        I believe this is called the tyranny of the majority.
        • by xs650 (741277) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @12:39AM (#40241083)
          It's the tyranny of the uber vocal minority.
          • So between you, the grandparent, and great-grandparent posts we have everyone covered... reminds me of Kay in Men-in-Black: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.

      • by Anarchduke (1551707) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @12:52AM (#40241141)
        Not to mention assholes like me who will flag things just because its funny. For example, this is a prime example [marthastewart.com] of terrorist propaganda.
      • by artor3 (1344997)

        Well, since the flagging is unlikely to be anonymous, that's an easy problem to fix. Just quietly ignore flags from people who cry wolf a lot. Of course, that would make the malware even worse, as anyone who gets infected would be removed from the system until there's essentially no one left in it. This really seems like a completely unworkable idea.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Joce640k (829181)

          A state-owned 'idiot' list. That's an seriously useful database to have. If I was an employer I'd gladly pay for a copy of that. We could also cut back on their social services payments - if they've got enough free time to sit all day on the Internet then they don't deserve benefit handouts.

          • Disclosing it to a third-party would be illegal, anyway.
          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            We could also cut back on their social services payments - if they've got enough free time to sit all day on the Internet then they don't deserve benefit handouts.

            Well, we don't have that problem in the US and haven't had since 1996 when they pretty much stopped welfare.

        • by marcello_dl (667940) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @07:22AM (#40242845) Homepage Journal

          You are assuming this project is done with the aim of making it work as honestly as possible.
          If it's only a shell for a censorship program, giving it the pretense of being driven by people, it's perfectly workable.
          In other words, the system will radomly filter and accept legitimate censorship requests from joe the public, instead it will always censor the sites that are against powerful interests when said interests express that desire.

      • Giving them an opportunity to flag anything they disagree with for "governmental review" would result in them flagging just about everything.

        Further, there are also the of actions of governments that in lay terms as distinct from legal terms, could be considered terrorism. For example hailing drone strikes on suspected terrorist cells, including innocent civilians in Afghanistan, or Iranian anti-Israel propaganda. Both of these examples are not directly examples of terrorism from a legal perspective, but ei

    • by Hentes (2461350) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @03:31AM (#40241801)

      Usually when illegal material is found on a server hosted by an Internet company and is removed,

      If content can be illegal and be removed, the system is already broken.

    • the only problem is the millions of euros some smart IT dud will charge because the 'project is so vast and complex it will be very hard to etcetera) , it's useless, i'll agree to that but it remains money pit and waste (as usual)
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @11:50PM (#40240893) Journal
    If one, by way of a thought experiment, imagines that there existed a corrupt, secular, society ruled by satanic decadence, impious appetite, and foreign policy injustices, could it theoretically be argued that jihad would constitute a duty under certain historically extant strains of abrahamic divine command theories of ethics?

    Flag or no flag, team EU?

    In all seriousness, this seems like a dreadful idea both on just about every level.

    Cultural? I'm trying to think of ways to make more of a mockery of the sort of Enlightenment ideals that Europe managed to produce at one time. I'm having a hard time thinking of one. Yeah, why not build a massive system of sniveling, anonymous censors in order to combat a 'threat' that kills fewer people than seasonal hot/cold snaps by at least an order of magnitude. Good plan there.

    Practical? Well, let's see here: As with the relentless 'zOMG Craigslist prostitution!!!' moral panics, what better place for those who wish you harm than shouting about it on the internet? Highly visible, way less anonymous than it feels unless you really do it properly, and comparatively easy to see which fish are biting. You want to drive them away from the venues where your pet geeks can monitor at wire speed and into more clandestine locations where you need to groom human intelligence assets with convincing beards and accents? Dumbass.

    Technical? Bots will probably be programmatically flagging things in order to downrank them more or less as enthusiastically as keyword comment spam is currently deployed to uprank things. Never mind the less relentless; but more dangerous and focused, potential for assorted political/commercial/psycho ex/psycho roommate drama.

    Legal? Say hello to endless wrangling about what is and isn't 'incitement', most likely with clumsy overreactions against the harmless, clueless, and impolitic, along with free traffic in assorted slang, inuendo, and more or less subtle dog-whistle stuff.

    This plan has holes that(where one to be so inclined) a truck bomb could be driven through...
    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @01:50AM (#40241395)

      If one, by way of a thought experiment, imagines that there existed a corrupt, secular, society ruled by satanic decadence, impious appetite, and foreign policy injustices, could it theoretically be argued that jihad would constitute a duty under certain historically extant strains of abrahamic divine command theories of ethics?

      Christian jihad is exempt from the usual scrutiny. It's only people who dress and act differently than us that are terrorists. Everybody knows that. -_- And all this legislation would do is codify our prejudice into law... today it's terrorism, before that it was communism, before that, fascism... there'll always be an intangible "ism" that we're at war with, and this "ism" will be all the justification our government needs to become an "ism" itself to its people.

      • People like you are quick to point to a non-existent double standard that allegedly benefits Christianity, ignoring the fact that Christian violence toward Islam has almost always been either in self-defense or irredentist in nature. You ignore the fact that most of the land in the Middle East that is Muslim used to be Christian, Jewish or Zoroastrian; Syria, Lebanon and North Africa were predominantly Christian when conquered and forcefully converted by the Muslim Caliphate. Two hundred some years prior to

        • by toriver (11308)

          No, you are right, it was not a jihad, it was missionaries backed by colonizing armies. The Christian imperial nations colonized far more land than the Muslims ever did - including said Muslim countries. When Spanish soldiers went out into cities to test their newly sharpened swords on the local population in South America, it was all in fun, not a jihad. So yeah, there hasn't been a Christian jihad, because they called slaughtering the natives something else.

          • The very reason they went to explore was to find an efficient trade route to India. Once they realized it wasn't India, they returned to gain new land and gold. It was imperialism, plain and simple.

            The Spanish hardly conquered the Aztecs on their own strength. Do you really think 500 white guys with 15th and early 16th century muskets defeated the over 100,000 strong Aztech imperial army on their own strength and with the aid of Smallpox? Bullshit. When they marched into Tenochtitlan, they did so at the hea

        • People like you are quick to point to a non-existent double standard that allegedly benefits Christianity, ignoring the fact that Christian violence toward Islam has almost always been either in self-defense or irredentist in nature.

          So the four crusades, 10 year war, etc., -- all self defense, right? Christianity has a long and bloody history.

    • by kermidge (2221646)

      Nicely put.

      Well, they got rid of the Stasi but it seems they want the informers back - this time with the whole planet for their playground.

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      You're spot on, but you miss the point.

      The point isn't to DO anything constructive. DOING THINGS takes work, determination, money, and (above all) persistence and courage - all things anathema to modern political leadership.

      This is another example of 'security theater' - most famously practiced by US DoHS in airports. Minimal/no actual increase in security, but a clear and visible example of government "doing something", which can also conveniently be used to funnel $billions in public funds to political

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @11:52PM (#40240903)

    From TFA:

    “So why not try and create a database where internet companies can check it to see if it's known illegal material? There are many known YouTube videos, for example, with content like be-headings. You don’t need to watch them to know if they are illegal or not.”

    So what is the answer? Is a beheading video illegal? Why? What is the law that makes a beheading video illegal? What happens if it's legal in one country, but not in another? Does this magic content filter know where a user is watching content? Is it illegal if it's in a depiction of a beheading from a movie? How about if I stage a fake beheading of my own in my back yard, but I claim it's real, is that illegal? Likewise, what if I post a beheading and claim it's fake.... but it's so well done, no one knows if it's fake or not. Is that illegal?

    (I'm ignoring the obvious questions like, what happens if my movie promo with a fake beheading gets flagged as illegal (even if it's not), and now suddenly it's banned from the internet and I can no longer show my promo)

    • by mpe (36238)
      (I'm ignoring the obvious questions like, what happens if my movie promo with a fake beheading gets flagged as illegal (even if it's not), and now suddenly it's banned from the internet and I can no longer show my promo)

      If your promo is banned you could probably expect that the potential audience for your movie has increased by a couple of orders of magnitude. Which is what usually happens when a movie (or record) is banned. If your movie is very bad people might suspect that the ban was deliberate on you
    • So what is the answer? Is a beheading video illegal? Why? What is the law that makes a beheading video illegal? What happens if it's legal in one country, but not in another?

      The idiots behind this project explicitly don't care about the legality of censoring the web, or any accountability of their decisions. From the Clean IT project website [cleanitproject.eu]:

      The main objective of this project is to develop a non-legislative framework that consists of general principles and best practices. The general principles will be developed through a bottom up process where the private sector will be in the lead. Through a series of workshops and conferences, the private and public sector will define their problems and try to draw up principles. These principles can be used as a guideline or gentlemen’s agreement, and can be adopted by many partners. They will describe responsibilities and concrete steps public and private partners can take to counter the illegal use of Internet.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In the current economic crisis they really do not have anything better to do than create proposals which we know will not work, will not address the root causes of terrorism (which really is a negligible issue within the EU anyway) and which will add costs to IT companies? Way to get your priorities wrong.

    The European Commission is the biggest mistake in the whole EU structure; unelected, not accountable and downright underhanded when dealing with legitimate opposition from the at least democratically elect

    • Thankfully, we will be able to realize considerable savings, since the scheme is so draconian that we can probably just purchase a Great Firewall implementation from the Chinese at everyday low prices...
  • Even the name sounds like White IT, another recent attempt to indroduce blacklists in Europe. Last time it was child porn, now it's the terrorists. This gets old fast.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Welcome to the EU, you will be assimilated. Resistance is futile...

      Until our currency collapses and we go screaming down in flames anyway.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Until our currency collapses and we go screaming down in flames anyway.

        The world is waiting for that almost as eagerly as it's waiting for China or the USA to collapse in on itself. Keep waiting; there will be massive manipulation.

        • by Mashiki (184564)

          Yeah. Some how I don't see that working, been paying attention to the bond markets? Germany was -0.0055 the other day. That's people paying the government to take money at a loss as a 'safe haven' for 10 years. -0.0022 for 5 year. I expect it to hit -1% around the 18th of the month depending on how the greek voting goes.

          Roughly half of the eurozone is underwater with debt at 150-200% of their GDP. And unemployment, the by-country stats not the EU normalized stats give between 18-55% unemployment rate

    • Last time it was child porn, now it's the terrorists. This gets old fast.

      If by that you mean that the next step will be "infringing content" you are absolutely correct... oh wait [europa.eu]...

      This could for instance include defamation terrorism related content, IPR infringements, illegal online gambling, child abuse content, misleading advertisements or incitement to hatred or violence on the basis of race, origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation etc.

      It was probably the UK that put "defamation" in the same list. All hail the Web STASI!

  • by rnturn (11092) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @12:21AM (#40241027)

    "Among those 13 courses of action is a proposal for a system that will allow users to `flag' content they believe to be illegal when surfing the web. These alarms would be sent for review to the service provider and in turn, a government agency."

    And will the people doing this flagging be trained to know what is and what isn't illegal content? Didn't think so. I don't think the proponent of this idea has thought enough about the unintended consequences of such a capability.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      And will the people doing this flagging be trained to know what is and what isn't illegal content?

      Since ignorance of the law is not an excuse, everyone should know the law already ;)

      I don't think the proponent of this idea has thought enough about the unintended consequences of such a capability.

      Don't you already have a place online you can tip the police? I checked and here in Norway the police do [politi.no]. The categories listed there are:

      - Hate speech
      - Human trafficking
      - Sexual exploitation of children
      - Economic crime
      - International crime
      - Other crime

      Nothing prevents me from taking an URL and pasting it in under any of these today. I suppose with a "flag this" button you save about 10 seconds of Googling, you don't need to

  • What could possibly go wrong?
    and remember, whats illegal in X country, isn't illegal in Y country
    • While you are remembering that, also remember that getting extradited from country X to country Y for something that you did while being a citizen and residing in X is a distinct possibility these days. Of course, it's only true for one particular country Y, and a somewhat limited set of Xs (for now), but even so.

  • by Scorch_Mechanic (1879132) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @02:18AM (#40241499) Journal

    "Internet users could contribute to an official blacklist of suspected communist content under a budding 'Clean IT' project, backed by the House Un-American Activities Committee . Participating representatives are putting together 13 proposals in a text that commits web hosts, search engines and ISPs to helping to weed out content that incites or advocates communism. From the article: 'Among those 13 courses of action is a proposal for a system that will allow users to "flag" content they believe to be communist when surfing the web. These alarms would be sent for review to the service provider and in turn, a government agency.'"

    There, that adequately represents my feelings on the subject.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Resposible for multiple murders in Iraq, Afhganistan... oh the list is endless...

    http://www.army.mod.uk/join/join.aspx

    Openly recruiting via the internet !

  • So we shoud submit stuxnet and flame? That is THE definition of terrorist content that executes actions -- far more dangerous than the simple free exchange of ideas, even if offensive or morally wrong.

  • What's going to happen when the "wrong" kinds of terrorists start getting reported? What about when (n.b. not if) someone finds terrorists supported by a "friendly" (or possibly their own) government.
  • I thought those Fusion Centers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_center [wikipedia.org], were already doing this sort of thing?
  • Some Germans (me is one, however, I am not elegible I guess) should be especially qualified for this job.

    Reminds me of my youth when my mother tended only to whisper fearing that someone could hear what was being talked about (During the 'Drittes Reich' a person with the fuction of 'Blockwart' was installed for every apartment building, spying on the renters.)

    CC.

  • Have you all not noticed a little flag next to each published comment. Where do you think your contact details go when I click it?
  • helping to weed out content that incites acts of terror.

    Let's see, there's the bible, then the koran and all other forms of aggressive, conservative proselytizing religions including BTW scientology... then there's the right wing parties such as the nazis and the klan ...oh and climate change deniers...

    But this would amount to a form of leaving these people alone amongst themselves. Isn't sunshine , mockery, debate, parody and shaming the best antiseptic in these cases?

  • ...the Jews, But I wasn't a Jew so I didn't speak up. Then they flagged the Communists, but I wasn't a Communist, so I didn't speak up... etc.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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