Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship Crime EU Government The Internet Your Rights Online

The Great Firewall of Europe 191

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the yeah-that'll-happen dept.
Glyn Moody writes "The Presidency of the EU's Law Enforcement Working Party wants to create [PDF] 'a single secure European cyberspace with a certain "virtual Schengen border" and "virtual access points" whereby the Internet Service Providers (ISP) would block illicit contents on the basis of the EU "black-list."' Leaving aside the fact that this won't work for lots of reasons, how seriously can you take anyone talking about 'cyberspace' in 2011?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Great Firewall of Europe

Comments Filter:
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @07:57AM (#35961866) Homepage

    how seriously can you take anyone talking about "cyberspace" in 2011?"

    Give them time. At least the term "information superhighway" has largely disappeared from public discourse. That term was one of those few political terms so cheesy and clueless that it gave me a Tourette's-like tic every time I heard it...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I kinda like the term cyberspace. Makes me feel like I'm jacking in, not just jacking off.

    • by Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @08:31AM (#35962182)

      how seriously can you take anyone talking about "cyberspace" in 2011?"

      Let them do it. From what I'm reading, they think the Internet is a place in Germany.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        That was nearly as funny as the episode of the IT crowd where they labelled a box "The Internet" and the managers believed it.

    • by hjf (703092) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @08:42AM (#35962284) Homepage

      "Information superhighway" was something coined by Bill Gates in one of his books. The ideas in that book were pretty advanced for the time. He also spoke about the "electronic wallet" (illustrated with Gates' own cheesy drawings), something that took form for us today in the shape of cell phones instead of wallets. He also made clear that the information superhighway was not the internet, but a faster network, that ALSO included internet services. And the ability of interactive "product placement" a la Augmented Reality: watch a movie, see the character's clock... nice, give me more info, computer! And it showed you what it was and how much it costed. The ideas in that book were good, but also scary in the sense that everything was about selling stuff.

      You know what's worse than cyberspace and superhighway? "Internet Portal". Something that journalists in my country love to talk about. Any website is a "Portal".

      • by e70838 (976799)
        If you are thinking about the book The Road Ahead, I have read it when it went out (in 96 in France). It was very deceiving. Everything was already old news. I was already using Mosaic in 93 and internet was already well understood in 96.
        There was really nothing original in this book. The ideas were very poor. The case of "electronic wallet" is a good example of bad predictions. Almost everybody was predicting the replacement of coins by electronic wallet. Bill Gates has repeated this idea. This prediction
        • by hjf (703092)

          "Electronic wallets" have been in use in Japan for ages. Contactless pre-paid cards are being used to pay for subway, vending machines, and many other things for which you would need coins.

      • by 1u3hr (530656)

        "Information superhighway" was something coined by Bill Gates in one of his books.

        Bullshit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_superhighway [wikipedia.org]

        "then-Senator Al Gore Jr. introduced it at a 1978 meeting of computer industry folk"

        The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) cites usage of this term in three periodicals: the January 3, 1983 issue of Newsweek...

        Gates hated the whole idea of the Internet, because he didn't control it. That's why you had to use third-party software to connect Windows to the Internet for years -- Trumpet Winsock, Netscape browser, Eudora mail.

        • by Q-Hack! (37846) *

          Interesting that wikipedea sites Al Gore... We were using the term "Information Superhighway" long before I ever heard of Al Gore. I can remember throwing around the term back when we were first playing with fiber optics, circa 1970. Of course, back then "Information" referred to TV and Telephones.

    • by schnikies79 (788746) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @08:46AM (#35962328)

      We have moved to more ridiculous terms like "cloud" and "web 2.0".

    • Information superhighway has not disappeared as yet. There are those of us that value net neutrality and the idea that the internet should be an open resource like highways, available to all, restricted to none. Not cheesy, but apt and carries with it a central idea that is being lost and actively being pushed aside by those technological gold rushers that see dollarsigns everywhere and want to jump all our claims and make us pay for their profit.

  • by thisissilly (676875) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @08:00AM (#35961888)
    You take them seriously when they are in a position of power. With a title like "Presidency of the EU's Law Enforcement Working Party", you better damn well take him seriously, or in the end you are not the one who is going to be laughing.
    • The "Presidency of the EU's Law Enforcement Working Party"

      Now, I am familiar with the concepts of "Working" and "Party" . . . I am not sure that they should be combined . . .

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 28, 2011 @08:30AM (#35962168)

      This was the plan all along with the union, and illustrates the danger when power is consolidated and centralized into the hands of the few.

      With many small instances of political power, the elite at the top of each pyramid are limited in what they can do, because their pyramids are limited in height (e.g. revenue, and therefore power). With one large instance of political power, the elite are sitting atop a much larger pyramid. The potential for destruction and injustice is much higher -- proportional to the height of their pyramid.

      Why must government be limited in what they can do? (And I cringe that I actually have to explain this.) Because history shows that government is the most dangerous, most destructive force that has ever existed. It shows that the people who desire power work for themselves, not the people they hold power over. It also shows that where destructive power exists, destructive power will be employed -- to the benefit of the empowered, not the powerless.

      The absolute worst thing that could happen in the history of humanity is a single "world" government coming to power -- the tallest, richest, most powerful pyramid that could ever exist. They would be capable of destruction and injustice on a level we can't even imagine.

      • by moronoxyd (1000371) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @08:43AM (#35962302)

        This was the plan all along with the union, and illustrates the danger when power is consolidated and centralized into the hands of the few.

        Well, I've seen quite a few good things that cam from the EU parlament, that couldn't have been done in the same timeframe by all the individual parlaments.

        With many small instances of political power, the elite at the top of each pyramid are limited in what they can do, because their pyramids are limited in height (e.g. revenue, and therefore power).

        Considering that certain companies have a revenue that surpasses man smaller and medium sized countries and that influence people in almost all countries in the world, I tend to disagree.

        On a national level, governments regularily give in the those companies, but on a supernational level (read: EU) they can and do stand up.

        The notion that the market will regulate itself is outdated. Companies consolidated to much power and money in the hands of too few people.
        In many fields the conumer can not exercise his supposed power anymore and NEEDS support by watchdogs and governments.

        The absolut worst thing that could happen is not giving the government enough power to keep multinational companies atleast somewhat in check.

      • by lordholm (649770)

        No, this illustrates what happens when a state like Hungary who is at the moment being run into the drain by an enormously authoritarian majority government (the last govt was really crappy as well, but more in terms of being corrupted), runs the Council. In fact, I would not be surprised if this was something that the Hungarian presidency have not synchronized with the rest of the trio.

        The problem with the ideas presented is that, 1. it has no support in the Council (just Hungary saying they will try to pu

      • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @09:31AM (#35962742) Homepage

        The EU, for all its many faults, provides some big benefits that nobody sees.

        The biggest one in my book is that the major countries in Europe no longer try to blow each other to smithereens. This could have happened without the EU, but historically speaking economic crisis led fairly directly to warfare in Europe, as desperate countries tried to capture by force the resources they needed to survive while other countries tried to take advantage of the perceived weakness of the countries in crisis. That in my book means that the EU did a better job of preserving peace than the League of Nations or the UN.

        The next on the list would probably be that by using EU membership as a motivator, it's pushed the former Eastern Bloc countries that could very easily have turned into Putin-style regimes to become proper democracies. Read the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union to get an idea of the political importance of EU membership, and then consider what Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Belarus, etc could easily have become without it.

        It's definitely not the best possible way of governing, but it's doing much better than most everything else that's been tried. And its relative success is a big part of why some African governments have been pushing for similar sorts of organizations among their nations.

      • by DaveGod (703167)

        This was the plan all along with the union

        No it wasn't. It's just how it goes.

        Missions creep. Boundaries are pushed. Scope is ever extended. Bureaucracy expands to meet the needs of an expanding bureaucracy. A sense of control immediately makes the controller (overly) aware of the weaknesses in their control and hence their need for more. Power fuels the desire for more power. Ownership fuels greed.

        To a greater or lesser extent, it applies to most things in life and we're all guilty of it. I'll bet if you went to a store and got a 10% discount, n

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Do you know what a Working Party is? Basically a think-tank of politicians who come up with batshit ideas for the EU Parliament and individual member states to reject. Occasionally one of their ideas is sane enough to implement, but this nonsense won't get anywhere.

      This is about as exciting as one of those Daily Mail stories based on some junior civil servant's half baked suggesting in a meeting somewhere. "A SLOP BUCKET FOR EVERY HOME" was my favourite one. Strangely that law was never passed.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @08:01AM (#35961896)

    This is the kind of story I would expect coming from the US president's office, not the EU president's office. Hopefully this kind of censorship will die, like it died in Australia.

    Free, liberated adults should be able to view any site (or book or pamphlet) they desire - without restriction. No government official may overrule that basic natural right of expression.

    • Hopefully this kind of censorship will die, like it died in Australia.

      No, censorship will not die. Too many politicians are kept in power by it, too many businesses make their money because of it. The Internet as we know it, the network of unrestricted international communication will die, replaced with a computer network that has succumb to all the greed and problems of "old media."

      Most people never took the time to learn about the Internet or their computers, and they will never do anything proactive to evade these firewalls and restore their freedom to communicate.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>most people will applaud these moves as fair compromises, necessary, or even a gain for society -- after all, now all that "illicit content" is being blocked.

        I don't have a problem blocking illicit content, but it should be a CHOICE available to parents (or religious types), not something to be forced upon every one like the "no nudity on tv" rule. We should not be living in a one-size-fits-all society where everyone is forced to adopt the same restrictions.

        • by wdef (1050680)

          We should not be living in a one-size-fits-all society where everyone is forced to adopt the same restrictions

          Ha ha ha ha! You funny! What planet do you live on again?

      • by Magada (741361) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @08:30AM (#35962174) Journal

        The "people" are not going to do anything. Yes, we are well into the regulation phase that follows the colonization of any frontier.

        Think of it as the not-so-wild turn of the century West.

        Will the liberty decrease? Surely. Will crime decrease? Yes, most certainly, especially the violent kind (outright theft etc). Will there be a lot more commerce, more money being made and lots more poverty? Hell yea.

        It's a great time to be a black hat hacker. You thought the lawless nineties were good? Just you wait, 'cause the golden years of the Internet Mafia are still ahead, boys! There'll be prohibitions and trade barriers enough for everyone to get rich! Movies, music, software, even (or rather, especially) raw data storage and secure communications channels.

        'course, there'll be a few european comissioners and europol bigwigs to grease up but then... when was that not true?

        • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday April 28, 2011 @08:47AM (#35962336) Journal

          Will the liberty decrease? Surely. Will crime decrease? Yes, most certainly, especially the violent kind (outright theft etc).

          Actually, crime will necessarily increase, as there will be more laws to be broken in the first place. Also, history has shown pretty consistently that the more government restricts people's choices in life, the more violent they become. It's a sad fact that no one seems to have learned yet.

          Cue the people who don't understand the crucial difference between anarchy and minarchy to come in and state that Somalia is a "libertarian paradise".

          • by Magada (741361)

            Yes, you are correct, for a very short-lived first phase.

            Afterwards, most of the acts that used to be legal (or indeed, overlooked) cease to be performed by law-abiding citizens, who outsource them to professionals, who do crime wholesale, not retail and are less readily caught. Thus the number of detected crimes decreases and the gov't can finally claim limited success and ask for more money to stamp out the evil once and for all.

            To your other point, having lived in a dictatorship, I can tell you that the

            • by wdef (1050680)

              ... having lived in a dictatorship ... Policemen patrolled the streets solo or in twos, on foot, armed with only a baton most of the time. Snitching on troublemakers was usual, routine, a praised and rewarded action. Most everyone was an informant.

              In such a society one tries very hard not to cause a disturbance, lest the regime have an excuse to throw one into the gulag, from which there is no escape.

              Zero tolerance for repeat offenders coupled with lack of re-integration programs meant that once a zek, always a zek, maybe with a couple months "vacation" on the outside once in a while. This, for anything from chanting political slogans (not that anyone was stupid enough to do that, just saying that if they did) to murder, to shoplifting.

              You lived in the UK, right?

              • by Magada (741361)

                Umm. No. But if that is a fair description of what's happening where you live, my utterly serious advice to you is to either

                a. leave while you still can or
                b. join the ruling party or junta or whatever it's called.

                Make sure you do not advance too much in the ranks of the nomenklatura, though. The purges are the most violent at the top.

          • Cue the people who don't understand the crucial difference between anarchy and minarchy to come in and state that Somalia is a "libertarian paradise".

            First, for those of us who are not persuaded that government serves any necessary function, there is no difference between anarchy and minarchy—the minimum practical level of government is no government at all.

            Second, a "libertarian paradise" is a society without aggression. It makes no difference whether the source of that aggression calls itself a government, although governments tend to be the primary sources of aggression in any region where they exercise effective control. Somalia may not have an

            • Somaliland (next door...and unrecognised globally) has a stable government, and is doing much better...

              Anarchy/Minarchy is where you have no (or very little) government because it is no longer needed...if you just remove the government it will be rapidly replaced, even if it is with warring heavies as it was in Somalia

              Somalia had leadership, it was fractured and there was large scale internal warfare, but people were in charge and imposing rules on the populace so it was not Minarchy, and not strictly speak

          • Very insightful sounding, but astounding BS. When government doesn't restrict people's choices in life, other people do, much more so. It's generally called the "state of nature", and the guy that first described it as such also noted how people's lives in it were solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

    • That's funny. Because here in the US, we feel the same way about our politicians wanting to emulate the EU with regards to their nanny-state laws.

      • unfortunately, not enough of that thought carries over to media. Too many people in the US have the hypocritical belief that government should both stay out of people's lives AND "protect the children" by banning things like violent media and nudity and sex etc.
    • Free, liberated adults should be able to view any site (or book or pamphlet) they desire - without restriction. No government official may overrule that basic natural right of expression.

      Isn't it still illegal to sell Nazi memorabilia in France and Germany?

      Or has that changed since I was there last?

    • by wdef (1050680)

      Free, liberated adults should be able to view any site (or book or pamphlet) they desire - without restriction. No government official may overrule that basic natural right of expression.

      Ha ha ha ha!!!! You funny! What planet do you live on again?

  • who have no bleeping clue what a "schengen border" is:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Agreement [wikipedia.org]

  • Ex-lawyers who noticed that the job of undemocratic dictatorship lackey is a lot easier and pays a lot better.

    Note that these people are not democratically elected. Why the hell are these idiots tolerated ? I mean they're no better than Saudi's woman decapitators, or Iran's "why would you think gays exist in Iran"-moronic government, which also "allow elections*".

    Morons.

    * only on local level

  • 1) Our economies aren't recovering fast enough
    2) The Chinese economy is growing really fast
    3) Lets do what the Chinese are doing...
    4) ...censor the Interwebs!

    The next logical step is for David Cameron to run over protestors at the royal wedding with tanks.

    • Damn it, I was going to avoid the wedding at all costs, but now I have to watch just on the off chance that really happens.
  • ... welcome our new cyberspace policing, virtual shengen boarder and access point creating overlords.

    Or wait a second. I might prefer the concept of net neutrality after all. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality [wikipedia.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I would have thought the Frech learned the last time

    "Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man"

  • If we stop using "cyberspace", that means I'll have to stop using "meatspace", too. :(
  • Hopefully, in 50-70 years, when kids today are old and in power, they won't be quite as bloody retarded when it comes to new technology.
  • by Exitar (809068) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @08:20AM (#35962076)

    Here in Europe we use the term "cyberspace" to describe what in the US you call "Series of tubes".

    • True, and in France and Spain, common Internet users are "internautes" and "internautas" respectively. http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internaute [wikipedia.org] - http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internauta [wikipedia.org]

      Think about it. Those terms really give you a feeling that you are navigating through the vast sea of the Net. :)

      • In norwegian, 'naut' means dumb or stupid.
        I guess 'internaut' in norwegian would be a good description of the non-technical people :)
        • I Am Not A Linguist - Wild speculation follows - Use copious amounts of salt - Not intended to be a factual statement: I'm going on a limb here and say that the Norwegian -naut might be somehow related to the English "naught".
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday April 28, 2011 @08:25AM (#35962118)

    The only thing that surprises me is that we've went so long WITHOUT more government-controlled internet firewalls. I remember telling people back in 1995 that the U.S. government wouldn't tolerate a free internet for very long. I was wrong on the timeframe, but make no mistake, it's coming. The more repressive regimes of the world were the first, but even the "progressive" governments who supposedly champion a free internet will eventually have to own up to their hypocrisy and clamp down.

    • The only thing that surprises me is that we've went so long WITHOUT more government-controlled internet firewalls. I remember telling people back in 1995 that the U.S. government wouldn't tolerate a free internet for very long. I was wrong on the timeframe, but make no mistake, it's coming. The more repressive regimes of the world were the first, but even the "progressive" governments who supposedly champion a free internet will eventually have to own up to their hypocrisy and clamp down.

      The problem is that some people think "progressive" means open and free and enlightened, when at its core, the whole idea of progressivism is basically nannyism... people as children that need to be cared for, with governments as the benevolent and protecting parents. Well guess what... parents lock the doors, set curfews, and make you eat your vegetables. I honestly don't think this kind of thing will fly in the US, not as long as there's a viable GOP. Our own "Net Neutrality" is never going to happen prec

      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday April 28, 2011 @08:52AM (#35962384)

        I hope your post is intended as a joke, because the GOP is one of the biggest supporters of an internet crackdown in the U.S. Who do you think has been screaming loudest about banning sites like WikiLeaks? And net neutrality is specifically designed to PROTECT a free internet. Without it, the handful of broadband ISP's in this country will be free to set up not only a national firewall and blacklist, but individual paywalls as well.

        Not that the Dems are much better, mind you. But if you really think the GOP is going to protect a free internet, you are a truly deluded individual. The only chance for maintaining a free internet would be the rise of a third party, and that's almost an impossibility in the U.S.

        • Not that the Dems are much better, mind you. But if you really think the GOP is going to protect a free internet, you are a truly deluded individual. The only chance for maintaining a free internet would be the rise of a third party, and that's almost an impossibility in the U.S.
          No, we(the US) will wind up with a pseudo-neutral internet simply b/c Big Media and Big Telecoms haven't bought each other out and therefore some half ass compromise will keep the polititcians' campaign funds well stocked. The oth
      • by torgis (840592)

        Well guess what... parents lock the doors, set curfews, and make you eat your vegetables. I honestly don't think this kind of thing will fly in the US, not as long as there's a viable GOP.

        Wait...what? Are you saying that the GOP...the Republican party in the US...is the driving force behind keeping internet communications free and open here in the US?

        I don't know what your experience is, and I certainly don't mean to disparage senior citizens here, but I'd be hard pressed to think of a group that is more *out of touch* with technology than the GOP. Have you heard some of the comments regarding technology these guys make on CSPAN or on any of the talking head news shows? It's pretty clear

        • by surgen (1145449)

          I don't know what your experience is, and I certainly don't mean to disparage senior citizens here, but I'd be hard pressed to think of a group that is more *out of touch* with technology than the GOP.

          There is hope. They've started trolling for sex on Craigslist, its a start.

    • by torgis (840592)

      The only thing that surprises me is that we've went so long WITHOUT more government-controlled internet firewalls. I remember telling people back in 1995 that the U.S. government wouldn't tolerate a free internet for very long. I was wrong on the timeframe, but make no mistake, it's coming.

      You're thinking in internet time, where 16 years is a very, very long time during which new technologies spring up, flourish, die, and are forgotten. However, 16 years in government time is hardly enough to put something really huge into motion, like an all-encompassing firewall. I'd say you were spot on - the great US firewall will eventually be a reality. They'll probably sell it as a way to protect us from our new favorite bogeyman, "The Terrorists."

      No doubt, any attempt at a country-wide firewall wou

      • No doubt, any attempt at a country-wide firewall would be an utter failure and cost tens of billions of taxpayer dollars. But that won't stop them from trying...

        And line the pockets of the cronies of whoever is in power

  • Hasn't anyone learned anything from the great firewall of China?
    • > Hasn't anyone learned anything from the great firewall of
      > China?

      Yes. Governments have learned that it works. Censorship need not be perfect to be effective.

  • Background (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mseeger (40923) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @08:47AM (#35962332)

    This idea is floating around for some time now. Various reasons have been given for such internet blocks: child porn, illegal gambling, drugs, .... Interestingly, the real reason has rarely been named. If you look where the money for the campaigns come from, at the end you always find the content industry.

    I had a talk with some upper echelons of the biggest European Telcos a few months ago. They were complaining about the content industry spending money like water to get somehow internet blocks turned into law. Most Telcos didn't like the idea....

    The idea of the content industry is, that once internet blocks are legal, they can be used to shoot down sites like PirateBay.

    CU, Martin

    • by erroneus (253617)

      This needs to be repeated and repeated. I think since you have contacts with these individuals, perhaps you can get them to write something about this problem of the content industry and its heavy influence on legislators. Perhaps someone with access to certain things can submit some dirty laundry on the subject to Wikileaks. As it stands, "we few geeks" are all that know and care about this problem of the content industry influencing wide and sweeping changes to our liberties and freedoms in the name of

      • by mseeger (40923)

        It doesn't work that way. They don't "write up things". They talk to others who talk to another group and so on. Writing such things up is not considered to be career enhancing ;-).

        "Contact" is a big word for a small tinhg. I am glad if anyone of them ever remembers having talked to me ;-).

        The only consolation i can give you: some very influential people are currently getting very pissed about the content industry. The content industry is pushing very hard and not making a lot of friends along the way (at l

    • by isorox (205688)

      >

      The idea of the content industry is, that once internet blocks are legal, they can be used to shoot down sites like PirateBay.

      CU, Martin

      Wouldn't TPB be inside the firewall?

  • That "As long as I don't see it, it isn't there" attitude :)

  • by PPH (736903)
    "Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer."
    • by blair1q (305137)

      Ein Feuerwall.

      Oder ein Brandwand.

  • Europe have looked at Australia, looked at the Australian backlash, and decided "we don't care, let's just propose it anyway, to show how absolutely out of touch we are."

  • Politicians know about technology up to about the 1980s. Everything else they know comes from lobbyists.

    So when they say "there has to be a way we can block or restrict access to 'X'" they fail to appreciate the technical difficulties involved in attempting that, the history of failure in making the same approach that other have made and the fact that they are talking about censorship which is a much more significant issue now than it was long ago due to the fact that people now know what they aren't getti

  • C'mon. Pull the other one. It's got a dolphin with a grid of LEDs embedded in it's side.

  • Lawmakers who use the term "Cyberspace" won't get it anyway, this is perhaps why opposition to this kind of rubbish doesn't seem to get very far. Explain to them that the very design of the Internet means it just cannot ever be controlled or censored. Its been designed to withstand nuclear war FFS.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

Working...