Internet securityEU considers far-reaching Internet security initiative

Published 5 October 2012

Cybersecurity is becoming an increasingly more daunting challenge as governments try to prevent attacks against critical infrastructure on which the well-being of countries depends, now, several European countries are trying to come together in an effort to defend themselves against a cyber attack, but critics say the project, called CleanIT, goes too far

Cybersecurity is becoming an increasingly more daunting challenge as governments try to prevent attacks against critical infrastructure on which the well-being of countries depends. Now, several European countries are trying to come together in an effort to defend themselves against a cyber attack.

ITNews reports that documents leaked an initiative by the European Union, called CleanIT, shows proposal obligating Internet companies to include anti-terrorism features in their software and set up hotlines with law enforcement agencies to report such issues.

The proposal also includes Internet filtering and virtual policing which have some civil rights and privacy advocates worry about Internet freedom. These advocates argue that voluntary but binding agreements between Internet users Internet service providers (ISP) would compromise this freedom.

According to the leaked document, the goal of CleanIT is to develop a set of general rules and practices that the private sector can follow through non-legislative guidelines. The rules would take affect between six months and two years of an Internet organization committing to the recommendations and rules.

Other rules would include implementing a virtual reporting button in a Web browser or operating system, social media patrolling, increased sharing of information among ISPs, automated terrorist activities detection systems, and content blocking/filtering with subscribers using their real names online.

CleanIT”does not aim to restrict Internet freedom,” according to the project FAQ, but it does “have security concerns and wants to limit the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes”.

We realize that openness, privacy and security are the three sides of a triangle that should be balanced properly.” the FAQ stated.

Civil rights lobby group European Digital Rights (EDRI) said the document showed “plans for a large scale undemocratic surveillance of all communications.”

EDRIU claims CleanIT would work on “binding engagements” from ISPs for surveillance, content blocking,and filtering at local network levels. “[CleanIT] wants a network of trusted online informants and, contrary to everything they have ever said, they also want new, stricter legislation from Member States.” the civil rights group said.

Computerworld UK called some of the CleanIT project’s proposals so absurd they should never have been considered for an instant by any reasonable, intelligent group of people.

They are so far from the norms of European society that they should have been laughed out of the room the instant anyone was foolish enough to suggest them.” columnist Glyn Moody said.

ITNews notes that the initiative appeared to be led by the Netherlands’ National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security, with support from Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Spain, Denmark, Hungary, Austria, and Romania.

No private company had been involved with CleanIT at the time of the documents leaking.

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