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EU Could Force ISPs to Add a NO TERRORISTS Clause to their Contracts

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013 (9:37 am) - Score 522

Europe’s sometimes controversial Clean IT project, which aims to make the internet a safer place through new rules and regulations to restrict illegal content and access, has published its final recommendations for tackling terrorism online. But some of the ideas aren’t particularly worldly.

The final report – Reducing terrorist use of the Internet (PDF) – perhaps ironically suggests that “terrorist use of the Internet is currently not widely known or understood” but still goes on to recommend a number of new measures for tackling that which it does not fully understand.

The report then proceeds to suggest that broadband ISPs could adopt a new “best practice” for their contracts and “state clearly in their terms and conditions that they will not tolerate terrorist use of the Internet on their platforms” (they’re also asked to “define terrorism“). Indeed, as everybody surely knows, terrorists find it impossible to join ISPs that use such Terms and Conditions (T&C’s) :). In addition, most UK ISPs already have an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) to prevent illegal activity.

Another allegedly intelligent idea is for all website browsers (IE, Firefox, Chrome etc.) to be equipped with a “browser-based reporting mechanism” that would “allow end users to report terrorist use of the Internet“; because nobody, yes nobody at all, would ever think to abuse that (the report notes that “abuse of the reporting mechanism should be prevented as much as possible“). We can almost imagine the big red Report Terrorist button.

The browser-based reporting mechanism

A more systematic approach to help Internet companies to be notified by Internet users about alleged terrorist use of the Internet is a reporting mechanism that is implemented in the standard distribution of a browser, or, as a fall-back solution only, is offered as a plugin for browsers. This is a user-friendly notification tool to Internet companies that do not offer flagging tools or do not have effective abuse departments.

This mechanism should also be considered for the browsers of mobile devices and their operating systems. While being developed, at for example the EU-level, the mechanism should have an open architecture, allowing non-EU organizations to start using it as well later on.

Overall the final report, which is apparently the culmination of a two-year and £280,000 EU funded research project, isn’t quite as ridiculous as some of the Clean IT projects earlier ideas (e.g. mass internet filtering).

Never the less the idea that something as poisonous and downright evil as terrorism could be prevented simply by adding a few new terms and a browser button seems somewhat unlikely to work. At least it notes that any action taken must “respect fundamental rights and civil liberties, including access to the Internet, freedoms of expression and assembly, the right to privacy, and data protection.”

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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