Anti-terror cooperation with ISPs ‘essential’ in wake of Paris shootings, EU ministers say

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12 January 2015 | 0

In the wake of the shootings in Paris last week, justice ministers across the European Union have called on major Internet providers to create a system to quickly report and remove online material that “aims to incite hatred and terror”.

Such a system is “essential” to stem online terrorist propaganda, the ministers of interior and justice said in a joint statement on Sunday, responding to the shootings at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

“We are concerned at the increasingly frequent use of the Internet to fuel hatred and violence and signal our determination to ensure that the Internet is not abused to this end,” they said, adding that the Internet should remain a forum for free expression.

The ministers want to develop positive, targeted and easily accessible messages to counter the propaganda aimed at a young audience that is particularly vulnerable to indoctrination. They urged all EU countries to make maximum use of the Syria Strategic Communication Advisory Team (SSCAT) which is to be established by Belgium with EU funding and aims to combat radicalisation and recruitment to terrorism.

Online extremism has been an issue for some time in the EU where officials have met with Google, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft representatives to discuss techniques to respond to terrorist online activities.

Pressure on the tech companies from intelligence services is also mounting. The UK’s signals intelligence service GCHQ for instance has called on social media companies to cooperate more with the authorities to block terrorists using their networks. The companies are “in denial” about how their technology is helping terrorists, the service claimed.

In the same statement, the ministers said they were “convinced of the crucial and urgent need” to create a framework for sharing airline passenger records for flights to, from and within the EU.

The creation of a database of such data to fight serious crime and terrorism was proposed by the European Commission in 2011. The proposal would have given law enforcers access to about 60 different data sets including travel dates, itineraries, ticket information and contact details gathered by airlines, but was shelved in 2013 when the European Parliament said it would violate fundamental rights.

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