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European Commission "policy" of censoring "terrorist" web sites - part 3

Below is the third part of our our Questions to and Answers from the European Commission regarding the apparent policy of censoring "terrorist" websites, announced by Franco Frattini.

Questions and Answers 5 to 9 (of 17):

5) What about "dual use" information and training materials, such as that which it it a legal obligation for industrial employers and academic research institutions to provide and publish, under Health and Safety legislation e.g. in the United Kingdom, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations which detail the correct and safe ways to handle explosives, chemical toxins and biological agents, and which are of equal value to terrorists ?



As stated before, we are still at the early stage of a the beginning of consultations and it would be premature to speak about a specific solution. Nevertheless, we must insist we can assure you that we will take due care of the needs of the industry and the scientific community as well as those of health and safety authorities. Providing information with scientific purpose should never be confused with the transmission of expertise with a terrorist intention.

How, exactly, can such a distinction be made ?

6) Given how quickly a mirror of a website can be set up somewhere else, why is "banning a website", a better strategy than keeping a suspect website under surveillance, after proper warranted permission to do so is granted by an independent Judge ?

N.B. In the United Kingdom, this does not happen, our new Terrorism Act 2006 section 3 only requires the "opinion" of a police officer.



At this reflection stage, we are certainly studying technical feasibility issues, including the mirroring of websites, and reflecting on efficiency questions as the one you raise. Indeed, we must consider the utility that keeping electronic communications under surveillance may have.

7) What European Union wide mechanism are you proposing, to enable internet service providers, and webhosting companies, to be able to rapidly verify and authenticate the legal validity of any such "takedown" or "censorship" notices, purporting to come from law enforcement authorities, in a similar manner to "phishing" emails, which purport to come from the "security" officials at internet banks etc. ?


As we are still considering legislative and non legislative options, we cannot speak about a specific option, as the notice and takedown procedure to which you refer, as the chosen solution. We can, nevertheless give you a general answer: the eventual mechanism would in any case aim at coordinating the efforts of all Member States and cooperating with industry. Efficient communication channels between law enforcement authorities and Internet Service Providers would certainly be part of such a mechanism, guarantying [sic] the level of certainty required.

8) Ideally, such an authentication and verification mechanism should use Digital Signatures to allow the technical staff to rapidly authenticate a request, even outside of normal office hours. Is a Digital Signature Public Key Infrastructure part of your proposals ?


See answer to question 7 above. We are sorry but the early stage of the Commission's work makes it impossible to provide for a more detailed answer.

9) How will fraudulent "takedown notices" be prevented from being used to harass, censor or economically damage innocent websites ?


See answer to question 7 above. We are sorry but the early stage of the Commission's work makes it impossible to provide for a more detailed answer.

Final part at:
European Commission - censoring "terrorist" web sites - part 4

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