The ITU, the International Telecommunications Union is the UN agency for Information and Communication Technologies. The ITU is “committed to connecting all the world’s people – wherever they live and whatever their means”. Sounds like a very noble commitment, doesn’t it? It’s odd then, that the potentially biggest threat to the free and open Internet as we know it today, comes from this very agency. The ITU will hold a world conference in Dubai this December 3rd and there could be something sneaky going on behind closed doors.
Last month, I blogged about the Clean IT Project. The aim of this project is to examine the question “if we can reduce the impact of the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes, without affecting our online freedom”, however a look at a leaked document revealed that the project got somewhat derailed. The leaked document seemed to propose Big Brother-like restrictions and dragnet-style monitoring of all European
I linked to an article by Bits of Freedom last week, calling for international opposition against the latest plan by minister Ivo Opstelten. The plan can be summed up in brief as “Dutch police should be allowed to hack local and foreign computers and destroy data on them”. A very dangerous proposition with lots legal ramifications. The Electronic Frontier Foundation underwrites the call by Bits of Freedom and condemns the plan proposed by minister Opstelten in an article. The title is a bit sensationalist, but the article is certainly worth a read!
I’ve remarked before on the way the “child porn argument” is being abused to push privacy violating measures through parliaments. In short, it often boils down to this: Police or justice department needs access to “x”. Parliament asks (if we’re lucky): “Doesn’t that violate the privacy of “y”? Response: “Yes, but it will help us stop child porn. Please, won’t somebody think of the children?” Parliament: “Oh, okay then…” End of discussion because everybody is against child porn, right? Yes of course, most people are. No member of parliament wants to be seen as someone who would stop measures that could help the fight against child porn. Which is why this argument is wrong, it’s a discussion stopper. I’ve rarely seen it explained more clearly than here.
For an outgoing cabinet, our current ministers are certainly busy. Busy looking for ways to endanger our privacy, it seems. Just days after two letters from Ivo Opstelten reached the news, Dutch investigative reports for the TV program KRO Reporter have discovered documents that suggest that outgoing minister for Health, Welfare and Sports, Edith Schippers is working on a law that would allow Dutch law enforcement access to DNA information stored in Dutch medical facilities.
If you’ve taken the time to read the page describing what this blog is all about, you will have seen that I describe myself there as a free speech radical. I believe that free speech is absolutely necessary if a democracy is to function at all. I therefore believe that any form of censorship is objectionable, apart from self-censorship.