UK and EU allies plan moves against terror websites

Europe's big five fast track data sharing


Closer co-operation between members of the G5 - a grouping of the five largest EU countries - will make it easier to close down websites supporting terrorism, according to UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke. Among a series of measures agreed at a G5 summit in Granada this week was the setting up of a technical group to "monitor and control the use of the Internet in international terrorism and organised crime."

The G5 is an informal grouping of interior ministers of the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, set up to develop closer co-operation on security and policing in 2003. It has no legal status within the EU and its agreements are non-binding, but it is heavily influential in shaping, and blazing a trail for, EU security policy. In an interview with Radio 4's World at One Clarke appeared to view the primary purpose of the Internet aspects of the agreement as being to make it easier to close down troublesome websites, but German Interior Minister Otto Schily stressed the "need to know what is brewing and how terrorist attacks are being prepared", and said that the five countries had agreed to ask telecom operators to extend the retention period for telephone data from three months to a year.

France's Dominique de Villepin said that each of the five would apply the measures immediately, and that they would be discussed with the remaining EU members.

The central objective of the summit was to implement the "principle of availability" (see Statewatch for further information on this) which means that data held by one country is automatically available to its partners. According to the summit statement the objective is "to make sure that the police forces of the Group of Five countries should have immediate access to the information that they need and which other members possess."

The five appear to intend to implement higher levels of information exchange in advance of the EU as a whole, and will set up networks to share information on suspects (Spain gave the example of "people who have attended jihadist training camps"), stolen explosives, stolen cars and false identity papers. Also to be shared are fingerprint and DNA databases. The UK currently has one of the largest DNA databases in the world, and it is growing fast.

The co-operation on the Internet will undoubtedly mean more widespread surveillance of Internet activities, but it could also make life more difficult for fringe and radical web operations. The UK now has a broad range of offences covering support for terrorism including, in the recent Prevention of Terrorism Act, "encouragement" for "acts of terrorism generally", while a draft of a Council of Ministers Convention on Terrorism suggests that "'public provocation to commit an act of terrorism' means the distribution, or otherwise making available, of a message to the public, with the intent to incite the commission of an act of terrorism, including where the message, although not directly advocating such acts, would be reasonably interpreted to have that effect, inter alia, by presenting an act of terrorism as necessary and justified."

Offences in this territory already exist in many EU states, but closer co-operation will make it easier for, say, the Italian Government to have the UK Government act against a site in the UK. Action could be taken in one country could be taken on the basis of a particularly broad view of what constitutes "incitement" or "apologie du terrorisme" in another, and its perfectly possible that inconvenient critics could find themselves targeted alongside genuine terrorist propagandists or supporters. Whatever these might be. ®

Related stories:

Comms, internet ban orders surface in new UK terror law
FBI retires Carnivore
We seize servers, you can't complain - US gov


Other stories you might like

  • Zuckerberg sued for alleged role in Cambridge Analytica data-slurp scandal
    I can prove CEO was 'personally involved in Facebook’s failure to protect privacy', DC AG insists

    Cambridge Analytica is back to haunt Mark Zuckerberg: Washington DC's Attorney General filed a lawsuit today directly accusing the Meta CEO of personal involvement in the abuses that led to the data-slurping scandal. 

    DC AG Karl Racine filed [PDF] the civil suit on Monday morning, saying his office's investigations found ample evidence Zuck could be held responsible for that 2018 cluster-fsck. For those who've put it out of mind, UK-based Cambridge Analytica harvested tens of millions of people's info via a third-party Facebook app, revealing a – at best – somewhat slipshod handling of netizens' privacy by the US tech giant.

    That year, Racine sued Facebook, claiming the social network was well aware of the analytics firm's antics yet failed to do anything meaningful until the data harvesting was covered by mainstream media. Facebook repeatedly stymied document production attempts, Racine claimed, and the paperwork it eventually handed over painted a trail he said led directly to Zuck. 

    Continue reading
  • Florida's content-moderation law kept on ice, likely unconstitutional, court says
    So cool you're into free speech because that includes taking down misinformation

    While the US Supreme Court considers an emergency petition to reinstate a preliminary injunction against Texas' social media law HB 20, the US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday partially upheld a similar injunction against Florida's social media law, SB 7072.

    Both Florida and Texas last year passed laws that impose content moderation restrictions, editorial disclosure obligations, and user-data access requirements on large online social networks. The Republican governors of both states justified the laws by claiming that social media sites have been trying to censor conservative voices, an allegation that has not been supported by evidence.

    Multiple studies addressing this issue say right-wing folk aren't being censored. They have found that social media sites try to take down or block misinformation, which researchers say is more common from right-leaning sources.

    Continue reading
  • US-APAC trade deal leaves out Taiwan, military defense not ruled out
    All fun and games until the chip factories are in the crosshairs

    US President Joe Biden has heralded an Indo-Pacific trade deal signed by several nations that do not include Taiwan. At the same time, Biden warned China that America would help defend Taiwan from attack; it is home to a critical slice of the global chip industry, after all. 

    The agreement, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), is still in its infancy, with today's announcement enabling the United States and the other 12 participating countries to begin negotiating "rules of the road that ensure [US businesses] can compete in the Indo-Pacific," the White House said. 

    Along with America, other IPEF signatories are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Combined, the White House said, the 13 countries participating in the IPEF make up 40 percent of the global economy. 

    Continue reading
  • 381,000-plus Kubernetes API servers 'exposed to internet'
    Firewall isn't a made-up word from the Hackers movie, people

    A large number of servers running the Kubernetes API have been left exposed to the internet, which is not great: they're potentially vulnerable to abuse.

    Nonprofit security organization The Shadowserver Foundation recently scanned 454,729 systems hosting the popular open-source platform for managing and orchestrating containers, finding that more than 381,645 – or about 84 percent – are accessible via the internet to varying degrees thus providing a cracked door into a corporate network.

    "While this does not mean that these instances are fully open or vulnerable to an attack, it is likely that this level of access was not intended and these instances are an unnecessarily exposed attack surface," Shadowserver's team stressed in a write-up. "They also allow for information leakage on version and build."

    Continue reading
  • A peek into Gigabyte's GPU Arm for AI, HPC shops
    High-performance platform choices are going beyond the ubiquitous x86 standard

    Arm-based servers continue to gain momentum with Gigabyte Technology introducing a system based on Ampere's Altra processors paired with Nvidia A100 GPUs, aimed at demanding workloads such as AI training and high-performance compute (HPC) applications.

    The G492-PD0 runs either an Ampere Altra or Altra Max processor, the latter delivering 128 64-bit cores that are compatible with the Armv8.2 architecture.

    It supports 16 DDR4 DIMM slots, which would be enough space for up to 4TB of memory if all slots were filled with 256GB memory modules. The chassis also has space for no fewer than eight Nvidia A100 GPUs, which would make for a costly but very powerful system for those workloads that benefit from GPU acceleration.

    Continue reading
  • GitLab version 15 goes big on visibility and observability
    GitOps fans can take a spin on the free tier for pull-based deployment

    One-stop DevOps shop GitLab has announced version 15 of its platform, hot on the heels of pull-based GitOps turning up on the platform's free tier.

    Version 15.0 marks the arrival of GitLab's next major iteration and attention this time around has turned to visibility and observability – hardly surprising considering the acquisition of OpsTrace as 2021 drew to a close, as well as workflow automation, security and compliance.

    GitLab puts out monthly releases –  hitting 15.1 on June 22 –  and we spoke to the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, about what will be added to version 15 as time goes by. During a chat with the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, The Register was told that this was more where dollars were being invested into the product.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022