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The Internet Censorship Crime EU Privacy Your Rights Online

Calls For European ISPs To Filter Content Could Be Illegal 60

jfruh writes Last week, justice ministers from EU countries called for ISPs to censor or block certain content in the "public interest." But a legal analysis shows that such moves could actually violate EU privacy laws, since it would inevitably involve snooping on the content of Internet traffic to see what should be blocked.
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Calls For European ISPs To Filter Content Could Be Illegal

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  • I hope it works (Score:4, Insightful)

    by houghi ( 78078 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @06:41AM (#48873705)

    I hope that they will not block said content. I understand the fear for certain content. However I think it is better to allow it as it will otherwise go underground.

    • Re:I hope it works (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Kkloe ( 2751395 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @06:52AM (#48873743)
      what I understand is that ISP's already "voluntary" block content, that content mostly involves sites with child pornography, that thing people can understand is blocked, but to begin to block hate messages content could lead to "voluntary" blocking of peoples opinion that a state/eu doesn’t like
      • Re:I hope it works (Score:4, Informative)

        by skovnymfe ( 1671822 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @07:06AM (#48873779)

        They don't actually block content. If you use your ISP provided DNS service then lookup requests for certain domain names will be hijacked, and redirect to a "This page done bad" website.

        As the article states, actually blocking content requires snooping on content and that's not just expensive, it's legality is questionable. As such, if you want to torrent and whatnot, you are still free to switch to a public, unfiltered DNS service á la Google or OpenDNS.

        • Diverting DNS is also snooping. If you're diverting the traffic to a third party server, then the third party server can see when people are attempting to access blocked content.

          • Re:I hope it works (Score:4, Informative)

            by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @08:22AM (#48873961) Journal
            Depends. It's only snooping if they do it for recursive DNS lookups or DNS cache queries to third parties. If you set your DNS to 8.8.8.8 (Google's public DNS server) or OpenDNS or similar, then modifying this requires inspecting (and hijacking) traffic intended for a third party. Most of the time, however, users will have their DNS config set to whatever DHCP provides, which means that queries will go to an ISP's server. This doesn't require any interception or inspection of traffic, it just requires sending responses that don't match. If more places would roll out DNSSEC then this would be much easier to spot.
            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

              The system used in the UK, Cleanfeed, does not use DNS blocking. It intercepts HTTP requests. The justification is that it is automated and (the claim) does not log, so is not interception. They may have a point, legally speaking, as things like caching proxies are legal and likely immune from both claims of interception and copyright infringement.

              • It's quite difficult to argue that something that is a transparent cache and will always provide the requested data, just sometimes from a local copy, is equivalent to something that either requests or does not request the remote data and instead substitutes something else based on some external policy are equivalent.
                • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

                  Perhaps true, but such transparent filtering proxies have also been in use for a long time. Around 1998 my university had one for ad filtering - Privoxy was it? In any case, the fact that there is substitution doesn't seem to affect the arguments being made here, it's the interception that is in question.

        • by houghi ( 78078 )

          I run my own DNS. I think it is strange that there is no easy DNS server available for Windows. And by basic I mean Install and forget (perhaps point your DNS to 127.0.0.1). So no additional settings. Just a very basic caching server for a single user.

          I know I would love to have something much simpler then what is available now under Linux.

          OTOH for me running a DNS server makes it easy to use domain filtering to filter out advertising domains (and facebook)

          • I run my own DNS. I think it is strange that there is no easy DNS server available for Windows. And by basic I mean Install and forget (perhaps point your DNS to 127.0.0.1). So no additional settings. Just a very basic caching server for a single user.

            Doesn't Windows come with one of these built in? I might be remembering from the Server version, as it's quite a few years since I last ran Windows, but in Windows 2000 it was something you could enable in the services management interface.

          • Acrylic DNS works well for me

            http://mayakron.altervista.org... [altervista.org]

            Our work DNS is sometimes very laggy. Using Acrylic even with the default configuration fixes that instantly.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        It started with child pornography, although in the UK the system used (Cleanfeed) has no oversight or accountability and occasionally blocks legitimate sites such as Wikipedia. It isn't DNS based, it actually intercepts HTTP requests. Of course, it is very easy to bypass.

        The system is now being abused on a massive scale. In the UK for example, the BPI (music industry body) has managed to get some ISPs to start blocking sites it does not like, mainly torrent sites. Again, the blocks are easy to bypass, but t

        • I think I've since come to the conclusion that "child porn", and "children watching porn", is political doublespeak for "opinions I don't like", and "ability to hunt down my otherwise law abiding enemies".

          the use of the concept of "child porn", is that its so morally objectable, you can rely on the entire breadth of the political spectrum to instantly fork over their rights, to avoid any association with child porn. I used to agree with this when I was younger, but as I got older, I somewhat realized what

          • I'd rather side with pedos than with censors. Simply out of opportunistic self interest, there is exactly zero chance that pedos will ever target me.

            I'm too old for that shit.

      • by Imrik ( 148191 )

        More likely, a voluntary blocking of opinions that the ISP doesn't like.

      • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

        could lead to "voluntary" blocking of peoples opinion that a state/eu doesnâ(TM)t like

        It's already happening I tried to visit http://www.gilad.co.uk/ [gilad.co.uk] on my mobile and was surprised that it is blocked by default by O2, to view this page I was supposed to prove to the provider that I was 18 in order to get this site of a musician and political commentator unblocked. Gilad's crime - being Jewish and not supporting Israel.

        We are more than half way down the slippery slope.

    • I hope too. Even with the best intention in the world, doing this would only have negative consequences (and not the expected one).
      • Filtered content would still exist and grow happily with at most the small annoyance of hiding it slightly. Or simpler yet use a vpn that even a grandma could set up nowadays and proxy to an unfiltered ISP.
      • People responsible for "drawing the line" of what is forbidden will go haywire. Any situation where the lines are fuzzy need dedicated examination and reaction, not a handful
  • by Severus Snape ( 2376318 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @06:52AM (#48873737)

    Here is a crazy idea, don't block any content and let the public decide as individuals what content they want to look at, and what content they don't. That would actually be the definition of the phrase itself so lets not get our hopes up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2015 @06:52AM (#48873741)

    It drive me nuts that the European Convention on Human Rights makes censorship so easy. Article 10 starts off so well:

    Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.

    But it then proceed to open the door to all sort of restrictions:

    The exercise of these freedoms... may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

    Man, you can drive a truck through that. "for the protection of morals" - whose morality? Who defines it? "for the protection of the reputation or rights of others" - what the hell does that mean?

    We need to resist this creeping censorship - stomp on it whenever some idiotic politician brings it up.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The exercise of these freedoms... may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

      In these cases the authorities should be forced to prove the necessity of these measures especially if claiming the 'protection of morals' reason.

    • Every single article in the ECHR looks like that. They're all basically of the form 'Governments may not do X, unless they really want to'.
      • It's really more "the courts get to decide when government may do X", modulo cases needing to get to court and so forth.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      It's an attempt to pre-empt the decades, centuries of arguments over the US constitution's limits. For example, you have free speech, but documents can be classified and made illegal to reprint or to read out in public. You can't legally name protected witnesses or victims of certain crimes if due legal process says so. There are a whole number of restrictions that had to be decided by the Supreme Court.

      I don't like the exceptions either, although even with them the benefits have been huge. It's also worth

    • "Who defines it?" - the courts define it, whenever a case is put before them.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      in the interests of national security

      Distribution of classified information?

      territorial integrity or public safety

      Not sure what the former is, shouting "fire" in a crowded theater?

      for the prevention of disorder or crime

      Threats? Fraud? False advertising?

      for the protection of health or morals

      Obscenity? Showing porn to minors?

      for the protection of the reputation or rights of others

      Libel and slander? Copyright?

      for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence

      Doctor-patient privilege, attorney-client privilege?

      maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary

      Judges can't bias the jury? I don't know.

      Seems to me most these loopholes are alive and well in the US too, despite the constitution not having any exceptions whatsoever. Yes, it's really hard to come up with a constitution that properly captures all the sma

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Recording all phone metadata is illegal too, but they still did it, out in the open. And let's not pretend that they stopped or that they restricted it to metadata. Modifying data in transit is illegal as well, but there is hardly a mobile network provider that doesn't "optimize" pages as they pass through their systems. A unique identifier added to every request? Come on, they're just trying to help you get better ads. The home network providers can't be far behind. The law is for the meek and small.

  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @07:04AM (#48873769) Homepage

    Voice over internet protocol, basically private phone calls via the internet. So filtering content, censoring person to person phone calls and deleting speech the corporations disagree with. Exactly where does the limit on internet censorship reach, apparently right in your home. Hey, why stop at deleting people's speech, why not replace the deleted speech with approved speech, the US government already does it with seized web sites. Why stop there, why replace person to person speech upon a individual basis, computers can do it quite readily.

    • by copsi ( 2429192 )
      Doesn't the US government replace seized website with a notification that the site/domain has been taken down by agency X? Or are there examples where they have actually changed the contents of the site instead of taking it down?
    • Careful citizen, you're skirting dangerously close to thougtcrime.
  • Heisted by them you have been..

  • EU has no problem violating its own fundamentals. It praises democracy, bit ignored the results of referendums on EU constitution held in France and Netherlands in 2005: The constitution treaty was re-engineered as Lisbon treaty, which is almost equivalent according to lead writer Giscard d'Estaing.

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