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back to article Freedom of speech 'safe' as Europe tackles the terror web

The EU has unveiled a further crack-down on 'Internet terrorism', intended to tackle what it claims is the increasing exploitation of the web by terrorists. It is being used, says the Commission, as a "virtual training camp", to spread propaganda and act as a recruitment tool, and to provide online manuals and bomb construction …

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banned

Isn't it time that we were actually given a list of banned books, websites, and domestic cleaning materials with 'explosive potential' so no-one gets themselves into trouble accidentally? While they are at it, how about a list of expressions which might be seen as 'promoting terrorism'. How would a website commemorating the heroics, tactics, and weapons of the French Resistance be viewed?

It might also help if it is explained which of the above would get you prosecuted only if you are a Muslim.

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Gates Halo

Hey...

it works for China and North Korea so why not Europe?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: banned

As I recall the French Resistance nearly did get banned as part of the Blair knee-jerk reaction to the July bombings. There was a bizarre consultation document with a very short consultation period (Blair goes on holiday for August, Charlie Clarke gets to clear up the crap).

This proposed several wacko things. The net effects of the early proposals would have included the outlawing of all resistance movements in modern history and, as far as I could see, would have accidentally categorised the attack on Iraq as terrorism. I'm afraid I've mislaid the document, but I'm sure it outlawed any attempt to overthrow a government by violence. The American War of Independence came well before the cut-off date though, so George Washington was cool.

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Unhappy

We are governed by stupid people....

It appears to be my fault as I am a voter...

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Put the words "fight terrorism" in it...

And you have yourself an almost guaranteed winner. I participated in the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington a while ago, and one of the things we got to do was vote on a telecommunications bill. One of the amendments involved censoring and shutting down any and all sites that promote or endorse or provide information for 'terrorism', with terrorism being loosely defined as something like "a violent act intended to cause change in a government". Needless to say, I pwned it, but it still came pretty close to passing.

Another stupid thing the majority passed was an amendment that would inevitably shut down YouTube, though I don't think they realized it. I tend to agree with Andrew, that morons govern us and will govern us for years to come (though I do hear Kasparov is running for the Russian president spot).

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Black Helicopters

So if recruitment into violent organisations is a problem

Then why can we get to "Defence" force sites or play Americas Army. Thats a recruitment tool and a training tool. Of course its for tools so its ok.

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Paris Hilton

It's about time...

...the gubbinsment dissolves The People and votes itself a new one, without all these tricksy ideas about freedom, democracy and so forth.

Bah!

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@Maty

Maybe relatives of the French Resistance are on the list of 2000 dangerous people in the UK. I think they'll be ok though, they're European and (hopefully for them) white.

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Silver badge

I know who they've been talking to

His name is Thomson, and he's a lawyer.

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Black Helicopters

Chill, people. These things go in cycles

Now then laddies and lassies... when eyewis a wee bairn and it were aw green screens round here, the meeja and ignorant unthinking politicians were getting in a big stew about "video nasties." You know, the flicks like I Spit On Your Grave and The Evil Dead. The UK government even banned a few of them. And that eventually died down, to be replaced by the Big Evil Bulletin Boards.

No, not the ad-ridden gaudy webshites that you see these days. These were REAL Bulletin Boards. You used a "modem" to "dial into" them and you could "download" BOMB-MAKING INSTRUCTIONS! Shock horror! Think Of The Children! Worse, you could download NAZI PROPAGANDA! Shock Horror!! Remember the Holocaust! Our parents died in two world wars to free the country from evil tyranny, etc. And after than came PORN!!! Think Of The Children!!! Do You Know What Your Children Are Doing On That Computer?

<RealityCheck>You could find things like the Jolly Roger Cookbook, which contained little more than a few ideas nicked from high school chemistry lessons (the author was an American, so he didn't go to secondary school) plus some ideas on credit card fraud and sabotaging telephone systems that were probably dreamed up as an alternative to self-abuse in the school toilets. You could occasionally find a few text files eulogising the Nazis, but you'd find more extreme material in your local library. As for porn - grainy scans from jazz mags and crudely retouched pics of Gillian Anderson to make her appear topless was about as far as it generally went. Yes, there were exceptions, but they weren't all that common.</RealityCheck>

So the government's solution? License them. That idea sank eventually, as it dawned on someone that you couldn't tell a BBS from a fax machine and also as the Internet grew in popularity, modem users ceased to be a threatening minority.

So now we're back on a new fear. Terrorism. It would't be such a big deal if it weren't for President Retard blowing it up (sorry. Mine's the biker jacket, thanks) out of all proportion. We managed to contain the IRA and the loyalists without needing draconian legislation.

Give it time. Once people realise that this is just anothe episode of FUD that preys on the minds of the technically clueless, the gutter press will find something else to scare people shitless with.

For my part, if I were going to use electronic communication for running a terrorist network, I'd probably go back to the BBS system. Very difficult to snoop on it if the sysop uses high security.

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Silver badge
Thumb Down

Chill?

So it's alright for the government to introduce pointless Big Brother laws because they're unenforceable?

What about the people who are doing no wrong, but find themselves criminalised because the text files they read or pictures they look at are the current "big threat" even though they're freely available?

Meanwhile the real criminals just move elsewhere but another basic freedom is whilttled away some more.

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IT Angle

@Graham Marsden

No, of course it isn't. It's impossible to educate the technically clueless overnight. And in some cases, it's impossible to do it at all.

What IS possible is to write to your MP and MEP, pointing out the difference between a genuine threat and tabloid scaremongering, show the track record governments have in legislating against non-existent dangers, and warn them of the effects of heavy-handed legislation. How that last point is put depends on who you're writing to - civil liberties objections would have more effect on a Liberal Democrat than either of the other parties.

If you were writing to a member the Labour Partei, you'd point out the risk of increased unpopularity and slippage in the polls. If you were writing to Tory Blair's lot, you could pitch it that opposing repressive legislation would widen the gap between them and Labour.

I'm drafting letters right now. If enough people did that, there's a chance that politicians would think again, or at least face heavy opposition in both the UK and European parliaments. May work, may not, but one thing's for sure - we can't influence politicians by just crying into our beer.

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Go

There Yah Go!

To me, it is relatively simple. Pandering idiots such as Newt Gingrich (American politician famous for his lack of integrity) was spewing all this rhetoric about finding and shutting down all access to the internet used by terrorists.

To me, it seems it would be much better to monitor and investigate the people accessing these sites to find out who the terrorists were. No, instead his idea was to push them further underground, thus making them even harder to monitor.

I agree with people here that there are more than enough opportunities for abuse of this system.. I am curious and a look at my browsing history would cause some to wonder. My God, during the illegal invasion of Iraq I was also accessing foreign news sources.

The stories we hear about (such as the gentleman in India held for 50 days because of an ISP mix up) are just the tip of the problem. Your life can be ruined not by some government agent knocking on your door, but by an anonymous entry into a database resulting from a site you visited. You would never know it was there... it would never be audited for validity or accuracy... it would just sit there waiting for your name to be searched for any particular reason.

Yikes!

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