Commissioner Malmström launches censorship arms race

By EDRi · May 5, 2010

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Kommissarin Malmström führt Zensur-Wettrüsten ein |]

Commissioner Malmström has been explaining to the European Parliament and to
the press that her Internet blocking proposals are “only” about child abuse
websites and “only” the kind of blocking that is in place in countries such
as Sweden. At the same time, however, her officials have been convincing the
EU’s national home affairs ministries to agree in principle to measures to
develop legal powers to destroy web resources outside the EU anywhere in an
area covering the majority of the northern hemisphere.

Buried in the Commission Communication on the Stockholm Programme adopted in
June 2009 was a proposal to allow the EU to launch unilateral attacks on
Internet resources in countries that rely on the RIPE NCC regional Internet
registry in The Hague. Internet access or hosting providers considered to be
involved in “criminal” activities (which would include alleged intellectual
property infringements if the planned IPRED II Directive is adopted)
anywhere in the RIPE area, which covers south-western, central and northern
Asia as well as all of Europe, could be completely removed from the Internet
under the measure.

After her own government rejected the proposal to include this policy in the
Stockholm Programme, Malmström’s services successfully pushed to have it
included in the “Council conclusions concerning an Action Plan to implement
the concerted strategy to combat cybercrime” adopted on 26 April. The text
is very light on details at the moment, referring only to the adoption of “a
common approach in the fight against cybercrime internationally,
particularly in relation to the revocation of Domain Names and IP

The free speech dangers of countries giving themselves unilateral powers to
destroy foreign web resources were very clearly illustrated in 2008. A
British citizen living in Spain had been providing tourism services to Cuba
for almost ten years. From one day to the next, all of his web resources
disappeared. On further investigation it turned out that the United States
had exploited the fact that he had registered his domain names through a US
company to delete his entire web presence. While the EU’s plans would allow
this type of attack also, they go much further, as they would permit the
destruction of entire ISPs, including all of their websites and all of their
internet connections.

“I get very upset about being accused of censorship” – Commissioner
Malmström in an interview with Europaportalen.

Interview with Cecilia Malmström (only in Swedish, 22.04.2010)

Interview with Cecilia Malmström (translated, 25.04.2010)

Commissioner Malmström’s response to EDRi’s open letter on blocking

A Wave of the Watch List, and Speech Disappears (4.03.2008)

Council conclusions concerning an Action Plan to implement the concerted
strategy to combat cybercrime (26.04.2010)

Commission Communication on the Stockholm Programme

RIPE coverage map (yellow area)

(Contribution by Joe McNamee – EDRi)