The Clean IT Project – EU against illegal use of Internet

NSA poster

NSA poster by David Westerfield

Recently, thanks to SOIT chairman Marek Mahut I heard about Clean IT Project. This project is supported by European Union and if you look at their site, the first thing you’ll see is one very disturbing paragraph. Paragraph that speaks about the need to fight terrorism and terrorist groups on Internet as they can misuse it to promote their activities, synchronize their actions and do some other evil deeds. What’s disturbing about that? Well, we all know how terrorists are used nowadays. Usually when somebody mentions terrorism, it is because he needs an excuse to get more power, limit our freedom or spend a lot of money on some meaningless project. And from the first paragraph it really looks like attempt for massive Internet censorship, restrictions and repressions. But after reading through the web, it gets a little bit better. Looks like the whole project is about discussion between governments and Internet providers about what they can do and what is possible. Discussions are good, right? And no legal output, just the guide lines and best practices. So it looks quite harmless now, doesn’t it? But there were still several things bothering me… As there was a contact e-mail provided, I wrote a short e-mail with few questions. Yesterday I got an answer so I want to share it with the public. You can read whole e-mail with two minor alterations. I changed formating a little bit (just white spaces and line breaks to make it more readable) and I left out e-mail address (because I don’t like spammers). If you don’t want to read the whole story, I will just summarize…

First thing that concerned me was that there was only few countries mentioned as a partners. But from the response I learned that there is more participants than mentioned on the web, these few are just project founding members. I was also concerned who was there from the private sector, hopefully protecting our interests. I don’t believe that governments would protect our freedoms and privacy as they are collecting plenty of data about us already. I don’t believe big companies either, but spying on us is extra non-paid work… Unfortunately I haven’t learned much, just that some Dutch, Spanish and International ISP are on board. And that there is a list but not public (yet). I understand that ISP are afraid to be connected with project with quite difficult and controversial goal. Especially now, in the beginning, when everybody can be quite suspicious. Now back to the good things I have learned. This week, probably today, there will be first draft published publicly. So we will know for sure what was going on and whether this project is evil or not. I also learned that any comments are welcome and that at least the person that was responding to me is aware of the possible issues and wants to protect freedom and privacy of the people using Internet. That’s good, right? Posting draft publicly, requesting as much feedback as they can and discussing sounds like a good plan too. One optimistic idea might be, that if the result will be sane (and we all can try to help), it may actually help against already exiting or planned evil practices like data retention and censorship.

So if I got you interested, read whole e-mail and watch for published draft so we can help to ensure that we will have our freedom 😉

EDIT: Draft has been published