The internet has become such a powerful and fundamental part of modern society that you’d think the people in charge wouldn’t leave it in the hands of idiots. But (familiar sigh) that’s exactly what’s happened.
The EU working group whose aim is to “reduce the impact of terrorist use of the internet” have come up with a list of recommendations which has been leaked, possibly by dastardly freedom-hating terrorists. While I have a lot of sympathy for people whose job is essentially trying to stop up all the holes in an globally distributed network of sieves, some of the recommendations they’ve put up for discussion are just beyond stupid.
For example: “internet companies” –meaning providers of chat boxes, domain registration, email services, social networks, web forums and VOIP services, among others – must allow only real names for their users. Social media companies should allow only real pictures of users.
There’s the suggestion that police should patrol social networks, quaintly reminiscent of bobbies on the beat – but somehow magnified to compensate for their beat being the information superhighway instead of the local high street.
And there’s a whole leaky raft of other nonsensical, impossible-to-implement suggestions there too. Due to some administrative oversight, apparently terrorist websites don’t currently have a button you can press to report terrorist activity. But that’s ok, because Clean IT have recommended adding a “police button”, so now terrorists can easily report illegal activities with one click. Although frankly, if the reporting process is anything like as long-winded as the one to report a site for misusing cookies then I doubt they’ll bother.
Whether it’s a nasty case of design by committee or actual ineptitude I don’t know, but the overall impression is of people who don’t really know how people use the web. It’s more than likely the only effect of a “police button” would be an enormous pile of admin generated by stupid people reporting the Al Jazeera site. Familiar sigh.