The CleanIT project was funded by the European Commission’s Home Affairs Directorate in order to reduce the impact of the terrorist use of internet, but a leaked document has shown that the initiative is not what it seems to be.
The main idea of the programme, in which participates among others the Dutch National Coordinator for Terrorism and Security, Spain, UK, Belgium and Europol, is to fight terrorism through voluntary self-regulatory measures under the law. However the document shows how they rapidly forgot about European democracy and legislation.
During the first discussions and communication letters, the Coordinator But Klaase explained that the plan would first identify problems before making policy proposals, something that contradicts the current data.
According to the file, the project urges internet companies to ban unwelcome activity through their terms of service, but this action “should not be very detailed”. Besides, it allows extra-judicial vigilantism by private companies, also contradicting what Klaase explained months ago about CleanIT: “it does not aim to restrict behaviour that is not forbidden by law.”
The European Digital Rights (EDRI) site published the leaked document on 21 September and a few hours later CleanIT justified it by saying “the document is food for discussion only, and summarizes possible solutions and ideas that have to be evaluated by all partners, public and private.”
“While taking into account that any measure taken should not affect our online freedom, the advantages and disadvantages of the possible measures will be discussed in next meetings”, they wrote, confirming the authenticity of the information.
CleanIT is duplicating much of the work of the CEO Coalition (child protection), which is also financed by the European Commission. Both create “voluntary” rules for notification and removal of possibly illegal content, explained EDRI.
Within the “best practices” to be discussed described in the leaked document we can find: “removal of any legislation preventing filtering/surveillance of employees’ Internet connections”, “law enforcement authorities should be able to have content removed, without following the more labour-intensive and formal procedures for ‘notice and action” and “Governments should use the helpfulness of ISPs as a criterion for awarding public contracts.”
CleanIT’s idea of internet terrorism was criticised by a Dutch blogger and reactions started to appear. Klaasen sent a letter saying that they are still getting consensus on “what the problem exactly is” and that “the project does not aim to restrict behavior that is not forbidden by law.”
The filtering companies participating in the secret deliberations are not listed on the consultation group’s website, although filtering company employees make up the majority of the participants in the organization’s meetings, EDRI published.